No Country For Live Men (496 words)

The shot rings out across the valley, sending the reluctant vultures scattering away from the carrion feast. In all of his days as a lawman he has never seen such carnage. Bandits, coachmen, horses and what he assumed were gentlemen passengers of the elegant four horse carriage lay dead all around him. Something bad, something very, very bad has happened here and now it was down to him to clear it up.

Shielding his eyes from the intense glare he looked out towards the horizon, he still has a good few hours of daylight on his side. You didn't want to be out here alone after dusk.

"Why kill the horses?" he mutters to himself.

The loss of human life had stopped shocking him long ago but the suffering of animals cuts him right down to his soul.

With a heavy sigh he trudges towards the nearest body, lay face down in the unforgiving sand , with the toe of a boot the lawman gives it a nudge. "Better safe than sorry" he grumbles. The body doesn't respond, so the sheriff turns it over.

What he sees haunts him for the rest of his life, he isn't sure but he thinks it was one of the McFarland boys only it's hard to be sure when the face is missing. A cold shiver ran down the sheriff's spine, warm piss down his leg. Letting out a scream he tosses the body aside, turns away and empties his stomach, splashing his breakfast across his boots.

He takes a minute or two to compose himself. Convinces himself it was the vultures, it must have been the vultures. Forcing himself to forget the boy was lay face down. Once he has got a hold of himself he checks the next body, it too is mutilated beyond all recognition. Madness descends on the lawman, he zigzags across the morbid tableau checking each defiled body only to find the same result time and time again.

Exhausted he slumps against the side of the carriage, it creaks and groans from his weight and then another, lower, drawn out moan issues from within. Curiosity gets the better of him overriding his overwhelming urge to run as far away from all of this as possible. This flaw is what has always made him so damn good at his job, he takes pride in it.

It was with this stubborn pride that he opens the carriage door and immediately regrets doing so. A nightmarish vision of beauty falls out of the carriage onto him. Half of her face has been chewed off; her remaining eye is full of bloodlust. Hands claw at him, gouging his flesh. Her lips are missing but her blood stained mouth gnashes at him desperately trying to feed from him.

The last thing the Sheriff sees is what's left of the McFarland boy crawling blindly towards him, the last thing he hears are his own deafening screams as his flesh is torn asunder.

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