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By Joseph G Phillips All Rights Reserved ©




A desert spreading wider than any eye could see. Its sands a light brown and hardened by the heat. Stones and pebbles whitened from the heat cover across the sand. The scape of the desert a series of low hills encompassing a narrow dirt path winding across the body of the desert.

A humanoid figure moving with a slouching posture drags feet in brown leather boots down the dirt path. It is not the figure of a man, but of a boy. He is shirtless. The boy’s flat, hairless chest is tanned red and drenched with sweat. His sunburned arm holding his thin white shirt in a crunched ball.

The boy’s jeans are blue and baggy, one size too large for him. Folds bend out through the puffy legs to the brown boots. The dirty blonde hair of the boy’s head has been soaked by his sweating into gooey curls that twist over his forehead and spike up at the top. Under his straight, dark blonde eyebrows, two deep white eyes centered by cobalt eyeballs gaze straight ahead. The boy is looking for some sign of water or a rock to sit on. Peeling skin flakes on the boy’s crimson nose tell of how long he has journeyed under the desert sun.

The boy should cease this straining of himself, but he does not. In his mind hangs the misguided hope he will find an end to this desert, an end where there is food and water. He keeps dragging in those leather boots. His feet getting ever more bruised by the boots’ worn out soles. Holes in the boots draw in pebbles that scrape against the boy’s heels.

He feels dead tired. His exhaustion can be felt in the high rate of his heartbeat. The intense sweating makes his red skin shine and clearly shows the boy’s lungs to be at their breaking point. He falls to the gravel of the dirt path by way of his knees giving in. He appears to be kneeling, his arms hanging by his sides, his head wobbling. The boy wants to cry out to God for a miracle, but lacks the strength. He drops to the hard, sandy ground smashing his chest, forearms, and hands.

The flaking face of the boy is pressed to its left cheek; his beaming blue eyes are shut. Though he falls to sleep, the beating winds around the boy keep him awake. Slowly opening the lids of his eyes, the boy sees before him what looks to him like a small pool of dark water in the dirt path.

The boy’s vision is hazy from the exhaustion and from so much sweat dripping into his eyes. His visual of the pool of dark water is like an image through an obscured lens. He can’t tell if the pool is a water hole or merely a hole in the path of dirt. Something moves within the hole. Crawls out of the hole. Its motions are slow and fearsome. The clarity of the boy’s vision increases as his fear rises. He sees the hole has no water. It is a hole in the in path, in the earth of the desert. The thing crawling out of the hole. The boy can see it to be a large, black-skinned lizard with a very thick head and neck.

The lizard’s skin too is thick covered with colorful scintilla. It spits out a forked tongue at the boy. He recognizes the lizard to be a Gila monster. ‘A Gila Monster? ‘the boy thinks. ‘That thing will kill me!’ The Gila Monster lowers its bottom jaw exposing its crown of sharp teeth. The boy may be tired, and now terrified, but he still has a will to live and a willingness to fight for his life.

The Gila monster rises on its hind legs. Moves awkwardly to the boy who leaps to his defense using his hands to push himself up off the surface of the dirt path. Now standing tall over the Gila monster, the boy uses his much larger hands believing that by grasping the monster’s head he can twist and break it. The boy attempts at grabbing the monster’s head with both of his superior sized hands. Only the monster bites the boy’s left hand very hard. The boy feels excruciation to the point he screams and falls to his knees again. He is also feeling humiliation from being bitten, from being outsmarted by so small a lizard. The stinging of the monster’s venom runs through the boy’s bloodstream and burns all the way to his heart. He collapses to his face pressing against the dirt path once more wishing his try at breaking the monster’s head had worked and not understanding how it could have failed.

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