The Sandland Word for Money

A Transient Visitors Very Tiny Tale by David O’Boyle

Illustration by @missyozart on instagram.

 “EASY!” I said, reaching for anything to hold us back. “She can’t fall!”

The driver, the current smuggler captaining our quest, ignored my command. Paying clients or not, to him, to them, to everyone, we’d always be mere pieces of assembly line product. Dropping us on the ground meant returning us to our natural state.

He waited impatiently for us to dust off, then, with a wicked claw, he motioned our band to follow him on foot toward an inconspicuous bed of decaying desert vegetation.

Stomp stomp stomp. Then another. And another, until his percussive hooves produced the slightest metallic pang. The claw came out again, this time to trace the outline of an emerging cellar door baked into the earth.

Thump thump thump. The smuggler knocked in an intentionally rhythmic pattern.

Underground, a similar rhythm responded. In line with what seemed like some unrefined Morse Code, a series of back and forth followed. The smuggler’s face, a series of dissatisfied winces and head shakes, suggested he was engaged in negotiation- a negotiation he was losing and then clearly lost.  

At which point the door finally unbolted and creaked open.

A snap in the dark. A poof of light. At the bottom of a spiral stairway, a subterranean fiend stood with a blank face and a finger that made and retained flame.

“Dhrupziskovdnk,” he said.

Dhrupziskovdnk is the Sandland word for money.

Businesslike yet visibly spooked, our smuggler paid the fiend’s demand and galloped back to his truck. We stayed, following our new guide and his little fire-finger for an eternity, all without words. The only sounds he produced were when he scraped his stub tail over exposed rock or had to sniffle. His nose, as long and narrow as needle-nose plyers, was prone to congestion. Besides that, silence.

We stopped twice a day to eat. By we I mean our band of journeyers. I do not mean the fiend. The Fiend refused all food. He just watched us and clicked his finger flame on and off again until we indicated our readiness to continue.  

At an unassuming bend in the underground path, he paused to let his needle nose, now shaking slightly back and forth and seemingly sensing signals, gauge the area. In a moment the Fiend’s expressionless face hinted at emotional capability. He looked up. Paced a few times. Looked up again.

Resolved on a spot, the Fiend leaped to the sidewall, climbed up until he reached the ceiling, and worked his way over to the center of the cavern with the movement of a spider. When directly overhead, he burrowed upward into the cavern ceiling, the function of his long narrow needle-nose on full display until he disappeared into his own work.

 Drilling and drilling. Drilling and drilling.

Until he hit a patch of sunshine.

Natural light entered the tunnel through the Fiend’s narrow passageway. Darkness disappeared. The dirt that fell on our heads felt like freedom. And then down came a rope ladder, which we hoped would give us that freedom.

Once he was assured that us journeyers were all on solid ground above ground, the Fiend, repulsed by the day, reentered the cavern, and disappeared. Another job well done.

Unlike our guide, we adored our surroundings. A paradise of golden grasses and flower petals blew in the breeze. Beyond them blooming cherry trees stirred, and blue seas lapped gently onto beaches of white sand.

We held hands. Hers were swelling. So were her fingers. But we were happy.

Then we were scared. Contractions. Trouble breathing. Water breaking. I ran to the stream to retrieve proper refreshment. While I did, one of the older females in our band promised to care for her. When I returned, my love was already in a full squat, straddling a fresh hole that the older female journeyer was still fashioning underneath her. My love winced in pain and screamed an inaudible scream, the stick in her mouth suppressing the noise.

A discharge out her backside. A splash into the little hand-dug hole. A baby, our baby, flapping around and crying in a bowl of amniotic fluid, its horns, dripping with thick strands of slime, all tangled in umbilical cord.

A cough. A cry.

I turned to look behind me in the distance at St. Peter’s Pearly Gate. Prodigious, immense, awe-inspiring, and ultimately fallible. The journey to them and through them, or more correctly, underneath them, had been laborious. But looking back now, oh so worth it.

Heaven, we had infiltrated heaven. And now, despite being contrary to popular angel opinion, our little devil was born here, making him a citizen of Paradise until his undying day. 

%d bloggers like this: