" ... a trip to the desert,
to look at the sky,
... like never-ending mirrors,
playing tricks on my eyes ... "
It was cold in the desert. Cold, dark, and empty. Pretty much as you
thought the young man who stood alone with arms folded across his chest,
out at the desolate yet uniquely beautiful land around him. Michael Guerin
loved it out here. Its silence soothed his spirit like nothing else. He
loved the inky
blackness heavy with brilliant stars above and he could feel it wrapping
his soul like an old friend. It was free, boundless and he recognised it on
primitive level, as if he had at sometime been as free as this seemingly
Thinking about it, he considered that many of those who knew him would
think of him as exactly that. He was of course anything but. He was not
free. He had
tried to be, had fought with everything he had, but it had been hopeless.
stronger he pushed and the faster he ran, the harder it was to escape the
that wrapped around his heart, holding him back. He sighed softly in the
his breath misting in front of his face. He had to be honest with himself,
who was he
kidding? He had little chance of getting out of this hell-hole, and even
than that was the thought that he didn't really know if he wanted to
Refusing to dwell on the uncomfortable turn his thoughts had taken,
his lungs with the cool night air and took one last look around him. As his
flickered across the darkened landscape a shadow in the distance appeared to
move slightly. His body tensed and unfolding his arms he peered into the
Trying hard to ignore the shiver creeping up his spine, he swallowed passed
throat and shouted, "Who's there?"
After a moment of silence, he heard a whisper of a sound and he strained,
identify its origin. Almost immediately he heard it again, though this time
was clear and his eyebrows raised in disbelief. He squinted into the
distance and saw
ahead of him proof that his ears had not played tricks on him. "Maria, what
are you doing out here?", he muttered to himself as he started towards her,
a good distance away and looked almost wraith-like in the soft silvery
Her arms were by her sides and her blonde hair was tousled as though
straight from her bed. She was quite lovely really, he thought to himself.
thought her beautiful, but standing out here under the stars, she was
As he got closer, he focused his attention on her face and her expression
pause. Maria was standing completely still, staring at him with intensely
Whatever her reason for being out here, he had the distinctly unpleasant
wasn't going to be good.
He frowned, thinking about it, he couldn't for the life of him imagine a
she would be out here at all, let alone in the middle of the night, in the
and in her pyjamas. He stopped short on that thought, her pyjamas? What the
was she doing out here in her pyjamas?
Shrugging off his feelings of unease, Michael took another step towards
noticed almost immediately a separate shadow hovering behind her left
prickle of fear settled into his gut, and as if by magic the shadow formed
into a tall,
darkly clothed stranger. The man grabbed Maria from behind and wrapped one
his arms around her small frame, pulling her body against his. Above Michael
rising sense of panic he made the mental observation that despite her
predicament, she had neither moved nor spoken.
The man looked at him and his eyes were cold, dark and glittering with
breath caught and his eyes widened with fear as the stranger lifted his
other hand to
Maria's throat. Stunned to silence, Michael stood helplessly watching as the
held against her milky white skin slid across without hesitation. The blade
the darkness as it sliced through and Michael's heart dropped to his
finally found his voice and cried out, "No!"
His voice seemed to awaken Maria from her trance-like state and her eyes
in pain and fear. She brought her hand up to her throat and her warm, thick
began to seep darkly through her fingers. She looked across the distance at
and he gasped as he saw reflected in her gaze all her pain and terror, but
terrifying of all, acceptance. A single tear fell onto her cheek and she
name then crumpled to the ground. The stranger smiled at Michael and his
mocking laughter filled the night air as he disappeared into the shadows.
Michael's stunned body surged forward and he ran towards the tiny woman
in a heap on the cold desert floor. His heart pounded in rhythm with the
running through his head, "No, no, no, no ... ". He spared barely a thought
man who had hurt her, he was completely focused on helping the girl who had
become everything in the world to him. Fuelled by the adrenalin running
his body, Michael ran faster then ever before and yet it seemed to him an
before he finally slid to his knees by her side. "Maria?! Maria?! Oh, please
He gathered her into his arms and placing his hand over her wound tried
to heal her.
He could feel the warmth of her blood as it ran through his fingers and over
could smell it and he knew that for as long as he lived he would never
smell. It made him sick to his stomach. He looked into her pale face and
her to hold on. Maria's eyes opened weakly and with what little strength she
looked at him and mouthed the words he'd thought never to hear. "Michael ...
love you ... ".
With desperation, he tried with everything he had to save the life of the
girl in his arms, but he knew deep down there was little he could do. She
so much blood and even now he could feel her heart slowing to a stop. Her
fluttered closed and an instant later he heard her laboured breathing cease.
was gone. "NOOOOOOO!" Michael wailed and crushed her limp body to his chest.
Rocking back and forth, he pressed his face into her once beautiful hair now
and slick with blood. His tears fell unchecked and mixed with the dark pool
ground. Absorbed by the dust, it disappeared into the desert floor as though
had never been.
Michael cried out as he sat up in his bed, his heart thumping in his
blinked as his conscious mind began to take control, telling him that it had
been a dream. He brought his hands up to rub his face and pulled them back,
surprised. He had been crying in his sleep. Swinging his legs over the side
bed, he stood up shakily and made his way to the bathroom.
Glancing at the mirror above the sink, Michael noted the wild look in his
rimmed eyes and he lent over to splash cool water on his face. The terror of
nightmare still clung to him and he tried in vain to calm himself down. It
been a dream, he told himself. It wasn't real, but some part of his mind
believe that. He was filled with an unknown fear, it hadn't felt like a
image of Maria's attacker was imprinted on his brain, he would never forget
face and oh God, he could still smell her blood.
Swallowing passed his nausea, Michael gave into the feeling currently
through him and grabbed a pair of jeans off his bedroom floor. His instincts
screaming at him that something was wrong, and he wouldn't be able to rest
he knew Maria was ok. Pushing all thoughts of the terrifying possibilities
back of his mind, he pulled on his jeans, grabbed his coat and fled from his
apartment out into the night.