Chris Scott Wilson                   Writer                                             

©2010 C.J.S.Wilson

Saguaro crop3

He heard them coming long before he saw them.

   Quantro avoided looking directly into the embers of the fire, in order to retain his night vision. It was necessary in the rich darkness of the Sierra Madre mountains of Sonora, Old Mexico. He had draped a blanket, poncho-style, round his shoulders to ward away the chills of the night, but now he shrugged it off and came to his feet. The Winchester rested snugly in his hands, capable, reassuring as he stepped out of the firelight and into the darkness.

   The horses were close now. A hoof chipped against rock. Quantro eased into the shadows with a caution born of experience. A thick pine speared up into the night. It provided cover. While one hand rested on the coarse bark, the other leveled the rifle toward the gateway of the clearing. They would come in that way. It was the only route open to riders.

   He waited.

   His face, once young, was now aged beyond his years. He had been both the hunter and the hunted. It showed. Only the long blond hair that crept from under his stetson to curl lazily on to his shoulders hinted at the last traces of youth. Instead of laughter lines, hard score-marks bordered the edges of his mouth, making him appear even more gaunt. The eyes were ice-blue, steady.

   The big buckskin stallion snickered softly, ears up. It shifted weight from one hoof to another, as though poised to flee, but its nostrils were flared, an indication of its wild temper.

   Quantro smiled, squinting into the night.

   

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THE COPPER CITY

ONE

   One moment the clearing was empty, and the next they were there.

   “Anyone here?” the first rider said, craning as he scanned the stand of trees that ringed the campfire. His rifle rested negligently over his saddle horn. He was an older man, leathery-faced, his beard flecked with grey.        

   Quantro saw the man’s fingers were inside the rifle’s trigger-guard. He was taking no chances. When nobody answered, the old man sniffed. “I said is anybody there?”

   Quantro chuckled in the darkness. “Coffee’s on the fire, Pete.”

   The older man’s face cracked into a smile and he relaxed visibly. He turned to the Indian girl sitting

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