Well, if you've missed me I've been having a lovely holiday. Back for a great 2011 with #fridayflash. This week I've set my story in the Australian Outback. The subject matter is all too familiar. Hope you enjoy it...
A Thirst Before Dying
I’ll feel bad…
Rubbish mate. Just go and let me get on with it. You’d be a silly bugger to stay here and rot. You’ve got a chance. Take it. You know I haven’t got a snowflake’s chance in hell of surviving. And it's as hot as hell here. I can feel myself cooking from the inside out.
Look, it’s my fault. I was the one who got us lost. I really thought I knew where I was going...
I woke to the pain throbbing through my busted leg. I rolled over, took a deep breath then looked down. The leg didn't seem to belong to me.
I was astounded to see how fat it’d gotten while I drowsed. Nothing I could do so I just lay there, trying to will myself to feel nothing even though the sun was now directly overhead frying me like an egg in a sizzling pan.
I took stock.
How does it feel to die of thirst?
I once read about an old salt who survived nearly seven days in the Arizona desert without water. Well, I’d been about three days and I knew I wasn’t about to break Mr Valencia’s record.
I ran my tongue around my mouth, felt my saliva as thick as paste. My tongue clung to my teeth and the roof of my mouth. I felt like I had a golf ball in my throat. My head and neck throbbed with pain.
At least it’s taking my mind off the pain in my leg.
My face felt like a full moon and my skin was like thin crackly parchment when I touched it with my shaking fingers. I knew before too long I’d be a raving lunatic. I’d start hallucinating. I didn’t want to be around when that happened.
It was a toss up between pain and thirst. Which would kill me?
I’d fallen to my side while I slept. I didn’t want to die lolling like some old abandoned guy in a nursing home. With a few grunts and groans I managed to heave myself up a little and prop my back against the red sandy rock.
The dry valley lay spread before me, shimmering in the heat. I could swear I saw water but I knew that was a mirage. The reds and ochres of the steep gorges soothed me taking my mind off the possibilites of that inland sea.
I’ve always loved this country, especially the outback. Unforgiving though. Only the tough survive. Better add smart to that. Not smart to get lost, break down then run out of water, you useless clot.
I thought of old Herb. I hoped he’d been smart enough to find some water by now or he’d be propping up a rock too, or eating sand.