My mind was filled with the thoughts of a dying man who wasn’t satisfied with his modest accomplishments. Our noble mission came at the bitter cost of personal sacrifice. We recognized the various symptoms of the desert plague and its curse on us. The night air wasn’t hot but all three of us sweated profusely from the evil radiating in the desert. Waves of nausea and burning skin kept me awake. Only later did I manage to nod off.
In the unconscious realm, I had a reoccurring dream of a single drip of rain landing in a pool of water. As the molecules splashed up, it made a crater-like wall around the edges that seemed to freeze in midair. This baffling vision played out many times. I could only assume it was a metaphor for our desperate search for water but the actual meaning of the details escaped me.
The rest of my sleep visions were variations of the same thing. An object of unknown origin would fall downward and its traumatic impact would cause a massive crater. The elusive symbolism disturbed me but I had little time left to ponder its meaning. Our objective was still unaccomplished.
I woke up in a pool of perspiration and stumbled out of the tent to vomit. When I leaned over to retch, large clumps of my hair came out in my hands. I began to tremble with chills and fear. Then my gums ached and bled with increasing urgency. The deadly fever had begun.
When morning came, we ate a small portion from our rations in an uncomfortable silence. Ulcers in my mouth made eating difficult; and the increased waves of nausea suppressed my appetite even further. My thoughts were plagued with worry about the safety of any water we found. I feared it would contain the same poisonous sickness that was rapidly consuming our lives. In our dire condition, we simply had no other choice.