This is my first attempt at flash fiction. I got the prompt from Writing Fix, which gives you one sentence and you write something from that. I had a lot of fun with this even though I ended up having to cut more than 250 words from it. Of course, when I first started writing it, I wasn’t even sure if I would get 500 words, then it just took off on me. This is also the first time in probably at least eight years that I’ve written something from a 1st person POV, but for some reason felt that’s how the story should be told. Hope you all like it.
The footprints in the snow suddenly ended. I had tracked this man for weeks and now nothing. If I let it go at that, I knew he would never pay for his crimes. The blizzard that had blown in a few days earlier had wiped out most of the tracks, but I had managed to pick them up again until I came to this point.
I looked around, but the wind blew at full force here and erased any sign of my quarry. Sighing, I led my horse into the protection of the wall of stone. “Well, Boy,” I murmured as I stroked the animal’s neck, “do we turn back now?”
My horse shook his head as if he understood me and let out a shrill whinny before nudging me with his nose. “You’re right. I made a promise to see justice done. I can’t go back on that.” After all, a graveside promise was still a promise. It meant as much to me as one given to someone still living. “Well then I guess we’re not finished yet.”
I swung back into the saddle and rode for another hour before finding signs of a recent camp. Swinging down from the saddle, I studied the remains of the fire. The charred wood still held some heat so he had not abandoned it long ago. Seeing where man and horse trampled the ground, I could tell there was only one of each. And seeing sign of the telltale limp in the horse’s tracks, I knew the man I hunted had slept here.
I scanned the ground for the sign that would tell me which direction they went and found it at the western edge of the camp. Mounting again, I followed this new path. When I saw sign of the horse stumbling, I knew he was not too far away. Once the horse’s leg gave out, he would not get far on his feet.
I knew the horse injured one leg years ago in a fall and it left him with an awkward walk when tired. I knew this because he was my damn horse. It was one more crime added to a long list. My hands tightened on the reins as I thought about all that was on the list.
When my horse sensed my mood and hesitated, I clucked my tongue at him and nudged him forward with my legs. “Soon, boy,” I promised him. “Soon we’ll have him and can go home.” But, I knew that home no longer existed.
Knowing we were getting closer, I took my rifle from the scabbard and loosened the pistol in the holster. We followed the trail into another stand of trees and found a brief break from the wind. We came to the edge of the wood and I pulled my horse to a stop. I swung to the ground, and he shied away from the smell of blood and death. I walked over to the horse I raised from a newborn colt and knew he had not gone down on his own. The bullet through the center of his head put him down when he could not go any further. I did not have time to mourn another loss though; so mounting again I led my horse around the dead animal and broke out into the clearing.
Then, he was there in front of me, rising from behind a rock. All the rage I’d kept contained while searching for him came bubbling to the surface. I didn’t realize the scream came from me as I spurred my horse forward, raising my pistol as we went. The snow here was too deep though, and the horse stumbled to his knees, tossing me over his head.
When I got my wind back and looked up, the man had me under his gun. Gritting my teeth against the pain of jarred bones, I closed my hand over the gun I dropped and struggled to my feet. I knew he could cut me down, but I would not leave this world on my back.
“You should have just left it alone and gone back home,” he shouted to be heard over the wind.
“I have no home now,” I shouted back. “You took that from me when you forced me to bury my wife and son.”
“You brought it on yourself. They should have been mine.” He took a step toward me and raised his gun. “But, I should have just dealt with you first. Then, I could have had them to myself.”
The world around me seemed to slow as I struggled to raise my own arm. The fall from the horse jammed my shoulder and it would not work for me. The first bullet slammed into my leg, and it collapsed on me. I shifted the gun to my other hand, determined to take him with me.
I saw he had moved closer, and I steadied my arm before pulling the trigger. The two shots sounded barely a second apart. I didn’t feel his bullet plow into my chest, but it still knocked me to the ground. I did not see if mine touched him. He stood over me a moment later, his gun aimed between my eyes. My blood stained the snow under me, but I still had some fight left.
I fought to raise my now weak arm and pull the trigger, but the shot went wide. He only had to kick my arm and the gun slipped from limp fingers. My heart still wanted to fight but my body didn’t have the strength. My wife’s face floated in front of me as the darkness closed in. “I’m comin’, my love,” I said, my voice no more than a weak whisper.
Before the last of my blood soaked the ground, I heard a trumpeting cry and saw a flash as my horse raced past me. The last thing I heard before I passed from this life was my brother’s scream.