Today is the second Wild Bunch Wednesday. The idea is Joanne's Walpole's (Terry James) and throughout July, I and several other bloggers below will be posting extracts from our western novels.
Terry James at Joanne Walpole's blog http://joannewalpole.blogspot.com/
Jack Giles at Broken Trails http://brokentrails.blogspot.com/
Lance Howard at Dark Bits http://howardhopkins.blogspot.com/
Jack Martin at The Tainted Archive http://tainted-archive.blogspot.com/
IJ Parnham at The Culbin Trail http://ijparnham.blogspot.com/
This week the theme is the bad guy. I'm providing an extract from the forthcoming Sharpshooter McClure in which Mike McClure faces a cliffhanging dilemma.
Mike swung round, but he was already too late. A man ran into him and knocked him to the ground. His gun flew from his grasp.
Mike just had enough time to register that it was Floyd Kelly before Floyd grabbed his collar. He yanked him up to his feet then delivered a pile-driving punch to the jaw that sent him sprawling.
On his back Mike shook himself, then was bodily lifted off the ground. Floyd treated him to another blow that sent him stumbling backwards.
His staggering progress let him see behind him and he saw that he was wheeling towards the edge of the gorge. Frantically he stuck out a leg and saved himself from slipping over the edge.
He teetered for a moment then rocked forward, but his back foot was on loose ground and it slipped over the side, sending him to his knees. With one leg dangling in the air he clawed at the rock and managed to roll over to lie on the ledge. Then he moved to get up, but Floyd was already on him.
His assailant slapped both hands on his shoulders then drew him to his feet.
'Your life ends here,' Floyd said grinning, his teeth bright in the moonlight.
Mike looked over Floyd's shoulder and saw that the rest of the men were now on the ledge, spreading out to block his escape routes.
'You and Nyle will never get away with this,' he said.
'We already have.' Floyd pushed Mike backwards so that his heels slipped over the edge and he had to stand on tiptoes to avoid toppling over. 'But before you die, tell me who you really are. Are you another lawman or are you an arrogant young gunslinger like you claimed?'
Mike consoled himself with the thought that if Nyle was unsure of the forces that were aligned against him, he might not enjoy his victory so much.
'You'll find out, one day soon.'
Floyd snorted. 'I want the answer now. Talk and I'll throw you to your death. Say nothing and I'll keep you alive for so long you'll regret not taking the easy option.'
Mike's right foot slipped and he had to jerk it to the side to find solid ground. The action let him look down and see the river 200 feet below, thundering by and promising a quick death. He shrugged then grabbed hold of Floyd's jacket.
'I choose the third option!' he shouted.
With that promise he kicked backwards. He fell. His weight and his hold of Floyd's jacket dragged him with him and the two men toppled over the edge.
(c) I. J. Parnham 2010, published by Robert Hale Ltd and available from all good on-line retailers such as Amazon.