Monsters and Dust

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Midday there was a severe storm of wind and dust, such a one as I had never seen. It blew up suddenly, and the air around me dropped in temperature. The rustlings of horned toads, or desert mice, or any creature that was in the brush around me ceased. It was not accompanied by rain, which would have been welcome, and was very unpleasant indeed. I had seen many at a distance and far off they look like violent storms of clouds and rain, and indeed carry with them thunder and lightning. I had to pull my blanket tightly around me, and after 20 minutes was covered thoroughly in dust and thorny brush.

I greatly desire water, but no pool or river has appeared now for many days now. My gourds are nearly dry and my canteen is full, and that leaves me only a few days if I ration. It was with this purpose that I ventured forth as the sunset, and it was then I made my greatest discovery.

I left the flatter land, and made towards the mountains I could see in the distance, with the thought that they might bear streams of run off, or contain secret pools. It was just as the sun set, a red sliver into the mesa, that I saw it.

At first I thought it was smoke. A great black cloud looming on the horizon, the size of which could only indicate a wagon, or perhaps a shack completely aflame. It was rising quickly, throwing a dark mass against the sky, interwoven gold and pink by the setting of the sun.

I worked my way through the brush and the rocks slowly, fearing some marauding band, or Indian attack. The light was failing and against the clouds gone dark, I begun to worry that it was another one of my imagined silhouettes, borne of an over-tired mind. Though as soon as I did, it would shift, and become dark, so full of menace and purpose it seemed that it could not be anything I created.

When I finally crested the hill which blocked its source, I was close enough to see the bats. I couldn’t estimate the number, but I knew it must be hundreds upon thousands. Turning over each other and tumbling through the sky, as though they were being twisted up though a tornado of their own making.