Crumbs…Draft Excerpt

From Chapter 19:

Tegende awoke to the gurgling of a vulture hopping on the dashboard of the abandoned ice cream wagon. He shooed at it and it fluttered off through the frame where the windshield once was. He noticed the present sat on the opposite corner of the dashboard, still wrapped in its glittering bow. Then he noticed that Birdy wasn’t there. He looked at his hands and they had returned to a more youthful state. It must have all been a dream, he thought. He gathered his things and stumbled out of the truck onto the sandy, barren dirt. He heard his canteen slosh. He was sure it was empty, but now he found it nearly full. He thought maybe he was finally losing it. Feeling a renewed vigor from the rest and the fluids, he started north. By late that afternoon he spotted the greenery of an oasis with red iron scaffolding rising up out of it. He had finally returned to the Eagle’s Nest.

A fire filled his veins which propelled his legs over the hot sand towards his destination. He reached into his belt and clutched the hilt of his machete and unsheathed it. The sweat rolled down his skin, dropping into the sand as he marched. His grip upon the hilt tightened and his muscles grew taut.

Onward!

Sand filled his boots and penetrated his socks, grinding in between his toes with each step. The vultures circled overhead in a wide ring, and the ship, so much farther above, hung for a moment, exactly within the halo of the carrion fowl. The rhythm of his footfalls and breaths quickened as he made a straight line towards the foliage—disappearing and reappearing behind the waves of dusty dunes.

Forward!

A hot wind whipped the sand up which lashed at his exposed skin. The green oasis rippled and danced and shimmered in the undulations of hot air rising off the surface. He tasted the moisture between the dry gusts.

Onward!

His teeth ground. His blisters opened. The whites of his eyes filled with threads of pulsing blood. His veins thickened and throbbed. His hair raised. His fear dissipated.

Forward!

Tegende stepped off the sand and onto stones and over them and into the lush greenery of the oasis. The palms before him bent and the branches bowed as if clearing the way. The insects—the chiggering, chattering, clicking, stinging, buzzing—all fell silent. As he advanced, steam vented in plumes from the stones behind him. The colorful birds in their perches turned their heads to watch him with one eye—their beaks pointing the way forward…into the Eagle’s Nest…to Birdy and Selam. He finally reached the iron gate, guarded by a single sentry wearing a spiked helmet and reflective motorcycle goggles.

“Open the gate!” Tegende commanded.

The guard sized him up, sighed, then replied, “Do you have an appointment?”

“I said open the gate or I will hack you to pieces and feed your entrails to the vultures.” Tegende raised his rusty machete, his bloody eyes so filled with intensity that they nearly popped out of his skull.

The guard lifted his goggles up off his eyes to take a closer look at this skinny, angry man.

“Do as I say or prepare to die!” Tegende ordered.

The next instant, Tegende heard the cocking of guns. He turned to find four Nazis aiming their Lugers at him. Still holding his blade aloft, he turned back to the guard and found him scanning through the yellow pages on a clipboard.

“Don’t you read Kung Fu?” asked the guard as he scanned. “It is unwise to bring a scimitar to a gunfight?”

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