From Ty’s prompt here, “The desert is awake / Flicks its pale moon eyes.” Unknown setting.
“Oh, good, you’re awake.”
He hadn’t been. He had been happily off in the land of dreams, where things made sense and no-one was trying to kill or kidnap him, where people didn’t jump out of twelfth-story windows with him over their… over their shoulder?
He blinked slowly awake, no longer quite sure where the dream was and where the reality.
She was sitting leaning over him, casting a long shadow, longer than seemed reasonable. Dark, shaggy-short-cut hair, sun-darkened skin, her cheekbones tattooed, her upper and lower lips each pierced twice, t-shirt with the sleeves ripped out, BDU pants, tape-patched combat boots. She looked like a punk, from back when that word had meaning. She didn’t look old enough to remember when counterculture had been a thing.
“Am I?” he croaked. The heat was unbearable, even the ground under him feeling like the inside of a pizza oven. “Am I even alive?”
She blinked at him, her eyes the color of old ash, of the full moon in daytime. “I rescued you,” she reminded him. “You live.”
He stretched tentatively and was surprised to find that nothing hurt, that nothing was broken. “How did you do that? You jumped … we jumped…”
“Shh,” she scolded. “There are things out there that I cannot stop, and they will hear your yowling. But there are things I can stop, and those creatures were on that list.”
“Creatures? The slavers?” He twitched against the memory of chains. “Fuuuck. They branded me. I can’t go anywhere now.” He reached for the spot on his upper back where they’d burnt in their mark, to find the skin smooth and unscarred. “What…?”
She blinked at him again. “There are things I can stop,” she repeated. “They will not bother you.”
He looked around, past her, at the desert that stretched out in all directions, at the dune that shaded him from the deadly sun, then back to the girl with the moonlight eyes staring seriously at some point two inches inside his skull. “You stopped the slavers. You stopped their brand.” He’d heard of the magic ones, but never in terms of rescue, never in terms of salvation. Then again… “How do I get out of here, then?”
The teeth that showed in her smile were like bleached shards of bone. “For that,” she said, sounding like a rattlesnake’s warning, “you have to deal with me.”
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