A desert spirit rises, an airy geiser refracting off moonlight like a distant mirage in a day’s scorching heat. Materializing out of nothing, not making a sound, the sand withers as the djinn takes shape. Outlines of footprints where none were before sink and form depressions. As the full moon slips behind clouds, elements fuse: water is pulled up with the ascending entity, crystallized earth — surface sand — adheres to droplets, cold air sneaks in between and around the misshapen mold and erodes, sculpts the being into tonight’s identity, and lastly, heartfire that quickens the pulse, sparks the eyes and adds color to the now fully alive human body. The djinn’s toes and soles are the last parts to feel the heated tingle of reanimation.

The musical clink of anklets and bracelets made of tiny sea shells carries far out into the night, across rippled dunes, the shiny shells glint out from under the folds of an off-white gauzy robe, signaling the shapeshifter is on the move.

The creature’s red ochre, jade and hemp-colored tatoos stretch and contract with its movement, hieroglyphic shapes speak superimposed over the underlying onyx script.

The moon inside a clouded aperature beams down like a lighthouse from antiquity mirroring and projecting out its internal flame.

The djinn with thumb and forefinger lifts translucent strings to reveal a lapis lazuli pendant, its bright blue veined with clean, sparkling stone and speckled with the most perfect imperfections. In the moonlight the veins are illuminated like track lighting and the lighter grains of blue sand are areas of interest: a rounded nighttime map.

Eyes take in the brightest pathways and catch on one dot and one vein leading right past it.

The djinn prepares for flight with hauntingly slow moves: arms flow with air currents, feet slide in crescent moons to each side and the bracelets and anklets break the silence in the deathly still air. Hips sway, a waist twists, and the robe billows and snaps, disturbing surrounding sand. What starts out as slight shifts and a small whirlwind from the dancing figure’s motions generates a large sandstorm.

In an updraft, this elemental takes off and after skating the spiral ramped staircase, the fiery monster crouches and rides the ever-changing uppermost steppe of the meteorological wonder.

It takes hours to fly over the barren landscape, and the only interruptions to break the travel trance are occasional rocks that jut up, oases that infrequently bloom, and buried mounds of civilizations that have succumbed to nature’s onslaught.

Eventually, the river comes into sight, although it takes repeated focused looks to confirm. It is cloaked in predawn mist, dew coating the vegetation at its edges, all the dim light reflecting off and creating a smokey haze.

The quest for this vein complete, the djinn jumps from the sandstorm and uses the river’s steamy mist as a mode of transport. The sandstorm dies and settles but not until after it has wrecked havoc on nearby populations, its masked residents at a standstill, questioning how the large storm came out of seemingly nowhere.

Partially hidden in fog, blending in with robed sails, the djinn glides over slate blue waters, new facets of the amulet highlighted. The lines of reeded shores and adjacent, angular red brown rocks are natural jots and cursives to the cyphered body art.
The progress excites, accelerates the traveler’s heartbeat.

As the rising sun burns off the early morning moisture, the djinn goes offcourse to rest in a dark cave offshore.

The shaded relief is permeated with an ancient chill. A much older presence awakens. The shock widens black-rimmed eyes. Petrified, a more aware heart pounds, racing faster, pumping lifeblood into a once-sleeping goddess. Out of nervous habit, knuckles crack and torches light.

Painted walls flicker and she winks into existence.

Patrons wait in line in the rain. Some under cover, others getting soaked refusing to lose their place to enter a club where the unexpected inevitably happens on any given night.

The dull thumps of bass escaping from inside come alive in ear drums. Muted grooves excite impatient twitches into impromptu jam sessions, feet and fingers tap, shoulders and hips sway and heads nod.

One person looks up and sees droplets stream down creating a halo effect around the street lights.

A shiver tickles her upper back into her neck and evaporates out of the crown of her head as she notices the haloes wax and wane one after the other as a ghost approaches. Cautiously observant, she only moves her eyes as the surge passes and bursts into the entrance.

Inside, on the nearly empty dance floor, ambient smoke scented like coconut and amber, fades the spurts of layered greens, blues, yellows, reds and purples. Mirrors on the walls are drooping portraits of lethargic, apathetic zombies lulled into a stupor by the din of noise, spreading rumors, mixed spirits, incoherent ogling and numbing inhibitions.

In private areas tables are lit with floating white lotus candles, a crisp fragrance floats up from each centerpiece.

Behind one column offstage a woman wrapped in midnight blue carefully watches the scene.
She comes out of hiding peering at each of the five DJs — tilting her head up at the one hanging from the ceiling she arches her long neck to an underlying harmony. Then, to another in the balcony her torso wavering to the fluctuating higher and lower notes. She twists to focus on the one on center stage, and later slides to the side and stares at the headphoned mixer in the crowd. The DJ who’s in charge of cuing up the next piece she saves for last.

Everyone mingling in close proximity are oblivious to her presence but as she makes a beeline to the dancefloor people move aside. She parts the sea of ignorance, steps on the glassy surface, makes eye contact with the DJ below, and with a flick of her wrists all the DJs’ ears go deaf then ring. They adjust settings just as the next song interlaces with the previous. A switch has been flipped.

The crowd realizes something has changed but are unsure of exactly what. The next song’s rhythm is more pronounced and the percussion cuts deep. The DJs exchange glances at this never heard before track. Ribbons stream onstage as the music’s synesthetic resonance awakens the crowd like a siren’s call.

The fog lifts and like a speaker wire plugged in more securely, clarity of sound comes into sharp focus. Hearts strum, partners lean into the beat, heads spin, and as joints and limbs gyroscope, soles press into the raised platform. Empathic slides trigger prismatic holograms. Crystal clear forms project up from honeycombed tiles. Each touching worldview is a cause electrified, leaving a lasting cue.

Empathic Slide