We’d been gathering the dead for days, and the stink of a charnel house hung over the land.
We were exhausted from the work, but we knew it needed to be done. As we climbed the hill, prepared to bring out another harvest of corpses, a shout of surprise rang out and then stopped sharply.
There were three of us in the party, and we all came to a stop, listening. Occasionally we would find a wounded man, and we waited to hear if that was the case this time.
After several minutes, I knew it was not and volunteered to go and have a look.
Both men were from a different unit than my own and did not know my expertise in matters strange and unusual. The men told me they would rather the three of us go up together.
I shrugged and was directed to bring up the rear. I did so with a Colt in each hand.
When we reached the top, there was a pair of corpses and a puddle of bloody, dirty water. There was nothing out of the ordinary in the scene before us, and the corpses stank in the July heat.
The men chatted with each other, glanced at me, and then they told me to keep watch as they brought in the dead. Their eyes, I noticed, were focused on the gold wedding band on one corpse, and the pocket watch of the other. They whispered to one another, and I heard them speak of billfolds and money. Each glanced at me, then focused on the dead once more.
My eyes saw everything, yet I was not nearly as quick as I would have liked.
As the two men strode past the puddle, intent upon their salvage, the water erupted.
A long, snake-like creature appeared, its mouth open-wide. In a heartbeat, it snatched up one of the men by the waist, biting down hard enough to cause blood to explode from the man’s mouth. He went instantly limp, and I put a pair of shots into the creature’s brain, one of its eyes disappearing as the bullet passed through it.
Man and beast collapsed with a thud, leaving me alone with the dead man’s comrade.
He started to thank me, and I blew his brains out.
I don’t like thieves.
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