I really like how this story is constructed, with the narrator being more of a witness than an agent of the action, and with the core of the story being relayed in a confession and remembrance. It is very eerie, with just enough speculative elements to be worth sharing. This writer seems to be familiar both with horror and western genres, which I must admit I am not. I probably wouldn’t trust myself to write a western, not now at least. There is so much in how people talk in westerns, which comes out real nice here. No real critiques with this one except maybe closing the character loop by having a bit more doubt in Anders in the beginning, maybe his faith is weakened by the events but is restored in the end when he calls to God out of fear. It’s not very problematic as is anyways. I am mostly splitting hairs for something to say, which only goes to show how well done this piece is. That’s just my opinion, of course.
Anders listened to the creak of the boards on the wagon, and the stamp of the horses’ hooves as they tramped through ruts made hard from an early frost. He watched his own horse blowing steamy breath through its nose, and felt its flanks shift under the saddle blanket, heat rising up into his thighs. He looked at the trees, bare from a hard autumn, and sighed. He was just putting off the inevitable.
He steered his horse over until he was riding beside the sheriff. He tilted his head.
Bill nodded back. “Pastor. How can I help you?”
Anders swallowed. He didn’t feel up to his task – it had been a hard cold ride, and these were hard cold men. Still, the good Lord helped those who helped themselves, and hated a coward. He cleared his throat.
“I’d like to talk to the prisoner.”
Bill grunted. “He lies.”
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