Free Fiction Thursday – Night Dancer

Happy Thursday, everyone!

This week’s Free Fiction Thursday features a guest appearance by me writing under the name Kris Sparks. I hope you enjoy Night Dancer.

Night Dancer

 Kris Sparks

Published by Thunder Valley Press

Copyright 2010 by Kris Sparks

 

1891

His horse’s soft whicker pulled Virgil Dean out of a drunken doze.

For a moment Virgil’s dream was more real that the gently rolling prairie where he’d made his camp for the night.  The burnt-sulfur smell of phantom gunpowder overpowered the damp, musty odor of dry grasses dusted with light snow.  The sharp crack of Winchesters still echoed in his memory, overlaid with the ghostly cries of the dying.  Like all his dreams of late, the horrors his mind didn’t let him forget were more immediate than the distant yip of a coyote somewhere off in the deep black of the North Dakota night.

Virgil rubbed his hand over his face, trying to chase away the dream. He never really slept anymore. He either drank himself into a stupor or rode through the night until he fell off his saddle exhausted.  Easy sleep was for men not haunted by nightmares of their own making.

Tonight he’d run out of whiskey before he could work up a truly decent drunk.  The empty bottle glistened in the low flames of his campfire.  Some nights he threw the empty bottle as far away from himself as he could, as if he could stuff his memories inside where the whiskey had been and rid himself of his dreams.  Tonight the bottle lay in the dirt next to his hand where he’d dropped it.

He tried to get his brain to function, to work out how long he’d been caught in the dream by the size of the fire, the position of the stars in the sky.  It would have been easier if he could see the stars clearly.  It couldn’t have been long.  All the whiskey he’d drunk was still inside his head, making the world blurry around the edges.

His horse whickered again, louder this time.  Virgil sat up from where he’d slumped against his saddle.  He caught movement at the far edge of the light from his campfire.  Too big to be a coyote.  Nothing more threatening or his horse would be doing more than whickering a soft hello.

Not only was his bay gelding saying hello to something Virgil couldn’t see, the confounded animal was walking toward the shadow at the edge of the firelight.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Virgil muttered under his breath.

His rubbed his face again.  When he opened his eyes this time, the shadow at the edge of the firelight had resolved itself to a human shape, but it was still too shrouded in the dark for Virgil to make out any features.  The only thing he could see clearly was that the stranger stood too close to his horse for Virgil’s liking.  He’d be in a whole mess of trouble if the stranger decided to make off with his horse and leave Virgil out here alone on the prairie.

(read the rest of the story here)

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