Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Part 2: Lost in the Red Sand

The man awoke as the suns were beginning to peak over the eastern horizon. He sat up with a guttural groan. Every muscle, joint, and bone in his body cried out in painful protest. His mouth was completely dry; dehydration moving into a more serious stage. He had to hydrate. He wouldn’t make it another hour under the suns if he didn’t. The man unzipped his backpack and dug through it until he found what he was looking for. He pulled out a small metal device in the shape of a wish bone. The two prongs were connected in the middle by a metal tube. A Hydrogenator. This little gadget was incredible. It pulled hydrogen and oxygen from the air, combining the two elements together to create water in real time as the user sucked it from the metal mouthpiece. The man powered the hydrogenator on and drank his fill. Once he was rehydrated he powered the device back off. He had to conserve its battery. The downside to this incredible device was that the power needed to allow it to generate H2O was so great that it could only create about a gallon of water before it had used up its energy reserves. Seeing as he had no other source of water, the hydrogenator was just as important to the man as his own heartbeat. He poured out the rest of the contents of his back pack onto the floor of the cave to assess his resources. There were a pair of sun goggles, his hydrogenator, a geological mineral locator, a small med kit, a tube of calorie paste, a 5 inch folding blade, and some high strength utility chord. The man had 50 more miles to travel and he had to get back this day. He squeezed out a thousand calories of calorie paste into his mouth and choked it down. He couldn’t stand the taste of the nutrient rich concoction. It tasted of salty mud with a hint of boiled cabbage. Bad as it tasted, the man could already feel his body growing stronger as it began burning through the scientifically formulated paste. He packed up his meager assortment of belongings, clipping the 5 inch folding blade to his belt and wrapping the utility chord around his hand. The Hunters were still out there searching for him and the knife and the chord could be used as some kind of self-defense if it came to a fight. The man shouldered his back pack and headed for the mouth of the cave. He might as well get going while the temperature was still semi-cool. As he neared the mouth of the cave he heard something that made his blood run cold. Voices, sounding almost human but with a raspy undertone that were unmistakably inhuman. The man dropped to the floor and army crawled as silently as he could to the edge of the cave. Peaking over the side, he saw them. Hunters. 
Camped directly beneath the base of the man’s cave were . . . well he didn’t exactly know what to call them. To say what first came to mind sounded ridiculous. But, then again, the fact that he was breathing without his pressure suit and supplemental oxygen was supposed to be ridiculous too. Whatever they were, they were humanoid. They were tall and well-muscled with a lean, vascular physique. Every single one of the five Hunters, as the man had decided to call them, couldn’t have been less than six foot four. They wore baggy pants, resembling sweat pants, made of a strange silky tan colored material. Their facial features were angular and chiseled making them strangely handsome. They had eyes that were twice as large as any human eyes the man had ever seen. Their hair was a shade of blonde so light that it was almost white and was shaved into short mohawks on each . . . man, he assumed. The two most significantly odd features about the Hunters were their skin and their feet. They all had skin that was a light pastel green color that made them stand out against the dark rust color of the desert sand. Their feet were less of feet and more a second pair of hands, like those of chimpanzees. The five hunters stood in a circle around a highly polished hemisphere of silver metal. The light from the rising suns hit the half sphere of metal and reflected intensely back onto the bare, green torsos of the hunters. Their voices continued to drift up to the man. By the tone of their gravelly voices they seemed to be shooting the shit, reminding the man of the way he and his buddies interacted while sipping coffee around the table before an early morning hunting trip. “Well that’s ironic,” the man thought silently. 
Looking to the right, he saw 5 creatures even stranger than those around the metal hemisphere. Tied to wooden stakes hammered into the hard packed red clay was what the man could only guess were the green men’s steeds. Eight feet tall at their shoulders, each beast was covered with lustrous, light purple-gray hair like that of a horse. They had streamlined, feline-like bodies reminding the man of massive cheetahs. Their legs were chorded with rippling lean muscles that led to three pronged hoof-like feet similar to those of a chameleon. They had arched backs, making them ideal for sitting upon. Their heads were feline as well with big, round eyes. Even from the man’s distance he was awestruck by their eyes. Each beast had a unique eye color; emerald green, glowing gold, sky blue, shimmering silver, and ruby red. They were paralyzing beautiful creatures. Just gazing at them made the man’s already pounding heart beat even faster. The beast with the dark, ruby red eyes looked up at him. The man was not alarmed. He met the animal’s eyes and pleasantly felt his fear and stress melt off his body like hot wax. He let out a deep, contented sigh as his thoughts took on a serene type of peacefulness. A voice, far away, deep within his consciousness, whispered a panicked warning. “Look away,” it said. But before he could respond, that too was swept away by euphoric nirvana. 
His mind seemed to drift out of his brain and float around his head. He could sense the dust particles hanging in the air of the cave. The light from the rising suns felt tangent and physical. The man continued to gaze into those ruby red eyes. Then, something seemed to pierce into his liberated consciousness. Excruciating pain ripped into the man’s skull. His very being seemed to be burning, spreading through him like a raging wildfire. And still the man gazed into those ruby red eyes. Pain flooded through every fiber of his body. He wanted to scream, but he couldn’t open his mouth. He wanted to run, but he couldn’t move his legs. He wanted to think, but it felt as if something was holding back his consciousness; forbidding it from using any kind of cognitive ability. The red-eyed beast then slowly opened its mouth. White, gleaming canines bore up at him. The man watched the beast inhale a breath of air. His mind broke free and screamed to his body, “RUN YOU DUMBASS, RUN! IT’S ABOUT TO—,” the animal roared. 

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