3: What the...?

(C) Geoff May

After all that just happened, I couldn't believe that none of it was real. The sights, the feelings, the sounds, the tastes... All so real! How could it... how? I couldn't bring myself to move. I just wanted to lie there and let it all finish, all end. My heart and soul couldn't take any more torment of this magnitude. I just lay... smelling the dry, bland smell of sand, and the smell of my own sweat - the need for thirst rising again.

Laying... the sound of the breeze passing by my ears; the feel of the grainy sand blowing in my face; the chirping of a bird; the- wait... bird? No. There's no way a bird could be out here. I turned my head to the side and there was a single bird flying across the sky. I chose not to believe, but it persisted on flying around me. I tried to imagine it not there, but it flew down and landed on my hand.

Looking at it, I saw it had two large green eyes, it's beek was black and it had a blue body with yellow highlights. This obviously wasn't right. I shook it off my hand and when I sat up, it had disappeared.

The wind had stopped and the sky had turned grey with blue clouds. The ground started to squirm with tiny black ants, and the horizon began to wave at me. I shook my head, thinking my thirst was starting to give me hallucinations, but they didn't go away.

I started to run, maybe I just needed to get some blood circulating again. Still, nothing. I tripped; then the familiar sound of air rushing by my head and the ground rising to meet my face showed itself again. I looked back to see what I had tripped over. It looked like a handle.

I ignored my surroundings and reached over to grip the handle. I pulled as hard as I could and freed a suitcase. Bewildered, I opened the locks, laid it flat, and slowly opened the top.

The suitcase would have been empty, except for a small hand-sized box. It was a remote control. I picked it up and looked at it. It had only one button - red. I had no choice but to press it. How could I have known what would happen next?

A slow rumble built up beneath my feet. Off in the distance I could see sand start slipping downwards, creating holes in the ground. I got up and immediately began to run.

There didn't seem to be any escape. The holes got bigger all around me. I once tried to jump over one, but my jump was only a foot short and I slid slowly into the sand; my face slowly disappearing into unknown horrors...