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dream.20071127: the cowboy upstairs

by Rob Friesel

The adolescent settler girl fancies herself in love with a doppelgänger of Dan Doherty.  Her family moves west through the valley on horseback (her farmer parents, younger brother, and herself) and they encounter him in one of these frontier towns.  He’s the vain cowboy — all too conscious of the receding hairline and a bald spot on the top of his dome; he wears a blue bandana cinched tightly about his scalp and an heirloom tricorner hat over that.  He is shifty, seldom making eye-contact with anyone, dodging the gaze of the maids in the hotel, and even giving only short replies to his partner.

On their way westward out of the town, the family becomes caught in floodwaters that rapidly fill the valley.  Their wagon becomes water-logged, one of the horses is swept away, and the girl becomes caught beneath a rock.  At first the family has feared that she has drowned but as the waters recede, they find her, one leg nearly crushed.  She is in and out of consciousness, mumbling fever-dream style about the man from the town.  The family struggles to come up with a plan.  They will already lose one day of travel time from this, they’re already two days behind, and the father knows that the Running of the Gremlins is imminent.  They opt to amputate the girl’s leg with a saw and retreat to the town to find a doctor.

As if on wings of the wind, the valley closes in around them, becoming the 10th floor of an office building.  They’re trapped up there with a few other travelers.  The father cringes, fearful that they tarried too long and are now caught in the Running of the Gremlins.  He quickly organizes the others, sealing off corridors, jury-rigging quick escape routes into safely guarded rooms, rounding up the few guns in the party’s possession.  The thunder that echoes down the grey halls taunts them.  The girl props herself up in a corner of one of the safe rooms, clutching her amputated leg to her chest, mumbling about how That Man From The Town would be there soon to save them.  She tells everyone to watch the elevator.  They would send up two hunters in exchange for one of them…

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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