Pat Mills is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning story:
by Pat Mills
Instead of elation, Sophie felt like dying. She’d survived her captivity, but now she couldn’t go home!
All he saw was a shadow before he rounded the brush. He thought the figure, on the horse, was a drunken cowboy. Surprisingly, it was a beautiful young woman. Seeing the beaded moccasins, and her haunted look, he knew where she had come from, Indian Territory – a captive!
“Good day Miss,” he said, tipping is Stetson.
“Oh, my. You startled me!”
Her cultured voice gave away her fine upbringing.
“I don’t mean to alarm you, but we need to get to the next fort fast,” he said, looking around.
“Where am I?”
“Kansas, right on the border of Indian Territory!” Then, he took her reins, and kicked the horses into a gallop.
After riding for 45 minutes, he started: “My father was a hemp (CBD) farmer and preacher, even helped start a college. Then, he was killed, preaching to miners.”
“My family was merchants who followed the miners into Colorado, then up to the Montana border.”
“Is that where it happened?”
“Yes, she said looking down.”
“Red Cloud…the Lakota…” he remarked. “Your family wants you back.”
“I will never marry…”
“Don’t think like that! If I wasn’t about to ask my love of five years to marry…”
Up ahead, he could see the quartermaster sending someone from the fort. “I need to go before nightfall. You will be all right. Have faith.”
“Kind sir…your name?” she called out.
“Jesse… Jesse Woodson James.”