Teeny, teeny tiny, so tiny that you can’t see them without a microscope, are the dust riders. Soaring effortlessly through the air, perfectly balanced on a mote of dust, a dust rider can be airborne for up to four hours. Braving puffs of wind, dangerous updrafts, and predatory insects of all kinds, the dust riders hunt for food for their families at home. No dust rider would ever go back without his gathering bag full, even though it means that many a dust rider has never returned at all. They are the strongest and most courageous warriors that exist.
Strongest of the strong and bravest of the brave was the dust rider Kandu. Kandu knew how to direct his dust mote straight into the air up to thirty feet high, he carried a food bag twice the size of any other dust rider (and filled it every day), and Kandu was the only dust rider to ever survive an encounter with the dreaded vacuum.
The day Kandu met the vacuum he was flying alone. Several other dust riders had started out with him, but one by one, they had been carried off in different directions by air currents. Kandu was used to traveling by himself because he would often go where no other dust rider could follow. Being the best is lonely, but Kandu loved the feel of the wind rushing past and the delicate balance of the dust beneath his feet. When a sudden downdraft plunged him to the ground, he reveled in the thrill of perfect control as he expertly brought the dust to a soft landing and crouched to wait for the next breeze.
The breeze never came. Instead, there was a loud noise, so loud that Kandu was completely knocked out for a second. By the time he came back to himself, that loudness was all around him, and the strongest wind he had ever felt was sucking him up, up, up into a dark place. The force of the wind was so great that Kandu knew there was no resisting it. Instead, he wisely relaxed and let himself be moved with the dust around him. It was hard to remain calm when he slammed into a wall and was instantly surrounded by so much dust that he could not breath. Kandu reminded himself that he was the master of dust. Dust would not be the death of him.
Pushing with all his might, he climbed through the dust to the top of the pile. More and more dust was being sucked in by the wind, so that Kandu was forced to keep climbing until he thought his strength would give out. Eventually, though, the wind and the noise stopped. No more dust blew toward Kandu. He clambered to the top of the last dust motes and collapsed, trembling with exhaustion. It was very dark.
Once he had recovered his strength, Kandu began to feel quite hopeful. He was a dust rider in a strange place surrounded by dust. All he needed was a little breeze, and he could ride wherever he chose. Kandu waited for a breath of air. None came. In that dark, suffocating place, no wind ever came except the strongest wind of all, and it was always only blowing inward. Kandu waited until he was sure that waiting would do no good. Then he began to feel fear.
No, thought Kandu, I must not fear. I am a dust rider. My whole life the dust has carried me on its back. If I must now carry the dust on my back, that is what I will do. Selecting the strongest mote of dust, Kandu lifted it onto his shoulders. Then he began to feel around for hand and footholds in the soft wall behind him.
Slowly, ever so slowly, Kandu climbed, carrying his dust mote with him. Many times, he feared that he would run out of strength before he reached the top, but he did not. At the top of the wall, Kandu found a long tunnel. He could see nothing, but he could feel a coolness in the tunnel that told him there was fresh air on the other end. Without hesitation, Kandu stepped into the tunnel. Instantly, he began to slide, down, down, down, completely out of control, but still remembering to cling to his dust mote. He could see light quickly approaching and then WHOOSH! he was out in the daylight again and landing on solid ground with less than his usual grace. Kandu was free.
In moments, he could feel a breeze approaching. Then Kandu was in the air again, riding the dust as if the whole adventure with the vacuum had never happened. Truly, he was the greatest dust rider who ever lived.