Hot, dry, and dusty.
That was the only way to describe the hot griddle that passed for a roadway winding its way through the valley. The sun beat down mercilessly, causing heat waves to ripple and shimmer like rivers flowing upwards from the ground towards the sky.
A hawk circled high above the desert floor, riding the thermals. He peered down below, searching with his keen hawk-like (imagine that) vision, looking for a tasty morsel trying to hide under a rock or billowing bit of tumbleweed.
What was that? Movement?
He coasted lower. Then lower still, soaring and dipping, but coming ever closer to the speck traveling the road in little short bursts, scooting from bush to bush, rock to rock, speedy like a…a…roadrunner.
The hawk tucked his head to his breast and looked back the way the bird had come from. Sure enough. A mangy, fleabitten cur was in hot pursuit, tongue hanging out all pink and shiny, anticipation drooling from his eyes as the saliva dripped from his chin. He was maniacal. He hefted a large red cylinder under his front left forepaw. He was gaining…slowly, but he was gaining.
The hawk turned his attention back to the bird. It was moving more jerkily now, its movements not as fluid, not as…birdlike. Exhaustion and pain emanated from it in waves. His running became a little more jerky, a little more aimless, with every passing moment.
The roadrunner was tired. He’d foolishly let himself get caught in that damned coyote’s last trap, baited with birdseed and a buttload of Acme dynamite, and now he was tired, and in pain, and he knew he was at the end of his rope. He could hear the bastard drawing closer. Closer. He could almost feel the brute’s rancid breath on the back of his neck, ruffling his neck feathers. He closed his eyes and prayed.
The coyote could feel his prey’s desperation. It seeped through the air like an elixir, like a drug, and he was high on it, high on the roadrunner’s fear and pain. He was going to close the deal, close it now, it was finally within his grasp. He was going to murder that bird stumbling along in front of him.
The roadrunner stumbled. His claw caught on a root and he tumbled, head over heels, ass over beak-kettle, to land in a heap in the middle of the dusty, dry, rocky road. He closed his eyes, defeated at last. It was over, he knew it. The coyote knew it.
The coyote slowed his pace as he drew closer to the pathetic bundle of feathers piled haphazardly in the roadway. Success, he could taste it.
He slowed. He stopped. He loomed over the poor roadrunner collapsed on the desert floor. He paused, savoring the moment. Savoring his victory like a fine wine, like a drug, he drank it in, inhaled it, got intoxicated with it.
He stretched out a paw, rested it on the roadrunner’s neck. He set down the dynamite, slowly, lovingly, and turned his attention back to the bird trembling under his foot. He pressed down, slowly. His sharpened claw tightened, pierced the skin.
It was over in moments. The hawk, circling the site a few minutes later, drifted lower, lower, until the smudge of darkness there in the middle of the road resolved itself into a sad puddle of blood and a few vagrant feathers, pushed this way and that by the dry, dusty wind that was constantly blowing over the dunes.
The hawk shrugged (mentally of course, hawks don’t actually shrug) and flew on.
It was over.
This week’s topic: Scary stories, featuring cartoon characters.