Sunday, August 29, 2021

Moon Feather: Part 2: Into the West


Joey

The next month went by quickly. Joey threw herself into her work and let the outside world fade away. She hunted and foraged. Every bit of her game was used to build up her camp. Bones were harvested for marrow for broth and fashioned into tools. She had a whole set of bone needles in different sizes, chisels, and awls. She had managed to craft a number of arrowheads with them as well, to replace her arrow supply as they wore out. She painstakingly harvested the sinews to make into string and rope. In the end, there was far more meat than she needed just for herself, but she needed the hides, so she smoked most of it and turned the rest into jerky. 

Every few days, she would check the sat phone, but every time, no matter where she wandered, there was no signal. It concerned her, but with no real problems, she didn’t worry about it too much. Four weeks in and she couldn’t help feeling like she needed to figure out the problem. She still had two weeks left of her trip, but decided she ought to wander into the nearest town to have the phone looked at, or at least give Charlie a ring to let him know she wasn’t dead. 

Joey owed the old man a lot. She wasn’t sure she would have survived without him after her parents were taken by the first wave of Corona the year prior. They had refused to take precautions when the news came out and in the end, they’d died alone on ventilators. She never even got to say goodbye. Charlie kept her going, letting her work with Sunstrider, teaching her to whistle train the horse. What had begun as a summer job had turned into her new home after Charlie asked her to quarantine with him on the ranch.  He had more than encouraged her fascination with Stone Age technology, and even joined in while she practiced techniques she’d learned from YouTube videos and her anthropology textbooks. Not to mention giving her six weeks off to go fuck around with her new skills in the forest.

She rode in the direction of the road at the end of the trail, back to where Charlie had dropped her and Sunstrider off a month prior. After three hours of riding, she began to panic. The road was nowhere to be found. Pulling out her compass again, she checked to make sure she was headed in the right direction. Like each time before, it told her she was, in fact, headed west, but she should have found the road by now. Becoming more dismayed by the minute, she crested the next hill and stopped dead.

She blinked several times, unsure if what she was seeing was real. Down in the valley was a town, but a town like none she had ever seen. At least, not outside of her dad’s old John Wayne movies. She was staring at what looked like an old west boomtown, surrounded by farmland and even a ranch in the distance, judging by the herd of cattle she thought she could see. No pavement to be seen. Just dirt and dusty buildings with a boardwalk and a lot of horses. 

Now, there were two options as to what was going on. Neither made sense, but one was a lot more consequential. She had either stumbled upon some reenactment theme park, which was unlikely, since she didn’t know of any around here. Or...she was somehow in the latter half of the 19th century. Which also made zero fucking sense, but she was familiar enough with time travel fiction that she wasn’t about to rule it out. But...how?

“Well, looky what we have here, boys.” A voice drawled from behind her. 

Joey turned slowly to find about six mounted men in grimy dusters and sweat-stained neckerchiefs. Their faces were tanned and dirty, jaws dark with a few days worth of stubble. They had a mean look about them, danger clear in their eyes. Joey’s eyes darted from the wide-brimmed hats, the worn boots with shiny spurs on the heels, to the holstered revolvers at their sides.

“Awful pale for an injun,” one said, and the rest chuckled ominously. 

Joey’s hand moved slowly toward her quiver, trying not to draw attention. She didn’t know what was going on, but she knew one thing for sure. These men were not actors. She could feel the menace dripping off of them, much like the scent of sweat and unwashed man in her nose. 

“Injun or no, hand over whatever valuables you got, boy and we might just let you live.” The leader was a blond man with a scar on his cheek and more than a few rotting teeth in his head. 

Joey snorted, arching a brow. “Not sure you noticed, but do I look like I have anything valuable on me?” 

She really shouldn’t have talked. Or should have adjusted her speech, because a look of surprise erupted on their faces, quickly followed by sickening grins. 

“Oh, ho ho. An injun gal, eh? Whether you got anything in them bags or not, I’m sure we can find a few uses for you.” 

Panic sparked in her gut, quickly spreading to her limbs. She had to act fast. There were too many of them. She let out a sharp whistle and Sunstrider burst into a full gallop, down the hill and towards the town. Angry shouts rang out behind her and the thundering of hooves joined them. At the first crack of gunfire, her bow was in her hand along with a fistful of arrows. Squeezing her thighs around Sunstrider’s belly, she turned in the saddle, drew the bow and let the first arrow fly. 



Wicked Wednesday

2 comments:

  1. Oh I really like her! My kind of gal! Love that she finds herself in a totally different time setting than where she came from, and am looking forward to reading more!
    ~ Marie xox

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  2. Oh brilliant! This is livening up nicely!
    May x

    ReplyDelete