Gabriel woke. Light shone through his eyelids and he put his hand out to try and find a way to shut it off. He had a pounding headache, it must have been a good night, he thought. Bewildered he couldn’t find the switch for his lamp, and he sat up, quickly wishing that he hadn’t.
His ribs creaked in protest and his left arm swung uselessly. His mind reeled, flashes of his short trial and sentencing played in his mind’s eye. Staying in this seated position upon the ground, he scanned his surroundings. It was a wasteland, ashy grey sand swirled in playful twisters all around him, stinging at his eyes. In the distance he could see rocks and possibly dirt but nothing else . “Great.” he thought and he stood up carefully.
He moved carefully, walking slowly and with a slight limp, hoping to find something or someone . This wasn’t earth by the looks of it. Then again, he had only ever seen pictures of the planet so he couldn’t be certain . Under Aura’s rule princes didn’t go to Earth. That was a job for the city workers, and was beneath his station. Although he was in agony he carried on limping towards the distant soil . Where he was going, he didn’t know but it would be easier to move with his feet on solid ground. He played with the idea that he could have landed in the underworld but then dismissed the thought, it simply wasn’t hot enough and there were no daemons.Suddenly the ground beneath him gave way. He had been so busy thinking about where he was; he hadn’t looked where he was going. If he had only been paying attention, instead of mindlessly putting one foot in front of the other he may have seen the hidden lake . Water forced its way into his mouth and nose, his mind panicked for a moment then he forced himself to relax knowing that his body would float to the surface. His head broke the water and he looked around again.
He had landed in a crystal clear lake, its waters so clean that they reflected the image of its sandy bottom. He saw more sand in the distance but not the dirty sand of the wasteland he had just left. This sand was like that of the lake soft, yellow and clean. Further beyond he saw green and yellow grasses and many unfamiliar species of trees. He smiled painfully and using his good right arm he slowly swam towards the shore. Finally reaching the beach he pulled his exhausted and painful limbs from the water. He turned onto his back and lay on the sand. The sun hung high over him and he could feel its heat slowly begin to dry his clothes and hair.When he opened his eyes again he saw that the sun was setting in the distance. He braced himself before moving, it was stupid to have fallen asleep. His limbs were stiff and painful; he sat up slowly and pulled a small, damp and now disintegrating box from his breast pocket. He tipped it upside down and two cigarettes fell out, he sniffed slightly as he saw the state that they were in. The water had made the paper go light brown in color and the filters were sopping wet. He sighed and tucked one behind each ear. “Beggars can’t be choosers.” he thought. Gabriel stood up careful of his injuries and limped slowly across the sand. Finally making it to a more hospitable region he stepped onto the grass and walked a little way before sitting down under the shade of a low tree its leaves spread wide above his head, and he shut his eyes again.