I have no idea what this is, where it came from or where it’s going, but I wrote the words down nonetheless. I’ll chuck it on the ‘Random’ pile, and maybe, one day, perhaps, it might turn into something. You never know. In the meantime, any ideas would be appreciated.
Aton gripped the steering wheel tighter, whether in anticipation, excitement or nervousness he knew not. The old truck’s headlights speared the darkness ahead, trying without much success to penetrate the night, and as a result Aton and his wares travelled the lonely highway at a little over walking pace.
Despite the smoothness of the recently relaid road, the truck rattled and wheezed as though struggling over the roughest terrain. Aton paid it no heed, his truck had been his faithful travelling companion for many a year, and had yet to let him down. He couldn’t help but wonder though at the wisdom of a government who would spend millions on an infrequently travelled road, while its country’s people suffered in poverty.
The last time Aton had travelled this road it had been nothing more than a rutted track meandering from village to village. That had been almost forty five years ago, and he had been heading in the opposite direction. Now the majority of the once thriving villages were deserted, their crumbling ruins decaying year after year, returning at a snail’s pace into the desert from which they had risen. The road though, that had flourished over the years.
“Nearly forty five years, imagine that,” Aton spoke aloud, startling himself as he broke the silence. “Why, that must make me almost,” he grinned, unwilling to acknowledge the unforgiving march of time. “Old enough to know better, let’s leave it at that.” The truck rattle rattle wheezed in reply, agreeing in its own way with its driver.
Far out across the desolate landscape, to Aton’s left, dawn began to break. The horizon brightened, flushed pink as though embarrassed to encroach into night’s domain. The eastern desert crept into view, its boulders, rocks and occasional withered Joshua tree all glowed in soft pinks and reds, while the dusty desert floor remained stained deepest purple. Aton knew that as soon as the sun rose high enough the desert would revert to its usual dull greys and dun browns, but for now it showed off its true beauty in all its glory.
The desert lay for uncounted miles towards the rising sun, and as far as Aton knew it could reach to the ends of the Earth. He had no idea what, if anything, lay on the other side of the sun-blasted land, and had no desire to find out. He had heard tales of fabulous cities inhabited by strange, six limbed people, of man eating monsters and fire breathing dragons. He had also heard stories of crumbling villages and corrupt governments, much like this side of the desert, so who knew?
The truck bounced and lurched, and the steering wheel juddered in his hands as man and machine ran over something in the road. Aton tore his gaze from the pink flushed desert and back to the highway, his face turning the same shade of pink as he realised he hadn’t been paying attention to his driving. His foot pressed the brake pedal all the way to the floor, and eventually the old vehicle began to slow. Aton peered into the cracked wing mirror, but the approaching dawn hadn’t as yet reached this far. Behind the truck all was blackness.
Silence descended as Aton’s vehicle ground to a halt and he switched off the rattling engine. He paused for a moment while he uttered a quick prayer that what he had hit had been nothing more than a careless desert animal attempting to cross the usually deserted road. Rust clogged hinges squealed in protest as he opened the cab’s door, and the chill night desert air rushed inside. In another hour or so the sun would bake the land once more, but right now Aton shivered and reached for his jacket.
And there you go, that’s shallot.