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The Lost Army

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A note: It is believed that a regiment of the Persian Army, 50, 000 men strong, and the last to leave Africa, was lost in the Sahara desert around 2,500 years ago. Since then, many a rumor has been spread about the possible demise of these men. This is one of them.

Everything around me was the same yellow beige in color. Nothing but a sea of rolling dunes, lost hopes and tortured souls surrounded me. I felt lonely, lost and tiny as a mouse in this vast land. I was accustomed to mountains and narrow roads lined with towering oaks. I was used to a colorful land and a vast city, bustling with our hard trained men and their brightly colored tunics.
Now our tunics are dulled, and our felt hats are pulled low over our faces to protect us from the stinging sand as it blew up around us, tossed by the wind.
It seems as if we have been marching for many weeks, continuing on in this never-ending land but I have been keep track and I know that it has only been five days.
Our throats are constantly parched and our skinned seared by the sun. Our supplies have grown low; our rations only a small cup of water from one of our clay pots each day and a strip of dried meat.. The head of our regiment was navigating and was supposed to lead us to an oasis.
It was a place of great growth and abundant water, but my fellow men were starting to believe that is was all but a fable. We were supposed to reach the miniature paradise three days previous.
“We are not lost!” our commander had stated last night as we started eating the final rations of our food.
“We are simply behind on our schedule. We must pray to the gods so that our steps quicken and we reach the oasis in time!”
Many men grumbled, quietly challenging our leader. We were lost. It was clear in the leader’s eyes, in his slumped shoulders, unhurried steps and how he kept rechecking his map and our positions. Our leader, who was supposed to be the strongest, the most fearsome and the bravest, was losing hope.
So we followed his words, and prayed to the gods. After all, it was the gods that ultimately controlled our fate.
I had a troubled sleep that night, filled with dreams, visions of burning fields and a volcano spewing its deadly wrath, the end of the world as we know it. I was not the only soldier to have these troubling dreams.
The next morning we set out again, our backs aching and our minds troubled. By noon, we were practically crawling so weak physically and mentally. Our steps were short, no bigger than a woman’s as she strolled through a park.
Suddenly there was a shout. “There’s something ahead!”
Every man’s head whipped up, thousands of eyes squinting into the distance. I ignored the sting of sand being blown into my eyes and saw that there was indeed a huge green lump on the crest of the nearest sand dune.
“Oasis!” the commander screamed, charging forward. Great cheers rose into the air and we ran towards the paradise, rejuvenated with energy fueled by the answer from the gods.
We spent the next day and a half recuperating, drinking the cool, clear water from the spring and lounging under the tropical trees relinquishing in their blessed shade. Then we were ready to continue. Though the oasis was a great place to replenish our water supply, it was no place to live. Barely any edible plants lived here, for the oasis was small and the bugs were more than plentiful. It was time to continue on our westward journey.
The desert was so scorching hot, and sand stung like wasps. Sometimes the combination of the two made me feel like my skin was on fire.
We thought that our prayer’s had been answered. We had been saved by the gods. But we didn’t know until midday that the god’s were not finished with us. Not quite yet.
The winds had been picking up as the day went along. Great gales of wind, the likes I had only seen during a storm at sea. It picked the sand up as though it was as light as a feather and then threw it around like a child playing in a leaf pile.
An hour into the sand storm we were huddled in our cloaks, our hats, if they hadn’t blown away, pulled down over our eyes to protect them. We were cowering down under any cover we could, “Huddling like cowards!” our commander had said, but even he was not fool enough to continue.
I wondered at what we had done to anger the gods so. It was clear that their wrath was bearing down upon us now.
And we prayed to the gods once more. Praying for mercy, forgiveness and if it came to it, a swift death.
By that evening, when the sun was receding over the horizon an answer from the gods came. The sand storm had been calming down a bit, and we had found shelter behind a long flat rock that provided some shelter from the wind.
But as the last ray of light disappeared over the nearest dune the squalls picked up once more, becoming worse and worse. Eventually, we were all blinded, blinded by the sand as if blew across our faces and bodies. Slowly, as the storm continued, everything turned to dust.

Afterword: This theory is the most probable cause of the fabled death of this army. In 2009, hundred of bones were found under the shelter of a huge oblong rock, which could have been used as a natural shelter during a sand storm. Some artifacts found at this archeological site include clay plots, a silver bracelet and earring, and several bronze weapons. These artifacts have been traced back to the Achemenid period (550-330 B.C.), which is the same time period that the army went missing. As of yet, it had not been proven if this is the lost army Persian, but it is probable.



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marleylove said...
Oct. 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm:
this is very creative! can't wait to read more!! :-)
 
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