Roger Woodcock 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 Roger Woodcock
`Doc` Smallbone slid from the horse and tethered him to the nearest rock. Picking a water bottle from the saddlebag he let the tepid liquid wash away the taste of the gritty brown earth.
He knew this was only a momentary reprieve. Soon they would be closing in on him, the Sheriff and his hastily-recruited deputies thirsting for blood. He slumped onto the nearest rock and surveyed the arid landscape. The horizon, a jumble of jagged peaks, was bathed in the blood-red glow of the setting sun. Soon he would be enveloped in impenetrable blackness, the only sound the monotonous chirrup of crickets.
He hadn`t meant to kill the guy. He`d sold dozens of bottles of his `magic elixir` to the gullible of umpteen tumble-weed towns. This guy was no different, someone looking to fix his aching back and hacking cough. How was he to know that within a minute of him swallowing the blueberry-dyed water he would be writhing on the ground, foam bubbling from his mouth like some broken old horse.
They had blamed him of course, pitchforks and spades threatening to decapitate him where he stood. He had only escaped by leaping on a nearby horse and galloping out of town.
He watched the sun dip behind the peaks, eerie shadows like probing fingers reaching out to try and grab him in their iron grip. He downed the last of his water, the earth beneath him beginning to rumble to the sound of a hundred pounding hooves…