“If you backwashed, I’m going to kill you.”
Rod ignored the comment and continued to stare into the empty horizon. Empty, barren, no magical Fountain of Youth in sight.
“We’re not going to make it, you know. We’ve got this one canteen of water left and we don’t even know if the Fountain exists. And I get bad company.”
“Would you shut up, Kamrin?” Rod said angrily. “No one asked you to come along with me. I should have left you this morning.”
Kamrin screwed the cap of the water back on and slung it at Rod’s feet. He made a face behind his companion’s back.
They were sitting in the middle of the biggest desert known to man, wrapped in the shrouds of men on a mission. Actually, they were regular old desert clothes.
Countless men had trekked through this desert, sure that they could find the legendary Fountain of Youth and be the most powerful men in the world, but none of them had a map.
Rod did. Or, he said he did. Kamrin couldn’t be sure that it was real map or some piece of garbage Rod had pulled out of an alley. See, Kamrin was very much blind. They could be in sight of the Fountain and he would never even know it. He could be abandoned by Rod and never find his way back.
If they found this legend, Kamrin would see. As the stories went, this Fountain would not only bring everlasting life, but healing as well. Rod, on the other hand, simply wanted to live forever and had no real excuse for finding the magical water.
Rod dragged himself to his feet and folded the map into the pocket of his burnt orange poncho. They had to keep going. He kicked Kamrin, who was still in his sprawled position. “Come on. We keep moving, or you’re vulture food.”
Kamrin scowled at the place he thought Rod’s face would be, but he accepted his companion’s hand and got to his feet.
“You know this desert never ends, right? And that no one has ever come back, right? And that there most likely is no Fountain of Youth. Right?” Kamrin drawled as they picked across the fierce, orange-hued sand.
“Would you shut up?” Rod screwed his face, but didn’t look at the blind man. The only thing keeping him from leaving Kamrin to his own fate was the fact that they were childhood acquaintances (friends would be much to strong of a word). The honor code had it that you didn’t leave someone who had known you and trusted you for a long time.
Which plenty of men had obviously ignored, because honorable men are hard to come by.
Five more hours.
Five more eternities of shuffling across dunes in the formidable sun.
Then their water ran out.
“Hey, Rod.” When he felt Rod’s attention was on him, he tipped the canteen upside down and shook it dramatically. “We’re out of water.”
Rod spat something under his breath and wrenched the bottle from Kamrin’s grip. His alarmed expression dissolved, and one of determination took its place. “We’ll get there. This map shows only five more hours of walking. We’ll survive.”
“Hate to break it to ya, but this is a fool’s errand,” Kamrin said as he rolled his eyes. “You can’t possibly know where we are, you told me yourself that the landscape is exactly the same on all sides.”
He broke off with a childish huff. “We’re going to shrivel like a grape and our skeletons will be haunting this place forever.”
“Mine won’t. You can sit there if you like, but I’m going to find the Fountain and live forever, and your grumbling won’t do anything to change that.”
“I hope you fall into a pit and break your neck,” Kamrin retorted, but he got up.
Night fell, but Rod pushed on. Their feet were sore and bleeding in their boots. Their tongues were sandpaper against the roof of their mouths. In the morning, when they stumbled into the dip that was supposed to hold the glorious Fountain of Youth, there was nothing there.
It was as empty and dry as the rest of the cursed desert.
The men collapsed, and never made it out of the desert.
So, friends. Never go traipsing out into the desert, even if there is a Fountain of Youth. Who wants to live forever, anyway?
P.S. Anticlimactic, ain’t it?