Title: A Stockman Down.

White hot pop rivets of pain. Rip through Jess’s spine rattled muscles. He struggles to brace himself. The sleek Rifle Stock drags its blistering weight against his sinewy shoulder.   It jolts. His flesh recoils, beneath the slamming punch. Like a sizzling Branding Iron. Its bruising imprint sears into the sweat drenched cheek bone, pressed hard against its side. The explosive crack violates his ear drums. It shatters the shimmering silence of heat scorched air. Gun- powder, weaves its bony fingers deep into his dehydrated throat. His lungs sear with its sweet, sour, intoxicating fumes.  His tear stung eyes linger on the barrels beaded tip. The blistering bite of the heat tormented iron scorches his cringing hands. His finger, still welded on the trigger, slowly releases its lethal hold. He heaves the weapon aside.

 Jess watches the red river of Bella’s life, as it seeps slowly into the thirsty dust. His Heart wrenches at the pitiful sight. She would become another fleshless carcass, to litter across the exposed barren land. A shimmering brittle frame, gutless, skinned.  Roasted and basted with dust and cracked Earth. Her blood would stain the earth for many months to come.

His knee joints fail. Absorb the crunch of bleach weary rocks. He joins his rifle in the panting dust. The Sun tortured earth, radiates. It stings fragile flesh. Searches beneath his sweat stained, cotton shirt, and fries into his ribs. Dazed. His delusional mind hovers. Images rapidly discharge. Shoot through his desiccating thoughts. Jess relives the tragedy that bought them here.  ….

Bella galloped. Her iron clad hoof broke deep into the splintered earth. Devoured, it snapped. Her agonised cry blazed. It echoed, deep inside his head.  They came down. Hard! Unforgiving, the arid earth opened its sweltering arms. It welcomed them, into its hot-plate of rock spewed hell. Greedily, the fractured earth swallowed them. Horse, rider, blood and dust, mingled. An absurd, ballistic convulsion of bone shattered agony. ….Jess slept.

Ghostly whispers of retarded night air slither silently from the valley floor. To be seized in a furnace like fist, and instantly evaporate. Thud! Thud! Thud! Helicopter heart beats throb in the early light. Its pulse invades Jess’s paralysed nerves. Thud! Thud! Thud! A deep throated voice drifts into his ears.” It’s Ok. We’ve gotcha Mate. It’s time to go home”!