2372 AD. This is the year when the planet earth changes and not for the better. What was once a planet full of plants, animals, rivers, and varied weather patterns is now a barren wasteland. Due to the constant pollution and over use of natural resources the world slowly dies, taking many lives with it. Although there are some human survivors, many mutations from various chemical spills have affected some plants and animals. Now 128 years later, all a person can find around them are buildings reduced to rubble, dunes as high as the sky and sand carpeting whatever there is left on the ground. People, plants, and animals are like finding diamonds. They have become rarer and rarer.
There is one lone survivor that can attest to this. His name is Craig, just Craig. Today he is running down a rocky elevation with the great view of the dunes. He removes his round metallic goggles on his eyes and looks up at the bright blue sky. The sky matches the blue of his eyes. Removing the cloth over his face he smiles up to the sky and takes a hearty breath in. He finally reached the top of that dune to put up a red flag. He is in excellent form but he has never reached the top of a dune before and it took him a day and a half to do it.
A bark greets him as he reaches solid ground. It’s his canine companion, Toby. A dark-brown German shepherd-mix that he had found wandering around in a dust storm. He gave the dog shelter under a metal box and since then has been his constant cohort whether he wants it or not. Luckily for Craig, he loves having Toby around.
“Hi boy!” He says bending over and petting the dog. “One flag up and hopefully we never have to pass it again.”
After Craig stands up, he looks around at what surrounds them. Still a barren wasteland but Craig notices some cacti and dried plants about. At one point, not too long ago there was water or a chance of rain. Now would be a good time to pull out his hydro-coulometer. A hand-held device that can help a person find pockets of water even in the most notoriously dry places. He pulls up the antenna and presses the large red button on it. It starts with a series of slow beeps but the beeping becomes rapid when he waves it towards the east direction.
“Well Toby! It looks like our next water source is that way.” Craig points to the east and the two of them start walking that way.
A few hours later, night has come and Craig sits in front of his campfire with Toby laying beside him. He takes a sip of his fresh new water from his flask and shares the rest with Toby. They were lucky to find that old pipe with water filled in it. Hopefully they will get that lucky tomorrow. But at the present moment, he looks to the fire and begins to think about his past. Out of his pocket he pulls out a golden heart-shaped locket that he carries with him everywhere. It belonged to his mother and is the last precious piece he has left of what he once called home.
He remembers how he wasn’t even thirteen years old and his mother laid dying in a hospital tent. With the life slowly dying from her eyes, she holds out her hand to him and gently places her locket into his palm.
“Remember Craig.” She whispers sickly but sweetly to him. “This locket will lead you home. You will find that special person to give it to and you will know in your heart that you belong there.”
And just like that, she closes her eyes and doesn’t wake up. Devastation has never hit him so hard especially when no one takes him in, and what has been his home for so long disappears. Sadly, he hasn’t met too many people in his years of wandering. He either didn’t fit in to what they expected of him or some kind of natural disaster hits and everyone perishes. His life was filled with despair until he met Toby. This dog really did save his life when he thought about ending it all in that dust storm.
Looking back at the locket with his mother’s picture inside, he closes it and puts it back in his pocket. He turns and looks back at his dog who is beginning to nod off. He smiles down at him knowing that he should be doing the same.
“Tomorrow Toby, we try again.” He speaks. “If we can find at least one big source of water, we will more than likely be able to find people again.”
With a sigh, he stands up and opens his pack to reveal his sleeping bag. He kicks off his boots, unwraps the turban on his head, and slides himself inside. With the fire still going, he watches it flicker as he slowly falls asleep.
As soon as the sun rises, Toby trots over to Craig and licks his face until he awakens. With a chuckle and a brush of his hand on Toby’s fur, Craig sits up. He gets out of his sleeping bag and packs it all away before he looks out to the horizon.
Craig admits that the hoodoos are the most interesting pieces of this desert. Tall, dominating, and each one being more unique than the other. They are a lot like the building ruins of a city but somehow, they feel safer than the latter. The only plants around here are the greenish-brown cacti but at least he can live on those for a while, providing food and water when he and Toby are in a pinch. Otherwise, there is nothing here but sand. Sand for ages until the ends of the earth. Craig can’t help but wonder if there is anyplace without it.
Not wasting anymore time, Craig dresses himself in his boots and turban before he and Toby press on going east. Time after time, mile after mile, Craig and Toby discover nothing despite the hydro-coulmeter beeping like crazy. The day gets hotter and their water supply is becoming sparse. Just when he thinks he is going to drop, Craig looks ahead and sees what looks to be a giant lake.
“I’m hallucinating, right Toby?” Craig says to the dog who responds with a bark.
Toby with his tongue hanging out sprints with all of his strength towards the lake. Taking it as a sign Craig runs after Toby.
“Toby!” Craig calls. “Wait for me!”
Craig laughs as he runs along with Toby. He removes his turban, drops his backpack on the ground, and tries to remove his shirt. The first thing he is going to do when he gets to that lake is jump in. It’s been too long since he saw a lake like this. Ten years in fact. He intends to enjoy it. Before the two of them reach the lake, a HUGE surprise greets them.
An unusually large lugwurm. A mutated earthworm and snake-crossed creature. It has blue-green and black scales overtop of accordion-like black body that can move in and under the ground with speed and efficiency. It’s yellow sinister eyes and four-fanged mouth can inspire horror even in the most fearless of heroes. In most cases, a lugwurm is normally six feet. The one in front of Craig and Toby is at least fifty feet.
Shock and fear has them both skidding to a halt and freezing on the spot. The whimpering Toby, bends down on his front paws while Craig has his mouth wide open but he is unable to scream. He goes on instinct to grab his hunting knife from the strap of his hip. It may not work but Craig is going to do his damnedest to protect himself and his canine companion.
The lugwurm swings his gigantic tail at the two of them. It misses Toby who is still crouching down in terror but Craig manages to dodge the tail by jumping over it. With its giant tail on the opposite end of him, Craig runs to it and jumps on top of it. With all of his might, he finally lets out his scream and stabs the nightmarish creature. It lets out this hideous sound that is a cross between an angry hiss and a scream of agony. The monster whips its tail back and forth trying to fling Craig off but he holds onto his knife for dear life.
In a matter of seconds, the lugwurm, throws him and his knife off of itself. Craig lands on a big stone that nearly renders him unconscious. Toby frantically runs to him and starts licking him on the face as if he is trying to get him to stay awake. Craig despite his dog’s efforts feels himself slip in and out of consciousness.
With his eyes glued onto the lugwurm, he notices fire arrows striking it in various spots on its long neck. The creature shrieks and dives back into the ground, rushing off into the desert. Craig still struggling to stay conscious watches a person completely wrapped up in brown clothing and carrying a compact bow running towards him and Toby.
Quickly this person kneels before him and removes their hood. A woman is under neath all that clothing. She has long gorgeous black hair, soft brown skin with slight red undertones, high-cheek bones and piercing, thick-lashed eyes of brownish-hazel. Craig tries to speak but it can only come out of as harsh breathing.
“You’re going to be alright.” She says is a song-like voice. “Your only minorly injured. I’m taking you home.”
Home. That is his last thought as he closes his eyes. If he is to die in this spot, at least he is dying looking at a beautiful woman who is giving him the one hope that he has carried with him his whole life.
Special Thanks to:
The Town of Drumheller: For it's natural beauty and its dinosaurs . https://traveldrumheller.com/