Each foot buries itself in the sand. His legs shudder, swallowing the impact. The grains of shattered seashells wrap around his bare toes, tugging him downward, tugging him into the earth.
Above the sky glows red as embers, but no sun circles overhead.
The hot sand roars between his toes. A steady ache burns its way across the skin along the bottoms of his feet.
Beneath him the desert growls. He stops and stumbles. He lands hands-down, and begins to scramble backwards, crab-like.
He opens his mouth to shout, to scare it away, to curse and threaten and cry, but nothing comes out. The desert swells, growing, the ground trembling as it reaches into the sky.
“I don’t want to see it!”
His voice rips through his lips and leaves his throat ragged. The skin around his mouth bubbles, red and raw, before his lips are sucked back together. The sand reaches up like vines and pins him down.
The wall of sand contorts, changing its form to the shape of a mirror. It curls into elaborate gold edges, something with finer detail than a human hand could create, glowing like lava under the sunless sky.
Something like a moan escapes his mouth. The sand held within the mirror’s frame surges, liquefies, and turns to tar. After a single ripple it has a clear, reflective sheen. Then the roar inside the earth dies down.
A boy stands in the mirror. With hair so blonde it glows silvery-white, he looks something like an angel beneath a shining halo. His clothes are fine—stolen, and misfitting. He has no weapons or shoes. His eyes are light blue, like two glacial lakes.
Across from the mirror, the real boy screams inside his own mouth, but the sound cannot escape.
“What’s wrong?” asks the boy in the mirror. “Is seeing so bad? Do I repulse you so much?”
The real boy twists against his bonds.
“You’re so pitiful,” says the reflection. “I’m glad I’m not you.”
Feedback welcome and encouraged.
Read part II.