A new part of the big and fascinating Far West transmedia and world-building project is out there now: Tales of the Far West. It’s an anthology of stories by a slew of killer talent and, hey, also me. You can read an excerpt from Scott Lynch’s tale with the great title, “He Built The Wall To Knock It Down,” right here.
My story, “Errant Eagles,” is about gunfighters, lawmen, an airship, a train, and living with the consequences of the choices you make. It’s also about forgiveness and the Gun.
Here’s roughly how it opens:
Delicate things, airships. The things work only if everyone on board behaves themselves. Get someone on board who ain’t got no respect for fellow travelers or the delicacy of flight and the whole thing can fall in a hurry.
The Maiden’s Breath looked something like a riverboat on its back, slung from its gasbag on hand-woven cables, the sky-ship’s white planks and shining brass bright in the afternoon sun. Angled black smokestacks splayed out below like the legs of a newborn foal. Trails of coal smoke smeared the air behind it. In place of paddles, wide props, looking like lovely petals, pushed her through the sky.
She was no soaring ship. She cruised above the plains so low that some small-town temple towers might have scratched her paint. No pagodas loomed in sight on that wide prairie, though—she sailed over wild grasses and subtle hills, her passengers bound for Prosperity in the west. Her faint altitude was meant to give her passengers a close look at the open range below, at the bucolic charm of its windswept fields of grain and the roaming flocks of flightless thunderbirds.
That shallow flight also had Redhand wondering if he could survive a leap from the airship’s starboard railing. The sunlit prairie rushed by below. Passengers cried out in panic.
The ship was on fire pretty fierce by then and Redhand thought it might provide him the cover he needed to get free. Redhand hoped Hollowaigh would reel from his pistol-whipping in the parlor long enough for Redhand to vanish in the chaos of the accidental kerosene fire. Maybe Hallowaigh, who said he was aboard on a case, on behalf of the Twin Eagle detective agency, would stop to put out the fire started when he threw Redhand into a kerosene lamp. Maybe Hollowaigh, who thought so little of pulling his pistol in the crowded airborne parlor, would think twice about making a foolhardy leap that would surely break a leg or two.
Redhand’s dreadlocks whipped about his head in the smoke and wind as he thought on the leap himself—thought too long.
Special thanks, by the way, to Logan Bonner, for pointing me at The Builders and the Butchers, whose music I gorged on while writing this story.
Music: “The Night, Pt. 1,” The Builders and the Butchers