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Synopsis

Lydia stopped abruptly. Loose dirt shifted beneath her. She began to slide as chert and rock debris gave way in an avalanche of loose ground. Ansel loped to her aid, reaching up a hand so the girl could grab it. She hauled Lydia onto firmer ground at the bottom of the gully. ''You all right?'' ''Yeah, Ms. Phoenix.'' ''Well, he's not,'' said Shane. He stared down at the new depression above Ansel and Lydia. The dust-laden head of a man had emerged in the center of the collapsed gully wall. His swollen, pitted, and hideously mottled blue-green face protruded through the sandstone grit and gave the disconcerting illusion of being cut from marbled stone. Two angry, feasting sand scorpions scuttled out from the dirt around his chin. The three-inch-long, yellow and black arachnids snapped their pincers and twirled in a disjointed dance of death. ''Oh, my God.'' Lydia threw her hands up to her face, shielding her senses from the sight and smell of the corpse. Tim Shanks lifted his camera and clicked off a rapid succession of shots. Ansel was too shocked to berate him. Her lungs sucked in rancid air while her mind tried to make sense of the hideous scene. The gold wire glasses. That face. Despite the disfiguring ravages of decay, she knew the man. The glasses slipped from her fingers and fell with a thud next to the grave of her ex-lover.

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