Wolves Howling In The Night
Author’s Note: This is a story from the world of Jane Yellowrock.
This short story takes place in 1879 in Arizona. Ayatas and Etsi are around 40 years old.
Ayatas touched his horse’s flank with a heel and guided him closer to the mount ridden by Etsi, his Everhart woman. They had been on the trail for days in the summer heat, with limited water, only enough for them and their mounts to drink sparingly. They had run out of even that twelve miles on the south side of Eagle Tail Mount and Dry Wash, which lived up to its name. The summer sun had baked the land dry. If they did not reach the town of Agua Caliente by nightfall their plight would become desperate, yet Etsi still laughed, saying she smelled ripe, her scent as strong on the air as his own.
The town they hoped to reach had abundant water, enough to have a bakery, saloons, a laundry, a livery, a feed and seed shop, a half dozen seamstresses, a school run by a woman from back east, and two dry goods stores. The newsletter they had read when they shared a campfire with a wagon train said that an inn was being built in Agua Caliente, “with a bathhouse,” as Etsi kept reminding him, a bathhouse with hot water that rose from the ground, from hot springs. Etsi would get a hot tub-bath with soap, as her own people, the yunega, the white men, bathed.
He would wash out back with the other people of color—the Mexicans, Africans, and Indians. Though Ayatas might prefer to bathe in the Gila River, near the town, if Indian meant Apache or Pah-Ute. The Tsalagi and western tribes did not make peace together and fighting would anger Etsi. His red-headed woman’s temper was hot like fire and he had ached the few times she had turned her anger toward him.
Tonight, Etsi would sleep in a real bed, and Ayatas would bed down with the horses or out in the night, under the stars, knowing that if she called him with her magic, he would hear the sound of her summons on the wind.
Beneath him, the horse stepped higher and his head came up, moving better than the tired beast had all day. “I smell smoke,” Ayatas said. “And water.”
I hope you guys enjoyed this! The story will be published in LAWLESS LANDS if it the kickstarter funds. I love it! It’s a long short story (haha), about 9,000 words. Check out the funding!