This was not how Sadie imagined her life would end. But now, as she saw the dust rise from the dozen or so horses and riders coming from the Hooker ranch, how else could it have ended. It was a fool’s errand to have tried to go up against Hooker. He held the largest ranch in the territory, he owned the three sheriffs in the counties his land was part of, and he wanted her land. Her Pa’s land, more accurately. But Pa had been gone for nearly a year. He left Sadie and her little brother, Billy Ray, to take care of the small homestead while he went off to the territorial capital to plead his case to the governor.
That was back in October of last year, and now it was August and he still had not returned, still sent no word as to where he was or how he was doing. He left his sixteen year old daughter and ten year old son to fend for themselves. How could they fight against a man like Hooker. A man who always, ALWAYS, got what he wanted. Sadie sighed as she watched the dust trail dip into the last valley before reaching the homestead. She turned and went back inside, bolting the door behind her. Billy Ray stood beside the table in the center of the room, the deer gun their father left behind securely cradled in his arms. Sadie walked up to him, kissed his forehead, and tousled his wheat colored hair.
“I shoulda got you outta here,” Sadie whispered to her brother.
“You coulda tried,” he answered, his voice cracking in fear although he tried desperately to hide it. “I woulda done the same thing as you had I been given that satchel.”
A sad, brief smile crossed Sadie’s features. Yesterday, one of Hooker’s hands delivered a satchel, compliments of Mr. Hooker. Inside, two thousand dollars, and a fancy, store bought gown. There was no question what Hooker was wanting to purchase. Sadie saddled up their only horse and rode pell mell to town. She located Hooker in the saloon. She never hesitated. She strode in, satchel in hand, and threw it in Hooker’s face.
“Neither I, nor my Pa’s land, are for sale,” she hissed.
Then just as deliberately she left the saloon and rode home. Nothing happened that evening or night. But in the morning, Isaiah Merkel, the blacksmith’s son, appeared in the yard, out of breath along with his horse.
“Hooker’s pulling together a posse to come out here to burn you down. Says you embarrassed him in front of his associates. They’re not to far behind me,” he reported breathlessly.
“How many?” Sadie asked, a knot of intense fear settling in her gut.
“At least a dozen,” Isaiah answered. He unsheathed his shotgun from the saddle scabbard and handed it to Sadie. “My Pa said for me to give this to you. It’s all we can do.”
Sadie nodded and took the weapon. It wouldn’t be wise for anyone in the territory to rally around Sadie and her brother right now. It would just insure that what was about to happen to them would happen to others who foolishly helped out.
“You better git, Isaiah. Don’t want Hooker to know you’ve been here.”
Isaiah dug his heels into his mount and headed out back of the homestead; presumably to avoid being seen by the approaching posse.
When Sadie turned she saw Billy Ray standing on the porch. She detected tears running down his face, but he wasn’t crying. He slowly turned and went into the home. She heard him take down the deer gun from above the door.
Now, as the posse entered the front yard of the homestead, the horses stomping and snorting, and the men shouting and firing their guns in the air, Sadie took in a tremulous deep breath. She bent down to hug her little brother, but his eyes were focused out the back window. She followed his gaze, Tears burst into her eyes and her hand came up to her mouth.
To be continued . . . maybe.
– – – – –
This story is in response to The Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge.
For this week’s challenge, write a post that will leave readers waiting for more. Breathless with anticipation. On the edges of the seats. Obsessively clicking “refresh,” waiting impatiently for the end of the story. We want to hear audible groans when readers reach the end of your post and see “To be continued…”
You’ll need to think through the story you want to tell, and then figure out where to split it in half for greatest dramatic effect.
Does this mean we’re asking you to write fiction? Not at all — any kind of post can get the season finale treatment:
- Tell a personal story, but withhold the unexpected ending.
- Write a forceful opinion piece, but don’t reveal your point of view.
- Share a photo essay, but hold back the final, perfect image that ties the rest together.
- Get our mouths watering with a description of your favorite dish, but make us wait for the recipe.
- Show us the steps in your last DIY project, but wait on sharing how it turned out.
Blogging is about sharing our stories, and a good story keeps readers hooked. This week, figure out how to turn your story into a nail-biter.
Publish the two posts whenever you’d like; on the same day, a day apart, or a week apart, depending on how tense you want to leave your readers.