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A jagged rock deliberately shot forth out the sand and tore the leather sandal strap. The man immediately stumbled. The deafening snap of the worn hide echoed across the remote continent. The man cried out loud, jadedly aware that his sharp swearing was useless in this place. With the strength of wooden chopsticks, his bony legs lifted him to full height and he continued on his way towards a round stone well perched in the distance.

The traveler had no memory of his past, no consideration for his future. His one and only goal was to reach the well before his life abandoned him. The desert elements, provoked by this determined newcomer, tried their hardest to hold him back. The sand scorched his flesh as if he were treading along hot coals. The wind smothered him with its acid breath. And without hesitation the sun drained him to the brink of dehydration. Nonetheless, the weary traveler brushed away the inconveniences of the weather and traipsed on. The desert quickly devised a plan to counter the man’s adamant pursuit of water. Together the elements combined themselves to form a sand storm. The sun provided just the right amount of heat, the wind altered its course into a fatal spiraling cyclone, and the sand allowed itself to be swept away as a thunderous cloud of sting.

The man idly gazed upon the desert’s rage as he beheld a wall of sand reaching 60 feet coming his way, barreling across the dunes like a herd of elephants. The traveler calmly knelt to the ground and wrapped himself up in his tattered cloak. The air howled and screamed and whipped the poorly protected man. The sand bore its way through the dilapidated cloth and tunneled down his throat, shimming its way between the creases of his eyes - enveloping him like a swarm. Feasting on him.

Finally, the plague subsided, and sand settled back to the earth. The man cracked open a parched eye to see his desert surroundings nowhere in sight. He tried to call for help. His tongue probed around his scabbed mouth for words. He found none. The man remained on the ground, taking the time to accept that he was now blind and mute.

Strangely, the loss did not dampen his spirits. He rose back onto his charred feet and continued his determined march towards the well. Although he could not see, he could hear the water waiting peacefully within its depths.

The desert was aghast. It could not believe that this burnt, shriveled, disabled excuse for a man still dared to tread along the sand. The desert pondered for a moment, wondering what else it could take from the stranger.

Before the blind wanderer knew it, the sand faded beneath him and the ground quickly swallowed his feet. Soon the quick sand was up to his waist. The man flailed his arms, frantically searching for something to grab onto. His crusted, stiff fingers landed on a nearby boulder. Relieved, he wrapped his arm around it, and attempted to hoist his body out of the ground. But the cruel desert wasn’t going to let go so easily. It jerked on the lower half of the man’s body, determined to consume him. The blind wanderer pulled with all his might, trying to escape the grip of the desert’s fiery tongue. He strained his poor muscles until they tore.

If the desert hadn’t stolen the man’s voice, his cry of agony would have pierced the hot air like a sickle slicing into the head of a beast. The man was free from the desert’s grasp, but he had to sacrifice yet another part of himself. The pain of his dislocated hips was unbearable. Tears from his eyes evaporated as quickly as they came. More tears of frustration flowed, only to disperse once again. Could the desert be so cruel as to deny the man the soothing tears of his own grief?

After taking a few seconds to sob, the man rolled over on his stomach and with his elbows, dragged himself across the terrain towards the generous well. It called to him in watery echoes. The voices from the well tickled the invisible hairs on his lip. It encouraged him to keep moving.

Finally, the silence in the air broke when the man’s palm smacked against the cool surface of the stone well. He used what was left of his muscles to heave himself up and into the opening. Using a rope, he lowered himself into its depths. Within minutes, he was at the bottom of the well.

The desert smiled with sinister satisfaction. There was no water. There was never any water. The sounds were all just one mirage that the desert had conjured to fool the human. It had taken everything from the poor wanderer, mindful all the while that he would never reach his destination. And now the man sat alone and helpless at the bottom of an empty well. But the desert stopped smirking when it saw that a wide grin masked the man’s face. His chest rose and fell rapidly. The desert wandered if the human was crying. It realized that he was not crying, but laughing. Though no sound came from his open mouth, he was in hysteria. Tears of amusement spewed uncontrollably from his useless eyes.

Furious and confused, the desert winds howled. The earth shook so violently that the mountains in the distance were forced apart, allowing the rains and rivers to have access to the dry continent. The winds blew so harshly that they pushed the rains until they hovered over the well. The water sloshed over the man’s head. He gratefully drank the gift from the desert. But it was no gift that the desert had bestowed. It was an outright death sentence.

The man could not use his legs to reach the rope above. He could not call for help. He could not see another way out. He could only hear his demise raining on him. He sat alone at the bottom of the stone well, aware of the inevitable. The water steadily rose and within minutes the man drowned. By this time the well had over flown with water and completely soaked through the earth. The desert sighed in relief and pulled back the curtain of rain to look down in the well. Its eyes frantically searched the depths of the round basin. The man was gone. Only water remained. The desert cursed. How could he, this mighty wasteland, allow himself to be fooled? Had the stranger himself conjured up a mirage?

When the desert realized its horrible mistake, it desperately tried to aim the sun to dry up the water. Its efforts were in complete vain. Plants sprouted defiantly. Birds of paradise migrated to the once barren continent. An oasis came to life around the well. Within a day, the small oasis developed into a lush, verdant garden. The garden stretched its arms and legs and transformed into a vibrant paradise. And on the next day, within the heart of the paradise, in the center of the garden, from out of the rich soil, there came a man.





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