This was one tough ask.
I remembered what Nik Morton and Charlie Whipple said about focusing on your character. I just hope that I've done you guys proud.
What follows is Part 17 of the Story With No Name from Peter Averillo.
To catch up the first sixteen parts are now all in one place at The Culbin Trail. The link is http://ijparnham.blogspot.com
Loads of writers have taken part in producing this story and include I.J.Parnham, Jack Giles, Chuck Tyrell, Jack Martin, Evan Lewis, James J. Griffin, Joseph A. West, Robert S. Napier, Richard Prosch and Paul Dellinger.
I have really enjoyed taking part.
THE STORY WITH NO NAME Part 17
The town of Bannon was quiet under the heat of the midday sun when Walt Arnside rode along the main street.
He was stiff and tired from the journey that had been punctuated with nights of fitful sleep.
All he wanted was to fill his aching belly and find a soft bed where he hoped to sleep without being plagued by the nightmares of his desert experience.
He had howled as the blood flowed back into his right hand causing painful spasms. Pain that was replaced by anger as he fought the knots that bound his left hand to the stake. Anger that was not spent when, with a rasping roar, he sent the Texas Ranger badge flying through the air to plop, in a spray of sand, close to Silas Bartlett’s feet.
And then more pain as blood rushed through his starved ankles into his feet. Rolling, cursing as each spasm surged up his legs.
Only when his body settled did he try to stand and staggered over to the remains of Silas Bartlett where he plucked the lance free. He paid no attention as the corpse crumpled to the ground. Instead he concentrated on plunging the tip into the sand to clean it. But even then his imagination played with his anger as each time the tip hit the sand so it was stabbing into the body of Zack Roden. Into the body of Silas Bartlett. And into that of a man named Bourbon.
Until exhaustion and tears of frustration drove him to his knees.
Slowly, sanity came back to him and with it an absolute priority. Using the lance as a support he pulled himself back to his feet, then hacked at the cactus. Holding the mashed flesh above his mouth squeezing precious drops of water onto his tongue. Groaning as the water moisted his tongue, mouth and throat.
It was nearly dusk by the time he felt strong enough to crawl to where Deuce Harmon’s body still lay stiff in death. Painfully, stretching taut burned skin he had stripped the clothes from the corpse and dressed himself before laying back in the sand waiting for his strength to return.
He stared long and hard at the mass of tracks that pointed south west and knew that he was in no fit state to go off in pursuit. He had to be stronger and better equipped before he could even think of going on the vengeance trail.
The galleon, even if it existed, was no longer the goal. He wished that he had never heard of the damned boat. Wished that he had not stopped that train nor heeded Silas Bartlett’s call. For from that point on he had been shot at, gutshot and left for dead and, been staked out to die in the desert. He had put his life on the line for people that he had looked upon as friends and each had turned out to be an enemy. Nor could he be certain where Lola stood in all this.
Where to go? Matlock would not be safe and he had no wish to head back to Lola’s cabin. Bannon seemed to beckon as the safest haven where he could work out what to do next.
Slowly, he climbed to his feet and crested a dune. He stopped dead, his mouth gaping as he saw Harmon’s horse tethered to a cactus. Looking cautiously around him he approached the animal.
“What the hell?” he croaked, sure that the animal had run off after Sawtell had emptied the saddle. Then allowed himself to grin. “Thanks, Sawtell. I do have a fighting chance – now.”
After leaving his horse in the livery, Walt strode across the hardpan to the cafe opposite. He felt a tad rich after he had discovered just over fifteen dollars in notes and loose change in Harmon’s denims. At least he could pay for his immediate needs.
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