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Bloodwater Gulch (1 Viewer)

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The MC in my NaNo is an amateur authour, just like me. But, he writes very, very bad fiction. What I do is pick a genre, and then try to write a short chunk (2000 words or less) and cram it full of every cliche and de facto plot item from that genre. In this case, it's a western. Surprisingly, the story is a complete one, and even more so, despite being loaded with every cliche I could think of, I don't think it's that bad.... I might even be able to extract it, clean it up a bit and do something with it. For now, I present it to you for your edification and entertainment:

Bloodwater Gulch

The lonely yellow sun sent waves of heat down over the little village of Bloodwater Gulch. Nothing moved in the town, not a soul was to be seen out of doors. Even the great prairie wind barely stirred the tumbleweeds though the deserted streets.
Black Bart was coming and the whole town knew it.

Bart had been through the town two days earlier, riding high on his midnight black steed, backed up with the rest of the Deadwood gang. One-eyed Pedro, the deadliest shot in three counties, “Iron Knuckles” Joe, the meanest, dirtiest street-brawler west of the Mississippi, and Three-slugs Finch, known for having fired three shots into a man at a hundred paces. Each and every one of them was a wanted man with a bounty on their heads. Dozens of bounty hunters had tried to take the gang down, and all of them had turned up dead.

On their way through, they’d told the mayor they were taking over everything from the saloon through to the general store, and dared the townsfolk to find anyone crazy enough to stand up to them.

The townsfolk had rested their hopes on Sheriff Wilkins and his deputy, Den Perkin, but the two of them had turned yellow and skulked off in the middle of the night on the same day Bart had ridden through.

None of the rest of the townsfolk wanted to tangle with Bart and his gang, and most had talked of packing up and leaving. They were willing to make Bloodwater Gulch into a ghost town if need be.

The mayor had a wire sent out to every neighbouring county, offering a substantial reward to any person brave and capable enough to drive off the Deadwood gang forever. With the return of Black Bart and his boys less than an hour away, it looked hopeless.

Bart had promised that the three of them would ride into town at high noon, and he expected to be presented with the deeds to every store, business and building on main street. Anyone who resisted would be hunted down and shot.

A couple of stores had closed down and left already, loading what they could onto a stagecoach and heading off for parts unknown. A few hoped they could make a deal with Bart to let them keep their property, but the rest had given up all hope and were ready to hand the deeds over.

A young boy, from one of the farms near town came running through yelling that Bart was coming. The few remaining open windows on main street closed. The wavy silhouettes of Bart and his gang could just be seen in the distance. The sun was finally at it’s peak. It was high noon.

Bart sat high in his saddle, with a smug grin of satisfaction on his face. “I’m here,” he called out to the empty street. “I don’t see anyone out here willing to stand up against me, so that must mean you’ve decided that Bloodwater Gulch is mine.”

Nobody dared answer.

Bart stroked his deeply stubbled chin as his smile widened. “I want what’s mine!” he yelled. “Bring me out the deeds, and nobody needs to get hurt.”

Again, nobody moved.

“I know you’re in there, now get on out here before I let my boys start shootin’”

Pedro, Joe and Three-slug brandished their weapons: Pedo, a rifle, Joe, a double barreled shotgun, and Three-slug with a pair of shiny Colt revolvers.

Again, nothing. A tumbleweed rolled through the main street.

“Show ‘em we mean business boys.”

Pedro, Joe and Three-slug each fired a few rounds into the buildings on both sides of the street. They weren’t aiming as much as guess where people might be hiding. A couple of groans, and the shrieks of the ladyfolk greeted their ears. Joe was reloading in anticipation of firing a few more slugs into the buildings, but Bart put his hand on the barrel as a sign to stop firing.

If there had been anyone still thinking that Bart might make a deal, they now abandoned that hope and accepted their fate.

“Now, I’m gonna ask you just one more time. Bring me what’s mine, or I’ll let the boys do what comes natural to them.”

A few of the doors on the street opened, scared show owners, with deeds in hand stepped out onto the wooden sidewalks. Some came willingly, some were pushed by others out of the door. Jim Snips, the tailor was bleeding from his left arm, where one of Thee-slugs bullets had caught him.

All of the shop owners had come out, except for Dan Sank, the saloon owner. His wife, Bess, had come out instead, her face wet with tears and holding a rather bloody bit of paper that must have been the saloon’s deed.

“Now ya’ll bring those little bits of paper over here to me, and this messy business will all be over.”

The sneer on Bart’s face was so broad that it could almost be heard.

The townsfolk made a hesitant movement towards Bart, worried that his gang would just shoot them as soon they had handed over the deeds.

“Not so fast there, Bart,” said a man in a white ten-gallon hat, from the opposite end of the main street. “ I don’t think anyone will be handing over their deeds today.”

“Who in the blazes are you?” asked Bart.

“The mayor put out a call for someone to stand up to you and your gang. I’m that man.

“I’m going to give you a chance, Bart. Take your gang and leave town now, and never come back.”

“I don’t think me or my boys feel like leaving town just yet.”

“I’ll fight you if I have to.”

“Then you’re gonna die. Do you have a name, or shall we just leave you in an unmarked grave?”

“My name is Father Michael Irish.”

“Please to meet you Father,” said Bart. “Pedro, kill him.”

“But, senor, he is a man of the cloth, protected by God. I cannot shoot him.”

“Why not?”

“It is bad luck to kill a priest. My soul will go to hell, senor.”

“You’re a murdering, cattle-rustling, thief. Your soul’s already going to hell, now shoot him and make it quick.”

“You have a point senor.”

Pedro cocked his rifle and took careful aim at the man in white.

“It’s nothing personal senor,” he said just before pulling the trigger.

The rifle gave off a loud crack, and the townsfolk turned away from the man, knowing their hero was dead.

Then, there was a gasp from Bess. “He’s alive!”
It was true, the man in white was quite alive, and still sitting atop his horse. A thin line of blood welled up along his left cheek. The man touched it with his fingers and looked at the blood.

“Just a little bit too slow I guess.”

“You missed!” bellowed Bart.

“No senor. I shot him, he must have dodged the bullet.”

“Well, you were pretty obvious about where you were going to shoot. Dodging the shot was just a matter of knowing where I was going to be hit.”

“Why you,” said Three-slug, raising his pistols.

Quicker than a blink, the man in white drew his own pistol, fired twice and re-holstered it. The pistols in Three-slug’s hands flew off and landed in the dust behind him with a thud.

“Now, now. Play fair. One at a time, please.”

“Dodge this!” yelled Joe, cocking his shotgun and firing a shot at the man in white.

Father Irish rolled to the side, off his horse and onto the ground as soon as he heard the weapon cocking. A few pellets from the shot grazed his side, but he ignored the searing pain, drawing his pistol as he rolled on the ground. He sprang up onto his feet, steadied his horse with one hand, and fired a shot right between Joe’s eyes.

Joe fell back off his horse and lay dead on the ground.

“May God have mercy on your soul.”

“Killin’s a sin, preacher-man. Ain’t that right?”

“The Lord is a forgiving master. He knows I’m only trying to protect these people.”

“Pedro! Please shoot this man so we can get on with business!”

Pedro’s rifle cracked again, and again the man in white stood.

“You really need to aim a little bit better with that thing if you intend to hit anyone with it,” said the man in white.

A third shot rang out, this one grazing just over Father Irish’s shoulder.

“Missed again,” he said smiling.

Beads of sweat grew on Pedro’s forehead, and his hands began to shake.

“You’ll never hit me with shaky hands like that.”

“What are you waiting for? Kill him!”

“I… I’ve tried senor. I know I’ve shot him three times already. It is the protection of God. I cannot kill him.” Pedro dropped his rifle to the ground, and pulled the reins of his horse hard around. He spurred the beast onward, with Three-slug riding quickly behind. Bart half-turned in his saddle, and fired two shots behind him, never taking his eyes off of Father Irish. Both Three-slug and Pedro lurched in their saddles and fell to the ground. Their spooked horses ran wild into the wilderness.

“I guess it’s just you and me, preacher.”

“I guess so. Do you want to give yourself up?”

“No. We settle this like men.”

Bart dismounted from his horse and walked out into the street. He holstered his gun.

“One draw, one shot. The loser dies, and the winner walks away.”

The preacher considered this for a moment before holstering his own weapon. “Agreed.”

They stood opposite each other for a few moments. The townsfolk held their breaths, even the prairie wind stopped. The next few seconds would decide if their town would be free, or ruled over by an evil murderer.

In an instant, it was over. Two shots rang out, so close together as to be simultaneous. No one of the town knew for sure who was the faster of the two. Bart and the man both stood with gun barrels smoking.

A sneer grew across Bart’s face, and the people’s hopes died. Then, his eyes went glassy, and blood dribbled from the corners of his mouth. “Ya beat me, preacher-man. Ya finally beat me.” He fell heavily onto the ground, none moved to his aid.

The preacher holstered his weapon, turned and walked off saying, “The loser dies, and the winner walks away. I’m gonna miss you, brother.”

The townsfolk watched as the dark red of his blood soaked through the back of the man in white’s coat. Not ten paces from where he had stood, he fell down dead.
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