The Coil

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Westerns  |  House: Booksie Classic
Hmmm... why does a short story need a summary?

Submitted: July 21, 2009

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Submitted: July 21, 2009



The rider had the distinct notion that the road laid out before him was sprung, as if it had spent an eternity bound in a coil and had now suddenly been laid flat. His right hand hung loose on the throttle, his fingertips having gone numb more than fifty miles ago. In a position that screamed confidence, his left hand dangled at his side, toying absent-mindedly with a bolt here, a wire there. For miles ahead the road was open, empty. Red hills rose from the horizon in the south banded with strips of dark earth and charred wood, and to the north was a vast expanse of nothing but sage and rabbitbrush. It had been the same for the majority of the ride west... one rusted out corpse of an ancient transport had lain acrossed the road an hour or so before.

He'd checked it for fuel, but it had long been siphoned clean. In the front seat sat the mummified remains of the assumed driver.

The rider, a messenger after all, didn't spend any time shuffling through the papers that littered the cab. He did, however, notice a dried out, half-burned cigarette beneath the driver's seat.

He struck a match, lit the grit, and kill it in two long drags. It burned like the Devil, but as he climbed back on his horse and fired her up, the high kicked in, and it was godly.

The road was sprung. It may have been the tobacco, it may have been the seven hours geared out through the scablands with nothing to ponder but the message in his head and the pay he'd been promised to deliver it, but to the rider, the road was like a rock cat waiting to pounce.

He watched it warily through scratched engineer's goggles, as if at any moment the cracked and heaved asphault might drop out from beneath him or strike out at him like a long black rattlesnake. Stranger stories had been told among riders.

Had he not been watching the road so intently, he probably would have noticed the man crouched against the burned out stump an hundred yards or so to the south of the road, sillouetted against the red blaze of the afternoon sun. It may have been the tobacco, it may have been the seven hours geared out, but the rider was oblivious to the man leaning against the burned out stump with the rifle tucked against his shoulder.

The first shot punched a hole clean through the fuel tank of the rider's horse. The second shot tore a similar hole through the rider's neck, just below his left ear.

Turns out, the road was sprung after all. It shimmied sideways beneath him, the leapt up and sunk one enormous fang into him. There was darkness, then a flash, then the distinct sound of a coil coming unbound.

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