Smoke trailed up from the barrel of Jorel’s revolver as he rested it in his palm. He pointed it at the night sky, pulling his fingers away and wrapping them around the handle again. Pinky first, in a wave motion.
He smiled at the man on the ground.
“Shouldn’t have asked that. You got your share, just like me,” Jorel sneered, he smiled, “And I threw in an extra bullet.”
The light of the full moon reflected off the blood pooling over the desert ground.
A cough burst from the man on the ground. His back arched. His eyes stared into the stars. Pain emanated from his every move.
“Jesus, Carl. Contain yourself,” Jorel said, “You’re dyin like you lived: complaining.”
Jorel holstered his pistol. He turned from the man on the ground and swung up on his horse.
“Should have kept the money, Carl.”
Carl moved around, but in no direction. He fought against death, which came from all directions at once.
“There’s predators and prey. Too bad you figured out which one you were so late in life, with no way to fix it,” Jorel shook his head.
“Oh well,” he straightened up on his horse, “Such is the way of life.”
Jorel rode away at a light trotting. Past scrubs and shrubs, cacti and Joshua trees. Flies surrounded his horse, and they tickled his cheeks with vileness.
He did not swat at them. The disgusting state he was in was from three days of riding outside the attention of the law. It was a thing of pride for Jorel, to be dirty in all ways. To not desire cleanliness. To not be fearful of killing. To arrive at the nearest town in Mexico covered in filth, with the gold coins to change that in the best way.
His plan was to be bathed by women, and then have them. He would talk down to everyone. He would burn at everyone’s soul. He would goad people into fistfights that would end up with gunfire. He would rule the next town he rode into.
A small pain pricked at his cheek. He swiped the spot with a dirty finger. When he rolled another finger on the same spot it came back wet. He was bleeding.
Just then, the horse made a sound of anguish. It stopped trotting.
“Hyah!” Jorel slapped his stirrups into the horse’s ribs.
It whinnied, but seemed to ignore the jab. It flung its head from side to side, and its tail whipped wildly at its body to rid itself of the flies.
“It’s flies, not…” Jorel was cut off.
The horse bucked, and he was cast to the ground. Swatting and flailing, the horse ran at full speed into the desert.
Jorel was battered, and now his mind was filled with visions of killing his horse for its mistreatment of him. He watched it buck and spin until the darkness swallowed the vision at the horizon.
“Fuck,” he muttered, and began walking.
There was another prick at his face. He checked it like the last one, this time with a different finger. Came back with blood.
He began swatting at the flies when he felt them land on his face, but more were on his hands.
He began crushing them, killing them, sweeping them off his arms and legs. Jorel’s breathing became quicker, and he felt the insects investigate his nostrils, mouth, and ears.
“No! God damn it, no!”
He flailed. But it was no use, their numbers were too great. The flies bit him, removing his skin from his face first. The poured over him like water, and removed his flesh like acid.
His screamed echoed in the desert, and when he was still, the flies left his body like an explosion.
A day’s walk from Jorel’s corpse, a man in a tent awoke from a night of pleasant dreams. He smiled at the memory of eating a murderer as a swarm of flies. He rose from his bedroll with glee, and lit his campfire.