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SamKnight.com is proud and honored to present:
Brown and the End of the Line
By J. A. Campbell
Tumbleweeds rolled across the prairie, and the sun beat down on us while the wind slithered through the tall grasses, bending them in half. I kept my nose in the wind, picturing the world through the scents it brought to me as we rode on our wagon. Elliot said that the sound of the wind in the grass reminded him of the ocean.
“Smelling anything good, Brown?” Elliott reached over and scratched my ears.
If only he could smell the world the way I did. It would make hunting ghosts easier too. I could detect their distinctive scent better than he could. They smelled like the air after a hard rain, but old and dingy. Elliott called the scent musty-ozone.
Barking once, I sniffed more. The scent of many humans living close together reached me and I stood on the bench, wagging my tail.
I barked again.
“Good.” Elliott slapped his hand over his small round hat when the wind tried to rip it off his head. Again. “I’m ready to be out of this weather.”
We followed the barest hint of wagon ruts, traveling from Miller, Colorado to a small railroad outpost a few days outside of Dodge City, Kansas. The railroad had a ghost problem, and I was the dog for the job.
Elliott was excited about Dodge City and hoped we would be able to make a stop there. He’d spent the last few days telling me all sorts of interesting stories about the famous people of Dodge, but he didn’t know any about famous dogs. That was okay though. I’d ask the locals if we got to go. It was a relatively quiet city now, but once it had been very exciting.
“Look at that, Brown.” Elliott scratched my ears again and pointed when the small town came into view.
I could hear the hiss of steam over the steady sound of the wind and saw a train pulling away from the station. It sounded its whistle, but I was far enough away that it didn’t hurt my ears. A few buildings surrounded a main street and I smelled cows. There were probably many farms around here too. Maybe we could find sheep. I thumped my tail on the bench at the thought.
“Get up.” Elliott clucked to the horses.
I jumped down off the wagon and raced ahead a short distance before circling back. I’d rested long enough and I wanted to run before we got into town and I had to stay with Elliott.
The sun was low in the sky behind us by the time we reached the town. Jumping back on the bench, I grinned, content after a long run. Elliott directed the horses straight to the railroad station. I leapt off again when Elliott stopped the wagon outside of the building. Someone shouted inside. Elliott patted his leg and I stayed next to him while we climbed the stairs up to the platform.
“I can’t take it anymore. I quit!” A man stormed out of the office, slamming the door. He didn’t even glance at me or Elliott as he brushed past us on the stairs and stomped off down the street.
Smelling the barest hint of musty-ozone as he hurried past, I whined.
“It’s okay, Brown. He’s not mad at you,” Elliott said, misunderstanding my concern.
Huffing in annoyance, I followed Elliott inside the office. If only humans could communicate properly.
“I told you, there’s no such thing as ghosts!” A man sitting behind a desk and staring intently at something on it shouted when the door shut behind us.
“Um, well, I’d beg to differ since that’s why we’re here, but I don’t believe we’ve met.”
The man looked up, smelling surprised. He pushed glasses up his nose with a gesture that seemed to be an old habit, like when Elliott took off his hat and ran his hand through his hair when he was nervous.
“Well, I’m sorry to have snapped at you, sir. Having a problem with some of my men.”
He narrowed his eyes. “You said you’re here on account of a ghost?”
I could hear the anger in his voice and I put myself in front of Elliott.
“Yes, sir. Sheriff Tolbert from Miller, Colorado sent me. I have a letter.”
The man behind the desk stared at Elliott hard for a minute before holding out his hand. His scent was hopeful even though he still looked angry.
My human took the letter out of his vest pocket and handed it over. The other man settled back and studied it for a time before grunting. “Says you got rid of their saloon ghost?”
“That’s right, sir. My name is Elliott Gyles. This is Brown.”
“Huh, well, I’m Clement Dalton. Welcome to the Outpost.”
“My pap was Mr. Dalton. I’m just Clem. Really think you can take care of this ghost?”
“I thought you said there was no such thing as ghosts.”
Clem stared at Elliott for a minute before bursting out laughing. “Come on, let me buy you a drink and I’ll tell you about it.”
Be sure to check out Bea’s Book Nook http://beasbooknook.blogspot.com/ tomorrow for Part Two!
Intro – June 11th – J. A. Campbell – https://writerjacampbell.wordpress.com/blog/
Part 1- June 12th – Sam Knight – http://samknight.com/
Part 2 – June 13th – Bea’s Book Nook – http://beasbooknook.blogspot.com/
Part 3 – June 14th – Amaleen Ison – http://www.amaleenison.com/
Part 4 – June 15th – Jen Wylie – http://jlwylie.wordpress.com/
Part 5 – June 16th – David Riley – http://sftrails.blogspot.com/
Interview with Brown – June 17th – Anne Michaud – http://annecmichaud.wordpress.com/
Follow the link to enter a contest to win a copy of Science Fiction Trails 10 in which Brown battles Martians. US only. I’ll send the winner a signed copy, the rest of the world, you have to take an unsigned copy, sorry. You gotta be willing to give me your address though. Alternately, the winner can chose a Kindle copy. Contest runs from June 11th through June 30th. I’ll pick three winners.
If for some reason that link doesn’t work, please try this one instead: Brown Blog Tour Contest
Brown – Brown is a Border Collie who hunts ghosts, and other things as it turns out, with her human, Elliott Gyles. You can find out more about her adventures here: https://writerjacampbell.wordpress.com/eye-of-the-dog/
Julie – Julie writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side. Read more about her other stories here: www.writerjacampbell.com
Excerpt from Brown vs. The Martians found in Science Fiction Trails 10
I stopped and sniffed again. Over the hot metal and other strange smells, I thought I smelled an animal, almost like a dog, except that didn’t smell quite right either. I stopped and waited for Elliott to catch up.
“What is that?”
The thing was shaped like a cow pie, although almost half of it was buried in the dirt. The part that stuck out of the ground went up into the air much further than Elliott could reach and made enough shade for us to get out of the sun. The ground wasn’t any cooler in the shade though. Black streaked the shiny metal and it looked like there were gashes, like claw marks where the black streaks were.
“It’s damaged,” Elliott said.
Elliott walked around until we climbed a pile of dirt and ended up standing over the strange metal cow pie.