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The Arora Saga: White River Calling

He tried to calm himself.
“This is just temporary. Everything will come back to me. Take a deep breath and remain
calm,” he muttered.
Staying out there indefinitely was out of the question. In that heat, and without water, he
wouldn’t last very long. He tried to ignore his throat, begging for a drink, but the mere thought of
water, made it ache more. He looked in all directions, but nowhere was there any sign of life. A
new wave of panic welled up inside him, and then he heard it!
The sound of a low piercing horn drifted across the arid earth. He jerked his head around.
He couldn’t remember anything, but recognized the sound of a train horn. It lasted only a
moment, and before he could pinpoint the exact direction of its origin, the sound disappeared. He
listened intently but once more, everything was quiet.
He contemplated the possibility that his imagination played a trick on him, and then he
heard it again. The sound was far away, but he was sure of the direction it came from. That gave
him hope. He peered into the distance, seeking a point of reference, and found a mountain range.
The left edge stuck into the air like a finger, beckoning him. Out there, walking in circles would
have been a sure way to his death. He took one last look around in the spot where he woke up.
He found nothing and set off in the direction of the sound, the mountain as his beacon showing
him the way.
The man had no idea how far he walked, or exactly how long it took, but his legs were
like rubber, his throat raw with thirst. The terrain got rockier, but still no sign of life or water. He
found it strange that there was not a bird, a snake, a scorpion or even an ant in sight. He had
stepped into a forgotten, abandoned world, where nothing grew and nothing lived, except him.
His steps became automated, only his will to live drove him forward. He tried to ignore the fire
in his throat, which was just as dry as the earth he walked on. It felt like many hours after he left
the tree where he woke up, when he arrived at a shallow dry riverbed.
He slid down the side on the seat of his shorts, and when he reached the bottom, stared at
the dry sand. At some point water flowed there in abundance, but there was no sign off recent
water. He dropped to his knees and dug in the loose river sand with his bare hands, with the hope
there was still water buried under the surface. But all in vain, the water was long gone.
“Is this my end?” he wondered out loud, his voice only a croak. It hurt to speak.
This can’t be the end. I don’t even know the beginning. He thought.
The man took a deep breath, and it took considerable effort to get back to his feet. He
struggled up the bank on the opposite side, and without looking back, fell forward, one step at a
time. Since he left the dry river, the terrain inclined ever so slightly. Every miserable step took
him higher. He reached the top of a little rise and dropped to his knees, knowing that he was at
his end, his weary legs unable to take another step.
Looking down into the shallow valley below, he blinked a few times, sure the thirst and
heat caused him to hallucinate. There, at the bottom of the rise, the mirage of a small town. A
man loaded a box onto the back of an old beat up pickup truck. It was too far away to see the
make and model, but it was pale blue. He watched him drive down the deserted street, passed the
scattered buildings, made a right turn, and passed an empty park, before he disappeared from
In the park, an old rusty swing made a lonely picture against the sandy backdrop. A dusty
path led to a bench, where a young boy played with his dog.
The end must have been near. He even imagined the dog barking with excitement. The
boy threw an old ball, and the animal ran to fetch it. He didn’t want to die up there on the ridge,