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

Guns of Justice by Chris Leek

Part one

The Jailhouse door banged open, bringing down dust from the rafters and toppling the stack of papers on Wade Pollock’s desk. “Goddammit!”  Wade said shading his eyes against the bright spill of spring sunshine that invaded his office. A man stood in the doorway, he was nearly as wide as he was tall and looked about ready to chew up iron and shit out nails. Wade knew him right off; his picture was pinned up across from his desk. The wanted

The Last Shot by Ron Earl Phillips

Part two

Frank Dunne sat on his gray mare, watching out over the hillside as Dirks Andersen and his boys wrangled nearly a 100 head of cattle down from the ridge. He had to get them corralled by suppertime; else he feared he might lose more to the wolves that ventured out at night. He saw a rider tearing up over the ridge about a quarter mile from the west. Frank knew the horse, a chestnut with a large splash of white

The Last Shot by Ron Earl Phillips

Part one

“Marshal? Do you think I’ll hang?” Hank Markum said nothing at first, taking a sip from his coffee before considering the grave question of his prisoner. He looked across the fire, the flickering light played against the boy’s youthful appearance making him seem younger than his nineteen years. The tremble in Caleb Monroe’s voice only impressed upon the marshal that this was no grown man he was taking to the gallows. “Son, they already strung up that boy, Oren Canter, and