In honour of today, July 21st, 2011, as the weather reports say this will be the hottest day of the summer, lets start off with an inspired short story . . .
Breathing became difficult at this point. The air was so hot it felt as if my lungs were drowning, and worse still as the heat of the sand was slowly baking me alive as I crawled forward.
Oh, how I hate sand, I thought to myself as a curled my hands to avoid getting it under my nails, It gets everywhere and it takes forever to get rid of it all. I don’t understand how people can find it romantic to walk along a beach, knowing they’ll have to scrub their feet for a couple of hours to get rid of each every grain, ugh!
I cringed at the thought of what I’ll have to do once I get back from this little expedition. Endless sand dunes lay around me as I looked for signs of any life through slitted eyes. I quickly glanced up at the sun to measure the time, and once more it felt like it had never moved despite crawling for what seemed miles. I paused to take a breath, only to feel like gasping for air. While heat waves radiating from the sand and the inferno from above both cooking me alive, all I wanted to do was cry. I knew far too well that would waste good water, or at least they say so in the Dune book my father read to me as a child. What were the desert dwellers called . . . Fremen.
I miss you, daddy I struggled to hold back and a single tear rolled down my face. I quickly swiped it over my over-chapped lips, I will not cry! . . . I will not, cry! I looked up and saw the faint shadow of a tubby man, taking off his spectacles to clean them.
Dad! I reached out my arm to wave, as the faint mirage disappeared. I can’t do this anymore! I’m stuck in a desert with no hope of rescue!
“WHY?!” I tried to scream, my coarse throat choked the words out to a whisper. Gasping for air, I turned over to face the burning light that hung there in the sky, taunting me. “I give up . . .” I whispered as went silently into the night.
“Ashley!” someone said, echoing in my mind. The darkness played shadows and I felt like a hamster stuck in a ball as I was being shaken around. “Ashley, wake up!”
A stream of light broke through the night. I looked around at the infinite room, blurred motion and obscure clouds gave way to consciousness. “Ashley . . . are you alright?” A hand stroke my sweaty blond tresses away from my face. I inhaled. The air was clear and crisp; I could breath again. Looking up at the voice who beckoned me from my slumber, I raised my hand to block the overhanging light that blared in my eyes.
A strong jaw, an unshaven scruff, his lips beckoning and his eyes, a piercing blue that had broken many hearts. He ran his fingers through his short wavy locks, as he noticed my admiring gaze. Despite my shyness, he could always understand the millions things I would tell him in a single glance. “I’m fine.” I said with a smile, holding his hand for assurance.
“Doctor,” crackled a deep voice over the intercom. A knock on the window ahead, revealed the audience we had forgotten in the observation room. Stern looking military men scrutinized us from their perch, glancing to their fellow witnesses with nods of approval, as if they were gods looking down on their creations. A tall, clean shaven man in lavishly tailored suit pushed the intercom button again, “Doctor, how is the patient?” The Senator asked, his eyebrow dramatically raised to signal his impatience to the lack of response.
“The patient’s vitals are stable, and she’s responsive” David replied, not taking his gaze off me. He winked as a subtle smiled curled and then he glanced the assistant nurse for affirmation. “The test was a success.”
“We will determine that, Doctor” said the Senator as he privately conferred for a moment with the General next to him.
The General took over the com: “You have a go for the second set of tests. I’ll have the soldiers you requested on the base by o-height-hundred Monday of next week. You have until then to determine whether your patient is both physically and mentally fit according to regulations, and to produce enough of the serum for the new round test subjects. God speed.”
Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
1. What kind of serum do you think was being used and tested in this story? And what purpose do you think it will have for the military and government funding the project?
2. I have intentionally put in some subtle and not so subtle hints at the kind of characters in this story. What can you tell me about Ashley, David, the Senator and the General?