The bright sun beams thrust through the dense boughs of the ancient trees. The light reflecting off the leaves. The constant breeze rustling the leaves - green sequens against a brown canvas.
Alana blinking gazed at the clear blue sky. Birds were chirping; bees were humming as they danced from one flower to the next.
Alana sat up quickly hoping to confront the creature. There was no sign of her or the blazing bonfire that had been there the night before. The only reminder or evidence of last night was the pang inher heart. Why she felt such loss; she did not know. A burden that seemed to have no purpose.
Alana stood up slowly and wlaked to the edge of the clearing and walked the edge until she found an opening that would lead out and through the trees. The ground was worn wher there had been traffic before. Using her hands and arms - extending them in front - she pushed branches and foliage away from her as she walked forward.
She continued inthis fashion for about fifty paces and then felt the cool smooth surface of a stepping stone. She looked down and could see that another was placed just above the first. Still looking down she moved from one stone to the next until the plant life deminished on either side. Before her a stair case made from smooth river stones led up a small hill through the trees. Still moving carefully and deliberately she made her way to the top.
She found herself standing on the edge of a large stone jutting out from the face of a mountain. From this view point she could see a vast desert. The sands glistening like golden diamonds; the sunlight bouncing off; blinding Alana. As her eyes adjusted she was able to see a trail leading off this precipice.
The trail was dry and dusty. Thistles and nettles grew from cracks and cregs along the way. The descent was easy and each step seemed to be easier as she neared the valley floor.
Each step brought the sound of moving water closer and closer and the air became cool. The last few steps of her descent were refreshing and cool. A fresh water spring bubbling up fromt he base of the mountain caught Alana's attention. She was glad for she was covered with dust and dirt. Her feet were cracked from walking barefoot for so long. If she had a mirror she would have shrunk from her tear stained image. She was glad that she did not have a mirror.
She washed her fac and wet her hair. This refreshing moment temporarily camaflouged the situation she was in.
When she felt that she was as clean as she could get she turned back to the mountain; looking up at the stone jetty - mouth wide open...
"Oh my!" she exclaimed. The cliff from which she descended was much higher than she thought. The trail, visival; was narrow and steep - any misstep would have resulted in a perilous fall.
"Oh my," she whispered. "How did i get here?"
"I can not go back the way I came; it is far too dangerous."
Alana turned toward the desert. Across the sandy expanse she could see another mountain. She could make out a snake like ribbon etched in it's side and realized it was a road. The distance seemed reasonable. She was certain she could make it to the other side in a day.
Alana turned back to the mountain - contemplating one last time. Hesitantly she turned back to the desert.
The warm sand rose up between her toes as her feet sunk slowly into the warm ever moving floor of this valley. Each step met resistance as she moved forward.
The desert seemed to expand as she continued to walk. The distance between her and the mountain behind ner never grew. She felt like she was walking in place. The path before her seemed to grow longer. The only change that seemed to occur was the surface she walked upon.
The sand became hot and felt like shards of broken glass pressing against the soles of her feet. The blazing heat of the sun beating down on the sand played tricks on her. Mirages sprung up in various directions as she continued her journey. Once she thought she saw a small child running toward her, she blinke and the image was gone.
The ground would slither across her path; or was it a snake? She could not tell. Red ants marched from their ant hills to some unknown destination. Sand beetles and scorpions and lizards scurried about. An occassional screech from a hawk would echo thorugh the still and otherwise soundless scenery.
The burning sand made her feet itch with pins and needles. She continued to endure the discomfort - hope that this part of her journey would be over soon. The painful tingling began to spread through her body. She felt the pricking in her finger tips and hands - moving to her vace and scalp.
The pain intensifying with each step.
"STOP!" She screamed, "it burns!"
LeNore ran down the hall her footfalls echoing on the stone floor. When she arrived at the doorway of Alana's room she met the worried gaze of the physician.
LeNora gasped when she noticed her daughter's blazing red cheeks and parched crimpson lips. Alana no longer lay peacefully as she had the night before. Writhing in obvious pain, Alana appeared to be struggling for breath.
"LeNora, we need to bring her body temperature down," the physician stated calmly with a slight sense of urgency. "We need water and cold compresses."
"I will send my housekeeper to help and will return shortly," LeNora's voice cracking weakly.
LeNora retreated from Alana's room; turning out into the dimly lit hallway. Tears streaming down her face; overwhelmed with concern and despair. Her body began to quake and she could feel her knees growing weak; about to collapse.
Orrin's muscular arms wrapped around his wife's shaking body. He did not speak. He just held her close. LeNora turned slowly to face him and buried her face in his chest; now sobbing. Orrin raised his hands up her back to her head and cradled her gently. The tender touch soother her and her convulsave breathing slowed to long; slow; labored exhales and shallow inhales.
"Orrin," LeNora whispered. "I am so afraid we will lose her. I feel helpless. I don't know what to do."
"LeNora, my love, Alana is strong and she will pass through this storm."
Orrin and LeNora stood silently in the hall wrapped in each other's arms. Both hoping and praying for the life of their daughter.