Today is a short story I wrote from somebody else's picture prompt. This pic will have to do.
Ring of the Sun
They followed the ring of the sun through memories and echoes of memories. The sky burnt orange over their heads, like the gods had smashed a pumpkin and not bothered to clean up the mess. But the ring of the sun shone golden in its brilliance.
They followed the ring of the sun across deserts and savannas. Even at night it glowed – majestic in the sky as a king on his throne. They huddled together in tents, listening to the sounds of the wild beasts. The braying and bellowing, yowling and howling. There were nights when they seemed within the camp and other nights when they were clearly far away, across valleys and mesas.
They followed the ring of the sun through frigid winters, their footprints vanishing under new-fallen snow. Urination and defecation were necessary hardships, the exposure of bare flesh to the elements a painful inconvenience.
They followed the ring of the sun through the scorching heat of summer. Sweat soaked their clothes. They drank greedily from their canteens. Mirages appeared, and just as quickly vanished. They shed unnecessary clothing, and would have been provoked sexually, if not exhausted by their exertions.
When their rations depleted, they hunted lizards and gathered berries. An elder went crazy on peyote, and was put out of his misery - choked in his sleep. The insects swarmed on his rotting corpse. The vultures circled overhead, attracted by the wind-blown stench.
When they came upon an oasis, they made camp in the shade of the palm trees. They stripped their dirty, sweaty clothes and bathed in the cool waters of the pond. They washed the journey from their bodies, from their clothes. They emerged refreshed, renewed, cleansed of their toil. They were invigorated, and bodies mingled with bodies, eager to share their joy in this Shangri la, this Eden. Flesh merged with flesh and they felt alive.
But their time in paradise was short-lived. Once again, they followed the ring of the sun. The weeks became months, the months became seasons. Women who had mated at the oasis developed swollen bellies, delivered offspring. The journey continued, more slowly of course.
There would be more seasons, more oases. The men would go grey and in some cases bald. The women’s breasts would sag. The babies would grow into adults, replacing those who would die. The journey would continue through generations. Eventually, nobody would remain who knew the reason for their journey, or even their destination. And yet…
They followed the ring of the sun.