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Where Beaches Hide In A Land of The Blind
The first thing you see is the sky. There’s a bright blue dome above your head, as if you were in an airplane hangar and not just standing on a beach in the middle of the desert, watching the sun shine down upon you from behind a glass wall. As far as your eye could see there was nothing but sand, no houses or people or anything at all, just sand and the endless sea stretching out before you. You had always liked to stand here and look up into the sky when you couldn’t sleep, even though your mom would have yelled at you for looking at the sun like that.
Your feet dragged lazily over the sand, sinking into it with every step. Even after three years in the desert, despite having spent the past six months living under one roof with the rest of your family, the sand still didn’t feel comfortable on your skin. It was too hot, and too dry. Every time your dad brought his truck around, which happened often due to the heat, he’d leave some kind of dust or debris in his wake, coating everything with a fine film that made the barest touch irritating.
You weren’t sure what you did differently than everyone else, maybe that was why you felt weird about sand sticking to you. You didn’t really know anything, and sometimes it would take you awhile to figure things out. Your hair got in your eyes, so you had to wear your hat most of the time. And when it was sunny, it wasn’t good for anything. You tried to cut it, but even with your sharpest scissors you couldn’t get any decent results. If only there was another way to deal with the weather. Like using sunscreen? Maybe if you wore enough layers it would be easier to handle the heat. But then you wouldn’t be able to move around very fast because you’d have to put up with all that weight on your back again. You thought maybe your mom used that stuff in case she ever went swimming. That would be cool, wouldn’t it? You could float around on the waves and nobody would bother you. Of course there might be a reason nobody has gone swimming since you last saw her, or maybe it wasn’t even true that they existed anymore. Maybe the ocean was just water. You didn’t think you could go swimming if there wasn’t any other way to escape the heat.
A noise beside you drew your attention away from the sky, and you turned toward it instinctively. At least you thought it was a sound. Maybe someone had dropped something into the sand and you had just heard it skitter across the sand. But no, the sand seemed perfectly level, and the noise hadn’t been loud enough for you to hear anything else. You frowned, wondering what the noise had been. Was it a bird? A cat? No matter how hard you tried to listen, you heard nothing. Maybe it was a rock thrown in the wrong direction and hitting your window. You glanced towards it, hoping that it looked like something that could have made that noise. It didn’t look any different from what you had seen on TV, so maybe whatever it was, it wasn’t anything dangerous. If you squinted harder you could imagine it turning green, but that was silly. People shouldn’t turn green just because their house has been on fire, or someone accidentally hit you in the face with a baseball bat. Besides, a person shouldn’t try to throw rocks, especially in the middle of the desert.
You started walking toward where the noise had come from, deciding to find the source and investigate this mystery. After a few minutes you came across a large boulder, sitting upright in the sand with two smaller boulders stacked on top of it. There must have been some kind of trick to getting those two small boulders stacked atop each other and then rolling them onto the larger boulder. It looked sort of tricky. What would happen if you tripped and fell backwards? Could you even call yourself an astronaut if you ended up breaking your neck trying to land safely? You doubted it. It didn’t seem very safe. If there was such a thing as flying and you somehow ended up falling from the sky, would you fall into space and get hurt forever? What if you broke your arm and then forgot about it? How would your parents react? Would it make them angry with you? They already blamed themselves for losing the company to terrorists, who they thought were attacking you. Would they blame themselves more? You shook off those thoughts. You didn’t care about that now; the problem was that you knew exactly how you would land. You took a deep breath and closed your eyes for a moment, trying to calm yourself before you began pushing off the sandy ground and starting your ascent. When you opened your eyes and pushed away from the ground you saw nothing but red light streaming downward, as if you’d passed through a tunnel. For a minute or so everything became blurry, almost like it was underwater. Then suddenly it stopped, and you found yourself floating in the air. You looked down to discover that you were floating several feet above the sand. There wasn’t anywhere else to go, either, so you stayed hovering in place. You were afraid to start descending, even though you knew you would end up right in the center.
Just then, you heard a strange clicking sound coming from somewhere behind you. It sounded familiar, and you couldn’t quite put your finger on exactly where you heard it from. You turned slowly, looking around until you found the source of the noise. Standing among a group of dunes, facing away from you, was a man wearing goggles. He had an odd device hanging from his belt. It looked like the kind of thing a scientist would wear. He seemed to be talking, but you couldn’t understand him from your position above the ground.
The man turned around, revealing his face, and you gasped. He was the same guy from the plane! You wondered what he was doing here. Had he followed you all the way out to the desert?
He walked forward cautiously towards the dune you were standing on, stopping when he reached it and taking a good long look at it. He stood in front of it for a moment, his brow furrowed. You watched him carefully, wondering what was going on. Eventually he took the goggles off, letting them drop to the floor and placing them gently on the side.
You didn’t know what to do next. What was he up to? Were you supposed to meet him? Where were you supposed to go? Did this mean he didn’t want to fight aliens? If he didn’t want to fight aliens, how did he plan on making them? Or maybe…maybe you should wait until he gave you directions and you could follow them. You didn’t have a better idea, but your curiosity got the best of you. You decided to fly over to the edge of the dune that was closest to him. Maybe he would say something if he saw you approach him.
Before you could get close enough to the edge of the dune, however, he stepped back and said something in the strangest language you had ever heard in your life. It definitely wasn’t English. Something about “the universe is bigger than I can understand.” You thought maybe he was talking about being trapped inside his own head. That would make sense.
It didn’t matter much to you. He wasn’t speaking directly to you anyway. All you needed to know was that he was talking to himself. The strange words echoed strangely within your brain. Maybe it was some sort of code for secret messages. You could only decipher bits and pieces, though. Mostly it just made you dizzy. It was like listening to music and being overwhelmed by static.
After a second or two he stopped talking and sighed, turning around quickly. His eyes locked with yours and you immediately jumped back. Who was that guy? Why did you stare into the eyes of an alien? He stared blankly at you before shaking his head and muttering something underneath his breath. Suddenly he started running towards the dune you were standing on and began climbing up it. You couldn’t stop yourself before you started climbing after him.
You climbed up the giant pile of rocks until you were standing next to him. You didn’t see any sign of his goggles, so he must not have been able to climb. He didn’t seem to notice you though, or at least didn’t acknowledge you. Instead he kept running towards the top of the huge pile of boulders, jumping from rock to rock until he finally jumped off the top of the pile. As soon as his feet touched the sand he turned around slowly and faced you once again. Before he had the chance to say something, you ran straight into him, tackling him to the ground.
“Ack! Stop running like that!!” He exclaimed.
“Sorry!” You squeaked, jumping out of the man’s grasp, “Didn’t know I ran into a wall.”