Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Draw Nigh and Listen to Kaye Spencer's Ghostly Tale

Thanks, Roxanne, for inviting me over today.

I've always been enthralled by ghost stories, and the American Old West is rich with legends that span the paranormal spectrum, such as
  • · Lost Dutchman's Mine in the southwest
  • · Denver's haunted Brown Palace Hotel
  • · The Alamo in Texas
  • · St. James Hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico
  • · Hell's Dogs of El Dorado Canyon, Nevada
  • · Phantoms of the Vallecito Stage Station in California
  • · Haunted Tombstone, Arizona
My favorite ghostly story comes from an old cowboy song written by Stan Jones in 1948 and recorded by a plethora of musicians…Ghostriders in the Sky.

Probably, the basis for this American ghostrider legend can be traced to Europe where there are older, and some ancient, versions of the story: the Wild Huntsman; the pack of white hounds with blood-red ears that accompanies Herne the Hunter; the Gabriel Hounds aka Hellhounds; Odin riding his eight-legged stallion and followed by the Souls of the Dead; and the Orkney Islands' fairies who travel the night skies on horseback while herding stolen cattle ahead of them.

Each of these Wild Hunt stories has a phantom-like leader with groups of animals following and all are racing rampantly across the sky. Bad tidings (usually death) awaits those who witness the Wild Hunt in any of its legendary forms. Either evil accompanies these spectral travelers, or they are searching to punish those who must atone for the wrong they did in their living lives.

America's Wild Hunt legend tells the tale of cowboys, damned and doomed, who must chase a herd of phantom cattle for all eternity. From this ghost story, I crafted a western romance (novella length) called Gunslingers & Ghostriders, (written under other my pen name, A.L. Debran). The hero, gunfighter Matt Caddock, has to face the violence he wrought in his past when the Ghostriders come for his soul.

Here's a ghostly excerpt.
[Matt is injured and the heroine is trying to help him.]
Leading the buckskin, Brenna returned just as lightning flashed and crackled across the sky, splitting and shaking the evening air with an immediate explosion of thunder. The man jerked upright and she twisted around, following his stare to the ominous dark, billowing clouds rolling along the western lip of the mesa.

He staggered to his feet, weaving and off balance. “No. Not going. They’re not taking me.”

Brenna was transfixed, breathless. The vague shape of cattle took form over McBride Butte to the west as the cloud raced along the rim to the south then curved straight east. As she watched, the indistinct shapes became a massive herd of stampeding, red-eyed cattle swooping down from the top of the butte.

The cloud of cattle followed the ancient stone wall dike that ran low and parallel to the mesa, then raced to the top of the mesa and soared into the sky, doubling back over McBride Butte to run again along the edge. It reminded her of the sinuous motion of a Chinese Dragon, making an undulating journey from the ground to the towering top of the storm bank and down again.

The herd continued racing east along the edge, only to turn and come thundering down over the pass. She flinched and ducked as the lead steer overtook her. The herd pounded overhead on steely hooves amidst boom after boom of roaring thunder headed north, out across the prairie.

Looking up again, she saw the herd circle over Pine Canyon and come charging from the east. The darker blue and black billowing clouds surrounding the herd spilled into lighter gray and white upward into the vast expanse of the storm. The horrifying sky opened up into a sandy ravine and the cattle veered and ran up it, their black horns glistening and their brands flaming with each blaze of lightning. In another flash, she felt their breath in a whoosh of hot wind in her face.

The gelding sensed the eeriness in the air and danced around, anxious to leave. “Go. Get us the hell out of here,” the man yelled, over the deafening echo of the thundering hooves. He grabbed Brenna, tossed her to the buckskin’s back and swung up behind her. He clamped one arm around her waist and grasped the saddle horn with his other hand.

The buckskin wheeled around. The sight behind her made the hair on her arms prickle in fear. Leaping out of the maelstrom of churning black clouds, gray ghost cowboys came riding hard and fast after the phantom herd on wild-eyed, fire-snorting horses.

A mournful cry cut through the air as the man slapped spurs to the buckskin…

*** Happy Haunted October Reading!
Fall in love…faster, harder, deeper with Kaye Spencer romances
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Rose Anderson said...

Enjoyable post Kaye..love that nom de plume! Best luck.

Victoria Adams said...

Great excerpt.

Kaye Spencer said...

Thanks, ladies ;-)

Melissa Keir said...

Love the cover and excerpt. What a great idea for a story. Can you just imagine what the Gods might do to make horrible authors pay... we would have to type and type our manuscript and never have the corrections show up!! :)

Kaye Spencer said...

Melissa, That would truly be a living nightmare to be stuck in Edit-Land forever. lolol

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