New Mexico, 1821
by Jacqueline Mendez
“We found another cow…” Felipe, the ranch hand sat on his haunches and poked at the lifeless creature with a stick. He tilted its neck to one side, displaying two small incisions on its skin. “Carcass, sucked dry again—no blood,” he yelled.
Esteban, the foreman, surveyed the terrain looking for signs of bandits. The only thieves there were the circling band of vultures waiting for their meal from above.
“Felipe… Esteban… what news do you have for me?” Daniela asked the two hired hands.
“Senorita… not good... we found another one just like the last two…” Esteban noticed fists clench under her leather-worn gloves.
“Burn it in the pit… double to four men per shift. Comb the area for Apache tracks, and do what it takes to stop the losses.”
“I’m sorry Senorita…we don’t have enough men... many are working the silver mines, and ...”
“No excuses, Esteban. Am I clear?”
Daniela placed her foot on the stirrup, swung over her horse, and rode away in a flash.
“Guess we know who wears the pants around here, eh?” Felipe grinned.
“Why don’t you just shut up and help me put this animal up on the cart, before we
get eaten by whatever is killing these things.”
A coyote’s cry howled in the wind, accompanied by the sound of others joining
its chorus. Dusk crept its way into the landscape as two golden eyes stared out secretly from behind a yucca plant rooted on the hot desert sand…