Skins

Dreaming of Gas Stations while Riding on Dunes

…suddenly, in the middle of the darkest of night, we see a blue spaceship in the middle of the desert.

Photo ©Icarus Blake

Photo ©Icarus Blake

I hate the guy that wakes you up at five am on a freezing Sahara desert morning, and the cold coffee he’s sheepishly holding in his hand doesn’t help either. I tumble out of the tent as the sun creeps up from a high dune in the distance. I walk ten steps away and take a long pee with my eyes closed. My bright orange and black motorcycle grins at me with expectancy. We are going… we are going, just let me connect the few neurons left in my sleepy brain. From the top of our dune, I can see the locals moving around in the micro village of Merzouga. We are talking about four houses and a few huts made of mud and cloth. One guy rides a moped on the sandy trail, his headgear flying in the wind.

I hate these riding boots. They are hard and impossible to latch closed, and I hate the chest armor too, and the helmet that stinks of sweat caked with sand. I’m not a morning person, obviously. My two riding mates are cheerfully looking at maps, laughing and drinking bad coffee. I hate them. I start the bike and sit on it trying to get some warmth from the engine. It will be soon over one hundred degrees, and I’ll be dry-sweating at eighty miles per hour on some treacherous track in the middle of the Sahara. But first, we have to navigate the beautiful dune formation in front of us.

Photo ©Icarus Blake

Photo ©Icarus Blake

My friends speed away eager to climb in the deep sand to then surf down the other side of the dunes. I have learned a few tricks from the Bedouins. Follow camel tracks and shit, they choose the sand where it’s hardest. Those tiny scrubs also like to root where it’s solid, and if the top of a dune is jagged… prepare for flight, as the other side will be a steep wall. With that in mind I open the gas and I start gliding fast towards the first dune. Easy enough for a while, like a gentle roller coaster, I stop on top of a high dune to catch my breath. To my left, I can see the beginning of the Grand Erg, an ocean of dunes that ends in Tunisia on the other side of North Africa. It’s majestic.

I hear my friends calling. They are at the bottom of a dune next to me. One of them is down. The first of many falls of the day. We compare GPS numbers and agree to ride South West towards an oasis where there should be a café. We leave the dunes behind and ride fast on flat sand. We overtake a camel caravan. We spread wide to avoid the gravel cloud from the rear wheels. The Café is a low hut made of sheepskins and wooden sticks. The owners are two toothless brothers that make a mean mint tea and ugly cookies that taste great. We indulge ourselves for a while. We drink water and take some salt pills. After all this is like a gigantic sandy beach, with the ocean a few thousand miles away. I often think of the desert as beach, the idea of water keeps me fresh. We are off again. As I ride a tricky passage between rocks my bike stops working. I ran out of fuel. The valve is leaking from a fall the previous day. Not good. We have enough extra gas to reach our destination, now we are a tank short. We repair the valve, fill up the bike and calculate the shortest course to civilization, somewhere on the way to Ouarzazade. We have to ride slower and save gas. We get lost a few times as we have chosen a way back that is off the beaten path. In short: we get caught by dark. Now we have to be extremely careful not to lose each other. Even the smallest dune can be a separator, and once you are out of sight it’s extremely difficult to be found.

Photo ©Icarus Blake

Photo ©Icarus Blake

We proceed slowly in single file. It’s endless and beautiful at the same time. The desert sky is magnificent and the cold air makes riding pleasant. My bike stops one more time and we fill it with the last half-gallon of gas. We ride some more and, suddenly, in the middle of the darkest of night, we see a blue spaceship in the middle of the desert. “It’s a gas station!” screams one of us. We ride to it. I have never been so happy to be in a gas station. We fill up on gas and junk food. We look at the maps and we realize that we had been coasting a regular road for hours. It was hidden behind the dunes. We are exhausted and we set up the tents a few yards away from the gas station. As I close my eyes, I think that there is nothing better in the world than the sounds of cars stopping by to refuel.

Photo ©Icarus Blake

Photo ©Icarus Blake

Photo ©Icarus Blake

Photo ©Icarus Blake

———————————
Icarus Blake & Max Power: Editors in Chief
Lora Wiley: Managing Editor
Nancy Cooper: Finance Supervisor
Miko Sala: Art Director
Daniel Cardona: Assistant Graphics Designer
Teo J. Babini: Senior Supervising Editor
Tiffany Credle: Associate Copy Editor
Andrew Rodriguez: Editorial Producer
Matt Heidkamp: Editorial Producer
Greta Pininfarina: Editor at Large
ePublished by Kodezero NYC
Tech Supervision: developing.it

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Contributors to this issue:

Thor Benson/Liquid Censorship
Thor Benson is a traveling writer currently based in Portland, Oregon. Benson has been featured in literary journals across the country, including: Black Heart Magazine, Empirical Magazine, The Conium Review, FictionBrigade, and more. He is also a freelance journalist for publications like Vice Magazine, Examiner.com, and DailyKos. Benson can be found at a run-down whiskey bar.
thorbenson@gmail.com

Alexsey Kashtelyan /Liquid Censorship
Alexsey Kashtelyan sprung out of his mother’s womb at the fall of the Soviet Union, and now lives the life of a starving artist in Tucson, Arizona. Please send him food (and drugs.)
AlexseyK@gmail.com
purposeofenvy/Best of Instagram
purposeofenvy is a writer, photographer, and information technology professional living in Cincinnati, Ohio.
purposeofenvy@yahoo.com

Zvi A. Sesling/Lost Days
Zvi A. Sesling’s poetry is in print & online journals in U.S., France, U.K., N.Z., Ireland, Canada, and Israel. Publications include: Baseball Bard, Ibbetson St., Midstream, Black Heart Review, Paradise Review, Levure Litteraire, Green Door, and Main Street Rag. His poetry was used in the Spring Rain Poetry Festival on Cyprus in 2012. Featured readings include: Jewish Poetry Festival in Brookline, MA, Massachusetts and Boston Poetry Festivals and San Diego. He edits Muddy River Poetry Review and reviews for Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene. Sesling authored King of the Jungle, (Ibbetson St., 2010) a chapbook Across Stones of Bad Dreams (Cervena Barva, 2011). A second full-length poetry book Fire Tongue with Cervena Barva is forthcoming.
zviasesling@comcast.net

James Alexander/Lost Days
James Alexander is an aspiring artist/illustrator currently residing in the Bronx. Embracing the fantastical creatures and scenarios of his imagination as almost a type of escapism his work is often able to lampoon or mimic the very reality it wants to distance itself from. Stylistically he’s been described as a disturbed little child. And apparently writing bios makes him speak in 3rd person, go figure..
alexj897@gmail.com

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