found: Arrival

This afternoon I found someone's manuscript scattered along the alley behind my apartment building. A few dozen pages lay on the ground, having peeled off from a ream of paper sticking out of a dumpster. The first one I noticed also happened to be the first page of the first chapter, engagingly titled "Arrival". After scanning the text I decided against collecting the rest of the manuscript, but I did pick up the first page and bring it home. Here it is.

Our hero came from over a hill in the east, just a small shadow rimmed in golden sunlight. The wind howled in his face and dust devils danced to and fro, blowing gritty, orange sand all about and whipping countless tumbleweeds across the vast desert floor. The old motorbike he pushed looked beaten and broken, the tires worn almost flat to the rims and the paint all but faded to a sickly rust-color. On the side of the tank the weathered imprint of an old insignia could be seen; beside it, a faded eagle-motif. The eagle was screaming, it's talons stretched out in front as if it were about to slice into the side of it's prey (sics on all the "it's").

Okay, that's our first paragraph. What have we gathered so far? The author certainly hasn't wasted time identifying the protagonist: some heroic biker with a (presumably) broken bike. Given the amount of space the author's devoting to the bike, I'm wondering if the damn thing isn't more important than the hero. Let's see: one sentence there with the hero as the subject, three sentences with multiple clauses fixated on the bike. We also know that the eagle depicted on the tank is highly unusual, in that it doesn't grab its prey with its talons so much as come in from the side and give the unsuspecting prey (gopher, rabbit, &c.) a good gash to the flank. Plus it screams on approach, which is counterproductive. When you consider that this hero is pushing a broken-looking bike through a windy desert with an endless supply of tumbleweeds and he doesn't even get more than one sentence, it's not surprising that he be represented by a screaming ill-angled eagle. Oh, we also find out that he's from the east, which always spells Christ-figure in big buzzing neon to me. Onward:

The machine matched his sandy brown leather jacket, it's left pocket bulging conspicuously where that huge revolver was holstered. How many long, lonely miles had the bike carried the man, and how many lives had the big gun ended so violently? He'd lost the answers to both questions many miles ago.

We know from the first paragraph that the bike figures prominently in the story, but it appears that the bike also has a left pocket with a "huge revolver/big gun" in it. I'd keep it in a holster on my body and not in a pocket on my motorcycle, but I'm not a hero with a jacket so cool it deserves three adjectives. The more I read this story, the more I'm thinking that it's a Western-biker Nutcracker Suite or Velveteen Rabbit, with bikes and jackets and huge revolvers/big guns as characters. Maybe the bike wants to be a real horse. Maybe the jacket wants some mink oil. Maybe the huge revolver/big gun wants to get holstered in a holster instead of a pocket. Let's see if the next paragraph tells us.

He doggedly rolled it across the desert clinging to a vague thread of hope that he would soon meet someone with the knowledge and parts to make it run again. But he hadn't seen a soul in almost three months.

What? Three months? No wonder the author's taken so long to focus on the main character. It's embarrassing, holding up some three-month's-lost loser as the hero of your piece. On the other hand, I have to hand it to the guy for his tenacity. And his jacket, which was probably stitched with threads that were not vague at all, but very specific.

He stopped on the hard shoulder and pegged up the bike. He untied the old drawstring satchel from the front. From that he pulled a silver thermos with a screw top. Inside were the few remaining drops of water he had so carefully rationed; they were minimal and unquenching, but they'd last him another day or so. The man tipped up his hat and let the few measly, unsatisfying beads land on his tongue. It would have to do.

If there were one lesson to be drawn from this paragraph, it's that water sucks. Minimal, unquenching, measly, unsatisying beads that will just have to do, that's what water is. We also learn that the hero has been pushing the bike along a road, and that he enjoys pegging his bike. Pegging is defined as the act of sodomy with a strap-on dildo. So even if the bike wanted to become a real horse it wouldn't make much difference. Also of interest: silver thermoses with screw tops may, under the correct circumstances, turn into hats.

His dark, upturned face baked in the ever-smiling sunlight. His dry, cracking leathery skin still ached from the wind storm the night before. He just shuddered to think about it Thinking about it made him shudder. The Great Desert was famous for it's horrendous tornados of dust and suffocating heat, and he'd narrowly escaped with his life,

Page two was not readily available. But how do you think that interrupted sentence ends? My best guesses:

futilely shooting his big gun at a furious tornado and wasting his precious deadly bullets.

desperately pegging his battered, weathered bike in a fond final farewell to the cruel world, only to find that the vicious killer storm had luckily passed him by.

doing everything possible except turning around and not bothering to cross the Great Desert in the first place, because with a name like that you pretty much know what to expect.

building himself a shelter out of adjectives and taking shelter inside from the whirling, screaming, suffocating, choking, inconsiderate tornado outside that almost seemed to wait for him personally for three harrowing scary days.

Tomorrow I'm going to see if the second page is hanging around somewhere. In the meantime I invite your best guesses on the ending of the last sentence.