Word Count 825
(The June 2007 challenge on the Lancer_Writers Yahoo group requested the writers to use a title from one of the Lancer episodes in a drabble, which typically is 100 words even. I got carried away, both in number of titles and size, and used all 51 titles and made this a drabble times seven, or 700 words long. Other than a few minor edits, this is the same as what I first posted. …..Hope you enjoy reading this little product of my wild imagination. It is an AR–alternate reality–story because my use of character names from the various titles deviates from the cannon of the series.)
Smoke clouded the sky. The high riders’ splinter group had made good on their promise. Lancer would soon be charred.
Johnny abandoned the trail to Blood Rock and urged Barranca through a patch of thick brush. Fire surrounded him on three sides. Warburton’s Edge was his only escape–a devil’s blessing at that with a plunge more than a hundred feet down to Foley Lake.
Glancing back, Johnny saw flames leapingt from bush to bush, an eerie reminder of burning the scarecrow at Hacket’s. He felt the hovering shadow of a dead man, cringed, and called on his tiring horse for more speed. “Cut the wolf loose. We’re not death bait, yet. Blind Man’s Bluff’s up ahead. Beyond that the Lorelei. Then it’s blue skies for Willie Sharp. No black angel’s gunna stop us.”
Barranca surged ahead as though to catch a wild horse. Seeming to have sprouted wings, he soared over rocks and brush.
“Keep dreaming of falcons,” Johnny called. “We have a legacy here. No prodigal from hell’s gunna beat us out of it. This time tomorrow we’ll be livin’ Jelly’s American dream.”
The infernal furnace behind them gained ground.
Johnny refused to give up. He’d survived worse rivals. Hadn’t he faced the Black McGloins with only one bullet? Hadn’t he saved Angel Day and her sunshine girls from that madman Chad, who had terrorized Juniper’s Camp for months? Hadn’t he been a lamp in the wilderness for Julie, Zee, the kid, and a person unknown when the Buscaderos raided the experiment station a few miles from Genesis.
A tree flared to Johnny’s right, sparks showering round about him. He longed for the cool mountains and his little darling of the Sierras. Would he make it to the wedding? Would they still tie the knot? Would they, like the lion and the lamb, lie down together in the honeymoon cabin the fix-it man had built for them?
“Jelly’ll kill me if he has to return his gifts.” Johnny yelled.
Barranca stumbled, recovered, and stumbled again.
“Glory be,” Johnny said. “Don’t fall now. We’re almost there.”
The brave horse labored onward, while Johnny remembered being a man without a gun in hopes of winning the heart of Pony Alice. Some great humbug that had been. Outlaws had kidnapped her off the last train for Charlie Poe. At least she had learned that the measure of a man was more than pretty words.
Johnny heard a new sound. Thunder! If only it would rain and lots of it.
Again Barranca faltered.
“A little farther, Boy,” Johnny said. “There’s our lifeline.”
Two strides and they were at the edge. “Jump!” Johnny cried, digging his spurs into Barranca’s sides.
Barranca soared up and out, and together they hurtled downward.
Johnny held his breath as they hit the water and went under. He kicked his feet free of the stirrups, fought his way to the surface, and swam to shore–Barranca a short way behind.
Dry land had never felt so good. Johnny lay a moment, giving thanks to God. When he looked up, his eyes met the business end of a rifle.
His heart nearly stopped. “Can’t you let yesterday’s vengeance go?” he asked, half rising.
“You know I can’t,” said the lady holding the gun. “Want to take it like a man, or like a dog?”
Thunder rumbled overhead as Johnny stood. He glanced up and sent a prayer heavenward. ‘I sure could use the lawman Murdoch wired last week?’
She took aim. “Meet your maker.”
A ball of fire appeared, and the thunder with it was deafening.
Sometime later, Johnny awoke. Where was he? Why was he out in the rain? How come he felt like a train was running through his head? Who was pushing at his arm?
Slowly, he opened his eyes and found Barranca’s nose nudging him.
“All right. I’m awake,” Johnny said.
The horse nickered, but didn’t back away.
Johnny eased into a sitting position and looked around. A few feet beyond his toes lay a crumpled form. “Ah,” he groaned.
He leaned forward and crawled closer. Sinking back on his heels, he hung his head. “Goodbye, Lizzie,” he whispered. “I told you revenge never pays.”
Written June 26, 2007
Minor edits January 2014
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