This weeks Write on Edge Red Writing Hood Challenge is a generous 500 words (Thank you Cameron) to show an antihero in a character sketch or scene. I thought about some characters I developed last year, and decided to throw the protagonist into a terrifying situation.
I offer the following in response: Trouble in Brasher
The wake of the showdown left the small town of Brasher dazed and disheveled. Patience became aware of a knot forming just above her hairline. “Ow.”
Nathaniel offered a hand up, “Are you injured?”
It hurt to smile, but she did anyway, for him. “I’ve a bit of a lump,” her words tumbled out. “Why are you in the store? Is there something wrong at the forge?”
He frowned, his forehead creasing deeply, “We’re in the smithy, Miss Patience. You and your sister were kind enough to bring me some lunch.”
She felt her checks warm with embarrassment. “Of course, Mr. Pritchard,” she said quickly. “I feel…Where’s Charity?”
He averted his gaze. “They took her.”
She didn’t hear him, not those words. She begged him, terrified. “Mr. Pritchard, please don’t tease. Did she return to the store?”
“Nate, my horse ready yet?” a grizzled voice interrupted them. She spun about, faster than her head wanted her to. He was tall, his features dark and plagued with shadows beneath his wide-brimmed hat.
Nathaniel, her shining knight, stepped up to the stranger and bristled. “In case you haven’t noticed, Jeb, the Lassiers just kidnapped a girl…”
She caught a glint in his eyes that turned her blood to ice. “Not my concern,” Jeb said coldly. “Is my horse shod or not?”
Nathaniel threw up his hands. “Yes, Jee-uh yes. It’s in the corral.”
With her parents off to the fort for supplies, Patience felt responsible. She couldn’t think straight. The decision to run was made before it even entered her thoughts. She bolted for the corral and vaulted over the fence. Grabbing the reins of a saddled horse, she threw herself upon its back.
“Whoa, you stealin’ my horse?” Jeb yelled, appearing out of nowhere.
She paid him no heed and dug her heals into the horse’s sides, pointing it towards the road out of town. Alarmed pedestrians barely got out the way as she galloped by. Panic gripped her throat and drove her blindly on, her helpless, sweetest sister her only thought. She didn’t notice when she first was lost and she didn’t notice Devil’s Ravine looming before her.
It was strong, duster-sleeved arms that tackled her from a horse inches before she galloped over the edge. “You’re crazy. I git that. Whydju steal my horse?”
She saw his face for the first time through a watery veil of tears. Throwing her arms around him, she sobbed into his shoulder. “They’ve got my baby sister!”
“Now wait just a cotton-pickin’ minute,” Jeb barked, shoving her away. “Do you even know where you’re going? Lassiers ain’t for messin’ with. Go home girl.”
“No!” she pushed him back.
“Fine! Gitjur head blowed off.” His eyes went cold again. “You ain’t my concern.”
“I’ll pay you,” she uttered deperately.
“Nathaniel said you were fearless, an Indian killer,” she begged him.
Derision lost to determination in his expression. “Five hundred dollars,” he said finally. “Now gimme back my horse.”