A Gruesome Discovery

Roland Smith steered the pickup down the gravel road and slowed to a stop at the bottom of the hill.

Roland took the twelve gauge shotgun down from the gun rack that was mounted on the back window of the cab.  He fished a shell out of the glove box and quickly placed the end of it against the loading flap.  He used his thumb to push the shell and heard the click as it passed the magazine catch.  The driver’s side door squealed and squeaked as he pushed it open.  He climbed down out of the cab with the gun and walked toward the old barn.

The dead cow was laying flat on its side next to the barn.  A turkey vulture was perched upon the neck of the cow, feeding upon the eyes and the brain.  As Roland approached the vulture paused and swiveled it head around to stare at him with the wild, fearless eyes of a scavenger.

a gruesome discovery-

Roland Smith flipped the safety off, pumped the slide on the shotgun and then fired it out toward the field behind the barn.  The sound of the gun was deafening as it boomed out across the quiet summer morning.  The turkey vulture took to the sky immediately and passed over the collapsing roof of the barn, disappearing from view.

Roland walked the remaining distance to where the cow was laying.  It was the missing cow, just as he had suspected.  The animal had simply vanished from the yard three weeks ago.  It was branded and he recognized the markings on its back.  But he knew right away that this wasn’t just a normal case of a cow escaping through the fence.

Half of the animal’s face had been removed down to the skull–  No skin, no muscle and no blood to be seen anywhere.  The outer edge of the wound was a smooth line, as if the tissue had been removed with surgical precision.  This was not the work of a vulture.  He had seen this before.  He moved a few feet to glance and the hindquarters of the cow and discovered that all of its private parts were gone, cored out.  No blood to be found on the ground.

Roland cursed and shook his head.  He walked back to the pickup with the shotgun and grabbed his cell.





“Hey, Roland.  How are things?”

“Not so good, Jimmy.  Just found a cow that’s been missing awhile.  Looks like it’s starting up again.”


Five years had passed since the last round of cattle mutilations.  Twelve different animals in the county that they were aware of.  Many different theories had circulated within the small community.  Some thought it was the work of extraterrestrials, others believed it was the military testing out a new weapon, and a few said that it was the handiwork of a satanic cult.  A government investigation concluded that it was the result of natural predation, but admitted that there were anomalies that could not be explained.  No one was able to say with absolute certainty who or what was responsible.

Roland sighed.  “Same as last time, Jimmy.  Half of the face gone down to the skull, backside cored out, no blood or tracks on the ground.”

Jimmy cursed.

“Look, I was just calling to see if you could come over with that digital camera of yours.  I’d like to get some pictures of this before we report it.”

“Where are you at?”

“Over on the back side of the feed yard.  Next to the old barn.”

“I’ll have to get one of the hired hands over here.  Give me an hour or so.”  Jimmy said.

“Sounds good.  Thanks.”  Roland closed the phone.

*               *               *               *               *               *               *

[Original writing / photography / art by J. E. Lattimer]

© 2012, 2013 J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved


19 thoughts on “A Gruesome Discovery

    1. Yes, I agree– There was a longer version of this to begin with, but I shortened the ending a bit. It remained a mystery either way & I decided not to drag it out too much. Saw an old documentary about this years ago & was never able to forget how strange it was…

  1. okay so whatever that’s eating/attacking the cows, likes beef. apparently it mustve drained out all the blood first, it only eats half of the face and the private parts, leaving all the other parts untouched, and it was done with ‘surgical precision’ definitely sounds like the work of extraterrestrials…. or supernatural or maybe a sick person! awesome and gruesome post, JE! 🙂 and very nice looking vulture! 🙂

    1. Thanks, O’Dee! This one just came out of nowhere– Was thinking about a creepy old documentary [That I’ve actually managed to hunt down, it’s on youtube & called ‘A Strange Harvest’] and how creepy it was, decided that there was a short story there. I wanted to show what was doing it at first, then decided it was best to leave it a mystery like it is in real life. I was happy with the vulture as well, thanks! Have a great day 🙂

  2. Thanks for the “follow”… You certainly have a different blog! Viva la differance!

    1. No problem & Thank you– I take that as a compliment– I don’t intentionally try to make it different– I’ve been using blogging as a vast experiment of sorts, trying not to “typecast” my blogs into a repetitive corner, trying to be as spontaneous and unscripted about it as possible… Have a great day!

      1. I think it’s great when we have a clear idea what we want to do. My blog came about when a fellow poet suggested that there should be a record of some of the collaborations and so my blog is a dedicated blog to just recording them for “posterity” whoever that is. 🙂

        I see you are a bit of a story teller by nature.

      2. Yes, I know what you’re saying. I don’t mean to imply that there is not a clear vision / goal / message to the three blogs that I’m working on– I’m trying not to paint myself into a corner to where it becomes repetitive & I grow tired of it… That’s a great idea for a blog, and I will stop by and read / experience more when I have more time. Documenting the work is really the most important part, even if something is momentary and fleeting [The great documentary ‘Rivers and Tides’ comes to mind. And yes, I’ve been telling stories / writing / drawing & painting since I was a small child. It has always just been a part of my life. Currently wrapping up a few novels and other projects that I probably spent too much time on!

    1. Thank you very much, David! Yes, that was the game plan for this one– I was tempted to take it further, expand it out with more scenes, details, etc. But the story let me know when it was finished and, over time, one learns how to listen [If that makes any sense…]. Have a great week over there!

    1. Thank you, Lori! Yes, I know what you mean, I was raised in Nebraska & have a few relatives in Texas! It’s a subject that I’ve heard people bring up a few times over the years & I decided that there was a short story there… Currently working on a new story, but it’s not quite finished yet… Have a great 4th & thanks for reading!

  3. Another great story… vultures and cows… doesn’t get better… and extra terrestrials too… I love it! I would love a sequel to this…

      1. Yeah… you might think of doing a series of this kinda spooky stuff… always exciting – at any age, in any season 🙂

    1. Thank you very much! This one ended up being really short, but I somehow managed to fit everything I wanted to say into it- Glad you liked it, thanks for reading and have a great weekend! 🙂

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