[Image: The Floating Fence of the desert sands in Imperial County situated between Yuma, Arizona and Calexico, California. Photo by David McNew/Getty Images (Via).]
He was irretrievably lost. A tiny island of barely recognizable human life wriggling in the desert’s bosom. He escaped the others, they escaped him. The past three days he’d been chasing swells of a fata morgana that conquered sand mounds like untouchable mercurial nipples glistening in inhospitable sun – those great harbingers of uncertainty. Today, she stalks him. He cringes upon every peak high enough to glance her wandering castle lapping at him in the distance, from one direction to the next. The Devil’s breath blows over him and chills his bones -- he shivers even though the sands hellishly scorch his knees, the bottoms of his feet and hands.
He no longer drags himself fast enough to leave a trail. There is no sign of him from one second to the next other than his body provided it keeps moving.
Then, he sees a long black horizon sloping over giant sleeping ogres of sand like a creation myth's shadow blanket many more peaks and valleys beyond him. It might even have moved since he noticed it, he can be sure of nothing anymore.
The winds sweep across the desert and a raspy sadhu voice whispers in his ear – be clear of the sand dragon that turns men into snakes. They sleep under its belly to cool from the burning sands, your footsteps over many dunes away will awaken them. If you try to go around it beware, they’ll appear in the mounds by the dragon’s tail watching you…like a tribe of human serpents popping up for view. Those who sleep with the dragon will surround you and rob you and murder your sons at night, leave you squirming in a bottomless pit for the sun to claim your eyes and the sand to bury you, until you become a snake like them. They’re thieves writhing in the dust, evil herders of lost souls doing the sand dragon’s work. Many of my best sons have been swallowed by the nomadic fortress, with your bones you will keep it fed.
Yet, drawn to it he was. As if survival could only wait for him in this long and narrow shadow of the world. A phantasm to scare him from crossing this unimaginable border, or would he really rather die with snakes than fall prey to the fata morgana alone? With the Devil's breath peeling burnt skin from the back of his neck he slithered towards it.
[See also: Floating Fences 1 (Imperial County)]