May, 2023

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Issue #164

Welcome, Western Fans!

Looking for free, tantalizing Tales of the Old West?
You're at the right place.


Read this month's Tales and vote for your favorite.
They'll appear in upcoming print volumes of The Best of Frontier Tales Anthologies!

Black Bean Arroyo
by Joseph Hirsch
Six gringo stagecoach robbers are stewing in a Mexican hoosegow during the Zapata Revolution. The leader of a band of rebels arrives at their cell, offering them a chance at freedom if they win a little game he's devised, one in which if they lose, they die.

* * *

Crazy Over William
by Rich Elliott
Erasmus had made a friend, not an easy thing to do in a frontier town. To him, William was a real character, a singing, story-telling, gun-twirling American dreamer. What Erasmus did not see, until later, was William's brokenness lying beneath the surface, waiting to come out.

* * *

by William Zeranski
A traveling show came to town. When the nightingale sang she enthralled rancher Lowell Ronson. But while searching for the preacher, he learned that a rival had captured his song bird. So Ronson returned for a reckoning, a gun on his hip and a guitar in hand.

* * *

The Duel at Dusty Flats
by Tom Sheehan
Two youngsters devise a coded warning system, marking an "X" on a person or his horse to indicate danger. Years later, they discover that, "X's" are being applied by a mysterious someone. Should they include whoever it is in their scheme?

* * *

The Frontiersman's End
by Chris McAuley
Taking in strangers to give them food and comfort might seem foolish to some but kindness was Jessie's currency. That was until his guests slaughtered his wife and children. He has traveled across the country hunting these raiders down Now he's caught up with them. And he's going to make them pay!

* * *

The Red-Leg Ambush
by James Burke
As the Civil War rages on the frontier, a young Red-Leg named Billy struggles to keep his courage and his wits amid the carnage and destruction. He comes to understand that his comrades fight as much for hatred and revenge as they do for patriotism and ideals.

* * *

Want all of this month's Western stories at once? Click here –

All the Tales

The Frontiersman's End
by Chris McAuley

When Jessie pulled the trigger, he felt the familiar kick of the Colt vibrate along his forearm and into his shoulder. As the bullets hit their targets he felt like the right hand of God. A spirit of pure vengeance made manifest in the flesh. As the Raiders ran desperately from their cover Jessie watched dispassionately as he cut a path through their flesh, muscle and sinew. With this gun in his hand, he was a surgeon, expertly directing each hot, molten piece of lead in their joint quest to carve and rend flesh. When the chambers in the gun were finally spent all that was left were the dead bodies of his enemies. As they had hit the ground they were already rotting, ready to be feasted on by coyotes or welcomed back to hell.

He cautiously spun the empty slots in the pistol and deposited the cartridges. He had a limited amount of ammunition and he couldn't afford to waste a single bullet. When the gun was restored to its full glory he kept it out of its holster and held it at hip length. As he walked slowly towards the bodies that were a testament to his handiwork a slight movement caught his eye. One of the Raiders was attempting to slither away. From the look of him, Jessie figured that a bullet had smashed through his spine and made the man's legs useless.

Jessie watched the raiders face creased in tortured agony. He was inching across the desert. His black gloved hands grasping at the dirt, pulling himself forward. Jessie's eyes drank in the man's pained grimaces as he slowly walked towards him. When his shadow crossed the Raider's path, the man stopped moving. Jessie willed him to turn and face him. There must have been power in the frontiersman's thoughts because that's just what the murdering bastard did. Flipping himself on his back, the dark suited man coughed up rivers of dark blood. Slowly the Raider looked up at Jessie, as he saw the shadows cast from the wide brim of the frontiersman's Stetson onto his stern face. A chill ran up what was left of the doomed man's spine. It was almost as if the frontiersman was wearing a native death mask.

A thousand memories assaulted Jessie as he towered over the pleading figure of the Raider. His wife and children brutally murdered after he had extended misguided hospitality to these men. Moments which he had managed to push away during his quest for vengeance resurfaced again. Jessie stooped over the Raider and listened to the broken babbling coming from his bloody lips. Impassioned pleas for mercy mixed with prayers to an uncaring God.

Slowly, deliberately, Jessie placed the muzzle of his colt pistol into the Raiders lips. As the harsh sunlight glinted over the gun's metal the frontiersman gave himself a second to admire the intricate carving displayed across the barrel. The gun had been gifted to him by Colonel Buell for his services in the Mexican war and was engraved with the eagle of victory. He waited a moment longer, attempting to draw out some sense of satisfaction from the fear in his quarry's eyes. No such feeling came. With a sense of disappointment Jessie pulled the trigger of the colt one more time. The back of the raiders head exploded like a ripe pumpkin. Blood and brain matter scattered over the frontiersman's face and clothes.

Jessie raised himself with a sense of weary resignation. This was the moment he had dreaded. It was time to give the devil his due. He had started this journey with noble intensions but as his eyes scanned the horizon towards the place, he used to call home. All he could see in his mind's eye were the faces of the innocents he had slaughtered along the way. There was a price to be paid for that and this was a place of final reckonings.

He brought the barrel of his precious gun towards his mouth. Once again, he saw the sun trace its way across the eagle. A final remembrance of the man he had once been. After muttering a half-remembered prayer, he slid the cold blue-gray metal into his lips. The last thing he saw was the hammer of the pistol rise and fall. A final legacy of the trail of violence which had consumed him these last few months. His final thoughts however were of his wedding day, the smell of lilacs and of home.

The End

Chris McAuley.

Co-Creator of the StokerVerse

Co-Creator of Dark Universes

A writer who specializes in the Horror, Science Fiction, fantasy, western and crime genre. Chris has been the lead writer in novels, comics, audio dramas and games. He is the co-creator of the popular StokerVerse, along with Bram Stoker's great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker. He has also created a science fiction and fantasy franchise with Babylon 5's Claudia Christian called Dark Legacies. Chris has worked with some of the top names in Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who.


International Best-Selling Author - 2022

Stoker Award Nominee- 2021, 2022,2023

Poet of the month award - Horror Writers Association - 2022 (June)

Award for Sci-Fi animated short (The Curse of the Cyberons) -Boston SciFi 2023

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