Salvation is my first (yes, ladies and gentleman first) work of fiction to make it outside of the one-shot or flash fiction story realm since I was… oh… about fourteen. I’m writing a western first and foremost because I fell in love with the genre late last year watching John Wayne movies, and also because movies like The Quick and the Dead and The Shootist made me fall in love with the kind of story that comes from the American Old West. I should mention, however, that Salvation isn’t your typical western for two reasons: one, because it’s not set in the American Old West but rather a disjointed AU (alternate universe) of my creation, and two, because it’s going to include a lot of fantasy elements not typical of your average John Wayne movie.
Anyway, here’s the “pilot” post, if you will. A short snippet of 420ish words to set the scene and get you, my Constant Reader, interested in what’s to come.
The sun was barely up over Salvation and the town was already gathered around the gallows below the clock tower in the center of town. Women wept while their husbands clenched their fists and children were made to look away as the sheriff was led up the steps of the gallows by a man dressed in black. A posse of outlaws overlooked the spectacle from the rooftops, guns poised and pointed at the townsfolk, ready to quench even a whisper of protest.
“Let this be a lesson to you,” the man in black whispered into the sheriff’s ear. “This is my town, you hear? There will be no law here aside form the law I enforce.”
There was a loud creak as the trap doors opened beneath the feet of the sheriff’s family, and three sickening cracks from the necks of wife, son, and daughter that sent a chill through the heart of the populace.
They called the town Salvation because it was built around a mission. The man in black’s first act as reigning sovereign was to turn the mission into a saloon, and by the following Sunday it was dealing out dirty shot glasses of whiskey instead of forgiveness.
God seemed to abandon Salvation the day the man in black took over, and seven years later the town was barely a ghost of what it had once been.
The sheriff was still alive, held captive in his own jail house, or at least that was the rumor Casey heard. He looked down over the town from a high ridge a few miles away, feeling as if he’d swallowed a ball of lead. Dollar nickered and paced at being halted after so many hours of galloping across the desert sand.
Casey dismounted just outside of town and walked Dollar down the main street in an attempt to go unnoticed. He led the mustang to a boarding stable and paid the work hand a dollar for a week of boarding, feed, and water.
“Say, friend,” Casey said, “where’s the best place to get a room around here?”
The man chucked. “Only one place to git a room ‘round here, suh, and that’s the Mission. Ol’ Mastah likes to keep an eye on those comin’ and goin’ from his town.”
Casey frowned but didn’t ask any more questions. He’d seen the Mission on his way through town; it was hard not to. It stood like a mountainous specter over the town, and cast a long, dark shadow in the evening sun. He shook the dust from his boots and soldered on up the street.
Next: Salvation, Episode One: Jezebel