The Death of Artemis Deco

Artemis Deco lay on the ground, her face half buried in dirt and rock. A wet warmth dripped into her exposed eye, obscuring her ability to see. She lifted her free hand and attempted to wipe clear her vision, but only managed smearing a bloody mix of mud and shards of rock across her cheek.

Artemis heard a hawk screech above her. “You don’t waste time, do you?”

A dung beetle, rolling its cargo backwards with its hind legs, crossed her limited line of sight. One of the strangest of God’s creatures, Artemis thought. She forced herself to concentrate on the beetle, knowing she must not lose consciousness.  When or where did she first see a dung beetle? On Gran and Grandpa’s ranch? At school during one of Mr. McDevitt’s science lessons? Must think. Concentrate. A television documentary? In a National Geographic?

Her mind drifted into memories of school and friends. Dances, the county rodeo, the time she won a 4-H prize at age 10 for her three lambs, tedious hours in Miss Schmidt’s English class, happy hours on her grandparents’ ranch, hunting trips with her uncles and cousin Galen. Galen. Lost, and very likely buried in Iraq. Artemis hoped she would see Galen again. To apologize. He was right, and she was wrong. There had not been anyone since.

A sharp sting shot through her ankle and foot, and as she brought her leg up to investigate, a pain exploded through her limb as though a knife had been driven through her boot. She cried out. It was beyond anything she had experienced before.

With great effort, she raised up onto her elbow. She took a deep breath and forced herself to an upright position, letting out the scream of a banshee as the pain from her wounds turned into wild running rivers, coursing up and down from head to foot and back again. Her head spun and throbbed. She felt faint and nauseous.

Artemis took another swipe at the blood still streaming down her face. “One step at a time,” she coached herself. Perhaps if she sat for just a minute and maybe regained a bit of her strength, she could attempt to stand.

The prairie stretched for miles around. Artemis spotted small purple flowers the spring had brought forth seemingly floating above the tall, swaying grass. It was calm, warm and quiet with only a hint of a breeze. She looked around for her horse, but it was nowhere to be seen.

As she stared out over the prairie, a darkness crept in from the periphery of her vision, slowly closing down her view. The last thing Artemis Deco saw before falling backward was the unending expanse of a pristine blue sky.

The prompts are: Art Deco; a knife in her boot; start with baby steps

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