No Crime Goes Unpunished

He looked out across the desert. He saw bare, unfertilized ground. This punishment was worse than what any jury could have possibly given him. He ducked his head into the neck of his horse, blocking his eyes from the sand blowing in the wind. His horse stomped his foot impatiently, and then tugged on the reins, ready to move on.

He gazed back out towards the desert, feeling hopeless. He had little faith that they could make it to the next oasis before they died from dehydration. Before he climbed into the saddle, he pulled out his water container. He looked at it in despair, “Nothing but sand,” he grumbled as he poured out the muddy substance. His horse watched him eagerly, hoping for a little water. “Sorry bud, it’s a day’s ride until we make it to water.” He slowly clambered up into the saddle, taking all the effort that he had left in his withering body. He pushed his horse forward. He started down a sand dune, stumbling and falling as the sand slid out from under his footing. Finally they slid to a halt at the bottom of the dune. “Good boy,” he patted and murmured to his horse softly. They pushed forward, hungrily looking at the horizon for the promised oasis.

The wind picked back up again at high noon. There was no relief from the sun’s burning rays that bounced off the sand causing him to see heat waves or from the sand that felt as if it was rubbing his skin raw like sandpaper. He pulled his bandana up over his lips and nose. The little protection did him no good. He could still feel the blisters of sunburn forming across his face. He pulled the brim of his cowboy hat lower to keep the sun from burning his eyes, but he still could not get any relief from the sun. He looked admiringly down at his horses. He had his head lowered against the sun, but his ears pricked forward eagerly as he search for water with his sensitive nose. The man noticed his horse was covered by a thick layer of sweat. He decided to get down out of the saddle and walk for a while, giving his fatigued horse a break. He stumbled along beside his horse for almost an hour. He was so weak and dehydrated he was seeing mirages of beautiful ponds filled with crystal clear water that he could taste on his tongue.
He knew he couldn’t go any further. So with the very last of his strength, he struggled to pull himself back into the saddle. He knew his horse was weak too by the way he barely had the strength to lift his feet, but he also knew that if he couldn’t keep up with his horse, he was a dead man. He slumped over the saddle horn and gripped his horse’s mane, quickly going in and out of consciousness.

He and his horse traveled along, slowly, with the sun still boring down on them ruthlessly. He looked around himself; discovering that the scenery had not changed, and there was no oasis in sight. He became aware that he wouldn’t last much longer. Then, his hands lost grip, and he felt himself fall from the saddle. He landed with a hard thud. He lay there feeling sand scratch through his clothing and the sun piercing through his lids. Then there was a shadow cast across his face. He felt the tickling of whiskers and a soft muzzle on his scruffy, blistered cheeks. He barely opened his eyes to see his horse standing over him. He realized he couldn’t leave his horse to die with him, so he moved his arm slowly to uncinch him. The saddle slid off the side and landed in the sand. Then he slid the bridle over the velvety ears of his horse and released him.

“Go on bud.” He shoved his nose away from his face and went back to lying perfectly still. Any movements caused him extreme pain. “Looks like I got punished after all, huh bud? This is probably worst than what any jury could ever sentence me to,” he tried to smile, but his skin felt as tight as leather. “Save yourself, bud,” he whispered. He tried to swallow, to rid himself of the scratchy feeling in the back of his throat, but he didn’t have any saliva left in his mouth. He closed his eyes, breathing his last breaths. Until he was cold, the coldest thing in that forsaken desert.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Genya This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm
This was great, especially the details! I just wish I knew the context...
 
enternalhope777 said...
Jan. 18, 2012 at 9:38 am
ingenius a true work of art
 
CountryChick replied...
Jan. 18, 2012 at 11:36 am
Thank you!
 
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