Stephen and I were walking on a desolate road in the woods. It was a beautiful fall day… late October, full sun, vibrant colors. Our path was carpeted in burgundy oak leaves and the yellow scales of quaking aspen.
We descended into a shallow ravine, where the air felt close and warm and the birds grew silent.
As we rounded a bend in the road, we came upon an eerie sight. Perched on a branch directly above the road was a vulture. It’s face was bald and leathery and black, and its jet black wings were askew. It clung to the branch with one scaly foot; the other dangled in the air.
It sat there and watched Stephen and me, unafraid and unflinching. It regarded us as trespassers, about to pass into some kind of danger. It’s talons appeared to point at us, hold us back. After standing there for several minutes discussing the pros and cons of heeding its warning, we passed underneath. It did not move. We continued on into the forest, and much to my relief no tragedy befell us.