Western-Fantasy Vignette #1

He drew a long, steadying breath.  When he got control of his heart beat — and his doubt — he pressed on.

He came to the first fork a few minutes later.  He stared down one avenue, then the other.  The right path went on ahead as far as he could see — more than a hundred yards now, the fog held off the canyon floor but still obscuring the walls — then branched at a wide spot into more paths.  He couldn’t tell how many.

The left branch wound into a bend about twenty yards in and hid its secrets from prying eyes.  He’d have to follow it to see what waited there.

He shook his head, frustrated.  He wondered at the time, and regretted not having the pocket watch with him.  If he didn’t find the lair soon — maybe another hour or two — he’d go back and bring the horse in.  If things kept up like this, he’d have to decide on spending the night in the canyon.

He didn’t want to do that.  Not if he could help it.

Another tumble of debris rolled down the cliff behind him.  He snapped around rattler-quick, hand on the gun handle, fingertips on the snap securing it in the holster, ready to free it.  He almost drew when he noted the lazy roil of the cloud just above the spill, but held his hand when it stilled and resumed the lazy waltz of the fog.  A second of detritus clattered down the cliff in a trail of rubble, then stopped.  Silence followed, deafening in its weight.

Something nagged at the back of his mind.  He tried to focus on it, clarify it, but it eluded him.  He turned back to the fork in the canyon, decided to go right.

He stepped more carefully now, cat-quiet, ears primed and eyes straining, scanning, searching.  His hand never drifted far from the waiting gun.

The canyon bothered him, but he couldn’t put his finger on why.  It was narrow, but opened more as he went farther in down this branch.  As he penetrated the murk, the walls in the opening ahead slanted up out of sight.  A finger of rock stabbed up in the wide spot, blunt tip a shadow in the denser mist near its top but still visible.  The narrow base spanned thirty or thirty-five feet around.  It rose twenty yards, maybe less.  As he approached the opening, others like it emerged from the gray, silhouette sentinels in the tendrils of the fog.

He froze.

The reason he didn’t like the canyon, the reason for the tiny landslides, smashed down on him like an anvil.  He turned to flee back into the narrow passage, get out of the more open area.

Too late.

He saw the talons a split second before they struck.

The wind exploded out of him.  White bolts of pain erupted throughout his body.  He kept his hands away from the snaps on the holsters, and a cold flame burned his side, his ribs, back.  The scream shattered out of him despite his effort to hold it in.  He felt the warm freshet run beneath his clothes.

The huge leathery wings beat once, twice.  He turned his head and saw the jutting finger of rock approaching with the speed of a rushing locomotive engine.  The wings beat again, and in a battering wind the floor of the canyon fell away and the cloud swallowed them.

He tried to recover his breath but the constricting scaled feet clutched him about the ribs.  They weren’t large enough to encircle him, but the claws sank deep into his flesh.

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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