I watch him as he watches her.
I am an ancient being set apart from time. Before today I have seen him many times, both from close and afar. Part of him is twinned with me. He glimpses but knows not. We share the spirit of a dreamtime ancestor of this ancient land, one which calls us to him. Soon I will reclaim him. I will never release him, no matter what comes to pass.
And he will bring with him another. She neither knows nor sees what approaches. She thinks the future is her own. But she is as linked to him as he is to me. She will think she is free, but the links will hold her fast. When it is time I will claim her too.
A man stands alone above the shoreline, partly hidden by the foliage of a tree. He watches her. He desires her.
He wants to know who she is and all about her.
He came to Cairns early today, a week after hunting down a man. His end came far out in the Arabian Desert. It was fitting.
He remembers that day. What little remains of that man, once the birds and jackals finish their pickings, will soon be bleached white, matching the shade of the sand, then fast covered and hidden from sight within ever-shifting dunes.
He feels no remorse, only a small satisfaction that it is done. It was a kinder end than what this man offered to some he hurt. Where justice fails, vengeance is his part.
Now he is back in his homeland, this vast empty sweep of the familiar. It is a harsh land with odd fingers of civilisation like this tourist mecca on the beach. Here is a place of visitors, many visitors, some beautiful. He has known and sampled others alike to this one he watches now. Some have gone on their way, returned to their own lands. Some never left this land but are become a permanent part of its substance. For some it was from misfortune. For others it was due to his actions.
He feels faint regret at their passing, but it is now separated from him by layers of far distance, the distances of time and loss, and, moving beyond that, the distance of new experience.
Now he seeks another. He has just seen her standing on the beach. She appears like some he has known before, breathtaking in her beauty and vitality. He senses her wanton abandon as he watches, distant, through the tree. She dips toes in wavelets, dark hair flowing back. She sweeps hands above her head and arches her body backwards, goddess like, as if embracing the sun. He senses she is ripe for taking, hungry for the many new experiences and adventures he can offer; that she will come willingly if he but asks.
He must be more careful this time, lest some new bad thing happens to her. He senses she is both courageous and breakable.
Susan relaxes into her seat as the aeroplane levels out. She is going home, still alive. She glances at her hands. One tightly clutches her passport and boarding pass—her tickets to freedom—the other grips the armrest of her seat. She forces herself to loosen her grasp and pack her travel documents away. She prays to God to let it all be over. She has escaped; the evil is gone from her life. Soon she will be home free.
As these thoughts flow through her awareness she senses another is there, watching her, waiting and biding its time.
She shudders and pushes the idea out of her mind.
I am the watcher – she thinks she is free.
My time will come – she will return to me.