The Last Ride
Somewhere in The Badlands . . .
The sun glowed huge and orange as it sank below the horizon. They had been riding hard all day, and it was time to stop and set up camp. Scouting an area close to the river, they finally chose a spot at the base of a cliff. Here, they would be protected from the wind.
Brian fed and watered the horses, while Justin unrolled their sleeping gear and started the fire.
Done with his equine duties, Brian pulled two rabbits out of the game sack and expertly began the process of skinning and gutting.
"I don't know how much longer I can eat rabbit," Brian grumbled.
"We still have some of the smoked rattlesnake."
"I'd rather have fresh meat tonight."
"Well . . . that's always on the menu," Justin said coyly.
"Sunshine, I hate to break it to you, but you ain't smelling so fresh right now."
"Oh, and I suppose you smell like a bed of roses?"
"Here, this one's ready." Brian tossed one of the bloody rabbits, and Justin caught it deftly. He skewered the small body and set it over the fire to roast.
"After dinner, why don't we go down to the river and clean up?"
"Sounds good." Brian liked to clean up with Justin.
Later that night . . .
They appeared to be fighting. Their bodies twisted and clung and glowed red. But they were simply making love. Frenzied, sweet, rough love by the light of the fire. The fever had come upon them as they splashed in the dark river. Justins body had been dipped in silver by the pale starlight, and Brian had been seized with a lust so powerful they had barely made it back to camp.
Now, he bit Justin's neck again and again as he fucked him. Justin held on tightly and pressed him closer. He made it easy for the man to consume him.
Justin was close. So close. One more bite. One more bite, and he would come.
And then he felt it. There. Ahhh. It was sharper, deeper than the rest, and it was what he needed. He sobbed from the pain and blacked out from the pleasure.
"Knocked your ass out, didn't I?" Brian gloated as he rolled away to light a cigarette.
Justin didn't answer.
"Still fainting after all these years. I'm sooo flattered."
Still, no answer.
Brian turned to look at Justin, who appeared to be sleeping.
"Hey." Brian shook his shoulder.
There was no response.
Brian sat up. A tendril of dread curled around his intestines. Something was wrong.
That was when he saw it. A small, black snake quietly slithering away.
"Justin!" He pulled Justin off the ground and shook him, but he just hung heavily in Brians arms.
There were twin punctures on the back of the boys shoulder. He had been bitten.
Frantically, Brian checked for a pulse. Waited . . . waited . . . waited . . . nothing.
No. It couldn't be. No.
"Justin?" Brians mourning had begun.
It was then that Brian heard the last thing he would ever hear. He looked up and felt a sharp sting as a rock hit his face. It was the last thing he would ever feel. The next rock knocked him unconscious. The rock slide lasted for less than two minutes, but when it was over, there was no sign of either man.
The fire had been nearly extinguished by the cloud of sand and debris, but it had managed to hang on and was now casting the last of its light on the burial mound.
In the distance, a hawk screamed, and the horses shivered.
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