Zai Brandon lay on the hot grey sand, unconsciously trickling lost empires through his slender fingers. He had his eyes shut, beyond his thick green goggles, as defence against the fiery rage of the huge red sun that dominated the sky. Still his face was creased against the light and he turned his head to one side, gently laying an arm across his burning skin. He was surrounded for miles by mountainous dunes of grey dust. The last remainders of unimaginable prosperity, he had been told. Now his own town was the largest to be found in a three day radius. Zai sat up, squinting at the green tinted horizon through his goggles. They were flashing various numbers and information on the screen floating before his eyes, and he cycled through the weather forecasts. Nothing to see. Sighing, Zai stood stretching his long limbs in fluid movements, and yawned at the saturated sky. He picked up his lovingly crafted board, perfectly shaped to shoot through the dusty air like a fish in the water. He powered it up, watching the green lights illuminating the surface flicker on in succession. Zai looked up and scanned the horizon once again, watching the red numbers change with the rolling terrain. The goggles had been a prize from his first boarding contest, he'd always shown promise, even as a kid.
As Zai easily stepped onto the gently humming board that hovered a span from the sand, he begin to drift along, feeling the gently cooling effect of the wind, whispering past his face. He grinned to himself, pulled the thin scarf he wore around his neck over his mouth, and kicked back on the accelerator. He had to admire his workmanship as the board seamlessly zoomed forwards, responding to his gentle leaning with swooping curves. He drifted to a stop, scanning the horizon to find the perfect place to practice. Suddenly the numbers on the screen began to falter, as if unsure of their accuracy. 20...36..07. Zai panicked. He had never seen fluctuation so large! He winced as the numbers grew higher. Sure enough, as expected the sound of sirens begun to drone through the thick air. It was a stifling and oppressive sound, a reminder of the imbalance of power. The winds would come, and no one ever would return. Zai felt a sincere and drowning dread flood his body. He was hours from home, there was nowhere to go. He closed his eyes, willing the pervasive sound of the siren to leave. Still it penetrated his panicked thoughts, chasing them away to be utterly useless. He scanned the horizon again, tears of desperation leaking down his face. No one ever came back from a sand storm. Yet he could have sworn he saw a glint on the horizon, a faint glimmer of hope that fought through the repeating sirens, floating on the rising winds. The bunker. He stepped forward on his board, fighting through the biting wind, gnawing at his skin. He headed directly over the towering dunes towards the bunker, and directly towards the growing, billowing, clouds of black dust, clouds of oblivion. They were growing enormous and monstrous, moving faster than possible. Spinning up the air, and engulfing it's purity. Zai gritted his teeth against the pain of a million tiny grains hitting his skin, and pushed his body and his board to the limit, to beat the monster of nature. He rocked from side to side, as if in a boat on turbulent seas, but still he moved forwards, using his weight to precariously propel himself. Just a few more seconds to safety, just a few more to potential oblivion.
Zai jumped off his board and dragged it with him as he dived for the steel door emerging from the sand. his fingers numbly, desperately punched in the emergency code, and the door slid open to the safety air lock. Zai gasped as he threw himself into the space, inhaling particles and choking. The door slid shut with a slam, which echoed in the confined area. Zai collapsed his heart racing and his throat dry from the grit. Once he had recovered a little, he opened the second door to reveal a sight of comfort and safety. A blissful smile crossed his face as he swept his blond hair out of his face and removed his goggles to reveal expressive green eyes. It had been close, but he was alive.
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