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THE BLACK

by

Larry Letemplier

Copyright © 2001
All Rights Reserved



Lucas Hayes shot his way out of Amarillo with five thousand dollars in stolen bank money and a posse at his tail. After a relentless three-hour chase, he still saw their dust in the distance.

The gelding Lucas rode buckled under him, and he was thrown forward. He rolled away from the fallen horse. He got to his feet, thankful that the fall had merely resulted in collecting a little dust.

The gelding tried to get to its feet, but its front right leg prevented it. I'm in deep shit, he thought. The cloud of dust was closer.

Just off the trail to his right were two large boulders. He would hold off the posse from there. If this was the end of the trail for him, he wouldn't give the law the satisfaction of a necktie party.

He remembered his father's last words as the noose was placed around his neck: Don't ever let the law take you alive, son. They'll rob you of your dignity. His father had been lynched for stealing a measly one hundred dollars, money he desperately needed to pay off the remaining debt on the farm before the bank could foreclose. From that day on Lucas vowed that he would make them pay, and others like them. He hit them where it hurt most: taking away their money.

He turned toward the gelding. "Sorry old friend," he said out loud. He drew his pistol and shot the horse through the head. Then he removed his saddlebag and rifle and started for the boulders. He had just got there when the posse drew up near the dead gelding. There were five of them, and they looked tired and pissed off.

"We've got him pinned down now," one of the riders said. "We'll teach him not to steal our money."

"Spread out," the man with the badge ordered. "It'll be dark soon."

They would rush him from all sides under the cover of darkness, Lucas thought. He would be ready for them. An eerie silence crept in with the darkness. They're moving in on me, Lucas thought. Then he heard their voices.

"What was that?" a man shouted.

"Sounds like a stampede," said another.

Lucas heard a thunderous roar, like rampaging horses.

"Oh my God," someone cried. "Itčits flying."

There was a scream. Horses whinnied.

Lucas peered around the boulder but saw nothing but the darkness. There were gunshots, and more screams. A loud cackle. Damn hell, he thought. What was happening over there?

A glow pierced the darkness. Red circles, like eyes. The eyes gazed in Lucas' direction. A chill crawled up his back. His hands trembled as he tried to steady the rifle. He heard a movement behind him and spun around. He tried to squeeze the rifle's trigger, but he fell back and hit his head.

When Lucas opened his eyes, daylight had broken. He turned his aching head and saw a big, black stallion staring down at him. He struggled to his feet and looked around. He picked up his rifle and gave the stallion another quizzical glance.

As his memory jolted awake, he poked his head around the boulder. His heart nearly stopped. The bodies of the posse riders were laid out on the trail in a neat row. There was no sign of the horses.


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