I woke, with a start, acknowledging the sensation of rain and small hail pelting my skin. I stood up, while shielding my eyes, only to find dizziness drove me back to my knees. My head was pounding and the surrounding corn stalks seemed to mock me, as I touched the open wound on the back of my head. The downpour of rain mixed with hail and pain was almost too much to endure.
Since I couldn’t stand, I began crawling in the mud. The corn stalks hindered my progress, and I knocked them down as I moved forward. After about twenty yards, I attempted to stand again. This time I succeeded in remaining on my feet, stumbled forward and tripped on a large obstacle in my path. I looked down and saw the mangled body of a young woman lying in the mud. Her long blonde hair was tangled, mud-spattered and her body was twisted in a grotesque position. Large chunks of flesh had been torn from her arms and legs. I bent down and put my finger on her neck, finding no pulse. She wore only torn panties and a mud spattered bra.
I kept moving as the rain intensified, overpowering the hail. As I pushed my way through the cornfield, I saw a large brown object about ten feet in front of me. I made my way to the spot and gasped upon discovering a dead horse. The animal’s legs were broken and twisted to one side. There were bite marks on the legs and a large caliber bullet hole just above its left eye.
My breath was ragged, and my head pulsated with shooting pains. I reached up to touch my scalp again, pulling back a handful of blood. The rain quickly washed it away, and I took comfort in knowing that it was cleansing my wound.
However, the comfort was short-lived. I discovered another sore spot, about six inches back from my right temple. It was a small round object, which felt like medal, and any contact only intensified the pain.
Just outside the cornfield, I fell to my knees and rolled on my back to rest, but the rain was merciless, thrashing on my body. I felt a chill and began shivering. My adrenaline had kept me from noticing the frigid air until now, and I huddled into a fetal position to compensate. It was then that I realized for the first time that I was naked.
The earth was spinning, and I threw up.
Darkness overcame me as I lost consciousness.
* * *
The coal-black alpha male coyote sensed helplessness as he approached the body lying motionless at the perimeter of the cornfield. His pack sat cautiously, fifty feet away. Their experiences with humans had been deadly and the leader bravely approached the prey. When he gave the signal, they would savagely feast with the alpha female first in line. Excitement was heard in their howling, and drool seeped from their open mouths.
The alpha male circled the body, his beady black eyes watching for movement. There was little food for days as the endless downpour ruined their hunting. This would be a welcome meal.
Seeing no movement, he raised his head and howled, signaling the pack that there was no danger. He glared at the body in anticipation of the choice meat, his fierce hunger encouraging him to proceed.
The alpha slowly moved forward, baring his teeth to tear at the flesh from the thighs.
Abruptly, a shot rang out. The bullet entered the right eye of the coyote and he fell dead on top of the motionless body. Seeing the alpha drop, the pack ran back into the cornfield to regroup. Leaderless, they were cowards.
The small figure in the yellow rain slicker walked forward with her Savage 110 rifle still in the shooting position. The shooter pulled back her hood, revealing long blonde hair pulled into a ponytail. She knew that coyotes were not easy to take down. Even though she used .220 Swift cartridges, she needed to confirm the kill. In this case, an additional kill shot was impossible because the animal was lying on top of the man’s body. She nudged it with the barrel of the rifle and spotted the lifeless stare in the animal’s eyes. She had never seen a black coyote in these parts of Texas, and she marveled at the beauty of the savage beast. She kicked it off of the body and put another shot in his head to make sure it was dead.
The girl knelt and put her fingers on the neck of the still naked body of the muscular man, observing a weak pulse. She didn’t notice any bites, but there was a wound on the back of his head. He was too big and heavy to carry, and she was hesitant in leaving him for fear that the coyotes would return.
She sat down and waited for her brother to come. She was sure that he heard the shots and would come running to see if she was okay.
“Blaze, Blaze,” he yelled.
“Over here Billy. Don’t worry I’m fine.”
Billy ran to her side.
“I need your help. Go get the big wheelbarrow and a couple of blankets. We’ve got an injured man here. He needs our help.”
“Is he like the other one?”
“No, this one is different. He’s handsome.”
* * *
The sight of the steel cage unnerved me when I opened my eyes. I was lying on a mattress dressed in old jeans and a T-shirt about three feet away from the cage. The enclosure was approximately seven feet wide and eight feet high. An old man with a white beard and long matted white hair stood inside, holding the bars and glaring at me. He grinned when I looked at him. His face was wrinkled, and his teeth were an odd shade of tan. There was a half eaten ham bone lying on the floor at his feet and a pan of water in the corner of the cage. A large pot with a lid was in the other corner, and I assumed that it was some sort of porta potty. The door to the cage was secured with a small rope. It looked frayed as if the old man had been gnawing on it.
I attempted to get up, but then I realized that ropes bound my hands and feet, and I didn’t have a clue what was going on. My head ached, and hunger pains racked my body.
“Help me!” I shouted. The old man cackled and spit at me.
Looking around the room, I noticed that other than the cage, the only additional object in the room was a worn and cracked black leather couch about three feet to my left. A bare light bulb hung over the center of the room. The paint on the walls was pealing and was formerly a light shade of grey, and the floor was a battered oak hardwood. The finish was worn off, and the boards had turned a decaying gray color. Oddly, it matched the walls.
The old man howled, fell to the floor and twisted into a fetal position.
A beautiful young girl entered the room. “What is that creature and where am I?”
“ He’s a real dangerous loon. He was passed out at the same place we found you. When we were trying to put him in the wheelbarrow, he came to and bit my brother. My brother Billy subdued him, and we locked him up.
“You must be very hungry,” she said. “We should feed you.”
She cut the ropes binding my feet and helped me up. My legs were weak and my knee’s buckled, and the girl gripped my arm and kept me from falling.
“Some food will give you strength,” she said.
We walked out of the room and entered a long hallway. The old man’s howl sounded like a wounded dying animal as we left the room.
“He’s a treacherous lunatic,” the girl said nonchalantly. “When the man comes to harvest the corn maybe he can take him off our hands. I’m tired of cleaning up after him.”
“What man?” I asked.
“We call him the Reaper man, and he can deal with that when he comes. You know he doesn’t allow us in the cornfield.” She looked at me. “We call him the Grim Reaper. Until the corn is ready for harvesting, only he and his daughter are allowed to go in. If we are to ever get out of here, we must do as he says.”
The conversation dumfounded me.
I wish I knew what in the hell was going on.
By Gary William Ramsey