Saturday, August 3, 2019

New set of free tiny tales #saturdayscene Aug 2


         #saturdayscene  Aug 3


     Got busy and forgot last week, almost forgot again even though I planned to do this one so this is late but still Saturday my time.  

Another repeat which maybe one or two people here have probably read before. I have a cluster of seven stories here but all are shorter flash and mini tales. From 25 words to 607 words for a total of 1887 words. The mini stories were attempts to place or win in one of the onthepremises mini story contests. “Blue of Home” has been the only one to receive even an honorable mention so far. The longer ones were all based on pictures. All have been revised at least once.  That includes the mini stories that have been lengthened in a couple of cases. About three years ago I decided I like doing these mini stories and even the longer flash. I will be putting out an anthology with 20 to 24 stories. Most will be these very short tales but there will be another anthology with longer 650 to 3750 word stories. I just need two covers and to revise some of the longer ones. 

   These are a variety of genres: fantasy, general fiction, science fiction, historical with a touch of fantasy and one that could be a couple of different genres including steampunk, fantasy and general fiction. 

The first one is “Blue of Home” written on the premise of “Write a story no longer than 50 words that describes color in an innovative way. (No “black as night” clich├ęs; etc.)” The last one will be “Good Work with Thread” the story that could be one of a couple different genre. The others are mixed up.

 Blue of Home 
                                                     

      The viewscreen showed a microscopic blue-Ben stared. The right blue, produced by life. The trip out  had taken too long. He’d seen red suns, green nebalue, black holes--from a distance. None looked this perfect, a blue made from air and water. Ben smiled, the blue of home grew.   


Ohh, no. Not Another One!

Ohhh no, not again-another one of those quests, the wizard thought, and it’s going to be long-again. Even as his friend the warrior, who would be king, cheered and challenged the four man team to see who would be first on those giant, wide steps. After  they became solid enough and moved in a touch closer, of course. The warrior’s cape still bellowed out even though the bottom was in tatters. His sword, though, was still sharp, undinged and whole. 
   
    The new steps had just appeared from nowhere while the team stood at the end of wide path that had led to two man height pillars on the edge of this path. They each had rounded tops and a hole one could reach through at their tops. A person could almost fit their whole head through the holes. The wizard had reached it first and waited for the others. 

      At least here we could breath okay even though the air had a different flavor to it; thorny and mulchy and old, he thought. 
      
      The rest of the path just appeared with no flash or sound. The wizard  could hear everyone’s steps and each one’s breathing, plus the warrior’s boosts, so there was sound here, but nothing when it came to be. It had taken him seconds to realize it was there. He assumed it had been the same for the others since they hadn’t said anything. 

      It looked like another ten minutes of walking would lead us to the doorway. Tall and it looked more like a cave entrance with a bright light inside. And what might be another two pillars. 
    
     They only had a basic idea of where it would take them. But it would be tough, scary, and they would have to use their strengths to the uttermost and to think hard, to get back to their lands. The wizard sighed. 
    
      The whole trip up he had wondered what beings needed a path this wide and steep. Fantastic torches set in the soil lined and lit one side all the way up. They seemed to be ever burning. What looked like giant thorns grew around the edges of the trail and along on the steps. It made it look like both sections belonged together. At the end of the short flight of steps   
  
    Everything had huge thorns here more than that TV show a while back. But the Wizard looked at the dwarf who was ready to go with the challenge even though he usually lost. The other guy just sort of stood there waiting, he went along with whatever happened without much compliant. His thick staff, or long club, came it handy. He could swing it fast and hard, plus his speed was enough to move out of the way of incoming swings.  

  But at just the right moment, when the three leaned forward and bunched their muscles for a jump, the Wizard stepped over the space and stood on the new steps while the others jumped. They each stared at him, incredulous showing. 

      He said, "If we are going, lets get going and get this one over with.”

end


Traveled

Joseph sat on the wood bench near where the train would stop. It looked like rain, which meant less people. He liked that idea, for that meant less people to see him.
       The sudden steam whistle made known his need to stand. He sighed, but put out the effort. After he boarded he could sit on the train all of the way home. He would practice with his new artificial legs at his parents’ house.


Brightest Night

The two surviving Three Domes were full of people. Every room had lights on that showed that. No one knew why the first one had been tipped over in that huge storm during the earthquake, 88 years ago, while the others stood. But the one piece structure had shattered when it hit the side of the rock rise it had been built on. Scavengers had taken a lot of the material; some had been used to enlarge Dome Three.
       Plus no one knew why the three large and two small domes had been built, centuries ago, on consecutive rises. For this purpose? To see and celebrate the brightest night of the year-and this one would the brightest in the years. To be used as way stations when people had to travel by horseback and on foot? The land here was cold and very rough. It had the end of a forest and the beginning of a very rough and cold mountain chain together after all. So a rest stop would have been good.
      It didn’t really matter though, for we were here to party. These were now used to show us the brightest night without light pollution, or cars driving by interfering. Very soon the lights here would become superfluous when the bright sky turned even brighter. We would shout, bang our feet and enjoy the beauty and rarity of the sight. 

end  



Tenth

Jimmy readied himself for bed, thought of a higher power, smiled. 
             Today is the tenth, so ten complete days without it.
             He had thought he would fail, but now he let pride fill him. 
             Even though he still wanted it, hope blossomed.
            Now, I know I can do this.



Last Viking 


The Viking looked over the side of his ship. The mountains rose out of the ocean, higher than he would want to climb anymore. The day looked cloudy and cold even though he was viking and therefore used to cold. While not as deep as in some places the water here was still deep enough to hide monsters, or even an angry whale. 
   Askell glanced along his longship. The wood looked aged, it had nicks, claw marks, and blacken areas. That last fire they barely got out in time. He supposed he could get one of the new style of ships with multiple masts but he, and his crew, were too old to change that much. 
   He stroked his grey beard, looked down. 
   "To port now!” He shouted
   Something scraped the hull as the longship turned too slowly. 
   So this ocean was not deep, those rocks were hard to see. Movement under the water, Oh oh, something huge lived down there. 
   It neared the surface and before he could cry out for them to raise oars, three of them hit it. It thrashed, caused water to splash into the longboat. Cold water that soaked their footwear. The oars didn’t break, thank Odin.
    He snarled, spat bile out. Nothing would sink them in this cruise.
     Once the water settled again he ordered them to head for the distant bit of land. It had what looked like a strip of land they could beach the longship. Further in lay the base of a tall cliff They might be able to build housing right next to the cliff and have fish, birds and seals and maybe even smaller whales to eating and to use for tools and clothes. 
   He looked around. No one would be chasing them this far, but if they did they would pay for that with their blood, for his crew still kept their weapons sharp.
   Askell double checked the depth and for any other movements. He would have to be on his toes to make sure nothing else hindered them.      

end



Good Work With Thread


        He sighed. He leaned back in his slightly stuffed chair-dirty gray after all these years. It was warm in here again. Too cold in the summer, too hot in the winter, even though just right in fall and spring. That meant winter existed outside. When he finished this grand design he would have to take a break and check it out. He liked the rain and fog. 
       A moment later when he took a second to watch the hundred and eleven threads come his way he realized something else. The cotton threads smelled of mildew. Only a wee bit, but enough for his nose to notice. The buyers wouldn’t. But it confirmed his idea of the season of the year. Tiny amounts of mildew only formed when it got hot after the threads got wet. It rained outside so they would get wet while they were brought in here, but then they would dry in the heat inside. And soon it may get in his mouth because very tiny amounts of mildew stayed on his hands. It built up after a while and would get on his tongue when he brushed his lips. 
      His hands played back and forth along his loom. He decided on which colors and which types of fabric joined the others to form the pattern he wanted. He liked the pure gold and silver threads he used at times. The bright colors were a nice break in the same colors most customers wanted. They felt more metallic too-a good change now and then. 
         The rattle the loom made was a subconscious song to him. Most of the time it went on without his mind paying attention. However if it sounded an off note he would know instantly. It had three weeks ago and he had gotten behind while it had been fixed. Now he was almost caught up with all of the orders. There would be always more for his work was excellent.   
      It hadn’t always been of course but over the long years he had gotten used to the old grey, stone walls behind him, the changes in the temperature and smooth wood on the loom. Even the strange way the many almost microscopic fibers in the air he breathed in changed the taste of his lunches. It didn’t matter what he brought with him, it always had a different flavor than at home. Except the once he had to use an oxygen tank for a few weeks because of a lung infection. He had been so glad to stop carrying that tank around, but he missed it at times during lunch. 
     He had been afraid he would die, perhaps falling over onto an unfinished project. Part of him wouldn’t have cared, this job had gotten boring. But they had cured him and now he again enjoyed the way the threads played over his hands and into the loom, forming the design he wanted. Afterwards he had taken chances with intricate motifs. Those he enjoyed the most and seeing, or reading, a customer express joy was worth the extra trouble. 
    The weather had become more enjoyable too. He didn’t use to like fog but now he did. 
     He paused to use a handkerchief to wipe perspiration from his forehead-to make sure he didn’t get any sweat on his project or in his eyes. Too much heat in the winter was still a pain though.  
      After many minutes, he smiled at the design that formed: a beautiful star field with golds, slivers, bright reads and some yellows. Yeah, this one would be great and worth the heat. 

end


Hope you enjoyed them and make a comment or two.





#fantasy #sciencefiction #history #steampunk #generalfiction #contests #freestories #freebies #shortstories #amwriting #blue #indie #saturdayscenes 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

SaturdayScenes July 20 Four tales elsewhere



           #saturdayscene  July 20 ’19 

I am cheating a bit on this SaturdayScene and doing a repeat from last Aug. Which is why I added the year to the date. Most everyone who does read these most probably has not seen these already. If so please excuse the repeat. This set of four flash tales take place in other places. The first is Africa, second is somewhere around Norway and the North Pole, third is Africa too-a different part and time than the first story, and last Japan. You probably have seen a longer version of the viking story but still there other I don’t recall posting here before. As I implied before if I am wrong excuse me.   But do not forget my novels for sell, four great adventures, fun to read.  

So without further adeu here is story one:


The Tower
           The boy and girl, tall and lanky, even though in their early teens, walked toward the end of the hills. For now they were called Esiankiki and Loiyan, but that would change as they grew. 
     Both felt not right for the mountains they were leaving were strange to them. Not at all like the Savanna. They feet ached from the hard rough surfaces they had walked on. 
     They stood the beginning of one side of the part of the Savanna where they came from. The trees they knew still grew here and some of the animals they killed or competed with came here too. The air felt warm as it should. The scents of grass, the droppings of lions, and desert air all grew as they walked closer to the natural border. Loiyan thought he heard the cough of a lion far in the distance, but little of any other sounds. 
      It would be good to get back to the foods they knew, bread made from the grains they had grown with.
     Before going home though both had wanted to see the Tower. It looked manmade shape under many and many years of grime, but very few stories passed down to the next generation told of it. No one knew when it had been built or why. To worship the Red god or the Black one maybe. Loiyan thought it was something the evil Red god would like. Esiankiki wasn’t sure. It had different levels, each one with what looked like walls that swooped up to a sharp point. The oi-boni had never restricted the Masai from going there but he had given warnings, as far as they knew no one had climbed to the top-fear maybe or that it was just different?
      Both had some honey to eat so they did not worry about food. Water might be a problem later. It took them two hours or more to get to the tower. Up close it looked both man made and natural. Neither knew how that could be but each agreed on that.
     Loiyan placed the palm of his hand on it: rough like the huge rocks they had just climbed over but warm. Esiankiki placed her ear to it. She thought she heard something but so faint she couldn’t be sure: she said that she didn’t like the roughness against her ear’s skin. She pulled Loiyan back when he wanted to taste it with his tongue. Too rough for that she said. 
     Around the other side they saw a way in, or up. What could be very old steps, worn smooth by feet and weather. With very careful steps they went up. The first level had a place to walk but they couldn’t see over the edge of the wall even as tall as they were. The same with the second level. As far as they could find there was no way in, and no places to sacrifice offerings mixed with grass. Maybe that was on the top. But once they reached as far as they could go still nothing. The inside of the walls looked and felt smooth. The bottom had smelled of age and something neither one liked. But up here only air. They saw lions and tall grass further on, for the walls had grown shorter on the way up.
     No blacken areas with very old ash so no sacrifices up here either. So what was this used for? To watch the lions, to see if any enemies were coming? The People did sometimes fight. 
    They examed the walls carefully for long minutes. Loiyan found lines in the inner wall like a doorway, The People used curtains over doorways, but they knew others had wood and metal doors, some with metal and what was called glass. They both had been to cities, ridden in cars and a train. They had seen a helicopter land. That had been noisy, worse than a very large pride of lions Loiyan had been trapped in when very small. All of the beasts roaring at once had deafen him. The helicopter’s noise had been louder than a big rain storm with lightning and thunder. But if this was a door he nor Esiankiki had seen any way to open it. He tried to slide his fingernails into the cracks but something stopped them. Esiankiki noticed the indentations near waist level on one level, but they didn’t seem to do anything. Loiyan who had the hearing of a warrior thought he heard clicks from inside when he pressed then indentations, but nothing happened. Both felt tiny vibrations in the door but they did nothing. Esiankiki thought she tasted in the air something like what flavors the air when lightning strikes. The space in-between the lines grew warmer but only a little. That made no sense. 
    After a while they gave up and walked down. Back at the bottom they saw more lines in the tower but they were shaped wrong for a doorway for any person. And they all went into the ground. So they knew the Tower went deeper like a huge rock. These doors looked like something that slid out maybe. Esiankiki stated that she wasn’t sure why she thought of that. Loiyan thought it would be something larger than a hut if so. With a final shrug-that the People had picked up from the shorter white visitors-they left and finally headed home. The People or someone else had lived in the Tower many many ages ago, they were now sure of but who? And how did they get the doors to open? They would never know. Maybe The People had climbed those steps and but they came away with more questions that could not be answered so they either forgot them or decided not to bother others with unanswerable questions.  Maybe when Loiyan became a warrior he would ask and come back with others who knew more than he did. For now though they would just go home, it had been too long since they had seen family. 

end


The Last Viking

The Viking looked over the side of his ship. The mountains rose out of the ocean, higher than he would want to climb anymore. The day looked cloudy and cold even though he was viking and therefore used to cold. While not as deep as in some places the water here was still deep enough to hide monsters, or even an angry whale. 
   Askell glanced along his longship. The wood looked aged, it had nicks, claw marks, and blacken areas. That last fire they barely got out in time. He supposed he could get one of the new style of ships with multiple masts but he, and his crew, were too old to change that much. 
   He stroked his grey beard, looked down. 
   "To port now!” He shouted
   Something scraped the hull as the longship turned too slowly. 
   So this ocean was not deep, those rocks were hard to see. Movement under the water, Oh oh, something huge lived down there. 
   It neared the surface and before he could cry out for them to raise oars, three of them hit it. It thrashed, caused water to splash into the longboat. Cold water that soaked their footwear. The oars didn’t break, thank Odin.
    He snarled, spat bile out. Nothing would sink them in this cruise.
     Once the water settled again he ordered them to head for the distant bit of land. It had what looked like a strip of land they could beach the longship. Further in lay the base of a tall cliff They might be able to build housing right next to the cliff and have fish, birds and seals and maybe even smaller whales to eating and to use for tools and clothes. 
   He looked around. No one would be chasing them this far, but if they did they would pay for that with their blood, for his crew still kept their weapons sharp.
   Askell double checked the depth and for any other movements. He would have to be on his toes to make sure nothing else hindered them.      

end


Congratulations 


      Jacob snarled, he wouldn’t let them smash him into the mud. He shoved against one man the same age as himself. That worthy went “ufff” as another two bodies jumped on top of the others. Some of them let out exclamations too. His lighter brown skin could easily be identified among their black skin. They all were from around here while he came from somewhere different.
     He twisted his body one way then another, kept his legs moving so they couldn’t be grabbed. He sneezed: someone wore an awful cologne. Probably Kensu. 
    Someone used both hands to shove him harder, forced his face toward the mud patch on the parade ground. The whole area was plain dirt, not even grass. Mud holes were not rare even though most of it was dry dirt. Light metal bleachers filled one side. But they would be of no advantage to Jacob, nor would the various light and speaker poles around the area.
    Jacob surged his back upward to flip off whoever was on his back. It didn’t work. He thought it was time to start punching and jabbing. A second thought, no one used fists, hands or feet as weapons. They all depended on brute strength, and their weight, to get his face into the mud. 
    Their grunts and heavy breathing filled his ears, but no name calling or obcentaites, which surprised him. He managed to get his feet and hands on the ground: one hand and knee splashed the mud around. He shoved upward and managed to stand as his attackers fell off. However his victory lasted one-second for someone tackled him and rolled with him toward the mud. Kerrich, he thought for. Sweat matted his hair, the clothes of those that touched him were clammy with it. He spat out the mud in his mouth-at least they used fresh water and mostly clean dirt.
    Again he tried to get his hands under him so he could shove off the ground, but two more joined in the, what was still called, a dog pile. His face inched closer to the mud. No! These guys weighed a lot even though he had proven himself the better, stronger fighter. 
    With a snarl he surged upward, but only moved an inch, more poundage landed on him. He could smell the mud, at least it seemed to be just water and dirt. Before he could take a breath his face smashed down into the mud. It filled his mouth when he breathed in, splashed up his cheeks, got in his ears and hair. A roar of victory followed that and with a suddenness that surprised him all of the weight vanished. 
    He jumped up, turned to face them. Eight young men stood in badly formed semi-circle. Their formation instructor would not be happy with that a part of his mind said.
    Half of them looked unsure, would he attack them?  
    The leader stepped forward but only so close. 
    He said, “Congratulations, you will be the first cadet to become Captain.”
    Jacob blinked, they knew that? 
   “We honor you with our traditions.”
   He nodded, for he knew of this one where they congratulated another cadet to raise in rank, but never expected to have it done to him. They had never really excepted him. 
   He spat though, to get the taste of the mud out of his mouth.
   Jon-Wel said, “The commissary has a new batch of Mars Malt beer. You can wash out your mouth with a bottle. I will buy the first one.”
   Jacob didn’t know if that was part of the tradition or because Jacob didn’t usually have much money unlike them. But…
   He smiled, “I would be happy to wash the mud out that way,”
  Some of the men looked relieved. 
  The leader nodded and motioned toward the store. 
  Jacob thought, He may never be one of them, but he had their respect and well wishes, that was good.    

end

            
The Way Stop Castle


Jounn turned in his saddle to face his friend Brock. He felt glad they had stopped. The horses hoofs had been stirring the sand dust. It made his mouth dry when he breathed it in, not to mention making him cough.
          “There is the castle I told you about.”
          After he spoke he looked back down from the small dune they both had stopped on. Night covered the desert which is what they wanted. It cooled quickly here after the sun went down. But the dark made it better not to be seen.
           The castle, a ruled by a neutral Duke far from England, sat on a hill. The neutrality though will probably have to change to one or the other roses, he thought. The structure looked gray tall and narrow with a full moon behind it. A village in front of it. Guards walked the wall. The gate looked still open even this late.
           Brock said, “That wall, most be a good ten feet hight and what? Three feet thick. It would hold an army for a while. If one came here at all.” 
           “I am not fearful of armies, but of sudden changes of neutral Dukes. Or of an assassin.”
          “You think they would really send one after us?”
          Jounn shrugged, “They have done it before. During the last bit of fighting, which I can barely recall, my cousin was challenged to a duel by someone who turned out to be en expert swordsman. After the duel the man disappeared but left a rose. I have heard of that all my life with warnings to be watchful.” 
          “But if you don’t trust the Duke, why stay here?”
          “We are not staying here. We present ourselves and the Duke gives us a suite of rooms. He knows me so will not think it strange that I would come here. We say we need to mediate over the conflict so we need to stay in the rooms without being disturbed. Once settled we change to less conspicuous clothes, bathe and be rid of traveling odors then head down to the stables. In my last two visits I learned that there is a back gate through the wall. It is small but a horse can get through. We get our horses and leave that way. Even if a guard sees us and if he should report it the Duke would be still able to say that he gave us rooms and then we left without even a proper thank you or good bye. That he knows not when, or where we went. Or even if we left the castle. We could be hiding among the vassals and others that live here.”
          “Do you think that will work?”
          “I believe it will, but we still need to be on our toes and watch. We will be able to get supplies for a long trek through the desert, but we hide our trail and head South, which might further confuse anyone that is sent after us.”
         “Well, that plan is better than no plan, or just running.”
        “As I said we will watch and keep our hands close to our swords and daggers. If he portrays us we will sell our lives dearly. If he is still neutral than we go as I said and leave him with an excuse.”
         His friend nodded and said, “Than we should make sure we have no roses on us then he can say he did not realize we had chosen sides.”
         Jounn nodded, picked off a brooch off of his chest, while his friend ripped off a fastener on his cloak, and started his horse down the dune. 

end 
    
Way of the Samurai 

      “You are late.”
    “I know, Father, I have no excuse,” even though I did-saying good bye and finding my round hat had not been easy. I had tied my waist long hair into one braid. My long dress would be help against the cold. I wore a lighter outfit under it, if it warmed. I suspect that my Father had on something under his armor. His helmet with the grimace face hid his face as it should. He wore his two favorite swords and I am sure a third. He stood between the posts of the gate as the sun sank. He looked magnificent.  
     He grunted and nodded once. 
     Our road led between two tall strands of bamboo over a rough surface. No one had come this way in years so they had not kept it up. The wind blew leaves around.
    Father was a hard man, but a tough, experienced, brave and honorable warrior. He showed his love in training me well so I would be able to defend myself and in teaching me honor. I have only the one sword though. I am not a Samurai so can not wear the armor but I am not sure I would want to.
     The air smelled strongly of bamboo and growing things. Maybe we should take some of the shoots to eat later, but Father is ready to leave now. 
     I sighted, I have already defended myself. That group of three thieves had shown surprise when their heads rolled to the ground. The last one had been a fair fighter-he lasted five swings. And months later, the first man I had killed for trying to dishonor me-he had been someone important. Later when questioned Father acted like he didn’t know who had killed him. 
     Now we go-to somewhere else. He has not told me where but I trust him. Maybe it was to protect me, or because he was tired of this place and just wanted to go to some place new, or he knew of something bad coming to this area soon. He would train me more in the way of the Samurai as we go. Maybe I would be able to make my own armor by the times we get there-if I decided to wear some.
    I am glad I had brought two skins of water and two bags of nuts and cooked rice, they would last if we found nothing else to eat later and didn’t collect the shoots here.  He would have something on under his armor too. 
    I kept my eyes on him and did not turn for one last look. 

end




Saturday, July 13, 2019

Two Western tales from me. July 13




#saturdayscene July 13  

Last week I didn’t post a SaturdayScene for I was busy again with the new house. But this week I can do one. This one is a bit different for it has two short Western stories. One is part of a story set I will be Indie publishing whenever I can get the cover done. Set titled Deputy Marshal Gray Dobson. I finally found one that isn’t bad even not quite what I wanted. But I have spent hours on it and decided to take this one. Anyway, I will also be doing a second Western set once I find them all. I thought I had a file with they all in it but so fat nothing. So Here are two Western tales. One with Marshall Dobson showing he uses his brains not just his sixgun. The other is the first Western I wrote many years ago. Revised half a dozen times as I learned more about how to write. 

       Deputy Marshall Dobson finds a Burnt out building.



      Gray Dobson looked the burnt building over. Small tendrils of smoke still drifted toward from two placed. It sat by itself a number of yards from the end of the town. From what he could see of the unburnt wood, no one had painted it which meant some of it looked while a good percentage had a blacken charcoal color.
        He liked the angle better from higher than ground level, so he stayed on his horse to study it. His legs though were tired from the long ride to this town.
       It looked like the building had two storefronts. This half of the roof of this section had collapsed. The air still had a strong scent of burning wood, so he wouldn’t be surprised if something still smoldered in there. 
        A wagon rolled by behind him. He heard the horse hoofs, and wheels turn. The townspeople would be up by now with their daily routines. Someone walked on the wooden walkway. That would make it twenty feet away from the burnt building in front of him.
     Another breath and he almost coughed, ash still drifted in the air. Water would be good. 
     After the drink from his canteen, he looked at the building again. The town’s people had done a good job in saving the part in the back that was a different store. He figured that some of them must have had some training. At least a couple of lectures. This section would have to be completely rebuilt though, possibly the whole thing, but he thought they could save the rear store. The rest of the town hadn’t been touched by the fire since this building sat so far away from the others. 
      Dobson looked to his left. The main part of Freshwell consisted of eleven stores on one side of the street with ten on the other. Each block appeared to be one long building but he could make out newer wood on the end store. They must have added to this one to the original construction when the population grew. Now they had two general stores, one much smaller than the other. It could be new, he thought. A fairly large saloon took up space in the middle of one side. He could make out three other buildings that sat by themselves not connected to either side. From their spacing the town planners might have wanted a street there to go east eventually.
     The blacksmith had been built far down the road in the other direction. He could still see it and hear the pounding of the blacksmith, smell the hot metal when he rode by it. But this building may have been the border of the town in this end. 
      Gray looked down at the dirt. One bad thing was that the town’s people had cluttered up the dirt of the street with their wagons, horses and feet: covering and marking out any tracks left by those who had done this. But it couldn’t be helped, the fire had to have been put out. He rode around the building and studied the dirt back of it then came back around from the opposite end.  
      The building didn’t look like a smithy or a saloon, which left a store of some type, a church or even a school house. The town looked large enough for one. He had ridden through Freshwell three times the last year but knew nothing about it even though he had met with the Sheriff as a common curtasy. He was a Marshal passing though his area after all. They had a nice size jail, larger than he thought they needed, but he may make use of it this trip.
      He looked around again. The Inn was actually larger than the saloon. It had rooms on a second story and a kitchen plus storage, he assumed, in the back, and four rooms on the street level. They were bigger and more expensive or so he had been told when he stopped for lunch one of those three times. 
     As he recalled from when he rode by, there had been nothing in this building to start a fire except for a wood burning stove. He didn’t recall ever seeing the pipe that exhausted it sticking out of the roof. Now, however, one lay bent, twisted and black with soot, on top of a pile of smoldering wood. Part of the pipe looked darker than another part. In fact this whole section of the building looked in worse shape than the other sections.
     He shook his head and wondered if someone had really started the blaze. With that thought, he looked closer. Why would anyone burn this building especially if it had been a school? Than again maybe he was just buying trouble. He shrugged, that was his job. He wouldn’t be a US Marshal if he didn’t like trouble: creating and finishing it for those who started it. Now though he he hadn’t smelled any kerosene or alcohol when he rode around the building. 
     Fires could be caused by accidents, acts of carelessness, or drunks, as well as on purpose. However it started this one was a shame especially with the loose of books and supplies inside, if this was a school. It could take months to get new supplies and the cost for shipping them out here would make it much harder to get them. 
      He swung his horse around and headed for the Sheriff’s office. This fire pricked his curiosity. 
      It didn’t take him long to pass the other end of the block and to approach the jail. It sat by itself about ten feet from the end of the walkway, which supported his idea of this being a street corner. He looked round him to see if anyone carried a gun near him. The three people he saw with any weapon of any type, looked like upstanding citizens which probably meant that the town was fairly safe, but he would stay on his toes. All it took was one person who didn’t like US Marshals, or was drunk. 
     The street had its share of road apples, some of which smelled and looked fresh, which meant it about average horses here. It looked like Freshwell needed someone to clean the street once a day though. He shrugged that really wasn’t his concern though. Once he got to the jail he tied his horse to the railing and stepped up to the wood sidewalk it also had. 
     He glanced in the other direction and noticed that the larger general store rested at this end of the line of stores. That could be to help farmers and ranchers with wagons load better.   
    Dobson nodded to the  two men who stood outside of the Sheriff's. They didn’t look like trouble, just as if they waited for someone. He opened the door and closed it fast for a wind followed him in. Inside, he saw a wide room with two desks each with a new looking, comfortable, padded chair behind it and two half way comfortable chairs on the other side. A portrait hung on the wall of the President of the United States and one of an older lady. She was dressed in a very nice, blue dress. A local person he thought. Maybe she had been a rich widow who had paid for the building of the office. 
    Two doorways led to the back. He thought he could see bars through one doorway. The other might lead to the outhouse and/or to a kitchen near by. Or to another cell for certain types  of prisoners. 
    The sheriff, Tony, a tall skinny, older, weather beaten fellow with shoulder length brown hair, stood talking to a nicely dressed man. The man smelled of cigar smoke, an expensive brand the Marshal thought. He must have paid a pretty penny to have some shipped here. He knew from experience not to get too close to the man when he blew smoke out, it could be strong enough to taste.
    The Sheriff said, “We will catch the person who set the fire.”
     The man said, “Why would anyone set fire to a school house?”
    “I don’t know maybe they didn’t like that their children have to go—we have a couple of those type people in this town—or maybe they had an argument about what should be taught. Could even that they got the wrong end of that building and it was meant for that new bookstore.  It’s hard to see the burr under a man’s blanket at times. But I want to speak to the new teacher and see what she has to say. Miss Sanderson has been upset over certain details and ”
     The man said, “I know that there are citizens that disagree with store just to sell books half of which would be penny dreadfuls, I am not all that excited about it myself but to burn it? That is crazy.”
    The Marshal thought, good I was right. 
    Sheriff Tony said, “Some people are that crazy. Isn’t that right Marshal?”
      The two turned to him and even as his eyes widen. He thought he would had wait until they were done with their business, but this opened the door.
     The Sheriff said, “This is Marshall Dobson. He has been in these parts for a few years. Marshall this is John Whitmore.”
     Dobson nodded to John and said, “Yes, there are crazy people out there. I wouldn’t have as much of a job if there weren’t. I was sent here to go after a train robber. However, sometimes it isn’t a person that causes the problem. It is also my job to make sure we know the difference.”
     Whitmore raised his eyebrows and the Sheriff looked puzzled and a touch irritated. 
    “I looked at the remains of the school. I believe it was just an accident.”
    “What?” The sheriff said.
    The man said, “We looked it over ourselves.”
   “I thought you had. But was it before sunrise?” 
    “Just after the sun started up.”
   “After a night of fighting the fire?”
   Whitmore nodded. He still had bits of ash on his pants, so he may have really helped.
     The Sheriff said, “Where are you going with this?”
    “I saw that part of the chimney for the stove looked blocked. I think that is where the fire started.”
     The man spoke before the Sheriff could even he open his mouth, “Someone could have blocked that on purpose hoping that would happen.”
    Dobson nodded, “Yes, someone could have, but by the looks I still go with my theory that some animal, or other built a nest in there. I know of a few times when that has happened. It has been warm the last few months and the weather just started to turn. I suspect that it was just carelessness. No one thought to inspect the stovepipe.” 
     The man nodded with a thoughtful look on his face. The Sheriff didn’t look convinced though.
    “I can explain what took my thoughts down that road. The stovepipe has a deeper burn in one section about halfway. You might even find some cooked little ones; rats or squirrels in the pipe.”
    The Sheriff and the man had a disgusted look on their faces but the other Lawman said, “Come to think of it I thought I smelled meat cooking. Maybe you are right after all.”
     They went outside to the burned building and the Marshal showed them where  he thought the fire started and the pipe. They both looked convinced when he finished.
     The man said, “I believe you’re right. You are one smart Marshal. No wonder you have a good repetition in these parts.”
    “Thank you. As I said it is my job to figure out when it was a person and when it wasn’t and to protect people that are innocent.”
     Whitmore said, “That is a good way to see your job, Marshall.”
    Sheriff Tony said, “I’m glad we will not be bothering someone who is innocent. And I will declare that every business inspect their stovepipes to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
     Dobson nodded and after some more talking he said, “I will take my leave now. I need to get a room for the night so I can get an early start to go after one who is bad.” He thought, even if the rooms are costly it should be worth it for one night.
    They each nodded and shook his hand and he left. He got his horse and on the way to the town’s corral past the blacksmith shop he gave himself a small smile. It felt good to think through something like that and to know that an innocent person would not be questioned for something they did not do. 
  
The end
              

Now for Not All Good Deeds Are Punished.




     Bill strode over to his horse, with long, quick steps. He looked in his late thirties, and wore a light yellow long sleeved shirt and gray trousers. No gun weighed down his hip, he didn’t need one here-most days. 
    He stopped near the railing in front of the town’s hardware store, his eyes narrowed. Voices from a commotion had attracted his attention. It looked just like the same situation as in the last town he had lived in. He breathed in, snorted. The air was filled with, dust, road apples, spilt grain and the flowers that grew near each store front. A cold beer would be good right now to wash the dust out of his mouth, and the horse dropping smell out of his nose. A quick glance showed him the town, he liked Wardsville. However it looked like he may have to move on. 
     With a sigh, Bill pulled a rifle out of its holster, which rested on the side of his horse, and turned. He hoped he wouldn’t get into trouble again, but he knew it wouldn’t stop him. He cocked the weapon while still in the turn.   
     After two long steps with the rifle aimed from his hip, he said, “Back off.”
     A young man, dressed in an undershirt and denim pants, with his hands on a woman, looked up. That man’s brown hair was very short and his eyes were bloodshot. Even though her yellow dress looked very proper he still pawed her like he thought she wore a low cut barmaid’s outfit. Bill knew her husband was out of town for a couple of months. 
     Everyone froze for a moment. He felt a breeze on his face and could smell the man from here. He must smell like a wagon load of broken whisky bottles to her. 
     The young man said, “You must not know who I am.”
     The first man rolled his eyes, “That is my comment. I’ve been here a week, but obviously you don’t know who I am. I don’t care who you are. I know what you are. A snake in the grass. Now act like a gentleman, a true man, and get your hands off of her. Her husband won’t be back for another month and he won’t be happy if you mess with his wife.”
     “I am a man, you horse droppings, more than you.”
     “Not the way you are acting now. You’re acting like a spoiled snake. Now remove your hands!”
      He pressed his finger on the trigger. The other man let go of the woman.
     Bill said, “Now miss, give him what he deserves-slap him.”
     She looked surprised, but at the same time like she wanted to carry out the order. The younger man looked shocked. When the woman moved he stepped back from her-out of arm’s length.
      The brown haired man looked at the man with the rifle again, swallowed and said, “Hey, I didn’t mean anything. Just being friendly. I just thought she might be missing her man.”
     The man with the gun cocked his head to the side, for the other man mumbled and slurred his words. It took him a second to figure out what he had said.
     Bill said, “She probably is, but she sure ain’t missing you, now leave!”
     The drunk glared at Bill, but after a moment walked away. Bill watched him until he went around a building. Three moments later he came back out on a horse. After another glare at Bill, he rode away. 
     The woman half-ran to the man with the gun, but stopped a few feet away.
     “Thank you... I don’t know you but I’ve seen you around the past week but Dan, my husband, will want to shake your hand and have you over for dinner when he gets back.”
     Bill tipped his hat and said, “I am called Bill-no, not Wild, that’s another Bill. I could always use a home cooked meal, fresh cornbread is mighty tasty, but I didn’t do this for thanks.”
     The store owner came up, wiped his hands on the white apron he wore. Bill tensed and waited for an angry tone like the last time he chased a rich man’s son away from a woman. The man, however, reached out his hand.
     “I want to shake your hand, Bill and add my thanks. She’s a good costumer and a good citizen of the town. Toby shouldn’t have done that to her.”
     He paused for a moment than said, “If you need anything come on in to my store, I will give you half off for the next couple of days. We don’t want that type of thing happening in our town, or to be known for being a town afraid of wealthy citizens.”
     Other townspeople came by to say how much they appreciated his actions. Even Jim, the sheriff came by, probably when he saw the citizens hanging around. It turned out he had been getting a shave during the incident.
     After his explanation he said, “Thanks, Bill for taking care of young Toby. He isn’t usually that bad. If I had seen he was drunk earlier, I would have put him in a cell to sleep it off. He’s dad will deal with him. He doesn’t like his sons behaving that way in public. He may make him apologize to Mrs.  Tanner.”
     Bill felt his mouth drop and his eyes go wide surprise, but he said, “Is that all?”
     The expression on the sheriffs face changed to businesslike; oh oh, here it comes, thought Bill.
     Jim said, “Yeah, there is one more thing. I could use a deputy, this town is growing like a weed. I’ve watched you around town. I saw how you act around other people and after today I believe you would make a good deputy. I think I can convince the town council to spring for the pay for one. Probably only half of what I get, but your bullets will be free. On top of that if the townspeople like you they might just give you a free meal, or a cut rate on hardware, just don’t expect it all the time.”
      Bill nodded, even as awe filled his heart. He stood there
to let his heart adjust to what he had just heard, then with an effort he nodded, smiled, and said, “Yeah, that sounds good.”
      They shook hands and the sheriff said, “Good, I’ll make the rounds and talk to everyone. Come by tomorrow morning and I will give you a badge.”
      Bill nodded again still in a good shock. As the sheriff walked away Bill felt the breeze again, smelled the street-even the fresh road apples didn’t smell so bad-and smiled. He thought, yeah, this is a good town.
                         The end


#westerns #freestory #indie #funread #freestuff #fires #shortstories #action #drunks