So you can read my books

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

WEP_A picture is worth 1000 words: Haunted Desert

I am giving my entry for the WEP challenge this month a bit early

(Who knows the way my luck is going!):

{455 Words}


An illustrious company of adventurers are out to find the time-lost city of Amarna in 1895,

little knowing it a trap laid by Samuel McCord's most deadly enemy.


A sudden hush settled heavy on the sands.  I almost felt it weigh down upon my shoulders.  A physical silence like a roaring wind enveloped all of us.  The Ningyo bodyguards proved to be more than killers. 
They were as adept at desert clearing as much as Meilori’s diggers.  Particles of shimmering sand rode the Ningyo-made winds, looking nothing so much as mourning ghosts of some lost, accursed antiquity in the twilight.

Abigail Adam’s fingers went to her open mouth.  In fact, everyone stood stunned, looking at the desert sand being scoured in front of us to make a level plain large enough to contain some haunted mansion like the House of Usher.

Nikola Tesla stood death-still with some glittering machine in his large hands.  He aimed it at the heap of scarlet material that was our tent.  It slowly fluttered and fluffed as if it were some strange creature out of nightmare just awakening.  Tesla raised the machine, and the enormous tent spread out and up, its fabric wings flaring out with a leathery rustling.

Sammy Clemens’s daughters cried out and stumbled backwards.  Howard Carter made a sound much like them and followed their example.  Winston Churchill, his fist on the hilt of his sword, stepped towards Lucy.  Abigail noticed his movements with a grim smile.  She led Lucy back slowly a few steps. 
Oscar Wilde and Sammy, long grown used to Tesla’s marvels, just stepped back prudently, their eyes admiring the crimson fabric sweeping out and around.  The burnished, sharp stakes jutted abruptly from its bottom like a netherworld raptor preparing to strike.

Meilori flowed beside me, her Sphinx face glowing, “Is not my Wizard a wonder, Samuel?”

“Yes, he certainly is.”

But I was filled with wonder myself over something else entire.  Why had Meilori chosen this site to set up our tent?  We could have gone on for an hour more.

It was remote in the desert wastes this nameless ruin, crumbling and inarticulate with pillars wind-scoured of inscription, its low walls nearly hidden by the sands of uncounted ages. It must have been like this before the first stones of Memphis were laid, and while the bricks of Babylon were yet unbaked.

There was no legend so old as to give these ruins a name, or to recall that they were ever alive; but these ruins were spoken of in whispers around campfires and muttered about by Bedouins in their tents, praying softly to Allah for protection.

I have always known that I was an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men.  But these ruins whispered to me that mankind was a stranger to the times when they were first shaped by hands that were not hands.


  1. My cynical, grumpy self is loving mankind portrayed as an outsider. I think interloper is close to the mark some days.
    A fascinating taster - thank you.

  2. The Hidalgo trailer looks good.

    I was reminded of O'Toole's Lawrence of Arabia, as I was when reading your excerpt from TSBM. The desert has its own mystique. When you add Tesla and Meilori - watch out.

  3. D.G.:
    HILDAGO is one of my favorite movies -- given my hero, Samuel McCord, that is no surprise, right?

    Bast is in the mix, too. So, yes, watch out!

    My prayers are still with you and your husband!!

  4. Lawrence of Arabia...D.G. was clever to think of that. Sweeping vistas inspired by your photo. I have been to the Sahara. Have met Bedouins. This brought back great memories. Thanks Roland.

  5. D.G. is a clever lady. :-) The Sahara was much too hot for me! The Bedouins looked at my Stetson with amusement! :-) I'm glad I got some happy memories brought back your way. Thanks for being my friend, Roland

  6. I loved the feel of the desert openness and the age we can only dream about and hardly comprehend. Great setting and I loved the photo. I always think of Lawrence whenever there is desert involved!

  7. Lisa:
    I love Maurice Jarre's musical score for LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. A friend dubbed me Lawrence of Suburbia long ago and in another, more innocent time. :-)

    I'm glad I managed to come close to the sense of extreme age and desolation I was going for. Have a great mid-week!

  8. Lovely descriptions. I look forward to reading more.

  9. The desert has a way of making one feel like an outsider anytime. The descriptions took me back to Sinai, lovely and desolate. "shaped by hands that were not hands" loved that!

    Best wishes,

  10. Hi Roland
    Once again you prove your talent of capturing description and dialogue while raising questions in the readers mind and making us want more. Excellent.

  11. Beautiful prose and sentiment Roland. This description is evocative. Love your turn or phrase.

    Ah, Hidalgo is one of my favorite movies. I have the DVD and watch it frequently.