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Friday, September 1, 2017

Salted



This looked better before the camera.

Dreams can flavor a person's entire day. Week. Month. Especially as graphic as this one was:

I had gone by myself to some salt dunes. Miles and miles of hills stark white with salt stretched into the horizon. Even the air tasted salty. The sky seemed bleached bone white by the crystals. Dunes rose sometimes fifty meters in the air. A few people in the distance slid down the sides, using whatever slick item they had. It reminded me of tubing down snowy hills in Colorado. Only salt seemed less forgiving than snow, when we wiped out at the bottom.

I remember feeling utterly alone. It was just me and the sky and the salt. Some of the people shouted for me to come join them. I decided to take them up on it, and made my slow way down the side of the dune, trying to navigate through the sifting granules. For some strange reason, instead of normal play clothes like shorts or jeans, I wore a long pencil skirt that hampered my climbing and trudging ability. It took me quite some time and effort, but the view was spectacular. The breeze whipped sharp crystals into my skin and combined with sweat to make me sticky. Still, I had fun 'skiing' down the slopes.

At last I saw where everybody seemed to be heading. High tides had undercut a giant petrified dune, leaving a veritable mountain of salt which seemed to have stabilized into a sort of half dome with a deep indent. For some reason nobody thought anything of climbing to the top and jumping around. Crowds of them slid down the back side and stood looking out over the water and dunes and calling to others to come and see. 

Even stranger, herds of people walked around inside the undercut beneath the mountain, which formed a sort of giant cavern.

I don't know why I thought it would be a good idea to follow the group into the twilit dimness beneath tons and tons of questionable crystal. Curiosity, I guess. It must have seemed like a viable idea at the time, because I went. I got about halfway to the back, when a chilling thought hit me like a falling safe. 

"This mountain is going to avalanche."

I freaked and ran toward the opening. My skirt sucked onto my legs and tried to trip me. I hiked it up and sprinted full out, my breath scraping through my throat, slipping and bogging in the granules. The people I passed stared at me, their mouths O's of surprise. I ran faster, the salt stinging my throat. I screamed, "Get out! Get out! Run!" as I ran past them. Nobody moved.

About five yards from the opening, I heard it.

A massive, heart-stopping rumble filled the air--the kind a skyscraper might make during demolition. Thick, cloying clouds of salt boiled up. I tripped and dove for the opening, sliding, my arms flailing. A roiling, slithering, pounding avalanche of crystals and chunks caught me, rolling over and around me, filling my mouth and eyes and ears with salt.

The thundering seemed to last forever as the heavy mountain tumbled down on top of me. I tried to swim, like you do if you're caught in a snow avalanche, but I couldn't seem to reach the end. 

Finally quiet descended, almost as choking as the darkness. I couldn't move, see, hear, or barely breath. The weight of the mountain crushed down on me. I panicked, screaming my lungs bloody, until I realized I had to stop. I needed to understand how to dig out. I needed to conserve oxygen. I had to live.

 My first piece of good luck was that the salt somehow managed to form a two foot by three foot pocket around my head and shoulders. I had a tiny air supply. I wiggled until I got my hands free and grabbed my cell phone from a pocket in my skirt--my second piece of good luck (I've never owned a cell phone). 

I tried calling out, but couldn't. All I could do was turn on the light and some music (I don't even know if that's possible). I hoped the music would show rescuers that I was alive and where to find me.

Then I worked on freeing myself. I couldn't move my feet, and I was petrified that scrabbling around would collapse my tiny air bubble. I prayed and prayed that that wouldn't happen as I nibbled away at the outer edges, chipping as far as I could reach, a little at a time.

I could barely keep myself from jabbering in a complete frenzy as the tons of salt pressed on me, squeezing the life from me like a wrung out sock. The closeness robbed me of sanity and tried to steal my hope, nearly succeeding.

The music played on--my sole anchor. 

The light flickered and went out.

I finally heard a couple of people hunting, their voices growing louder and softer as they moved.



I'll never know if I got out, because I woke up. I was so glad to breathe free, unfettered by tons of salt. I power packed oxygen and breathed a prayer of thanks in abject gratitude that I wasn't buried under a mountain of crystals.



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