Matthew Hall

Sand buries everything

Jason had been sent to this town as a Journalist, following the town’s recent discovery.  Feldspar like so many other ghost towns had become abandoned in a short space of time.  It had sprung up out of the ground quickly like a desert flower springing up after rain, like so many other small mining towns.  He thought at first that the town had been abandoned due to the discoveries of gold drying up.  Looking into the town’s history however, he found out that this was not so.  What had happened then?  This was why Jason had driven two hours to see this town.

The air inside the town had a peculiar quality to it, not stale exactly, but it felt as if something were mixed with it, some unwelcoming kind of smell.  It was as though something did not want him to be there.

Jason walked down the main street of the dusty old ghost town. So much of it had been reclaimed by the surrounding desert, yet, in places, buildings stood, resisting the ravages of the sand defiantly. As he looked at the buildings, sounds and images flashed through his head, assailing him.  It was if he could hear the remnants of past voices long gone.

He staggered down the main street against the gust of malevolent wind that had picked up suddenly and blew sand constantly at his face.  Something inside him was directing him to a small house on the outskirts of town.  Its white picket fence splayed and askew like some set of jagged teeth.

Every step that Jason took in this town had ebbed at his strength.  The town it seemed had not wanted him to be here as if were trying to keep something from him.  He didn’t know what had made him keep walking up to this house.  As he walked inside the house, he looked around seeing furniture which must have been over a hundred years old but was somehow in tact and with very little dust on it Jason was  about to sit down, nearly exhausted when he heard a woman’s voice shouting in a panicky and terrified voice. Jason looked around feverishly in a near panic for the source. He called out to see if anyone was there and thought for a moment he could hear a woman’s voice from another roome.  Some presence it seemed had drawn him here.  It had waited all this time to tell their story and as much as he felt uncomfortable and wanted to leave this house. Part of him wanted to stay, so he sat down in an old wooden kitchen chair and closed his eyes, resting momentarily.

 A woman’s voice began to speak, she wasn’t addressing him, yet she seemed to be talking to some unseen person, pleading “why can’t we leave here and just go back to

Melbourne?”  “Things just aren’t working here!”  He saw an image of a field neatly ploughed but entirely barren and devoid of life.  Jason’s mind wandered aimlessly through it until he came across a dried up well, the sound of its bucket clanging emptily against the sides of the well.  A bleak picture of life for this couple here was forming in his mind.

A hundred memories then seemed to flood through his mind. He saw a man wringing his hands as he sat at the bottom of a tree, an empty liquor bottle by his side. On his lap there appeared to be some kind of legal document.  Jason had a feeling what it said. Something inside him made him want to get up and leave, as if he had a sense of foreboding.  The female presence would not let him though, and he was plunged into the next scene in her tale.

The man in dirty overalls had come into the house, clearly drunk and abusing the woman.  He cursed her and blamed her in an irrational rant for their misfortunes. She snapped back, “We wouldn’t be so bad off if you didn’t drink!” this sparked anger in the man’s eyes. “It’s not my fault! This is your fault!  You wanted this!” he roared at her, stepping towards the woman.  She tried to defend herself, but he would not let her and the man threw her to the kitchen floor. Rather than cringe on the ground however, the woman cursed him.  The man put his hands on his ears briefly, trying to block out her words.  She would not relent though and he turned away from her.  The man looked towards the window, his eyes still reddened with rage.  He looked down briefly and noticed a carving knife that the woman had been using, sitting in the sink.  His eyes became transfixed on the object as if some debate were taking place in his mind.  Shaking, but still intensely angry he picked it up and turned back to face his wife.

The woman was nearly completely off the floor when she saw the blade of the knife in the man’s hand glinting evilly at her.  She knew at once what her husband had intended to do and she tried to blurt out an apology to him.  The man’s eyes however, probably due to his drunken state looked glassed over.  If he understood or accepted her words, no recognition showed in his face.  He leaned towards her, putting his left arm around her as if to embrace her and then with his right hand as he held her close, plunged the knife into her heart. The woman’s body convulsed momentarily as he held her against his body.  Then the man released it, turning away, as if dropping some disgusting object. With a dull thud, her body hit the floor and the blood from her wound began to congeal around her, seeping silently through the floorboards.

A sick feeling in Jason began to rise and he wished desperately that he could get up and leave, but Jason could not and in his mind he saw the father walking upstairs.   At the top, the man entered a room with a small cot in the corner.  A tiny baby, that Jason guessed could not have been more than twelve months old slept silently.  The anger in the man’s eyes had disappeared by now and been replaced with sorrow.  Tears dropped silently from his eyes onto the child’s blanket.  He looked into the baby’s face and silently kissed its cheek, then in a barely audible whisper, mouthed the word “sorry”.  He placed his hand softly over the baby’s mouth and then he smothered it; the baby’s feeble struggle no match for the man’s strength.  Despite struggling, within a minute the baby lay lifeless.

This was too much for Jason and he vomited violently on the table, before at last, as if now released, leaping up from the chair.  Jason ran towards the door, his heart thumping wildly in his chest.  He paused momentarily at the doorway, taking one last look back at this place of tragedy.  As he did, he noticed an old gum tree in the distance through the back window. With every ounce of concentration he tried to block out the image which he knew that he would see next.  Jason did not have to guess to realize the tree’s significance and blindly he ran back to his car. Ever since that day of tragedy, a cloud of despair had fallen over the town.  People it seemed did not want to live here anymore. It was if all the hope of the people there had disappeared.

Jason began feeling the hopelessness of the town falling over him again, a million thoughts attacked his mind at once, urging him to do all kinds of horrible things that he didn’t even want to think about. He tried to shut them out but it was as if a thousand voices were yelling instructions at him inside his head, each one not totally coherent but disturbing and sinister in their demonic intensity. “Kill yourself!” one voice urged, “Your life is a failure!”  From another direction another voice attacked his mind “no one will miss you!”  Jason yelled out into the air “shut up!” trying pathetically to silence the voices but there was no let up.  He began running in blind panic in the direction of what he thought was his car.  Jason wasn’t sure anymore, he was no longer certain of anything but he ran.  Tears began welling up in his eyes as he cried uncontrollably, the salty taste of them running down his face into his mouth.  His vision was now totally distorted like he was trying to run through driving rain but not being able to keep his eyes totally open, everything looking blurry and distorted in front of him. 

After what seemed like a long time Jason saw a glimpse of blue which he recognized as his car.  He approached, fumbling for the keys then stabbing them blindly at the lock. Jason concentrated intently on silencing the voices, somewhat succeeding but at the same time creating a blinding stabbing pain in his head.  Somehow through some kind of instinct he got in the car and started to drive. He didn’t care where to, so long as he was further away from the town, which was the only thing which seemed to make the voices abate. A peculiar phrase replaced the urges to kill himself, becoming louder in his mind as it echoed over and over in Jason’s mind, “Sand buries everything”. Looking back on the town now through his mirror, half of it still buried in sand he understood now the meaning of those words.


All rights belong to its author. It was published on by demand of Matthew Hall.
Published on on 03/22/2009.


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