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The cold desert wind cuts like a well-honed razor as it whips between cacti and sand dunes. It carries the sharp smell of ozone with it through the sand wastes as the heat lightning zig zags across the rumbling sky, spelling out cryptic glyphs and eldritch letters in some long forgotten tongue.

There is no rain. There is never rain in the sand wastes. Only the constantly rumbling clouds and the sharp stabs of light that turn the blasted desert landscape momentarily into a searing white vista.

In the distance, below the ever-rolling thunder, a coyote howls. Its lonely song ululates through the valley, soon joined by another, more savage call. A babbling cry of terror and madness crawls over the shifting sands as a ragged form appears over a dune. It might be a man, or what may have once been a man, but it is a wild thing now, half naked and covered with long, shaggy fur and blind eyes that see the vast infinite echoes of time.

It staggers forward beneath the violent sky and stumbles towards a looming cactus, stooped and twisted in the desert waste. The creature regards the cactus warily, as though it were a savage creature that might spring its trap any moment. Suddenly there is a glint of metal, a flash of lightning illuminates the rusted, dull clippers that appear almost magically in the figure’s hand.

It leans in towards the cactus carefully, grunting and moaning under the constant roaring of thunder. Slowly it snips one long thorn from the cactus.

The cactus does not move.

Emboldened, the figure continues. Its once shaky hands take on a semblance of calm as it steadily trims the chaotic spines on the cactus’s surface, shearing them all evenly to a neat, uniform length.

Suddenly one hand slips, and a spine pierces a finger. The creature almost seems not to notice at first, but then a small drop of crimson liquid falls onto the dry desert sand and its eyes focus on the bleeding digit.

Its scream, primal and deep resounds in the momentary stillness between thunderclaps. It rages in betrayal at the cactus, shaking its arms and threatening it with wild gesticulations. Finally it plunges the scissors deep into green flesh of the plant. Viscous saps oozes from the wound as it stabs again, slicing through the trunk of the cactus and hacking at its limbs. In a few moments, the plant is reduced to slimy chunks of pulp and thorns.

The figure falls to its knees, panting with exertion. For a long while all is still. Even the lightning holds its breath.

Finally, the pathetic creature staggers back to its feet.

“P… p… perfect…” it mutters, barely audibly, “Perfect… perfect…”

As it stumbles away towards the horizon it repeats the word over and over, like a mournful mantra of regret and shame. The creature hauls itself along, continuing in its sysiphean task; its never-ending torment. In a few minutes, it disappears over the sand dunes once more.

The clouds roll through.

The lightning flashes.

The cactus bleeds.

Somewhere, somehow, Telly the barber screams, and there is no one - no thing - that can help him.