The end of the month came and went, and no Smith. Gil wasn’t concerned as he still had supplies enough to last another week to ten-days if need be.
Instead of wandering about though, he decided to stay close by, if the old man suddenly showed up. To while away his time, Gil sat on the porch or inside the shadow of the doorway reading.
Ten days had passed, and as he finished up the alternative history, “Aristopia: A Roman History of the New World,” written by a fellow named Castello Holford in 1895, a book Gil found dissatisfying, he understood he was not going to be able to wait any longer. He was going have to walk out of the desert and 80 miles to civilization.
He spent that night tidying up the shack and packing what necessities he felt he would need. Gil also filled two large lidded jars with water and stowed them in his rucksack for the journey ahead.
That night and for much of the next day, Gil slept. He planned to make the hike in the cooler hours of evening, nighttime and early morning, seeking shelter from the blaze of the late morning and afternoon sun. He had found a large piece of faded canvas to use as a make-shift tent if he were unable to find a bush or rock to find shade in.
Before shouldering his sack, Gil scrambled up the rocky slope to where he’d seen Blue Stone break the ridge. He stood looking out over a semi-flat expanse of sage, creosote and sand, but no where did he see the old Indian.
Even with more rest than normal, Gil felt exhausted simply thinking about the long hike. He’d walked lengthy distances before, especially in the Army, but never across such unforgiving land and for so many deadly miles.
Sighing, he picked the rucksack up, slipped his arms through the straps, and turning his back on the mine and what civilization it offered, started down the yellow-white, rutted road of hard packed sand. Gil figured that it would take him at least three days to finally reach the paved roadway.