Jolinda’s Desert Adventure

...

While visiting a national park with her family, Jolinda got lost.

Oh, it wasn’t her fault. A little bird led her away from the group. This was done maliciously on the part of the little bird. He looked sweet and innocent, but he was a magical beast.

For every person he lead into the desert he got extended life force from the evil spirit of the desert.

The only way the good spirit of the desert could fight back was to try to lead people back out of the desert but his magical beast was not quite so clever as the little bird working for the evil spirit.

...

Jolinda suddenly realized she was lost. She looked for a familiar landmark or the trail she started out following before she saw the cute little bird. Nothing. She didn’t panic, she knew her family would look for her but she was hot. She needed water. The desert was deceptive because the air was dry she didn’t realize how much water she had lost. She stumbled over a low ridge. She had climbed it hoping to be able to see something familiar. Now she slipped on the other side and rolled down the hill. At the bottom she was un-hurt, but the lost feeling was starting to overwhelm her and she did begin to panic. She got up and ran, it didn’t matter where, as long as she kept running she didn’t have to think.

The rocky terrain changed to sandy desert. This was more like Jolinda always thought of as a desert. Sand dunes everywhere. Now no matter which way she looked, all she saw was sand. She sat down on the shady side of a dune. "I need water." she mumbled to herself.

"I know where you can get some."

She looked up in surprise. She saw a unicorn. Not just any unicorn, the most beautiful one she had ever seen. Of course it was the only one she had ever seen. He had copper hooves and horn and jet black mane and tail and his body was so white it hurt to look at him in the direct sun.

"How come I can understand you?" she asked him.

"Because little human, you are a little human." he answered. "My name is Alkanet, what is yours?"

She realized suddenly he wasn’t speaking English, he was making wickering and muttering noises, but she could understand him. She was still speaking English and he understood her.

Alkanet pawed the sand and made throat clearing noises to get her attention.

"Oh, my name is Jolinda." she answered hastily. She wanted this creature to stick around and maybe help her. "Can you help me find some water to drink? I’m awful thirsty."

"Of course, little human called, Jolinda. Follow me." he wheeled around and started trotting away at a good clip. He glanced back and saw Jolinda struggling to try to keep up. He trotted back to her.

"Alkanet, I can’t keep up. I’m too tired and dehydrated." she bit her lip and asked shyly, "Could I ride on your back? Just to keep from slowing you down?"

"You may not ride me. No one rides a unicorn. It is unheard of , unthinkable!" he shook his head and neck as though to flick the unthinkable thoughts away.

"Oh, sorry, I didn’t know." Jolinda said meekly.

"Little human called Jolinda, you may with great care and much gratitude, hold on to the hair of my mane to help you along."

Jolinda said, "Thank you." with as much gratitude as her tired body would let her and wound her hand into Alkanet’s mane.

They walked quite a while in silence except for the sound of their feet in the sand.

Then Alkanet shook his neck and Jolinda let go. He leaped on top of a low rock jutting from the sand and struck it once with his hoof. Water sprang out and filled a depression in the rock.

"There is the water you need, little human called Jolinda."

She dropped to her knees and drank deeply from the cold water.

"Thank you, Alkanet." she said when she was finally done drinking. "Now I need to find my family." She looked at Alkanet expectantly.

He shook his head, "I don’t know if I can find your family, but I can take you to the human dwellings"

Jolinda scratched her head, "Human dwellings? You mean homes?"

"Yes that is what the humans that I knew there called them." Alkanet nodded once slowly. "Come now before it gets dark. Do you need to hold onto my mane again?"

"No, I feel fine now, thank you." she looked around realizing it was getting late in the day.

They walked a long time into the setting sun and then turned north. When she shaded her eyes from the sun, Jolinda could see cliffs in the distance that they seemed to be heading toward. The reached them just before the light was gone. Jolinda knew this wasn’t where she had been staying with her family, but she hoped they had a phone or something. As they got closer, she realized there would be no phoning tonight. This place was old.

It looked like pictures of pueblo dwellings Jolinda had seen in her encyclopedia. Built under an overhanging cliff, the buildings were still in recognizable shape, a roof had collapsed here and there, but otherwise the walls were intact. Jolinda wondered what it looked like when people lived here.

"Alkanet, how long ago did you know the humans that lived here?" Jolinda asked him.

"About 500 years ago. Not that long." He answered.

"Alkanet! I can’t get help from people who are dead!" she yelled out her frustration and fear at him.

"I didn’t know they would all be dead!" he said peevishly. "I’m not dead so why are they?"

"Well you must live longer than humans do." Jolinda said a little less sharply. He was her only guide in this wilderness.

"I’ll just have to make do until I get some sleep." She started up the little hill in front of the best looking building.

"Little human called Jolinda," called Alkanet, "I cannot stay with you all night. I have other things to do. Go up into one of the high rooms and pull the ladder after you. This keeps predators out. That is what the humans who lived here before did at night and in times of danger."

"All right, Alkanet. Thank you." Turning away, Jolinda felt tears well up in her eyes. Now she would be all alone. She didn’t know if Alkanet would come back.

A warm soft muzzle nudged her in the shoulders. Alkanet rubbed his soft muzzle across her cheek. "Don’t worry little human, I will be back just before sunrise. Then we will travel to the edge of the area I live in and you will find your family."

"Thank you Alkanet. I will trust you and you’re right, I will get back to my family."

Jolinda stopped crying and marched up the ladder into the darkness of the room above. It was dark, but the moon came in and soon her eyes got used to the low light level. Looking around there wasn’t much to see. Broken pottery made by the original inhabitants. Dust had blown in over the years and accumulated in the corners. In more recent times someone had left some wood, matches and newspapers with a rock on top to keep them from blowing away.

Jolinda laid some newspapers out on the floor for a bed and laid down to try to sleep. She started to shiver and realized the desert got too cold to let her sleep without a fire. She knew she shouldn’t play with fire, but this was an emergency!

There were scorch marks from a previous fire on the floor near a window so she laid some crumpled paper there and then piled sticks around it tee-pee style. Opening the box of matches she saw there were only three left.

"Uh-oh, I better get this fire going in three tries or less." She muttered to herself.

She struck the first match and it was immediately blown out by the wind. Jolinda turned her back to the windows, hunching over her pile of wood. The next match she got to the paper, but it didn’t catch before the match burned down to her fingers. "Ouch!" and she dropped it.

Holding the last one closer to the paper when she struck it she was successful in lighting the fire. "Yea!" she fed the flame little bits of paper she tore off until it started the wood.

Jolinda moved her make-shift bed closer to the fire. "Not too close." She said to herself. "I wouldn’t want to catch on fire"

As the room reflected the warmth of the fire back to her, she drifted off into an exhausted sleep. She dreamed about home.

Later, after the moon had set, the fire was only glowing embers. Something woke Jolinda up. A wolf or coyote was howling nearby! Jolinda shivered, she imagined a lone coyote who was hungry. She was glad she had pulled up the ladder like Alkanet told her to do. Nothing could get her up here. Now she knew why the Indians had built their homes this way.

She put some wood on the fire and got warm again and fell asleep until morning.

She woke just before the sun was up. The fire was cold and so was she. She was a little stiff from sleeping on the hard floor of the pueblo. She got up and stretched then lowered the ladder and climbed down. Alkanet would come soon she thought.

Sure enough, he came trotting up just as she thought about him.

"Good morning, little human called Jolinda." He greeted her merrily.

"Good morning, Alkanet." She called back. "Can you take me to some living humans today, please?" she asked quietly after he got closer.

"Now little human, I told you before I cannot leave my domain." He saw her face fall. "However," he continued, "I can take you to where you entered my domain, and tell you the way back to where you came from."

Jolinda was all smiles. "That would be perfect!" she thought about it for a minute. "I can’t introduce you to my family then. Oh, Alkanet I wanted you to meet them."

"Little human, think about it. They don’t believe in me, well maybe your sisters do, but your parents don’t. They couldn’t see me even if you pointed right to me."

Jolinda rubbed her head. "How am I going to explain how I got back then?"

"You will have to say you found your way back on your own." He answered.

Alkanet let her think about this for awhile.

"You need water if we are going to walk back this morning. Come with me." He trotted a litt6le way and found a rock. He hit it with his hoof and water came out like the day before.

Jolinda drank her fill and wished she could brush her teeth. The cold water made her belly seem very empty. She would be glad to get back to her family and a normal routine.

When Alkanet saw she was finished, he bent down and took a drink himself. He seemed just like a horse, flaring his nostrils and blowing. He shook himself all over when he as finished and then said, "You may hold my mane again, little human called Jolinda, we need to move along quickly today."

"Thank you, Alkanet." Jolinda was glad for two reasons. One, she felt a little light headed from missing two meals yesterday and breakfast today. And two, she realized she would miss the wonderful unicorn when she left his domain. At least she could touch him for awhile before she left.

They moved rapidly, Jolinda’s feet barely seemed to touch the ground. Sometime near noon, Alkanet stopped.

"Here is where you must go on alone, little human called Jolinda." He stamped his foot lightly. "Go straight over this dune and then turn right a t the rock that looks like an eagle’s head. You will recognize the land from there, I think."

She let go of his mane. "Alkanet, thank you very much. I would still be lost if not for you." She looked down at her feet. "Can I hug you before I go?" she asked quietly.

"I would like that very much, little human called Jolinda." He stepped toward her.

She threw her arms around him and sniffed back her tears. "I’ll miss you, Alkanet."

"I will miss you too, little human." He curved his neck around in the best approximation of a hug he could make. A large tear trickled down his muzzle and glistened on the sand. "Look, little human, a keepsake for you to remember me by." Alkanet pointed his horn at the tear, it had turned to stone.

Jolinda picked it up. It was the size of a small bird’s egg, clear and smooth.

"It’s beautiful, Alkanet." She could hardly believe he was going to let her have it.

"It bears a great responsibility, little human. You will be able to contact me and I you, through it. If someone else gets lost in my domain you can help me guide them out. Even if they can’t see me, like your parents. This has been a problem before, only children could be guided by me until now. Are you willing to help when someone else gets lost?" He looked at her expectantly.

"Oh, yes, Alkanet! I would be glad to help." She answered right away.

He tossed his head happily. "Good. Now go little human called Jolinda. And, don’t pay attention to the cute little bird!" He wheeled around and galloped away.

"Bye, Alkanet!" She waved to his retreating form.

"Over the dune and right at the rock that looks like an eagle’s head." She said to herself as she climbed the dune. On the other side there was indeed a rock that looked like an eagle’s head. She turned right and saw some trees in the distance. "That must be the campground!" She exclaimed. She walked toward the trees. As she reached the edge of the trees, a little bird began to chirp madly at her.

"Oh, no you don’t! I’m not paying any attention to you." She walked on toward the trail she had been following the day before when she got distracted by the bird. She could hear someone calling her name.

"Jolinda, where are you?" It was her mother, she sounded upset.

"Here! Mom, I’m here!" She ran toward the sound of her mother’s voice. She didn’t forget about Alkanet as she was swept up in her mother’s arms, her hand was touching the stone in her pocket and she knew he could see her happy reunion with her family.

The End

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All rights to the text belong to Jolinda Gouine. The graphics were created in Corel Draw6(tm) and Corel PhotoPaint6(tm) using a combination of original art and Corel(tm) Clip-art. All Rights to the Clip-art belong to Corel(tm) original art work rights belong to Jolinda Gouine. Contact tatting at tds dot net for information.