My head spins from the throbbing gash left by the highwayman. The sky overhead hangs heavy with the rare blessing of rain.
I groan and stumble over a trail of footprints to the body of my fellow herdsman, Rabbel.
I hold his stiffening hands in mine and hold back tears. We had shared many encampments when on caravans. I kiss him on the forehead, close his eyes, and vow to avenge his death.
After I hug his corpse tight, I look up. A male camel, a strong stud never broken and only to be sold as breeding stock, chews his cud at the top of the next dune. To my surprise, the unruly male remains calm at my approach.
I choose not to degrade him by hopping on his back and trying to ride. I hold onto the reins and allow him to guide me toward his herd of females.
While traveling, I note the footprints of my biggest female behaving erratically. The thief appears to have struggled against my caravan line. The cool rain begins to sprinkle.
Just as the rains begin in earnest, I spot my females huddled at the center of a dry wadi. I release my male’s reins and hurry to see what they crowd around. The vagabond that killed Rabbel lies, leg broken, in the middle of the dune funnel. I take a sip from a waterskin he can’t reach.
“Help,” he begs.
I tie my caravan line together and place my male at the head so the females will follow. I tug the line, and my camels follow me easily.
“Don’t leave me here!”
Goddess Al-Uzza will cry a thousand cool tears of vengeance for each wail of sadness I’d howled for Rabbel. The wadi will flood, drowning my sworn enemy.
This was written for the September 13th Free Write on the Carrot Ranch. As soon as I read the prompt, I thought of both the Good Samaritan and The Flight of the Phoenix, both stories that contain water in a desert setting. I spent most of the free write time researching the Arabian desert and the Nabataeans who lived long ago (and built Petra).
Unfortunately, the Good Samaritan only showed up here in the form of his opposite.