I glimpse him from a distance, a Drizaboned mirage on the road. He tips his flask upside-down and his shoulders drop.
Do I stop? I shouldn’t leave him here.
My vehicle slides past. He is an iron statue, powder coated in russet. He makes no eye contact. I stop and check my rear-view mirror. Nothing but red dust haze.
The windscreen amplifies the sun. I emerge sweltering. My boots crunch on the gravel.
I hear a crow. Perched on the fragile limb of a solitary tree, clothed in black, it caws. “Waaa Waaa Waaaaaaaaaa.” It ruffles its feathers and stares.
I look back for the man. I can’t make out his silhouette.
My vision stretches across the featureless land. Death belongs out here and I pick up its stench before I see the evidence. Few remains are scattered, the trucks and birds having reduced the corpse to dust.
Outback Sentinel was runner-up in the Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) Microfiction Award – National Literary Awards 2015
“Outback Sentinel was remarkable for the writer’s ability to distil atmosphere using the sights and sounds of a deserted country road.” Lynn Smailes, FAW judge