First few paragraphs of short story. Got a lot of work to do - it's 28,500 words
A faint mist blurred an expanse of water stretching from north to south. Gabriel Fletcher had never seen the like. Since leaving the craggy, green hills of eastern Tennessee, he'd encountered swamps, huge rivers, endless plains, towering mountains, and arid lands that drew his strength near its limits. But the Pacific Ocean provoked a deep breath.
Gabe had ridden so long that time faded. The ocean washing against the shores of the state famous for its golden wealth, his goal, seemed empty. Not as he'd expected. He slumped in the saddle, hands crossed over the pommel.
Well, ain't so bad. Got a bit in my poke.
He'd stopped to water his horse and mule at a spring beneath towering cliffs. While the animals drank, Gabe decided to cleanse grit from his wiry body. He stripped and leaped into the chilly water, savoring relief from the hot, dry air. Something sharp beneath his foot made him look down. A bright gleam drew him and he reached into the sand, withdrawing a rock with streaks of gold in it. He excitedly sifted the sand for more and a dozen nuggets soon joined the meager number of silver eagles in his poke. He'd earned them from trading some beaver pelts he'd trapped while passing through the Great Rockies.
Just might'n gimme a leg up finding' a homestead.
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