Sunrise. The calm bright sun slowly rises above the horizon causing the day to begin. There is stillness throughout the landscape. The only movement is coming from a man and his dog walking next to him. The man is carrying the supplies for both of them. It appears that they have been in the desert for at least a week, maybe longer. The man stops momentarily. The dog imitates. The man reaches into his backpack and pulls out a book and a compass. He then looks at the sky and sees clouds in the distance. Maybe it will rain, maybe not. The two continue walking in the same direction.
Later that day the man and the dog spot a cactus not too far away. They walk over sit down next to it for some rest. The man reaches into his backpack and pulls out a slice of bread. He pulls out a slice of bread and rips it in half giving the slightly larger half to his dog. It is dry but neither are complaining. When he finishes the man starts to pack up. He then notices some tracks on the other side of the cactus. They look like dog tracks. Although they more likely belong to coyotes. He then looks up at the sky. The clouds are gone, it’s not going to rain. They march on.
Nighttime. The man and his dog stare at the fire listening to the cracking wood. The man finishes eating his can of beans. He then looks gives the rest of the can to his dog as the dog licks the can of empty. When finished, the dog nudges away the empty can then walks up to the man. The man rubs the dog’s back making his tail wave back and forth. The man then pulls out a cigarette putting it in his mouth. He picks up a dead leaf and lights it using the burning fire. He takes the burning leaf and uses it to light his cigarette. The two stare off into the empty desert. The only sound comes from the fire pit. They stay up a little longer looking up at the sea of stars until they finally fall asleep.
Morning. The sun is just starting to peak up from the horizon. The light slowly spreads across the yellow desert all the way to the mountains off in the distance. There is not much to see other than a few cacti and dried up trees with no leaves. A few various looking bones lay across the landscape one time belonging to living creatures. Beneath one of the cacti a snake rises up and slithers away to begin his day. There is still a chill in the air. As the sun continues to rise up so do the man’s eyes until they are completely open. He stares into the sky taking in the last peaceful moments before he and his companion have to get moving again. He reluctantly gets up and walks a few paces away from the camp to take a piss. On his way back he suddenly stops. Something is missing or rather someone. He glances over the camp looking for any signs of movement. The man begins to rummage through the camp. Not finding any sign of her he looks over the horizon. Just emptiness. He whistles. Nothing. Sweat begins falling from his face. It is a combination of the nervousness and the rising sun. He is not sure what to do. He knows he has a mission to complete but he can’t just forget about that dog. It is his best friend. He contemplates the situation. Just then out of the corner of his eye he sees something. He looks down and sees a footprint. It is still fairly visible but faded. Maybe three or four hours old. The tracks continue as far as his eyes could see. He grabs his backpack and packs as many supplies as it can hold. He takes one last look at the camp not sure when he will see it again, maybe a few hours, maybe not. The man turns around and follows the trail constantly looking out at the blank horizon.
Hours passed. It seemed longer. The man’s feet started to hurt. Still no trace of the dog. The sun was on the way down. The man did not want to think about what would happen if he wasn’t able to find the dog before darkness, so he keeps walking.
As he was walking something caught the corner of his eye. He turned to look but nothing was there, so he kept walking. It happened again. Maybe the heat was getting to him and he was beginning to hallucinate so he just kept ignoring it. As it happened again the man finally realized what it was. He was unable to see the sidewinder snake at first because it blended quite well with the ground. But this time he could see it moving. The man pulled out his knife and stated approaching the snake. When the man got closer the snake started to coil up as it was getting ready to launch. It showed its fangs. This did not frighten the man as he kept getting closer. Now that the man was in striking distance the snake shot at him. The man was just able to get out of the way. He just wanted to judge the snake’s movement. As the snake coiled up again the man started approaching it again. The snake took better aim this time and when the time was right it launched again. As the snake was flying directly towards him the man reached out and grabbed the snake just below the head. The snake was squirming and its tail kept hitting the man in the side. The man took hold of his knife and cut off its head and watched it fall to the ground. The rest of the snake kept flailing around for some time as it gradually became still. The man put away his knife and packed away the snake’s body into his pack. He would eat it for dinner that night.
The sun was about to disappear. He knew there was no way he could go back to the camp, he was too far. Now his goal was to find a respectable place to rest for the night. He walked up to a rock that would provide enough shelter. He let down his backpack and pulled out a blanket that he laid down on the ground. He sat on the blanket and took out his canteen and drank just enough so that his mouth would not become too dry. There was still enough water to last at least three more days, maybe four. The man was able to find enough sticks to make a fire. He bunched them together and lit them with a match. He then pulled out the snake and stuck it on his knife and began cooking. As it was ready the man took it off his knife. He did not like the taste of snakes but he did not have much of a choice. After he had his fill, he tossed the rest of the snake into the fire. Starring up into the sky all he could think about was his dog and whether or not she was still alive. He hoped she was. He imagined running his hands through her golden fur. Her favorite spot was under her mouth, that would make her tale wag the most. The man thought about that wagging tale until he fell asleep.
As he was walking on the dry-red desert the next day the man started to get thirsty again. He was being conservative with his water so he had plenty left. The cool water rushing down his tongue felt refreshing. He only drank a little knowing he would need to save as much as possible. While putting the canteen away a sharp pain struck the bottom of his foot. His feet have been hurting for a long time but this pain felt much worse. He could not help falling to the ground. He looked at the bottom of his shoe and saw a rock lodged in it. He pulled it out and saw blood on it. He poked his finger into the whole in his shoe and felt the bloody wound on his foot. It hurt. As he started getting up he saw the half full canteen lying on the ground, nearly empty. He could see where the water had spilled out and was absorbed by the sand. He picked up the canteen and shook it hoping he could hear something, and he did. It wasn’t much, maybe enough to last the rest of the day or the next. Just knowing that he did not have much water left made him thirsty. For a brief second he considered drinking the rest of the water, but he knew better. So he put the cap back on the canteen and tucked away his most valuable possession into his pack. He looked around the landscape begging for any type of sign that his dog was out there somewhere and alive. He stared out for what seemed like an eternity. Nothing but sand and yellow sun. A slight breeze brushed up against his face. The man had no choice, he had to go back to his campsite. He let out a deep sigh of regret and started walking back.
While walking he noticed something off to his right, towards the direction of the mountains. It was a lake. The man did not take too much notice to it because it seemed to good to be real so he knew it wasn’t. He then looked up at the sky hoping to see some clouds but instead just saw a never ending picture of bright blue sky. He kept on walking and as he did he turned towards where the lake was and saw that it hat turned back into desert. He turned back and kept on walking.
Nighttime was coming soon. The man thought he should call it a day, especially with the pain in his foot getting worse. Besides he would be back at his camp the next day. He picked a comfortable spot to rest for the night. It was getting cold. He was able to find a few sticks and piled them together. He reached in his back pocket and pulled his last match. He scraped it against his shoe and lit the sticks. The fire didn’t get very big but it was enough to keep him warm. The man just stared into the fire until he decided to fall asleep.
The sound of the crackle woke the man up. The fire was still going so he knows he could not have been asleep for very long. He turned over facing away from the fire and tried to fall asleep again. As he was about to close his eyes he thought he saw something far off in the distance. It’s probably nothing, just his eyes playing tricks on him. But this wasn’t a trick. There was definitely something moving out there. The man sat up and tried to make out what it was. Whatever it was it was moving towards him. It almost looked like- but it couldn’t be. But as it got closer he seemed more sure. It looked very much like his dog, but not quite. The man stood up filled with anticipation for the first time in days. As he was about to call out to the animal he noticed something else. There were two other creatures moving next to the animal. He was unsure of what to make of this. As they got closer the man knew what he was looking at. The man ran to his backpack and pulled out his knife and picked a rock by the fire. The pack of coyotes were starting to circle around him. They must have came from somewhere near the mountains and saw his fires. Their growls were getting louder. They were ready to pounce. The man tightened his grip around his knife. The coyote on the right launched first. The man used his hand with the rock in it to bash its head. The wolf let out a squeal. The man quickly went over to the wounded beast and sliced its neck with the knife. The wolf did not move ever again. The two remaining coyotes circled the man. When they were on opposite sides of him they made their move. The man threw the rock at the one in front of him but missed. The coyote behind reached its target first sinking its teeth into the man’s right leg. Feeling the tightening of the coyote’s jaw the man bent back and stabbed the coyote in its back leg. The front coyote then clenched on the man’s arm, the one holding the knife, and was forced to let it go. With all his might he swung at the coyote knocking it off his arm. He forgot about the one behind him momentarily until it bit into his other leg. Filled with anger the man punched the coyote on the top of its head causing it to let go of the leg. The man quickly put its head into a headlock and waited for it to let out its last breath. Once it did the remaining coyote tore into the man’s neck. Feeling his own blood leak down his neck the man flailed at the wolf but couldn’t make contact. All he felt was it’s teeth digging deeper into his flesh. He felt like passing out. His vision started getting blurry when the pain stopped. His head fell to the ground. The man thought he saw two coyotes fighting in front of him. Although it was hard to be sure, the only thing he did know was that he would not last long enough to figure it out. One of the coyotes cried out then fell to the ground dead. The remaining coyote walked over to the man. It was probably about to finish him off. He didn’t care, he was doomed either way. He decided to accept it so he closed his eyes and waited for it. What was supposed to be the finishing blow was instead a lick on his face. He had felt that tongue before, it was impossible not to know whose it was. Then there was a slight breeze. It was the tail. The man opened his eyes but could barely keep them open. All he saw was the moon, but then it disappeared. He thought he was dead. He then felt something on his hand. He felt it again and again. The drops of rain soon spread across his entire body. His dry skin absorbing every single drop. The combination of the rain and tongue across his face felt blissful. The man never felt happier before in his life.
Statement of intent:
I learned a lot about short stories over the past several weeks and I have tried to incorporate a lot of what I learned into my story. One thing that I really tried to do was to have each sentence move the story forward by either moving the plot forward or revealing something about the character. I enjoy the work and style of Cormac McCarthy and he definitely influenced me on this story. I tried to keep my sentences terse so they get to the point more quickly. The reason I chose to write the story in third person is because I like observing people and action. Since the man is the only character throughout the majority of the story I wanted the reader to just observe him and get to know him through his actions rather than him telling the reader how he feels. For similar reasons this is also why I chose to write in the event-plot style. Each plot event builds to the next one until the climatic ending. To be completely honest I did not think about a lot of different writing styles and techniques while writing my story. I did try to use those techniques while editing but my number one goal is for the reader to enjoy the story and glad they took the time to get through it all.