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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun: Past Sins

Chapter 26

Morgan spurred the horse down the trail. He'd been on the move about an hour by his reckoning of the sun's movement and he hadn't seen any other sign of life. He mostly cut across country, his horse wading through the tall grass. He tried to stay in the open field as much as he could, unsure of what exactly was happening. His mind turned over the events of the morning over and over, analyzing what exactly had happened. He couldn't be sure, but the blackening of the sun and the abhorrent resurrection of his wife and child had to be related somehow. He wasn't so superstitious as to believe that he was the only person who experienced this phenomenon, but at the same time he wasn't sure what to believe.

He knew how to kill the foul creatures, he just didn't know why they were resurrected. He brushed his hand across the edge of his father's tomahawk, feeling the single feather braided into the leather thong on the handle. He remembered his father telling him stories of Indian lore, telling him the stories of his forefathers. His father had been half Indian, a bastard child who had never known his own father, having been raised alone by his mother in the foothills of the Dakota's. He had grown up in a small village listening to group elders tell stories of their gods and of the old ways. Still he had never been accepted fully by the tribe and when he became a man, he set out on his own. Eventually his father had met his mother, and they married. His father never talked much about his mother, who had died of pneumonia a few years after Morgan's birth. He didn't even remember his mother, knowing only that she had been a run away too, though his father had often called her whore in the drunken rages after her death. His father grew more angry and resentful after she died, often taking those frustrations out on Morgan, whipping and beating him for no reason at all.

His father had tried to teach him the old ways, but after the death of his mother, Morgan didn't care for any God, the Christian one his mother had believed in, or the spirits his father did. Morgan was hurt, and angry, and destructive. One day the anger in Morgan's heart was to profound, and he stole away from his father, taking with him his few meager possessions, his rifle, and his father's tomahawk, the latter mostly out of spite. He had been 11 years old then. He spent the next two years eking out a meager existence, hunting for food and wandering from town to town. It was in Bisbee though that he ran into the man that would change his life. Lt. Martin Branager, US Cavalry. Branager hired the then 13 year old as a scout and errand boy, using him to translate among the different tribes of the Dakota's. Morgan idolized Branager, working with him for 3 years until enrolling in the Cavalry at 16 under Branager's command.

Morgan fingered the feathered leather thong on the tomahawk and closed his eyes, memories flooding back of the things he had done with the weapon during his time of service. He remembered the tribes they had attacked, his own people looking at him as he struck them down or herded them to a reservation. The names they had called him. He had been so angry in those days, just wanting to hurt anyone he could. He had idolized Branager and believed he was following Uncle Sam's orders. For the first time in his life, Morgan had felt like he belonged somewhere, that he was making a difference. He had believed Branager when he was told that life on a reservation would be safer for the Indians. It wasn't until years later that Morgan found out about the depths of Branager's depravity. Until that raid on that Blackfoot village. Morgan closed his eyes, burying the deep lump in his throat as he watched his comrades....his friends, slaughter those women and children. He watched as Branager gleefully struck down people who had peacefully surrendered, listened as his captain ordered him to scalp that young woman. He remembered the feelings of betrayal and the loss. The fear. His hands quivered in anger and guilt at the thought of it.

Morgan was broken from his revelry when he saw the river in the distance. He could continue across country and go through Hicken's Gorge, or follow the river the long way around. Cross country was quicker, but the Gorge was a mountainous path that boxed you in. The river would take longer but allow him more room to operate. He wasn't sure if there were more creatures like his wife out there but he knew enough of the old lore to believe that he couldn't be the only one to have experienced it. He pushed his hat back on his head and stared up at the dead sun, looking at the long black tendrils that stretched out from the once hot orb. He damn sure knew that he couldn't be the only one. He resettled his hat and spurred his horse towards the river. It would take longer to get to town, but right then Morgan Randall wasn't sure that was a bad thing at all.

End of Line.

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