Weirdness


They hadn’t known what to expect, but it sure wasn’t this.

The barn stood alone in the middle of a barren stretch of hardpan where weeds might have sprung up from the godforsaken earth once upon a time. Plenty of land for wheat fields or grazing pasture stretched between hills at each compass point, perfect for protection from harsh winter winds and runoff during spring rains. It could have been a thriving ranch or farm long ago, but now the whole spread lay cold and abandoned, nothing more than a forgotten memory. There were no remains of a farmhouse, no sign of the settlers who’d once built this sun-bleached, dilapidated barn. The edifice looked as if it had sprung up out of the lifeless ground of its own accord, which didn’t bode well for what would be found inside.

Coyote Cal and Big Yap had been following a trail for the past two days, and it led straight to these lopsided doors, chained shut and padlocked as if to keep something unsavory contained inside. But that couldn’t be. Whatever had sucked the life out of the animals they’d passed along the way would have had no trouble snapping through this chain, just as it had snapped the neck of every cow, horse, sheep and goat they’d counted so far.

Now they stood just inside the dusty threshold, staring upward, unable to believe their eyes.

Got a hankering to read the rest? You can get yourself a PRINT copy of the Arcane anthology with "El Diablo de Paseo Grande" and 29 other weird tales here, and if you've got one of them fancy Kindle gizmos (or a Kindle app thingy), you can get yourself an e-copy here.

Wishing you could read another Coyote Cal weird western? One with a shape-shifter instead of a creepy blood-sucker? Then "Fool's Gold" is just the family-friendly tale for you, and you can get yourself a copy of the Heroes & Heretics anthology where it appears (with 18 other pulpy tales) right here.

Feeling a mite strapped for cash? Sick to the gills of greenhorn writers trying to sell you their work? Then this next story sure has got your name all over it: "Coyote Cal's Guide to the Weird, Wild West" it won't cost you a wooden nickel. That's right: it's FREE, courtesy of The Red Penny Papers.

The coolest thing about these tales (for me, anyways) is the fact that Coyote Cal and Big Yap have been riding with me for over 20 years now. I wrote their first adventure in a serialized format, snail-mailing each episode of "Trouble on the Range" to family friends who'd moved out of state. 15 years young at the time, it never even crossed my mind to think that one day my weird westerns would be sold on Amazon. But then again, Amazon didn't exist back then.

Where the heck did we used to buy anything? Oh, that's right: the local mercantile.