The only thing Serena could do was drive. The desert was an enormous place and she felt good entering it with the old car she had bought in the city. The idea was the cross the whole length of the desert, taking pictures and getting to know the few people that lived there. She had a fascination about that place and, although she had already visited the largest cities in the world, her mind was set know in getting to know the Earth’s most isolated places. She put on some music in the old radio and drove away from the city at first light of the morning. That day, she stopped several times to take pictures of the rock formations and of the animals of the area. It was dangerous, but she didn’t mind.
The first night of her trip, she slept in the car. She just parked by the road and covered herself with a blanket. From that point of view, she could see the moon, which also fascinated her. It was its brightness and uneven terrain that made her wonder, for a long time, if people would ever be able to walk there permanently. She fell asleep fast just by looking out. Early next morning, a sandstorm woke her up and she had to wait inside her vehicle until it had moved on elsewhere. It was a violent situation but she had loved it because it was so unique. The storm indicated that the future held many secrets and interesting things and one of those happened just a few hours later.
He was walking by the road, very slowly, visibly on the verge of collapsing due to the horrible heat one had to endure in the desert. When he saw the car, he tried to wave but was so tired he couldn’t and just collapsed by the road. That was the way Serena had to notice him. She stopped the car and ran outside. The man had fallen on his face and had hurt his forehead with a rock. She carried him inside and sat him on the copilot’s seat. She didn’t have much water but used some of it to wake him up. As he came to his senses, Serena notices that the man was not a common sight: he was rather short but with big bulgy eyes and greenish skin. He had normal hands and legs but his skin seemed “fake” somehow.
When he woke up, he congratulated Serena and asked if she had any water. Whatever she had left, he drank it in haste. He was very thankful but then fell asleep very fast, after dropping Serena’s thermos to the ground. She picked it up, closed the copilot’s door and then got in the car and started driving again. The man was in no condition to keep walking and she couldn’t just leave him there so she decided to carry him to whatever place she found. She didn’t stop for the whole day, mainly because she was scared to be alone with such a strange man. She just wanted their shared journey to end as fast as possible. That night, she almost gave up but finally found a motel past midnight.
The manager was a young man with his face covered in pimples. He was reading a science magazine when Serena opened the door and asked for two rooms. When he looked at her, the young man started looking for the keys but then realized there was a small strange man behind Serena. She almost screamed when she heard his weird voice, a bit squeaky. He thanked Serena for the ride and the water and told the young man that he wanted a room too. But he told them, as he looked suspiciously at the small man, that there was only one room available with two beds and another one with only one bed so should choose what to do. Serena thought about sleeping in the car again and letting the small man take the single room but her body hurt a lot from all the driving.
It was the squeaky voice of the man and his stubby hands on the counter, who asked for the double room. He told Serena it would only be for one night and that way they could take care of each other. And then he winked at her, which she didn’t really know what it meant.
The young gay gave them the keys and indicated the way to go: it was just across the parking lot. So Serena told the little guy to go there first. Meanwhile, she would park the car in front of the room. After she did so, she entered the room to see that the small man had taken off his shoes and socks and was lying there on the bed closest to the door. He had his eyes closed so she could stare at him longer than usual.
It was not only his statue and the weird hue of his skin. Besides his eyes, his little hands and feet were also kind of puffy, as if they were filled with water or something. Maybe he had been walking too long or maybe he had an allergic reaction to something in the desert and that was why he looked like that. As she sat down on her bed and took of her shoes, she realized how strange it was for anyone on Earth to be walking alone through a desert. Or maybe he had been left there… The desert was a place of many strange events, where people saw lights in the sky and had encounters with life from other planets. Maybe her new friend was a little green man, of the other ones.
She then asked him what his name was and he answered right away. “Gordon. Gordon Shumway.” Was it wrong that he had answered so fast? Maybe it was his real name but she was sure she had already heard that name before. Or maybe she was just tired and her mind was jumping to conclusions. He asked her name too and she only said “Serena”. They talked for a while about their love for the desert, which they discovered was mutual. They talked about certain species and plants and about the beautiful sunrise. And, slowly, they feel asleep at the same time.
When she woke up the following morning, the first thing she felt was how hot the room was. The desert had to be burning up. She was glad to be inside a room, on a bed. She wondered if it was early and if she should start her journey of the day right away or maybe just ask for some breakfast and then take some pictures around the place. It could be interesting to talk a bit more to the young receptionist and to any other person working in the motel.
Then, she recalled the earlier day and finally opened her eyes. Gordon, if that was his real name, wasn’t there. His bed sheets were all over the place so maybe he was still around or maybe he had just left… with her car. She sprung up the bed and ran outside. For a moment there, her heartbeats almost made her deaf. But there was no need for that: the car was there and looking towards the reception, she saw Gordon waving at her and telling her to come. She raised her hand to indicate she had heard.
After putting on her shoes, she walked to where Gordon was and realized here was a small dining room, with a few tables, by the reception. The lights must have been turned off the previous night because she hadn’t seen it. The pimples boy was there and it was him who served them as a waiter. They had orange juice and black coffee and lots of bread with butter and jam and also some scrambled eggs. The quality was not the one of a five star hotel but it certainly wasn’t bad at all for a desert motel.
Serena and Gordon chatted all the way through breakfast, starting the conversation where they had left it the previous night. They talked about all the creatures they had seen and also about their journeys and what they were planning for life. Gordon confessed that he still wanted to roam the desert and showed Serena a bag the boy had gave Gordon as a gift. He only had two big bottles of water inside and an old map. Then, he asked Serena for a one last favor before parting ways.
That afternoon, they both penetrated even more into the desert. Serena took, on Gordon’s suggestion, an alternate road, which went straight into a national park. The small man told her he had some business to do there, as if it was an office building or something of the sorts. Once they started seeing more hills and rock formations, they stopped the car. She got out and took some pictures as Gordon looked all around, mumbling. He finally choose to walk to a far away mountain, which he said would have a great view over the whole desert and he could do whatever he was he wanted to do.
They bid farewell with a very peculiar hug and a smile and then parted ways. As she went into the car, Serena saw the little man walking very fast towards the mountain he had chosen. Secretly, she admired him for his sense of adventure and because he seemed to know more about life than her.
After an hour of driving, before she hit the main road, she stopped the car and looked up to the first few stars of the night. And then laughed. It was strange how funny she had thought Gordon was, considering she was the one who had arrived to this planet only a couple of years ago. She was the “new” girl in town. Maybe he looked like a small green man but she had seen some of the real ones and they much less pleasant and adventurous.