The Page in the Desert

By Jon Hillenbrand In Stories

Somewhere north of the city with no name, a speeding car traces a lone arc across the horizon.  The desert continues before them and behind them forever.  The car is full of students on a documentary expedition.  The engine growls to a stop with tires shedding a hail of stones upon the piece of paper that has caught the driver’s eye.  The girl stumbles out to the paper and holds it between dusty fingers, the bright bleached surface glowing in her eyes, erasing the sun carved crevices in her face.

The head of the paper reveals an intricate logo which appears to reflect light differently depending on the angle at which it is held.  The girl flips her hand lightly to change the hologram from side to side, back and forth.  Each time she flips the page the image changes revealing more detail.  As she flips her hand side to side more quickly, the hologram grows and now encompasses the entirety of her horizon.  She looks deep into the page and becomes surrounded on all sides by the ocean.  She is now standing barefoot on the island of sand with its lone palm tree marking the progress of time with coconuts at its base.  She feels the sand surrounding her feet, hot on top but cool underneath.  The icy salt breeze is laced with ocean spray and peppers her face like a winter’s sleet.  The smell of fish and sun-baked kelp fills the air as an arm halts the motion of her hand and she is ripped back to the desert, the idling car an animal behind her circling curious friends.

The closest, a mysterious Chinese girl with coal colored hair, slaps the page from her hand.  The group wordlessly gathers back inside the mouth of the beast-like car and they continue along their original path, a dry tornado in the cobalt sky.

What do you think?