RAWR! Pew! Pew! Pew-Part Three!

Cowboys V Apes final

The epic saga of shooting stuff continues.

Part 1.

Part 2.

P.S. If someone knows how to stretch a 24 hour day into 30 or more, I could get significantly more writing done. And maybe even have enough daylight to put the outside Christmas decorations up.

Anyways – onward we go!


The local doctor was an old man with a thick southern accent and steady hands. He had me strip my shirt off, and there was a long, quiet moment as he took in the decades old scar tissue. Most doctors in the west were used to all sorts of scars and disfigurements, but I knew mine were… an oddity. Thankfully, he didn’t ask how I got them and that suited me fine. One of the best things out west is that people tend to mind their own damn business.

The old man gingerly applied a foul-smelling medicinal oil to the small burned areas of my skin, then put a few neat little stitches back in my chest. He poked and prodded my nose. I thought it was broken, but it was just bent a little and tender to the touch. Luckily for me, the whiskey was kicking in and numbing a little of the pain as he went over my various wounds.

With my collection of fresh bruises, cuts, and burns, it probably looked like I tried to cremate a mountain lion alive. But he didn’t care enough to ask about that either.

After paying the Doc for doing his best to extend my life, I wandered to the general store and bought some cartridges for the Sharps and a few more sticks of dynamite. Just in case I needed to blow something up again.

Reverend Williams sought me out after hearing about the shooting and caught me leaving the store.

“Jedidiah,” he said in greeting. That was one of his ways, he always used a man’s formal name, never the shortened version. “Heard you were in a bar fight and a man was killed,” he clasped his hands before him, the old bible clutched tight. “Would you like to talk?”

I shrugged. “I’m fine, Reverend. The man deserved it and people dying around me is nothing new.”

“I know,” he half-turned away, and watched a carriage roll down the street behind a team of horses. “There’s nothing wrong with killing bad people who are trying to do harm. But I know how difficult it is for a man to escape their past. Trust me, I wasn’t always a man of faith,” he looked at my face, his eyes searching mine. “I just wanted to make sure yours hadn’t followed you here.”

I nodded, understanding his concern after the things I’d told him. You never knew when your past might catch up to you. That’d be an awful day of reckoning. But so far, I was free and clear of it. “He was just an angry, foolish drunk with an itchy trigger finger.”

“Good,” he patted my shoulder. “Let me know if you need anything. Thanks to you and your gambler friend, I’ve a funeral to prepare for.”

“Will do,” I called after him as he walked away, his boots thumping on the boardwalk.


It was well past noon by the time the Sheriff wrapped up his errands, kicked the drunk out of his cell, and was ready to head out.

I was still jumpy. But with the Sheriff traveling with me, I had some peace of mind in our combined firepower. Worst-case scenario, I only had to outrun Dan’s horse drawn wagon. That’s what he gets for choosing slow comfort over a fast saddle.

On the way, I kept the storytelling brief and simple.

He shook his head in disbelief when I described the beast and our fight to the death in the burning hellfire of my barn. He had a lot of questions, but I had few answers.

Then he filled me in on the latest news around town. The biggest news was that the town Mayor died a few days ago, which explained the padlock on his office door. His heart gave out and he dropped dead in the middle of the street in front of a wagon hauling manure. It rolled right over him before the driver could stop the horses. There was irony in that somewhere, I knew it. So far, no new candidates had come out for the job yet.

We broke free of the forest around my ranch, and the creatures body lay in plain sight by the pile of burnt timbers and ash. Broken, charred bits and pieces of debris still lay strewn across the yard from the explosion. I had some cleaning up to do.

Dan pulled back on the reins to stop the wagon and stared at the body. It took him a long moment to gather his thoughts enough to ask, “Just what in the hell is that thing?”

“Something big and mean. I was worried you wouldn’t believe me. That’s why I brought the claws.”

“I certainly wouldn’t have,” Dan cut his eyes at me sideways. “You know, by all rights, that thing should have ate you.”

“It almost did.”

“Still…” His voice drifted off as I tapped boot heels to the flanks of my horse and led us into the green field surrounding the house.

Dan pulled the brake on the wagon while I dismounted and tied Carbine to the remains of my corral.

We walked to the dead beast. The body was still fresh enough to not smell yet. Its mouth lay partially open, exposing jagged blood-stained teeth. Other than the mangled rear legs and tail, and the missing arm, the rest of its body was in reasonably good condition except for all the bullet holes.

I kicked its head with the toe of my boot for good measure and was rewarded with a meaty thud. “I doubt there’s just one of these. But folks need to know about it. I barely killed this one and the next guy won’t be so lucky.”

“It’s going to be hard to convince them that a creature like this exists, even with the claw. No one has ever seen anything like it before.”

That had occurred to me as well, but I already had an idea. “We won’t be able to fit the entire body in your wagon, but the head will. If that doesn’t convince folks, nothing will.”

“Works for me,” Dan pointed towards my ash heap of a barn. “You got any tools left?”

“Not really,” I said, thinking of the small kindling axe and Bowie on my hip. “This is going to be messy.”

“Yes…It is,” he seemed distracted as he tugged on his beard thoughtfully and walked around the corpse. Once he reached the remains of the tail, he stared at it in silence.

I walked over to the pitchfork that almost impaled me. The handle was burnt away, leaving only a charred end sticking out of the twisted metal fork. Pulling it loose, I tossed the ruined tool towards the remains of the barns where it landed with a small poof of ash.

“I’ve seen something like this before,” the Sheriff called out as he cut a plug of tobacco with his knife and began chewing.

That got my attention. “What? Where?”

“Old newspaper. It had something about digging up giant bones in Montana and Colorado. Said they were from dinosaurs. Big extinct animals that have been dead so long their bones turned to rock. There was a sketch of what they looked like when they were alive. One of them was like this one. Except it had a bigger head, small worthless-looking arms, and walked on its back two legs. Yours is similar, but smaller and with longer front legs. Anyways, I remember thinking it was a load of garbage and used the paper in the outhouse.”

I looked at him in surprise, “Seems they ain’t all dead. You know who wrote the article?”

“Not a clue. But it was written by someone from the Smithsonian Institute. They could probably tell us what we are dealing with,” he spat a wad of tobacco juice out the side of his mouth. “I bet they’d be real interested to know they’re wrong about them all being dead.”

“Can you wire them? Ask them how worried we ought to be?”

Walking back to me, the Sheriff squatted on his haunches beside the corpse and gently touched its blood-stained teeth. “I’ll certainly try. But I got a feeling we ought to be mighty concerned.”

“Me too, Dan.”

Dan ran his hands over the pebbled hide and peered into the beast’s empty eye socket. I stared at the burnt remains of my barn, alone in my thoughts. Until one struck me.

“Hey, Dan?”


“After we cut this thing’s head off… you want to stick around for some steaks?” I asked.


I nodded, grinning. “Big ones.”

He looked puzzled, until the realization of what I implied sunk in. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Nope. What better way to celebrate my defeat of this horrifying beast than to feast on its roasted flesh?”

He sighed and looked back at the dead monster before spitting again “Okay.”

It tasted like chicken.


I woke the next morning stiff and sore. Today’s plan was to take it easy and try to salvage anything of value from the ruins of my barn. I wasn’t looking forward to digging through the knee-deep ash and debris though.

I slung the gun belt around my waist and glanced at the Spencer Carbine above the door. It tempted me, but I had my pistol, and I’d keep a careful watch as I worked. I decided to leave it. My new shotgun was freshly cleaned and oiled, laying on a small table between the door and bed with a box of shells. I left that gun as well. It was daylight, I’d be able to see any strange dangerous beasts well before they reached me.

Jerking the door open, I stepped out into the bright morning sun.

It was going to be a nice day.

A large spear whistled by me and slammed into the log wall next to the rocking chair. It stuck, driven deep, wood shaft quivering.

Instinctively, I drew my pistol and spun to face whoever just tried to kill me.

There were four of them scattered before me. Big hairy things, wrapped in hides around their bodies and waists, easily a foot taller than me, with long arms and hands big enough to beat a horse to death. Their broad, ugly faces and muscular chests were hairless, the exposed black skin marked with colorful swirls and strange patterns.

They reminded me of the big monkeys from my childhood picture books. But instead of carrying bananas, they held weapons.

The smallest of the four knelt beside the dead monster, with a bow in hand and quiver of arrows at his waist. Two others stood by the pasture fence, watching Carbine run away again. The biggest one was sprinting towards me in large strides, stone axe held high overhead. He let out a ferocious roar as he quickly closed the distance.

Even as the iron sights of the Peacemaker lined up on his broad forehead and I squeezed the trigger, I felt like this was a dream. This couldn’t be real. It was laughable. First a monster and now giant monkey-men.

It was ridiculous.

The recoil and gun blast shocked me out of my stupor, as the bullet punched through his skull and he dropped at my feet as though his strings were cut.

The small ape notched an arrow and drew his bow back.

Ducking, I snapped a quick shot at him as he released the string. I caught a glimpse of him spinning, grasping his side, as I dove into the house. The arrow zipped through the open doorway, narrowly missing be, before it thunked into the far wall.

Slamming the door shut, I shoved my pistol into its holster. As heavy feet stomped across the porch, I grabbed the shotgun off the table. Gripping it tightly with both hands, I thumbed the double hammers back, just in time for the door to be kicked open violently.

The slab of wood bashed into me, knocking me backward onto the floor, and sending the box of shotgun shells flying off the small table. The cardboard box burst on impact and the thick cased shells rolled in every direction.

The giant ape’s painted bulk filled the doorway, his stone club held low. Pounding a clenched fist against his broad chest, he roared loudly, revealing yellowed canines.

In return, I let the shotgun roar back with both barrels.

The large twin barrels spewed a cloud of white smoke, and double rounds of buckshot punched through the ape’s painted lower chest and out his upper back. At this range, the mass of packed lead balls didn’t spread, they simply blew a hole in the big monkey large enough to put my fist through. The big bastard flew backward in a spray of blood and pulverized flesh. The stench of burning hair filled the air.

Breaking the shotgun open, I plucked out the empty shells as fast as I could, and grabbed a pair off the floor. I dropped them in and snapped the gun shut, just in time for another ape to come through the door and swing its club at me.

The big stone on the end of the club hit the floor as I dodged aside. Splinters and stone fragments stung my face as it smashed through the wooden floor boards.

I struggled to maneuver the shortened shotgun for a shot and thumbed one of them hammers back.

The ape grasped the barrels and ripped the gun away, inadvertently making me pull the trigger and discharging a round of buckshot past his head and into the ceiling. A spray of wooden debris rained down on us. Roaring in painful rage, he dropped his club and clutched his ear as he flung the shotgun across the room with a snarl.

From the ground, I drew my pistol, but lost it, as the ape grasped me by the shirt and leg with an iron grip and threw me across the room. Slamming into a pair of bookshelves near the wood stove, I let out a cry of pain as I fell amongst a shower of books. Falling to the floor, I gasped and swore at the ape’s mother.

A colorfully painted Wyatt Earp glared at me from the cover of a fallen dime novel, his face stern under his tilted hat. Below in large blue words, it said, “CAN HE SURVIVE?”

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Wyatt.

The floorboards creaked in protest as the great ape lunged across the room after me. Neither gun was within reach, but a cast iron frying pan was. I grabbed it and swung hard at the ape’s knee. He easily dodged the swing, and the heavy pan slipped from my grasp and thumped across the floor.

Screaming in half anger and half fear, I kicked at him in desperation.

He smacked my boot aside effortlessly and grabbed me by the throat. Single handed, the ape lifted me off the floor. Frantic for air, I pounded at his hand and arm, kicking, struggling to draw breath.

He watched me twist and fail, a thin trickle of red dribbling from his ruptured ear drum. His face was twisted into a snarl, and black eyes showed not an ounce of mercy.

As my vision faded to black, I forced myself to stop fighting his fearfully strong grip as I realized I still had a weapon. Drawing the large Bowie knife from the sheath at my belt, I began stabbing him in the belly and groin.

The ape roared, dropping me as it toppled onto his back, clutching the gaping wounds. The heavy knife fell and stuck point first in the floor as I fell to my hands and knees, gasping for air.

He said something painfully in a rough language through clenched teeth as he writhed back and forth. Bright red blood poured through his clasped hands and pooled underneath him.

I didn’t understand what he said, and I didn’t bother asking him to repeat it. Instead, I added insult to injury by punching him in the face. It was like punching a hair covered rock, but I was rewarded with a small spray of blood from one of his wide nostrils. That was for trashing my house.

I jerked the Bowie knife from the floorboards. Wrapping both hands around the handle, I brought it down repeatedly with all the force and violence as I could muster. Blood sprayed on me and splashed across the floor as his body shuddered and went limp.

Breathing hard from exertion, I stared at the mangled bloodied mess I had made. That was for almost killing me.

I suddenly recalled there had been four apes and one was still outside. Diving across the floor, I grabbed the dropped pistol. Sliding against the doorways edge, I peeked cautiously, waiting for the fourth one to pop around the corner to plug me.

Instead, the small one with the bow lay motionless in the yard in a growing red pool. He’d made it several steps before collapsing. I’d gotten lucky with that snapped shot and hit something vital.

They were all dead. Looks like I won again.


Doc had done a proper job on my stitches. Only one tore loose during the brawl and it looked like I would survive without it. But I desperately needed a week or two without violence to heal up. Satisfied with my own health, I looked at my latest kill.

The dead ape in my house lay gashed open from painted chest to throat. I pulled my knife out of him, wiped it off on his fur, and looked the corpse over.

Simply put, he was large, hairy, and ugly.

His face was a bald patch of wrinkled black skin covering his mouth and lips, and wide flat nose. The rest of his head was covered with the same thick, dark brown hair as his body, leaving only his chest, palms, and bottoms of his feet hair-free.

The monkey’s big chest was painted with red, green, and white swirls and strange patterns. I scraped off a little of the green paint with my fingers and rubbed it between them. It was clotted with small bits of plant fiber and what looked like pieces of smashed bugs.

What gave me the greatest concern was the skins he wore. I picked up an edge of the hides and ran my fingers over the smooth leather. The pebbled hide was like nothing I had ever seen before. Except on the monster I killed last night. That was foreboding.

A small leather pouch was stitched into the hides he wore. I opened it. Inside were thin strips of leather, a sharp chipped stone knife with leather-bound handle, and several bright purple fern leaves tightly roiled. I tossed the pouch into a corner.

The ape left a long smear of blood across the floor as I dragged him out of the house and rolled him off the side of the porch and into a heap with his dead buddies.

I knew the ape was strong. He’d lifted my entire hundred and eighty-five-pound body with a single hand and almost choked me to death. But as I picked up the club and struggled to swing it, I realized just how strong he really was. The handle was smooth dark wood with a reddish tint and small grooves cut for grip. The large gray stone at the end had been chipped into shape and bound tightly in place with strips of leather. And it weighed probably forty pounds. Getting hit with one of these would end a man’s life real quick, or leave him permanently crippled.

I tugged the arrow out of the wall. It was almost a foot longer than an Indian arrow and twice as thick. The fletching was made of strange greenish-yellow feathers, and the point was of crafted obsidian. The bow that the small ape carried was six feet tall and made from what seemed like a type of carved horn and finely braided string. I tried to draw the bow back and gave up after moving the string only a few inches.

The spear was sunk deep into the outside log wall, but with effort, I wiggled it free. Like the club, it was much larger than anything a human could easily wield. The shaft was almost nine feet long and several inches in diameter. Big enough that I could jab with it two handed, but impossible for me to throw. The tip was the same glossy black volcanic rock as used on the arrow.

I dumped the weapons in a pile and stood on the porch with rifle in hand, looking around in bewilderment at my ranch. Once again, I found myself confused and trying to wrap my head around the notion that I had killed not only a possibly extinct dinosaur, but also several giant monkey-men. And they wore hides from what had to be other beasts like the one I killed.

Just what in the hell was going on?

The breeze ruffled the hair of the apes in the yard and sent small dust devils spinning by.  Buzzards noticed my new lawn decorations and circled lazily overhead. A sure signal for miles around that something was dead or dying below. I’d provided quite the feast for them lately.

I looked at the forest edge and wondered what else was out there. There was no telling anymore.

As I watched Carbine trot back towards the ranch, I knew one thing for certain, I needed to know where these apes had come from. Going without help didn’t appeal to me. But neither did spending half a day to fetch the Sheriff while the trail went cold.

I’d go alone and cautiously. If things went south, I’d ride like hell for town. I glanced at my saddle bags that rested beside the table. Just in case, I’d bring the dynamite.


I tracked the apes into the Granite mountains. The hairy men had followed the dinosaur, which explained how they ended up in my front yard. And that big creature left an easy trail to follow as it stomped through everything, leaving deep clawed tracks, broken branches, and crushed foliage in its wake. The dinosaur’s tracks meandered all over the forest and out onto the plains.

I had no idea why the apes would follow the beast. If they were hunting it, then they were more badass than I originally thought and that much more dangerous. But it appeared I was attacked by the apes simply because I had the bad luck of the beast ending up dead at my place.

After a couple hours, I came across the bloody, grisly carcass of one of my steers. All that remained was broken horns attached to a shattered skull, punctured with bite marks, and some crunched-up bones amongst shredded scraps of meat and hide. The area was painted with blood and gore for a good ten feet.

Eventually, the beast’s tracks led me to an area of the Granite mountain range further than I’d ever wandered before. The rolling grass hills ended abruptly against the base of cliffs jutting up from the plains and merging into the mountains behind it. The cliff rose a couple hundred feet into the air, complete with tumbled rocks and debris at the bottom with a few scraggly pines striving to survive tucked into small crevices on the cliff face.

Both the ape and beast tracks led right through a massive tunnel that stretched almost sixty feet wide at the bottom and at its highest point, arched twenty feet above me.

Somehow, the tunnel was only eight feet long and defied everything I knew was possible. I dismounted and squatted on my heels, staring at it, trying to wrap my head around what was before me.

Each end of the tunnel was… different.

My side was normal, the other side… not.

What I saw wasn’t possible. It didn’t just break the laws of nature, it shattered them. What should have been a cave going inside a mountain – wasn’t. It went somewhere else.

There was a clear line of division inside the center of the tunnel, where my side ended and the other began. Nothing in nature is perfectly straight, but this was. The grass on my side, small and thin, ended abruptly where large thick blades of grass and big ferns suddenly began and continued down a small rise where my view ended, showing only a blue sky with several puffy white clouds.

The unseen line continued up edges of the tunnel and along the ceiling, splitting two different types of rock. On my side, it was gray and marbled granite, then it hit the line and suddenly became limestone. Cracks that began in one side or the other, ended abruptly where it joined the other.

I couldn’t explain it. There should have been a solid mountain right there. But it wasn’t. Instead, the opening was only a brief eight feet away from me.

The only thing I knew for sure was that apes and the beast came from the other side. Their tracks were muddled together as the apes crossed through and wandered around the area, apparently as baffled as I was. The dinosaur appeared to have walked right through it, and wandered off to find a rancher to terrorize.

I gave up trying to figure it out. To hell with it. I was starting to get a headache. It was simpler just to accept it.

Frustrated, I stood and kicked one of the fallen rocks into the tunnel. As the rock bounced across the unseen line and into the other side, the air shimmered and tiny ripples spread out briefly in every direction.

At that moment, I said a lot of things my mother wouldn’t have wanted me to say. In my defense, I was really getting sick of all this weirdness.

Unsure of what I was seeing, I did what everyone does when confronted with something so strange and bizarre that it challenges your understanding of reality.

I poked it with my finger.



RAWR! Pew! Pew! Pew-Part Tew!

The rough draft saga continues.

Cowboys V Apes final


Part 1 Link – Click Me.


It took a few hours to reach the town of Granite Falls.

I was edgy the entire way, watching for anything that might want to eat me. It was an uncomfortable ride. The pain from constantly shifting in the saddle coupled with my high level of alertness was exhausting.

Cresting a hill, I stopped Carbine. The town lay exposed in the center of a vast valley below me. It was a beautiful place for a town. Scenic, dotted with small stands of trees, lots of knee-high prairie grass and a gradual incline to the hills that surrounded it.

Personally, I always wondered why western towns never seemed to pick the high ground. It’s like town founders always wanted someplace pretty, instead of on top of a nice tall hill with an elevation advantage in case of an Indian attack.

Regardless of the lack of a tactical advantage, the location was beautiful.

The town was laid out with the main street running north to south. A half mile to the west a wide river flowed, cold and fresh, fed from melting snows and ice in the distant north. Train tracks came into the valley from that direction as well, running their thick log ties and steel rails across the river on a wood framed bridge and to the southern far end of town where the train station and corralled stockyards stood.

I hadn’t been here in over a month, and the place was growing.

In addition to the church finally getting its steeple and bell installed, two more buildings had gone up since my last visit. All nice and neat beside each other in the center of town, with a few more outlying buildings in varying stages of construction.

The single, wide street between the buildings ran over a quarter mile past them, through rows of mismatched tents used for temporary housing and small businesses, and ending at the train station where a locomotive was preparing to leave.

Probably five hundred people lived and worked in the town.

It was far too crowded for me. I didn’t particularly care for strangers and I preferred to keep a low profile.

Watching the busy town below me, I couldn’t shake the strange feeling that this was the calm before the storm, and something terrible was headed this way. Pushing the dark thoughts away, I touched my heels to Carbine’s flanks to urge him forward.

As I rode into the northern entrance to town, I noticed peoples questioning looks when they saw my battered face. I pulled my Stetson lower over my blackened eyes to avoid the attention.

Passing the newly steepled church, Reverend William stepped out from the shadows of its interior and gave me a friendly wave. A tall, thin man, he wore a flat brimmed black hat, white shirt with suspenders, and a black frock coat. As usual, he carried a dog-eared Bible tucked under one arm.

I gave him a wave in return, but kept my horse moving. He was a good Reverend. I got drunk once and found myself in his church one dark night, confessing to him about my previous sins. He was a good listener and nice enough to not have me arrested.

As for the Sheriff, I wasn’t overly concerned about him. We’d fought in the Nez Perce War together and the strange twists and turns of fate had brought us to the same town years later. But just because we trusted each other with our lives, didn’t mean I trusted him with my past. The less he knew, the better.

After tying Carbine to the hitch outside the Sheriff’s Office, I pulled a wrapped bundle from the saddlebags. Along with the bank, it was the most secure building in town with wrought iron bars over the windows and heavy shutters on the inside with firing ports. The Sheriff didn’t take any chances with security.

Stepping onto the boardwalk, I noted the Mayor’s Office in the building next to the Sheriff’s had curtains pulled across the windows and a padlock on the door.

When I entered the fortified building, Sheriff Dan was leaned back in his chair, feet propped on the desk, a cup of coffee in hand. The polished silver star on his chest shone from the early afternoon light that poured through the open windows. Old and stern, with a gray beard and bald head, he was the sort of man who would help a fellow out, or fill him full of lead.

He was a great Sheriff like that.

“Afternoon, Jed.” Squinting, he took in my black eyes and tender movements. “Rough night?”

Removing my hat, I waved off his concern. “Don’t worry, Dan. It was a fight against overwhelming odds, but I won.”

He shrugged and gestured towards the coffee pot. “As long as I don’t have to arrest you or anyone else.”

Taking the battered tin cup beside the pot, I glanced inside. It looked clean, mostly. Ignoring the small dark spot in the bottom, I poured. “Actually… we may have something of a rather large problem,” I took a small sip and grimaced. The coffee was strong enough to float a horseshoe.

He raised an eyebrow. “Do tell.”

“Be easier to show you,” I tossed the wrapped bundle at him.

Dan spilled his coffee as he attempted a one-handed catch. “Dammit, man!” He looked at the long awkwardly shaped bundle that landed in his lap. “What’s this?”

“A small part of a big problem. Go ahead and look. You wouldn’t believe me otherwise,” I dropped into the chair opposite him and tossed my hat on his desk.

He kicked his feet off the desk and sat upright. Setting his cup on the cluttered desk, he began to unwrap the bundle. My eyes flicked to the board on the wall beside the cells with the Wanted Posters tacked haphazardly over each other. It was an old habit. I never knew if I might see myself or some old buddies on there or not.

As he removed the canvas wrapping, a set of three large black claws and a short length of forearm was exposed. The end was hacked off and white bone jutted from the stump.

He stared at it, mouth tight in a grim frown. “What in the hell is this from?”

“I don’t know. But I need you to come out and look at the rest of it,” I looked him in the eye. “If there are more of these… things that those claws came from, and I suspect there are, folks are going to die.”

I was worried he wouldn’t believe me if I tried to describe what attacked my ranch. But the severed clawed hand seemed to do the trick for piquing his curiosity.

He nodded quickly, gently touching his finger to one of the claw points. “I want to see this thing. Today. Where’s the body?”

“It’s back at my place,” I grimaced. “What’s left of it that is.”

“What do you mean, what’s left of it?”

“I used some dynamite. Long story.”

He shook his head. “Alright, fill me in on the way. But give me an hour to wrap a couple of things up and for the deputies to get back.” He jerked his thumb towards a man snoring softly in one of the cells behind him. “I’ve also got a drunk with a busted head to kick out. You weren’t the only one who had an eventful night.”

I snorted. The deputies were his nephews. “You still using those two buffoons?” I couldn’t stand them. The feeling was mutual.

He glared at me. “Good help is hard to find. I offered you a badge, remember? You turned it down.” I did remember, and I was concerned it might burst into flames the moment I pinned it on my chest. Standing, I downed the last mouthful of coffee and sent my cup on his desk.

“And Jed? Try not to blow anything up while you’re in town.”

“I don’t make promises I can’t keep, Dan,” I gave him a wink.

With a disapproving grunt, he wrapped the canvas back around the severed limb and tossed it to me.


Since I had time to kill, I put the severed claw back in the saddlebags and went across the street to the Bucket O’ Blood. The name was misleading. It wasn’t that violent of a place, but the owner was something of a joker who figured the name would spur interest.

Personally, I thought people tended to stay away from establishments where they might get killed. But I could use a drink, time of the day be damned. Hopefully, it would take away some of the dull aches throbbing through my body.

I pushed through the batwing doors and paused to allow my eyes to adjust to the dim interior. I hated this moment. It always seemed like a good time for a man with a grudge to plug you with a bullet.

After a few seconds and zero gunshots, I could see well enough to make my way to the bar.

Being midday, there wasn’t much going on. A few rough-looking characters at the end of the bar stared at me. One said something, and his friends laughed in response. With their filthy, torn and stained clothes they looked like miners blowing off some steam and probably pissing away whatever gold they’d scraped out of a claim. At least one had a pistol tucked into his waistband that I could see. A sawn-off shotgun rested on the bar amongst their bottles.

A couple of working girls lounged by the piano, talking in low tones and most likely, nursing hangovers. One raven haired beauty smiled at me, showing a wide gap between her front teeth.

Giving her a big grin, I tipped my hat in return. I didn’t partake in working girls, but I didn’t disrespect them either. My mother raised me right like that.

In the far corner, a man sat with his back to the wall, idly shuffling cards. His tan flat-brimmed hat was tipped low, obscuring half his face. An empty bottle and several glasses were scattered on the table before him from a game long finished. He had gambler written all over him.

Other than that, it was dead in here.

For a moment, I considered telling them I’d been attacked by a giant beast. But I didn’t want the reputation of being the local crazy who went around shouting about monsters in the darkness.

I’d let the Sheriff do that.

The bartender put down the glass he was cleaning with a filthy rag and walked over as I gingerly lowered myself onto a stool. He took in my face.

“You look like you could use some whiskey.”

“Yeah, the cheap stuff,” I didn’t think I’d be able to afford anything nice for a while. Stupid monster.

Reaching under the bar, he pulled out a brown unmarked bottle and shot glass. He poured a slug and started to put the bottle away, before looking at my face again and appearing to think better of it. He lifted the bottle questioningly.

There wasn’t a chance in hell I could drink an entire bottle and make the ride back home without falling off the saddle. But I could always cork it and take it home for later. I gave him a nod, and he pushed them both towards me.

I dug a couple coins out and slid them over.

Scooping them up, he pointed a finger at my face. “That looks pretty fresh. How does the other guy look?”

I decided to be vague instead of crazy. “A little rougher than me.”

The bartender must have decided he didn’t care to dig any deeper, and simply nodded. If I’d broken the law, my money was good up until the moment I was arrested. Why hurry things along with a paying customer?

“Where’s Left Arm?” I asked.

Left Arm O’Malley was the Irish jokester who owned the bar. A veteran of the War Between the States, he was missing his right arm. Hence, the name. Rumor was a cannon ball took it off at the Siege of Vicksburg, but the man himself always came up with new amusing stories as to how it happened. Last one I heard involved him being shanghaied onto a ship and a mermaid gnawing it off after a copulation of sorts. He was kind of an odd fellow like that.

“Took the train to Rock Springs. Family troubles,” he nodded at the bottle. “Let me know if you need another.”

“Thanks.” I wouldn’t. One bottle was more than enough for me.

The far end of the room was getting noisy. One of the miners looked down the bar before turning back and thumbing over his shoulder towards me. They weren’t even trying to be subtle.

I picked up the bottle and glass and moved to a table where I could keep an eye on the door and the miners, but also look out the window at the scenery. Right now, that consisted of Carbine across the street, lifting his tail and dropping a pile of manure.

I dropped my hat on the table and settled into a rickety chair that wobbled from uneven legs.

The gambler in the corner walked over. “Mind some company?”

The stranger wore a dark suit with a silver vest and had a fair complexion and blue eyes. For such a well-dressed, casual-looking fellow, there was something about him that I couldn’t put my finger on. He gave off the impression that he wasn’t someone who shouldn’t be trifled with.

Even though drinking in silence appealed to me, I figured I might get some local gossip out of him. With a short nod, I pointed towards the chair beside him. “Suit yourself.”

He dropped the deck of cards on the table and shifted the seat slightly, moving to keep the door in view. As he sat, his coat flared open for a moment, revealing twin pistol butts sticking out of his vest.

Apparently, my impression was correct. He wasn’t a gambler, he was a gunman.

Waving his hand, he caught the bartender’s attention and gestured at my bottle and glass and then himself. The bartender brought another pair over and wordlessly set them on the table. My unnamed companion peeled a bill off a tightly folded wad of cash, handed it to him, and accepted his change in return.

Looking at me, he smiled. Bright white, straight teeth flashed as he poured a shot, then downed it in a single swallow. He slapped the glass onto the table and picked up the deck. Idly shuffling the cards between his hands, he squinted at me from under the brim of his hat. “Care for some poker?”

“No thanks. I never was any good at cards.”

He re-shuffled and pushed them to the side of the table, before straightening them into a neat stack with his fingers. “Me neither, but it passes the time.”

I doubted that, I knew a hustle when I heard one.

“Maybe we both just need more practice,” he offered.

“Oh, I’ve had enough practice losing to know when I should stop.”

He chuckled. “No offense intended, but that’s a little funny coming from a man with two black eyes and a busted scalp.”

“The only game I’ve broke even in is the one of life or death.” I took a sip of the rotgut whiskey. It was awful. I fought to keep my face from pinching up at the taste. “But eventually, the house always wins.”

“I’ll certainly drink to that.”

“Please do.” We both topped off our glasses.

Loud, raucous laughter drifted over from the miners. One of them leaned back against the bar and stared in our direction. He was a big man with chubby red cheeks and crossed arms over a belly hanging over his belt. He looked like the sort of bully who had always been big and became accustomed to getting their way out of fear and intimidation with size alone.

I immediately disliked him.

He smirked. The other miners remained hunched over the bar, their backs convulsing with laughter and occasionally taking peeks at our table.

My drinking companion glanced at them before meeting my eyes. “I think they’re making fun of you.”

“I think you’re right.”

“It doesn’t bother you?”

I shrugged. “Sure, it does. But I also don’t feel like brawling. My face hurts, along with everything else.”

“The lady by the piano seemed to think you were handsome enough. Women like scars. This might be a good chance for some more.”

I laughed, a bit too loudly. If only he knew the number of scars I had. There was such a thing as too many. “I’m even better-looking without these bruises,” I joked as I reached across the table and introduced myself, “Jedidiah Smith.”

He looked at my hand for a moment before shaking it firmly. “Wesley Clemmons.”

“Hey, YOU!” The yell came from the end of the bar with the miners.

I sighed and turned towards the obnoxious group.

“Yeah, you. With the ugly face,” the big man staggered away from his snickering companions, a malicious grin stretching across his reddened face. He was looking for trouble, and who better to pick on than someone already wounded. The bartender edged away from the miners as the working ladies turned to watch.

Wesley winked at me with a sideways grin. “Trouble seems to follow you.”

I ignored him and took a heavy slug, this time straight from the bottle. If this went badly, I might as well dull the inevitable pain beforehand.

The drunk man stopped in front of us, rocking back on his heels. He laughed harshly. Spit flecked out of his mouth and landed on the table. Wesley raised an eyebrow at him.

The drunk turned to me, his words slurring. “Yeah, you,” he snorted. “With a face like that, you remind me of the last squaw I had.”

Oh lovely, an abuser of Indian women. I sized him up.

He was an ugly, mean looking fellow. A front tooth was missing, others were yellowed and rotten. Black stubble decorated his large jowls. He outweighed me by a good thirty pounds and reeked of booze and stale sweat.

With his friends watching, I knew I wasn’t getting out of this without a fight. And since the smartass in me couldn’t keep quiet, I figured I may as well go all in. “Was she blind or dumb?”

“Blind… wait, what?” He looked baffled at my unexpected response and squinted, trying to focus on me then swayed and staggered, almost losing his balance. He grabbed the top of a chair to steady himself.

Wesley laughed and sipped his drink.

The drunk’s confusion turned to anger. “Listen here, you-”

I cut him off, my temper flaring at the man who was bothering me with the intent of impressing his obnoxious friends. “Because any woman who would willingly have a fat, nasty slug like you must be blind, dumb, or both.”

His face flushed crimson, veins bulged on his broad forehead as he reached for me.

I stood swiftly. A flash of surprise crossed his face as I knocked his arms aside, stepped close, and swung as hard and as fast as I could. The uppercut connected beneath his chin with a meaty thud that sent a bolt of pain shooting down my wrist.

I’ll give him credit. I put everything I had behind that blow, and he didn’t have a glass jaw.

Instead of dropping, he staggered back a couple of paces, rubbed the stubble on his chin, and looked a whole lot angrier and sober.

Well, shit.

Wesley chuckled and refilled his glass.

The miner bent and lunged forward, his shoulder driving into my waist and pushing me backward as we fell together. Our combined weight was more than a match for my rickety chair. It shattered, broken boards dug and jabbed into my back as we grappled on the floor.

Gasping from the miner’s heavy weight pressing down on my chest, I punched him in the side repeatedly with no noticeable effect as he drunkenly threw haymakers at my face. I took several glancing blows along the skull before he hit me solidly in the face. My nose bore the brunt of his fist. The pain was excruciating. My eyes watered. The next punch busted my lips, and the taste of blood filled my mouth.

My vision went red as anger and pain burned through me. Reaching between his arms, I grabbed the sides of his head and dug my thumbs into his eyes. I was going to gouge them out of his skull for his transgressions.

He screamed and shoved himself backward, jerking his head out of my grip and rising unsteadily on his feet.

Scrambling to my feet, I spat blood and wiped away the blood dribbling from my nose with the back of my hand.

He swayed drunkenly, rubbing his eyes and squinting as tears streamed down his face.

Behind him, I saw his friends straighten from where they watched. One grabbed the shotgun off the bar. They didn’t look happy.

I didn’t care. I was too pissed off now to stop.

Closing in, I grabbed the big drunk by his collar and belt buckle. With a sharp pivot, I felt stitches tear across my chest as I hurled the heavy man over my hip onto the top of the table. Wesley jerked his glass out of the way as the table shattered, scattering bottles and playing cards across the floor.

He grunted on impact, gasping for breath, his eyes wide with the sudden shock and pain.

My face and chest hurt something fierce. Dropping to one knee, I grabbed him by the front of his dirty shirt and jerked him up as I slammed my fist down. His head snapped backwards as blood splattered from his smashed lips.

He gurgled something through shattered teeth that didn’t sound like an apology.

I smashed my fist down again. His nose crunched beneath my knuckles, and his eyes rolled back into his skull. I dropped him on the shattered remains of the table and chair. My breath came in ragged gasps, and all my previous injuries hurt anew. But compared to last night’s monster, this guy wasn’t squat.

Reaching across his unconscious body, I grabbed a bottle that lay gurgling as it poured out cheap booze and took a healthy swig through busted lips. The whiskey burned like a red-hot poker on the way down. It felt wonderful.

“Get offa him!”

His friends had reached us.

The two other miners stopped a couple of feet away and they weren’t laughing anymore. One was young and wore a derby hat cocked at a foolish angle, exposing greasy hair underneath. He carried the shotgun, with a wild, drunken look in his eyes. The other one appeared a little soberer and eyed me warily as I noted the revolver stuffed down the front of his trousers.

“Look what that sumbitch did to Timmy!” The man with the shotgun shouted as he pointed the short barrels towards his friend on the floor.

I slowly pushed myself to my feet and looked for the bartender. O’Malley kept a shotgun under the bar for stopping things just like this from going too far in his establishment. But the bartender wasn’t in sight. That was just peachy.

The ladies had disappeared as well. Fist fights were considered good entertainment. Gunfights, not so much, and no one wanted to take a stray round from a shootout.

The sober one looked me up and down before putting a hand on the hothead’s shoulder. “Let it go, it was just a bar fight. He didn’t start it and he took his licks.”

The one with the shotgun shrugged off the hand. “Don’t matter. He almost killed him!” His small beady eyes glared from under his ridiculous hat. “You’ll pay for that.”

I flexed my hands to loosen them up, they trembled from excitement, and my knuckles were skinned raw and bleeding. Drawing was going to be difficult. But I couldn’t help myself and shoved the unconscious miner with the toe of my boot. He moaned pitifully. “Pay for this, huh? What’s this sorry turd worth to you?” I grinned at my own joke painfully.

The wild eyed drunk jerked the shotgun up and shoved it in my face.

I stared down the large double barrels. The shotgun was a ten gauge by the looks of them. Things were about to get very western in here.

“How about I blow you through that window?” he sneered.

None of my options were good, especially with a drunk wild card behind the trigger. The best I could hope for was his inebriated state would slow down his reflexes. I braced myself to slap the barrel away and draw. Maybe I’d get lucky. If I didn’t, it’d be a quick, messy death.

“Easy gents. It’s over. No need to for this to get any uglier,” Wesley spoke up, his voice calm and even. He still sat in his chair, his body turned to face them. He gave an easy smile, before knocking back his drink without taking his eyes off them. He rested the empty shot glass on his leg.

The shotgun hammer cocked loudly, as the hot-headed miner swung the barrels towards Wesley. “Try and stop me, you pretty boy dandy-”

Wesley’s first shot caught the miner in the throat, while the second burst through the bridge of his nose and blew his derby hat along with a spray of blood, brains, and bits of bone a good six feet behind him. The shotgun clattered to the floor as the dead man collapsed in a heap.

If it hadn’t been for the sudden appearance of two holes, I’d have sworn it was one shot. The Colt Lightning that magically appeared in Wesley’s hand turned, unwavering, at the last man. His other hand still held the empty shot glass in place.

The dead man’s partner froze in shock. Droplets of gore splattered his face and shirt. A wet patch spread from his thigh, running down his pant leg and into his boot. He slowly raised his hands, eyes large and frightened. “No! No! No trouble here.”

“Keep your hand off that pistol, and there won’t be any,” Wesley said, his voice suddenly hard and all the easy-going attitude gone.

The miner carefully kept his hand away from the gun as he slowly gestured towards the unconscious man with a shaking hand. “Just… Just let me get Timmy, and we’ll go,” his voice trembled and quavered.

“Go ahead. Then git.” Wesley twitched his pistol barrel slightly towards the door in emphasis.

I put my bloodied hands on my hips and tried to breathe around the blood clogging my nose. I suddenly felt tired.

The man roused his friend enough to pull him to his feet. The drunk managed a couple steps before a leg buckled and they both almost collapsed to the floor. The unwounded miner shot us a glare, before steadying his semi-conscience friend and half carrying him out the door.

Wesley covered them with his pistol until they were out of sight, then twirled the gun in his hand before smoothly sliding it into the holster hidden under his coat.

“It appears we both made some enemies,” I said flatly, probing my teeth with my tongue. None felt loose, thank goodness.

“Anyone worth a hoot has them. You just got to outlive them is all,” he patted his concealed pistols to emphasize his point. “But you were right, Jed. You do seem to win the ones that matter, if only by a slight margin.”

I nodded slowly and unbuttoned the top of my checkered shirt to look at my chest. Several of the stitches had torn through the skin, and small droplets of blood beaded and trickled down my stomach. I was going to have to get myself sewn back up again. “This time, you were that slight margin. It might have gone differently without your help.”

“I’d rather have kept out of it, but I do detest people shooting my drinking partner.”

Leaning forward, he rifled through the dead man’s pockets, and carefully shifted his boots to avoid the growing pool of blood. He pulled out three gold eagles and several folded bank notes. Keeping one coin for himself with the paper money, he handed the other two shiny gold eagles to me with a conspiring wink. “This is for our emotional distress over this sad matter.”

I shrugged and accepted the coins. Looting the dead was nothing new for me, and most likely they’d be snatched up by one of the working girls, or that cowardly bartender before the Sheriff arrived anyways.

We shook hands.

“Really, Jed?” Wesley held his hand up to show that I’d smeared blood on it.

I laughed and rebuttoned my shirt.

Since Wesley didn’t seem interested in the shotgun, I scooped it off the floor on the way out. It was an old Stoeger Coach shotgun with exposed hammers. My guess on the gauge was correct, it was a big ten. The barrels were cut down to a foot long and the stock had been shortened into a rounded grip. A handy size, with a helluva kick and the ability to make big holes in a man. And it was mine now. To the victors go the spoils.

I stepped out into the sunlight just in time for the bartender to step onto the boardwalk with the Sheriff.

Dan took in my freshly bloodied face and he sighed angrily. “Jed, what did I just say?”

“Hey, I didn’t blow anything up! Besides the other guys started it. We were minding our own business, sipping whiskey, and one of them started a brawl. After I beat his ass, another one threw down on us with this scatter gun,” I raised my new shotgun for emphasis before jerking my head towards the bar. “The fellow in there shot him. It was self-defense.” I didn’t mention that I started it by throwing the first punch. But I’m not the sort of man who gives anyone a free swing at me before I fight back. If you can, hit first, and hit the hardest.

Dan pointed at the shotgun. “You know that’s evidence, right?”

I shrugged and tried to look sufficiently innocent.

“Fine. I know where to find you anyways,” he looked at me sideways. “Do I need to get one of my nephews to escort you around town? You seem like you’re having a hard time staying out of trouble.”

The last thing I wanted was one of those deputy clowns following me around, and he knew it. I also knew it wasn’t an idle threat. “I’ll try harder. Promise.”

Dan shook his head in disgust and walked past me into the saloon with unhappy looking bartender in tow.

I went to find Doc.


RAWR! Pew! Pew! Pew!

(Work in Process title!)

Final editing just isn’t fun… But it’s going well.  Like shooting, where trigger time equates to increased skill and accuracy, time on a keyboard equates to increased writing skill. So we are getting there, slowly, painfully… word by word…edit by edit…

Anywho – here’s the intro to ‘The Greatest Magnificent Seven/Planet of the Apes/Jurassic Park Combo you will ever read’.

Enjoy the violence.

And give feedback. I don’t give a hoot about my feelings, what’s more important is to churn out a solid, good quality, and entertaining product.

PS – WordPress has a new blog editor, and it stinks. So there may be some funny spacing and whatnot. (But any grammar errors are mine unfortunately.)

EDIT – Part TWO – Click HERE.


June 1885.



Circling buzzards made the killing field easy enough to find.

The soldier’s bodies were scattered for a half mile across the open prairie. Mangled, crushed, gnawed on. They’d made a running fight of it, but were slaughtered anyway.

A dozen men. Armed with the finest weapons and equipment since the War Between the States. Trained and experienced in fighting Indians, rustlers, and outlaws.

For all the good it did them.

All I could find was a couple of dead apes and a single wounded triceratops.

Sending them out had been the Lieutenants decision. I didn’t blame him. He didn’t have a choice. But with the loss of these men, our low chances of survival dropped even further.

Turning my horse around, I touched heels to his flanks, leaving the weapons and gear for the Indians. They were going to need them.

As for me?

My name is Jedidiah Huckleberry Smith.

And I’m probably going to die as well.


Two weeks earlier.

Smith Ranch, Wyoming Territory


The heavy axe burst through the wood with a satisfying thunk, sending small chips and splinters flying as the sawn log split into two almost equal pieces. The twin chunks toppled off the large stump. Picking one of the pieces up, I set it vertically before dropping the axe and resting on the handle.

With a gloved hand, I pushed my soaked mop of unruly black hair out of my eyes and blinked rapidly as a drop of sweat trickled into my eye. My shoulders ached, and my stomach growled. It was nigh quitting time.

My horse Carbine, a beautiful dun gelding, stomped his feet, impatient that he had to stay harnessed to the wagon while waiting for me to finish my work. Ignoring him, I stretched. As my back arched, I felt the familiar tugging from the decades old scar tissue that crossed my upper back and shoulders, traveling around my sides.

The scars were a constant reminder of the singular day that changed the course of my life, and ultimately led me to where I was now. Living in isolation on a small cattle ranch, a fugitive from justice, a former outlaw… a damaged man. And somewhere out there, someone owed me a debt of blood. Someone who had alluded me for decades. Someone who may very well already be dead, and not by my hand. I wasn’t sure which was worse, him still kicking, or being killed by someone else.

Suddenly furious, I swung the axe over my shouldersand slammed the angular blade down with far more force than necessary. Theexplosion of chips as the fractioned log burst apart did nothing to ease the hotanger that boiled up from within.

I swallowed hard and forced myself to take deep breaths. That was an old story. That wasn’t me anymore. For two years I’d begun to put down roots here. And for once in my life, I was actually invested in something good and solid.

Looking around the pasture, I was pleased with the amount of work I’d accomplished today. It was hard work, but rewarding. Cutting down trees and chopping it into firewood was the hard part, the rewarding part was blowing the stumps up with dynamite. My ears still rang.

In the distance, storm clouds were gathering above the Granite Mountains and making their way towards me. It looked like a real dozy. Tossing the axe into the wagon, I threw a few more pieces of split firewood into the back to top the load off. Taking the gun belt down that hung from the corner of the seat, I wrapped it around my waist and climbed aboard. Call it an natural impulse, but I had a very rational fear of being unarmed.

Carbine looked over his shoulder at me, and I could tell he was displeased. He was pulling double duty today as my mare, Elsa, was lamed in the barn. Slapping the reins on his back, the tan horse leaned forward and began to pull the heavy wagon. My spread wasn’t that big, but if my small herd kept growing, I’d need to hire some ranch hands on. I wasn’t exactly a people person and I preferred my solitude, so I’d put that off for as long as possible. Once we reached the house, I stopped my horse and quickly strapped a canvas sheet over the firewood, before turning him loose in the corral beside the barn.

As I bent over to lock the gate behind my horse, Carbine snatched the hat off my head and trotted off, the black battered Stetson dangling from his teeth. He dropped it a dozen yards away and pranced around it, flipping his black mane and tail happily.

Swearing, I crawled through the creaking rails of the corral and picked the hat off the ground. I considered smacking him with it, but he kept his distance. Instead I slapped it against my leg a few times to knock the fresh dirt and slobber off.

Figures. I’ve two horses, one lame and the other an asshole.

I watched him happily trot into the pole shed attached to the side of the barn. That was his favorite spot to stand in the shade and spend the night. Even with the big storm coming in, I wasn’t concerned, the walled sides and shingled roof would protect him.

As a light rain began to fall and the distant rumble of thunder grew closer, I pulled the axe, saw, and a small crate of leftover dynamite from the wagon and hauled them to the barn. The doors were closed, and as usual, stuck shut. I kicked, swore, jerked, and tugged on them before I finally got one open. They were wretched things, big and stout, as all things in the west needed to be. But they were a constant aggravation and I was certain they were going to be the death of me.

The barn itself was a great big thing. A story and a half tall, with a wide opening down the center and several stalls along the side. It was big enough to hold over a dozen cattle or horses with room to spare. Hay was kept in the loft, gradually added to through the short summer in preparation for keeping my herd and horses alive in case of a long, hard winter.

Dropping the tools at the end of the barn beside the small back door, I stopped by Elsa’s stall to check on her and feed her an apple. It had only been two days since I noticed her favoring her right leg. Hopefully, the swelling would go down soon, and she would be alright. Unlike Carbine, she was a good horse.

I gave her a good scratch on her withers before jogging through the light rain and onto the porch of my one room ranch house. Stopping, I turned and watched the swirling gray clouds grow darker. It looked like we were in for a big one. I looked beside my feet and shrugged. My saddle sat next to the rocking chair where I’d mended some stitching yesterday. But I wasn’t about to lug it through the rain to the barn now. It’d be fine here tonight.

Lightning split the distant sky, and I waited for the thunder to reach me. The storm was just getting started. Knocking the dust from my boots, I stepped inside the house to settle in for the night.


The terrified scream of a horse jerked me awake and out of bed.

A couple of long strides and I was peeking through the cross shaped firing port in the thick wooden shutter.

With the storm blocking most of the moonlight, visibility was limited.

It was times like this when I was thankful I didn’t sleep naked. I jerked my boots on over bare feet and slung my gun belt around my cotton threaded drawers.

The weight of the Colt Peacemaker was reassuring and balanced by a nine-and-a-half-inch Bowie knife in an oiled leather sheath on the opposite side.

From above the door, I took down a well-worn Winchester 1873 rifle and worked the lever, jacking a cartridge into the chamber.

I stood still, listening for any noises.

There was nothing but the gentle patter of falling rain on the roof.

Lighting a lantern, I slid the bar off the door, and stepped into the storm.

It was raining harder now, and I regretted not grabbing my slicker.

The cold rain plastered my hair to my scalp. I shuddered as trickles of water ran down my bare chest and back before soaking into my underwear.

I moved across the yard as the trees swayed in the wind and the open barn door squeaked on its hinges.

Lightning flashed across the sky and several long moments later the rumbling thunder washed over me.

Holding the lantern in front of me, I saw the top rail of the corral was knocked off while the one underneath lay splintered and broken on the ground.

I inspected the damage and the area around it. No sign of blood or struggle, just hoof tracks leading away towards the forest at a run. It was obvious Carbine broke through the fence, but why? This storm was bad, but we’d been through far worse together.

Lightning flashed again, closer this time. The boom of thunder hit me a split second later as the wind picked up. I shivered as rain trickled down my spine. The heavy barn door thumped as it bounced against the vertical board siding.

A couple of soft thuds came from inside the building and I held still, uncertain of what I’d heard. I took a few steps towards the barn. Another thud, followed by a crunching, like branches being stepped on. Then what sounded like a snort and a tearing noise, then more crunching.

I shook my head, uncertain of what I was hearing. The trees nearby were groaning and cracking in the heavy wind, obscuring other noises. I tried to listen again and could make out nothing in the noises of the storm and repeated thumping of the door.

A handful of steps and I was at the barn entrance. Since I was out here, I figured I may as well check on Elsa.

Rain dripped heavily down from the angled roof, putting a sheet of falling water between myself and the inside of the barn. A hard wind gust hit me, and I staggered before leaning into it.

Frustrated with the pounding wind and cold rain, I raised the lantern and ducked through the sheet of water and into the barn.

I took two steps inside and skidded to a stop.

My heart skipped a beat.

I’d walked up behind a monster.

Growling, it swung its head over its shoulder and glared.

The creature had a thick, heavy head, almost reptilian in appearance. Something dangled from its clenched teeth. Dark liquid dripped from its jaws onto the dirt floor. Black eyes reflected the lantern light, giving off a sinister appearance. Two bony ridges started above the slanted nostrils, growing larger as they ran along its head and flared out above the eyes before ending at the top of its skull. Small bumps and ridges ran down the back of its neck onto its spine.

Its large, thick tail was raised slightly into the air, tapering to a point, close enough I could have reached out and touched it. Muscular and powerful hind legs held the rear end up, while the front arms dug claws into Elsa’s body.

She lay ripped open, her entrails strewn amongst the shattered boards of her stall.

Shocked, I realized it was her hind leg that dangled from the beast’s mouth. Broken shards of bone glistened amongst the torn flesh.

I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. My mind couldn’t comprehend what was in front of me.

The barn door thumped behind me in the wind.

The creature dropped the severed leg with a wet thud and snorted softly, tilting its head to the side as it studied me. It sniffed, as though trying to figure out what small creature would dare approach it so boldly.

We stared at each other in the glow of the lantern, when a heavy gust of wind slammed the door shut behind me with a loud boom.

That broke the magical moment.

I flinched as the monster roared, the noise assaulting my ears and revealing rows of large curved teeth coated with blood and bits of flesh. The stench was overpowering and nauseating. Droplets of blood and pieces of Elsa flew from its mouth, splattering on my chest and face.

I turned and ran, slamming face first into the door.

It didn’t open. It was stuck. It was always stuck.

I shoved again, throwing all my weight against the rough boards.


Screaming in rage, I stepped back and kicked in a last-ditch attempt to force it open.

It failed.

The creature turned to face me, its tail slamming into the center beam with an audible crack.

The building shuddered.

Frantic, I looked for a way out. The windows along the stalls were too narrow to fit through. The only other exit was a door behind the monster at the far end of the barn.

The creature lunged for me, mouth agape and teeth bared.

Diving to the side, I dropped the lantern and it burst, spewing flaming oil as I rolled away.

The monster’s mouth snapped shut where I’d been a moment before, and the creature jerked back, hissing, as it recoiled from the small explosion of flames.

Kneeling, I looked at the beast as it glared at the rapidly spreading flames.

The panicked moment of terror and surprise over, it was time to fight back.

Jerking the stock to my shoulder, I squeezed the trigger, sending a 200-grain bullet into the beast’s chest. Instinctively, I shucked the lever and fired again.

I had ten rounds and I intended to use them all. I worked the rifle, peppering the beast with bullets.

Roaring in pain and anger, the creature lunged.

I lurched out of the way, tripping and slamming the side of my head into the roughhewn boards of a stall.

The rifle flew from my grasp.

I rolled in desperation as it swiped its clawed arm at me. Pain flashed hot across my chest. Only the stall saved me as it took the brunt of the blow and showered me with splinters.

I tried to put more distance between us, scrambling backwards and away. Blood trickled down my chest. I pushed concern aside. If I didn’t die in the immediate future, I’d worry about it later.

The beast turned after me, its tail slashing through the smoke and slamming the stuck door open. But now, the monster stood between me and the entrance as the breeze fanned the flames.

The interior of the barn became a flickering smoke-filled haze as the fire spread quickly behind the beast. The flames licked the sides of the stalls and along the door jam.

Smoke wafted around the monster and it was illuminated with dancing flames. Blood oozed from puckered holes across the front of the beast.

I carefully stood, bracing myself for another lunge or swing of its arms.

The monster watched, dark eyes flicking as they followed my movements. It rose on hind legs, the thick tail dropping to the floor, and front arms spread with claws extended. The gaping maw of bloodied jagged teeth was open.

I could taste its rotten breath in the air.

The beast reared back, its mouth opening impossibly wide as it prepared to lunge.

This time, I was ready.

I drew my pistol and fired from the hip.

As I retreated, I shot all five rounds from the Peacemaker. Each bullet hit a little higher than the last as I rode the recoil and worked my shots up its body. The final round clipped its left eye and blew out part of the creature’s eye socket.

The beast snarled and thrashed its arms, pawing at the ghastly wound.

But the damn thing simply would not die.

Turning to run, I tripped over Elsa’s remains. Blood, organs, and rendered flesh squished under my weight. My hand went into her intestines. Gagging, I slipped and stumbled off her corpse into a stall.

The rough sawn boards gave me a moment of concealment, but I had no illusion about their usefulness as protection.

Flipping the barrel of the revolver up, I rotated the cylinder and dumped the empty shells. With gore covered fingers, I began to reload, carefully feeding cartridges into the empty chambers, one by one. Each turn of the cylinder made a quiet snick that I prayed the monster didn’t hear.

Lightening crashed nearby, temporarily overwhelming my senses with the painful crack of electricity.

I froze, my fingers grasping a cartridge still in my belt loops.

The barn was silent, except for the crackle of flames, and a low rhythmic hissing.

Smoke drifted into the stall, burning my eyes and lungs. I stifled a cough.

Claws gripped the wood rail above me suddenly and I cringed as it splintered and broke. The beast leaned forward, searching the barn with its good eye. Blood trickled onto my face and bare shoulders.

I only had two cartridges loaded. Fearful of making a noise, I eased the gate shut over the cylinder, wincing at the tiny click. I tilted the barrel upwards and pointed it under the monster’s jaw.

Claws dug into the rail, showering me with dust and splinters as I began to take up the slack on the trigger.

The beast jerked back out of sight.

I gave a small sigh of relief.

Violently, I was catapulted forward onto my face as it rammed its head through the stall behind me.

Teeth snapped shut as I scrambled away and rolled onto my back. The beasts head jutted through the shattered boards, snarling and snapping as it strained to get me.

Holding the pistol tightly with both hands, I fired between my knees and into its head.

The bullet hit and skimmed along the thick skull, gashing open a flap of thick skin and exposing a slit of pale bone. The monster jerked at the pain and my remaining shot punched into a shoulder with no noticeable effect.

I screamed in frustration and rage, resisting the temptation to hurl my empty pistol at its bloodied face.

The beast wrenched its head back and forth, struggling to pull through the jagged broken wall. The boards, bent inward from the creature’s intrusion, were still firmly nailed to the thick posts of the stall, and pushed against the back of the monster’s skull. The boards tightened as it fought to free itself. The foul creature hissed and snapped forward at me again.

I shoved my pistol into its holster and crawled out into the open room and around Elsa’s mutilated remains.

The smoke was harsh. I coughed and hacked as it threatened to suffocate me. Looking past the thrashing tail, I saw my rifle near the entrance with flames licking around the barrel. Desperate for a loaded weapon, I dove for it. Sliding across the packed dirt floor, I scooped up the rifle. The metal was hot to the touch, the stock singed black, but at least the rounds hadn’t cooked off from the heat yet.

The beast roared, grabbing and ripping at the broken boards trapping its head with its claws. Its tail thrashed, flinging tools and equipment across the floor and into the flames.

Bits of burning hay from the rafters above fell between us.

The large front door stood open behind me, but a raging inferno was between me and my escape.

My only option was still the small door in the far end. And in my desperation for a loaded weapon, I foolishly made the horrible mistake of putting the monster back between me and my exit.

With a mighty jerk, the creature pulled itself free and backed into the cracked center post.

It broke.

The center of the barn crashed down, stopping a mere handful of feet above the beast, supported by broken and creaking beams. Flames whooshed higher from the air entering through the shattered roof, fanning them to towering heights as rain poured in and fought to quench them.

Amidst the flames and smoke, I looked at the bloodied harbinger of death and terror before me.

Blood oozed from the monster’s wounds, bits of splintered wood embedded in its flesh, and one eye was a gaping ruin seeping blood from the mangled socket.

I racked the lever and savored the snick of the action closing on a fresh round. I didn’t know how many bullets were left in the tube. Four? Five?

Didn’t matter. If I was going to be eaten, it’d be amidst a small scattering of brass.

The creature charged with a roar.

Adrenaline and fear gave speed to my hands. I jerked the barrel up and short stroked the action, firing faster than I ever had before.

My aim was true.

But the monstrosity soaked up the remaining rounds without pause and reached for me, mouth gaping.

In desperation, I shoved the rifle in front of me and wedged it horizontally into the creatures open mouth. The teeth clamped down, narrowly missing my hands. The gun stock splintered and broke. Hot, rotten breath bathed me as the beast pushed me backwards towards the raging fire.

I screamed as the heat became unbearable and let go of the gun, diving aside before it pushed me into the blazing hot inferno.

The beast’s head thrust into the flames. I heard it sizzle and pop as the skin and raw wounds burned. The creature tried to roar around the rifle jutting out from each side of its mouth. A flailing arm backhanded me and flung me like a rag doll.

I hit the ground with a heavy thud.

Forcing myself up, I ran around the struggling creature to the rear of the barn, dodging the bundles of flaming hay raining down around me.

The monster thrashed on the ground, slamming into broken stalls and beams as it tried to dislodge the jammed rifle from its mouth.

The front of the barn shuddered under the impacts. The weakened structure threatened to collapse at any moment.

The barn had become a hellfire with a demon trapped inside, roaring in pain and anger behind me. Smoke swirled around the beast, as rain dripped through the broken roof and fought the spreading flames.

I reached the back door and saw my tools beside it. Something ugly welled up inside of me.

This thing had eaten my horse, destroyed my barn, and tried to kill me.

I grabbed the axe.

This thing was going to die.

I paused when I saw a small marked wooden chest with rope handles. Jerking the lid off, I looked at the leftover cardboard wrapped sticks of dynamite.

This was more like it.

Grabbing a blast cap, I jammed it onto the explosive. Twisting the fuse around my fingers, I tore it off short.

The monster knocked the rifle out of its mouth and came for me again. Blood and saliva dripped onto the floor, sizzling in the flames, as it stalked forward. Slower this time, more cautious, more enraged. It jerked its head aside as a bundle of burning hay fell in front of it.

Using a nearby flame, I realized I’d broken the fuse off too short when it ignited and burned quickly towards the blasting cap. I tossed the stick back in the box, kicked it across the floor towards the beast and ran out the back door into the rain.

The fire rose high into the air behind me as the barn was consumed.

Stumbling to my knees, I pushed up from the rain soaked ground and ran for the house. Shelter seemed so far away.

Behind me came a bestial roar followed by heavy thuds.

I dared a backwards look.

The beast ripped the small door off its hinges. Claws grabbed the frame and tore pieces away as the creature fought to get through the opening. The wall screeched and shuddered as boards snapped and broke.

Shoving its head and shoulders through the opening, the monster roared at me.

The dynamite blew.

The explosion hit me like a train, driving the air from my lungs and slamming me against the ground.

For a moment, everything went dark.

Then I became acutely aware of pain. I blinked. Everything hurt. The gash across my chest stung. My lungs and throat felt like they were on fire. Dozens of small scrapes and cuts covered my singed body. My underwear was in tatters. I coughed. The pain almost consumed me.

Bits of flaming debris were scattered throughout the yard. A pitchfork was embedded in the ground beside me, its broken handle on fire.

What remained of the barn shuddered then collapsed in on itself in a shower of sparks and flame.

The beast lay near me. Blood ran from its many wounds and mingled with the rain. The rear legs and tail were shredded and mangled from the explosion.

But still, it lived.

The hellish beasts single remaining dark orb glared, reflecting the dancing flames. Snarling, it weakly stretched a forelimb towards me, sharp claws open and reaching.

My battered body responded sluggishly as I drew my Colt. I pointed the trembling barrel at the beast’s face, and pulled the trigger.


The pistol was empty.

I dropped the useless gun and with thick, fumbling fingers grasped the handle of my Bowie.

The claws that reached for me suddenly clutched at the wet soil and with a violent spasm, the beast shuddered, before giving a final rattling breath and laying still.

It was finally dead.

Lighting danced across the sky as the storm raged on above me and I embraced the pain and darkness.


I woke hacking and coughing, with a pounding headache and soaked to the bone as a light rain continued to fall about me. My empty pistol lay beside me, wet and gleaming in the early rays of the morning sun that peeked through the retreating storm clouds.

The monster was dead before me. Its single eye dulled and gray.

Beyond the creature, all that remained of my barn was a tumbled mass of burnt timbers and rubble amongst small residual flames that hissed in the rain. A thick gray smoke drifted from the pile of ash.

Bits of smoldering wreckage and charred debris lay scattered around me.

Picking up my gun, I stumbled across the yard to the house, wide-eyed at the destruction and giant beast I had slain. Slamming the door shut behind me, I lowered the door bar and dropped to the floor, my back pressed against the wall. If more monsters lurked outside, I didn’t know if a barred door would stop them. But it was comforting, and right now, I felt like a kitten could finish me off with a single blow.

I dumped the spent brass from my pistol onto the floor. Pulling fresh cartridges from my belt, I reloaded. The gun, while smeared with the same sticky blood that coated me, would still function and that’s all that mattered.

Stripping out of my boots and tattered underwear, I left them in a heap in the middle of the room and crawled naked into bed. My pistol I laid on the small table beside me.

Lying there, I stared at the exposed rafters in disbelief.

Elsa was ripped apart, Carbine was missing, and the barn burnt to the ground because of an ungodly creature. My mind tried to convince itself that none of it was real, but the pain and blood smeared across my body proved it was all too real.

I closed my eyes.

When I woke several hours later, I felt like I had been shot at, missed, shit at, and hit all over.

My joints were stiff. The cut across my chest was a congealed mass of blood and ash. Small nicks and cuts covered me. My singed hair stank horribly. Moving gingerly, I opened the shutters, squinting at the sunlight as my eyes adjusted. The yard was just how I remembered it from last night. Full of burnt debris with a giant mangled corpse near the jumble of ruination that had once been my barn.

The inside of the house looked like someone had been murdered. Blood and ash was smeared from where I’d fumbled my way inside. The trail led from inside the door, up against the wall, and across the floor to the scattered pile of bloodied clothing.

Sighing, I pulled pants on and stepped outside in my bare feet.

Carbine trotted around the side of the house, head and tail held high, as if proud that he’d left me to die. He snorted and pranced, keeping his distance from the smoldering remains of the barn and the monster’s carcass.

Leaving him to wander around, I began to clean myself up.

I washed away the crusted scab over my chest and got a good look at the cut. Unfortunately, it was deep enough to warrant a few stitches. I downed a couple slugs of whiskey and bit down on a stick before drizzling some across the wound. Tears rolled from my eyes at the burst of pain from the alcohol. Then I stitched it shut, screaming through clenched teeth as thread pulled the torn flesh together.

The stitches looked horrible, but they would hold.

As I wiped away the rest of the grime, and looked in a shaving mirror, I realized just how beat up I was. In addition to all of my other ailments, I had two black eyes and a nice goose egg bump on my head.

I looked like hammered crap.

After cleaning myself up the best I could, I rocked in a chair on the porch, staring at the remains of the beast.

Even dead, it was frightening to behold.

Large and powerful, corded with muscle under its thick tan hide. The undamaged eye that had been so menacing last night was now glazed over, but the teeth and claws showed the creature’s lethality.

Then there was the barn, which was destroyed.

Luckily my saddle survived. Leaving it on the porch last night had been a blessing. But the cost to replace the rest of my gear and tools lost in the fire would be staggering.

Not to mention Elsa. She’d been a good horse.

And somewhere in the ashes were the remains of my rifle.

At least I had a spare, an old Spencer Repeating rifle. Twenty years past its prime, it was something of an outdated oddity now. Chambered in .56-50, it fired a hard-hitting round that worked well enough when I hunted buffalo.

It would do if more beasts came calling.

Right now, it was fully loaded and within arm’s reach.

I whistled for Carbine and managed to harness and saddle him without too much pain.

The Sheriff needed to know about this. More of these monsters might be lurking around. I got lucky, anyone caught in the open, unprepared, would be a goner. The hard part would be convincing him.

Luckily, I had a big corpse.

Picking up the small axe I used for splitting kindling, I collected my proof.

Afterward, I slid the Spencer into the leather saddle scabbard. My vest pockets were full of loose rounds for the rifle and the loops in my belt were filled with .45 cartridges for the Peacemaker. I wanted to be ready for anything. If I had more dynamite, I would have stuffed it into the saddlebags as well.

Easing myself up in the saddle, we rode towards town.


The saga continues with RAWR! Pew! Pew! Pew-Part Tew!

I’m going to write a book I said, it’ll be fun I said…

And I was right!

I just printed it for the first time. Really weird to hold something you created in your hand, kind of like a baby… but not gooey. Awesome feeling. The awesomeness to weight ratio is about 122.5%.

Which is perfect.

This is the working title, but it has really grown on me… because it’s just kind of nifty. 🙂

The ‘Badass American Novel’ part needs to stay though. Cause – ‘America.

Anyways… SO close to being done. I can already taste the ink on the paper.


Reasons why Liberals assumed Kavanaugh was Guilty.

  1. He is a straight, white male – thus the absolute worst humanity has to offer.
  2. He was nominated by Trump, a serial abuser of women.
  3. He is a conservative, and wants millions of women to die instead of letting them kill millions of babies.
  4. He supports the Constitution, which is archaic and outdated, written by racists slave owners.
  5. Republicans support him, and they want women to pay for their own birth control and will ‘put ya’ll back in chains!'(According to Joe Biden)
  6. He is probably a Russian bot.
  7. He is a Christian. And Christ is the absolute worst, unlike Mohammad, the founder of the religion of peace, who raped/married children and enslaved/butchered people who wouldn’t convert.

This entire spectacle was a sick, demented, twisted Hail Mary of the left with three potential outcomes.

  1. Kavanaugh would decide this wasn’t worth it and quit.
  2. RHINO’s would pull a Flake and… flake.
  3. The FBI would pull a Comey/Mueller and spend two years searching for evidence of a crime that doesn’t exist.

In the end, it backfired spectacularly as it should. It’s fired up the Republican base, pissed off a large chunk of rational moderates/Democrats, and turned public opinion in even larger favor of Kavanaugh being voted to the SCOTUS.

As it should, it appears that good will triumph over evil.

But it ain’t done yet. So, keep praying. Because this sort of thing needs to be stomped into the mud with such swift, fierceness that it will never be attempted again.

In other news.

I’ve researched a bunch about Cannons lately to make sure I get the details right. Because the most important question every kid should have, is ‘What happens when a Tyrannosaurus catches a 12 pound cast lead ball from an 1857 Napoleon Cannon right in the kisser?’

I’m 95% done with this book. But there’s just so much cool stuff to add, I’m having a hard time wrapping it up. And the final battle is a struggle as well.

No wonder in GoT, the first massive battle that occurs in the books is the one Tyrion is involved in. GRR Martin just knocked him out at the beginning and he woke up once it was over. Clever play, dude.