A hot dry wind blows from the north, searing the blood red sands of the desert. A lone figure emerges from the haze, weaving and staggering against
the blistering noonday sun. His face weathered and burnt, lips dry and parched, eyes blazing as fiercely as the sun with insane intensity. Harold
Lasseter knew that death was stalking him, gaining ground with every stumbling step, yet he also knew that salvation may be just over the next rise,
around the next bend. And…….
Andy Kane, geoligist, amateur archeologist, ex spook, and four wheel drive enthusiast belted along Larapinta Drive in his new Landrover Discovery,
heading west into the setting sun. Lying on the passenger seat, head between his legs, licking away at his nuts was his best mate Mojo. Andy
remembered the joke his old man used to tell him whenever they saw a dog licking its balls.
"Why do they do that Dad."
"Because they can son, because they can."
Mojo seemed to sense his thought and looked up, a quizzical expression on his face, as if to say, you may have opposable thumbs but you cant do this,
no matter how smart you think you are. Andy had always owned Blue Heelers, his old man had bred them for years, loyal, smart and extremely hard
working they were ideally suited to life in the bush.
Andy breathed in the hot dry air through the half open window, some could take it and others couldn’t, but to Andy this was heaven. Open road in
front of him, blue skies above, no hassles, three weeks of peace and quiet.
Harry stood atop a granite precipice. Below him a dry sandy creek bed meandered between gnarled ghost gums and rocky hillocks. A red spine of stone
and granite seemed to swim through the blood red desert sands along side the parched river bed. It's shape reminded him of a snake, shimmering in the
afternoon sun, it's scales made of granite seemed to ripple as if in motion.
All about on every flat surface were pictographs, left by the local aborigines thought Harry to himself. After resting in the shade of a eucalypt
Harry descended the shale covered slope carefully, mindful of the long fall should he stumble. At last he stood at the base of the nearest ridge, a
part of the snakes undulating spine. A slow smile spread across his sunburnt and weather beaten face. This was it allright he thought, the gold veins
as thick as a mans arm wove through the rock face in all directions. The reef, his reef. They'd all laughed, s'n-word'ed behind his back, ridiculed
him publicly. And now for the second time he stood before it in awe.
Red sands as far as the eye could see, and further it seemed. Only just within sight, low on the horizon Andy could make out a low line of hill's
that seemed to flow through the heat haze radiating from the earth. Andy knocked the Disco into low range and put his foot down as his tires struggled
for purchase in the thickening drifts of sand. Mojo growled quietly from his seat, annoyed at being woken by the sudden surge in speed.
" Easy mate, not far now and i'll let you have that rabbit i shot last night".
Mojo appeared to nod acceptance, or maybe it was just the movement of the car, either way he closed his eyes and settled back down to sleep as the
four wheel drive continued on through the rugged desert landscape.
Much later, after two close calls with submerged rocks beneath the deep red sands they arrived at a creek bed, abandoned by time and waters. Towering
along the far side of the bank rose a red and silver escarpment, the granite sparkling in the dying embers of the sun. Andy swung the disco up the
river bed and drove into the setting sun.
Suddenly Harry felt a chill run down his spine and he turned. Only metres away stood an old black man, grizzled gray hair hung like rotten vines from
his head, masking milky white eye's, a flattened nose and bloated peeling lips. Scars thick and swollen crisscrossed his wizened torso.
" Go back, sacred ground ", said the old man in surprisingly good english.
" I cant go back old man " said Harry " I've come too far to leave now ".
" Not safe, evil lives here, ancient " rasped the elder " older than the sun, the serpent devours all but the guardians ".
" Will you stop me " Harry said menacingly, though he'd never been a violent man he felt a sudden unease in this old mans presence.
" No i will not stop, i only warn. Your life is your own, feed the spirits if you will ".
The old man turned and and walked slowly into the setting sun, his shadow stretching back towards Harry. Harry looked away towards the veins of gold
then turned again to watch the old man depart, but he was gone. Harry ran to where he'd last seen the old bloke, but there was nothing there, his
footsteps merely stopped then vanished.Harry shook his head, it's the heat he thought, i've been walking for days, must be sunstroke. His thought's
swam confidently atop the sea of his consciousness, while all below was turbulent, knowing in his heart the truth.
The sun had by now reached the horizon and the shadows had crept out from under the rocky spines protection. Harry needed shelter for the night so
began trudging through the thick sand following the line of the serpents undulating body, or so it seemed to him.
Andy had found a spot on the bank of the old creek bed next to a large overhang of granite, the back of the disco reversed up to the opening, tail
gate open. Andy unloaded his camping gear, all the while watching Mojo tearing up and down the river bed barking at the galahs as they settled on the
branches of the massive old eucalypts, river red gums and ghost gums. Soon enough, with the gas cooker going, spam frying away in the pan and Mojo
lying beneath the four by four chewing on the remains of a rabbit carcass, Andy settled back on his swag.
None too soon Harry came to a place where a particularly large granite outcropping loomed out over the river bed, forming an opening that went in for
about twenty yards. Perfect thought Harry, he dropped his gear with a weary sigh and went off in search of fire wood and some large stones for his
Later with a fire crackling and a belly full Harry lay back and dreamt of the wealth and fame that would soon be his.
Soon though his dreams turned dark, thought's of wealth were replaced by a slithering horror, notions of fame sank in a quagmire of despair. Harry
struggled to wake, he thought his eye's had opened but it could not be. Above his head the ceiling of rock seemed alive in the flickering flames of
the fire, moist it seemed, a fetid stench wafted from the back of the cave. Harry wrenched his body in horror as fangs seemed to slide from some rocky
recess at the opening of the hollow, amber liquid dripping from their tips. His mind wrestled madly with his paralysed body, as the slavering jaws
closed grindingly down upon his immobile body, Harry Lasseter uttered one last desperate scream, his tortured voice echoed across the night setting
the galahs aloft from the perches.
Andy woke with a start, Mojo was standing at the entrance of the cave growling, hackles raised.
" Whats up boy "
Andy moved slowly to the back of the Disco and out from under the overhang, reaching in he found his rifle and slid it slowly out, possibly just some
dingo's nearby he thought. Andy walked to where Mojo stood to see the silhouette of a man down in the creek bed about thirty feet away.
" Who are you " Andy stammered, surprised to see someone way out here.
" My name's Harry, you dont want to stay here, please leave ".
" Sorry mate but this aint private land ".
" Dont stay, dont sleep, go. The serpent never sleeps, the gold that flows through his veins is venom, the granite is the souls of those it has
devoured, the red rock and the blood red sands are the juices of our lives. Go."
A sound like teeth grinding caused Andy to look quickly around, nothing moved. He swung back to speak to the stranger but he'd gone, disappeared into
the night. Mojo bolted down to the creek bed and sniffed the ground where the man had been, a low growl eminated from his throat. Andy walked slowly
down to the sandy creek when the grinding noise caused him to turn again, he stood, mouth open in dumb surprise as the overhang where he'd just been
standing started to close, what looked like fangs seemed to grow from the very rock. A loud hiss escaped from the hollow followed by a smell of
Andy bolted, closely followed by the dog, tail between its legs. He ran as hard and as far as he could before he collapsed in a heap, his chest
heaving, Mojo beside him.
In between breaths Andy looked about, only feet away a twisted spire of rock rose from the river bed. Andy opened his mouth to scream as the rock came
alive and whipped about, encircling him, strangling his scream to a gurgling moan before crushing the life from the fleshy vessel that was once his
Bob Darken swerved his truck violently on to the shoulder of the beaten dirt track and skidded to a halt. He reached back and lifted his .303 down
from the rack and climbed out into the searing heat. Looking forlornly back at him was a blue heeler, skin and bone and lolling tongue.
" Here boy " Bob held out his hand, " come and have a drink mate ".
The dog trotted silently up to the truck as Bob filled a plate from the water skin hanging from the tail gate. After drinking his fill Bob picked him
up and put him into the truck, his eye's chilled Bob to the core as he loaded him in, they seemed to radiate sadness, and something else,
(not really horror i guess but i hope it's acceptable).