Thursday, 6 January 2011

Excerpt Day - Bad Wind Blowing © Peter Brandvold

Excerpt

 

West of Camp Hawkins, Colorado Territory

Fourteen-year-old Harley Cooper, prospecting for gold with his family deep in Poudre Canyon, turned to his father and yelled, "Hey, Pa—think I found somethin'!"

 

Calvin Cooper was twenty feet away, prying up boulders with a long, iron rod. "Well, dig it out and pan it, boy!"

 

Harley had set his tools down and, belly down on the ground, was digging in the soft sand beneath a large, flat rock. Less than six feet to his left, the Cache la Poudre River gurgled between rocky, pine-studded banks.

 

"It's...bones or somethin'," said Harley, probing the sand with his gloved hands.

 

Removing his right hand from the hole, he snugged his left shoulder up closer to the rock, and shoved that hand farther into the gap between the rock and the ground. His canvas hat tipped back on his head, a lock of dark-red hair licking over his forehead, he winced as, straining, he got his hand around something and pulled.

 

The object slipped suddenly from its resting place. Harley pulled it out where he could see it, then gave a girlish screech, and dropped it. He scrambled back on his butt, all the blood draining out of his face.

 

"Ah... Jesus!"

The dirt-encrusted human skull, with sand caked in its eye sockets and mouth, and thin strands of grizzled hair clinging to it, bounced off the rock Harley was kneeling on, and rolled back toward its resting place. It rested up to the edge of the flat rock bordering the hole it came from, and laid still, its sandy face grinning grotesquely up at Harley.

 

A thick angleworm flicked its tail along the drooping right jaw and buried its head in the jaw hinge. Several more worms and spiders clung to the hair.

 

Harley's older brother, Web, chuckled on the other side of the river. "What'd you find—a dead man?"

 

"Yeah," Harley said.

 

"What?" asked his sister, Beth, working on her hands and knees to Harley's right, farther up the riverbank.

 

Harley sniffed and stared down at the skull. "It's a head."

 

Calvin Cooper paused in his work with the iron rod. He leaned his tall, stooped frame against it, resting. Long, gray hair hung down from his billed wool hat, brushing across his shoulders. Holes in his blue-plaid shirt revealed the wash-worn underwear beneath. "Take it down to the water, and pan it out. Might have some flecks in it. "Anything else in that hole?"

 

Regarding the skull and the hole with his lips stretched back from his teeth, Harley said, "I don't know."

 

"I'll have a look," said Beth.

 

Holding her trowel and short-handled broom in one hand, the thirteen-year-old girl, who had long hair the same dark-red as her brothers and clad in blue overalls and high-topped, lace-up boots, skipped down the rocks toward Harley.

 

Web crossed the river on a fallen pine, holding his arms out for balance, his eyes bright with expectation. He was seventeen, his face as pimply as a frog's back.

 

Harley stood and probed the skull with his booted toe. "I don't want to touch the thing."

 

"It's just a bone, like any other," Beth said casually, stooping to retrieve the skull. She set it carefully in Harley's tin pan.

 

"It ain't like any other," Harley said, leaning down to peer beneath the flat rock. "It's human, for chrissakes."

 

"Get away, sissy," Web said, bounding off a boulder upstream from Harley. He shoved his younger brother aside and dropped onto his knees to peer into the hole. "Last year, I came upon an old grave, and it had several good-sized nuggets lodged inside the leg joints. It's as good a place for gold to wash as any." He glanced up at Harley. "Hand me that other pan, tinhorn."

 

"Shut-up, Web." Harley kicked the pan down to his brother.

 

Web chuckled and mimicked the screech Harley had loosed when he realized he'd been holding a skull in his hands.

 

"I said shut-up!"

 

Chuckling, Web reached into the hole, fished around for a second then gently removed his hand. Between his thumb and index finger was a small, slender finger bone sheathed in patches of withered skin and mud. A long, purple fingernail protruded from the mud.

 

"Christ," Harley muttered as Web set the finger gently into the pan then stuck his left hand back inside the hole

 

Read more HERE (Link goes to Smashword excerpt system)

© Peter Brandvold

Bad Wind Blowing

Author: Peter Brandvold

Publisher: Western Trail Blazer

Genre: Western

Buy Link

A gold-seeking drifter...

A beautiful, small town sheriff...

An ancient Indian curse.

Clay Carmody wants nothing more than to join his partner, Nathan Laroque, and dig for gold on the rocky slopes of Poudre Canyon. But paranormal activity, western-style, gets in the way.

Years before, a robbed grave released a curse on the Canyon and on the town of Camp Hawkins, Colorado. Snakes slithering out of privies, grisly deaths, men and women driven to murder, and dead men coming back to life are just a few of the inexplicable happenings Clay encounters as he waits for Nathan to arrive.

Then Clay meets the sexy, gorgeous Claudine Bridger, sheriff of Camp Hawkins. A rare bit of luck in more ways that one...

Clay, Claudine, a determined young schoolteacher with a guilty conscience, and an old Indian Shaman go on a demon hunt
up the canyon – a wild, sexy, bloody, terrifying, western adventure like none you‘ve ever read before!

1 Speak To Me:

Rebecca J Vickery on 6 January 2011 at 23:30 said...

Hi EH,
Thanks so much for featuring Bad Wind Blowing on your excerpt day. This was a great story and is a bit of a change for Western author, Peter Brandvold. It is receiving great reviews and to our delight he is planning more of these "weird" westerns as he calls them. Can't wait to see what he comes up with next.
Becca