The paper crinkled in the wind as it was raised up, a beam of warm, still sunlight creeping through the tears. Zachariah squinted, with his open eye he traced over the coloured lines and roads, unable to distinguish between new, correct paths and the old, half-erased ones. He nodded, speaking as if trying to convince himself,
“There should be a coast here.”
He lowered the map, locking eyes with Sethory standing some metres in front of him, whose eyes were wide with bubbling anger. He tightened his lips and waved his hands above him in frustration.
“What?” he spat. Zachariah cleared his throat, and spoke in the tone of a wizard trying to make something appear in front of him,
“Here, there should be a coast.”
They stood in the centre of a large field, gentle lolling up and down over crests and dips, Corn and grain stretched as far as the eye could see, spats of trees and bushes waving gently in the mild breeze that lessened the heat of the sun. Still, sweat dripped down from Sethory’s forehead, heaving his shoulders so the heavy rucksack that peaked above his head rose up and down in shudders.
“I have had it!” he roared, causing some anxious birds to take their leave skywards.
“We are going – “
“I have fucking had it!”
“We’re done, Zach! I am done with you!”
Zach dropped the map to his side, the various folds and sections taped on at random angles flopped out, brushing against the tall grass. He threw up his free hand, open in question,
“Well what do you want me to do? Make a coast? We just need to – have a fresh start, then we can – ”
“A fresh start?”
“No-one else is making this map, Seth! I never said it would be easy!”
“That is exactly what you said,” Sethory jabbed his finger in Zach’s direction. “And you fucking know it.”
“We just need to retrace our steps.” Zach said, slowly. “We’re the only ones daring enough to attempt to map this planet, Seth. Just imagine what glories will be in store for us!”
“ What the hell is wrong with you? Where there were lakes, you said there would be a castle, and where you said there were lakes, there were forests, or deserts, you put roads through clouds, and land has been swept away by fires, even though you swear there were meant to be fucking cities! Either you are the worst cartographer in existence, or this planet really does not want to be mapped.”
“Think of all the people we could help, open up trade and commerce, our names will be in history books, “The First World Map of Glamu!”
“I don’t care! I don’t give a shit about maps! It’s impossible to figure out where everything is, why can’t we just – look at things in the distance and go ‘Fuckin’ A, there’s a castle, I’ll just live around here, cos I’m not a muppet who likes to wander into the arse-end of nowhere where I’ll obviously die, because no-one has lived here before!”
Zachariah nodded, narrowing his eyes dismissively, “I get it, you want to pack it in cos it’s getting tough, after all we’ve been through, everything we’ve seen, all the people we’ve discovered.”
Seth pointed energetically with every syllable, “It’s day three! And we discovered a rabbit, moron, it’s already been discovered. By the person who discovered rabbits!”
“You are intimidated by greatness, my friend. Our world is a wild, untameable beast. I’m sorry for wanting a little logic, a bit of continuity, some method to the madness.” Zach shrugged, flapping up the fabric of the map, Seth’s dumbfounded expression appearing in a neat round hole.
“Fuck you. I’m going home. Putting some soup on.”
He stormed off the way they came, not hearing the faint but unmistakable lap of waves against a small rocky beach from over the steep crest in the hill just a way over.