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Songs of Sand

Across a sea of sand, stars fell in the desert. An iron rain fell from the heavens, metal casks exploding with the light of miniature suns. The red sunlight cascaded over the earth, sending sporadic illumination into shell-shocked trenches and creating spectacular stage lighting for a symphony of violence.

The detonating shells were a post-modern percussion, the irregular beat shouting harshly n the night. Each blast was like a drum-beat, preceded by a fiery flare and followed by the patter of shrapnel and debris crumbling back to earth. Each blast was a call, an appeal to the gods, and the patter of shrapnel the divine response. Each falling shell carried a message, inscribed on the casing, destroyed in the explosion, and answered with the returning shell. And between the cruel players in this percussive game of ask and answer were trapped the lonely pawns, shivering in the cold Sahara night.

Another set of explosions rumbled like drums in the distance, new percussion creating a faster tempo. Despite regulations which allowed only a few pounds of personal belongings, one soldier found the beauty of the drums; across the desert, a lone saxophone claimed the beat, and macabre melodies began reverberating across the sand.

Notes rose and fell with the desert breeze, trills flowing into holding pitches and tones, strings of notes echoing to the beat of the artillery. Rolling with the blasts, calling out into the following rain, cascading into cadence before each hammer blow set forth a new stream of sounds.

A final barrage closed off the song, the lone saxophone dying as the thunder of artillery was replaced by a drum-roll of boots slamming into the dirt. Even the breeze ceased, the only sound the soft pounding of a thousand soldiers marching forward to die. For a moment, every breath was held as ten centurions of silhouettes appeared over the dunes.

Then the first shot rang out, a harsh staccato crack. Snare drums drilled as automatic fire split the night. Desperate soldiers fought back terror as they charged into the storm of lead, copper casings ringing as metal death sprang from the trenches. Bayonets fixed at the end of assault rifles gleamed in the darkness, a silver tide breaking against the sea wall in the desert. Four waves came forward in indomitable tides, crests of men smashing into the troughs of death. The screams of the wounded played a rising cadence to the erratic percussion cadenza.

The aria slowly slid into silence, both sides resigning themselves back into the trenches. The cries dimmed and scattered, and the golden ghost of a harvest moon rose over the desert. Orange light gazed down from the heavens, moonlight staring down in sorrowful and uncomprehending regret. Above the horrible scene, the mournful saxophone picked up again, a melancholy apology for all that had happened. Behind it, the shells began firing again. Behind it, the orchestra of death settled into its fading end. Behind it, a metal sun soared into the sky. Across a sea of sand, stars fell in the desert.





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