The War Party

From the Wagon Train Diaries


It was the season of heavy rain. The river that led to the next village was swollen with flood, rushing the banks as if it had somewhere important to go. The wagon train dipped then rose again as it tried to keep pace with the ever growing flood. A black cloud erupted around the wagons making them come to a complete stop.

The wagon train scout, White Deer, returned to the train carrying some disturbing news. He was looking for the wagon master Alastar Brown. He pushed his brown gelding toward the third wagon and stopped directly in front of the train.

“How is it?” Alastar asked as he popped his head out of the wagon.

“Not good,” replied the scout as he dismounted the horse and sloshed over to the wagon master. “The war party has lined up three miles from here waiting for us. I believe the war party has about fifty Braves.”

“Damn,” Alastar almost whispered. His expression was one of pain. “We’re going to have to meet them head on.”

“We got about thirty men willing to defend this train,” the scout added.

The wagon master grimaced. He remembered the last time he came across a war party. What greeted his eyes was a slaughterhouse. The Indians choked the space between the wagon trains and littered the grounds with gutted, lifeless bodies. He remembered scalped skulls grinned up at him with broken teeth and hollowed out eyes. The supply wagon was a silent tomb as the women and children were murdered mercilessly. It was a massacre he didn’t want to relive again. He remembered his best friend, Myles Stevenson, who use to sit high on the wagon riding shot gun, just as Alastar remembered him. Except at that time when he was slumped to one side, a blackened hole in his chest where a flamed arrow had pinned him to the wooden deck and his eyes were sunken and staring.

“Get the men together,” he ordered.

The scout nodded and turned away leaving the wagon master with his thoughts. Rain was falling in great, hissing dollops, making it difficult to see even fifty meters in front of him. Maybe it was the advantage he needed. He thought.

After several minutes, White Deer came back with twenty seven men armed and saddled. They were ready to engage in battle. Alastar Brown sat back and gnawed at his cheek. He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them and said. “Thank God for the heavy rain.”

The scout thought that he knew what the wagon master was thinking. The rain was an advantage, but it wasn’t a guarantee.

“White Deer,” he started. “You’re going to stay here with the train. If we are not back in two days, take the train back to the town we just left.”

The wagon master made it sound so simple.

So White Deer gave him a simple answer. “Got it.”

The wagon master was looking at him, just a short connective pulse beat of understanding that they were both going into situations that didn’t suit them. The wagon master’s job was just to get people from the East to the West, and White Deer’s was just a terrain guide.

The men of the wagon train were armed now, prepared for rough terrain and situations that spat back. Alastar didn’t like seeing the men dressed for trouble, but he had no other choice. It was literally kill, or be killed.

After giving the scout a few more instructions the men rode off into the pouring rain. White Deer realized that only now, in that instant, that the wagon master was leaving him in total charge of the train. He was just hoping that he didn’t get blamed by the law if something went abhorrently wrong. After all, he was an Indian living in a white man’s world.

The next twelve hours passed slowly for the scout. He spent his time trying to comfort the other passengers on the train. He felt dark and depressed inside, but he didn’t allow any of that to show.

The morning had arrived and the rain had ended. He looked out of the back of the supply wagon and there he saw the small clergyman conducting his daily morning mass. It was something to keep the passengers’ mind occupied and in that alone he approved wholeheartedly.

During the final few hours the wagon scout let himself worry, because he knew that his orders were to pull out and head back to the last town.

The day was deceptively welcoming, with the river as calm as ever and the shrubbery begging for sunlight. The land rolled which was soft to the eyes, and the mountains sparkled with morning fog burning off slowly. The scout saw it all with a sweeping glance before pulling himself together. He had orders to carry out and he was going to execute them until he heard the thundering sounds of horses pulling forward. He looked back and saw Alastar coming back with thirteen men.

“Alastar!” he half shouted.

“We can move forward,” Alastar said as his horse came to a complete stop.

“The others?”

Alastar didn’t answer.

A warm wind blew ominously through the wagon trains, raising spiral dust spirits as it went. The scout felt the souls of the other men pass through his body as the wind blew in his face, his eyes narrowed gradually to slits.

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© 2013 Frank Atanacio

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29 comments

thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 3 years ago from West Virginia

Frank, brilliant!!! I'm way behind on my reading, my apologies. I expect the best when I read your work and you deliver every time Frank. I didn't see no links for the series, but I'll keep an eye for it, try to backtrack your work. Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, and shared on FB:)


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

I loved this story Frank--you weave such a spell in your work---


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

Thanks so much thelricwriter always good to see you and Audrey it's always good to see you too.. bless you both Cheers


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Another interesting chapter in this story. I enjoy these very much. They give a little taste of what could be a simpler life, just a lot harder to live.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

thank you Becky Katz :)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

We're having a rain storm right now. This story might have begun on my street. Good plot! Great mystical ending.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Hello there, most notable ... Mr. Creative Writer, Frank,

You already know I love your creative writing series of the "Wagon Train Diaries" ... can you even imagine the feeling, well, you have written that feeling very well here once again. Little bit outnumbered to say the least!

Excellent and dramatic read, and I especially love the masterfully crafted ending there ... awesome. That photo added much visual drama at the end there. Ominous.

I could almost here that whistling music in one of Clint Eastwood's movies.

Up and more ... sharing too, of course!

Hugs and love from southern USA this day ... well night, oh, it's morning now ... Morning Frank ... : )

Faith Reaper

Oh, this creative writing is under the topic of Inspirational Poetry?


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Another enjoyable read, I just love the whole series of "The Wagon Train diaries", well done Frankie boy! :)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

Tobusiness and MsDora thank you for sharing the wagon train ride with me.. and Faith.. always wonderfully and beautifully faithful.. yeah I noticed that.. hmm maybe I thought this was poetry LOL I think Im going to change it.. bless you girl :)


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

Really good story and it had my attention all the way through. One question, though: if it had been teeming with rain and so muddy, how come there were dust spirals?


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

you know when it rains hard and the next morning the sun ray looks like dust.. or crystals.. so I called it spiral dust Spirits....:) and thank you blossoms for checking this out


Darknlovely3436 profile image

Darknlovely3436 3 years ago from NewYork

Another wonderful piece from you, worthy to be read.

blessed annie


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

You are such a Master! You write these diaries as if you were there. Each brings such reality and life to the people and situations you create.

I was holding my breath through this one knowing in my heart the outcome wouldn't be good but at least glad it wasn't totally devastating.

Voted everything but funny, pinned and shared.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

thank you Darknlovely and always thanking you Till for your warm comments :) bless you both :)


SandCastles 3 years ago

I really liked your story! I like how you describe the scenery; I can see it as I read. I can feel the wind and rain. Good job!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

thank you so muc Sandcastles for stopping by my wagon train..bless you :)


Anna Haven profile image

Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

An interesting and engaging story.

I thought the character of White Deer was really strong and brilliantly evoked. I could feel his hesitation and doubts clearly.

I will watch out for more.

Anna :)


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

thank you so much Anna :)


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Well I know I commented here, but I don't see me so good thing I checked back. I think I am going up to vote up before I push comment and then forget to come back down. Getting old, please forgive me. lol

Great story, these are the first of this kind I have really read, I use to sell them so read a couple but don't remember them being as interesting as yours. ^


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

thank you J.L for revisiting....bless you


Sueswan 3 years ago

Awesome Frank! My grandad was a fan of westerns.

Voted up and awesome

Take care

Sue


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

thanks Sue :)


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

Yes, I enjoy you wagon diaries. You are a wonderful writer.

Have a great weekend.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

you too Vin and thank you


mylindaelliott profile image

mylindaelliott 3 years ago from Louisiana

Nice, very nice. You feel the Indian's worry.


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 3 years ago from Somewhere in the West

Frank your love for composition/creative writing is seen through your writings of short stories, continue to expand your imagination and keep up this good work.

God Bless You


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

thank you mylinda and always good to see you Ladyfiddler :)


Valleypoet 3 years ago

Great series Frank, I like the way this one kept the anticipation going, and in the end it was left to the imagination of the reader as to how the wagon train was bravely saved..great read:-))


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton Author

hey good to see you Valley and as always thank you for popping by :)

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