Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Story With No Name Part 14 by Yours Truly

The No Name Wonder marches on, this time through the desert.
Parts 1-10 await you at The Culbin Trail.
Part 11 is at Open Range.
Part 12 at Charlie's Tokyo West Blog.
Part 13 at Broken Trails.

We're now three deep into Round 2, though new scribes are always welcome. Care to join in?

Part 14 by Evan Lewis

Walt Arnside had died and gone to Hell.

Or so it seemed, as the Yuma Desert pitched and rolled like a stormy sea.

What madness had put him astride a camel? True, he’d served in the U.S. Camel Corps, but that was ancient history. Before the war, before the gambling, before the marshaling. He’d been young then, young and stupid. And even then, he’d ridden the beasts only as a lark. The Corps had used them as pack animals, not mounts.

Walt’s clothing was stiff with sweat, his eyes poached, his throat ravaged from breathing sand. He'd forgotten the camels’ least endearing quality: an odor like curdled milk, piss, decayed flesh and pigshit - all rolled into one.

To make matters worse, Zack Roden was clearly enjoying himself. He perched atop the high saddle like a rooster, regaling Lola with tales of his none-too-savory past.

Lola, too, was remarkably at ease. She sat side-saddle on her camel’s hump, lovely legs curled against the beast’s flank. She glowed like a child on her first pony ride.

Walt’s only consolation was that Silas was at least as miserable as he. Having long since lost his breakfast, Silas sagged forward, bracing hands on the camel’s neck.

The handler Hassan rode rings around them all. Scorning a saddle, he’d straddled his mount behind the hump, leaning back with legs outstretched, and fairly flew across the sands.

Walt cursed himself for joining this mad quest. A ship in the desert. A treasure in Spanish doubloons. A Secret Society of guardians. It was the stuff of an opium dream.

Then there were his allies - two men who had once been friends, a woman he’d once loved. All had betrayed him at one time or another, and one was betraying him now - to a human scorpion called Vic Sawtell. But which? The question clogged his throat with bile.

A jolt nearly toppled him from the saddle. The camel, of its own volition, had begun to gallop. The others were running too. Hassan steered his mount between them, barking orders in his strange tongue, but to no avail.

“They smell water!” He shouted. “And will not be denied!”

All the riders could do was hold tight as the camels charged pell-mell across the desert.

The beasts did not slow until they reached a small stream, where they thrust their heads into the water and slurped noisily.

Roden’s face was a mask of fury. Jumping to the ground, he buried the sharp toe of his boot in his mount’s underbelly. The beast squalled, whipping its head about. Flashing teeth bit deep into Roden’s thigh. Roden howled, jerked the Navy Colt from its holster.

Walt leapt headfirst from his saddle, still flying as his fist crashed against Roden’s jaw. Roden’s head snapped full around before his body struck the earth.

Lola squealed, but for whom?

Roden’s camel arched its neck and spat. Its foul-smelling cud smacked against Roden’s cheek, dribbling ooze between his lips. Roden sputtered, shook his head and groped blindly for his gun.

Walt tensed, ready for whatever came. But a sharp cry from Hassan spun his head around.

“Look!” The handler aimed his riding crop toward the West.

Atop a distant ridge, two dark figures sat their horses. Watching.

Walt strode to his camel, drew the Winchester from its scabbard.

Lola clutched his arm. "Who are they?"

Walt levered a shell into the chamber, spat onto the sand.



Ray said...

Great stuff - now there are Apaches on the horizon.

Evan Lewis said...

Thanks, Ray. Who wants to introduce us to those Apaches? Ian, Gary, Ranger Jim? Joe, Cap'n, Richard? Paul, Chantel? The Texan with the oft-used pen-name "And More"?

Laurie Powers said...

Man, camels and Apaches. If I didn't know better I'd think you all were writing this a la Timothy Leary. All this and NaNoWriMo too. Very impressive. And don't look at me - I don't know squat about Apaches.

Joseph A. West said...

Aw shoot, I just got a new book contract, so I'm already chipping the granite block with a plastic knife.
Somebody volunteer so I don't feel guilty...

Evan Lewis said...

Congrats on the contract, Joe. I've just started reading your first Gunsmoke, which I can ALREADY recommend heartily.

Evan Lewis said...

Mr. James J. Griffin, author of Part 6 (among many other things) has answered the call to write Part 15. Stay tuned for news on where it will appear.

JerThom said...

Excellent Evan. Infact, I must say I'm impressed by the entire collaboration, and how well each is trying to keep the tone of the piece similar. There's been an exception or two, but overall it's thumbs-up!

Richard Prosch said...

Hey Dave --Just got around to reading your latest contribution --GREAT work! Where there are Apaches, can Geronimo be far behind?