(Originally published in Outliers of Speculative Fiction.)
Silent, angular houses with white plaster, a sand-suffocated well and a couple of stunted palms huddled together on the low ground, a once bustling city that only the ghostly desert wind inhabited now.
The sun gleamed down without mercy, hanging in the sky as a swirling ball that made the air flicker, and the small caravan decided to rest in this ancient oasis. The camels were led down the loose sand dunes and racked up in the shadow of the ruined walls, while the men sought refuge in one of the best-preserved buildings.
Scattered sunbeams fell in through holes in the roof and illuminated dusty rubble, but it was comfortably cool compared to the heat outside. Everyone looked for a place to sit, drank freshly cooked tea and tried to pay as little attention as possible to the wind, which seemed to carry along doleful whispers from a prouder time.
The men agreed to wait for nightfall or late afternoon before they would continue their journey, although a short examination found the well waterless and the rest of the city equally empty, not even home to bones or mummified remains.
Dennis Mombauer was born in 1984 in the namesake capital of the Bonn Republic and raised along the Rhine river. He currently lives and works as a theater agent and freelance author in Cologne, and rites weird fiction, textual experiments, and literary essays as well as non-naturalist drama and English poetry acculturated with German. He translates both fiction and non-fiction, and is the editor, co-founder, and co-publisher of Die Novelle – Magazine for Experimentalism. Dennis' publications have appeared in various small- to medium-sized magazines and anthologies. He can be found online at dennismombauer.com.
About the Narrator:
Cheyenne Wright is a freelance illustrator and concept artist. He is the color artist on the three-time Hugo Award winning steampunk graphic novel series Girl Genius, and co-creator of many other fine works; Including 50 Fathoms and the Ennie award winning Deadlands Noir for the Savage Worlds RPG. He has also produced graphics for Star Trek Online, the Champions MMO, and t-shirt designs for TV’s Alton Brown. Cheyenne lives in Seattle with his wife, their daughter, and an ever growing stack of unpainted miniatures. In his spare time he is teaching himself animation, and narrates short stories for a variety of audio anthologies where he is known as podcasting’s Mr. Buttery ManVoice™. You can find him online at arcanetimes.com.