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Wild Atlas

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A sigh escaped the girls lips as she gazed out the window, it was smeared in dirt and dead bugs but nonetheless the view was beautiful. With her chin propped up on her balled up hand, Claire let herself get lost in the view. Marrakech had not been her favorite place, not at all. The sellers would grab you, trying to get you into their shops. Old ladies would try and draw with henna on your hand then demand a lot of money for it. And honestly the men were all pigs, cat calling from every corner even if you were covered up. Even the salesman cat called! It was disgusting! How could women fall for that? How the heck did some of her own classmates fall for that? Buying jewelry for far more than it was worth because a salesman said that it would look cute on them? Claire honestly couldn’t believe it.

The Atlas Mountains though? This was the experience Claire had been wanting while traveling to another country, not the completely touristy things. The bus would lurch from side to side and stop suddenly while letting other cars pass on the narrow street, but she didn’t mind that at all. The view was worth everything she had been through in these past few days. Mountains stretched across the sky to where you could no longer see them. She was surprised by the snowy peaks considering how hot out it was. The dirt that coated the ground was red, she had never seen red dirt before! It may have been just dirt, but it was beautiful nonetheless.

While in the midst of her thoughts, the bus suddenly stopped, her face almost taking impact on the seat in front of her. They were dangerously close to the edge but the driver didn’t seem to care. He had probably driven these roads a thousand times so what was there to worry about? Well there was a lot to worry about, she thought to herself, there was tipping over the edge and rolling down the mountainside…

”I don’t know about that, Eli.” A boy named Toby sat across the row from her, his attention drawn to the kid named Eli sitting next to him. “I think it might just be a legend to draw in more tourists.”

A legend? She loved this sort of stuff! Claire didn’t get much time to research thanks to play rehearsals, but she loved hearing about the legends her own crazy town held. “I swear!” The thinner boy squeaked, soon getting flicked in the back of the head by Steve. “It’s true! Ask any Moroccan, they will confirm that the Wild Atlas exists!” Glancing up at their driver, Claire couldn’t tell if he was nodding his head in agreement or if the bumpiness of the road made him move. “It only comes out at night and it’s usually a blur!”

”Dude, can you knock it off with the whole it only comes out at night thing? You do understand we are camping out, right? Stop trying to freak us out.” Toby breathed, crossing his arms. “I don’t think it’s real.” Although something in his eyes told Claire that maybe he did think it was real… He was just trying to convince himself that it wasn’t.

”There’s a picture of him!” Eli exclaimed, now getting in Toby’s face a little while doing his best attempt to prove his point. “Let me airdrop it to you!”

”Oh!” Claire raised her hand, leaning across the seat next to her. “Send it to me too!”

”What?” Mary broke in, pushing Claire off her lap a bit. “Why would you want a picture of some beast? It’s probably not even impressive.”

”I don’t know.” She shrugged in return, her shoulders giving a couple of bounces. Her phone went off along with almost all the other phones on the bus; the picture being delivered. Opening it immediately, her eyes bore into it. Thankfully it looked exactly like the Bigfoot photo that had been thrown everywhere on the internet. In the middle of the photograph a zoomed in circle was made of the tiny figure standing in the shadows. It looked to bulky and rigid to be a man, maybe horns sprouting from the top of its head. Teeth could be clearly seen thanks to the moonlight; which they were huge teeth. Other than that, the blurry photo didn’t show much else.

”And Toby is right!” Eli broke her oddly intrigued concentration on the photo. “We should be scared! We are camping out! In the middle of nowhere! This thing could be dangerous!”

”I don’t see how,” Mary gestured at her phone “this, could be dangerous. It looks like a blob. It’s probably just a man. This is nothing.” The girl next to her turned her screen off, but Claire knew that this photo didn’t look like nothing.

She couldn’t help but think no one was taking Eli’s warnings seriously, she felt a bit bad for the kid. There could actually be a beast out there and it wasn’t like they had internet to help them if needed. Plus, even if they did, they were hours out in the middle of nowhere. It would be too late for anyone to help them if they really needed it. With yet another sigh, the girl decided to turn off her phone and look out the window once more while listening to Toby and Eli argue in the background. At least watching the mountains made time go by a little faster, hopefully they would arrive soon.

Something flashed before her eye, her body immediately stiffened as she sat up a little straighter to look over the steep edge that they were driving far too close to. The car was moving too fast, Claire twisted her body to face the back of her seat, her eyes staring from window to window at what she thought she just saw. Something had blurred from her sight, something standing under a small tree in the middle of a almost dead field in the middle of nowhere. She could no longer see it, but Claire knew something was there.

”Girl!” Mary cried, grabbing Claire by the back of her jacket and pulling her down. “You need to sit in your seat correctly! It’s dangerous to do those kinds of stunts while we are on such a thin road!”

It took a second or two for Claire to process the others words, but she slowly sat back in her seat like a normal human. “Yeah.” She mumbled. “It’s dangerous.”