Alone in the Sahara Desert
It was high sun by the time Vivian reached her destination point, which according to the map, was the Grand Erg Oriental. But for most of the locals it was known of the Sand Sea. She was here to investigate the theorized sand rivers and take several specimens of sand from different locations five feet deep (while in the process of checking for artifacts). About three years ago several scientists had attempted to explain how the Sahara had come to be and exactly how old it was. She had build her thesis off such a process and hoped that discovering artifacts would become significant to pinpointing the exact age of the Sahara.
Other archaeologists had discovered artifacts on the tip of the Sand Sea closest to Shatt Al Gharsah and so she figured by marking out a quarter mile to the edge of Algeria; she would have a better chance at discovering unknown artifacts. She held her compass in her hand and glanced at her notebook. It was only Thursday today but her team for deeper exploration would be coming by Friday.
She clicked her watch shut and reached into the back of the Wrangler to withdraw her markers and ribbons and began to mark out the territory of her first digging. After a while of tagging she had marked out a five by ten zone and she stopped to take a break. She buried her face within the shayla to block out some of the sand. Her loose clothing whipped around her thin figure and the warmth had caused a layer of sweat to break out upon her forehead.
She took a break to stop for water and dipped her head to the humidity of the jeep. It was everything she had expected.
Only being out here for four hours alone in the silence of the whipping winds was enough to make anyone feel desperate. Her mind briefly wandered back to Ryan.
Vivian stared out into the winds for a while longer before taking up her shovel and jars to take samples and approached the marked off area. She shoveled until her hands grew sore and blisters began to bubble beneath the skin on her palms. She had gotten a few feet deeper after about twenty minutes of shoveling and soon had a pile full on the opposing side of the territory. She bent to scoop up sand samples that were still dry and began to carve out an opening to the wet sand that she knew lay underneath.
She dug for a while more until her shovel struck something with a light clang. Vivian raised her brow in curiosity and leaned forwards to brush her fingers through the sand. Surprisingly, she had discovered a large band of gold that was too large for a ring but too small for a bracelet. She held it up to the sunlight in curiosity. It was beautiful. She could not tell if it was pure gold or not, but it was a bronzed color from age. Vivian supposed it was ancient, but she would need to test it to determine the real age of the artifact.
“I’ve found something dad. .. “ She whispered out loud to herself and held it up into the air above her head. “I’ve found something!” She leapt from her eight foot deep hole that she had burrowed with difficulty and clamored noisily to the wrangler. She stared at the band eagerly and turned it over in her roughened hands. Small designs embroidered the exterior in symbolic patterns and she slid it onto her thumb curiously.
She had to put it somewhere she would not lose it, and so after much thought she slid it onto the chain of her necklace to hide it under her shirt. Who knew what potential or reward this artifact could bring her, and she certainly did not want the crew to take it from her- or know of it.
But it was then that she glanced backwards down into the hole. A solid surface she remembered striking besides the ring. Vivian eased herself back into the hole cautiously, staring at the ground before rubbing her hand through the sand beneath her feet. It was a solid surface. After another hour of digging it was soon revealed to her that it was a structure of sorts beneath the sand. Her eyes widened in surprise at such a massive discovery. What was it? An old building preserved by the desert?
She would need the team to further uncover the structure and so she hoisted herself out of the trench and back into the bright sunlight of the afternoon.
Soon she took to building up the tent and structuring the poles deep enough into the sand till they stuck. She tossed the cloth over the poles and tied them tightly to the adjacent post.
She climbed inside to lay out a lamp as the winds whipped- but the tent held together. Vivian feasted upon a light meal of dehydrated pork and a can of shredded broccoli. “One day down. . .” She whispered to herself and laid her head down upon the bed roll she had spread out.
Although the sand was hard beneath her hands, it could not harm her in here for now. The expedition was supposed to be fifty days in order to dig up a quarter mile of the Sand Sea. She stared up at the top of the tent. Her eyes were wide in curiosity and excitement. The radio announced in scratchy English and Swahili that a sand storm was coming tomorrow afternoon and she headed the warning. She really had not put much out into the sand so it would be easy to assemble back into the Wrangler.
She squeaked in excitement once more once the radio quieted down. Her father hadn’t lied. It had not been for nothing. There were adventures and unknown things out here beneath the sand. She grasped for the ring again and pressed it to her lips and held it near her face to stare at it once more. It hung easily around her thumb, and she supposed that the person who had designed it had either a large finger or a tiny arm.
She twirled it around between her forefinger and thumb before closing her eyes. She was closer than ever to discovering something phenomenal. She would go back home and write a book on her discovery. She would write for papers she would rub her victories into Ryan’s face. She scrunched up her nose in girlish joy before settling down once more. Her heart thudded in her chest. And she had no idea what time she had finally fallen asleep before the stars danced above her head yet again.
“You found it. .. “ The boy’s voice whispered again solemnly in her ear as he pranced around her tugging the chain upon her neck and leading her into the darkness. Where had the beautiful boy with the wonderful eyes gone? Replaced by this monstrous voice and body? She slapped his hand away from her and struggled to back away before he closed in to attempt to rip the ring from around the chain. “You’re not worthy!”
"Leave me be Alexander!" She cried out and dug her nails into his hands.
The boy hissed between his teeth. She screamed as the chain choked her and she pleaded for the nightmare to stop. But it did not and she was drug across the ground by the necklace. “Leave it.” The voice growled before the world around her grew black yet again.
Vivian’s eyes fluttered open to take in the intense whistling that surrounded her tent. The wind was powerful and she opened the flap of the tent to notice the swirling of the sand that collected up into the air into almost a tunnel. She squinted her eyes through the storm and then she noticed the nearly hundred foot wall of sand barreling her way. Panicked, Vivian snatched up her belongings as quickly as possible from within the tent. The storm was not supposed to arrive until tomorrow! The scratchy radio voice was soon drowned out by the crashing of sand waves.
The ring swung wildly around her neck along with her hair as she bolted to the open back of the jeep wrangler. She was nearly pushed over with another gust of wind and a face full of sand that scorched her eyes. She could have sworn she had seen some structure in the distance. “Aqueducts?” She blinked again to clear her vision. The sand had washed away from the structure in a pool revealing pieces of ancient aqueducts that stood proudly against the winds. What were they doing here in such a desolate place?
“Shit!” She howled loudly and could see the jeep ahead she forced her legs to move against the walls of sand that smashed into her. It was so close just five feet away like she had purposely planned for. She grabbed onto the handle of the back of the vehicle and swung it open. Several packages of supplies nearly flew out from the suction of air. The wind increased as the sand storm closed around her and she had just placed her foot into the open back of the jeep when a large object came soaring in her direction through the air.
Vivian screamed when it collided with her and she could have sworn it resembled a barrel. Off in the distance she could have sworn she saw a few white tents hurling about in the wind. It was close to morning so had her crew finally arrived to help excavate? She was hallucinating.
She lost her grip on the handle of the jeep and was tossed face first into the sand as another wave washed over her. She felt hot blood pool over her hair line where the barrel had struck her. Vivian cried for anyone to help her and she was knocked over again as she tried to stand up. She thought she had seen bodies running toward her in shawls of black material; but it just her imagination.
She was alone in the Sahara desert.
This was not how she pictured her first day of the expedition. She thought of Sam’s arms and Brit’s warm smile and the cold wind whipped through her hair and tore at the fabric that covered her mouth. Her eyes were thick with sand as she tried to look for the Jeep. But alas it was lost to her in the sand. She coughed and gagged as the air became nearly impossible to breath and she felt her heartbeat slow.
She wandered a few steps before she was forced down again. She begged the gods to let the sand stop before she drown. She could no longer see and so she stumbled blindly. . . until she felt her legs no longer move. But rather, a sinking sensation pulled at her lower body. She shrieked in surprise and tugged her legs- but she was being swiftly yanked into the mass of sand with every second.
Quicksand is twice as dense as the body and Vivian immediately knew it was the end. Dry quicksand.. she had heard of that being present in the Sahara. Only this sand did not just simply trap her like it was supposed to- it swallowed her. “Sam!” Vivian screamed out and flailed her arms as she felt the sand engulf her chest in warmth and finally cover her lips as she tried to cry for her dead family. Her eyes filled with the sand and she gasped in for breath but all she got was mud. She felt her lungs give out and her mind wandered to happier places.
She thought of the ring and Sam reaching out to her with his warm gentle hands. She thought of Brit snagging her up into her arms to pet her hair and call her Vivi Vivi. Her dad and his skillful words in the warmth of the sun beneath the flowers. She thought of the boy in her dreams for a brief moment as he choked the air from her lungs. She gagged on the slick darkness.
And then she thought no more.