Loci 89 - Minister Reeve by Matthew Roen There is motion in the desert. Was motion in the desert.

When it happened is immaterial: the paths exist no matter when. Stilted, silted, and sterile, yes, but there is movement – steps through the sand... and it is these that must be followed. These steps can be known. One-point-five-seven meters, plus a meter more on the feet, 64 kilograms, medium build. Stilts with springs that squeak at the steppe. At the stone, the tracks vanish, but towards the edge a wet mass stain marks Creature's passing. A leap, a fall, a landing, and again with the springing stilts squeaking. Ochre eyes canvass the massive dunes and track the stride of the lumbering giant. A bounding run carries the man along. His dress is modest for the desert wastes – a sand-choked scarf of gauze-like fibre, a loose poncho covering shoulders and sling-pack, long canvas pant-wraps stretching down the stilt-legs, he runs along that line of Creature's path. Three days he's been running, and he's getting closer. --An oasis exists in the desert. Cool pools of water lap at the exposed roots of sand-water plants, beach grasses, and reeds. Lineated leaves drip back down their stems, collecting the vapor that billows from the ponds. Their fronds channel the water back down to their roots, nestled in the sand, by the scorpions, by the water, by the knives. Silver blades silently slip through the sand, some shrinking, others growing in a rhythm of size. Light catches the knives, and the oasis glimmers on the horizon. If anything thirsted out in the dunes, the sparkling twinkle beckons them near. A swarm of tiny reflectors, surging gently like the breath of the wind on a tide pool. It is towards this the Reeve is tracking, and it is towards this that the Creature is running. --Nigh upon 2km away, the Reeve pulls off his stilts, cinching his pant-wraps just to his ankles. Gauze-fibre-wrapped feet pad along the sand, approaching the Creature, and approaching the glare of the oasis. The beast paces the oasis' outskirts, its smooth, beet-red, reptilian back flaring as its five legs drum the sand below. It is a distance from the plants and the ponds, for the knives smoothly slide nearby in groups, in a directional flow like a current around and through the nest of trees and bush and scrub. On top of the beast's long stalk-like neck, a swiveling knob of pock-marked skin and coarse bristles waves through the air with the sick motion of a nauseous man standing. The Reeve lays down his stilts, and reaches into his bindle-sling. He pulls out a handful of tiny crystals and fragments, green chips with pins and prongs embedded within. He kneels down in supplication, sprinkling these upon the sand the Creature treads on, and watches the movement. --The scorpions and plants within the oasis are dead. Their bodies interrupted so completely by the blades, there can be no body to any thing. Yet their veins still carry their life-water, and their nerves spurt and flare with more activity than before. Muscles try to clench and move, but there is nothing for them to grasp. Roots grope for the water, but drown in their inability to maintain pressure. And over it all, the water drips. The Reeve pulls out a morsel of food, and as the sun creeps West, and the moon follows it, he waits. He lays a bit of food near the creature every hour, as he waits for it to reach its conclusion. But this time, as so many times before, he suspects it will die before it knows. Ah. It seizes. Undulating neck proboscis ceasing its gyrations, and slowly lowering to approach and apprise the water. The knives are silent in their coursing slice of the sands, ebbing through dunes like razor-wire through wax paper - and *SNNNKT* ---

1 - Roen

The Reeve sprinkles some water from a canteen over the creature’s corpse, praising Ziz in his allknowing. Praising Behemoth for never-sleeping. Praising Leviathan for secret-keeping. And asking Titan, always-working, for forgiveness - his creature knew not about the knives, or the corruption of the oasis. The Reeve is sorry that this locus was un-restricted, and for not guiding the creature away before it came. While dead, its body labors on, pushing blood through broken veins, interrupted at the molecule, and tenuously fissioned from its mind. --On stilts again, the Reeve sprints away. Sorrowed by the creature’s death, he steps to steppes, and finds, again, a trail, but sighing, this time strikes away, toward the nomad’s refuge. Across the sky, the clock blinks ‘0000:00:00:00:00’, it’s iridescence pale and ignored by all.

2 - Roen

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