Copyright Daniel Moore 2010
A flicker of time passed. The stars were smudged with blood, like a camera lens capturing pictures in the crimson-smeared hands of a weary photographer. Another flicker; the world was ending, the atmosphere was wrong, the sun shone through too intense, too yellow even through the blood. It was painful to keep eyes opened, stinging with blood and with sweat, his mouth boiled dry of spit, his throat parched. He lay flat on his stomach. It was painful to stay awake against a light like that. Another flicker and it was dark again. The wind whipped at his hair, long by army standards and a darker black by contrast to his pale skin.
Somewhere nearby a rat scurried about, digging in the dirt, gnawing on bones and devouring bits of burnt flesh. The sand beneath him was a dark grey, and cold, like powdered granite. The smell of burning and the heat of the explosion were already gone, had been gone for a while. It felt too soon for the noise and the light to be left behind. The rat emerged in the dark, red eyes and pointed teeth, a demon in the cold. The moon was a deep yellow unfamiliar to the soldier’s eyes, but kinder than the sun. Luke didn’t remember any time passing, but it flickered again.
He couldn’t move, something in the explosion had done him harm, there wasn’t pain, but there wasn’t movement either. The vermin froze as it sensed a predator – the trees were gone – the sand had bled into the wilderness. The two animals – soldier and rat – watched one another until the wind kicked up and Luke’s concentration broke. His eyes snapped shut to preserve sight against the closing storm. The scurrying of claws moved away, little gusts of sand kicked up behind a flurry of sharply pointed paws. Luke’s mind cleared. He remembered everything sharply for a moment and then the images flitted from him, wandering away into a desert which once was green. Wandering the night his vision snapped around the clearing. Everything was sand for miles where earlier a forest had grown. The explosion had caused it, the change. Luke was adjusting. It wasn’t easy.