Rebecca was sitting on one of the small walls that surrounded her home village. Her long light brown hair hanging over her crouching shoulders and further down covering her arms. She was staring at the sun. The irony wasn't lost at her. For years she had taught the town's children that staring at the sun was bad. And though she knew what damage her eyes were getting at this few minutes of thought she just needed her spirit to soar high above.
In a way she suspected she was looking at her brother's killer. The scorching sun that had dried him out and had relinquished him to the embrace of the desert. It was hard not to point fingers. Even if what she was blaming were elements of nature. Rebecca had never thought her schooled mind would revert to older beliefs. 
Rebecca looked down again, spots of bright coloured light reflecting on her retina. They coloured oddly on the light sweater she clutched in her hands. It was all they had found of her brother. The sweater and the car.
Rebecca once again went over the small facts she had learned about her brother after he had vanished. It had taken a few days before anyone had sounded alarm. That someone had been her. She had been worried about her brother after that strange mid-day visit. There had been something different about his looks, but what had really alerted her was his behaviour. All coherence had been lost in his thoughts, like he had been hiding something. When he hadn't answered her calls for a whole week she had visited his home. He hadn't been there. He hadn't been going to work though he had said he was busy.
Rebecca had learnt that he had taken all his vacation days and then disappeared. No-one had seen him for days, though one morning one of his sweaters had been found in a recent excavation. Worried, Rebecca had informed the police. Only a day later they had found what was left of his car in the desert. Rebecca still remembered how it had felt to go out in the desert to that broken wreckage. 
It had been clear for the police that Kansas had been caught in a sandstorm. His car had been swept up, smashed again rocks and ground until it had been reduced to what she now saw laying before her. They hadn't actually found her brother in the wreckage, but without much tact they had told her it was impossible that he might have survived the storm without shelter. And that if he hadn't returned his chances were grim. Rebecca of course knew this to be true, but in her heart she kept hoping.
The sun rose above the first sandy hills to a higher spot in the sky. With a sigh of sadness Rebecca got up and returned home. Halfway there she turned once more and looked at the sun. A tear again rolled from the corner of her eye in a path established by it's precedents.
"Rest well my brother." she said.
Once at home Rebecca combed her hair and washed her face. She still had about an hour before she would have to teach again... it seemed a lot but an hour was nothing when you had to regain a balanced exterior. Like she was grieving but could still face the world. She knew she could, but showing it was a whole lot more difficult. She would never be the same again and what made her really sad was the fact that she wouldn't never do the little things with him again. Telling him about a bad day, showing him a drawing she had gotten from one of the kids, laughing in the evening cool...
The emotions almost overpowered her. It was only by thinking at the children she taught that she could regain her balance. They needed her in this one camel town. She was the only teacher in miles and a convenience when this meant the children could be home an hour earlier to help their parents. Rebecca still couldn't help feeling a bit of strangeness as she thought of the way children helped around down here. When she was little all she had done was play and read.
She took a deep breath, regaining some of her usual energy and went outside. Her back straightened a bit in the faint cooling breeze that swept through the village. When she arrived at the school she could see most of her pupils were there already. She rang the school bell and led them in.
The small class consisted of 10 children ranging from 6 to 14. Teaching them meant mostly arranging them in small groups and giving them tasks to solve where she would come and help if asked. But on some days, like on this day, she had planned something a little more fun. Today they would talk about Egypt. She would show pictures and teach 'her' children about the country they lived in. She tried to do a few countries a year at least, but Egypt was one that came back on most of these days.
The day went by quicker than she could have hoped. There was some truth in the old saying that work kept sadness at bay. During that day, with the children close as she told them stories and they told her stories, some barely touching the topic, she could feel happy. That gave her hope. One day, maybe a few years in the future she would have conquered her feelings and life would become more normal again. Maybe it would even come sooner, though she couldn't imagine that she would get over the death of her brother quite so soon. They had been close from a very young age, both strangers in this new land where her parents had brought them. It was Egypt that had brought them together and so long a she was in it she would feel as if her brother was with her.
Around noon she dismissed her class before it got too hot and sent the children home. Rebecca lingered a bit in the classroom watering plants and arranging some things for the next school day. She had planned an obstacle race for the smallest while the older children would take time and measure distances. 
Rebecca knew she couldn't postpone going home forever. She didn't hate being alone. She was alone know. That wasn't the problem, she could read, watch tv and keep herself busy. But reading and tv weren't things that needed her attention as much as building the obstacle course. She knew her mind would wander again and she knew where it would end up. Crying. 
Rebecca walked home as slow as she could, on the way reciting the tables of multiplication. She entered her home through the front door and looked at the living room. It was maybe 5 o clock. Not nearly soon enough to go to bed. 
Suddenly she remembered a stack of paperwork she still had laying around. She grasped the opportunity with both her hands and went into her small workroom. Her desk was looking out onto the town where the sun was still shining brightly into her office. The room gave off a peaceful atmosphere and Rebecca started working grateful. 
She only looked back up when the sun was setting, maybe 3-4 hours later. Her stomach rumbled and she went into the kitchen for a quick lunch. She grasped a few slices of bread and some water and went upstairs. Rebecca ate quietly in her room in front of the tv, watching the news. Most of the topics were pointless and they kept her attention only briefly. She zapped a bit through the channels and finally found a movie she hadn't seen before. 
When she had gotten true the movie without having cried (thank God it was a comedy and not a drama) she got up and took a shower. The sun was now fully down and the clock on the small table next to her bed read 10.30. It was as good a time to go to sleep. 
The strain of control had made her tired and she couldn't help thinking that maybe, just maybe, she'd sleep through the weekend. Rebecca tucked herself in and closed her eyes. But sleep didn't want to come yet. She lay awake, twisting and turning, trying to shake the feelings and thoughts. But she couldn't. And now the tears finally came again before the sadness finally exhausted her so that she could do nothing else but sleep. And dream.


Rebecca was running. The dark of the night running with her. She looked up from the sand racing past and saw the sun in the Western sky. She was running, trying to reach it in time. It was important that she got there. Because if she didn't...
Her trail of thought stopped there. Rebecca turned down her head again, concentrating on her feet as they padded across the treacherous sand of the desert. For a long time running was all she did, the dark of night always running alongside her. But how much she tried, how hard she ran, it all didn't matter. The sun slowly faded at the horizon. With her last powers Rebecca sprinted toward it, feeling she could reach it if only she could stretch out her hand. Rebecca extended her hand...
It was dark. The sun had been gone for hours. Rebecca looked around frightened. It came in the dark! It... The sun was her only friend and now it was gone. It had left her, like her brother, to fend for herself. Rebecca looked up and saw the deep blue-black sky extend endlessly above her. She could see the faint light of stars but they were mostly faded in the bright light of the pure white moon. It seemed much bigger than usual in some way. Like she was closer to it. Closer to Death, she felt. 
A chilly wind picked up and ran past her. Rebecca shivered and clutched her arms around her body. She was alone, and yet she knew she wasn't. There was no-one to be seen, but she felt that she was being watched. Like a rabbit that knows there is a fox lurking. The hairs in the back of her neck rose and Rebecca started running again.
Now she knew for sure there was something behind her. She raced along a high cliff wall that looked like it was made from obsidian, razor sharp and inhospitable. They reached to the sky and it seemed like they were clawing the dark, trying to pull it around them so it would forever stay. Rebecca realised she would never be safe again. Faster she ran, gasping the cold night air that almost froze her lungs. 
The cliffs came closer together, ever closer until she couldn't go any further. She hadn't seen this coming. She knew the place to be different... and yet here she was standing when the only open passage meant going back. And she couldn't for it was there.
Rebecca huddled down against the wall and waited. Like a frightened animal she shivered but could not quite do anything about it. She felt she was meant to be here... meant to die. With frightened eyes she looked up and saw...

Rebecca screamed. The image of the black shadow appearing in the dead end still lingering in her mind's eye. But it too soon faded until she could hardly make out what it had looked like. Her heart still raced and her breath still seemed to come to her in shallow gasps. Slowly her rational mind regained control of her instincts and she calmed down. It had all just been a dream brought on by the trauma of losing her brother. 
But then why did it bother her? There had been something about the place that she felt she needed to know... but it was just beyond her grasp. She had known the place in her dreams, but Rebecca couldn't remember where or when she could have seen it.
Sleepily she turned at the clock next to her bed and saw that it was only 4 am. On a Saturday. Rebecca grunted, twisted and tried to get back to sleep. There was no school in the weekend and no-one else that needed her. That meant she could stay in her bed for the entire day. She wasn't used to that thought and after a couple of hours of tossing and small naps she rose at 6 am.
The images of the dream that had woken her had faded even more. It had been night and dark, but that was about all she remembered. But the feeling of fear and suffocation that had woken her was still all to real. Not even the sun, already rising above the horizon could shake it.
Going down for coffee and some breakfast she couldn't help but laugh at the irony of the day. She had wanted to stay in bed, just not getting up and feeling secure and warm all day, not having to face life... in stead she was up more early than she was used to. It was like a big neon message smiling at her, saying: "The world needs to be dealt with - No escaping. Tonight in theatres all over town, starring Rebecca Santdun." 
Still somehow influenced by her dream Rebecca felt a drive in the desert would cheer her up. If she could just get to the place of her dreams than she would know what her subconscious had been wanting to tell her that night. Besides, driving had a soothing quality that she could use right now.
Rebecca sipped some of the hot coffee she had poured herself and made a face as the very bitter taste reached her tongue. She had never liked coffee much, but it got her awake. Taking another small sip she lifted yesterday's paper and read the headlines. The day before she had just skimmed through the pages and had forgotten all about the paper in the evening. Maybe waking up early hadn't been so bad. Now she had time to read two papers and kick back. There would still be time for a trip in the afternoon, her waking mind making the thought seem like an casual outing.
Rebecca put down her coffee mug and looked up. The sound that had gotten her attention directed her to the toaster. Two sliced of warm bread were sticking out. Rebecca got up, dragging the paper with her to search a more comfortable spot to have breakfast in. She yawned and took the two hot slices into her free hand. Quickly she took a few steps back to drop them on top of one of the plates on the kitchen table, when her feet touched something that hadn't been there before. Depositing the toast on the table in stead of on a plate she looked down and saw her bare feet standing in sand.
Rebecca looked at the small heap of sand in disbelief. How had it gotten there? She hadn't stepped on it when she had walked here to get the toast... Looking around she suddenly saw a little more of the sandy beige stuff fall down. It seemed to come from the paper, which made sense, it had come from outside and God knew mail in Egypt always had some sand in it. Still this many was unusual.
"I'll have to clean this up." she reminded herself, though she wasn't all too grateful about her inner voice telling her what to do. First she would have to shake what was left of sand out of the paper though. Looking absentminded as she was flicking through the pages while eating some toast, her hand suddenly faltered. She had found the sand, but what was more important was the page she had found it on. The obituaries. A small picture of Kansas looked at her, partly covered in dirt that oddly made him seem more lifelike. Like an old photograph there were only shades of brownish-red, but even the slightest colour made the picture more painful then when she had just seen the black-white kind.
Frozen for almost a minute, Rebecca stood there and looked. Inside her were emotions fighting to be released. Anger won. Someone had done this, there was no other explanation. Sand just didn't appear like this! Not on one single page, not in an amount this big. Someone... someone who knew here was playing a trick on her. But who? Who would want to hurt her? She had no enemies like you saw in those detective movies. No-one wished her harm.
Maybe it was time for that drive now. Rebecca hastily dressed herself and went out, car keys in her one hand, a bottle of water in her other. Her car too was a jeep, anything else eventually died out as far in the desert as she was living. Sure there were roads, but they could hardly be called that. The desert had a way of claiming everything that was taken from it. 
Rebecca paused for a moment on that thought. Maybe she should adjust her name calling. Maybe the sun hadn't been the bad guy. More likely it had been the desert that had killed him. Like so many other things that came here, trying to transform dust into life. Rebecca knew the desert could not be trusted. Ironically she didn't know how right she was with that thought.
Rebecca drove away from the sun on roads that had once been asphalt, but now were dirt again and thought. There were few people on the road and even less cars. A little piece of her remained active driving the car, but the rest of her just went numb. 
Suddenly however, after maybe an hour of driving her mind wandered back into her body. She had been called back to the present when she entered a more visited part of Egypt. The excavation sites had always been a big hit among tourists, though now interest was fading slightly. Why go to Egypt when you could see excavations live on webcam?
A few trucks passed her and even a bus full of Japanese looking out the windows like they were travelling through an alien landscape. Rebecca smiled at the thought. It was easy to use stereotypes on others when in fact she as a native of Great Britain enjoyed her tea more than she liked coffee.
Her stomach rumbled and Rebecca realised she was hungry. Midday was only half an hour away and she had had a really early breakfast. Plus thinking of that tea made her realise that all she had had to drink that day had been coffee and some water from her bottle.
For a moment she considered heading to one of the cafeteria's set up for the tourists and archaeologists. But unlike them she did mind whether she was filled with a good cup of tea or with some flavoured water. Rebecca pulled over and parked her car in the parking lot. An idea was forming in her head. Her brother Kansas had liked tea even more than she had. She was certain that he'd have some of the good stuff in his office. She couldn't get around it any more. She'd need to clean out his office one way or another. Maybe it was better if she did that now when she had nothing else to do.
Rebecca watched both ways and crossed the small dirt road when it was clear. The white shoal around her head almost went flying when a bus passed her only seconds after she had crossed. She hastily grabbed it and pulled it tight. Wherever you went, bus drivers were all the same reckless people... like they were recruited from the worst drivers out there. Or maybe they got this way. 
Rebecca reached the small office her brother shared with two other men. Both were out, digging somewhere. The small prefab room was square with three desks set in different angles to mark as much as personal space as was possible. Without much problems Rebecca located her brother's desk. Kansas was by far the most organised of the three. Papers were neatly stacked in one pile and filed with colours. When she looked over his desk some more she saw that there was no sign of living on it. Rebecca felt like she was watching a desk arranged by someone that did interior decorating for stores. Everything was perfect, like he had known he wouldn't return. A thought emerged in her mind. But that was silly, Kansas would never kill himself. And if he did she thought he would have at least picked a method that wasn't as strange as driving in the desert.
Rebecca looked through a few cabinets and finally found what she was looking for. She found some tea and an old, small teapot. With only enough water for about two cups making tea only took her 10 minutes with the small camp-heater. 
Thankfully sipping from her Jasmine tea Rebecca wandered around. She had never been someone who could stay still for long. She liked to walk around and look at everything she saw. She even read everything she could get her hands on when she was bored or waiting, from motor magazines to caution-advises on the back of deodorant.
Finally, when the desk had relinquished all it's secrets to her, Rebecca turned to the wall behind the desk. She nearly dropped her cup of tea when she saw the photograph. She had seen it before, and had even glanced it when she had entered the office. Two men, one her brother were broadly smiling and waving. Vaguely she recognised the second man as one of Kansas' college friends. They had majored in archaeology together and had celebrated their first find, a silly piece of pottery right after they had graduated.
But it wasn't her brother and his friend that had gotten her attention. No, the scenery was what had stirred her attention. The rising cliffs, the stainless blue sky... it was all there! Her dream.
Slowly more information started to pour into her mind through long forgotten neuro-pathways in her brain. Her brother had found that piece of pottery and had been ecstatic for at least a week. He and his friend had dug out the entire canyon it seemed, but nothing else had appeared. Soon after another site had gotten their attention and there they had found something of interest and so on. Rebecca had thought she had forgotten all about the piece but the picture had brought it all back.
And more, the place where they had dug, the exact replica of her dream-landscape had only been a few miles from where Kansas' car had been found. It was too much of a coincidence to be ignored. Rebecca finished her cup of tea and went out to... to do what exactly? Prove that her brother wasn't dead? Prove maybe that she knew where he had died? Did it all matter?
She reached her car and got in. She took a deep breath and thought she might as well put a few things straight with herself. "First, this is not a wild goose chase, I'm just going there for a look, not to find evidence that Kansas is alive. Second, I'm just going there to think a bit more. Seeing the place will be good for my getting over the loss and all that psychiatric crap. No more."
When Rebecca got no reply she set out for the desert. To be honest she really believed the psychiatric crap. There were some things you just couldn't mess with when it came to mental health. She didn't want to be in an institution five years from now muttering over and over: "he's alive.", delusional and under drugs. Whatever unhealthy ideas were popping into her head she wanted to stop them now. She knew it was hardest to get passed the denial phase when there wasn't a body. Was she really in denial? Rebecca hoped so. Denial she could handle.
Rebecca was suddenly aware of the cliffs around her. They were still at the very edge of the horizon but they would close in onto her soon. A sudden flash of claustrophobia nearly made her turn back. In stead of following that urge, Rebecca pushed through and accelerated. Slowly she got over the fear of being trapped, but only because it was still day. The sun seemed to make the difference. In her dream it had been night. A feeling of revelation lay just outside her grasp and vanished as soon as it had appeared. Frustrated, Rebecca stopped the car and got out. She found a large smooth rock in the shade and decided to just sit and think for a while. Meditating to get some memory of her dream. It felt really important.
For a long time Rebecca just thought. But then, bit by bit she felt like someone was watching her. She didn't know if it was just the paranoia of the day, her supposed denial of her brother's dead or just exhaustion. Rebecca squinted to the horizon where she had felt the strange presence. The sun was already setting. It's rays and fading light masked whatever she felt at the horizon. She was so intensely looking at the horizon she didn't see the long donkey shadow stretching over the sand, formed by light bouncing from the clouds. Maybe she wouldn't even have noticed it if she had been looking at the sand. The shadow was big beyond imagining. 
Rebecca turned around and stepped back into her car. The desert had a way of messing with time. It felt like she had only been thinking about her dream for an hour when in fact it must be closer to five since the sun was already setting. 
Rebecca felt tired. It was about 8 in the evening and she felt that her previous night hadn't brought her the rest she had needed. Weary she turned to her car and decided she would come back tomorrow for more of an investigation. Maybe she'd even remember something after a good night of rest.
When Rebecca turned it almost felt like she was leaving her brother alone, but that was ridiculous. Her mind objected against such notions and she shook her head, trying to loose the idea. But her heart kept telling her she shouldn't go.
Rebecca turned the key in the ignition and felt reality surge back in. She felt a lot safer too in her car. Nothing could come in and she could run faster than if she were on foot. Nothing would corner her now. That was what had happened in her dream, right? Trapped?
Rebecca drove further, almost rushing to get out. She didn't find it odd that her passing was accompanied by sand flying up in clouds. But when she looked out on top of a small hill where the road had led her she couldn't find where she was. Somehow she must have taken the wrong road, a thing for which she could almost kill herself now. 
Rebecca stepped out and tried to look at the horizon. She knew that if she followed the cliffs she should find the road out... her only problem was that there were no cliffs. The soft brown of the desert seemed to stretch endlessly. In the distance it even seemed like it ran all the way to the sky like a giant cliff itself.
Reconsidering, Rebecca gasped in fear. Sandstorm! She hadn't been in many, sheltered from most in the small town where she lived by the same cliffs she saw here. But she wouldn't get to her home, it was hours away and the sandstorm would hit her too soon. Her only hope lay in the cliffs. She turned that way and moaned when she saw that she wouldn't be able to drive there. her car would get stuck within seconds of her turning of the road. 
Rebecca started running toward the cliffs and prayed, the same sentence going over and over in her head, like a mantra that was the same rhythm as her strides. "Safe to Cliffs. Safe to Cliffs. Safe to Cliffs."
Rebecca didn't dare look back, but 10 minutes after she had started running she knew it was hopeless. She had to watch where she went and even as careful as she had been she had already sprained her ankle, though not bad. Again she tried to go faster as she heard the sandstorm getting closer.
A few minutes later she could even see sand carried on the winds. To her horror the cliffs still were dozens of minutes away. Still she didn't look back, she knew the storm was behind her, why should she risk falling? She trudged further, pulling her shoal over her mouth and ready to cover her eyes should she need to use it.

"Anubith, closer!" Kansas told his dragon.
"The winds are strong, rider mine." the brown dragon answered, hovering as he was above the sandstorm. he could not get any lower or he'd be lost in the blaze himself. 
"Just closer above her and I'll handle it." Kansas hurried him. "And when I give you the signal get ready to go between to this place." Kansas showed Anubith the picture of a tight crack in one of the cliffs. It was miles away from where they were, but it was the only safe place he could think of to wait out the storm. Concentrating as best as he could on a flying dragon he wished with all his heart for his sister to be safe, on walking distance from the cave he had shown Anubith. 

Rebecca pulled the shawl across her eyes. A sudden uprise of sand swooshed around her and she truly felt that she would not survive this. But when the dervish around her settled it almost seemed like the sandstorm was less. But that was most likely only an illusion. Still she could see the cliff wall only a few minutes away.
Exhausted Rebecca started walking again, struggling to get to the base of the cliffs, hoping to find a rock where she could shelter behind. 
Within minutes she was surrounded by more sand again, the cliffs a ghost of darker brown that seemed to move. She was lost again, so close to her goal. Rebecca didn't trust her sense of direction, if she wandered away from the cliffs she would surely die, even in winter.
"Come here!" a voice yelled to her.
Rebecca turned around but couldn't see a thing with the sand flying around her. Dervishes rose around her, making her think they were people. But they all fell down again, each taking some of her hope with them.
There was that voice again. Rebecca decided to trust her ears since she couldn't even open her eyes anymore. Carefully she tried to get closer to the voice, hoping that it wasn't a figment of her imagination.
"Help!" she yelled.
"You're almost here!"
Finally the sand around her faltered a bit and she saw, how she didn't know, a small chasm in the cliff wall. Inside she could just see someone waving at her before the sand again came rushing toward her. With renewed power Rebecca trudged through the storm to the cavern. She bumped into the rock and knew she had wandered away from the straight line she had visualised.
"Hello?!" she yelled again.
"To your right!"
Rebecca hugged the wall and stepped sideways until she felt the chasm she had seen earlier. She fell in and took a deep breath. The air was still bone-dry and hot, but at least there was no sand trying to get into her mouth. She rubbed the sand from her eyes and got up, looking for the person that had saved her.
"Kansas?" Rebecca cried out not believing her own eyes. She looked at the man standing in front of her. It was Kansas, but not the brother she had known for so many years. In stead it was the Kansas she had seen that last day. The light brown hair was still there and for a moment Rebecca even spotted some brown in his eyes that had always been blue to her knowledge.
Her brother who was clearly not death embraced her and said: "It's me."
Rebecca untangled herself from her brother's arms. She was ecstatic to see him, but she couldn't deny that she felt angry. If he hadn't been dead then where had he been? What had he been doing?
"We can't stay here." Kansas said pulling her away.
Rebecca looked around and saw that the sandstorm had suddenly retracted and now seemed a few kilometres in the distance. They were still in danger if they could only get away by foot. Kansas stopped again and turned toward her. Rebecca found it strange that she had just let her brother take over. She had always been the older and wiser sibling, there had been times that she had helped him. Maybe it was just his turn now.
"I don't want you to get afraid." Kansas said, "Behind that dune is what brought me here. You don't need to fear him. Do you understand?"
Rebecca nodded. What the hell was he talking about? The anger that had gotten to her still hadn't fully left. She felt irritated and lost. She knew nothing of what was happening and though she wanted information she knew she wouldn't get it until they were safe.
"Anubith!" Kansas yelled and pointed to a small dune.
Rebecca blinked her eyes when she saw a large dark brown animal rising behind the dune and coming there way. Her mind just wandered away after that. She didn't need to think. It was almost like a fairy tale. How else could she be seeing an animal she was sure didn't exist?
"This is Anubith, my dragon." Kansas said.
"Dragon? I must be dreaming! Another figment of my denial!" Rebecca said, pushing her brother away.
"Anubith is as real as you and me. I fear I have waited to long to get back. I will tell you my story if you want to hear it." he offered.
"It's not like I have anything else to do." Rebecca shrugged and thought if her mind wanted to entertain her it wasn't doing a bad job.
"I was ill, Becca. Cancer. The doctors didn't give me another three months. I was thinking about it here and suddenly a man on a dragon flew down and... and they searched me. That's how I got Anubith. As weird as it may seem I was on another planet for 2 years." Kansas said, not looking his sister in the eye. Rebecca noted this and knew he was not telling her something. Her brother had always been bad at lying. And then this thing about being away 2 years... how could that be?
"What are you not telling?" she asked bluntly. "How come it's been two years for you and only two weeks for me?"
Kansas grabbed the opportunity to cover up a few of the things that would make the story seem even more like a story you might read in a tabloid. "Dragons, at least the kind of dragon I have can fly across time as well as space in a single heartbeat. They are incredible." Kansas said clearly still admiring the fact, "I had to wait 2 years for Anubith to grow up though, that is what took me so long. I wouldn't even have come back at all if I hadn't had these dreams..."
Now that sounded familiar. Rebecca opened her mouth to say something but decided against it. If he felt like he could keep secrets from her, than she could keep secrets from him. Besides, they were just dreams, she tried fooling herself. 
"What do we do now?" she asked.
"I stay until I know for sure you are safe."
"Safe from what?"
"Ehh... Whatever it is that made me come here." Kansas said avoiding the topic 'Evil Desert Demons and what they have to do with your baby brother for 1000' again and hoped she wouldn't notice it. He was terribly wrong believing that thought.
"What? Are there people out there that could make the desert come alive?!" Rebecca said sarcastically.
Kansas winced at the thought of telling his sister he was now one of them so he decided to keep it vague. "I have seen people do it. You can't believe what is out there." he said pointing at the sky, "Maybe something found it's way to you through me." This time he did look in his sister's eyes. He knew that to be a fact, though not exactly as he had stated it.
"That again leaves us with What do we do about it?"
"I'll find out more tomorrow. Tonight we will stay here where we are safe. Anubith will watch us." Kansas said, "I've brought some food, blankets and we can build a fire."
"You came prepared."
"I didn't really know what to expect." Kansas said hurt, "Maybe you guys wouldn't let me in again and I had to stay hidden."
Rebecca shrugged and helped build their camp. While she was doing that she couldn't help but now and again stare at the dragon. He was big and seemed to be always looking her way. When the dragon blinked like he had heard her, she hurried to look the other way.
Dinner was simple, a few sausages, some tea and a piece of bread for each. But the whole thing felt magical to Rebecca. She was speaking to her dead brother in a way, not a thing many people could say. Of course he wasn't that, he had convinced her enough that he was real with stories from the time they had been children, things only he could know.
The evening advanced a little further and Kansas suggested they'd sleep. Rebecca agreed, she was still tired though Kansas' miracle return had kept it away for a short period of time. Rebecca crawled into her sleeping bag and was sleeping before she even hit her pillow, guarded by the fire and the large dragon that was curled around them for warmth.


Rebecca was running in the night. The big pure white moon above her reflecting the sun's rays though it's gentle power was now gone from the world. A sense of loneliness creped up on her and  she stopped running. She felt like crying though she didn't know why. It had something to do with loss... but she couldn't quite make sense of it.
A chilly breeze picked up and threw little specks of sand at her back and hair. The wind played with her hair and then nudged her forward. Not quite sure what was happening, but thinking she needed to get home now or something might happen, Rebecca started running. 
A thousand paces later she screamed out in fear when she saw the walls of the cliff creeping closer towards her. The same place, the same time. Her nightmare. With a gigantic effort she tried to wake up, but she couldn't. She tried to defy the dream, make it hers again and not some foreboding of death and agony. But she couldn't. She tried to stop, but when she did, a scream sounded, so cruel that she had to start running again, trying to keep alive.
Soon she reached the death end. Rebecca pushed herself as close to the wall as she could in a ridiculous effort to keep as much distance between her and what was chasing her. She presumed it was Seth, the ancient Egyptian God of the Desert and Evil. In her dreams this thought came easy, like the logic of dreams was still active and only a basic part of her knew this was all a dream again... but what would happen when she died? Didn't they say that if you died in your dream you died for real?
Frightened Rebecca waited. Slowly, agonisingly, a shadow flowed over the sand toward her and then into the sky in front of her. As the thing started to gain depth Rebecca screamed, but there was no-one to help her in her dreams. She could already feel the soft pulling again... the feeling she knew was Death.
Crying, shivering and lost she tried to get away, get past the shadow, but there was no light left... only darkness. The eyes of the Desert God glowed as they drank the last bit of moonlight away. She didn't like those eyes looking at her, but they did. Rebecca didn't want to look Seth in the eyes, but her eyes were drawn to the light as a moth to a flame. She couldn't escape them. When she had finally given in to the urge she stopped feeling. No, not really... She stopped being herself. She still felt, but now as someone else, as a thing not attached to this plain.
"Stop!" a voice sounded. 
For a moment she thought she had said something, a last silly throw at freedom and life. But the voice hadn't been her own. Did she still remember her own voice? Or was that gone too? She was quite sure it didn't sound like that, though it hadn't been completely unfamiliar either.
"Release her." the voice said.
Rebecca felt the weight of the eyes release her. She fell back to herself, and embraced the pain. She was real once again. Her body was hers, again. Carefully she looked up. She wasn't alone anymore. A second shadow, this one also dark, but not frightening had appeared in her dream. The head of the jackal awoke some old school memories that had been buried deep below her conscious memories. Anubis, Judge of the Death and Guardian of the afterlife stood in front of her, oddly transparent with a heart of fire shaped like a dragon.
"Rebecca..." a voice whispered in her head far away, "Come..."
Anything seemed better than this and she was mysteriously comforted by the figure behind her. She felt safe enough to turn. The walls around her were gone and she felt the urge to open her eyes... but weren't her eyes open already?

Her eyes flew open and she nearly screamed when she saw the snout of Anubith hovering only centimetres above her face.
"Calm down." the voice in her head said, "I had to wake you. Are you alright?"
"Yes." Rebecca said suddenly making a few links to her dream. The images had remained clearer this time, perhaps because the dragon had guided her out. Slowly Anubith leaned back and the world around Rebecca grew. She could see stars and the moon at his normal distance in the sky. And finally she could see past the dragon to her brother sleeping. 'Like the dead' drifted into Rebecca's mind. 
"How can he still be asleep?" she asked the dragon.
"You did not make that many noises, but normally he would have woken up. It's the desert keeping him trapped. He has a nightmare like you, but not one that needs me in it."
"How can you know?"
"We are one. I can see his thoughts even when he is sleeping, like I could sense you were in danger. He senses it too." Anubith said looking at his bond.
Kansas suddenly jumped into a sitting position. Breathing heavily he looked around and only fell back down when he saw her sitting with Anubith.
"Kansas?" she asked.
"A nightmare, nothing more." he said, trying to fool her.
"If they were anything like mine then I wouldn't say they were just dreams.
"You have them too?"
Rebecca told him about the dream she had had tonight and the things she still remembered from the one the previous night. Throughout her story she could see his face grow more dim and guilty until he was only a ghost of his former cheerful self, like the ghost she had seen that last day. Maybe that was all what was left of the brother she had known, a ghost.
"There is more... this just isn't the right place to be foolish." Anubith told her.
"I'm taking you with me." he said.
"Because I can never protect you here where the desert is all around us."
"But Anubith..."
"Anubith is great, but one time he'll not be fast enough. One time we won't be there. One time he'll be with me and you'll be alone."
"But that could happen everywhere. Just as likely here as at this Darkling Dawn place."
"I said Anubith wouldn't be able to protect you always..."
"What are you saying?"
"That you need your own dragon. I won't be able to live with myself if I know you died because of me."
"But what about mom and dad?"
"Maybe it is time to tell them..." Kansas whispered, his eyes that had been on her at the entire conversation suddenly turned down in shame. Rebecca embraced her brother and made him look in her eyes again.
"You have nothing to be ashamed about..." she said, "You are alive. There is still hope."
"Hope there is." Kansas smiled.
Sand around them gathered and brought them home.
"How did you do that?" Rebecca asked taking a few quick steps back. She looked at the dragon with suspicion. She wasn't very trusting of sand at the present moment. When she looked back at Kansas she noticed he was looking sad again. It looked as though force had left him again.
"I am not without tricks either..." he whispered. "I am sorry I just dropped that on you."
"How...?" Rebecca asked.
"I'm not exactly human anymore." Kansas said, "I am alive but I relinquished a lot for that right. I'm not sure what else I lost. I just thought it was my life that would be sacrificed. I'm not sure if there is something we call a soul, but I would have given it up to spend just a few more years with you and our parents. But I had never imagined it would want you too... The Desert is slowly taking all that was good in my life, claiming it as a price for my life."
"Then I will come with you... but not without telling our parents."
"Have they suffered?" Kansas asked, pain in his eyes at his leaving.
"They have. Like I have. They shouldn't have to feel that pain a second time. They need to know, Kansas. No matter how ashamed you are, though again, I don't think you should be."
"No I can't let them lose all that they have left in this world. I will go in with you and tell them my story." Kansas sighed and looked at the house he had lived in since they had emigrated to Egypt when he had only been a little boy. He couldn't by any means call it his home, not after what he had brought upon his parents. He didn't deserve to have a home. That was mostly why he had refrained from timing back like most earthlings did. He hadn't appeared on the same deserted place a day later, but had instead skipped a week to the time when his sister needed him. To her the grief was new, from Kansas' point of view he had already been away for a year and a half.
Rebecca led her brother into the kitchen. Her mother turned and smiled sadly when she saw Rebecca entering. She opened her mouth to speak when Kansas came in. Their mother shrieked and dropped the plate she was holding. Their father raced in, alerted by her scream. But when he saw why she had screamed he could only stand and look.
"Kansas." he said, trying to make sense of the situation. At 11 pm that was rather difficult. His mind kept running in circles around the fact his eyes presented him with. His wife overcame the initial fear she had gotten when she had seen her son lurking in the shadows like a ghost, and walked toward him. After the first brief contact her fingers made, still doubting a little bit, she threw herself forward and hugged him like she hadn't done in years.
"Oh Kansas." she kept repeating, hot tears falling in his neck.
"Mom, Dad, I need to tell you something..." Kansas started.
He told his story without interruptions, only faltered now and again when he came to parts in it that he felt were things he should feel guilty for. Things like going to the witch, and later fleeing, leaving his sister and parents alone and grieving.
"It wasn't something that came easy. Nor would I do it again..." he said, but in saying so he wondered. Would he really pass up the opportunity to live? To risk losing Anubith? He very much doubted it... "In the least I would have returned earlier, " he said truthfully. 
Kansas then went over the dreams Rebecca had had and his part in them. He left nothing out about what he thought were the reasons for her peril. But most of all he stressed the need for her to get a dragon of her own. Finally Kansas could end his story. He looked around: "Can you forgive me?" he asked.
"There is nothing to forgive." Rebecca said again. Both her parents looked at her and nodded. Rebecca could see their father had a few questions of his own, but their mother seemed strangely placid and accepting. Rebecca understood somehow that as long as she knew her children were alive and safe that she was happy. A thought that gave her a firm ground for what she knew needed to be said.
"Mom, Dad, I have decided to go with Kansas. We won't stay as long as Kansas did. We will be back tomorrow, though it will be a year at least for us. And we will be coming back every day until we are sure you aren't in danger. Maybe one day you will join us too, I really hope you will."
"Only time will tell." her father said, reluctant about leaving his home.
Rebecca looked at her mother and saw that she was calm and would let them go, no matter how hard it would be for her. She had adapted many of the ways of Egypt. Her life was with their father and not a hair on her head thought about leaving him. 
Rising to let her and her brother out again she stepped closer to Rebecca and hugged her.
"Farewell." she said, opening the window into the night.
Rebecca admired her even more when Anubith stepped forward from the shadows, his whirling eyes a soft blue and extended an arm to let Kansas and Rebecca climb on his back.
"Farewell!" Rebecca called out, bracing herself against her brother's back when Anubith took off. Only seconds later he disappeared from the Egyptian sky into Between and brought his rider and Rebecca safely to Darkling Dawn.

To the Hatching
Read Kansas' Story

Lantessama Isle
Rebecca is a Candidate at Darkling Dawn

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Music Playing is called 'In the Air Tonight'