Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge 2012 for the letter I 
This is a continuing story, if you would like to read the from the beginning, the letter A : Aces and Eights  But... each letter/story stands alone as well. Enjoy:)


The soft snap and pop of hay woke Ben from the first good rest he was able to get in weeks. As the rest of his senses woke, he heard the horses shift restless in their stalls. There was a scent in the thickened air.

His eyes opened wide, not air, smoke. It was smoke and the scent was hay on fire. Ben jumped to his feet kicking the feet of his men. “Up, up. The barn’s on fire.”

Ben and the men scrambled as the smoke stung their eyes. The flames were starting to spread downward from the loft. Ben opened the stalls and pulled the animals outside.

He lead a large quarter horse out by the bridle, the air had started to thicken. It was harder to breathe but Ben turned back to make sure everyone and every creature were safe.

Ben met Charlie coming out with their horses. He shouted to him over the roar of the flames. “Is that all?”

Charlie nodded as he coughed and slapped the gray mare on the hindquarters to send her from the blaze. “Dawson is comin with the last one.”

He started to turn and join Ben when a figure stepped out of the shadows by the barn. “Ben, look out.”

Ben heard the warning and reached for the gun at his hip but it was too late. There was pain suddenly at the base of his skull. The flames started to sway and grow dark as he heard Charlie’s muffled voice call his name again. Then his face was in the dirt before darkness swallowed him.

Sound came back to him first. Voices seeping into the dark to bring him back to consciousness.  

Ben tried to sit up and reach to rub the back of his head. His arms wouldn’t lift, they were tied as were his legs. That brought back memory of the barn, the fire, being knocked out. He snapped fully awake and searched the room with his eyes.

A well-dressed man sat in a chair with one leg tucked beneath him. Two others flanked him, Ben caught the sight of a badge as one turned and looked his way. Pinkertons.  Ben growled as he jerked at the ropes in an attempt to break free.

The man in the expensive suit reminded Ben of a snake as he uncoiled from the chair to walk over. “Mr. Mason, glad you’re finally able to join us. I had the thought Mr. Crandle had cracked your thick skull.”

Ben glared they knew who he was. “You have me at a disadvantage, who the hell are you?”

Fancy suit sipped his port and offered his hand. With a sarcastic laugh, he drew it back. “My apologies, you are a bit too tied up for proper introductions. I’ve become acquainted with you, Mr. Mason. Or do you prefer Lieutenant Mason.”

He set the glass on the fireplace mantle and crossed his arms as he leaned a shoulder against it. “Oh yes, I investigated who the man that is so bent on attacking my trains.”

The rope cut into Ben’s wrists as he twisted them in his struggle to be free. “Hammond.”

Hammond grinned and gave him a mocked courteous nod. “Very good, you are every bit as bright as they said you are. You’re general is very disappointed in the road you’ve taken. I’m not surprised. My father was a major general in the British Army. I have seen men that war changed into blood thirsty beasts.”

The look he gave Ben was cold. “Hammond Rail is the only line you have stricken. Why would you target my family? Because you have become a warmonger, you need to sate your hunger for violence?”

Ben’s rage consumed him, his voice low as his eyes narrowed on the fool in his fancy suit. “I do hunger for blood. Your blood. You murdered my wife and son, countless others so you can strut in your expensive suit.”

Ben tried to lunge forward at Hammond. Being bound he only rocked forward on the chair’s legs and his feet.

Hammond scoffed. “I have done no murder. Not that could be proven in a court of law anyway. These men are sworn to uphold the law. At least of those who can afford their fees.”

Ben struggled against the ropes as Hammond picked up his coat and walked to the door. The wealthy railroad tycoon grinned, he had Ben Mason right were he wanted him. “It was good that we were introduced this evening, you are going to hang in the dawn’s early light, Mr. Mason. I think I should give you some time alone to make your restitutions with God. I look forward to watching you swing.”

The moment the door closed behind Hammond and his dogs Ben started to look around. He was in the rancher’s house. Ben knew they needed a safe place to sleep for a bit. They paid a rancher to stay in his barn for the night. Question was did he betray the outlaws or were they spotted somehow on the road?

Ben’s money was on betrayal, the rancher got his payback with a burnt barn. Either way the object of Ben’s vengeance was just on the other side of that door. He began to work on a way to escape so he could rip out Hammond’s heart. 

1 comment:

michelle said...

Hi there, I'm visiting from the A to Z challenge circuit. *waves*
First off - I love your blog header...
Gladiator is one of the 6 movies that made an impression on me! (I'm not a movie fanatic...)

You have some interesting characters above...
I have to say that something about the first two paragraphs reminded me of Steinbeck's novella, Of Mice And Men.... I think the reference to horses, hay, the fire...

Enjoy the rest of your A to Zee experience.