After you come outta the woods, then there’s the scrub.  You got to be right good and careful in the scrub.  Them bushes will punch right on into you like a hot spike in a dog’s eye.  So just you be right good and careful, otherwise you’ll do yourself a harm just tryin to get IN the damn badlands, much less through them.

If you can make it through the scrub, you’ll be out in the desert.  Now, you got to remember that the desert ain’t quite like it used to be, though I s’pose you could say that about anythin, really.  It’s all gone dark out there, but if you’ll take my advice and verra strong recommendation, you won’t light up to try and see.  Lightin up in the desert’s a beacon, and there is just precisely nothin at ALL that you want seein your shiny ass askin to be eat up.

Now, you want to get out past the mountains, you said?  Well, now, that may not be quite the dumbest idea I’ve heard in my entire life, but it surely is close.  That means you got to get out to the canyon, so’s you can cross the Spine.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but you folks never listen the first time if a thing has sense, so I’ll say it again.  The Spine goes all the way around.  The canyon is the ONLY way through.  Miss the canyon, you’ll be huntin and searchin for a way to get past for the rest of your damn life, short though it may be.

Look up here a minute.  That’s the moon, there.  Now, you count you a one two three fingers over, and watch for that lovely little shiner that’s red in the wakin and blue in the dreamin.  You see it?  Got a good fix on it?  Keep your eye on that little shiner, and keep it just off to the left of in front of you.  Put it on your ten o’clock, and just walk straight on from here.  You’ve had a spot of good luck, runnin into me, and a spot of bad luck, since you’re about as far from where you’re going as you can get without actually turnin back into the woods.

There’s critters in the desert, and things that are real and will eat you and ain’t real but think they are.  ‘Ware them, kill them if you don’t have a choice, and don’t go huntin them, whatever ideas you dream up out there.  You hear me good, now.  Most of that ain’t real, and that of it that is you don’t want to tangle with.

Get yourself across the desert and to the mouth a the canyon, and the easy part’s done.  There’s a gate out that a way, and a man on it.  He looks like about ten shades of chewed up hell, and ain’t got no more manners than a badger in a burlap sack.  Tell him I sent you, and he’ll open up the gate for you.  Otherwise, you may be campin out there awhile before he heads back out onto the sand, goin huntin.  If he’s not there, there’s ways around that gate.  Find one.  Just don’t try it while he’s there, is all.  He’s got a bit of a temper on him.

I ain’t gonna do you the disservice of tryin to tell you how to walk the canyon.  It’s different every time, for every soul, and anythin I tell you will be worse than useless.  You’ll be too busy tryin to remember what I said to open your eyes and see.

On the other side of the canyon’s a sign, all wood and you probly can’t half read it by now.

Welcome to Flashback Country.

That’s where you’re goin.  If you’ll pardon me sayin, I’ve never met anybody who went there on purpose that had anythin good in mind.  Lots of people come in that way, seein the desert as someplace better, if they can make it through the canyon.

But it ain’t my place to question or judge, so here’s what you might wanna know.  It’s an ebb tide on that beach right now.  The dark water’s pulled right on back from the scree, and left all kinda everythin just layin there to be picked up.

You’ll have heard all kinds of stories about what you can find in that country when the water leaves its cargo behind.  Don’t pick nothin up.  As you love your life and the way of it, don’t pick nothin up.  They do not lie when they say some a those things are full of power and knowledge, but it ain’t worth it.  Only one in a great while has anythin worth havin buried in it, and the rest will cut you up bad enough that anythin you get will just make you stranger, not stronger.

There’s good livin, here in the woods.  Plenty to eat, plenty of shelter.  We even get sunlight out here again, from time to time.  You want my advice, you and your friend there make yourself a cozy place out here, and forget about trinkets and trash and all that nonsense.

But then, you folks never do listen to sense the first time.  If you make it back, I’ll be expectin payment.  You’ll give me the story of how you got there and back again, so as I can feed my tree, here.  You don’t make it back, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Don’t pick nothin up.  Don’t you never, not for no reason at ALL, pick nothin up.