James could make out a small town in the distance as he crested the hill. It had been several days since he had seen anything resembling civilization. He could already feel the burn of whiskey going down his throat, followed by the coolness of the beer he would chase it with. How long had it been?
James led his horse down the dusty, dirt road leading to the small town. She was way overdue for some water and oats.
It was eerily quiet when James approached the entrance to the little town. He could feel the cool breeze on his face, yet it didn’t make a sound. The only thing he could hear was the clopping of his horse’s hooves on the dusty road and the squeaking of his saddle when he shifted his weight.
His horse stopped short of the entryway. “What is it, girl?” James asked his horse. She responded with a neigh and a flick of her mane.
James looked up at the sign hanging from the entryway. Interesting.
He gently snapped the reins to move his horse forward, but she wouldn’t budge. He snapped the reins a little harder and spurred her hindquarters. She just stood there, whinnied and tossed her mane again.
“Come on, girl, it’s ok,” James coaxed her. He gave her a soft pat on the side of her neck and snapped the reins again. She reluctantly broke free from her hesitation and slowly moved forward.
Once they finally passed the entryway, James noticed there wasn’t a single soul milling about town. That’s odd, he thought to himself. The small town showed signs of life; horses were tied to posts, smoke rose from chimneys and a small dog slept in front of the general store, but there wasn’t a single person in sight. Where the hell is everyone?
Up ahead, James could hear piano music faintly playing in the distance. He led his horse down the deserted street towards the music. He idled his horse up to the saloon’s hitching post and dismounted. His legs ached from riding for such a long distance, in such a short period of time. He stretched is legs out while he hitched his horse to the post. The whiskey was calling him.
James strode up to the saloon and swung open the café doors. As soon as he stepped into the saloon, the music stopped playing and dead silence filled the room.
What the fuck?
He looked around the room. A poker game was being played at one table, cards and poker chips strewn about, glasses of beer and shot glasses sat on every table in the house, but not a single soul was in sight.
James couldn’t make out what was going on. He walked up to the bar where several shot glasses sat empty and a couple of whiskey bottles remained opened. He grabbed one of the bottles and poured himself a drink. He looked around the room for the barkeep. Seeing no one, he brought the glass to his lips, letting the rye tickle his nostrils, then drank the whiskey in one gulp.