The sun had been high in the sky when he’d started walking.
It had not made much of a move towards any horizon in all the time since then, instead passing a lazy circuit overhead, moving just enough that he could be sure it was moving, that time was passing in the midst of the single endless day.
The landscape was also not quite unchanging. The dusty plain was very flat and extended past the horizon in every direction, but as he walked landmarks did eventually come into view… a rock, a stubby little tree, a wooden post.
The first time he saw an indistinct shape rising up in the distance, he’d grown excited… and more excited still when it came into focus tall and narrow, like the shape of a man. He’d been slightly disappointed to find out it was a rough pillar of stone about five feet tall, but only slightly. Until he’d spotted it, he’d wondered if he was walking in circles, or if the whole plain was really one tiny plot of dirt that repeated over and over again. Finding that first little bit of variation gave him hope, hope that he was getting somewhere, that he was going somewhere, that the place in which he’d found himself was a real place… that there might be someone else in it, somewhere.
So he’d trudged on. He knew neither hunger nor thirst in his new body, nor real fatigue… when he walked at more than a moderate pace he felt the strain and had to slow down, but he never grew so tired that he had to stop and rest. He could walk forever, it seemed.
He kept an eye out for anything that stood out in the distance and veered towards it. What he was really looking for was anything that moved, of course, or anything that showed signs of human use or human habitation. With each aberrant item he spotted, he felt somewhat less hopeful but no less disappointed.
He’d thought of himself as a loner, during his life… he’d always felt he got on just fine in his own company. If he could be sure that he was alone in the desert, he was certain that he wouldn’t mind so much, but in the infinite expanse there was always the chance that he might encounter someone, he might find companionship for a moment or an eternity, he might find a friend or a lover or even an enemy, someone to give him a reason to keep going or to stop, someone to help him make some kind of sense of his new existence.
Time passed… rather a lot of it, in fact. Nothing of substance changed.
He walked on, alone.
Sartre had been wrong. Hell wasn’t other people, after all.