"Shar ah," the wind whispered, sweeping lightly through the dunes. "Shrah..."
The sand ran beneath Seoc's feet as he scrambled up the side of a swell, obstructing his progress. He could hear Seymour panting behind him, shouting his name, but he ignored him. His mind was split: half of him wanted Seymour to catch him and bring him to safety, but the remainder never wanted to set eyes on the detective again. And he certainly was not going to stop and allow himself to be taken back without protest. That would be giving up.
"Sharaaaah," quoth the dunes, more definitively now. "Sharaaaa...."
"Seoc!" Seymour yelled, fear and desperation creeping into his voice. "Please!"
"Go away!" Seoc snarled, unsure to whom he was speaking. He crested the dune and began to run down the other side, but the sand moved beneath his feet and he fell backwards, sliding the rest of the way on his rear. Looking backward, he saw Seymour reach the summit just as he arrived at the bottom.
"Shraaaa!" the voices interrupted, no longer whispering.
Seoc picked himself up off the ground, trembling with a mixture of exhilaration, exhaustion, anger and fear. "Seymour, go back. Leave!"
"Not unless you come with me."
"For yer own sake, Seymour. Save yerself."
"No." Determinedly, he strode forward and down the slop.
Seoc did not move. He couldn't. His limbs seemed unresponsive with overexertion. He felt Seymour's strong, webbed hand close about his upper arm.
"Come on, little fish. Let us return to civilization."
As if in a trance, Seoc let himself be led up the side of the dune. His legs felt like jelly and his thoughts, which had so recently been bouncing off the inside of his skull like a handful of jumping beans, seemed suddenly slow and heavy. "Yes," he mumbled. "Let's."
The wind rose in intensity as they struggled to the top of the wave of land. Stinging sand whipped against their faces, and the voices had grown to a howl.
"Jhraaaaa!" they wailed.
Seoc looked up at Seymour, squinting his eyes against the flying grains of sand. "You could have gotten away."
"What?" Seymour shouted over the screaming wind. "I can't hear you!"
"You could have gotten away!"
They reached the peak of the dune amidst a swirling vortex of sand. Seymour pulled his cloak around Seoc's head in an effort to shelter him from the storm. "Seoc, what's happening?"
"It's got us, Sey!" His voice was edging on panicked hysterics. "We're trapped. There's no escaping the demon Jhra!"