I’ve had an idea kicking around for a while to write a weird western, so I’m going to give it a shot. Posting chapters here kept me honest on Amazing Grace, so maybe it’ll keep me motivated on this project, too. It’s called Angel in the Dust (for now), and it’s a near-future or alternate reality western set in a world where the United States is very different, and angels walk among us. Much to our chagrin. I’ll try to post a chapter every Monday, like I did with Grace. Hopefully, this will be as good.
The sun beat down like a hammer, cracking the hard dirt and sending jagged lines off in every direction to the horizon, where wavy lines of heat spun up off the red dirt to twist and dance along the edges of the purple sky. The man rode, head down, his bandanna shielding what parts of his neck his hat didn’t shade. He looked neither right nor left, just down and straight ahead, riding as if asleep through the blazing afternoon sun. Every so often, once every mile or two, he reached down to his hip and drew a flask to his lips. A short sip of water, just enough to wash the dust from his lips and cut the muck that filled his throat.
If she hadn’t been lying so close to what passed for a road in this blazing hellhole he never would have seen her. If his horse hadn’t tweaked a shoe when it shied away from a rattlesnake he never would have stopped there. If he hadn’t been unusually clumsy and dropped the hoof pick he never would have heard her. If his batteries weren’t dead, he would have been listening to music on his headphones, the one luxury he permitted himself, and he wouldn’t have noticed her lying there covered in sand.
But she was there, right beside the road where his horse pulled up with the beginnings of a limp, just a mile past where his batteries died, and he did drop the hoof pick on the tarmac, and it bounced onto her back, and when he picked it up, she moved.
It was more of a weak twitch than any conscious movement; she was too far gone for that. But when her body convulsed ever so slightly at his touch, just enough wind-blown sand fell off her to reveal that she was, in fact, a person.
And that’s where all his trouble started.