by Cyndy Hendershot
Antonio takes the body out of the trunk of his Lexus. He throws it onto the sand, harshly, as if he is trying to kill the victim a second time. After removing the shovel from the car, he digs a hole, plants the body in the ground. He wonders how many corpses are rotting in the desert. He knows that when land is being developed, construction workers sometimes find mass graves filled with anonymous skeletons, smiling emptily at the sun.
He puts the shovel inside and gets in the car, which will not start. Frustrated, he opens the hood and gazes inside. That is when he feels it. He steps back from the car and looks around. Nothing. Just miles of empty desert. He laughs at himself and turns back to the engine. Again, the feeling.
When he turns around again, he sees something moving through the sand, buried just under the surface. He tries to get in the car, but is suddenly frozen and jolted by an electric shock. He looks around, but sees nothing. Then, the sand begins flying as something beneath it moves closer.
He pisses his pants, thinks that he is being punished for the murder. Maybe there is retribution after all, he thinks. He struggles to move, and when he does, the electricity hits him again, a jolt to the brain like to a condemned man in the electric chair.
The thing under the sand moves back. He sweats profusely from the scorching sun. He wants a drink of water. He wants to go home. He wants to go to church and confess his sins.
The thing moves closer again, scattering sand in his eyes, eyes that he cannot rub. He struggles to keep them open. The thing emerges. He is frightened, but he also wants to laugh. A giant sausage, he thinks at first. Then, he sees the legs and the gaping mouth with many layers of teeth. He still doesn’t know what it is, doesn’t want to know, really.
Antonio is not in the New Mexico desert of Georgia O’Keeffe, Chisum, Billy Jack, or, even Breaking Bad. Although he doesn’t know it, he is not even in New Mexico anymore. Regret leaves him as all he can think of now is water. The electric shocks hit his groin. He wants to bend over, but can’t.
Maybe this is a nightmare. Maybe he will wake up in his small apartment in Albuquerque and laugh at the foolishness of this creature. Then again, he thinks that he might be dead.
It raises up, and, though it doesn’t appear to have eyes, it seems to be looking at him. He thinks that it wants to tell him something. He would spit on it, if he could, but he is powerless.
Before it sprays him with deadly acid, the thing speaks: “We are all worms and always have been.”