The Heaven Plane

Another extract from my favorite book: Emprise. Hit “play,” then read. Since you haven’t read the book, Richie will set the mood for you.

The sand had long-since turned to glass. At some distant point, here in the place beyond time, the hills and valleys of desert sand had been heated to above 1,700 degrees Celsius, and had melted, cooled, then crystallized into amorphous fragments of light-diffracting beauty. Uncountable eons weathered the sharp edges, leaving only minute beads of glass. The gleaming sand was loose here in the high dunes and dozens of meters deep; though it crunched underfoot, the glass did not break. The desert was breezy: warm, dry, and pleasant, carrying with it a vague smell of lemons. As zephyrs whispered and gusted, the small glass beads tinkled gently, the desert itself chiming in a gentle song. Sahila, Robin, Charlie, and Gabrielle marched in single file, with Gabrielle in the lead. She was dressed in white, her long, ash-blond hair billowing behind her. She wore a diaphanous white scarf that streamed behind her in the warm wind as though she were a perfect, ivory kite with a gossamer tail. Charlie walked behind her, trailing by ten feet, fifteen, thirty. With each foot of separation, the scarf grew, unfurling from Gabrielle’s neck until it formed an unlikely sail behind her forty feet long. Charlie, as did the two females behind him, wore dark, almost black sunglasses. The sunlight refracted from the glass beads of sand shimmered in a blinding kaleidoscope. The light danced against Gabrielle’s white outfit, breathing it to life with color.

“She’s been here before,” Robin whispered from behind him. “She certainly knew how to dress for the occasion.” Charlie nodded in agreement. Robin added, “It must get awfully boring always knowing what to expect.”

Charlie considered that as they continued a wordless march up and over the sea of glass dunes. Not long ago he would have argued the point. His former life, at least, had been predictable, if not happy. Since he had met Robin, however, life was seldom predictable: at times perfect, occasionally tragic, but always interesting. Yes, he decided, always knowing would indeed be boring. As they reached the peak of the high dunes, two hundred feet above a rocky outcropping, they stopped. The sun was low in the sky, casting long shadows. Here, in a well-worn path that cut through the dunes, the pebbled glass melted into a smooth surface that reflected the travelers marching above in a timeworn mirror.

Charlie removed his sunglasses and turned to Robin, whose eyes were wide with excitement. She was garbed in cloth of crimson silk. It wound around her body like a delicate blanket, and draped from her slender arms, with long hems lightly kissing her soft, sandaled feet. She fabricated the cloth into a hood that covered her hair, save one thick braid that curved like a scimitar across her brow. Her face was adorned with red ochre that covered her forehead, the bridge of her nose, and across each cheek. Her eyes were a color he had never seen, and for which he had no name. There was a power in her, an intensity in her gaze he found at once disconcerting and alluring. She was strong. She was afire.

She was home.

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