I pushed myself up against the rock, lifted my gaze to the horizon, wiped the sweat out of my eyes, and blinked against the salty sting. By squinting, I could cancel out some of the glare from sun glinting off hundreds upon thousands of tiny white sand crystals…or was it hundreds of millions? Either way, I could just about make out the line where brilliant blue-white sky met brilliant gold-white sand. It couldn’t be as straight and mercilessly empty as it looked, could it? When the sun lowered I would be able to see more clearly, find some point of reference.
It’s strange how things work out. One moment I was about to close the deal of a lifetime and the next it all collapsed, like a seemingly perfect cake whose middle suddenly and unstoppably sinks before your eyes. I had even precisely followed every step of the Manual this time. It’s not supposed to get you robbed, beaten and abandoned in the middle of nowhere.
Oh well, no sense in brooding. We travelling merchants are made of sterner stuff than that. And it was important to get back, so my experiences could be analysed and added to the Manual.
I decided to rest against my rock until sunset. Then maybe the horizon would reveal more. If not, I’d use the stars to follow a consistent direction. Walking at night should keep me alive longer. I had to believe that I would see a different horizon before it was too late. It was all the hope that I had and it was what the Manual suggested.