Friday, January 4, 2013

Six-guns and Slay Bells, Story 14

The Hungry Trail

You never quite get a name, but there’s a man talking. Telling a story of Valeda. But the way he tells it makes you wonder. You have to think of all the people who took the trail west. All the sacrifices they made. All they did and didn’t get for their efforts.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if all those who died along the trail were really just food for its twisted entrails? If all the oxen and horses and mules that perished in the barren waste just made the trail more difficult to cross? If there was a purpose? A way? An idea? Wouldn’t that be interesting?

And ghosts. Can they deal with the trail, or is the trail dealing with them? Using them, perhaps. Making them play with . . . well, with . . . you know. Don’t you?

It might be good to keep in mind that the trail is especially voracious around Christmas time. For some reason. Yes. For a reason.

MARTHAYN PELEGRIMAS, also known as Christine Matthews, has been writing professionally for more than twenty years. Her western short stories have appeared in the anthologies TIN STAR (Berkley, 2000), BOOT HILL (Forge, 2001), GUNS OF THE WEST (2001), DESPERADOS (2001), THE FUNERAL OF TANNER MOODY (2004) and TEXAS RANGERS (2004). Her historical novel, ON THE STRENGTH OF WINGS, was published in July of 2001.

A book of stories for all seasons, Six-guns and Slay Bells is billed as a Christmas collection, but don't you believe it. Its stories will enhance and entertain on any night you wish to read them. But keep the guard dog close, just in case the creeps come calling.