The fire was nice. I wasn't cold, but the fire made me feel content. The fire was well used. I could see bones and stones burned white by the constant heat. I gazed at the flames. Maybe Tom going wasn't a bad thing? I was about to get some food, and the fire was nice.\nAs I gazed into the fire my eyes grew heavy. Don't sleep. The stranger was still a stranger. So tired...\n[[stay awake]]\n[[sleep]]
Dragging Tom was hard. We walked and dragged, walked and dragged. He'd done this before. Walking and dragging. The wind was too still for normal.\nI grew tired. The stranger saw this and told me it wasn't too far to go now. He was right, I could see the lights and smell fire.\nHe had a large camp, and big cages. What were the cages for? Me and Tom alwasys talked of getting cages for the city fools. I must have imagined the soapy smell as I thought of the their pale city skin. No way it came from the camp, this stranger looked as bad as I felt. Half man, half desert.\n"Sit down, the fire is good for you". He pointed towards the fire as he dragged Tom into one of his huts. "Dinner won't be long now".\n[[Wait by the fire]]\n[[Have a look around]]\n
They stared. One blinking slowly, the other wide eyed and teary. The wind always seemed to blow sand upwards. How did Tom end up in this situation? His voice was low, but seemed to carry under all other sounds,"I need that back Tom". The reply was desperate, "I had no choice!". His rasp shout echoed, and the wind got stronger, forcing Tom to blink. The blink was his end. The draw wasn't even that fast. I've learned not to go near a stranger's stuff. Well, not get caught anyways. Tom knew this too.\n[[Search his camp?]]\n[[Leave the stranger?]]
My head's sore. It's dark. I must have banged it as I fell of the seat asleep. Too tired to wake from a bang like that. The stranger is across the fire from me. A big pot is hanging over it. "You'll sleep through anything.", he said as he passed me a bowl. I still haven't said anything. I took the bowl from him. "You woke just in time, it's ready now.". I remembered dragging back Tom. Was his body still in the hut?\n[[Ask about Tom]]\n[[Hold out the bowl]]
He was the one who thought me everything. In the end, he got greedy, but in the beginning, I would be dead without him. Half man, half survival. I knew of the vultures, and the holes because of him. When he went on his trips, it was the only way I could survive. Now, seeing as he gave up on the end of the strangers gun, I don't know what to do. The stranger is still shouting.\n[[Turn back to shouts]]\n[[Keep going forward]]
What the hell was I thinking. Should have gone home. Should have followed the vultures. Stay low. Ignore the smells of soap. I coukld really use some soft soapy... Shut up stomach! This is the only option, lie low and skulk, there's only one way out. Take it slow and wait for info. The cages look weak, it won't take much to break them, wait for the right moment.\nIt sounds like someone's coming. They sound tired tragging that big bag.\n[[Wait]]\n[[jump him]]\n[[Find out more about the vultures]]\n
I stay low and silent. I'm tired. Tired enough to be clumsy. As I get closer to the tent, I can hear the stranger talking to Tom. All I hear is "why?" There's some other mumbling, but I can#'t make it out. I should get what I can and run. Half of me want's to know more.\nI hear the stranger moving out of the tent. Stay low, stay quiet. The stranger has smoething in his hand as he moves towards the big fire. The fire has a pot hanging over it, and he throws the thing into it. He then sits by the fire. I make a move for the tent and get into it. There's enough light around the place to make out Tom's body. I can smell him anyways. Smelly sand creature! Why did he kill you? I can make out his body except for his legs. I feel around but can't find them. I then remember the pot. The stranger took them? The generator went off. Why didn't I hear the generator before it's went off! The fire hissed. It went dark. I feel the end coming. How did he know I was here? Tired and sloppy. Half man, half sloppy. Time to wait again. Wait for the end. Half man, half...
The first place I head for was the tent he dragged Tom into. Surely his body was there. I heard his gun click. I dived. A bullet missed me. I made a run for the tent. Another bullett missed me. Half man, half cat.\n[[Look around the tent]]
"He asked for it. Well, not in so many words. He kept something from me. Something that was very valuable to me." The stranger stood up. "It took me a long time to get it back".\n"Tell me something. How long have you known Tom?" The stranger asked me as he walked over to me. I could see his gun. The gun that killed Tom. I don't miss him, but I don't know where my life goes now. He took on more step towards me and I fell back from my seat. I froze. Come on! Don't do this to me body! You can see the gun! Half man, half frozen coward.\n[[Gaurd face]]\n[[Reach for his gun]]\n[[Run]]
The early years it was the only way I could eat. He used to always say "When they fly, we wait. When they circle, we move.". He was always good for easy food. He was good for a lot of things. In the begining there was only time for easy food. I'd be so sore all the time. That's before I was made from something else. Before I was able to ignore the sore. Even now as I think about it I don't feel it. Just replaced the sore with something else. Something the stranger should be scared of.\n[[Wait]]
I froze for a lifetime. All I could do was raise my hands. Cowering under this stranger. He froze too. Not sure what to do, he started to show compasion. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you", he said. Please, have something to eat. He stuck his hand out again. I took his hand. All of a sudden, I got the smell of soap. His hand was soft. "If I could have spared him, I would have.". I was close to him now, his hand in mine. I reached for the gun. No time to freeze now. He was a soft city fool. I pulled the gun, shot it, and fell with his body away from the fire. Who was the stranger? How did he know Tom?
I learned long ago to be ready. I needed to. We all needed to. I'm the only one left now. Half man, half ready. Time to strike, he's stopped, his back is to me. All I need to do, is stay quiet, and hit hard. Half man, half quiet. I'm real close now, and the wind has all but died. No way he knows I'm here. He turns and I feel the pinch. Shouldn't I have heard the sound? Half man, half......
The camp wasn't far. Although, with the wind blowing this strong, it was impossible to see anything. Better be sure to keep the scarf tight, keep the head down, and move forward. I'll have enough time as Tom is looted.\nI could taste the sand after a while. Suprising how much a human body can handle. I suppose I've grown this way. Half man, half sand. Doubt those city fools would take much sand. God I wish I came across a city fool now. Wouldn't even wait for a fire before biting into their soapy skin...\nStop! I'm stronger than this! Half man, half steel.\nThere's the lights, the sandy taste was worth it.\nThe camp is bigger than I thought, I'd better take my time.\n[[Slip into the ditch behind the camp]]\n[[Investigate the cages]]
I needed to walk around. The fire was sapping any strength I had left. The stranger was still in the tent, so I thought I could look around the rest of the camp.\n[[Have a look around]]\n[[Wait by the fire]]
The camp was big. Lights around the place meant he must have a generator. The fire said he was here a long time. There was also a couple of huts and some cages. Was there more than just the stranger here? The cages were big. They were just as Tom had described. Wood lashed to wood, with a big chain keeping it locked. Surely there it was easy to break out of it? I walked closer to them. Tom always knew there'd be something worth having if the city fools could be rounded up. Did this stranger figure it out first? I could smell soap as I could closer. I then herad something move inside the cage. Right after that fast footsteps then darkness.
The stranger poured a bowl out for me. My stomach rumbled. I felt weak. I don't remember food. Never mind hot food. I started to slurp. My mouth watered more than the soup coming in.\n"Do you know why Tom kept you away from me?" asked the stranger. He seemed futher away from me. The food was was too tasty. "There was a reason to most things Tom did. That's why he had to go. For something I did." The stranger seemed to be talking out of a tunnel. I've been full before. This is different. I dropped the bowl. I could hear the stranger laughing as my bowl fell. Half man, half fool. Everthing grew dark.
I had been going for days now. Days or hours. My head doens't care anymore. Half man, half giving up. I'll rest here. I was sure there would be strength when I wake. Half man, half...
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The ditch was dark and safe. I knew how to hide like this. If I knew anything, it was this. Half man, half sand creature. I could see the man dragging the bag. It has to Tom. Why does he need to drag him back here? He dragged him through the camp and straight into a tent. As the tent flap closed behind him, I knew it was my chnce to make my move.\n[[Move toward the tent]]\n[[Investigate the cages]]
Sweet soap. Soft skin. These cages would be easy. Soon the taste of sand would be gone. It's never really gone, but it will distract me from it. I start to bang the cages. I can't see anything in there, just dark and sweet smells. I kept banging with my hands. If I had any smart I'd get something to bang with. I feel some pain, but that would all be gone soon. The wind howled and my breath got deeper. The cages looked the same apart from the red mark on the corner I banged. Bang! That wasn't me this time, but I felt it. Everthing is growing dark...\n
Half Man
I knew he had a camp. Those gun types always did. I didn't know where, but I'd say Tom knew there was, he never said no to a big prize like that. Well, time to move on. This stranger was no good, and Tom is gone. Perhaps there will be something left when the stranger is finished? Nothing but leather and sinew. Tom was like me, half man, half something else.\nAs I move on I hear the stranger shouting. "Turn back! I have food!". Maybe the stranger was all right? Maybe he was only defending himself? I was hungry. And I hadn't seen a vulture in days.\n[[Tom]]\n[[Turn back to shouts]]\n[[Keep going forward]]
The tent was dark. The lights outside did there job. I then heard a generator turn off. I didn't hear it before it turned off. It got darker. I hear the fire hiss and the large pot spilling. I hear shouting. The smell in the tent is too much to bear. No soap. Nothing soft. Just something rough and dead. That was Tom alright, but he felt different. Incomplete. The tent started to glow. It was getting warm. Too warm. I couldn't breath with the smoke. I felt dizzy and made a run for the door. He stood over me as coughed and spluttered. I dove for his gun, and he hit me sharply on the back of the head. No more coughing, just darkness.
The stranger kept shouting. "Hey! I have food!" His voice was hoarse, and he was out of breath. He stopped shouting as I turned around. The wind started to die down. I moved toowards him with my hands up. He put his gun away. "I't ok, I don't want anymore violence. I have food and fire in my camp." I dropped my hands. The hunger was eating me. If I could see any vultures I was gone, but there hadn't been even one in days. I said nothing. I never really said anything these days. He didn't seem to mind, and said we should walk back to his camp before the wind started up again. We wrapped up Tom, and I helped drag him back to the camp. I hope he didn't see my wincing face. Tom deserved a hole. What will I do now? What did I do before Tom?\n[[The camp]]
My lips were stuck tight. I knew they'd burst if I opened them, but I needed to know. A little burst lip is nothing. Half man, half steel. "What happened to Tom's body?" I asked without wincing. The stranger can't see any more weakness. You've already shown him enough half man.\n"Tom?" The stranger smirked as walked around the fire towards me "I have other names for him." He put his hand out for the bowl. I didn't budge. "Well" he said "Tom was a very bold boy". He sat down across the fire again. "How long have you known him? Ye know, he helped me build this. A very tricky sand creature that one". How did he know Tom? Tom only said sand creature. Half Tom, half sand creature.\n[[Ask more about Tom]]\n[[Hold out the bowl]]
"How long have you known Tom?" I asked him. I've Know Tom all my life. We survived together for a long time. I survived without him too, but rarely. Don't tell him that though.\nThe stranger laughed. I grew tired of him. How did he know Tom? Why did he kill him?\n"I've known Tom since he was a young boy. He was always a filthy sand creature. No idea where he came from. No idea he was hiding you out there either, but I know why. You should eat." The stranger slurped at his bowl. my mouth watered.\n[[Hold out the bowl]]\n[[Why did you kill him?]]
His gun was right there. All I needed to do was dive. Stopping thinking! A quick movement and I had it in my hands. I had it! The gun that killed Tom! Time to kill the stranger. It was as if he wanted me to get the gun. He reached out slowly. Slower than he could, but it was all he needed. All of a sudden the gun was in his hand and coming down on my head. Half man, \nhalf fool. Darkness.
Shane Kavanagh