Top Ten Western Short Stories For December
Available Now Site-wide ad space Top right corner, replacing the ad to the right. $25 per month. Click HERE to find out more.
Western short stories Bio. of Michael McLean
A native of western Colorado's high country, Michael McLean has packed on horseback in Montana's high country wilderness, mined gold and silver thousands of feet below the earth's surface, fly-fished Yellowstone Park's blue-ribbon waters, and explored the mountains and deserts of the West. Through personal and professional experiences he has collected a wealth of information to develop story settings, plots and characters. "Tajik", an action short story, was published in The Penmen Review in September, 2016. Winner of the 2012 Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest, "Backroads" was published in New Mexico Magazine. McLean believes the less travelled and often lonely back roads of the West offer intimate access to the land, its people and their stories.
A mining engineer by profession with a degree from the University of Nevada - Reno, McLean also has technical publications to his credit. He has managed and engineered underground mines in seven western states and now works in New Mexico's oil and potash-rich Permian Basin. He lives in Carlsbad, New Mexico, with his wife, Sandie.
Dead Man Talking is the next in the Circle S Ranch series. It follows up on "The Gate".
Dead Man Talking
“Hello the house! Hello the house!” The horse moved around nervously in the early morning darkness illuminated only by a half moon. The man shouted again, “Hello the house!” The sound of a furiously barking dog came from within the darkened ranch house then stopped. Finally, lanterns flickered to life. Read the full story HERE>>
Interspersed with piñon pine and juniper, the leaves of cottonwood trees along Badger Creek were starting to turn yellow and gold. With late summer showers, the land had become a mosaic of white, yellow and purple wildflowers that would soon fade as cooler temperatures accompanied shorter days.
The sharp crack of the axe hitting dry pine was familiar and distinctive. The sound had been repeated hundreds of times over the past three days. Behind the barn surrounded by a pile of split wood and an even bigger pile of unsplit rounds, Winston Standish took a break and drank from the canteen hanging on a fence post. Thunder, his blue lacy, took the opportunity to trot over, seeking attention or a scratch behind the ears. The dog got both. Since mid-July, he had taken his free time to fell dead pine trees, buck them up with a one man cross-cut saw into eighteen-inch sections and haul them out of the hills on the buckboard wagon. He figured he would need eight or nine cords of wood to heat the ranch house during the New Mexico winter. Best to get it in the summer before the weather turned.
Suddenly, Thunder began a low, intense growl. Standish glanced first to his Winchester .45-75 carbine leaning against the same post, then in the direction the dog was looking. A lone rider moved slowly up the road toward the house and wagon yard.
shut the hell up!” Winston Standish shouted, but the dog continued
to bark and now began jumping up and down at the front door to the
Circle S ranch house. It was nine o’clock in the morning. Chores
were done and he was trying to read a few pages of Daniel Defoe’s
“Colonel Jack”. Thunder, a Blue Lacy, was a dog of the
southwest, but at the moment, a pain in the ass. Standish put down
his cup of coffee and went to the door.
As was his habit, he wrapped a leather holster around his waist and slipped the hammer thong off his Colt .45 before reaching for the door handle. Pushing Thunder away, he cautiously opened the door only to be confronted by a large contingent of the Mescalero Apache Nation,
In one sweeping glance, he took in the scene as he spurred the sorrel gelding over the juniper- and acacia-covered ridge at a gallop. There were no questions to be asked. Four men on horseback were running some three-dozen head of fattened cattle down the south side of Badger Creek . . . his cattle. On his right, Emilio Salinas, the young hired hand kept up with reins in one hand and Colt revolver in the other. Read the full story HERE>>
The world exploded . . . with him in it.
Good air had been at his back indicating there was another entrance or the miners had followed the vein to grass roots and daylight. But, a hundred feet back, the tunnel branched. The hastily drawn map urged him to turn right into calm, dead air. Cautiously approaching the mining face, his heart pounded with anticipation. Too late, he smelled the burning fuse. He’d been set up. Spinning around, he ran, but not fast enough. The uncontrolled pressure wave slammed him forward. Successive explosions smashed him to the ground as small fragments of rock peppered his back like a shotgun blast. He didn’t know a lot about mining, but he knew that behind the force of the detonation there would be poisonous gas that could kill as certainly as the flying rock and the blast itself. Read the full story HERE>>