Kaang came to me as a praying mantis. I didn’t see him at first, my vision entranced by the soft clouds of bitter dust each footfall made as I walked along the salt pan.
“Have you forgotten?” he asked. “How I gave you the eland and the horned melon? That you might always have enough.”
Ancient thorn trees shivered in the heat haze. Their gnarled trunks clasped tight around delicate slivers of life as they waited for the rain.
Kaang rocked his way along black bark intent on making a fly his lunch. “Your machines burn the Earth. You build and build, taking what is not yours. What will you give back to us?”
I wiped crusted sweat from my forehead as the heat and dust pressed upon me. No matter what changed in the world, the deep desert remained a constant; a place that always was and always would be.
“You must learn from your arrogance, my child. I will call on Gaunab to visit sickness and death on you until desert covers this world.” Far beyond the dunes, Heitsi-Eibib, the trickster, sang the jackal’s funeral wail.
Returning to the four-wheel-drive, I left the forgotten gods of dust and bone to the endless silence.
About the author: Carleton Chinner is the author of the Cities of the Moon series of science fiction novels and a reviewer for the Aussie Speculative Fiction Review. He is an Australian born writer who grew up on a remote farm in South Africa, where the trip to the town library was the highlight of his week. He devoured anything science fiction, fantasy and horror. And, when that wasn’t enough, turned to urban legend and traditional tribal histories which combined to provide a heady brew of stories.
He settled in Australia as an adult but not before turning up unarmed at a gunfight, discovering dead bodies and fighting off sharks while spearfishing.
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