The middle of nowhere

In the Alabama Hills, California 2016. Photo by Tanya Clarke

In the Alabama Hills, California 2016. Photo by Tanya Clarke

Writing Prompt No. 77

The wind gathered in the distance calling up the ghosts from a golden age.

Through the flat desert, a warm breeze blew around their faces. The horses flicked their tails. Flies buzzed in circles around the piles of shit on the ground. No one was used to the heat. They had arrived here from a cooler place. A place where when clouds formed rain was imminent. Here the blue sky was relentless. A rangy dog wandered up to the camp looking for pieces of food to feed its family. The fire was just beginning to burn. It would be a while before the flames subsided and the wood was hot enough to cook meat.

The oldest kicked out at the dog catching it by the rump. The dog cowered, lifting its lip in a snarl. But no snarl came. It backed away to a safe distance where it lay down to watch for a moment of opportunity.

“Not far to go now,” he said. “Not far at all.”

The youngest one twirled a pistol around his forefinger and slipped it into his holster.

“Wind’s up,” he said.

“The spirits will ride the horses. We need to tie ‘em up.” The old man sucked on his pipe.

The youngest nodded and looped a rope around and around his hand.

“They real?” he said.

“They’re real alright,” said the old man squinting into the horizon.

Another took off his hat and fanned away the flies. He took a leg of meat from a rough sack and began to cut at it with a knife.

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