I was there again. I didn’t want to be there, but I didn’t want to be where I had come from either. I was a stranger and an exile. I sought a homeland. This was not it. I wanted to cross quickly. Forty years in a desert the first time was too long.
The lines streaked beneath me in sequence. They stopped when I stopped and moved when I moved. I centered my front wheel on the painted lines and moved forward against the dark. I pushed the needle into the red zone hoping to elude the dead zone, but the road flowed nonstop into the dark. When the luminescent lines below became one I backed off the throttle until they flashed at regular intervals again. They were my speedometer and tachometer. They gauged my progress and pointed my direction. I turned off the headlamp and tail light. It was not as dark as I thought.
The road, the desert, the sky, the landscape, and my tired body pulled me toward the surface and the darkness beneath. I heard the rumble, I felt the quake, but I could not wake. My mind went first. I don’t know how long it was gone, but my spirit floated as my mind drifted and my body slumped against the steel tank I wished I had filled at the last stop. Would I have enough? How far is the next oasis? What if … I sank deeper beneath the hot asphalt of the lonely desert road into the activity below the surface.
I felt their eyes on me as one who knows he does not belong. They inquired but I demurred. I was just passing through, but I was curious. Who were they? Do they speak? What do they want? How do they spend their time? How will they spend their forever? Do they know? Do they know there is life beyond the surface of hot stone and tar above.
I became uncomfortable. I wanted to run but my feet were still on the pegs. I heard a rumble. The rumble became a roar and the roar became an explosion of sound and movement too slow, or too fast, to measure. Was there no time in this place? Where was this place?
My skin detected the danger before I did. The follicles on my forearms puffed and swelled. Their hairs stood at full alert. They knew what I was too slow to know. They sensed Bohu and the others whose names I did not know. I hoped to never know them. They wanted me. They wanted what I had. They wanted my life, even if it caused my death. They stalked from the depths of the dark world beneath the deserted highway. My mind realized, my spirit stalled, and my body’s slump turned into a fall.
My left foot fell from the spring-loaded peg. Gravity pulled my foot, leg, and body toward the highway’s abrasive surface. Bohu tugged and pulled. My body could not survive the barrier between the dimensions. They knew.
My spirit watched and my mind panicked but neither could wake my body as it fell asleep and fell toward the road’s black tarred stones.
My foot made contact with the road and bounced the news to the rest of my body. It woke with a jerk that oversteered the steed. We wobbled between eternity’s dimensions and rode into the ditch out of control and hope. But I was to inherit salvation. A ministering spirit served me when I could not. I woke.
Nine days in this desert is too long to be on a mount with no name. I decided to call him Little Thumper. No one should be in a desert on anything with no name.