The Box Canyon Serial appears below, after Dandelion Dreams
by Jeffrey Yorio
Ezats and his mate Tarpelion were watching their world die.
“Dear…why?” asked Tarpelion.
“The simple answer is because. However, I know you didn’t want that. I guess the best answer is nothing lasts forever.” They saw the city’s largest tower crumble in seconds, adding more fuel to the approaching raging fires.
“They didn’t listen to your warnings, now we all suffer for their deafness.” She took another sip of wine.
“No, Tarpelion, they listened but not all, nor soon enough. Well, at least some of the memory pods were ready.”
“Ezats, will they be enough to ensure our survival?” the concern evident
“The pods should ensure the survival of our species, I did make sure that our pods were the best prepared.” He said as they saw a child’s plastic bike go flying past.
“I’m actually glad for the sound the wind makes. It’s somewhat musical and makes the impending destruction—well… more palatable.” She paused for a moment then said “Do you mind me asking a personal question?”
“No time like the present dear, go ahead, ask.”
“Did we have a good life?”
Ezats was surprised at the question. “Why, yes I’d say we did. My being a scientist meant more time sleeping in the lab than at your side. Our first offspring were good. You were always supportive despite my absentmindedness. I will say that the honor of our mating was much more mine.”
They saw the founder’s tree topple and a crack in the ground began to form at the edge of their property, heading in their direction.
“Let us retreat to the bedroom for our final moments dear.” Talperion said
They entered knowing time was short. Pictures were falling off the wall, the windows had been blow in by debris. The chandelier had fallen and cracks began forming in the walls. Talperion took Ezats in her arms, and looked into each other’s eyes. She saw his brown flaked yellow eyes, the same ones that drew her to him those many years ago and gave him a kiss. Not a parting kiss but one of affection and respect, which to the scientist he was equalled love, as their house began its own disintegration.
* * *
The little girl ran toward her mom and dad who were on the blanket, where they had eaten the picnic lunch. Her parents were talking, and hadn’t noticed her approach. She stopped, just as they kissed and blew the dandelion puff at her parents, then ran away saying “I made a wish, I made a wish.”
“I wonder what she wished for.” Her father said.
“Probably a unicorn and castle, because she’s a princes,” her mother replied.
“Wish that I could grant that,” he said, as he turned toward his wife saying, “Now what were we talking about?”
“Why, I don’t remember.”
Her husband leaned closer, “Well I can think of something, not really talking, we could do a little later,” as he moved to kiss her again.
As his face moved closer, his wife looked at his eyes and saw they were no longer hazel but yellow with brown flecks.
“Yes, Talperian, our memory pods worked, but now we share a body and memories, but we are guests and must remember that. But…”
Talperian reached up and wrapped her arms around him, and crying, she kissed him and she knew that her host understood.
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Jeffrey Yorio is 56 and has been writing for about six years. He has had the good fortune to have one story previously published:”Unexpected Opportunity” in the February 2015 of Aphelion. He has degrees in Education and Management, is married with three children and lives in upstate New York, outside of Rochester.
The Box Canyon
A Serial in Eight Parts
Sam was awake before dawn. When it was light enough, he stuffed a sack with jerky and a few corn dodgers and picked a random book off the shelf. Again he traded his Winchester for the rolling block Remington and made the climb out of the canyon by the trail in back of the cabin. By the time he walked to his spot overlooking the arroyo the sun was just hitting the tops of the far mountains.
As he sat watching the sun spread, he became aware of pale smoke rising on the far side of the mesquites. His heart thudded in his chest. Maybe he had been too complacent, thinking they had given up pursuit. He carefully rummaged in his sack for the extra rifle cartridges, making his movements slow and small. He slipped several in his pockets and laid out several more on a nearby rock to be readily available. Griping the rifle, he sat and tried to penetrate the mesquites with his gaze, trying to see who was camping there.
After what seemed forever, Sam saw a man emerge from the mesquites. He knelt by the small stream in the arroyo and scoured a small skillet with sand and rinsed it. He was dressed in black and when he stood his pistol had a white handle, probably pearl Sam thought. And with that thought Sam knew who the man was. Sam had seen him playing cards in the saloon. Someone had identified him as a gunhand who had been involved in a shooting over in the Colfax County range war.
Not knowing if he was alone or with others, all Sam could do was watch and wait. Eventually he saw the man riding his horse, heading up the arroyo, alone. Even from where Sam was he could see the long barrelled Sharps rifle on his saddle. The Sharps was a long range weapon, so maybe the gunman was not just a pistolero but a drygulcher too.
It was just a matter of time before the arroyo petered out in the hills beyond and the gunman, Sam still couldn’t think of his name, worked his way back down. Sam was lucky the gunman hadn’t seen the side canyon this morning, but he couldn’t count on being lucky a second time. But at least the gunhand was alone. There was only one man to deal with. One man was possible.
Sam hurried back to the box canyon and, from the rim over the cabin, studied the hills opposite. If the gunman was a drygulcher, he would need a good shooting position. Trying to figure the best spot for a rifleman to wait to ambush someone in the cabin, Sam spotted three likely places and descended to the cabin. From that viewpoint, he discarded two of them as poor choices. He climbed back to the rim and looked for a good place where he could have the advantage of higher ground. Although all this planning was based solely on the Sharps rifle, this also had a good view of most of the box canyon and the approach to the cabin. Sam was not good with a pistol, but he was a good rifle shot, and the rolling block Remington was a good accurate rifle.
Having done this he went back to his perch above the arroyo and kept watch the rest of the day.
To be continued