I flailed my arms helplessly as I fell, screaming wildly as a strong, violent wind tore at me. The wind howled in my ears as it batted me around like a paper ball, tossing me this way and that. The cyclone-like wind suddenly bent, redirecting me haphazardly to a level position, as if I were lying down instead of falling. It felt like the wind was dying down- I was sorely mistaken as a gust with the force of a freight train forced my ears to pop, rendering everything to a muffled state as I felt my body make contact with solid ground. I groaned as my eyes fluttered open, briefly taking in the sight of miles and miles of sand. I shut my eyes, and found myself falling into unconsciousness.
"Wow, look at that thing"
"Ew, where did that come from?"
"Can it even talk?"
I was roused from my sleep at the sound of three separate voices, all chiming in at the same time. I took a deep breath, before opening my eyes- the lids felt heavy against my eyes as I blinked. I heard three pairs of footsteps scramble against the floor, and was greeted with the sight of...nothing.
"Huh?" I said dumbly, wondering just where I was.
"Hey, you alright there? You just kinda...appeared" a male voice said, sounding significantly older than the other three I'd just heard.
I sat up, my limbs burning as I did, like I'd just run three marathons without stopping.
Something gritty slapped over my mouth, silencing me.
"None o' that, pal, there be children present" the male voice said.
'Holy- a real- no, this can't be real...this isn't real...'
"Hey, buddy, snap out of it!"
I did, and I still couldn't believe what I was seeing- standing over me was a pile of sand, not too crazy, right?Wrong, this particular pile of sand had human features- well, at least a pair of eyes and a mouth, other than that, it was a little difficult to make anything out.
"'Bout time you woke up" the 'sand-man' said, taking its hand off my mouth "Thought you were a goner there for a while"
"Wh-where am I?" I managed.
"What? Did you get hit on the head, too?" he laughed "Oh...you're serious...well- you're in Arkia right now"
"What? What's that, like the name of the town or something?"
The sand-man stared at me like I just grew three heads...
...whew, still only got the one...
"Did you really hit your head...or you just pullin' my leg?"
"I have absolutely no idea where I am or what's going on" I replied.
The sand-man 'hmmph'd', and sat back.
"Arkia's the name o' the land" he said "What idiot don't know the name o' their own land?"
"Me, apparently" I replied "Where I'm from, things like you don't exist-"
His face suddenly grew dark, and he looked about ready to attack me.
"You best be careful what you call a 'thing' 'round here, then" he warned "Lotta the residents won't take too kindly t' that"
"Oh, right, sorry...I uh...wasn't thinking..."
"Hey, s'fine mate, s'long as y' didn't know" he said, reaching over to slap me on the back.
"Uh, yeah, sure..."
"Alrighty then, let's get y' straightened out" he said, standing up "C'mon, I'll show you around"
I stood as well, and followed the sand-man out the door, the three shorter ones following.
"So...uh...what's your name?" I asked the sand-man.
"Grit" he responded "Yours?"
"Nice to meet you"
"So, where do y' come from? Must be pretty far if y' never heard o' Arkia"
"Sounds like an interesting place"
"Yeah, sure is"
'Considering I just made it up...'
I glanced back to the three still following us.
"Who are they?" I asked.
"Children" he responded simply.
"Who's children?" I asked, rolling my eyes.
"They're orphans, they're everyone's children"
"Oh..." I looked back to the three, still following us "Sorry..."
"S'alright" the boy responded.
'Shake it off...freak out later...freak out later...'
I repeated the mantra in my head until our group came upon a large, rectangular hole in the wall.
'Must be a door' I deduced.
The sun suddenly made itself known as we exited the house, the rays beating down relentlessly as we walked out into the open. I noticed that there were about a dozen more sand-people walking about, perfectly fine- as if the sun's heat didn't bother them.
'Makes a bit of sense...' I thought 'they're made of sand...I guess I'd be more surprised if they aren't affected like I am'
You know what else? This...this place...it's crazy- I mean, this is like something out of a sci-fi movie. Being the nerd that I am, this is practically a dream come true- well, if I can find a way back home, that is...
A shiver ran down my spine, despite the blazing heat.
'I will find a way home...'
"Hey, Jack" Grit called "The heat gettin' t' ya?"
I shook my head, clearing it for the moment.
"No, just thinking a bit"
"I get y', anytime I'm away from this place, makes me a bit homesick myself"
I nodded absently.
"So- uh- what other kind of...uh...people live here? In this land, I mean"
"Don't really know all of 'em" he responded "Know there's a few types o' dragons enjoy the heat, see one of 'em huntin' out there every once in a while"
"Yeah, dragons, y'know, they got scales? Breathe fire?"
"I know what a dragon is"
"Then why'd you ask?"
"I d- nevermind..."
"Might want t' ask someone else 'bout some o' the other people, don't really know much beyond what I seen in that respect"
"Oh, well, thanks anyway"
"No problem at all"
Before I knew it, we had crossed the street, and were now entering another home.
"What are we doing here?" I asked.
"Thought y' could use somethin' in your stomach before y' go on your way"
"I- could just use some water, thank you"
"No mate, it's unhealthy to cross the desert on an empty stomach"
"How much desert do I have to cross?"
"Not much, couple miles at the most"
"Then...yeah...guess I will..."
Another slap on the back, and he laughed.
"Now you're gettin' it!"
"Come on in" he said "What'll y' have?"
"Um, just anything you have"
"Let's see...got rocks, you like rocks? Plenty a' obsidian and graphite"
"You guys eat rocks?"
"Mostly, among other things" he said "Why? You not have a taste for 'em?"
"Uh, no, my kind can't eat rocks..."
"Huh...never woulda guessed..."
'What's that supposed to mean?'
"Well...can I just take the water? Then I can be on my way"
"I got a bit, not much water here in the desert- we really don't got much use for it, anyway"
Grit passed me two small clay pots, I set one down and popped off the lid, finding the water almost to the brim. I put the lid back on, and picked up the two bottles.
"Thank you, really" I said, reaching out to shake Grit's hand.
"Hey, no problem" he said, his hand meeting mine.
We shook, and I shivered a bit at the feel of his grainy hand against mine.
"Well, I'm saying it anyway" I said.
He waved dismissively.
"No problem, anyway" he said "Don't forget t' drop by sometime"
"I, uh...will if I can..."
He grinned, and I left the house, walking once more into the heat as I waved back to the sand-people inside.
I sighed to myself as I passed the city limit, and stared out at the expansive desert.
'Better start walking...' I moaned inwardly.
A/N: Hope you've liked it so far, please R&R to let me know what you think. There's always room for improvement.
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