On the Gold Coast, Kyle's primary fears had related to watery predation. Shark attacks were on the upswing in recent months, as sources of food were depleted offshore––the year-in, year-out reality of scorched earth trawling having its cumulative effect. The sense of imminent danger that hit him sometimes paddling out, a feeling of elemental heave within heavy surf, of the bottom dropping off the coast, was now as far removed as the memory of water itself. Odd that the bone dry landscape Kyle had found so comforting in his youth, eloquent in its very emptiness, would turn out to be the most hungry for his bones. As he walked doggedly toward the nearest ridge the sun crept from its comfortable recline and gave intimations of the merciless enforcer it would become.
One thing was certain––the relief that had flooded through his pores yesterday, to have broken somehow free, was no longer remotely present. There was an acute realization that, unless he found some sort of shelter he would not last through the day––a cave, some lone hermit's habitation, a spring harboring the scarcest of all commodities: a trickle of water. Given this area's mining provenance, there must certainly be roads criss-crossing the area––but from which direction and where to he had not a clue. Having taken off at an undetermined angle, following the grim imperative of eluding those who were intent on extinguishing his life, there were no familiar landmarks. The tribe in pursuit had fanned out in a single line––in retrospect, the direction in which he had escaped had been coordinated––his pursuers prepared to lose him, so long as he retreated to a place where there was no risk of him finding a highway, flagging down a diesel truck––finding a way out to civilization.
Kyle grasped for remnant memories of basic survival techniques as the sunrise crept toward him in subtle gradations––orange and red giving flickering life to pockets and crevices of what would soon transform into washed out, chalky desert. The reflective surfaces taking hold of the light and surprisingly quickly becoming radiant forces of their own that mimicked the sun's heat––burning from every surface, earth transformed into ovenware. He'd be dead soon––if not today, early tomorrow. The sun now firmly affixed well above the horizon and bearing down with unrelenting intensity. The few clouds that passed just wisps and fragments.
As far as Kyle could see to the west there was nothing, just blank sameness. To the east, tortuously near, a jumble of ridges and valleys that extended like saw teeth. Folds that might just harbor underwater springs, caves. He remembered stopping at a visitor's center in the outback with his parents years before, pushing a large button that lit up tiny blue points on a topographic model, indicating the places where early settlers had found water. Carefully marked replenishing points on their traverse, searching for silver, gold, precious minerals. Trading stories beside stumpy trees too rare and valuable to have been used as campfire wood. Friends of necessity on a harsh, barren landscape where the stars opened out in infinite calmness, a perfect balance to the oppressive heat of the day. This sort of lone way-stop, untravelled for generations, was his only way out.