A Line Through The Oasis
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The old willow tree, with its verdant leaves once swaying finely like a warm breeze, now lies there rotten and withered, a husk of its former self. The leaves have dried, and the bark crumbles before your fingers; the air is still and unforgiving, not even granting the vines one last chance to sway like it did before they rot eternally. What was once its verdant home is now a sterile wasteland of sand, and it stands as the last lonely remnant of what once was.

You cut the tree down without effort, granting it a swift death. You figure it’s the best you can do.


You’ve always continued. Through the Sinking. Through the deaths of everyone you’ve ever loved. Through all the hateful gazes and piercing insults, through all the wounds and bruises and blood and tears, you’ve continued.

And after all this, only one reason drives you to continue.

Your boots thump against the uneven, slippery sand as your knife rattles in its hilt; you never managed to steal enough to purchase a gun. You gaze over the boundless sea of sand extending through the horizon as your pace quickens along with your heartbeat. The sand and dust and chemicals sting your lungs, and the crimson sun above burns its wrath onto you.

As you close the distance between you and your targets, you start to hear whispers of chatter moving the wind. Whispers of mundanity, of routine, of a life you once knew. Whispers of what they took away. Whispers to be silenced.

Finally, you see it: a lone carriage resting peacefully by an oasis, its walls decorated by polished metal embellishments. Two camels lap water from the cerulean pool, bound to the carriage by leather reins. The smoky stench of tobacco assaults your nostrils as you catch sight of a trio of men, all wearing Guard uniforms. They catch sight of you, regarding you with a strange, mild interest.

“Hello, gentlemen.” You barely meet their eyes.

The Guard closest to you, a short man with thick-rimmed glasses and messy stubble, pauses his whistling for a second to chuckle softly. “Didn’t think I’d see another fool wander this desert.”

“Well, I’m really just passing by.”

“Well, pass by, then,” another Guard grumbles. Short, trimmed hair and a lanky body frame a pair of dark, tired eyes and a sour frown.

You ignore him and sit by the oasis, pooling its clear water in your hands.

The third Guard, a tall man with long chestnut hair, merely sighs and continues smoking his cigarette.

Your knife feels heavier on your waist.

“I’m just drinking some water.” You pass a glance at the pistols on their belts. They’re all standing relatively close to each other, but if they were to be suddenly attacked at close range…well, their pistols would take longer to ready than your knife.

You see the path. Continue.

You take one last sip of the fresh spring water before standing up to face the Guards. All stare you down with piercing glares; you avoid them and look forward towards the distant sand dunes. You slowly raise your hand to your waist as you move forward, each step stirring the loose sand beneath your feet. Three steps, until you can place yourself right between the long-haired Guard and the lanky one. Two steps, until you have to do it all yet again. One step, and you draw your knife.

A swift spin, a flash of silver light off steel, and the two Guards flanking you crumble along with all they had.

A bloodcurdling scream rings through the air as the bespectacled Guard draws his pistol; you swing your arm to knock it away the second the glint of the dark metal reflects the scorched sunlight into your eyes. As the gun flies down onto the soft sand, you tackle the man down along with it and prime your knife at his neck.

Despaired anger shifts to primal fear in the Guard’s eyes as he flails against your grasp; you merely inch the cold edge of the blade further into his neck. “No,” his voice quivers, “Please, no, I- I’ll do anything, I’ll do what you want, just please let me go!

You look down; your stone-grey eyes meet his hazel ones. They shimmer with nothing but fear; fear of you, fear of your knife, fear of death. His voice is but a whimper. “I- I- I don’t want to die…”

Your breath catches in your throat; you hesitate, weakened by his primitive, helpless plea.

Why are you hesitating?

Grit your teeth. Don’t pause. Of course he’s scared. Everyone is scared to die. I was scared to die. I died anyway. You didn’t. You’re still alive, and you’re still moving. So move forward, and continue, Dad.

Let his pathetic whimpering pleas be his last words.

The shifting of the sands seems gentler when it’s quiet. As you put the final body to peace beneath the sands, the wind finally wakes and threatens to blow away your hours of progress for a moment, before peacefully settling again. The blood-red sun hangs just above the horizon, its temper calmed for a fleeting moment. The desert’s sunset is somewhat dull without clouds to reflect the dying sunlight throughout the sky; the sun only lights the sky around it in a musky orange, without painting it with any streaks or flairs that any other sunset would have.

You know there’s more to do. You know you can’t stop; you’ve never known how to stop. But the dying light seems to ask a question in its last breaths: Why?

And you answer: Is there a simpler reason than vengeance?

The sun silently nods under the horizon.

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