‘Now what exactly do we have here?’ came a whispered voice over the desert sands.
I skidded to a halt, the sheer fabric of my cowl whipping at my face as I turned to look behind me. A similarly hooded figure stood atop a sand dune, his features cloaked in darkness.
‘Who are you?’ I called out, shuffling backwards. ‘What do you want?’
‘I want what you stole,’ the voice said sharply, like he was whispering it in my ear. ‘I want what belongs to me.’
‘Is this about that stuff I took from the flat share when I moved out?’ I joked nervously. ‘Because that really was the best home gym equipment to exercise with. I couldn’t believe how shredded I got!’
Inch by inch, I moved backwards, away from the dune.
I just need to distract him long enough to—
‘Long enough to what?’ came the whisper in my ear, and I yelped as the man was suddenly right behind me. My ankle twisted, caught in the sand, and I fell down the side of the dune, my backpack spilling open as I rolled.
‘Pathetic,’ the man in the cloak laughed, gliding down the dune after me. He stopped partway down, casually picking up a golden necklace from the sands. ‘Tut-tut,’ he shook his head. ‘Looting is wrong, don’t you know.’
‘I wasn’t looting,’ I grimaced in pain as my already-swelling ankle began to throb.
‘Oh?’ the man asked, continuing his slow descent towards me. ‘Then I suppose that you were just looking for the most convenient place to buy sports equipment in Australia?’
‘I was putting it back,’ I spat, trying desperately to crawl to my knees, then my feet. ‘I swear.’
‘The oath of a liar means little to me,’ the man’s voice boomed, seemingly filling the sky. ‘And I have heard enough lies!’
He raised his hands to the sky, and a dark cloud began to block out the blinding sun.
‘Well,’ I sighed, looking up at the swirling vortex above me. ‘That’s probably not good.’