Obsidian by Ryan Sayles

Part four

Buford hit the town at a dead sprint. The horse lathered and snorted in the greatest exertion of its life. Buford worried the thing would just give up, exhausted, and buck him off. Leave him to his own feet to carry him further. The heat emanating from the town baked him he was so close. The shattering crack of support beams giving, a roof swallowing inside itself and another building lost. Buford had seen glimpses and snatches of the dead between

Obsidian by Ryan Sayles

Part three

Buford saw no sign other than some boot prints in the hefty grain of desert sand. Buford turned in circles, but the dusk was fading. He approached the dead horse. Scrawny, withered. Its viscous, blank eyes bulged. Hornsby’s trusted quarter horse, gone to rot and worse. The living horse—a paint, patterned in brown and white—didn’t care to be lashed off to it; that much was apparent. It was constantly making small steps like a beginning tap dancer. Tugging at its

Obsidian by Ryan Sayles

Part two

Obsidian woke from a dream and stared at the cool desert sky. Something sleek and black skittered across his nude chest. Its tail formed a drooping C; a single teardrop of venom dangling from the stinger tip. Obsidian looked down and saw the coal black scorpion halt mid-stride as a rattler’s head wove up along his chest. Obsidian could feel the thing’s dry scales run along the flesh of his ribcage and inner arm; rising from its coiled nest in

Obsidian by Ryan Sayles

Part one

Deputy Buford threw a haymaker across the drunk’s jaw. The man spun on his heels like he was one of those French dancers—and a trail of spit, whiskey and blood slung out from between his teeth. He dropped cold on the sawdust, the whole bar shook but the pianist never missed a beat. Two travelers at the bar stared at Buford, tipped their beers. “That the law in this town, deputy?” Buford let the sting of the punch evaporate from his

Ballad of Jeremy Diggitt by Chuck Regan

Part two

You sure that's all you'll need? I know you're good for it. You can pay me back whenever you . . . Ethel said, her head cocked. Milla interrupted her friend. Thanks, Eth, but you have your own troubles. I can't owe anyone, especially now. I can write anything I want off as a loss. Damaged stock. Those crickets can be ornery. Milla smiled and patted her daughter on the head. You hear this, Gin-Gin? People don't do this for each other in

Ballad of Jeremy Diggitt by Chuck Regan

Part one

Jeremy Diggitt pulled free a shard of crumpled metal from the Martian dust. He huffed out a disgusted sigh and surveyed his ruined crop field. Something had crushed every one of the 312 steam vents, leaving nothing but piles of tortured metal. Although wind had scoured away most of the evidence, traces of tracks remained in the red dust in too precise a pattern for a human driver to have made them. He scanned the grid of imprints and

Guns of Justice by Chris Leek

Part four

Copper tailings from the played-out mine at the top of the canyon were heaped up on one side of the camp. The small patch of open ground had once been cleared by logging, but the forest was well on its way to taking it back. Clay Billings huddled close to the cooking fire, propped up against a rotten pine log. Sunlight was filtering down through the ring of surrounding trees, but did little to take the chill from the

Guns of Justice by Chris Leek

Part three

Bruce picked his way down the stony river bank and splashed out across the shallows. McCann let herself relax a little as the horse gained a footing on the far side. She followed the rutted wagon track that wound up through the scrub pine towards a range of bald hills, the last patches of winter snow on their summits lost in the failing light. This was a hard country, full of rough gullies and broken trails. Here you were

Guns of Justice by Chris Leek

Part two

McCann waited impatiently outside the livery while old man Sayles finished hitching a spike team to his beat up flatbed.  She wanted to be across the river and on familiar trails before dark. “Could you see your way to hurrying it along some?” “Alright, missy, don’t go getting knots in your rope.” Sayles tied off the reins and wiped tobacco juice from his whiskers to the back of his hand and finally on to his bib overalls. “That’ll be two bits