Chapter 29 of Ama

Although there was no way to be sure, Jason felt that many hours had passed since leaving the woman by the well, and yet the mountain seemed no nearer. It sat on the horizon and taunted him. Sometimes the great rock would disappear for a while, when a sandstorm washed it from view. It seemed to be conscious of him and reappeared whenever he wandered off course, not in an effort to help with navigation, but to renew the derision.

Since leaving the well, he tried to steer clear of any further interactions with hell’s other inhabitants. Screams and shouts of despair would come from far off among the dunes, causing him to panic. The moment he heard anything he ran until the sound was behind him. This worked for the most part. Once, however, he almost fell over a man lying on the sand, a man named Alex. Alex looked to be in his twenties, although he said he was ninety-five. He was wearing a three-piece suit, shoes polished to a high shine, and a bowler hat. He also had a black umbrella lying on the sand next to him. Alex said he had no intention of playing silly games and would stay put until the nurses came to wake him up. He was adamant “those pretty fillies always come at seven, sharp, every morning,” and “this was all nothing but a ridiculous dream”. Jason had wished Alex luck and moved on.

Whenever the ache in his muscles became unbearable or the baseball bat became a lead weight, he would stop and rest. He tried to keep the stops few and far between, and only if he were perched on the peak of a high dune, so he could see any approaching danger. It was a good plan until he reached a vast plateau in the desert, with no raised vantage points for miles around. He walked across the plateau until his legs gave out and he collapsed.

A persuasive urge to drift off convinced him to stay put. He closed his eyes and waited for sleep to come. But Derwood was right, there’s no sleeping in hell. He decided to lay still and give his throbbing muscles time to rejuvenate. He would have remained in his pseudo-sleep for a good deal longer, had it not been for the sound of children laughing.


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