Author Topic: A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge  (Read 2735 times)

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Offline Thorgrimm

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A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge
« on: March 29, 2016, 10:17:56 AM »
This has nothing to do with Banished, or any other game. It is just a short story I wrote, and like to share with others.

It is quite small, just a hair over 2600 words. I hope you folks like it.  :)


Part One

Robert walked into the saloon to wash off some of the trail dust on his insides before finding a hotel to wash it off of his outside. Ryder glanced around the saloon as he tried to dust himself off.

Almost immediately Robert noticed the rebel sitting in the corner. The Reb must have noticed his blue tunic too, since he got up and approached him with a sneer on his face. At once Robert headed for the furthest corner, knowing that the only reason that he was in the saloon was his in desire to acquire the bounty offered on ‘Killer’ Johnson.
 
“I heard you Bluebellies got yer butts kicked by the savages up north,” The Reb said with a sneer. “Seein’ as how you boys cannot even beat the savages, it’s a wonder how you boys ever beat the Confederacy.”
 
Robert just smiled and pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose before answering. “We did it because they had scum like you fighting for them. By the way you look, and murder the English language, I will bet a sawbuck, that you were a part of ‘Bloody’ Bill Anderson’s cutthroats.”

“Bluebelly, you would lose that bet. I were with General Forrest hisself,” The Rebel said, beaming with pride about that fact. “There weren’t none of you boys ole’ Nathan couldn’t whup, nor ride circles around.”

“I beg to differ, my odious friend. Two names that disprove your false statement are Newton’s Station and Baton Rouge. I was at both places and we had no problems outfoxing Forrest.”

“You was with Grierson at Newton’s Station?” The man said with evident shock as the sneer left his face.

“I commanded the 1st Iowa Cavalry,” Robert shot back.

“I heard tell of the 1st Iowa,” The man said with awe. “It were commanded by the only man that ever outrode General Forrest hisself. You can’t be that man.”

“You see this scar over, and below, my right eye? That was given to me by General Forrest himself, as I rode by him and his command into Baton Rouge.”

The rebel broke out into a wide smile. “General Forrest often spoke of the one man who he couldn't catch, and often mentioned that he had gotten away, even though he had slashed the Yankee in the face with his saber. General Forrest called him the ‘Ghost Ryder’.”

“I had heard that was the name that Nathan had given me,” Robert said with a big smile plastered on his face.

“Put it there Colonel!” The Rebel suddenly said as he extended his hand out for Robert to shake. “The General told us that if we ever came across the ‘Ghost Ryder’ that we were to shake his hand and buy him a drink.” With that both men sat down at the table and began to reminisce about old times.

Eventually Robert had to change the subject and ask Johnny Reb a few questions. “I am looking for a man, ‘Killer’ Johnson. Have you heard anything about his where abouts?”

Johnny quickly grabbed his shot of whiskey and downed it in one gulp. He fearfully glanced around the saloon before continuing. “Last I heard tell was that ‘Killer’ Johnson was heading west, hoping to hole up in Prospector’s Ridge.”

Robert was disturbed by this revelation. “Now why in the name of the almighty would Johnson want to hole up in that God forsaken town?”

“Who the hell knows? But, since I’m a bettin’ man, and I would bet that Johnson is hoping that the town’s reputation would scare off any Bounty Killers.” Johnny said with a saw-toothed grin, before he continued. “I would also bet a  sawbuck that them there stories, and that town’s reputation, won’t scare off the likes of the ‘Ghost’ Ryder, would they Colonel?”

Robert broke out into a smile. “That would be a safe bet for you to make, my friend.”

Robert downed his shot of whiskey and headed for the entrance of the saloon. “See you in hell Johnny Reb!”

Johnny just raised his shot glass in a salute. “See you in hell Billy Yank!”


***


The sudden peal of thunder caused Robert to glance at the sky. What he saw filled him with dread.

Robert idly wondered if it was wise to continue to track Johnson, in the hope of getting the drop on him, or whether he should find shelter. A sudden bolt of lightning made his decision for him: Shelter it was!

The moisture-laden clouds were getting closer to the ground, and they were ‘going green’. Moreover, and as anyone experienced with the outdoors will tell you, a rain-filled sky going green was very bad news.

Even ‘Ole Bill, his trusty horse and companion ever since the War Between the States, was getting spooked. Bill was snorting and becoming evermore skittish.

Instinctively, both man and horse realized that it was going to be a gully washer of a storm. Moreover, they also knew that if they were going to survive, they needed to find shelter in which to ride the storm out.

With a heavy sigh Robert turned his gaze from the sky to the western horizon. He knew that the only place where he would be able to find refuge from the swiftly approaching storm was where Johnson was supposed to be heading, the abandoned mining town of Prospector’s Ridge, Oklahoma.

However, the name that the town was most famous for was just a bit more disconcerting than the off chance that Johnson would get the drop on him. Prospector’s Ridge was also known as the Town of the Dead. The stories of folks who have tried to find refuge from the storms of Central Oklahoma, and abandoning the attempt, were legendary.

The stories were told by many different people, of just as many different professions, yet they all ended the same way. To a man every single person said that by midnight they would rather brave the storm than spend another moment in that accursed town.

Ghost stories did not bother the ‘Ghost Ryder’. However, the tales of the people who were known to have been heading for Prospector’s Ridge, and were never seen again, was disconcertingly large, and in the extreme.


Cheers, Thor
The Mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lit - Plutarch

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2016, 04:02:08 PM »
Nice lead in.  Could go anywhere from a full-on post-revolution novel, to a fantasy complete with aliens kidnapping the missing folks.  Happy imagination.
Go not to the oracle, for it will say both yea and nay.

Offline Thorgrimm

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Re: A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2016, 05:24:59 PM »
@ A Nonny Moose, this story was just a weak attempt by myself to combine two genres in one story. I hope it works for you folks!  :)


Cheers, Thor

The Mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lit - Plutarch

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2016, 07:50:25 AM »
@Thorgrimm : Well, I like the western genre, and the idea of something untoward happening to people who go to Prospector's Ridge.  Now you've got a nice story going, so what happens to "our hero" either during or after the storm?  I rather like cliff hangers too, but now you need to follow through.
Go not to the oracle, for it will say both yea and nay.

Offline Thorgrimm

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Re: A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2016, 07:51:16 AM »

Part Two


‘Ole Bill’s reins were rattling in the wind and thunder as Robert approached the town limits of Prospector’s Ridge. He did not know what bothered him the most, the raven’s caw which, instinctively, he felt was directed at him, or the slowly squeaking windmill as the wind, ever so slowly, rotated the rust-coated vanes in the rising storm.

Robert scanned the Ghost town and decided to hole up at the abandoned saloon. When he arrived Ryder tied 'Ole Bill to the hitching post out front. As he walked up to the entrance he could have sworn that he heard the faint sound of laughter, accompanied by a festive melody played on an out of tune piano.

Yet when he opened the squeaky door to the saloon all Robert could hear was the rain beginning to fall, along with the rising number of peals of thunder as the storm approached. Ryder went back to the hitching post and grabbed Bill’s reins, to lead him into the saloon.

After tying Bill off at the bar Robert glanced around the main room of the saloon. Along with the cobwebs, dust, and decay, he noticed a few things that stood out. On one of the tables he noticed five hands of cards, coated with years of dust, lying on the table, as if a game of poker had been stopped suddenly.

Wondering why he had not noticed it earlier, Robert spotted a few shot glasses that had a brownish tar-like residue in the bottom of the glasses. Like all of the water in the whiskey had evaporated after the drinkers had left them, in a hurry. “What the hell happened here? When does a drunk leave a shot glass full?”

Robert glanced up at the bottles that lined the shelves, next to the center mirror that ran nearly the length of the bar. Most of the bottles were still full! While others had cracked and their contents had evaporated away.

As far as Robert was concerned, if ‘Killer’ Johnson, or anyone else for that matter, had been here in the last ten years they had left no trace of their presence.

The old Bounty Killer glanced up at the mirror just as a bolt of lightning struck. Out of instinct Robert spun on the balls of his feet and pulled his pistol! What he saw was... nothing. Slowly he put his pistol back in its holster.

Robert could have sworn that he had seen the head of a man with a sneer on his face. Yet when he had spun and faced the saloon doors, flapping in the wind, nobody was there.

Nervously, Robert scratched his head in confusion as he walked across the saloon and plunked the keys on the piano a few times. The sound produced was poor, and he knew that the piano was in need of a serious tune up.

Robert wondered even more now whether, or not, the laughter and music that he had heard earlier was real, or just the product of his fevered imagination, running wild with the tales of this town swimming in his head.

With the storm raging around Prospector’s Ridge, ‘Killer’ Johnson was quickly forgotten by the ‘Ghost’ Ryder.

Robert walked back across the saloon and looked out the front door of the decaying building. The rain was coming down in sheets and the storm was such that the area was not fit for man nor beast.

With a snicker he walked over to the bar and rang the bell a few times. Robert’s smile lasted only for a few seconds, wiped off of his face by the thought that he may have, with his bell ringing, attracted the attention of things that were best not disturbed.

Robert sighed and, with his spurs jangling loudly, walked over to a table and sat his saddle bags on the floor and took a seat. The sudden peal of the town’s church bells spooked him to the point of drawing his Colt Navy Dragoon revolver and give the cylinder a spin, to check and see that it had a full load of six rounds.

Robert stood up and holstered his pistol, deciding to check out the saloon, to see if he could find any trace of Johnson.

The kitchen, behind the doors to the left of the bar, was in an advanced state of disrepair. Dishes were stacked up, simply abandoned in the wash tubs. A large spider had spun its web between the handles of two saucepans.

Robert entered into the kitchen, his brown eyes scanning the decrepit room as his black boots scattered years of dust that had settled on the grimy wooden floor. He suddenly began to shiver, forcing him to wrap his ankle length duster tighter around his lanky frame.

Robert stood in the kitchen, shivering. Although he knew that it was midday, in the middle of the summer, the normal intense heat was, somehow, being drowned out by an otherworldly chill.

“Glad there’s nothing here,” Robert whispered nervously to himself. His nerves were getting on edge, while the wind, rain, and constant thundering, was not helping any. He walked out of the kitchen and headed for the stairs that led up to the rooms above the bar.

With the floorboards creaking under his weight Robert headed over to the stairs and looked up at the landing at the top. Right at a woman who was as pale as death itself.

The woman headed to her left and disappeared out of Robert’s sight. Ryder steadied his nerves as he prepared to head up the stairs after the woman he had seen.

The stairs leading up to the second floor creaked even more than the floorboards below in the main room, each one bending far more then they should have been allowed to. As he walked down the hallway Robert found no one waiting anywhere, in any of the rooms.

The rest of the rooms in the building were just like the saloon itself, run down and filled with cobwebs, dust, and decay. One room had once, obviously, belonged to a young girl.

The room probably, many years ago, had been bright and full of color, and now all that was left was faded, peeling wallpaper. Along with other features it gave this room the feel, and look of, extreme sorrow.

“Where did she go?” Robert asked out loud. Not really wanting an answer to that question.

Robert continued to examine the room. The Bounty Killer noticed that the neatly folded sheets looked out of place. However, when he touched them he found out that looks can be deceiving. As soon as he touched the sheets they fell apart and puffed up in the dust of dry-rot.

They had been made up neatly and placed on the bed, most likely by a person that would never sleep in that bed again. Bottles of perfume and hair brushes sat on the mirror backed table, all of which were out of date and had been here for years.

“What’s this?” Something had caught Robert’s attention. He took off his Stetson and laid it on the desk as he bent down to retrieve the item that had drawn his gaze in that direction.

A kerosene lamp was lying on the ground, seemingly out of place with the rest of the room. Considering it useful, Robert picked it up and set it on the desk, while he fished a stick match out of his coat pocket.

Striking the match on the desk Robert plied the tiny flame to the wick, and it flared into life. This indicated that the kerosene had not crystallized and was still good.

Turning to face the mirror, Robert froze, catching sight of his reflection. His chestnut brown hair lay flat along the sides of his head, yet was wild and spiked near the back, where his hat had ruffled it. However, it was his eyes that shocked him, they were bloodshot. Robert looked bone tired, and he felt it too.

Robert’s eyes widened as he saw who stood behind him, a pale, ghost-like, figure of a woman. Her blonde hair was put up in a beehive hairdo, and she was dressed in a ragged set of saloon girl’s clothing as she clutched at a bullet wound to her chest. It was the ghost of a saloon girl.

“Flee this place...” The woman pleaded, in the lifeless echo of a living voice, as she strode towards the Bounty Killer, passing straight through him and out the far wall into the storm. In that moment Robert was lost to the soundless void of unconsciousness.

Robert’s eyes snapped open, looking around from where he was lying on the floor. “Ugh... Last time I disbelieve the rumors about a town.” He mumbled to himself, still holding onto the lantern as he rose back to his feet, causing the dust from the faded carpet to billow up into the air.

Robert headed back down the stairs and sat back down in the chair next to his saddlebags. His encounter with the apparition had unnerved him and set his nerves on edge.

When he got back he noticed that the continued ringing of the church bell had spooked ‘Ole Bill. Something that was more unnerving to Robert than the storm. ‘Ole Bill had heard cannon and musket fire, the rattle of a diamondback, and the horse had never acted like he was acting now.

The old Bounty Killer put his revolver on the dust-covered table and sat back down. Ready for anyone, or anything, to disturb him, or so he hoped. The thunder, and steady rainfall in the background, suggested otherwise.


End


Cheers, Thor
The Mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lit - Plutarch

Offline Thorgrimm

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Re: A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2016, 07:54:26 AM »
@ A Nonny Moose, you posted just before I did. Let me know how you like this section.  ;D


Cheers, Thor
The Mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lit - Plutarch

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2016, 12:42:00 PM »
Going along just fine.  Another short chapter ending with a cliff hanger.  Has our hero eaten anything lately?
Go not to the oracle, for it will say both yea and nay.

Offline Thorgrimm

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Re: A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2016, 05:14:30 PM »
Good question, but this is all there is to this story. The rest is up to the reader to imagine what happened to Robert. :)

However, I do have other stories that are quite a bit longer.


Cheers, Thor
The Mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lit - Plutarch

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2016, 08:09:26 AM »
There are a couple of others, game based, on this topic you might find interesting.  I got tired of mine, so I killed off my principal character.
Go not to the oracle, for it will say both yea and nay.

Offline Thorgrimm

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Re: A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2016, 09:00:05 AM »
Lol, I have never written anything yet that got me so bored I had to kill a main character off. However, and saying that, my main character I have in a series of stories has his death all planned out!  ;D

I think I will post another of my stories. This one is a bit longer, but does not leave so much too the reader to imagine how it ended.  :)


Cheers, Thor
The Mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lit - Plutarch

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2016, 02:21:27 PM »
In "Into the Wild" the problem was that the narrator's family was growing and I was faced with a larger and larger cast of characters.  One of the problems that one has with a big cast is that everyone has to have a name, profession, and some talents.  Then you also have interpersonal relationships.  Tracking starts to get very tedious.  Keep your cast small or you'll regret it.

And watch that "It was a dark and stormy night" stuff.  That got the Bulwer Lytton award for the most tedious opening sentence a few years back.  If you've never read any of Lytton's stuff consider yourself saved.

I just don't have the kind of mind set that Leo Tolstoy must have had.  It took me about a year to get through War and Peace with lots of time off between sessions.  Every character in that tome has at least three names, which I gather was pretty normal in Russian society of the time.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 02:25:44 PM by A Nonny Moose »
Go not to the oracle, for it will say both yea and nay.

Offline Thorgrimm

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Re: A Stormy Night in Prospector's Ridge
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2016, 05:41:26 PM »
Yep, I have seen the cast bloat and did what was needed, killed a few off. Never read any of Lytton's stuff.

You see my openings never use that line...  ;)

I will try to get the initial post up on the next one.


Cheers, Thor
The Mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be lit - Plutarch