A story about a man who gets in to deep.
The sun blazed as Niall Rogers stepped out of his immaculate steel Winnebago onto the rough, harsh landscape of the Nevadan soil, his dark cowboy boots making a strong imprint. He had been here too long now, and the place carried distant echoes of his once-perfect life with his wife and two children, both of whom were long gone into the big, wide world. His wife of 23 years had recently passed away, leaving him alone with his 14-year-old St Bernard, Sandy, who, until recently had always, without fail, been there to support him.
She was getting very old in his mind, and he could see that every day was a challenge for her. He sat down on one of his half wood-half canvas chairs, made by his son as a leaving gift when he turned 18. He clasped a brandy glass in his weather-beaten hand and just listened. He never listened to anything in particular, he just listened to whatever sounds the insects and the tiny grains of muddy sand chose to make. Some birds were flying aimlessly overhead, squawking noisily amongst themselves. How wonderful it would be to be able to fly, he thought, sipping the golden-brown drink with a gentle slur. At 69, life seemed a great deal of effort for him, as his life had mostly been hard work looking after land and farming, and all he had to show for it was a Winnebago and an old-style Ford pickup. The reeds at the end of his ‘garden’ – a badly fenced-off area – were rustling against the breeze. Or so he thought. For now, though, things were fine for him. He was happy, safe, contented, and had a drink.
The reeds rustled.
The sand rolled.
Two hours later, it was the harsh, loud rustle of the reeds that woke him. His brandy glass was tipped over on the ground and the sun had long since retreated. He got up stiffly and hobbled through the door of his Winnebago, switched on his ancient television and settled down in a beaten up armchair to watch the news. He had the volume up so high that he did not notice the white figure moving across his garden, nor did he notice the scurrying of animals moving away from it. There was a dim in volume and Niall heard what he thought were faint footsteps coming from outside. He got up painfully and clicked open a little Tupperware box which contained a black pistol. He removed the gun, checked it was loaded and opened the door carefully, so as not to make a sound. He stepped out into the cool evening breeze, step by step, step by step. At first, he heard nothing. He stood and gazed suspiciously ate his compound, eyeing every surface and every escape route. He looked right, up at the sandy, dirty track that stretched as far as the eye could possibly see, but noticed nothing unusual. The animals were as quiet as they usually were; no
unusual vehicles were on the road. He heard a scurry and a shriek and saw a small mammal race past his Winnebago, obviously frightened and alert. He clicked the safety of the gun, so it was armed and live, and crept to the side of the caravan. He slid along the smooth metal side until he reached the end, then stopped, swallowed, closed his eyes and braced himself. He took the decision and ran around the side, gun at the ready. Suddenly, he was thrown to the floor. His gun hit the ground and fired in the direction of the stream, but Niall didn’t care. He was picked up and thrown again. This time, he landed on his stomach and winded himself, leaving him incapable of movement and breathing. He watched the sky as his skin was ripped from his bones and savagely devoured by a creature unseen to the human eye. He screamed, screamed like he did not know was possible. The sky was the last thing he ever saw.