Chapter XII -- Impending Doom

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Summer, 1878 / Near Goblin's Toe, Wyoming

Gillian Lovell looked up as he heard the unmistakable sound of several explosions that may have come from nearby.

Up to his elbows in blood and guts of the white-tail deer that he'd chased and finally managed to knock down, Lovell shrugged off whatever it was that might have caused them.

Unlikely something the average Indian could have done and as likely none of his business even in passing.

Between buried rock and stubborn stumps there was always a good reason or two for the use of dynamite.

He'd certainly not survived this long by allowing himself to have been distracted that easily. Perhaps he'd follow-up later when it was far more convenient for him than whoever it was that may have been out playing with explosives.

It was not a stretch to consider that whoever it may have been might also value their privacy and not want any witnesses to whatever it was that they'd just blown up.

As he wiped his brow, he could almost hear the tick-tock of the butchering that needed to be done before he could get back on his way.

He rough quartered the deer and carefully lashed wrapped sections over the mules to avoid any possibility of a blood trail that wolves could use to stalk him as he traveled or made camp along the way.

Curiosity, the untamed beast that it often was, caused an itch that Lovell finally scratched when he directed his horse toward the general direction of the earlier explosions.

Wouldn't be any harm in doing so, just in case someone needed help or had managed to injure themselves and now were in desperate need of first aid.

As he cleared the top of the ridge he began to smell the unmistakable odor of smoldered fire which in turn soon brought discovery of what little remained of the kraut's hunting cabin.

The German immigrant would be angry beyond words let alone his limited English to see the burnt wreckage from an entire spring of construction and hard work that had gone up in flames.

Fortunately the place appeared to have been empty at the time with nothing and no one to save from what little remained of the fire; other than perhaps a random squirrel or rodent who more than likely was the victim of its own accident and long gone one way or the other.

Lovell was about to continue on his way when he heard the familiar soft sound of a young girl's giggle and tart laughter.

He turned just fast enough to catch a flash of the little Indian girl as she skipped behind a tree.

She was back

Black hair flowed over painted buckskin as she danced through the woods; a phantom relic from a past that he'd worked long and hard to forget.

That she was here now did not bode at all well for either of them.

Dead for almost fifteen years, faded memory was about all that should have been left of her or so he'd thought.

Carefully, he turned his horse and moved toward the phantom, still unsure of what it was that he'd actually seen or heard.

But there she was just ahead of him again, as she ever so nimbly danced from tree to tree, arms still covered in her mother's blood while her bare feet moved in dance-step across the ground.

Or just above it; from what he could see of her as he found himself entirely unsure exactly how it was most ghosts traveled this side of their former lives as this one apparently did just nearby.

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