Written January 7, 2012.
Clever Fiction writing prompt: Broken/Desert/Voices.
Erik’s spirit was broken.
The sun was hot over the Persian desert. His thirst was beyond tolerance, and he was sure that this would be his dying day. The shah had turned him out; there would be no more Rosy Hours of Mazandaran. His torture chamber no longer pleased the shah or the khanoum and, truth to tell, he was weary of taking lives for the amusement of others.
He was weary, also, of being treated as a eunuch. His proximity to the seraglio was permitted only because of his ruined face, the assumption being that such ugliness rendered him somehow impervious to female charms.
Nothing could have been farther from the truth.
He walked on, his long legs covering the miles. He would find water to slake his thirst, or he would die. Those were the only two choices that remained.
Erik tried to imagine that he was in Rouen, the French village of his birth, and that he was walking home to a wife who would greet him with a refreshing drink. He could almost feel her gentle caress.
Splendid, he thought. Now I am hearing voices.
It was Zareh, the daroga: the shah’s chief of police.
“I am dead now,” Erik said as he turned around.
Zareh pulled up his own horse, and dropped the reins of the one he led.
“Allah be thanked that I have found you,” Zareh said. “I bring you water, food and a horse so that you may escape this place.”
“Say nothing. Take these things and go.”
A water skin and a bundle of food landed at Erik’s feet. Zareh turned his horse back in the direction from which he had come.
Erik drank a little of the water, gathered up the food and turned to face the sleek black mare the daroga had left for him. He was surprised to recognize the khanoum’s personal horse. Erik mounted the beast with all of the dignity his exhaustion could allow.
“Now, my beauty, let us go home.”