Alighted by the first glimmer of morning sun, a dark figure hobbled across the desert wasteland. Barren except for the cacti littered about the dunes that provided the only marker for the specter’s slow progress. Cresting the top of a dune the figure paused peering out across the never-ending expanse of roiling sand. Devoid of life the only sound to be heard was the soft whisper of sand shifting in response to the gentle breeze.

Enlightened by the sun’s soft rays the man’s face reflected despair, his eyes scanning the empty horizon. Futilely he had imagined a grander sight would great him upon finally cresting the hill in time with the rising sun.
Goading himself on with a false optimism, he made the trek regardless of his dwindling spirit and failing body. Hopelessness seemed to overtake him, his shoulders sagging in defeat. Inhaling a rasping breath, which swiftly broke into a horse cough grating against his dry throat, he began his decent with no solution but to continue on aimlessly.

Just give him water he thought, and he could endure the rest-the hunger, heat, and maddening aloneness all paled in comparison to the nagging thirst he felt all the way to his bones. Knowing nothing would come from merely crumpling to the sand, though his body begged to give in to temptation, he trudged forward.

Lacking direction, he closed his mind in attempt to forget the pain, and began to wander beneath the ever rising sun. Minutes turned into hours as the once soft light, welcome when chasing away the night’s chill, transformed into an incessant burn licking angrily at his skin. Nothing about his surroundings gave indication of impending civilization. Optimism became a foreign concept of an unimaginable past. Purpose left his movements, his steps slowing to a halfhearted shuffle. Quitting was something he had done hours ago, his persistent wandering due only to a mind gone mad.

Racked with a cough that turned bloody, his attention was brought presently bringing with it awareness of movement along the sand floor. Shadows slipped across the waves of dunes, elongating and constricting while circling his form. Tracking his almost imperceptible progress, the shadows shrank and solidified, blending together and allowing a moment of reprieve against the sun’s unrelenting stare. Upturning his face to the sun, the man faltered while shielding his eyes against the glare and spotting the shadows’ masters.

Vibrant black crows gathered in a cloud above him, erupting in a sudden scream that broke the vacuum of silence, causing him to question how they had converged with such stealth. With a final stumbling step forward, the man dropped to his knees in surrender to the great beasts that hovered malevolently above him. X-rays could not have penetrated his soul with more accuracy than their razor sharp gazes- watching his will break in tandem with his body. Yearning for a swift death he stared blankly and fell forward into the sand as his body disappeared among a plume of dark feathers, the piercing sound of squabbles fading into the silence of the desert.

Zenith reached, the sun bore down scorching the land and lacking up the last of the moisture from the man’s bones, a single feather all that remained of the greedy scavengers.

PROMPT: “From A to Z. Create a short story, piece of memoir, or epic poem that is 26 sentences long, in which the first sentence begins with “A” and each sentence thereafter begins with the next letter of the alphabet.”

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.