I thought about riding off into the desert and stashing the bike before
walking to the village where I may buy fuel. I would have to travel at
night though and even then I might easily be spotted by a sharp eyed local
out looking for one of his straying animals.
The dusk drew in and I would normally have stopped for camp and a good
sleep, but not here, not in this place of dark shapes and crying wind.
Instead, I once again increased my speed to get even more of this terror
behind me and I squinted into the horizon hoping to catch sight of the
snow-capped peaks that would mark the beginning of the end of this awful
place. But I knew they were one whole day away.
I was flying now. My machine sometimes lifted clear of the ground at
a good lump in the road. I ran into small rocks, the front wheel skipping
away at the impact, but I began not to care at the prospect of an accident
adding to my problems - after all, didn't I deserve to suffer for my stupidity
and what did anything matter now? - now that I would soon be bait for
the vultures - or worse -a plaything for the locals to torture.
But what was that?! - up ahead in the dimming light. I was approaching
it fast. Too fast, my god, my speed was 160kms per hour now!
I slowed quickly without looking again at the road ahead and the object
lying in it. I stopped and dismounted and pulling my binoculars from their
case, peered ahead. My god! - it was a motorcycle! - lying on its side
close to the road's edge. But where was the rider or riders? There was
I looked around into the desert. I saw nothing. I sat down and concentrated
for the slightest movement, the dimmest flash of steel. Nothing! I could
not go back. I had only one way - and it was forward. I would not under
any circumstances return into the darkness of that that I had already
passed through with dread.
So I approached the fallen machine all the while looking keenly around
me for the slightest movement that might betray a man laying in ambush.
I knew I would have the surprise if I had the luck to pr-empt any such
attack and I would be able to speed away, weaving from side to side in
order to avoid the bullets that fly after me like furious wasps. My imagination
was working overtime for I had heard all the terror that these desert
people will wreak upon an unsuspecting foreigner.
The stoning, the slow cutting, the burning, the women and their howling
I came up alongside the machine. It had been crashed and had suffered
some considerable damage to its left side. The engine casing was smashed.
The exhaust was torn apart. Oil lay spattered over the road's surface
- but no sign of blood. No sign of injury, no shed clothing, no first
aid kit, no personal possessions - nothing.