As you know, my first short story comes out next week! As you can imagine, I’m beyond excited! This is my first big step to being a writer. Since fifth grade I’ve had that dream, and now I’m beginning to walk in it. I know that landing a short story in a magazine with 600 active subscribers is a far cry from the New York Times best seller list, but it’s the furthest I’ve ever been. And to me, it’s the end of a diving board, and I’m just learning how to swim.
I recently found the story that started it all: The Quest for Tal Kara. I wrote that story in fifth grade with my teacher Mrs. Palmer. It’s a classic tale of a boy who lost his mother in an attack by an evil Giant. The boy sets off on a quest to slay the beast, meeting a wizard, a thief and a warrior along his way. He fights a griffon, a band of corrupt soldiers and eventually discovers the nefarious plot of an evil Overlord who wishes to bathe the land in darkness. I’m currently working on a re-write to update the vocabulary 🙂
In his book, Dream Year, author and all-around-creative superhero Ben Arment asks us to locate the defining moment when our dream was born. For me, it was sitting in fifth grade, listening to the Cooper Kid adventures, and having a spark ignite my creative kindling. I’ve had the writer’s curse ever since. I don’t think either of us realized it when we met in that coffee shop in Omaha Nebraska last August, but Ben started me on this Dream Year, and oh boy, it’s happening!
My story that is featuring in this month’s issue of Splickety Prime is themed in the Wild West. What I have for you today is a prequel of sorts that will set the stage and introduce you to a no-nonsense Sheriff. I’d love for you to meet him! Check out my short story below and pick up your copy of Prime when it launches next week!
By Josh R Smith
The dirt fell off his clothes in a cloud with each driven step into town. The Gulley boys had left him for dead. Buried up to his neck in the desert. That was the problem with these bandits. They were dumb as rocks. You never leave a pissed off sheriff alone, unless he’s spilling his life giving blood over the earth. Dumb as rocks.
John approached the general store and saw a bandit patrolling around the town. The Gulley’s further proved their ignorance by leaving one man to watch the south end of town. John shook his head and muttered, “Dumb as rocks.” If the boys hadn’t ambushed John while he slept, the entire band of idiots would be rotting in the town jail. John felt his side where a few ribs had cracked from the altercation.
John made his way around the building and after a quick tussle, dragged the unconscious body behind the building. John looked the man over, donning his wide brimmed hat. “Thanks for the disguise,” John whispered to the fallen man. John took a cautious step around the building into the sunlight. Pulling the hat over his eyes he began working his way to his office.
John counted a total of four more bandits. One on near the tailor’s, two “interrogating” a woman near the cantina, and one stood guard outside Town Hall. “That’s what they’re after,” thought John. Governor Karelton had arrived the night before. Rumor had it he was carrying a thousand dollars’ worth of gold cross country to New York City. Fool of a thing to do with a single Marshall for protection. John had to get to his office, he’d make sure this was the last time these Boys broke the law.
John snuck around the back to the Sheriff’s building, and climbed through a window. Those mongrels had grabbed him while he slept, his holster still hung on the bed. John grabbed the Springfield 1870 rifle from the wall and his belt with his Colt 1860 revolver. These were the tools that protected this town. John was just the man who knew how to use them.
John marched through the center of town, striding towards Town Hall. He made it five or six paces before anyone hollered his way. John levelled his rifle and dropped the bandit from a hundred yards. The shot was still ringing out when John reloaded and fired at the man by Town Hall before he could draw his pistol.
The two bandits “interrogating” the woman drew and began to fire at the Sheriff. The woman screamed and took shelter inside. A round hit the dirt a foot away from John. John knelt amidst the onslaught, he knew the Gulley Boys could never hit a target at that range. Bringing up the rifle to his eyes, John fired and dropped the first man. The other one turned to run away. John popped the empty shell and let his expertise with the rifle load another round and dispatched the fleeing bandit with another shot.
John reached the Town Hall as shots rang out from inside. Glass shattered as the bandits blasted at the Sheriff. John dropped the rifle and dove to the ground. He brought out his Colt 1860, a finer gun had never been made. John fired at the shadows milling about Town Hall, and was rewarded with a yelp from inside. The shots from inside ceased. John stood and began reloading his pistol.
“David Gulley, you’re under arrest for the attempted murder of this town’s fine Sheriff, and for the attempted stealing of the gold belonging to this great Country. Now get yer dumb as rocks self out here, before I come in after you.” John holstered his revolver and crossed his arms, waiting for a response. The answer came in a shuffle of footsteps as David Gulley, came to the door with Governor Karelton held at gunpoint.
“Fool,” the old man spat, “you should’a stayed dead in that desert. Now you’ve killed my boys! I’m not leaving without what we came for. A pile of gold bars, and a sheriff six feet under!” David turned his gun on the Sheriff as a shot rang out. David stared dumbfounded at the Colt 1860 with a smoking barrel as the gun made its way back to the holster at the Sheriff’s side. The bandit stumbled forward, knocking Governor Karelton to the ground. The bandit fell down the steps and lay dead, with a hole in the back of his head.
The Governor sat up in disbelief. “When they killed my Marshall, I was sure they’d have me dead by nightfall. You did a good thing today, Sheriff.” John strode over and helped the governor to his feet.
“Well sir, it’s my duty to protect this town. Those boys have run some foul deeds, but now they’re the Devil’s problem.”
The Governor reached into his pocket producing a shiny silver object. He offered it to John. “Well Sheriff, I’ve got a position open. How’d you like to add to the Devil’s fold on a more National level?”
John took the Silver Star, and read the words aloud. “United States Marshall. I suppose a man can only do the task to which God has given him.” He gave the Governor a quick smile. “It would be an honor, Sir.”