He didn’t think he would survive. How could he? He was lost in a strange land; his belongings buried under a ton of sand. His throat burned and ached. His lungs felt ready to burst with sand. Thinking hurt. Breathing hurt. Everything hurt.
He was going to die.
The storm around him grew stronger. He sunk to his knees, his tattered clothes billowing around him. The sands burned his skin to the point he believed his flesh would melt off his bones. He could barely keep himself upright. The winds of the sandstorm forced him down; deeper and deeper into the land and hopelessness. Soon he would become one with the desert; trapped under a dune a mile high.
He closed his eyes, resigned to his fate. He took three deep breaths and nearly suffocated on sand. Then he opened his eyes.
To his astonishment, the sand formed a funnel; the wind gathering dust and insects and shrubbery into a vortex. He could hear nothing but the whoosh of the wind--until a voice clear as sunlight called his name. Was he hallucinating? Or was this an omen of his survival? He struggled to his feet. The voice called his name again, and then a third time.
The voice emanated from the tornado.
He took a shaky step towards it. Moving against the wind, he continued at a snail’s pace, one step at a time, towards the voice. And salvation? The voice continued to beckon him with sweet whispers. He obeyed. Even as the tornado began to alter shape.
The funnel twisted in its center and other points until it resembled a wet rag being wrung dry. The wind subsided and he was able to get a better view of the tornado, which began shrinking in height. He noticed it took the shape of a starfish.
He stumble-ran the final paces forward. Exhausted and spent, he fell at the feet of the humanoid form that had emerged from wind and sand. On his knees as if before royalty, he looked up and met the eyes of the loveliest woman he had ever seen.
“Welcome, Dominique,” the woman said, her voice a soothing lullaby. “You must be weary. Come, rest.”
Knowing not what else to do, Dominique reached up towards her. She engulfed him within the confines of sand and heat. The scent of juniper radiated off her body. She took him within her; she felt amazing. Although he knew boils and blisters would be the result, he couldn’t stop himself. Her coarse tongue tasted of far east spices he couldn’t pronounce. She was the best he ever had. Yet, in the back of his mind, Dominique knew that the consequences would be painful and deadly. Still he refused to pull out.
*Author's note: This story takes place in the Detecting Magic with Dick Hunter universe. It is the origin story of Mort des Hommes, the antagonist in the first book, The Mort des Hommes Files. Mort makes a guest appearance in the sequel, The Demonic Dozen.
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