the id is: 5514



By Erik Wahlstrom


The raft rocked slowly and Aaron stared across at his companion. Jeff looked back with blank eyes. He barely lifted his head as he said, "Hey."

"What?" said Aaron, but got no response.

It had been a week, give or take any number of meaningless days. There was no wind and the fear of sharks or jellyfish or any number of vicious sea monsters seemed like an old joke now. There was no immediate threat. There was nothing beyond the eternity of blue water and bright sun. Jeff was pale and he'd blistered and peeled. Aaron had simply burnt.

It seemed silly now how they'd moved around and blustered those first few days, waved at imaginary planes, struggled over water. Now, every movement was a profound investment. Every lifted head, wave of a hand was a commitment to wasted resources. The water was long gone and food was a distant dream.

"Hey," Jeff mumbled again, but this time Aaron said nothing. He felt his body drop under its own weight and he was lying on his back, staring up at an empty blue sky. Beneath him was a vast world. Above, where he lay, was a desert.

His eyes closed and the heat of the sun covered him like a blanket. He heard Jeff say something else. In the distance, he thought he could hear the hum of a nearing helicopter. The sound grew louder until it seemed like it was overhead, and then it was gone.

Erik Wahlstrom has been published in elimae, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He recently completed his first novel, Champions of Nothing, and lives in Buffalo, New York.

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