Sunny skies stare down my neck so hard making me blush red all over. I lost the headwrap I had been using for shade, using It instead to bandage up my disfigured arm. A few miles back I had been drawn to a scrawny tree growing small dried out fruits. These fruits seemed to my aching belly a gift worth more than life itself, but as I reached out to grab one of the plants a pair of white hot fangs stabbed my wrists, their poison numbing up my hand all the way to my shoulder until I could no longer have any use out of it.
I don't remember walking away from the tree but the next thing I knew I was once again surrounded by vast desert. “The snake that bit me wouldn't let me take the fruit. He had all that damn fruit to himself. Why was he keeping it all to himself when I needed some.”
“Wasn't the snake supposed to convince the human to steal the fruit, I wondered feverishly. why was Eve's snake protecting the fruit of knowledge” I rambled on hysterically thinking myself the comedian. “Suddenly a damn snake tries to make up for his sins.”
Every step begane to hurt every step every… My shoes are burning my feet. My throat is lined with sand. I need water, I need water now. One foot forward, one foot forward, just one more step. One more one more….
First my eyes opened to the sky, vast and blue before me. Next my eyes opened up to a small town, buildings were close together, probably very old. It was a place settlers would use to herd cattle of mine for riches in the western areas. The buildings were broken down with nails and pieces of wood poked out of boarded up windows. I got up, surprisingly, with great ease fully refreshed. The town was empty not a living thing in sight.
That's when she first appeared. A little girl in a flowy white blouse silently staring at me from a few feet away. I didn't remember her approaching. “Not many come around these parts,” she stated bluntly. I blankly looked on dumbfounded and In the blink of an eye she was gone.
I never got hungry, never needed drink in the town ethier. but drinking the water from the nearby watering hole was like drinking the nectar of the gods. It was the sweetest liquid i had ever tasted. I also found a patch of plump wild onions growing. They had a tangy fresh taste that reminded me of early spring. I saw a little girl playing in the onion patch. playing in the onion patch. She has brown eyes, pretty brown eyes…
I started a fire late at night as the milky way spread across starry plains. “Not many people come here.” There she was with her intense gaze cutting into my chest.”Looks painful she muttered,” eyeing my dead arm. “May I.” Without giving me a chance to answer, she set off to work pulling a sack of herbs out of her breeches and rubbing a chewed up pulp onto my limp bicep. Thank you I snickered amused at her fickle attempt to save my broken limb. She smiled warmly, “What's your name mister.” “Jack, Jack Stone,” I grunted out.
“Say where is everyone.” “Well mister this city's been dead for a long long time you see. ain't gonna find any folks round these parts.” “I wonder how this is even possible,” i thought almost cheerful. “You lost mister Stone, only people who are lost end up here?” How did I get here again. I was walkin from my place and…
I remember a limp, body and my head hurts, bad, have I been drinking. I snap back to the present moment. The girl is silent. “Well anyway mister stay as long as you like it's a nice town though a little run down.” “Thanks.” I settled down next to the dying embers as the little girl's eyes pierced against my back. hey what should I call ya. “Mmmm.” I never quit got her name as I faded into the embrace of sleep.
When I woke up my arm was completely healed. “Your up,” she chirped excitedly. “Come with me, I have something to show ya.” She took my hand and I flashed back to a little girl trying to grab my hand, me pushing her away firmly. I did not push this little one away.
She walked me across the desolate town with the smell of burning timber drifting throughout the air. Up ahead was a pen filled with huge pot bellied pigs.
We walked up to them carefully. “This one's named Coelum,” she chatted, coaxing her pet out. I reached out to pet the pig as she nuzzled my arm. “This is my daddy's farm but i'm taking care of the piggies till he gets back from his trip,” she went on. “When will he be back,” I questioned.
“He been gone awhile but he said he’ll be back soon.” The pig put her head against the fence and looked at me with intelligent brown eyes.
“Mister Stone, you don't say much you like that to everyone.” I starred on… “i'm afraid if I say to much people will walk away,” I admitted. “You got a wife,” she mused. “She died giving birth.” “where's your kid, she rambled” “She's also dead.” The area went tense with silence.
“Wheres your family,” I retorted at her. “Little girls shouldn't be livin alone by thereself ya know,” I nagged, a pang of guilt at the stabbing irony at this statement. “Its just me and papa, but he's always going away on trips. We always had it good. He always bring back lots a gold from each trip and buys me stuff.”
“didnt you said he was a pig farmer,” I sniffled. “Yeah,” she explained innocently. “Seems like a dirty business. I should be careful I concluded.” “Hey mister lets play a game.”
I was barely listening at this point. I loved this little girl. I needed to protect her I needed to save her. i've known her all my life and she is the most important person in the world. I needed her in my life.
Coelum stared longinly at the feed in my hand as I tended to the other pigs. “So this is your favorite one” intoned smiling. “Yeah she's always been the kindest. Too bad she's gonna end up dinner eventually.” I felt horror pound at my chest at the thought. No one else could die, no one. “We can't let her die,” I quipped childishly. “Don't worry,” she laughed, we ain't killing no piggies till daddy comes back. I’d never hurt them. last time my daddy made my come to the slaughterhouse andI cried for the whole day. he'd never make me do it myself.” Good i couldn't bare the thought of another person dying.
“Little one you should clean up your blouse it not very lady like to be walkin round like that.” The shirt had fringe marks and ash covering the once pure white garb. Now that I remembered it was white as crystal when i first laid eyes on it. How come my clotthe don't get dirty but hers do. She looked at me quietly. “I know you left her. You should have stayed.” I paused in shock.” Now listen here, don go talking bout things you know nothing bout. She stayed silent. The same booming voice seemed to echo in my head, “It's your fault your fault fault fault fault.” So I ran...
I hid from her inside an empty tavern. I found a bottles of beer to drink the night away and records to help me settle. I also found an old shotgun a bit rusted but still in shape. I stowed it away in case the little girl's criminal father came back. I would at least there to protect her.
I stumbled outside until I came across the pigs pen. Coelum stared at me. She gazed and I felt mad. But mostly I felt hungry. “Don't leave me cried the pig. You'd just be running away. you leave for so long and I get so hungry all alone daddy” the pig whimpered. “Little girl you aint know nothin about what you talkin bout.
“Don't leave the house ya hear i'll be back in a few days time. quit ur worrying,” I stuttered, slurring every other word. I was so angry, so angry. But mostly I was hungry, so damn hungry. I Stared at the gun in my hand, then at the pig with its dead black eyes.
The little girl approached me. “Why did you do it,” she whispered. I gazed on numbly. “Doesn't matter. t’s the way the world works, nothin we can do. You'll learn someday when you grow old.” I felt sick so sick uttering those gastly words. I looked down in shame.
“Sir I know you're better than this, you can make up for your sins you just need to face the past. I lowered my gaze as the little girl hugged me, the colors of the galaxy reflecting in her eyes
“Please don't go,” she begged “don't go,” at the time I wasn't sure why she was so desperate not to be left alone. “I'm not gonna leave you child. Ima just find us a town close by we can stay at. This ain't no place for a you ta be stayin all yer life. I'll be back in a few hours time.”
She ran into my arms and embraced me for a long while, her warmth breath pressing into my stomach. I didn't want to let go.
When I walked out and back out into the desert I had been walking just a few feet out of the city boundary when I turned back and the entire ghost town had vanished from reality.
I found a town couple miles in and later went back and searched for the little girl. I searched for hours but it was as if the place never existed. Wasn't till later that I heard rumor from the townsfolk of a small place that burned down over ten years ago when a group of thugs came to seek revenge for being robbed by a local roughian who lived there. I never saw that little town again and really I never needed to.