Entry 48 – Tears of the Desert
I am not sure how long I sat there. I remember the clamor, several people trying to talk to me, someone even tried to shake me into action. I suppose it must have been a deep state of shock. At some point I got up and started wandering around the camp and off into the desert.
Jim brought me back. I remember sitting in a tent, not understanding what was going on. Jim Twocrows towering above me, his face contorted with worry.
“Where’s Gail, Sam?”
Questions. Endless questions.
It took me some time to come to my senses. Jim was handing me a canteen and I, having suddenly realized how thirsty I was, emptied it almost instantly.
The tent was empty save for me, him and Dr. Az’dule. At that moment, I spilled the beans. I told Jim everything, much to the doctor’s disapproval, including the nature of the universe and everything that came along with it. Jim listened to my tale in silence, the only sign of his attention an occasional raised eyebrow and incredulous head shake. When I finished, he turned to Dr. Az’dule.
“Is this all true?”
The doctor took a few second to respond but in the end, he gave Jim a slow, careful nod.
Indeed, we’re all damned, I thought. The only idea we could come up with was to contact Ferguson and Murdoch immediately. Jim went outside to halt the departure procedures while I and Dr. Az’Dule went to the communications tent (which was always the last to be dismantled) and requested privacy from the two clearly worried officers inside. Both men departed with a sigh and, once again, I made sure nobody was spying on us before raising Ferguson and Murdoch on the horn.
Both of them listened to my recollection but somehow it didn’t seem either of them was taken by surprise. Irritated is perhaps the right word for the way both of them appeared on the screen. Their response was remarkably brief and didn’t offer any hope whatsoever.
“We need to convene. Samuel, you are to proceed to the objective as planned.”
My protests were cut short.
“This is an order. As for what transpired, tell no-one. Gail’s been abducted, that much is clear. It is a trap, but one that we have no choice but to walk into. Right now we cannot muster any more resources than you already have. You are Gail’s only chance. If you wish to get her back... go. Rescue her from whatever this... thing is.”
“But how do I...”
“Know the right place? Look for a metallic structure in the desert. A monolith. That’s how you’ll know.”
The last part told me they knew, as usual, far more than they were letting on. With the orders confirmed and the connection broken, I waved Jim into the tent and turned to my two companions.
Az’dule shrugged and sighed.
“Might as well tell you. This monolith, that’s the core of Murdoch’s tech. We don’t know where it came from but it allows him to harness the power to peer into alternate realities. I for one have no clue how it works. None of us do. We think that Murdoch discovered it somewhere by accident but he’d never discuss that particular topic.”
Another mystery then, just when I was finally hoping for some answers. Jim ran fingers through his hair in frustration.
“We best be on our way now. I do want to see Gail again.”
“So do I...” I mumbled. He gave me a knowing look and left the tent with Doctor Az’dule in tow.
Outside, it began to rain. This was something unheard of in this region and this time of the year and yet the desert was weeping in front of our very eyes as if lamenting Gail’s fate. How fortunate, the downpour would wash away any traces of my own tears that I finally allowed to roll down my face, I thought. Not that I’d truly cry... not that I’d admit crying, I corrected myself.
As our convoy slowly departed the oasis, we looked back only to discover the desert completely empty. Gone were the trees, gone was the small lake. Only the shifting sands left in their stead whispered their farewells to us, the doomed souls.