Hard to Walk Away

This is an excerpt from a story I wrote a few years ago as a result of a creative writing exercise. I really liked the main character, the way he spoke and the situation he was in. In 1740 or so, middle America , an unspecified plague has broken out and our character and his family have fled to the mountains.

  I only had to shoot two people last year. They were a young pair, a boy and a girl. She was on a horse and he was leading them both up the mountain path. I saw them an awful long time before they would have ever saw us. I reckon they had the same idea as us, hideaway, hunker on down and hope that by the spring it had all blown on through. Anyhow they kept on coming closer and closer even though I was willing them to turn away. I even prayed to Jesus that he would make them turn and take a different path, one away from us. But they just kept on heading up and towards us. You gotta understand that I really didn’t mean those poor couple no harm, but they couldn’t be allowed to come near me and mine either. I unslung my Winchester from my shoulder and slowly chambered a round. As slow and as quiet as I thought I was that boy’s ears pricked up quicker than an Arkansas bunny rabbits. I shouldered my gun and stepped out from behind my cover.

‘Ok you two that’s far enough’

 They didn’t seem too surprised to see my, I reckon maybe they thought someone was around. Maybe they caught a whiff of smoke on the wind or maybe they just had that funny feeling you get sometimes when you are out in the woods alone. Once they saw me they were all,

‘Howdy do Sir’ and ‘Hey we are sure glad to see you’,

being nice and offering stuff they had as gifts. Maybe they just wanted a bit of company, but I was straight with them, I told them not to come any closer and to get on their way. That they should forget they ever saw me if they knew what was good for them. Now at this point the boy starts getting a bit funny and saying that they aint got no plague and that they were both clean. I was havin none of that and I told them so. I told that little bastard that he was getting my blood up and that they should really be on their way. That’s when he reached into a pack on his horse and quick as you like I pulled the trigger and shot him right through his ear into his head. He fell down funny, like Ole Tom used to do on a Friday night at Barneys when he had too much moonshine. I miss Barneys, it was a fine establishment.

So, with her man dead I was lined up my shot on the girl. Strange thing was though, she didn’t scream, or even cry. She just sat there on that horse like she knew it was coming and she was ok with it. I shot her right between the eyes ‘fore she had chance to change her mind and start trying to make promises young ladies shouldn’t be making to men like me. The horse bolted on the second shot and ran back off down the mountain, with her slumped in the saddle. Shame really, I might have risked myself once they were dead for the horse. I feel pretty bad about it all, mainly cause I couldn’t give those folks a proper Christian burial, I reckon nature will have sorted them out though right enough. Sometimes I have this dream where they are both sat frozen under the ice, waiting for the thaw so they can come and take their revenge. Angelica used to say I was full of shit and should stop thinking about it so much.

The rest of the summer we used to prepare as well as we could for the coming winter.

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