Saturday, May 14, 2016

New story serial Western part one

May 14 2016

Time for War Wound an action packed Western tale filled with suspense, by me. L. E. Doggett. :)

I originally wrote this one three or four years ago. I have revised it since at least once so I was thinking it wouldn't need that much work. Well, even though it had better writing than the last two stories I posted, it did need a bunch of work. I redid the opening, working for depth, I redid certain scenes adding things to clarify what was happening and so it would make more sense. More of what my hero would do. I also added a couple of animal sightings, more of the five human senses too. Could use a couple more of both though. So in all even though I deleted a few sentences and phrases I added a total of 500 word. And that was just in the first half. 

Over all I think it is one of my better stories with plot and writing but only you readers can say for sure.

I had planned on making this part 2,000 and a couple hundred words but it kept growing, now it is 3,020 words. 

Anyway enjoy:

War Wound

The rider sat on his horse as he surveyed the flat land around him. Nothing but sage, grass and cows. The warm, dry air didn’t bother John Adler even though he kept his hat on to block the sun. He liked to watch the cattle for he enjoyed the quiet out here away from people. Not much to smell out here either, except horse and cow droppings and the sage. Scents from a fire and dinner of rabbit and bread would come later. 
As his habit John and his horse rested still as a snake, waiting for its prey to come into striking range. John Adler had developed the skill, while serving in the Great War. It had come in handy while he carried out special missions behind the Southern lines. John brushed one hand over his blue dungarees, and thought on how his pants and red plaid shirt made him stand out. He shook his head, reminding himself for the thousandth time, that he didn't have to worry about that anymore.
He didn't like to think of the War, but at the same time he was glad he was able to use some of the skills he had developed during that troubled time. 
He slowly moved his head scanning the area. There was nothing, but flat land for miles; without buildings, trees, hills, or even sand dunes to break the flatness. Off to one side was small smudge on the horizon that was a mountain range. 
His horse moved its head up and down, a second later it flipped its tail chasing away some flies.
He straighten his hat, which was a dull light gray, a little darker than the color of his horse. The hat, unlike his clothes, had seen better days. 
On one side of him, far enough away to look one-third their true size, a batch of cows which were grazing. They were part of a larger herd that were located out here in the middle of nowhere.  
John had been hired by the owner to check out the land. It was more a favor John was doing for a friend, even though he was being paid good money. It was the type of job he liked to do these days. Ever since he had resigned his commission just before the war ended, he liked being out in the middle of nowhere. It was peaceful and there was nothing here that would remind him of the war. Much of the fighting he had been involved had been in either mountains and hills, or wooded areas. It was refreshing, for his memories had a disturbing habit of coming to the forefront of his mind when he saw a ravine, or a certain type of hill side. Here they stayed where they should be, in the back of his mind. 
He shook his head, for even these thoughts were enough to remind him of why he had resigned. He had seen too many good men 
die and had killed too many men. Some of the ones he had seen killed came to mind. He had known most personally. There had that kid blown apart by a cannon shot, he hadn't known. He just happened to be looking in the boy's direction when the ball hit him. 
John shook his head again and tired to shake the thoughts by scanning the area again. As he looked in one direction he noticed a very slight movement headed his way. It was very tiny and looked like it was right where the sky met the ground. He sat up and put one hand above his eyes to see if he could get a better look at it. From here it could be anything from a lone rider to a cattle stampede. But as he learned during the war never assume anything. Even here it could be bad.  
As the smudge grew, he began to suspect what it was. He kept his eyes darting back to it, even as he scanned his surroundings to make sure nothing else was headed his way. A minute later his suspicions were confirmed. It was a party of men riding his way, hard. Looked like seven, even though he couldn't be positive. They were too far away for him to be able to tell if he knew them, or not. A few seconds later he was able to see that they rode like an army unit. Either they were the Calvary, or they had served together and rode that way out of habit.
He mentally prepared himself for trouble, even though he didn't know yet if they were friends, a group working for his friend, people just passing though, or if they meant trouble. He thought, by their looks, it would be the last. He had developed that knack on his missions. It had kept him alive more times than he could shake a stick at. 
As they neared him, they continued to ride hard and suddenly one raised an object to his face. It was a long metallic and pointed his way. He heard a slight noise and saw a small puff of dust explode a few yards in front of him. This was immediately followed by two more reports and two more puffs of dust a bit closer as two other riders raised rifles to their face. 
Before the second bullet hit the ground, he had spun his horse around after he decided it was time to leave. They were definitely not friendly-whoever they were. He didn't know why they were shooting at him, but he thought it would not be a good idea to wait around to ask. He knew he would stand no chance against them.
The way they were riding, he would be in their range about the same time he would be able to get his rifle out of its holster. Seven against one was not good odds even if he was a good shot, and he was not the best shot with a rifle. He would hit some but they would get him in the end.
John urged his horse to its full speed, heading for what he thought would be a more strategic ground to make a stand. 
They rode across the plain for half an hour like that. The wind drove past him, just like on many of his missions. Sweat dripped from his horse’s mane. Sweat dripped down his own underarms.  
One lone rider in the lead galloping, just out of rifle shot range, with seven riders chasing him. With quick looks behind him, he still didn’t recognize any of them but the dust that the horses hoofs raised made it hard to make out their faces.  
It didn’t take long for him to increase his lead. His horse was in good shape and it had been rested, while theirs had been ridden hard already. After ten minutes, he judged that he could slow his horse down a bit and still stay in front of them. He didn't want to over tax his horse, it was a good animal. And he may need it later if they acted this determined.
John wanted a drink of water to wash the dust out of his mouth, but had no time for one. He wasn’t that far ahead of them, but he knew how to ignore the needs of his body for a while. He kept an eye on them to make sure they didn't gain on him, nor give up. It would have looked funny for him to be galloping across the plain, like a bat out of hell, without anyone chasing him. Of course he would prefer that to this.
Finally John entered the foothills of the mountains he had seen in the distance. He started up, slowing his horse as he did. They would have to slow also when they reached the hills. The mountains would provide places to hide, as well as obstacles that would make their rifles useless. That was the plan anyway. He knew from experience that plans very rarely worked out the way they were designed to, but they were good to start with. 
As they climbed higher, he slowed his horse even more. He could now smell pine and the dirt his horse’s hoofs tore up. The shade from the trees and large rock made helped to cool him and the horse.
At the first, he had had his horse climb as fast as possible, trying to outdistance them to allow him to lose them. But now it was too steep with too many things to catch a horse’s leg. Two deer took off fast to the right, angling away from his path.
The chasers didn't give him an opportunity to lose them though. He remembered some of the words his team mates used at times like this. These guys were good for they chased him through the foothills and onto the mountain proper. They climbed higher and higher, no matter how far ahead John was, or how long it took, they were not about to give up. Or so it looked to him. 
Forty minutes after entering the mountain, John rounded a very large rock and suddenly entered a camp. There was two fires going, both almost bunt down to goals. The larger fire had a tripod with a large pot hanging from it. There was a rough hewn 
table set up for eating near the fire, along with a smaller table. Four tents had been pitched close to the rear of the camp. Beans cooked from the smell, his stomach rumbled for it had been hours since he had eaten. The burnt wood odors should have warned him earlier. Maybe he was losing it.
It took him a second to look the camp over—he hadn’t lost that ability. Five men sat in the camp. Each wearing thick denim blue pants and thick, dirty gray shirts. All five reacted instantly to his appearance. They stopped what they were doing and faced him, one moved over to where a rifle was laying on the smaller table.
He just nodded neighborly at them and slowed down, trying to act like he was just passing though. Which he was doing.
As he rode passed them his back felt prickly. He knew they were watching him as he rode on. He made sure he rode slow with no nervous twitches to make them think he wasn’t interested in them and their mine. He went around one of the thicker tree therefore out of their sight. A slow, full count to one hundred and he increased his horse's speed a little. When he thought the horse had had a rest he increased its speed again. Out of the camp he could smell his own odors and knew he passed close to where they had dug a latrine. 
A few minutes later John thought he was far enough ahead of the group of men, to be able to find a place to use as a strategic position to shoot it out with them. He could eat some of the bread he had while he waited. He had eaten cold beans, bread, apples while he had waited for the enemy many times too. He sighed, it seemed like he could never escape those thoughts and habits.
That was why he still wanted to lose them eventually, instead of killing them. He had seen too much dying, and had done too much killing to want to do more.
A few seconds after these thoughts he spun his horse around when a shot sounded. Seconds later it was followed by seven, or more real fast. Some were on top of others. 
They had all come from the miners' camp. He cursed as he realized that it was almost the time he estimated that his chasers would have made it to them. He hadn't expected them to shot the miners. There was no reason to, they were after him, not them. He expected them to be more professional then that. Unless of course they were just mad dog killers, who killed because they enjoyed it. There were men on both sides who had to be put down for that reason. But if so why go after him. It made no sense. 
Damn, he needed to make sure. John decided to back track to the camp and see who shot who. It was possible that the miners had overacted after seeing armed men after they had seen him ride through their mining camp. Maybe they fired first. He doubted it but that way he wouldn’t be so responsible for their deaths. 
With three curses he hadn’t used since the War, he left the trail. Even though it had been a long time, the knowledge of how to cover up his tracks came to the forefront of his mind. Once he had left signs that he had gone on and made sure no one would be able to tell he had covered his tracks he headed back to the camp. He rode parallel to the trail keeping himself far enough away so anyone on the trail would not see him. That meant he could not see them either, but he would have to live with that.
When he neared the camp he left his horse just out of eyesight of the camp. Again using skills he had learned long ago he moved closer to the camp. He moved over to where he thought the latrine was. The smell would cover his own and less chance of running into someone. No one was about though, and he finally 
entered the camp itself. The stink of blood was obvious, it mostly over came the burnt beans odor too. He scanned the woods carefully and when he was sure no one was around, he went over to the bodies. All five miners were dead, but so was one of his chasers. Good. As he examined the area, he found evidence that another chaser had been wounded. From the drops of blood, he couldn't be sure how bad, but it didn't look serious.
When he was done examining the ground, he took one more look around. One last look at the bodies he sadly shook his head, and he disappeared back into the trees. He walked back to his horse normally, forgoing the catlike movements he had used, for there was no need. The chasers had gone on, he must have missed them on the way back down. They would soon figure out that he had tricked them and be looking for him.
Mounting his horse John decided that he would have to do something about the men chasing him, after all. Bile came up. He had hoped he could just loose them, but now, after this act that was no longer an option. Of course he probably would have had to deal with them anyway. He had been just hoping against hope, that he would not have to kill again. He would do what needed doing.
He didn't like leaving the bodies like that, but he didn't have a choice right now. As he rode off, he hoped that they didn't have any families that would wonder what had happened to them.
Just before he went in-between two trees, he turn quickly when a twig snapped back at the camp. Had he missed one of the chaser? The wounded one maybe. But why hadn’t he taken advantage of when John had examined the ground. 
Now he thought he saw someone back by the camp and decided it was time to hurry. He spurred his horse to a medium speed, heading the direction he thought his chasers would go. 
A few seconds later he heard a slight metallic noise behind him. He turned in the saddle to look behind him. As he did he saw someone standing near the camp. No, two people. They looked as if they were dressed as the miners had been. John turned his horse slightly and angled away from the camp making sure there were trees between him and the camp. 
On the way to find those who were chasing him John not only kept his eyes open, but his ears also. During the war he had learned that sometimes you would hear something before you saw it. Even a small noise could give away someone trying to sneak up on you. And animals would run. He had seen a few squirrels-the miners might have been eating them-and one deer along the way but they could be bear here too. 
A few minutes later he heard another slight sound behind him, he again angled away from his current course. He urged his horse to increase its speed and aimed it in between to larger trees that were fairly close to each other. The distance between the trees was narrow, barely wide enough to allow his horse fit in between them. Once he was through the trees he made a quick turn to the right followed by a quicker one to the left. He curved around another tree, this one was over two feet wide. 
He heard a small explosion behind him and out of the corner of one eye he saw a tiny spray of bark as something impacted on the tree next to him. He spurred his horse on, going back and forth. He went around one four foot wide tree, went straight for a while then around another almost as big. Once on the other side of that one he rode up a short hill, once at the top he looked down.
He saw three men on horseback who were tying to sneak though the trees while at the same time looking for something. He figured the something was him. He saw one of them glance his way. 
John glanced down at his clothes. He cursed—silently--again. He had forgotten he was wearing a red plaid shirt. That wasn't good at all, he must be standing out like a Yankee among Johnny Rebs.
More gun shots.

end part one

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm working on turning lead into Gold