That night the wind was especially fierce across the dunes. The desert sands whipped down and bit at our withered flesh beneath the rags of muslin. We huddled boy to boy, trying to steal each other’s fading heat in the dark so that we might resist until the sun rose to breathe fresh life into us.
It had been twelve days since we had stolen away from the camp with only the barest of provisions secreted from our daily rations.
We hugged each other in the dark but the pain in our empty stomachs and our chattering teeth kept the warm embrace of sleep at bay until finally consciousness gave in to oblivion for a few hours brief respite.
As the dunes’ black pools of shadow slowly drained away into the sand the sun’s first rays warmed my face. I felt you still cold within my arms, so I rubbed your sides but you did not respond.
I slid one arm beneath you and rubbed your cheeks with both hands – and then froze as your neck cracked and I started to cry.
I lay there rocking you back and forth in my arms until the sun had dried the last of my tears yet my heart was still as cold and empty as my stomach. You looked like a sleeping baby so I kissed your cheek and wished you sweet dreams and a safe journey onwards.
Pushing myself up onto my feet I looked around. Nothing but the same relentless flow of sand we had seen for nearly 2 weeks now. I took a sip from my water bottle and as the warm liquid flowed down my throat the juices in my stomach moaned out for something more.
Three days earlier you had joked as you upturned the empty canvas bag, “well that’s that then, my next meal’s coming from your skinny ass!”
I looked down at you now and suddenly realised I was sizing you up.
“god no!” I caught myself “please! not that!”
It was then I noticed the huge black crow that had alighted on the crest of the dune and was also assessing you. My two year’s training in the Sudanese People’s Army kicked in and my rifle was snatched up and my first bullet had torn into the bird’s chest.
It fell down the sand bank and landed at my feet – dinner!
Dream on safely brother.