Claim Jumper

Looks like we might finally be back to a semblance of normalcy when it comes to the weekly Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. Hard to believe isn’t it. So now we wonder, what could go wrong next.

Well we are coming up on the end of the year. So you never know what might happen between now and the January 1st. Heck we could have meteors drop from the sky and bring back the dinosaurs. Only thing is I don’t know that we will be able to train a T-Rex to type out the Wednesday story. Heck his arms are to short to reach the keyboard anyway. Which brings to mind pretty much every single T-Rex joke I have ever heard. Just the thought of them gets them stuck in your head don’t it? You’re welcome…

Claim Jumper

I had hoped to catch up with DeBurgh at the river, but there was no sign of him. Somehow, he had managed to cross that icy flow. With a half-day’s head start he was bound to beat me down to Yellow Jack and file his claim first.

All the work of these past months would be for nothing. The gold would all belong to DeBurgh.

Claim Jumper

photo by K.S. Brooks

Resigned to defeat, I sat down heavily on a snow-covered boulder, or what I had taken to be a boulder…

The body had grown stiff with cold and rigors. Strange how I hadn’t noticed it at first. DeBurgh’s mule, what was left of it anyway. A broken leg and snapped neck from a fall down the side of the mountain, by the look of it.

No way he could have gotten too far ahead of me after all. The question remained, did he fall with the beast or manage to run ahead. By the riverside the mule wouldn’t be useful anymore anyway.

I scanned the frozen rocks for signs, any signs. Sure enough, I found it. Drops of blood on some rocks near the water’s edge. I followed them ahead to be sure. The trail laid sparingly on the rocks beside the river, though still heading toward town.

The blood loss would surely slow him down. How far could he have gotten, I pushed ahead across the rocky streamside.

I found him, about a mile down river. DeBurgh lay in a heap at the water’s edge. He had crawled along, his bleeding leg drug behind him for the last hundred yards before his collapse. I thought to leave him there. Served him right for trying to jump my claim and all. But I couldn’t, not just leave him there.

“Still breathing…” I cursed under my breath. He didn’t answer me but it was enough. I cursed my soft heart as I strapped him to the back of my mule. He’d lose the leg, but I’d keep the mine.


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