Tuesday, December 3, 2013


There were crows circling the corpse at dawn. It was cool in the desert, and the sun took some time to shake off the flat chill of the night. The highway stretched like a red ribbon across the valley, and the roadkill waved a grotesque paw in the thin air. In the foothills a shadow fell as something picked up on the scent and lifted its head. Food. The hyena’s neck fur bristled. 

On the other side of the valley a hawk drifted, allowing the sun’s rays to heat up the blood in its veins. It appeared to be lazy as it hovered on the light updraft, but if you looked closely, you could see its eyes scanning the horizon. Lifting a wing, it turned to the left as it saw a patch of something promising in the distance. A brief rasping scream announced its intentions to the sand and stubby bushes and the wind ruffled its feathers as it accelerated.

A rare wind swept through the valley lifting swirls of dust skywards, echoing asthmatically through the caves and boulders of the hills.

The crows scattered as they caught sight of the hawk jetting between the dust clouds, leaving the corpse in the pursuit of something less desirable. On the other side of the road, the hyena padded with intent across the pebbles, its tongue lolling to one side.

The hyena came to the side of the road. There were scents here which rolled off its nose incorrectly. The dank reek of diesel was faint but discernible. The hawk was closing in. Tighter circles in the air proved its tension as it flexed its talons slightly.

Metres apart, the beast from the hills and the surgeon of the skies caught each other’s eyes. An  orange glint of possessiveness flashed  across each one’s face and a charge of lightning in the distance signalled for the race to start.

Utterly focussed, they swept down on the roadkill whose obscenely acrobatic pose was shifting in the breeze. A gust and the briefest of clouds puffed skywards as a truck slammed into the scene, scattering hawk feathers and hyena fur in a colourful explosion, air horn blasting into the desert’s void.

The truck only shifted slightly as it slipped into the distance again, leaving the warm bodies of the creatures; enemies in life, united in death.

Two black spots appeared above them. The crows watched as the foreign truck barrelled away, leaving the desert to the locals again. We belong here the most, they seemed to say, as they cawed  their mocking laughter and fell to eating the impromptu feast.