The Trails out west have gotten longer…and darker

I wuz riding herd from Billings to Cheyenne last fall, hopin’ t’ get through the rockies before the big snows. It wuz already late in the season, but ya caint rush them doggies. Don’t know if’n it was jus’ the chill in th’ air, or what, but them vaca was spooked the whole way. The Trail Boss, Hawkins, was cold and hard as northern winter, and never said a word but to bark out an order. He weren’t an evil man, but I saw him use a brandin iron on a man who took a drunken swing at ’im. Hope he made it somewhere, using just the boot leather express. Well, that ’bout sets up my story…

I was runnin’ night guard. A dry snow had started a flurry, and I had already sent a couple a a’ cutters to bring in a few that’d started’a strayin. Even though the wind should’a been wailin up a storm, the snow must’a kept it quiet. Even the herd was quiet. I ain’t sure I ever heard that kinda quiet, but the dustin of snow must’a kept the hooves from crunchin’. I decided to whistle me up some noise, but my whislin’ just made the silence all the more unsettlin’. So there I sat, on the back of my ol’ quarter horse, shiverin in my goose down coat, not just from the cold, I think.

Then from behind, i hear a raspy voice say “Storms a’comin’.” Bout jumped outta my skin. when my heart started beatin again, I leaned around, and there stood Hawkins, Just wearing his checkered cotton shirt, top two buttons open, like he was ridin hard in the sun. He struck hisself a quirley, and took a long draw. “Already Here,” says I, and he just stared at me a moment, and I swear his eyes flashed green, but that musta just been my nerves. “Nope. A real blow. Like the Devils own,” says he around that cigarette.

Then, faster’n lightin’, he skins his smoke wagon an fans off ‘bout 5 er 6 quicker’n I can count. And from the other side a me I hear something smack and slide on the dirt. If I ain’t’a seen it with my own eyes I know I’d think I’d had a bit much a’ the red-eye…but…hand on th’ bible, was a scare crow, half of its stuffin’ blown out the side…an…lyin’ in the straw, sumthin’ that looked like a baby boy, with no skin, a tiny head, an a heart, black as the bottom of a coal mine that beat once, twice, an stopped…my horse musta seed sumthin of it, or was somehow spooked by the thunder at his hind quarters, cause he spilled me right next t’ the thing and run’d off in the dark. I wasted some a Cookies best beans right there, an Hawkins says “Run,” calm as a school marm in church. I didn’t need anymore encouragin’ an I lit out…

Next mornin’ I found my way back t’the herd after runnin blind for longer’n I know. Half the vaca’s, and 4 of the boys was torn open, with less than half of em left. Never saw Hawkins agin. We pushed them doggies hard, ridin through nights. When we got t’ Cheyenne, most of ‘em wernet but bag’s a bones, but…I ain’t spendin’ a night rough again. Maybe I’ll just live out my days here in this here town…

Welcome to the Wierd West, Amigo

Where a cowhands favorite pastimes no longer include ghost stories, and things that go bump in the night usually ain’t worth lookin’ into. Are your gut’s strong enough to go out at night? Have you learned Hoyle’ secrets? Or does the Lord guide your hand, and task you to protect his flock? Maybe your a soiled dove that has just had enough, or seen more that that? The West is slowly sinkin into darkness, and it needs a few fellers, an maybe a few ladys as well, to keep it from goin under like most a’ California…

Storms a' comin'

MasterGameMaster sacredfire80 AMKoenig DennisSaunders MalkyntheChary moryia