Email 26

Subject:  Re: Noise in pack
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At the time, I had no idea.  I was tired, and I thought perhaps something in the pack had shifted.  You know how your mind plays tricks on you when you’re tired?  But later, when I was unpacking my bag, I noticed that the top had come loose from the box holding my shell.

By the time I had finished my tea, the sky was dark.  I stretched out on my blanket and looked at the stars.  All I could hear was the drone of insects and the call of some far-away night bird.  I quickly fell asleep.

Sometime later–I’m not sure how much later–I awakened.  I had used my pack for a pillow and, to my surprise, the shell–which I had slipped back inside the pack for safekeeping–was moving.  Not much.  Just a gentle vibration.

I lifted my head and stared at my pack.  That’s when I heard the sound.  A hoarse cough.  Silence.  Then another cough.

Turning my head, I stared at the silvery brightness of moonlit sand and rock.  The creature was very close.  It seemed to be drinking from the spring.  Slowly, I reached for my camera.

In the darkness, I twisted the lens barrel, changing the setting to telephoto.  Then I aimed my camera toward the spring.

Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of movement.  The creature lifted its head and turned to stare at me.  I blinked in surprise.  Then, focusing on its head, I quickly pressed the shutter release.  The flash blazed and lit up the night.

The startled animal flinched.  “Whoof!” it coughed as it lumbered off into the darkness.  It didn’t look anything like I’d expected.  But, as the stories all said, this was no ordinary camel.

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