500 Words: Day 7 Desert

Each year a coming of age ceremony is held for the young adults of the Darut Tribe. They gather the children at the border between civilization and the Endless Desert. Due to the nature of the area not many outsiders have witnessed the ceremony and even less can say they have experienced it themselves. For those who have been gathered at the border today, they’ll be learning firsthand what it will be like. Revah is among five other young adults of the tribe chosen to embark on their Journey today.


The stones were cool to the touch underneath the large tent that had been erected for the ceremony. At the edge of the desert atop a dune in the distance a figure makes their way down towards the tent. Revah had been waiting there for an hour, with little to no instruction by the elders, aside from “Wait your turn and say nothing to them when they arrive.” The appearance of the last participant was a good sign he’d be on his way soon.

The one returning was Ren, he was small mousy kid, with a demeanor to match. You’d have equal luck getting him to speak than expecting him to survive the desert but, there he was. As he approached, Eli held his tongue, knowing better than to break the rules so blatantly but, he was curious and was hoping to get a look from Ren explaining to him what they ceremony was about. However, unexpectedly all he received was a cold stare back. Ren had always been quiet but this was different. This sent a shiver down Revah’s spine. “What happened out there?” Revah thought to himself as the elders lead Ren back to the village.


“It’s your turn now Revah.” One of the elders explained. A short nod was all Eli could muster after seeing Ren.


Once again the instructions were vague. “Keep heading west into the desert, once you’re over that dune your journey will begin.” Covered only by the light breathable clothes and the wrap around his head he set off.


The heat was unbearable. Even though the Darut tribe lived in a rocky area, the desert was still their home. However, the heat here seemed unnaturally hot. Each step to the dune was a heavy one even more so when he finally had to climb it. By the time he crested the peak Revah was drenched in sweat. Through the stinging sweat in his eyes he finally saw it. The reason they called it the Endless Desert. Even at the high vantage point he had every direction on the horizon was desert.


The instructions given were ringing in his ears now. “Keep heading west into the desert, once you’re over the dune your journey will begin.”


“Are they serious?” Revah said incredulously. “There’s nothing out there! I’ll die if I keep going any further. Sands forbid they didn’t even give me water. I could have died of thirst already. What kind of irresponsible-.“ Stopping mid-sentence Revah caught something from the corner of his eye off in the distance. Shrouded by waves of heat a shimmer of sapphire. “It’s close, closer than the tent at least.” Revah contemplated. But he’s lived in the desert long enough to know not to trust the visions it gives you. Many die chasing after oases only to collapse and be swallowed up by the sand. This would be a vital decision point for him, he knows that going would only sap more of his strength, but the alternative could mean salvation.


Gathering up his courage and the waning strength he has left, Revah departs. The sun hardly lets up as his body slowly begins to fail. Doubt pulls at each of his limbs like a puppeteer’s strings making him hesitate with each step he takes. Then the anxiety, fearing that he had just sentenced himself to death. A horrible feeling laid heavy in his gut like a stone as his vision began to blur. All he knew was that he needed to keep moving or he would actually die out here. The oasis was close. He could tell, he had to believe.


Arriving in a heap over the next dune his eyes glimpse it. The oasis. A fertile patch of earth isolated from the rest that supports life, unlike the harsh desert sands. Finally, he felt hope again. A feeling Revah desired would carry him to the water but, the truth was that he could barely move.


“This is it huh? Damn, I was so close too. I was even right about the oasis. I wonder what’s going to happen to me. Will they even find me? I guess it’s not really my problem though. Sands it’s hot, I wish I could have at least felt the cool waters. I bet that would have been nice…” Eyes heavy, his mind slowly began to fade.


It had been about an hour since Aila had arrived. The elders only gave her one instruction. “Wait your turn and say nothing to them when they arrive.” From the looks of it the one coming back was Revah. Trying to contain her smile she looked expectantly at him as he passed by. But, contrary to his usual confident self all she received was a cold stare. Her eyes trailed his back until the elders escorted him beyond the tent. Aila was left alone and confused.


From behind an elder called out to her. “It’s your turn now Aila.” With a creeping sense of apprehension she replied with a half-hearted “Okay.”

Write a story that ends by circling back to the beginning.

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