Gil woke early beneath the rocky outcrop, the burning sun still overhead.
He rolled over, careful not to expose his skin. Even under his cool cotton wraps, he would burn.
Laying out on the desert sands was his canteen.
Shit! He’d never be able to reach it. Not that it mattered. Whatever water had been in it had already boiled away.
This wasn’t good. The land was arid, and the plants had died off. There was nothing to drink for miles.
The last caravan he passed said the next outpost was a hard night’s push. Any mistake and he wouldn’t make it.
Maybe if he took his time, and paced himself, he could stay hydrated. But that’d mean he’d need a day’s rest.
He double-checked his map, hoping to find something the others had skipped. A boulder or a crevice big enough for one person.
Of course, there was nothing. Every shadow had been charted, and everyone shared what they knew. Out here, reciprocation was king—or else karma killed your ass.
There was only one solution. Get up, get moving. Don’t stop until he got to the way station.
The sun had set. The sand was warm, but not hot.
He could risk it. Especially when every second counted.
He reached out and grabbed his canteen. It burned his hand, but he accepted the pain. The punishment for his mistake. He tucked it back in its spot, securing it tightly.
He rolled out from the rocky outcrop and got to his feet. Yeah, he was already sweating, but he could do this.
He ran across the cooling sands and into the night.
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