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314 pages, ebook
First published March 8, 2016
Jin had the sort of smile that would turn over whole empires to the enemy - that made me feel like suddenly I understood him exactly, even though I knew nothing about him.
"Tell me that and we’ll go. Right now. Save ourselves and leave this place to burn. Tell me that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand.”
Djinnis - One of God’s First Beings: men made of out of smokeless fire. The true rulers of the desert, their powers are both great and mysterious. Travellers are warned to not trespass on their domain or disturb them in the desert. And to always be polite to strangers lest they be a Djinni in disguise.
Buraqi - A horse fashioned out of sand and wind, the Buraqi run wild from one side of the desert to the other. They may appear as black as the sand of a cool desert night or as brilliant red as a bloody dawn over a sand dune.
Rocs - Great birds the size of palaces that can darken the sun with their wings.
Nightmares - A breed of Ghoul that remains in the sands like an infestation, coming out only at night. These creatures stalk sleeping on the wings of a bat, with the maw of a monster. They crouch on a man’s chest to inject him with venom that infects his mind and body, sending him into a terrible sleep.
Skinwalkers - If the Skinwalkers have a shape of their own it has long been forgotten, as they shift their form from that of one victim to another. A Skinwalker is known to devour the flesh of an unsuspecting desert traveller, and then assume his form to prey on the rest of his travelling party.
“The world makes things for each place. Fish for the sea, Rocs for the mountain skies, and girls with sun in their skin and perfect aim for a desert that doesn't let weakness live."
A group of factory workers still in their uniforms huddled around a nomad in a busted-up wagon who was shouting about selling Djinni blood that’d grant good folks their hearts’ desires. His wide grin looked desperate in the oily lamplight, and no wonder. It’d been years since anyone round these parts had seen a real live First Being, let alone a Djinni.
Besides, he should’ve known better than to think desert dwellers would believe Djinn bled anything other than pure fire—or that anyone in Deadshot would believe themselves good folk.
Even with my face covered from the nose down, Hasan must’ve seen the hesitation. His attention was already wandering past me, like he figured I was about to walk away.
That was what did it. I dropped the money on the table in a jangling handful of louzi and half-louzi that I’d scrimped one by one over the past three years. Aunt Farrah always said I didn’t seem to mind proving myself dumb if it meant proving someone else wrong.
As I walked down the dark dreary alley, that once I danced through on the night of the Dance. I thought about how my mother would never reach the world of her own thoughts. How love would never grace the lowly precedence set my her forefathers. Suddenly I heard a click at my temple. There was a .05 rifle slighshooter rifle notched easily against my cranium.
"Time to die," said my assailant.
I took in the situation and thought about what my great-great-grandfather would do. Oh how he loves dolphins. Where do you think dolphins even come from? Like we're in the desert here. Haha, I'm so funny. Sigh, I wonder what my best friend is doing right now. I have to give him back his lamp that I borrowed. Not sure why I had to borrow that but yeah. It's a yellow lamp that helps guide the way through the darkness. In my land, after the sun goes away, things become dark. We have begun to call that "Night." Suddenly my thoughts flashed back to the gun at my head.
"Not today bitch," I screamed and grew a gun out of my own arm to shoot him. Logic doesn't matter here. Neither does time.