Sweetwater

PHOTO PROMPT ยฉ Danny Bowman

Henry crossed the Sweetwater for the third time that day. He was thick in Cheyenne country, or so cautioned the pamphlet that had lured him on this journey. He had not seen a living soul since Jackson. The pamphlet had been right about little, Henry mused as he wiped the film of sweat and dust from his forehead. With providence, the land of Oregon would be as rich as promised. Leaving Ohio seemed rash when he considered the miles of barren land heโ€™d seen since Laramie. What manner of people would choose to live here?

And then, he saw them.

100 words

This has been an edition of Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

It seems like every time I try to toss my hat in the ring for the Fictioneers, I get busy with one thing or another and do not get a chance to read and respond to all the Fictioneers like I mean to. This week looks better, so here I am, showing up for the party.

48 Comments

  1. I feel as though I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Very suspenseful.

    1. Thanks for reading. I think I cheated and didn’t write a full story. I’m going to beg Rochelle for another 50 words ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Dear Karen,

    The suspense is killing me. Them? The Cheyenne? Aliens from outer space. Love the way you left it hanging. Well written as always.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    1. Lol I wasn’t thinking aliens, but that could make for an even more interesting tale! Thanks for reading.

  3. Fantastic. If they are natives who have had experience with white men, then Henry is probably in for it!

  4. So much great suspense in this story, Karen.

    1. Thanks Moon, thanks for reading!

  5. Now I’m wondering who “them” are.

    1. Good question James. I thought it was “what matter of man would choose to live there” but ever since Rochelle brought up aliens, I’m wondering myself. Or then again, maybe none of it’s real. Can’t remember if it’s the red or blue pill… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Left me with a smile, and a dream.. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Jelli, thanks for reading!

  7. A great write. An even greater read. Such a sweeping feel. With that clincher of a last line that seems so natural, so obvious once you read it. Well done, Karen, I am nearly speechless – which doesn’t happen all that often!!

    1. You are too kind! I’m glad you liked it. Thanks for reading!

  8. Very suspenseful, I can anticipate ‘them’ appear on the horizon.

    1. Thanks so much for reading.

  9. Gee, I hope it wasn’t that band of gypsies from outside Kansas City. A troublesome lot, they are. Snake oil salesmen practicing to be televangelists from what I heard. I’d rather take my chances with the indians or aliens.

    1. Maybe my guy should swing by–I imagine he’s completely out of snake oil. Thanks for reading!

  10. michael1148humphris

    You do not need anymore words, as it is your story allows the reader to use their imagination, I saw a gang of motorcycle hell riders bearing down on him!

  11. Sweetwater immediately made me think of ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’. This one was filled with suspense. I’m really curious now and would love to read a longer version. Cheers, Varad

    1. Thanks Varad, thank you for reading!

  12. Oh… that’s when i want to understand what the pamphlet says about scalping…. shudder.

    1. Ha! One can never read those things too closely.

  13. Gypsies tramps and thieves?

  14. I have a feeling things will go downhill from here! Nice one ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Karen
    I’m so glad you ‘tossed your hat in the ring’ this week, because you’ve written a really good story. You persuaded me to feel interest in Henry and his quest; then you subtly led me to consider who he might meet; and then, in the last five words, you told me he’d met them – but not who!
    Now that’s a masterly use of a cliffhanger!
    Excellent work!
    Best wishes
    Penny

    1. Thanks Penny, you really made my day. Thanks for your reading.

  16. Sounds like the beginning of a western where the naive easterner encounters the natives. Well done!

  17. Way to leave us hanging. Are they good people, or bad? Hmm…
    Great job!

    1. Maybe both. Thanks for reading!

  18. Life Lessons of a Dog Lover

    Great story. When traveling I often question why people live in certain areas and how they survived. I like the ambiguous “them”. I have written several endings to your story in my head.

    1. Your comment made me grin. Thanks for reading.

  19. Great line leaving us to wonder what the future holds for him.

  20. I’m guessing he saw a tribe of lizards being chased by a roadrunner. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’m thinking no humans could live without shelter or water and aliens, if they landed, would soon move on, too.

    1. Lizards! Of course ๐Ÿ˜‰ thanks for reading Christine.

  21. Go west, young man. And he did. I hope all his dreams come to fruition. Well done. :o)

  22. Every cowboy or western show or movie I’ve ever seen is now running in my head. Run! Run!

    1. Haha cue the spaghetti western theme song! Thanks for reading.

  23. Intriguing! Wonder what’s going to happen next – good, the bad or the ugly? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. Love the idea Henry would up sticks and change his life on the strength of a pamphlet! But people did the same on rumour back in the day, so why not. Lovely atmosphere here, so nicely constructed. Loved it Karen

  25. I loved this, Karen.It had so much atmosphere. I’ve taken the locals as Indians.
    xx Rowena

  26. First of all, I love the Ohio mentions, since I live in Ohio!

    My first thought, based on the pamphlet, was that he encountered some kind of cult.

    As the others said, great cliffhanger!

  27. peterkirsch

    When I moved to Jackson Hole in ’98, having never been to the state, I got an hour past Laramie and looked in all directions and wondered this very thing.

    Fortunately, Jackson cured me of that the moment I spied the Tetons.

    1. They do take one’s breath away, don’t they?

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