9 Days Earlier
The sand rose and fell in miniature dunes as far as he could see. Unless he looked straight up into the cloudless sky, it was all sand, sand in two-foot dunes.
He turned, just his head, then his upper body, as far as he could, all the way right, all the way left.
Jarring not to see footprints behind him. As a tracker, no trail was out of his experience.
His pack grew heavier as he listened.
The silence, too, grew heavier.
No wind. Not a flutter.
He brushed his right hand on the rough canvas sleeve on his left forearm. Heard the light scratching noise.
He could hear. There just wasn’t anything to hear.
He turned again, this time his whole body, stepping a few degrees at a time in a circle.
On the horizon.