”Why did you murder him? Speak!”
”I had no hand in his death, he brought it to himself..”
”Stop lying! We’ve had clear reports of you both walking out into the desert, you with a weapon, an ax, in hand! He never came back, all we found was his mangled body besides a mound of dirt. How can you explain this?!
”He drove the tool into himself, you call it a weapon, but we, my people, have no use for such brute instruments. We use our axes to shape the land that we live in, not to inflict pain.”
”How much farther now?” the sun at this time of the day had reached it’s zenith, even the shadows hid from such heat and blinding light.
”We’re close, do not worry.” answered the tribesman.
”And you…promise to help me?” asked Keith.
Again that one, by now it was the only answer he could get out of him, perhaps asking over and over had driven the man to his patience. But he trusted him, which said a lot. Not many people could be trusted anymore, it had been so long, that the word itself sounded strange in his mind.
As they crossed another hill, much higher than the last, he finally saw it. In an endless stretch of sand dunes, in a monumental dry ocean of waves and sand, laid a small oasis. This time, it was no mirage, the tribesman could see it as well.
Keith stumbling down the sand, rolling and running with little control, raced towards the spring. He then cupped the fresh water in his hands and drank.
”Why…would a dying man wish to quench his thirst, if life has no meaning to him anymore?” asked the tribesman, suddenly by his side.
Taken aback, Keith looked up, ”I would like to…taste life, before I leave..”
”…and? are you satisfied?”
” It’s even better than I imagined.” with that he got up and walked towards the outer edge of the oasis and fell to his knees.
He began to weep, quietly at first, holding himself back, and then he broke. All the pain and misery poured out of him.
As each teardrop fell, he grabbed a handful of earth and pushed it to his side.
While the tribesman stood there, watching over him, he wondered if this man shed as many tears as there were grains of sand in his hands.
Keith stopped digging and looked into the hole. His eyes still swollen and with misery shining on his face, he reached into his pocket and threw something into the ground.
And then, he screamed. He screamed heavily.
This was no sound a mere man could make, this was a cry of the worlds, mixed within it the sounds of all creatures that have suffered to their limits and more, pain lashed in judgment of the unjustly lived.
It had been a long time since the tribesman hadn’t heard this.
Keith’s guide, jolted from his memories, turned to see the remains of a broken soul of a man looking at him, expectantly.
”Please…do it now. I’m ready.”
He hesitated, things had changed, this, changed it all. He took a deep breath and replied, ”I am sorry, I cannot, I have brought you this far, the rest, if you are that eager, is in your hands.” He threw the ax down and began walking away. This was not a fight he wanted to have any part in, not anymore. Too many decades had been spent in the follies of these men. Enough was enough.
” Yet more lies this savage tells us! A man of our community, a stately man, would have no inclination towards death, we can live longer than ever, do more than ever, we are stronger than ever before! Why do you think we would believe in something as preposterous as this!”