He stood on the edge of a pit full of sand. It flowed past him, tugging at his ankles, and though the pull was not strong, it was unending and seductive. The sand came from leagues around, moving steadily toward the pit as the sand within it drained downward, at its center, into mystery. The center of the pit, where the sand puckered and disappeared, drew his eye. He didn’t know where it went, only that it was gone from view.
Rocks stabbed up out of the sand of the sloped sides of the pit like jagged brown teeth. The sand flowed around them. They resisted, standing steady — steadier than he was on his feet, at any rate — though their bases had been smooth by years of the sand’s insistent creeping.
Wanting to view one of the rocks up close, he took a few steps deeper into the pit. He regretted his action immediately. Even these scant few feet along the slope, the pull was stronger, making balance difficult. He worried he would fall and be dragged along with the sand into the hole at the pits center.
But he did not fall, and he reached the nearest rock without issue. Up close, it reminded him even more of a tooth. It had a pointed tip, and it curved back toward the pits lip, giving it the overall shape of a fang. Where the sand had rubbed, the base was as smooth and shining as a river stone, or a cut, polished gem.
When he leaned in close to see the base of the rock, he realized that the sand, too, held its own beauty. It was not a flat tan, as it seemed without deeper observation, but full of tiny crystals, each with their own shape and personality, each visible to him for only a moment before he lost them in the tumble of thousands of other motes of sand just like it, despite their differences.
To one side, and slightly further down the slope, was another of the jutting rocks. Though it would mean going closer to the center of the pit, he decided to go closer to that stone. The flowing sand made each step a chore, and by the time he reached the other stone, which was only a few yards away, his legs were already burning from the effort.
Like the first rock he had observed, this was had been smoothed by the sand’s unceasing efforts. There was a lighter vein which ran through it, cream in color, which swirled around the base in an entrancing pattern. Toward the top, where the shape of the rock was rougher, the pattern grew even more complex. He traced his finger along it, appreciating its branches and swirls.
Deeper still into the pit was another rock. He felt drawn to this one, too, and not just by the sand rushing around his ankles, pulling him forward. He wanted to observe this one up close, as he had the others, and the sand, so that he could appreciate its details and know its differences.
He told himself he would go one stone deeper, and then begin the arduous climb back out of the pit and away from the flowing sand. Yet when he got to the next stone, and found it to be even more interesting and complex than the last, with marbled lines of black and blue set into its tan-brown surface, his curiosity grew stronger.
He went to the next stone, and the next, and each grew more beautiful and divergent from the others. Each one had its own unique facets and complexities, and it seemed to him that, the deeper he went into the pit, the more complex and fascinating the rocks grew. It wasn’t until he knee gave out beneath him, finally weakened by his constant struggle against the sand, that he realized how deep he had gone.
He reached out with one hand, grabbing the rock he had been observing. Its sharp edge cut into his palm. The sand dragged at him. With more of his body immersed, the sand had a better grip on him. He couldn’t get his feet under his body, and so it was only his hand, weakening from the pain, that kept him from being swept into the center of the pit, toward which the sand flowed and disappeared.
Was it not the mystery of what lay at the center which had first drawn him here? He looked to the swirl at the pits center, and then to his hand. The blood from the cut on his palm, which the stone opened wider every passing second, dripped down his arm and onto the sand, which carried it away. He closed his eyes and, with a sigh of resignation, released his grip on the stone.
The sand pulled him down toward the center of the pit, but also beneath its surface. He fought to withhold his breath as his head went under. The hot sand pressed in all around him, but he refused to panic, because soon he would find out where it fell. Then a darkness overtook him, beyond the caused by the sand covering his eyes, and his last thoughts were those of wondering where the sand traveled.