It Came from the Sands

It Came from the Sands

On its face, the proposal was preposterous: “An instant oasis, deep in the desert. Just add a single drop of water.” But this wasn’t a hoax, nor an elaborate ruse to gain additional research funding. It was real, and you were there to witness the very first field test.

Standing amidst a football field filled with sand, Dr. Aquafey produced a small crystal cube from a test tube and placed it gently into the sands - before she started running. Mere seconds later, the sands erupted, spraying water and silt high into the air. When the dust settled, left in its wake was an actual oasis, complete with a crystal-clear pool of water, and short shrubby vegetation around the perimeter. In short, a miracle.

The details of the invention were confusing to you, at best. Something about it not being true matter conversion, instead drawing down ambient moisture from the environment and tapping into a hidden aquifer. The explanations just did not add up. That the funding for this project came from the government didn’t make you feel any better about it, either.

Regardless, when it was time to do an initial field test, you were among the first to volunteer. It was to be a two-week expedition to an area of the Sahara that “possessed the unique qualities for the experiment”, whatever that meant. Your small team was to accompany Dr. Aquafey to the site, set up camp, and create a new oasis and monitor it for the duration for stability. Because of the sensitive nature of the project, very few people were aware of your trip, and even fewer knew your exact location out among the dunes.

On the first day, Dr. Aquafey activated the cube - and the results had been even more stunning than the first field test. Before you was an oasis, perhaps even wilder than your imagination had predicted. Water, trees, vegetation. All appeared within moments of the crystal hitting the sand. When you asked Dr. Aquafey about it, she simply smiled and shook her head. It was classified, apparently.

Ten days ago, you realized something was wrong. The night did not end, and you were left with nothing but the stars in the night sky. You were well out of cellular communication range, but even your satellite phone was failing to connect. While you had lights, you were unprepared for 24 hours of darkness.

Five days ago, they appeared. The first sign of their arrival was the bubbling of the waters of the oasis, and the subtle smell of sulfur. For days, they stalked around the edges of the camp, sticking near the waters and away from the camp lights. But you could hear them, and their insidious whispers. “Violators. You shall be punished.”

Yesterday, they killed Dr. Aquafay - the light of your flashlight caught her panicked expression as she was dragged into the waters, thrashing. The gurgling sound as water filled her lungs still hangs fresh in your mind. It was at this moment you knew instinctively that you were next.

But what to do? You have the four-wheelers, but the closest settlement is over 100 miles away. Do you stay and fight? Perhaps they have some weakness. They seem to be afraid of the light, at least, but you’re low on batteries. Maybe you can get the satellite phone working and call for rescue? Your time runs thin. It’s time to decide.

Areas of Note: The Artificial Oasis, The Campsite, Open Desert, The Desert Ruins

Goal: Escape the Oasis and return to civilization, or survive and wait for rescue.