Author Topic: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The American Old West (*WINNER ANNOUNCED*)  (Read 5195 times)

Tenacious Stu

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The Challenge: Write a Short Story with a ‘Wild West’ theme

Cowboy hats, Indians, poker, saloons, trains, revolvers, horses, spurs, gold mines, undertakers, desert, cacti, whisky, buffalos, bank robberies, scalp collecting, sheriffs, showdowns, whore houses, Civil War vets, wagons, there are tons of stuff you could write about.

No rules, no word count, the only limitation is your imagination. You could create a hybrid using the genre, for example ‘underwater cowboys’ or Cowboys VS Pirates, just as long as you include the theme in some way.

Tabata has kindly offered to create some Trophies, so hopefully this will inspire you to write your stories:

First Place:


Second Place:


Third Place:



Big thanks to Tabata!

Submissions must be posted in the topic by Monday 27th June, after this voting will commence and in the event of a tie, I will cast a deciding vote.

Good Luck Everyone!

 
« Last Edit: 06 Jul 2011, 20:14 by Tenacious Stu »

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The American Old West
« Reply #1 on: 09 Jun 2011, 13:38 »
Very nice theme. I'll have fun with this.

WHAM

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The American Old West
« Reply #2 on: 09 Jun 2011, 14:01 »
Got a little idea, will participate. Interesting theme that you don't see too often nowadays, so it got my attention!
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
https://goo.gl/VUQbzU

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The American Old West
« Reply #3 on: 10 Jun 2011, 09:52 »
Ooh I think this theme has my creative juices going



Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The American Old West
« Reply #4 on: 11 Jun 2011, 21:01 »
You could create a hybrid using the genre, for example ‘underwater cowboys’ or Cowboys VS Pirates

Hmm, Mr Craig already took Cowboys vs Aliens >:(

Tenacious Stu

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The American Old West
« Reply #5 on: 20 Jun 2011, 19:11 »

Hmm, Mr Craig already took Cowboys vs Aliens >:(

Yes, but Cowboys vs Pirates is still available  ;)


With the new incentive of Tabata's Trophies, lets start seeing some entries!

YOU'VE ONLY GOT UNTIL FRIDAY!!!

Ponch

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The American Old West
« Reply #6 on: 21 Jun 2011, 03:54 »
Trophies you say! Well, at last -- some incentive! I must sharpen my pencil, good sir!
*

Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The American Old West
« Reply #7 on: 22 Jun 2011, 03:01 »
I have an idea! I may very well enter!
Current Project: A Hard Day's Knight

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The American Old West
« Reply #8 on: 22 Jun 2011, 03:37 »
I have an idea! I may very well enter!

Check out those sweet trophies! Of course you should enter!

Anyhoo, here's my entry. I took the themes I most associate with the Wild West and incorporated them into something western-ish.
============================================

Everyone in Watermark was looking for Tommy Camino. With a reward as generous as the one the Big Span Construction Company had posted, even those citizens who normally cast a blind eye at misdeeds had suddenly developed a deep, abiding love of the law. Not that anything would come of it. Tommy Camino was long gone; no one would ever see him again.

The foreman, Porter, had found his truck missing and nothing left of Tommy but a discarded set of coveralls, a welder's mask, and a few unreadable scraps of burnt telegram gone cold at the bottom of an ashtray.

When the stolen truck turned up in the nearby town of Watermark, grand theft auto was added to the charges listed on the freshly minted wanted posters, just below "theft of company payroll." Tommy Camino was a safe cracker, apparently.

"Should have robbed the company safe," Venn Cody though to himself, grimacing behind the goggles and the heavy dust mask. "Specially if Porter was gonna do it and pin it on me anyway."

Wrapped in the thick gloves, his hands gripped the handles more tightly.

Robbing the safe would have given him more options. No two ways about that. As it was, the money in the pocket of his leather jacket would be just enough to get him there. Maybe. The wad of company scrip he was still packing around would only be good for kindling.

Not that he was planning on making a fire and camping out in the open tonight.

The broken highway that stretched across the dusty, choking expanse of The Drift wasn't even safe enough for most men to travel in groups, and certainly never alone. Stopping here in anything less than convoy strength was suicide. Strange things stalked these lonely sands now. And the further into the desert the spindly black watchtowers pushed, the stranger the things that always followed their advance became.

"Didn't used to be like this, boy." So the Old Man claimed. How long dead now? Eight years? Ten?

Venn shifted his weight on the big, reliable Palomino. It wasn't an Indian, like the one he'd rode when the unnamed still roamed the busted highways, few and free, but it was a good bike all the same. It oughta be. He'd traded Porter's fine new truck for it.

Back then, in the days the Old Man loved to talk about so much, when he was sober enough that his words wouldn't spill out in a jumble of baby talk, the desert wasn't all cracked apart. The dust didn't roll like this. The sun kept it baked down or something. And the worst the desert could throw at a man were coyotes, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and the heat.

Venn shifted again. He'd have to pull over and piss soon.

"That world must have been something to see," Venn thought, recalling his dad's words. Beer in one hand. Cigarette in the other. And it wasn't neither one that killed him in the end. "Back when we were still in charge. Back before the big war in Europe. And the little war that followed, when they came down from the bright light and pushed us out to the edges like this."

Venn mused a moment longer on the world before his time and tales of the lands he would never see. Paris. The Somme. St Louis. Bygone places out of a fairy tale for those like Tommy that had grown up in the days after. Then with his free hand, he pulled the pistol from inside his jacket and checked to make sure that it was loaded.

Dangerous or not, he was going to have to pull over before he pissed all over the motorcycle.

"Remember: They always make that clicking, skittering sound before they pop up out of the sand."he told himself as he slowed the bike to a stop at side of the road and eased the kickstand down to the shattered blacktop. "And they usually hunt in threes."

He cocked the gun and left the engine running.
« Last Edit: 22 Jun 2011, 04:57 by PE3nch »
*

kconan

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The American Old West
« Reply #9 on: 22 Jun 2011, 18:02 »
  Stu, how about extending the deadline to at least Sunday night?  This would give folks the weekend, and more time to cook up a few submissions.

  Also, and more selfishly...I'm working on what was intended to be a very short story and now can't seem to end it, so I also might need that time.

Tenacious Stu

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition: The American Old West
« Reply #10 on: 23 Jun 2011, 09:49 »
  Stu, how about extending the deadline to at least Sunday night?  This would give folks the weekend, and more time to cook up a few submissions.

  Also, and more selfishly...I'm working on what was intended to be a very short story and now can't seem to end it, so I also might need that time.

Agreed. Since the original deadline was tomorrow and we only have one entry, the deadline has been extended until some time on MONDAY, giving people the whole weekend to wrap up their western tales  ;D

Good Luck Everyone!

kconan

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Flint’s eyes scanned the roughneck patrons from a Stampede Saloon barstool, and then turned to his old friend and advised, “Red, pay the barkeep and let’s get outta here.”  Red threw a wad of cash at O’Malley the bartender, gave a curt nod to the group of floozies standing nearby, and then both he and Flint swaggered their way through the drunks, poker players, and drunken poker players toward the batwing doors - which were sent dramatically swinging on their hinges via palm-strike from one of Red’s monstrous hands.  Flint and Red then walked from their favorite saloon to the famous Silver Spur Opera House.

Red and Flint had been friends for over a decade, initially meeting up when a posse was formed to catch a group of murderous bank robbers.  They were deputized shortly after and served honorably in various towns throughout Wyoming as incorruptible lawmen, though they were known to believe more in their own sense of justice than the rule of law.  Rumor has it that particularly nasty outlaws would occasionally go missing while in their custody.  Red is an older man in his early fifties, and before meeting up with Flint was a trapper, fur trader, and on-and-off bare-knuckle boxer.  Flint is thirty-five years old and was born to a rich Wyoming politician, but in his teen years he tossed aside the silver spoon from his mouth to pursue a life of adventure which began with his working as a courier for a cheap regional version of the Pony Express called Expeditious Mules and from there went on to do two-gun pistol tricks in a wild west show before meeting Red.  Red and Flint had grown to trust each other and both knew that their complimentary skills made them a good team.

Red walked up to the theater, looked around, spit a giant wad of tobacco, and said, “I ain’t here for that artsy-fartsy theatrical stuff Flint…Where is that darn prairie schooner?”  Flint walked around the building while Red waited at the entrance to the theater, and returned shrugging his shoulders.  Red proclaimed, “I give them fancy-pants actors another quarter wad of tobacco before I leave ‘em.”  Flint countered with, “This time the payday is huge; let's wait buddy.”  Red glared at Flint and muttered, “Alright, they get a half-wad…but theys better not be bunko artists...” and trailed off with unintelligible grumblings.

Red and Flint compared gear while impatiently waiting for their employer’s covered wagon.  Flint explained, “So yea I had to trade with that ole’ coot Prickly Pete to get these shooting irons, the riding leathers, and a new pair of boots.”  Red glanced at Flint’s .45 Long Colt pistols, nodded approvingly, and then said, “Made the right choice there, those Schofield’s don’t shoot as true as them thar Long Colts.”  He then spit a large wad of tobacco at the opera house hitching post and declared, “My Winchester 1887 is proven, but gettin’ her fixed ain’t cheap.”  Flint said, “Well Red, not too many lever action shotguns out there on the market.”  Red replied, “Yea I know, but she’s a sweetie for huntin’ no matter the game...So, how’s them new boots you got from ole’ Pete workin’ out? ”  Flint started, “Well the spurs need dulling before I go riding, but otherwise…” and was cut off by the sound of an approaching wagon.

The wagon stopped in front of them, and two well-dressed gentlemen exited from the coach section along with an attractive and elegantly attired southern belle.  A porter appeared from seemingly out of nowhere and began attending to the wagon.  The driver walked over to Red and Flint and pointed at the covered wagon, “She’s an easy ride, but you boys be sure to grease them thar wheels before ya’ll take off.” and they nodded in response.  The driver finished the conversation with, “I’m heading over to the Stampede for some wine, women, and song, so you boys take care and don’t mind them fancy folks and their fancy talk.  Their green is just as good as regular folks, or even a no-good rustler’s.”

The gentlemen approached Red and Flint while the belle attempted to beat the trail dust off her dress.  Flint glanced at Red and out of the corner of his mouth said, “We need this job, let me handle them partner.”  Flint and Red introduced themselves and pleasantries were exchanged.  One of the gentlemen, Mr. Tom Van Huegsondale, explained exactly why they were being so highly paid.  Red and Flint could not believe what they were hearing, but after each being handed one-thousand dollars both nodded and Flint explained that they completely understood.  Mr. Huegsondale’s final statement, before turning towards the Silver Spur Opera house, was, “My associates recommended both of you in part because your talents are specifically suited for this assignment, and also partly due to your reputation as men of your word; so I expect she will be in good hands.”  Flint guessed Mr. Huegsondale was some kind of scientist.  He also thought that even though the other gentlemen wasn't dressed like a preacher, he had the mannersims of what Red calls a "sin buster".

Red and Flint were left standing next to the covered wagon with whom they were told was Ms. Regina Covingsworth, who at this point was wiping dust off of her sleeves.  Flint looked at her and while pointing at the wagon door said, “Your carriage awaits miss.”  She replied, “What?  You have to outfit the wagon, and I have to get cleaned up, and I want to take in at least one show here, and I’m not even done knocking the dust off myself, and I should properly stretch my limbs, the horses need rest…”  Red interrupted, “Yea tragic…Wouldn’t happen to have any chaw on you would you?”

Ms. Covingsworth was escorted inside the carriage by Flint just as the porter had finished removing their employer’s baggage.  Flint said, “Please wait here for a second ma’am while I consult with my associate.”  Ms. Covingsworth replied, “I know we are in a hurry, but you ruffians - especially that big scruffy galoot - should learn some manners.”

Flint walked over to Red, handed him a small pouch, and said, “Here’s some emergency tobacco I had stored deep in my poncho.  I don’t vouch for the quality.”  Red grinned, opened the pouch, and shoved the contents in his mouth.  Flint eyeballed the wheels of the wagon, which were being greased by the porter, and said, “Red, why aren’t we using an armored stagecoach?  And why not quietly transport the cargo?”  Red shook his head while happily chewing away.  Flint thought for a moment and offered, “It could be that we are supposed to leave the wagon and get her out of there in the event of an ambush.”  Red nodded and said, “That Huegsondale feller want us and expect us to get bushwhacked.  Good thing is that the bushwhackers won’t be expecting us.“  Flint replied, “Yea agreed on all points partner.  At least it appears like they made the necessary modifications to the wagon, including the high plated sides and the wooden dummy driver which is surprisingly lifelike.  We’ll use him, as I can easily operate the reins provided the horses are as good as advertised.  They could shoot the horses as well, but the dummy should buy us a good twenty seconds or so of confusion.”  Red stopped chewing, looked at Flint, and quietly said, “Don’t know how much that fancy-pants girl knows, but I hope she doesn’t get herself killed.  I reckon our employer don’t care none about her as much as the other one.”  He then looked at the porter who was waiting nearby and exclaimed, “Did you feed the horses?  Restock the provisions?  And is the cargo loaded in thar?!” and the reply was “yes sir, yes sir, and yes sir!” 

While Red double-checked that the cargo was sufficiently secured, Flint handed Ms. Covingsworth a .38 revolver and a 4-barrel pepperbox derringer.  She hid the derringer in what appeared to be a practiced move and gave him a concerned look.  He said, “Just in case we come across some varmints.” and then watched her unload the .38 and dry fire.  She mentioned that it was “slow for a double action” and then reloaded the gun in manner which led Flint to believe that she might know what she was doing.  Ms. Covingsworth made herself comfortable in the interior of the wagon while Red and Flint made preparations at the front.  She asked, “Which one of you is the driver anyway?”  Flint replied, “The dummy, Ms. Covingsworth.”  She turned to look at Red, who gritted his tobacco stained teeth at her in response, and she added, “I suppose I'll allow you fellas to call me Regina.”

Red and Flint set out for their employer’s destination with their wits on high alert and their guns at the ready.  Flint alternated using the dummy driver depending on road conditions and an area’s “bushwhack potential” as Red called it.  He estimated the ambush would happen after several days of travel (when one would think that their guard is down), in a hilly bottlenecked area, and sometime around dusk.  He would be correct on all counts.

After several days they had made their way relatively easily through a large forest.  Red successfully hunted and they all even took baths in a warm spring, though despite the comfortable traveling conditions neither Red nor Flint’s guard was down.  Regina appeared relaxed with her .38 revolver within arm’s reach.  They had all gotten along surprisingly well, and so Flint decided to level with Regina, “You know what we are supposed to do?”  Regina eyeballed Flint and said, “Yea, I’m not a miss fancy-pants as your big lummox friend suggested.  I was playing a character.  I was hired as well, and I also think we are being paid to survive an ambush and kill the attackers.  What I don’t get is what exactly is in that weird box.”  Red answered, “Lady, you don’t want to know” and returned to sharpening his boot knife.  She looked at Flint, and he said, “She or it in that box appears to be valuable to our employer, but I don’t quite get why they would allow it to knowingly be the prize of an ambush.  Look, I know this sounds crazy but the thing in that strong box is some kind of pregnant carny freak…and it is alive.”  Regina stared out the back of the wagon and said with a long sigh, “And here I thought you were going to be honest with me..." and took a change of clothes out one of her bags.

The unusually tall man with the dark red cape and fancy cowboy hat asked in his low, raspy voice, "Johnson...I trust you have you made preparations?"  Johnson peered over at the pass and his men, who were all in position, and replied, "Yes sir."  The caped man instructed, "Do not blow up the wagon, just use your human projectile weapons if needed.  Your little projectiles won't greatly harm the cargo."  Johnson looked at his caped employer, silently gulped, and again said, "Yes sir."  He recalled earlier in the day when his former assistant Skeeter questioned the caped man's authority.  Skeeter had asked him, "Why don't you handle this yourself?"  and the caped man had responded, "I prefer not to directly intervene in human business." and Skeeter pressed further with, "You act like some kind of tough guy walking around in your flowey cape..." the caped man quickly turned towards him.  Skeeter continued, "...heck you ain't even armed with..." and was punched in the face with a fist that continued through the rest of his head and out the back.  Johnson remembered thinking at the time it happened so fast that he didn't see the punch.  The caped man had wiped off his hand and with an evil chuckle said, "Oh I am ARMed."  He then fixed his gaze at Johnson and said, "This Skeeter person should now feel honored, as I haven't directly killed a human in five-hundred of your years."

It happened just as Flint, Red, and Regina approached a narrow pass in a canyon at dusk.  The wagon neared the pass, and the dynamite went off closing the way through.  Seconds into the explosion Flint yelled over the noise with, "Pull down the plate, dig in, and be ready for my signal!"  A hail of bullets slammed into the dummy driver, the horses, and the heavy canvas wagon covering while they were hunkered down under plate armor.  The sides were also protected by plate, which had been cleverly sandwiched between the wood.  One lone lucky horse had its harness shot off and was able to escape, while the others were cut down by the gunfire.  The gunshots continued sporadically for a full minute, and then all was quiet.

Flint whispered to Regina, "When shooting from behind cover, don't come up from the same place twice in a row." and then put a compass on the floor (which could be seen through the faint light that spilled in through the cracks) and quietly said to his companions, "I'm hearing movement and gunshots from the West and South; there could be as many as thirty shooters.  North of our position is the now impassable pass, and East is basically a cliff-face.  We'll play the odds and expect that most of them are coming down from the hill to the West, but obviously don't ignore any direction."

The relative silence was broken by one of the attackers who yelled, "Dang fellers, that driver is one tough sumnabitch!"

Regina stifled chuckles, and then returned to focusing on Flint who quietly reminded, "Don't assume that they are all as dumb as him.  That voice is within my pistol's distance at roughly fifteen yards to the West."  Flint asked Red, "You ok?"  Red replied, "Somehows I took a ricochet graze to my right leg, but it ain't a big deal.  Anyhows, I got short-medium range as usual.  Reckon we should wait until they get closer.  Figuring they think we was dead."  Flint nodded at his old trailmate.

They could hear the attackers moving closer.  Flint used the periscope (one of the special wagon modifications) on the side facing the West, and saw roughly twenty guys approaching.  He noticed most of the men on his right were laughing and joking with each other and obviously under the impression that everyone in the wagon was dead, while the ones on the left were more focused.  Flint said in a barely audible whisper, "Regina, my right.  Red, closest targets."

Nearby, the caped man stared at Johnson with his pitch black eyes and said, "I sense that some of your men are careless."  Johnson twirled his handlebar moustache and said, "I know sir, but we'll get the job done."  His employer lowered his voice and warned, "If you do not, I will remove you and your entire family from this plane of existence."  At this, Johnson nodded and headed down to join his men.

The overhead protection plate was thrown out the back of the wagon, and they all popped up guns blazing.  Time slowed down for Flint as it usually does in these situations.  He first noticed that most of the attackers were caught off guard, and so he instinctively went for whom he guessed was most alert.  Flint dropped five men in ten seconds, took a round to his left ear, and ducked.  Regina shot three men approaching on the right side, and returned to the cover of the side plate.  Red blasted two men who were close to entering the wagon from the rear, scanned targets coming from the west, and ducked down as well.  Flint and Regina speed loaded their handguns, while Red replaced his spent shells.

Johnson watched as nearly ten of his men were taken out of action in less than ten seconds, and yelled “Take cover, now!”  He could hear several of them moaning from what he presumed were serious gunshot wounds.

Flint opened a hatch in the wagon floor, and went underneath.  A man had gotten behind them near the cliff-face and was in the process of trying to look over the side when Flint unloaded with both guns on him at nearly point blank range.  He turned back around to see that the men approaching from the West had taken cover except for one attacker who was crouched roughly ten yards away and now aiming at Flint.  Red fired from above Flint just in time and nearly took the man’s head off.  Bullets and splinters from the wheels were whizzing around, and so Flint went back up through the hatch to rejoin Regina and Red.

Johnson shook his head, watched his best sniper adjust the sights on his Henry rifle, and told him, “You get a triple payday if you take out that two-gun shooter.”

All was quiet for nearly ten minutes, and then one of the attackers hollered, “Leave your cargo, and we won’t pursue.”  Regina commented, “It’s starting to get dark.” when a bullet punched through an unprotected corner.  Red noted, “That’s a Henry rifle, I know that sound anywheres.” and turned his attention towards Flint who was trying to clean up his destroyed ear and asked, “How bad?” to which Flint replied, “My sense of balance is ok, but I can’t judge distances on their voices anymore…and, I won’t be on the cover of a dime novel anytime soon.”  Red chuckled and said, “It gets darker, and you guys make a distraction.  I’ll go for a look-see.  My leg is fine.”  Flint knew what “look-see” meant.

The caped man slowly made his way down the hill as the attackers tried to overtake the wagon.  Despite his annoyance with Johnson’s group, he still enjoyed watching events that he personally set in motion.  The caped man strolled over to Johnson and said, “You greatly outnumber the humans in the wagon, and have the tactical advantage of being on a hill.  I must use a different term when describing the kind of men in your employ, perhaps “sub-human” or “lesser humanoid” is more fitting.”  Johnson had been in many barroom brawls, and usually enjoyed banter.  He did not enjoy his employer’s taunts.  One of Johnson’s men turned around and said, “I ain’t no sub-humanoid!”  The caped man stared at him with dead black eyes and the man nervously returned to training his rifle on the wagon, though his aim was now unsteady because his hands were shaking.

And then the strong box that housed the cargo started vibrating.  Flint glanced at it and said, “We can’t worry about that right now.”  Regina said, “Is there some kind machinery in there?  So you guys weren’t lying about the carnival freak?”  Red and Flint exchanged glances.

Flint and Regina briefly popped up with guns firing at whatever they could see in the late dusk light.  Flint hit a foot and Regina blew a hat to bits, and then both returned to cover.  Red had left through the hatch and despite his size, had been stealthy enough to get away from the wagon.  Flint threw the fake strong box out the rear of the wagon and said, “Come get your spoils.”

Johnson told two of his men to cautiously get a closer look, and watched as they both came out from behind a large rock outcropping to approach the strong box.

Flint could barely see through the periscope as the men approached.  He quickly leaned out the back and shot both men in the head, and even before their blood, bone, and gristle were airborne he returned to cover.

Red approached the man with the long Henry rifle, who had moved to what he believed was a better position.  The sniper had thought it was a good idea to get away from the group, and realized this was a mistake in the split second he saw Red’s knife before it was plunged underneath his chin and skewered his head.  Red slung the dead sniper’s rifle over his back and went further up the hill.

Johnson figured he was down to roughly ten men.  He estimated several more were injured, but could still fight.  He ran from man-to-man, each positioned behind large rock outcroppings facing down on the wagon, and gave instructions.  Johnson wondered where his sniper had gone, and wished the caped man would let him simply blow up the covered wagon or at least set it on fire.

Red had moved well behind the attackers near the top of the hill and stumbled upon what appeared to be a supply tent and, much to the surprise of everyone involved, two men sitting in front.  One of whom was cleaning a gun and another who was busy clearing a jam.  The men stared at the giant intruder, and he stared back.  No one moved.

Flint said to Regina, “Red is probably thinning their numbers as we speak.  The attackers will expect us to wait them out, so we should do the opposite and leave the wagon.  At least one of us should be close by though in case they try to take the strong box.”  Just as Flint finished his statement one of Johnson’s stealthier men had made it to the fake strong box near the wagon was trying to open it.  Flint grinned while aiming one of his guns in the direction where the man would appear should he decide to enter the wagon.  The man pried the hinges off the box with his knife, and wondered why such valuable cargo would be so cheaply protected.  He removed the last hinge and was rewarded with the business end of a barbed wire spring that had previously been tightly coiled in the box; he went down screaming and clutching his torn face.

The men glared at Red.  Finally, the man who was fixing the jammed gun tossed it aside and went for his sidearm.  Red cleared the distance between them before the gunsmith got a firm handle on his weapon, and wrapped his giant right hand around would-be attacker’s throat and lifted him up in the air.  The other man put his hands up and said in whimpering tone, “I only handle resupply, and uhhh…don’t know what is going on here.”  While the man Red held up in the air flailed and made gurgling sounds, he aimed his shotgun at the pleading supply clerk with his other hand and said, “Talk or die painfully.”  The clerk hurriedly explained everything he knew as his friend was being strangled.

The caped man walked by Johnson and said, “You are failing me Mr. Johnson.” and made his way towards the supply tent.  Johnson rounded up his remaining men, and gave orders to rush the wagon.

Flint and Regina jumped from the wagon and rolled on the ground towards an area of bushes with the ultimate goal of getting behind some large rocks or a hill.  A few wild shots were sent in their general direction.  They made it unscathed, but not unnoticed.  Johnson knew Flint and Regina had just left the relative safety of the wagon, and he ordered the remainder of his men to secure it while keeping an eye out for the former occupants.  Being the nearest cover, he correctly estimated that they were somewhere near the bushes.

Red quickly gagged the supply clerk and threw him off a cliff near the tent, noting that the fall had just broken his legs but didn’t kill him.  Red considered this his version of mercy, and turned around to see a tall caped figure walk into the supply tent.  He didn’t recall the clerk mentioning this strange looking guy.  Red checked his shotgun, and carefully watched him from as far away as the light would allow.

Through a combination of luck and tracking skill, Johnson circled around behind Flint and Regina.  He brought up his pistol, aimed, and fired several times striking Regina in the legs.  Flint dodged and returned fire at Johnson, who leaped behind a large rock.  Regina collapsed holding her right leg, which was spurting blood.  Flint dragged her into the bushes, thorns pricking both of them from all sides.  He attempted to fix her up and said, “Keep pressure on the wounds.” knowing full well that she will likely pass out from blood loss before he will be able to return.  Regina cursed quietly, and nodded.  Flint left the cover of the bushes and tried to control his rage.  He bumped into the writhing body of the man who opened the fake strong box, and shot him in the face without looking down.  Flint knew the gunshot would draw them to his position.

Johnson, hearing the gunshot, whirled around at the same time Flint detected his sudden movement.  They both got a shot off.  Johnson collapsed with a hole in the center of his chest.  Flint glanced down and noticed that Johnson’s bullet had bounced off the metal on his left holster and was now lodged in his side, though not very deep.  He stormed off, now with a very slight limp, looking for more action when he came upon a group of soon-to-be doomed men attempting to lift the strong box out of the wagon.

Red stood at the entrance to the supply tent and said, “Nice cape fancy-boy.”  He was shocked that the odd looking man didn’t appear scared or surprised, and if anything seemed amused.  The caped stranger slowly turned and said, “You are too big to be one of them.”  Red replied, “Look, talk straight and you might live.” and walked inside to avoid being snuck up on from behind by anyone outside the tent.  The caped man said with a puzzled look on his face, “You are a human?  Is there a giant species?”  Red pointed the shotgun at him and said, “Talk” and the caped man took it out of his hands and clubbed him with the butt in one swift motion.

Flint moved to higher ground, though it was harder to see the attackers turned thieves from further away.  And then the strong box, which had been sporadically vibrating, exploded in a shower of metal and splinters.  The creature was no longer hibernating; now it was all talons and fangs.  This monster was the ugliest thing he had ever seen.  Flint noticed the distended belly and assumed that this is how his employer knew it was pregnant.  He left to find Red just as the creature began tearing into everyone around her.  Flint heard the agonizing screams and futile pistol shots as he scrambled up the hill.  He tripped over a wounded attacker who was lying on his back.  The man reached for his gun, and Flint kicked him in the side of the head and then shot him.  He came upon the supply tent and saw Red on the ground along with his shotgun and a Henry rifle.  Flint cursed, slowly scanned his surroundings, and then went to check on his old friend.

Regina crawled along the ground in the hopes of getting back to the wagon; she was not thinking straight due the extreme pain and shock.  She heard the screams of the men, but her rational mind didn’t process what was happening until she crawled into a pile of severed limbs that the creature had left in its wake.  Regina looked up and saw a man with a cape, and thought he had the blackest eyes she had ever seen.  The man locked eyes with her, and reached down as Regina went for her hideaway Derringer.  After he was finished, the caped man walked back to the supply tent.

Flint could see that his old friend was breathing and tried to bring him around, but Red remained out cold.  And then the caped man stepped into the tent with Regina’s head in his hands and said, “Thanks to you, the human lady, and the giant, I will now have to directly intervene to find my favorite pet before she gives birth.  I normally prefer to enjoy controlling you puppets from a distance, but if my hand is forced...”  At the sight of Regina’s head, Flint drew and fired within a timeframe that could be measured in milliseconds and cut short the caped man’s speech.  He continued firing with pinpoint precision at the head and chest of the caped freak that had just decapitated his friend.  After running out of bullets, Flint grabbed the shotgun off the floor and aimed it at the now empty doorway.  He was waving the gun smoke out of his face when the tent began to be ripped apart from the outside.  Flint wanted to honor his contract, but facing this dime store novel supervillian was not part of the agreement.  He grabbed Red, threw him over his shoulder, and ran for about 50 yards before his friend’s weight was too much.  He dropped his old trail mate near a wrecked cart, and speed loaded his .45 Long Colts.  Flint crouched, wiped the blood off the ripped cartilage that used to be his ear, and mentally prepared himself to face whatever came next.  He collapsed from exhaustion and blood loss after waiting nearly an hour.

Flint woke up in the late morning to find an Arapaho Native American man tending to his wounds and Red making coffee.  He squinted at Red who explained, “This here Indian says his people spied that caped weirdo who bashed me in the noggin' catching up with that monster from the strong box.  He says that thang was uglier than a horned toad..." Flint interrupted with "yea, seriously hideous" and Red continued "...but it acted like a kitten while the guy with the cape was the master.  Guy even seemed to tickle it and make goo-goo noises.  No idea where he went, and not sure I want to know.  Oh, and all them saddle-bum bushwhackers who attacked us is either dead or ran off.  It turns out that you shot their boss near the bushes last night.  Too bad about Regina...I liked her, and you know I don't like nobody.”  Flint and Red both sighed, and then Red said, "Good news though" and Flint looked up when Red added, "This Indian feller knows where I can get some chaw."

Curtis Harrison, coughing the first of the morning's dust out of his lungs, rolled out and up out of the small squat of a mattress he'd taken to in the room above the saloon bar. A finger of bourbon trickled out of the glass he'd just knocked over, which proceeded to roll out into the hallway. The growl over the floorboards was stopped by the tapping of a shoe, and Curtis looked up.

There was Molly. She looked pleased with herself, but that was natural for a dame who tormented his every waking hour, not least of all for ignoring his advances.

"You look like you enjoyed yerself a whole hog last night."
"Can't say I 'member a thing," Curtis remarked, slumping back down on to the bed again, "Wait... what day is it?"
"The day after yest'rday," Molly smirked, turning to head back down to the bar, "Either way, you have a bit of explaining to do downstairs, so I wouldn't wait up."
"Ain't it...?" But she'd already rattled down the staircase. There was an arrangement, wasn't there? The open door wasn't giving him any answers, so he grabbed his hat and half-walked half-stumbled after her.

Curtis wasn't what you'd call the lucky type, but he'd survived his recurring bad decisions on wagers, women and whiskey so far. When he reached the bottom of the stairs, it looked like one of his ill-informed choices had come to fruition again. Molly had moved over to a pile of splintered wood that once could've been bar furniture, and was picking out planks that might be given a second service in life. Walter McKinney stood in front of the bar trying to uncover all of the floor within the mess.

"Ahh. The rooster's up." The barman looked up from his sweeping brush and lent it against the bar to survey his bedraggled lodger. Curtis was still attempting to take in the incomplete scene, previously finished business now being tidied into separate piles of glass and timber. Walter folded his arms and took on a schoolmasters gaze. "Yer sure got yerself into a heap of trouble this time."

"Aww, don't look so blue at me, Walter. It ain't me been raising Cain down here." Curtis half-shrugged and leant to support himself on the bannister, one of the few saloon features still intact.
"This here I ain't too fussed over, I seen it before." The stern look on Walter's face didn't change, making Curtis a little uneasy with his initial cocksure stance. "But damned I'll be if you ain't ridin' the rails before sundown."
"Hey, I'm all abroad here. Unless yer just bein' an old croaker yer gonna have to fill me in." This seemed to tip Walter over whatever restraint he'd been trying to keep, turning his stare into a scowl.
"If you ain't twigged it by now, just pack your plunder and skedaddle, 'cause I ain't housin' yer slazy hide no more."
"Hey!" Molly cut in, giving Walter a matching glare, "He may get soaked but he ain't no criminal."
"It's alright Molly. I'm still stumped but yous no need to cover my back, I was thinkin' o' leavin' this day anyways." The yell of activity suddenly came with it a level of sobriety, and Curtis started off towards the doors, and pushed through the daylight, leaving Molly sighing at the swinging doors and Walter with a parting comment.
"I tell you Molly, he's just trouble, and this time he's as good as gone."

The day was settled in, and Curtis began to remember his deed of the evening. An old acquaintance had shored up in town to get him to pony up some old settlement. It had started pleasant, but before long he'd shot his mouth off and made some folks uncomfortable. He'd sure been fobbed off, alright. And now he knew he had to leave town. Curtis untied his long-suffering companion from the saloon front and climbed up to prepare his exit. Looking down to the south, he could see another rider, blurred out in the glare of the sun. It had to be him.

"You goin' somewhere?" came the gruffled shout from the figure just as Curtis turned the horse to the northern side of town. He kept his eyes low and shuffled his steed into a canter. He could get away with this, right? It had worked before. Just settle up in another town to keep the head low for a little while, let the wind blow whatever misdeeds he'd been unlucky enough to stumble in to and find someone to ride the river with from another saloon.

Curtis was approaching the town limits at a fair speed just as a shot rang out from behind. Curtis grimaced and waited for the stab of pain, the stain of blood. But he wasn't hit! He was going to get away with it!

The last thing Curtis saw that day was the sight of the town sign, proudly displaying 'Welcome to Leadville! : Population 65', swinging down towards his face.
Current Project: A Hard Day's Knight

Ponch

  • AGS Baker
  • Fancy!
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    • Ponch worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Ponch worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
I like how this competition has shaped up!
*

Tenacious Stu

  • AGS Baker
  • Scared Square Games
    • I can help with play testing
    • I can help with story design
    • Tenacious Stu worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Tenacious Stu worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Okay, we have three great entries and the three great trophies, so everyone will get a prize  ;D

Let the voting commence:

Ponch

  • AGS Baker
  • Fancy!
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    • Ponch worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Ponch worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Excellent entries this time. My vote goes to kconan.
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kconan

  • After⇐---†”---⇒Before
    • kconan worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Ponch AKA PE3nch

Ponch pour moi.
Current Project: A Hard Day's Knight

Jimbob, for his excellent use of period slang and a criminal being punished for... unrevealed misdeeds. Mysterious.

Tabata

  • mouse-fetishist & smiley-maniac
    • Tabata worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Tabata worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Hey members - are you bad in english or did you just miss to read the offered stories?