Posted: October 5, 2010 in Fiction

I really should have left for work by now.

He didn’t remember waking up.  The timeline in his mind showed nothing, then him awake.  No transition.  No grogginess.  No memory at all.  He looked around, and saw nothing but red sand and redder sky.  Something about that felt wrong.  The sky was supposed to be blue, wasn’t it?  Where was this place?  He opened his mouth to speak, but only a muted clicking came out.  He breathed in, and tried again.  “Hello?” an unfamiliar voice croaked.  Had he not been breathing?  He couldn’t remember that either.  He looked down at himself.  No frame of reference for how tall he was, although six feet felt right.  Brown work boots.  Dark blue jeans.  White tee shirt.  His hands were large and calloused, as though from a lifetime of work.  His arms were muscular, as though to repeat what his hands told him about working.  He decided that he was probably a pretty big guy, but once again there was no one around to compare himself to.  Why couldn’t he remember anything?

He scanned the horizon again.  The line between land and sky was barely perceptible.  There didn’t seem to be a light source anywhere, but he could see.  Maybe the clouds were red and the sun was behind them.  That must be it, he decided.  He strained to see some sign that there were actual clouds, but to no avail.  Still, that was a much more comforting thought than having an alien sky above him.  He knelt down to touch the sand.  It was fine and damp, like a lakeshore.  He scooped some into his hand.  Red.  Ok, the sand was actually red, but that wasn’t necessarily a problem.  The American west was full of red sand.  Had he been there?  He had no clue.  He thought for a minute, but could only recall basic information about any given place.  No “I had an awesome time in this place.”  No “I used to live there.”

Why couldn’t he remember anything?  He ran both hands through his hair in frustration.  It was short hair, and a bit thin on the top.  Wait a tic, he thought.  He checked his pants pockets.  Keys, knife, ah-hah!  Wallet.  That’ll have answers.  He flipped open the leather billfold.  There were half a dozen cards, and the front one had a picture.  His driver’s license, he hoped.  The face in that picture had a long mouth, frozen into a half-scowl.   Eyes like copper corrosion stared from under a thin brow.  The face had a squared jaw, almost on par with a comic book hero.  Blond hair gave him almost a corona in the picture, but he ran a hand through his hair again.  It didn’t feel as long.  He checked the name under the picture.  Sdkjfa Dowen.  That didn’t make sense.  He read the rest of the card.  Gibberish.  He knew the letters, but not one string made a word.  He flipped to the next card.  More gibberish.  Was he illiterate?  Was that even something people were, anymore?

No, there has to be something else going on here, he decided.  He put the rest of the cards back into the worn leather wallet.  No sense standing here, he thought, but where to go?  He turned around, scanning the full 360 degrees of the horizon.  All flat.  Except – he turned around again, and spotted a dark shape.  It seemed to be moving toward him.


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