Sunday, 14 November 2010
The haze hides the distant hills. All she can see is brown dust flecked with spindly green. No shade. No running water. The temperature is getting higher. Soon be midday. The horse is wheezing, collapsed, not yet dead. It won't be long. It gave out from under her not thirty minutes ago and she has spent the time since wondering if she can revive it somehow. She should put it out of its misery but she cannot face being alone. She unrolls the blanket and uses her rifle and a couple of twisted branches to create a shade. It does not feel like it helps unless a part of her strays from its protection. The sun is becoming hotter. She had three canteens of water and a promise from the old man that there was more to be found. Now there is only a trickle of water left. The creek bed was where he said but bone dry. No way back. Forwards, the same. Dry, dead. No one would follow, no one was waiting for her, except those she means to kill. No wind, no whisper of a breeze. Nothing except the buzz of hidden chitinous life and a dying horse pleading with her for death. She stands up, frowning at the heat and light, pulls her knife and cuts the horse's throat. She curses, scrabbling through her pack for her pots, pulling them out to catch the blood as it trickles. It is sticky, viscous. From nowhere flies starts to appear. More cursing. She retreats back to the shade. Waiting until nightfall. Until it cools and she can think about moving on. No other choice.