I sensed him closing in again. I looked to the west in dejection. That is where he would appear. A black dot on the horison. His arrival no longer scared me. Somewhere in the past I remember there being a time when even his thought was terrifying. A vague recollection. But now my nerves held their stead till he appeared in sight. However, strangely, I do not remember the first time it all happened. I looked at the sky above me. The sun was high and the desert offered no respite from the heat. I never liked the deserts. I hated them the most perhaps. Almost as much as the the rain forests. Or maybe more. It was the monotone that bothered me most; not the heat or the dryness. The redundant days, one running into the other without a change in the scenery. They spelled futility and helplessness. Everything one did seemed no more than an absurd sciamachy.
I stretched out my legs and dug
them under the burning sand feeling the heat slowly seep through my skin
and burn the insides. Then I quickly pulled them back out and wiggled
my toes till the sand stuck between them tumbled off. I wondered how
far he was. After all this time I had come to the doubtful estimation
that he must have gotten on my radar when he came some hundred or so leagues
close. Give or take a few depending upon the weather and terrain. This
sense always came with a morbid countdown. Again, depending on the
terrain and weather, it was some time before he reached me. Might be a
few days; at times it was a few weeks; at times months. I guess he must
have had his whims as well. I had no such luxury. It had been a week
since I had first sensed him. His presence grew stronger by the minute.
He was close by; we would meet today in all probability. If he chose to
keep coming that is. Else we would meet whenever he chose to. I never
went to him. Even the idea was appalling. A faint smile crossed my face
as I realised the irony of things. I did not want to go to him but I
desperately wanted him to come to me! I broke out into a soft chuckle.
My parched lips ripped themselves with the exercise and I tasted the
warm blood ooze out of the vents. I sucked it in. Warm sweet blood. Was
this what drove him?
I laid back and closed my eyes.
The sun shined through my eyelids. It was slowly making its way down but
its rays were still unrelenting. I wondered when the horror had mellowed
into an expectancy. I was awaiting his arrival now. It had become a
ritual by now and I could play it in my head to utter perfection. I
imagined his shadow preceding him. The shadow would shade my face and I
would open my eyes to see him as a halo; a deliverer. He would look at
me with his tired eyes. I imagined him letting out a long sigh like one
does at the end of a long journey, when he has reached his destination
and can grab precious moments of rest. He would come kneel next to me,
his sweat dripping from his face, a few drops splashing my face. I would
smile this time and face him with courage... But I always ran out of
courage. I knew this time would be no exception. I opened my eyes and
sat up and watched the sun bow in servitude to earth and a mild breeze
blow across the sandy dunes stirring up some dirt into action. I closed
my eyes and pushed all thoughts of him out of my head. I willed myself
I woke to metallic sounds. I opened my eyes
and horror filled me up. He was here. I did not turn to look at him but
the knowledge was certain. His presence overwhelmed me. I was incapable of
feeling anything else in his presence. It was fear and terror. Enough to
choke one to death. I tried gulping it down. To my left I could hear
him strike a match and the smell of burning tobacco soon reached my
nostrils. I looked ahead. The sun was an orange sphere now, no longer
forbidding to look at. It's yellow heat had given way to an orangey
warmth. I just stared blankly at it, my head occupied with the presence
of the one beside me.
We sat there for a long
time. At least it seemed like a long time to me. The sun was swallowed
by the horison. The night grew cooler. The stars came out and lit the
desert sands a little. There was no moon tonight. Perhaps it took pity
on my plight and spared me the extraneous terror of sight. But I had
terror enough in my heart not withstanding the attendance of the moon.
And this terror peaked in expectation every time he emptied his pipe. And this time I did not
hear him refill it. This was it. My head was abuzz with noise, my eyes
misty with what felt like tears.
I did not
reply. I was not even sure whether I had imagined it or if he had spoken
those words. But he had. I heard him sigh again, like a man with a task
ahead of him that he needs to complete unwillingly. I heard him close
in towards me. Through teary eyes I saw him shift and take a seat in
front of me. I was not sobbing. My eyes were just teary. Involuntarily. I
hope I did not make a spectacle of myself before him. I would not like
him to think that I was just as big a mess as when we did this the
first time. Whenever that was. I remember myself being a sloppy mess once. Crying all over him and begging his mercy. I would have laughed at the memory had the present situation been otherwise. He was leaning in now and I heard the
fateful whisper .
"May this be the last time for us."
as long as I can remember, he almost always said that to me as he sunk
the steel into my heart. There were a few times when he was too tired or
too irritated to be polite. But mostly, he hoped that this would be the
last time he had to kill me. Even I did. But it would be naive to
suppose that this would end; whatever this was. I knew that as the blood
drained out of me, I would be taking a form somewhere else. The memory
was transient and hollow, but the experience was indescribably real. I
would be formed again, in the full. My existence would persist. Maybe a forest this time, or a
mountain. I pray that there be a lake or river nearby. The desert had
really left me dry. And he would come again in search of me. He would
travel for years at end to come to me. He would find me and then we
would sit together a bit. At times he talked. Mostly he kept silent. I
liked the former. I never managed to say much. Just a few words here and
there. Then as my horror would become unbearable, he would help me out
of it. He would push his knife into my heart and hope that we never meet
again. But we would. Thus are we destined.