MARKED MEN ebook now on sale!

A stowaway on a train, running from something horrible, falls into the hands of evil men. Soon, innocent lives will be lost as human monsters will face something ancient, powerful… and hungry.

A short story first released in the Serving Worlds podcast audio anthology, Marked Men is now available for .99c on Kindle.


“Get up!”

Rough hands yanked Daniel from his hiding place behind a crate of buffalo pelts bound for the east. Half asleep, he was thrown from the train car into prairie and scrub brush.

He tried to break his fall, and his hands were slashed on the rock bed of the tracks. He screamed and came all the way awake. He wanted to run but could only cradle his hands to his chest, gasping at the pain. A tall man jumped down after him, kicking him in the ribs before tying his wrists together. “Y’all picked the wrong train,” the man drawled.


Read more after the break, or pick up Marked Men for Kindle for .99c!


Laramie Mountains, Wyoming
1869

“Get up!”

Rough hands yanked Daniel from his hiding place behind a crate of buffalo pelts bound for the east. Half asleep, he was thrown from the train car into prairie and scrub brush.

He tried to break his fall, and his hands were slashed on the rock bed of the tracks. He screamed and came all the way awake. He wanted to run but could only cradle his hands to his chest, gasping at the pain. A tall man jumped down after him, kicking him in the ribs before tying his wrists together. “Y’all picked the wrong train,” the man drawled.

The sun already hung at the top of the sky, shrouding his captor in shadow. Daniel looked up the tracks and saw the square timber of a mine entrance cropping out of a low foothill; his guts turned cold. The mountains? I’m not even out of Wyoming!

It would come that night. He was running out of time.

His captor herded Daniel to the gleaming black-and-red caboose at the rear of the train he’d just been thrown off. His legs were kicked out from under him. Head spinning, he stayed where he was put, blowing on his bloody hands. Behind him, an army of Chinese in straw hats were hauling all manner of goods from the mine onto the train, watched over by hard-looking white men with rifles.

On the porch of the caboose stood a man with his back turned. The collar of his tailored white shirt was undone and he was lathering his face to shave. A thin Chinese boy stood a step away holding a mirror. From behind, someone approached Daniel’s captor. The new voice was Irish, the same brogue Daniel had worked so hard to banish from his own mouth. Moments later a stocky Irishman stepped into view. He tipped his dented felt hat to the man on the caboose.

“Travis caught him riding your rail for free, Mr. Bock,” the new man reported, then spat brown tobacco juice onto the tracks.

The skin of his Marked left hand tingled, and Daniel clamped his right over it. He quaked, having learned to fear whatever the Mark delighted in. Daniel looked around for the source.

The one named Travis had walked past the train to the rusted steel stop at the end of the tracks. His cruel eyes were now on the crowd of Chinese breaking their backs loading Bock’s train. He was stroking the leather of his holster as he watched them. A gunman. But he was not the source: the Mark was celebrating a greater evil.

A whip cracked, and Daniel turned in time to watch two white men kick a fallen Chinese. The man huddled on the ground and did not resist the blows. The remaining workers kept their heads down, likely hoping not to attract similar attention.

Forget his bad luck, Danny-boy, find a way to improve your own!

Daniel cleared his throat, already dry from the hot sun. “I sure do apologize for how this looks, sir, me being on your train and all. My name is Downey, Daniel Downey. My father’s big in –” Daniel licked his lips, the blarney close to stillborn on them. “In the fur trade! I was robbed collecting goods for him.”

Now the juices were flowing, Daniel thought. “I see you’re hard at it, sir.” He levered himself to his feet. “I’d be glad to lend a hand in exchange for a seat back to the next station. I would make full restitutio–”

Something hit him hard behind the knees and Daniel collapsed. The Irishman spat tobacco next to his head.

“I―I assure you all I”m no hobo.” He plucked at his tattered vest. “Oh, this,” he laughed. “I can easily replace–”

“I doubt that. Damnation, stand still, boy!” Bock raised the back of his razor-wielding hand to the child holding the mirror. “You know I don’t approve of trespassers, Mister Jessup,” he said, before wiping the blade carelessly on a towel draped over the boy’s shoulders. The boy’s eyes never left the blade.

Jessup cleared his throat. “I was thinking the mine, Mister Bock?”

Bock shaved off another strip, then turned and bent his hooked nose down toward Jessup and the prisoner. As Daniel met Bock’s eyes, the Mark burned.


What happens next, dear reader?

Pick up Marked Men for for only .99c on Kindle to find out!

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