Western-Fantasy Vignette #1

He went without rushing, but without hesitation.  He stopped when he’d gone perhaps a quarter mile, and drew in another long chestful of air.  His nose picked up the odor again, more pungent now, but still subtle.  He hoped the lair wouldn’t be high up in the cliff walls.  They stretched five hundred feet or so into the cloud overhead.  He didn’t have means to climb the sheer walls.  Getting equipped would mean another week or more, with a return trip to Gray Gulch and back.  He’d know soon enough.

He put on hand on the narrow canyon’s wall.  He hadn’t reached the first fork yet — there were hundreds, maybe thousands as the canyon spread farther in — and listened.

He knew the fog would muffle sound, and the quarry wouldn’t make much if any noise, but he listened anyway.

Just the wet trickle of condensing cloud running down rock walls.

The gravelly floor of the canyon formed a shallow V and ran away into the misty depths.  A lazy rivulet no wider than a man’s hand rolled around rocks, over pebbles and across the dirt of the country.  He followed it.  The canyon bent hard to the right as he progressed.  Here, he had to be careful.

Silent death could await around any boulder, outcropping or fork in the path.

He smelled the air again.  Listened.  Leaned forward and looked around the corner.

He could only see twenty, maybe thirty feet into the bend, but what he saw looked clear.  He came forward.  Just ahead, behind the foggy curtain, the first fork would come.  He’d have to decide which path to take.

He stared hard at the ground, looking for sign.  He dropped onto his haunches again and watched the moist ground for any trace it might give up.  The wet from the cloud cover made fresh tracks hard to find.  They got hidden fast in this environment.

Nothing betrayed a passing.  If it came this way, it wasn’t on foot.

He got nervous for a moment, checked his gunbelt.  The cartridges stood with the leaden sky dulling their brass casings and copper heads.  Dry, despite the moisture.  He nodded.

Wet powder doesn’t fire.  He’d need to fire, and fire fast, if he found what he was looking for.

A clatter of rocks echoed in the canyon.  He darted to his feet faster than a blink, hand on the butt of the right gun.  He stared, stock-still, into the foggy veil.

One minute.  Two.

Nothing.  Silence.

He swallowed hard and wondered again about his decision to do this.  He stood disadvantaged at every angle.  The fog, the moisture, the canyon — all worked in favor of the quarry.  This wasn’t his first encounter by a long stretch, but he hadn’t faced anything like this situation, this setting, before.

7 thoughts on “Western-Fantasy Vignette #1

  1. freshet – hey I learned a new word today.

    If I had dreams like that, I don’t think I’d ever sleep.

    Oh, I’ve had far worse. This was pretty mild; it was like watching a movie, as many of my dreams are. You could’ve easily handle it, being a zombie wrangler and all. Thanks for the time to read and comment, Bryce!

  2. Cool, man. You put me right in the dream. This vignette is actually a story, though, as far as I can see. Maybe if you tweaked the last few sentences to be more definitive.

    That’s interesting, Sher; I didn’t see a beginning really, just an en medias res thing. And the middle’s the bulk, but there’s not really an end (I see what you mean by making it more definitive). A unique perspective.

    I’m sure Fal gave you her ideas on the symbolism of the dream: the fog obscuring many paths, the sense of danger you can’t see coming, etc.

    Actually, no, this is the first I’ve heard of it! Ha! Never thought of the symbols at all. Hopefully, this isn’t an ominous sign of things to come. 😀

    1. It’s a dream and dreams don’t end, they just stop when you wake. Dreaming is like being on a treadmill. Always know when the reading is really good, have to have the dictionary close by. Had this picture of you as a 5 yr old boy with yellow sticky notes all over you with ‘special’ words on each note, rolling down a grass knoll trying to read each note while tumbling and laughing. At the bottom of knoll is a very big Webster’s. I’ll just have to quit posting so much and start reading more. Terrific! You do the same thing as I do with the poetry. When given the choice you opt for the ‘special’ word. Like the whip cream on top.

      Thank you, Sara! I’m glad you took the time. I hope I didn’t put you off with TOO many special words, but I appreciate the time you took to come by and read my work. 🙂

  3. I don’t know how you do it, but you’re fan-freaking-tastic at embellishing the mental image that I have in my head of the scenery, character, and action. Through your words I’m able to see roughly the scene as it went through your head.

    I don’t know how YOU do it, but YOU are fan-freakin’-tastic at making ME feel like an honest-to-goodness, no-joke, bona fide WRITER. 🙂 This is the challenge ALL writers face; can you communicate with the reader over time and distance with your mental telepathy? You made my day with this bit, love. Thanks.

    I’m still uncertain what the platinum was about but I’m sure that’s more on me as the reader than you as the writer.

    I didn’t go into it; if I don’t go forward any more with this, I’ll sharpen it up. Basically, platinum is the catalytic element so the wyrm can … ready? Breathe fire.

    Nice use of the term ‘lazy’ to describe the stream. That sentence would have sucked ass without it and been much weaker had you used something lame like, “meandered.”

    Well, thanks! 🙂 I tried to convey a cowboy-ish western feel without being TOO cliched.

    Good work – glad to see you stepping outside your comfort zone 🙂

    🙂 Couldn’t do it without the encouragement of all of you, starting with my loving wife and working outward to my good and trusted friends. 🙂

  4. Nice story! Very original. You have a great way with words, but I wonder if you pay attention to how you brandish them at times…I received a bit of advice in my writing a while back that I would be humbled to give you if you would hear it: Be sure to keep your adjectives to a minimum when strung together so closely (like when you were describing the terrain: the grainy, sandy gravel…sandy and grainy are almost one and the same thing)…I was told to eliminate one adjective and to keep the one with the most emphasis on what my picture portrays. 🙂

    Sage advice, Taylor! Thank you! I appreciate the feedback and the kind words. I do go over the top with description sometimes. I’ve heard it before, and I have to learn to tone it down. This gentle reminder will help. Thank you again!

    You have a fine style. Please keep writing! 🙂

    I appreciate that! I’ll try! 🙂

    God bless,
    Taylor J. Beisler


  5. Once again I envy your ability at descriptions, very evocative stuff. If I wrote a scene like that it would have been to darn short. You do good work. Keep at it.

    Thanks, Al. I appreciate the kind words. I’ll do my best to keep at it. I’ve been writing a LOOOOOOOONNNNG time; don’t see it changing any time soon. 🙂

  6. Awesome! I have to make you a victim in a story and rid the world of your existence due to the envy I have. From one guy trying to write horror to another guy actually writing horror, I hate you. THIS IS GOOD STUFF! I’m a big fan of westerns and always have said western horror stories are missing from the world. I’ll be watching you. I’ll check the rest of your work. Do you mind if I post your site on my blogroll? I agree with Taylor in adj. use. I know it because I do it so often. Your stuff needs to be read and spread. Encore! Encore!

    Thanks, horrorible! I’m flattered; I’ve never gotten a death threat for being talented before! It makes me all warm and gooey inside, like a pus-filled zit. I’m going to check out your work soon. Thank you so much for your kind words of support, and for spending some of your valuable time with me. I’m very grateful and look forward to being on your blog roll and adding you to mine! Thank you!

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