Moonlight from the clear night sky illuminates the endless dunes as shifting sands subtly alter appearance like soft waves.
Blistering heat of day radiates away, the scout ventures forth, pheremones communicating to fellow ants organic matter is nearby.
Sudden, darting death from above, a tiny gecko’s forked tongue strikes.Blended into its backdrop, still as a stone, all but invisible, the wily young reptile is replete.
Nearby, hidden in subterranean cleverness, the dancing white lady awaits. Tremulous vibrations bring the denizen from the sandsilk-webbed burrow as if by magic.
Darting forth, the arachnid quickly grasps the underbelly of the larger, but ill-fated lizard, reflexively injecting venom to paralyze, holding tight as it struggles. The food will be stored within the lair, serving as a womb for many young.
Desert hawk gliding silently aloft on heat waves emanating from the cooling earth, keen eyes quartering the terrain below. Circling lower, it focuses on a tiny movement, then drops into a rushing dive, reveling the speed.
The spider and its struggling prey have no time to react, the attack is too swift. In an instant they are snatched into the night sky, oblivious to the beauty of the stars.
The hawk journeys swiftly, then lands near the outskirts of an oasis, unsatisfied. Such a small meal, to be sure, but next, a drink, all must eventually have some form of water.
Bird of prey moves toward dampness unaware as eyes atop flat head slowly emerge from sand, Peringuey’s viper is sinuous, silent, camouflage perfect, its purpose deadly.
A quick strike, fluttering of feathers, shrill cry and again, potent venom acts swiftly. Entwined, they writhe on soft sand, oblivious to all but the death struggle.
The viper dislocates hinged jaw, slowly swallows rare prize, struggling with effort. Now engorged, sluggish, not needing to feed again for a week.
Camels from the caravan tethered for the night, sensing unnamed threat, snort restlessly. As ordered, their young herder sleeps close by, other guards on duty beyond. The Forty Days Road from el-Obeid to Birquash takes a toll of those not watchful.
Awakening to a soft sound, young Achmed rolls to his feet and focuses gritty eyes. There! Ugly, bloated thing moving slowly away, yet still deadly to both men and camels.
Reacting as taught, taking herding staff in hand, viciously crushing the viper’s head, The boy yells in relief for having awakened so fortuitously, "Ma-a ssa-lehma, Peringueyi!" Goodbye, snake.
Noise arouses the camp and hard men, members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, quickly gather, AK-47's at the ready, eyes wide with fear of attack, metabolism set on high. Many enemies would gladly kill them, thus the subterfuge as lowly camel merchants.
Cell leader Kasim angrily grabs the youth, "What in Mahdi’s name is going on here, boy?" Achmed points excitedly at the snake, the story visually telling itself.
Kasim sees, nods at the youth in approval, the men relax as their leader speaks. "So, our fortune holds again, no one dies tonight - a good omen. Praise Allah."
The men dutifully respond, "Inshallah, Allahu Akbar," and move off, checking their cargo, RPG Rockets, Semtex high explosives, their loving "gift" for the U.S. embassy in Cairo. It is fitting to war upon Satan’s tools, Westerners and Jews, unbelievers, fools -all deserving.
Achmed, still excited and unable to sleep, keeps company with the guard, sitting near the bearded man and after a time, pointing upward, speaking softly. "How bright the stars are tonight, ‘ay-wa na-‘am? Like brilliant jewels. Another good omen."
Grunting tiredly, bored, the guard looks, then frowns, also pointing. "Yim-kin, perhaps. See there, the star moves. And grows rapidly ever brighter."
Having traveled untold billions of miles from the Oort Cloud, the meteor comes, shedding molten substance as it enters abrasive atmosphere, losing even more mass. Reduced to a small fraction of its former size, it plummets into the gravity well, far faster than a sniper’s bullet, cleaving the sky in a white-hot flash.
Impacting, it lights up the heavens like a small sun, the devastating sound wave following in its wake causes all desert life to suddenly become deathlessly still. High explosives contacted by white-hot rock at extreme velocity seldom remain intact. Camels, men, all return to separate molecules.
Far away, a Bedouin family observes the distant flash, the noise, and look to each other in wonder, then turn away. Life is Spartan, pleasures few, but Paradise beckons beyond for the faithful. They have witnessed many signs of Allah’s infinite, mystical power and here was yet another.
Theirs is not to understand, so bowing their heads toward Mecca, they kneel in litany. Allah is Great, Allah is good. Al hamdo Lillah, all power to God. He is their only hope.
Moonlight from the clear night sky illuminates the endless dunes where shifting sands subtly alter appearance like soft waves. Blistering heat has long since waned and another scout ventures forth, a tiny gecko’s forked tongue strikes.
Nearby, hidden in subterranean cleverness, a dancing white lady awaits.