I suppose, if we had a conversation, it would likely start with you asking, “What the fuck are you doing in the middle of a salt desert wearing a blindfold, and handcuffs?”
My answer would, of course, be rather long winded. Perhaps it would start with, “Well. This is where the drone dumped me,” which would be quite accurate on my part, but wouldn’t explain why the drone dumped me in the middle of nowhere. Salt as far as I could see in all directions.
Welcome to the fate of a self educated man in our world. Seems I learned too much, taught myself too much, studied too much. And that made me dangerous. Which in turn got me arrested, jailed, pushed through a trial with a jury of my peers, found guilty, and sentenced to almost certain death in the salt desert.
Presto, blindfolded, handcuffed, and carried by a drone aircraft into the middle of the salt flat. The one that’s 11,000 square kilometers. Yeah. The big one. “If you make it out alive, your sins are forgiven, and we will all know God meant for you to be here.”
No one makes it out alive, of course. No shade. No shelter. Tiny little clumps of cactus scattered here and there, although none of them were visible to me. And, even if it rained, which it did frequently, there was no water, because of all the salt.
First thing I did was take off the blindfold. That lead to the second thing. Find the damn box with the keys for the handcuffs. That’s really fair, guys. Dump me in the middle of a salt flat, tell me I’m free if I make it out alive, and then make me spend the first few days looking for a treasure chest with the key in it.
At least I was getting to learn new things. Like how much a man can piss in the middle of a salt flat while slowly dying of thirst? Like if a man stops eating, does he stop shitting too? Or can a man sleep on a salt flat every night? And even what’s the worst kind of sunburn you can get, and still remain functional? Not exactly questions I wanted answers too.
“When looking for something, walk in a growing circle.” Yeah. Great advice there. How the fuck do you walk in a growing circle when there are no landmarks? When you could be moved twenty kilometers in any direction, and it would look exactly like where you are? That turned into, “When looking for something, guess which direction to walk in, and start walking in a straight line.” I figured, “If I find the damn keys, good. If not, no big deal.” Didn’t see any reason to hunt for the keys, wasting time I could spend trying to get out of the biggest salt desert on the planet.
“If this is a perfect circle, and they dumped me in the dead center, it’s roughly 500 kilometers in any direction to get out.” You have no idea how big 500 kilometers is until you try to walk it on foot. At least they let me have good walking shoes and socks.
I knew, of course, there was no way to get out alive. If the weather didn’t kill me, the lack of drinking water and food certainly would. Without water, I figured the longest I’d last was four or five days. Then dehydration would kill me. Or, I’d go stupid, and start drinking salt water out of desperation. And the salt would kill me.
“Well. At least I get to see the stars at night before I go.”
That old legend about water from cactus? Yeah. No one talks about the spines. And even if you can get to the water, no one talks about how much it is.
After the first day, I was coated in salt. That shit stuck to everything. Got on everything. Got in everything. Sweat, and watch the sweat trails turn white and crusty.
As luck would have it, I did make it to a lake. A big puddle of water, on top of a salt block. Yeah. That’s useful. Pink flamencos every fucking where. Zillions of them. Having a god damned party. Swimming around. Flapping wings. Dancing. Like a big damn pink orgy. All that water, and I couldn’t drink any of it. Not one drop.
That’s where I gave up. Sat down on the salt, and watched the fucking birds. And wondered why God made them impervious to all that salt.
This is written for Week 53 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. I’m still catching up. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.