Western Fiction posted November 1, 2016

This work has reached the exceptional level
Chapter One

The Lone Horseman

by Brett Matthew West

He came riding in on the sunrise, slowly looking all around. The thick blackness of the moonless night melted into the golden glow of the dawn's early light. A vast silence filled the humid air. The only sound the rider heard was the occasional snorting of the chestnut stallion he straddled. No frogs croaked. No owls hooted. Nothing stirred.

Nestled deep in the untamed Arizona Territory, and stretched ahead of the stranger, was the small settlement of Morgan Gulch. Behind him? Behind him laid a long forgotten past.

A burning question remained on his mind as he cautiously guided his steady mount past the sagebrush, prickly pears, and bristling bramble bushes along the path he traveled. Was he running to something? Or, was he escaping from what he left behind?

"Whoa up, Scout!" the rider commanded his horse as he tightened the leather reins clinched in his hand that relayed his instructions to the proud sorrel to stop where he stood.

Caked in trail dust, the pair had ridden too hard, for too long, covering the five hundred miles that brought them to the deep valley. They had spent many nights on dangerous ground. The stranger could still smell the smoke of a raging distant fire. He could also recall the flames of desire as they licked the memories in the far corners of his mind.

But, that's all they were, fleeting memories, and soon they'd disappear too, like the life he had chosen. Andre Mortimer had made his decision a long time ago in another place. It was the wild frontier that created what he had become.

The Colt .45 that dangled at his right hip carried fame. In the scabbard of his saddle was his Winchester rifle. On too many occasions, he'd used the firearms. Mostly to stay alive in the unforgiving wilderness.

The handle of the Colt held a grooved notch for each ounce of lead Mortimer had expended. They were numerous. Too high a number to count. Soon there would be more.

The conflict raged on in his exhausted mind. Was he a cold-blooded killer or a hired hand handsomely rewarded for his gallantry in battle? Perhaps a touch of both rang true. Long ago, in another life, he'd walked the straight and narrow. Had he crossed over the fine line past the point of no return? In the savage Arizona Territory did it matter?

Mortimer loosened the reins in his weathered hand. He allowed his horse to slowly canter forward. A date with destiny awaited him. The sleepy little village beckoned. Blood would be shed.

Andre Mortimer pushed down off the hill.


In case you are wondering my Cody Schroder fans, this story will not replace him.

Cody has so many more antics for all of us to enjoy!

Fire In The Valley, by Bretislav, selected to compliment my story.

So, thanks Bretislav, for the use of your picture. It goes so nicely with my little story.

Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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