Monday, May 5, 2014

Every bullet had hit something: An excerpt from Sin Walks Into The Desert

Over the weekend, I published Sin Walks Into The Desert on Kindle and in paperback. It traces the story of a young man searching the desert for his missing mentor. The action bounces back and forth between the present day and scenes from his troubled childhood. Unlike my previous novellas, it's driven by character, setting and emotion, not plot and dialogue.

To celebrate, I thought I'd post a bit of it here. In this scene from chapter four, Anderson has stolen his dad's .357 and is trying to teach himself to shoot:

This was heaven.

Freezing cold, two inches of crusted snow across a never-ending prairie, horizons miles away, gray skies everywhere, sharp winds turning his pink twelve-year-old skin red.

Anderson had stolen the .357 again. He crunched through the snow to set up a target he’d made in the basement. A piece of plywood, cut six feet tall and three feet wide, a red dot the size of a fist right in the middle.

He stepped back twenty yards, extended one hand. The gun felt heavy in it. He reached out with his other palm, tried to cup it beneath his fist. His hands were already turning red in the cold, his fingers going numb.

He extended both arms out in front of him, squeezed one eye shut, aimed, jerked the trigger and felt the gun kick a foot high.

The bang was so big but there was no echo, the soundwaves spreading out over the field in all directions off into infinity. That was ok. There was no one within a mile. His parents weren’t home yet. The nearest farm might assume someone was poaching and call the sheriff, but probably not and even if they did, Anderson’d be long gone before anyone made it out here.

The boy looked around the barrel of the gun at his plywood target. He squinted.

Nothing. Not a scratch.

He took four steps closer, extended and squeezed again.

The gun bounced high again. He waited for the ringing in his ears to stop and looked at the target. Again, nothing.

Anderson took big steps forward, firing with each one. Bang, bang, bang, bang until the cylinder clicked dry. By the time he got off the last shot, he was only ten feet away.

But of six bullets, only one had hit the target at all, low, crotch level, and way to the right.

One of six.

Where were the other five bullets? Anderson’s heart started to pound. Even in the cold, constant wind, his face began to burn. He looked into the distance and could see nothing except the horizon line out there.

He imagined the five bullets racing towards it, straight lines until what? They slowed, gracefully arced to the ground, buried themselves harmlessly past the snow into the soil?

No. Every bullet had hit something.

Anderson took one more long step, kicked the target over, shoved the gun in his pocket, turned, and ran the half-mile back, his boots high-stepping, breaking through the crusted snow the whole way home.

Sin Walks Into The Desert is on Amazon now on Kindle and in paperback. Enjoy.

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