The desert always looked tempting.
In the middle of the day, when the sun was at its peak, you could taste the heat. With every breath, every step forward, every heartbeat, you were on fire from the feet up. The hot air scorched your throat and all around was the sickening scent of burning. Burning corpses, burning rock, burning rubber. The desert was the embodiment of hostility and hatred, to its very core. The hostility had seeped into all its inhabitants, creatures, humans, even plants. Every living thing was out to kill you, more for the thrill of the kill than in order to survive. Throats were ripped open in broad daylight, people were shot from behind and left to rot on the side of the road. Nothing was hidden.
The temperature barely cooled off during the nights. Sometimes there was a breeze, which made it somewhat more bearable. The darkness brought comfort from the scorching heat, but the air was clammy and sultry. It brought out a different type of hunter: the stalking kind, the kind that wanted their kills to be slow and perverted, the kind that liked to watch. The ones who were so depraved they would find their way into any kind of housing, just to get to their prey, knowing their prey never slept without a gun under the pillow and one eye open.
Once, it had been different. There was no way it was ever going to turn back, though.
Still, it suited him, the hot sandy temptress that lay bare before him now, glowing golden in the sunlight, literally on fire. The rock he was sitting on was burning through his combat trousers, sweat was slowly running down his temples. A cactus brought a elongated shadow that at least protected his back from the sun. Even sitting here for twenty minutes was enough to make him feel like he was boiling alive.
He had been here for a while now. He had lived on this planet for a few months, and he had stopped missing “home”. He lived his life here like what was expected of him: live and let die, quite literally. Who paid the most got the job done, and he had earned himself another cartridge of ammo, another bite to eat and another ale to drink, maybe some company. Another day to cross off. He regretted nothing.
Still, it would be easy to get up, right now, and start walking. The horizon seemed far enough away, like a black line dividing the gold and the blue, slightly blurry in the heat. What would he find if he just kept walking, other than a throat ripped open or a bullet in the head? How long would it take to run into an oasis, the ones with the wells and the palm trees and the soda machines that he heard in other people’s tales? Or maybe there was another world at the end of the desert, one that was not made out of hatred and homicidal tendencies?
He wiped his forehead, checked the magazine of his gun just to be sure, and slowly slid off the rock. The sand crunched under his boots, his feet were already on fire. The horizon was waiting. He smiled, more to himself than anything else, and turned around. Back to the small village, the messy slums and concrete apartments, where the people lived that had welcomed him in. He had found a safe zone there, and in return he helped to protect them. He could do this for a little while longer, before he would find out what the temptress had to offer.