The harsh rays of the desert sun scorch the feathers on my wings. But I fly even closer to the source of this brutal heat, so as not to entangle myself in the prickly cacti below. I consider myself lucky to have the freedom of flight. Because if we were anything else, my kind would have died out long ago. But we survived. The creatures that we eat however, are not so lucky.
Before me is a meal so delectably large that I could feed for weeks. It lies on its side, horns digging into the repulsive muck around its head while its hooves are splayed awkwardly about. I soar up and over—beak clicking in impatience—as I wait to tear this blessed feast to shreds.
A few days old at least, with maggots squirming inside the creature’s stomach and forehead that eat away at its alluring flesh. I didn’t even get the chance to have a bite. The best part of the toughened hide has already been picked clean by those incessantly wriggling decomposers.
It seems those maggots have taken up my chance to avoid causing death today. Luckily my next meal is easy to find. An unsuspecting creature that scampers at a frighteningly slow pace. The poor thing looks miserable, its squeaks of pain drawing me right to it.
I make it quick and as painless as death by impalement can be. The tiny rodent writhes in pain, a desperate struggle to remove its torn flesh from my talons. Sadly, its attempts are futile. How unlucky, its distress call was meant to find it a savior; a protector. Instead it got me.
So if angels really do exist then I suppose we are the opposite. Nature’s very own grim reaper. Given gifts in the form of the sick, dead, and the dying in the knowledge that we will put them to good use. And put them to good use we do. Eventually these pitiful remains are returned back to the earth, as they are and always will be—hers.
One day I think that I will join that cycle as well. Picked apart by the scavengers that wish only to reduce me to dried bone.
I wonder if the vultures will eat me too.
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