The sun rose early during the long, hot, dry summer. In the desert it cast long, solemn shadows along the ground as the sagebrush caught the first glimmers of light, interrupted by the already deep shadows of the hills where they dared to contradict the flat horizon. The week -- indeed, the month -- had been dry, and the horse's hooves kicked up small clouds of meek dust with each footfall. And now with the sun rising on a cloudless day, he promised no relief from the scorching, blazing heat.
I led him in an easy cant, a fair pace but not rapid. There was no need to rush. The nearest town was thirty miles behind me, and a human being can only go so far out into the desert in twenty-four hours, no matter what demons he might be running from.
In fact, up ahead, that dark spot.... Wasn't that...? Why, yes, it was.