Marian Wood: Strangers in the Sahara Desert

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Strangers in the Sahara Desert

Marian Wood

Sahara Desert

I’d always wanted to explore the Sahara Desert. For some reason, never-ending sand and dry heat had always appealed to me. I had agonised and planned for this trip for years. Meeting Frank had never been part of my agenda.

After my hectic planning, I then got myself lost in London Gatwick. I’ve never had the best sense of direction, so finding the right gate for the flight to Morocco proved beyond me. On my final confused circuit of the airport, the tall man with the long dark ponytail struck me as unusual. I’m sure the streaks of eyeliner made me look a bit crazy, but it meant that he was concerned enough to stop and offer help.

Finally, we found the gate, and on boarding the plane., I learnt that he had dreamt about the Sahara too.

So, having set out on a one-person expedition, we were now on a two-man mission. This was my trip of a lifetime and now I had company, and he wasn’t bad looking either. However, was sightseeing in the desert with a stranger really a wise idea?

Camels and sand

Arriving to camels, sand, and heat, yellow stretched out in front of me for miles. Ensuring we had enough water was a task. Trying to make sure that we had enough to stay hydrated was essential.

Excitement ran through me, this was it, I was about to ride a camel across the desert and explore. A dream fulfilled but this was not how I had expected it. Listening to Frank singing about ‘riding across the desert on a horse with no name,’ I was sure that meeting him had been a mistake.

His face and body were attractive, but why did he insist on singing?

Approaching the sand pyramids, we heard a scream. Glancing over at Frank, he had stopped and was looking at me. What now? In the middle of the Sahara with two camels and a stranger, this sounded like a disaster.


Lorna Williams had been looking forward to her Moroccan holiday. The man she met in the hotel bar was attractive and appeared genuine. After a few drinks and agreeing to go to his room, she had woken to sand. Screaming, she knew no one could hear her, and through the yellow fog she could see bodies.

Bodies in the middle of the Sahara Desert was not a good sign. Screaming now turning into persistent shouting in desperation. Scared of dying like the others, she tried to stand up. Seeing the knots around her legs, Lorna could see her life flashing past her. Struggling to scream, she couldn’t give up.

Sand pyramid

Kicking the camels towards the pyramid, I felt sick. Was I about to be screaming too?

“Jane, stay here.”

“No way, I’m coming.”

“This could be dangerous.”

“Yes, but I’m not waiting here.”

Ignoring Frank, I nudged my camel towards the sand pyramid. As Frank followed, I wondered what we were about to find. With the heat burning down like a raging fire, my throat was dry. I was desperate for water, but I could hear the screaming, clearer now as the pyramid got closer.


With the surrounding bodies like statues, she was desperate to make noise. Any water Lorna had, was finished hours ago. This was it, she was going to die. Finally, exhausted and thirsty, she closed her eyes to the world and lay down, fully drained.


Jumping off the camels, everything was quiet. Looking at Frank, I was shaking. What were we doing? We weren’t Bonnie and Clyde, and certainly not heroes.

Walking into the pyramid, shock swept over me like a tidal wave. Frank ran back to his camel for a flare and to find help. Checking for life, there were ten here in total. Someone had been busy. Hearing a faint sound, I listened. Someone had been screaming, they had to still be here.

Seeing movement, I realised that the blonde in the corner was alive. Rushing over, I found my water in my backpack and offered it to her. Relieved when she drank, I willed Frank to hurry up. Feeling uncomfortable, what could I say? ‘Are you okay?’ was an obviously stupid question.


A while later I heard the rumbling of engines, help on its way. Feeling someone’s arms around my shoulders, I was numb. Watching two sheiks with medical supplies as they sat her up, I heard the word “stranger.”

I could have ended up here too. Frank was also a stranger, but I was glad that he was with me. Watching him deal with the sheiks and now the police taping off the area, he was in control, whereas I was feeling awkward and my head was hurting with crazy thoughts.

When you have dreams of exploring the Sahara Desert, the last thing you expect is to find a pyramid full of dead people. You also don’t plan on meeting a handsome stranger at the airport, who can then deal with an emergency situation.

Later at the hotel, we learnt about the serial killer. These people had all been dumped one by one and abandoned in the heat to die. Frank and I had saved the woman’s life. We were heroes, and now the police had a good description of the killer.


A back-packing holiday with a difference. A single woman picked up by a stranger and then left for dead. The stuff of horror novels, Lorna knew that her life had nearly become a sad tragedy. She was saved by another woman who had also been picked up by a stranger. Lorna hoped that Frank was really as nice as he seemed and not like Stuart, or as she knew now, Peter, the serial killer maniac.


Meeting Frank had changed the course of my Sahara break. Had I not met him at the airport, we wouldn’t have found Lorna. We also wouldn’t be sitting here months later, cuddling, watching Netflix. Our holiday and meeting will be something that keeps being retold. I’m sure a more exciting story than most, and thankfully ending with the serial killer in prison for many years, and Lorna happily safe and well.

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