Welcome to the Story Challenge page! This is where I will be posting my Story Challenge chapters of Where Serpents Tread. I have made just a few changes so that it makes more sense. If you would like to join the Story Challenge, feel free to leave a comment and let me know!
Cameron was a boy of about 15. He stood 5 foot 9, and was mostly quiet. He was riding his horse through town, inspecting the hotels as he passed. He was an orphan, and had been brought up by a poor old man, who had died 5 days ago. He owned nothing more than an old, rickety lean-to, his clothes, and a six-shooter and hat, which he gave to Cameron. Cam finally stopped in front of a hotel which had a sign that read "Carson Hotel." The old man, whose name was Albert, had told Cameron that if he ever needed a place to stay, to go to the Carson Hotel. Cam walked in the door up to a counter, behind which a man was standing, with his back to Cameron. He was obviously polishing a glass. Cameron, hoping he wouldn't startle him, said, "Uh, howdy. Albert told me I would find-" But he was cut short, as the man spun around, revealing a masked face, and pointed a small revolver at him. "Don't move," he said, almost in a whisper. "Act casual and get over here behind the counter. No tricks." Cameron did so. "Get in there," he said, and shoved Cameron into a back room. He closed and locked the door, pointing his gun at Cam the whole time. There were no windows in the room, and only two chairs, and a man was tied to one, with a gag on him. Cam was glad his six-shooter was hidden in his jacket. The masked man shoved him into a chair. He didn't bother searching him, after all, who would think that a kid of 13 would carry a gun around? The masked man had to set the gun down to tie Cameron. But once he turned around with the rope in his hands, he was staring down the barrel of Cameron's gun. Cameron stood up, glaring at the masked man, who had his hands up, and said, "Okay, buster, you've met your match. I want answers, and I want them now." Just as he finished the sentence, he heard a footstep behind him, felt something come down hard on his head, and collapsed to the floor.
Chapter 1 Rescued
Slowly, Cameron's eyes forced open. He was in the back room, tied to a chair beside the other prisoner, probably Carson. It was dark, and his eyes slowly adjusted to it, showing that two masked men were standing in front of him. One was the man who was at the counter, playfully spinning Cameron's pistol on his finger. The other must be the one who gave Cam the hard tap on the head. He saw that Cameron had revived, and walked up to him. "What were doin' with that gun, boy?" he asked with a hint of anger in his voice. Cameron did not answer, but looked at him with a blank look. "How about you tell me who you are, where you came from," he looked Cameron sternly in the eye, "and whar you got that dern gun." Cameron was good at playing stupid. "I don't rightly know who I am, and I don't think I came from anywhere. As far as the gun, it fell out of the sky when it was raining," Cam said in an innocent voice. Now the man started getting serious about the matter, drawing his pistol and pointing it in Cam's face. "Maybe I can help remind you," he said in a quaking voice. Just then there was a slam, and the man's eyebrows shot up. Three men barged into the room, one wearing a silver star, obviously the sheriff. "Looks like we've finally pinned you snakes this time," the sheriff said to the masked men, who had dropped their guns and had their hands up. The other two men busily unbound Cameron and the other man. "Who are those masked baboons?" Cameron asked the man who was untying him. "They are two members of a nasty gang called the Serpents. The man in the chair is Walter Carson. I'm Henry Phillips, that's sherriff Jackcson, and the man untying Carson is Billy Jones." Cameron was standing up now, and followed the men to the main room of the hotel. Carson went behind the counter and started cleaning up, and the sheriff and his men headed for the door. But just as they passed Cameron, one of the gang members said angrily to Cameron, "The Serpents have plenty of venom left for you and Carson. You haven't seen the last of us!"
Chapter 2 Garden of Eden
The sheriff and his men escorted the prisoners out the door. Cameron didn't quite understand what the gang member had said, but was sure he would soon. He turned to Carson, who shrugged, showing that he didn't understand either. "They walked in here this mornin', and when no one was around, they drew their guns on me. They tied me up and left me there. I'm glad that I asked the sheriff to keep an eye on the hotel today, for I knew them two was up to trouble. What brought you here?" Carson said. "Albert told me to stay with you. He died a few days ago." Cameron said slowly. "I heard. Albert once told me that if anything happened, to treat you like my own son, and that is just what I am going to do. Just pick a room." Cameron went upstairs and choose a room. He tidied it up a bit, then headed back down. Carson was busy, so Cameron let him know that he was going to go out for a walk. It was mostly quiet outside. One house down the road caught Cameron's eye, so he walked over for a closer look as he passed. It was medium size, with a beautiful garden in the back. He could tell it belonged to a family of Indians, probably Cherokee. The sheriff office was next, so he decided to step in. The sheriff was leaning back in his chair when Cameron walked in. "Well, hi there! anything I can help ya with?" he said with a smile. "I was wondering if I could ask a few questions, if you aren't busy, that is." Cameron answered. "As a matter of fact, I don't have anything to do, so feel free." the sheriff answered. "And have a seat." Cameron sat down, and replied in a calm voice so as the prisoners would not hear, "Why do you think they attacked Carson?" The sheriff looked down thoughtfully for a minute then said, "They want to find out about the garden, and they think Carson has the map." "Garden?" Cameron asked. "The Indian's garden. It's still a mystery, but I hear there have been some strangers around town, and I overheard a few of 'em. They said something about the 'Garden of Eden.'
Chapter 3 Venom
Cameron was lying in bed, unable to sleep. He was in his hotel room, which one Carson had suggested he use. It suited Cameron well, with a small closet, a window with a tiny couch in front of it, a round table in the corner to the left of the chair, a dresser next to that, another small table in the corner, the door, and Cameron's bed in the corner to the right of the chair. Cameron was thinking deeply about his conversation with the sheriff, and the encounter with the Serpents henchmen. It was easy to see why the Indian's garden had been called the "garden of Eden," for it was indeed thriving very well, and the Serpents seemed to have an interest in it. But who had the strangers who had used this term been? And did Carson have a secret map of the garden? Cameron couldn't ask him, because Carson had been out of town after Cameron went for a walk. Cameron's thoughts were cut short as his ears pricked up with the sound of quiet footsteps. He got up carefully, opened a drawer of his dresser, and pulled his six-shooter out. He opened his door with extreme caution, and crept down the stairs very carefully, pistol cocked and ready. He looked from one end of the room to another, with no one in sight. Yet Cameron persisted, edging his way tho the counter. The back room door was slightly open! He slid over to it, and ever so slowly peered in. There he was, wearing a hood, rifling through a box. Cameron was just about to say "Scratch the ceiling!" when there was a crack. Cameron's gun thumped to the floor. He crumbled to the ground with a feeling in his side like it had been hit with an iron bar, and his eyelids fell shut as he blacked out.
Chapter 4 Knock-Out Wall
The door burst open as Henry and the sheriff rushed into the dark hotel. They were slightly relieved to see Cameron sitting up on the floor. He was holding up some kind of dart in his hand, which had a leather ball on the end. "I'm almost getting used to this," Cameron said sarcastically, giving the dart a withering look. "What happened?" the sheriff asked quickly. Cameron stood up. "Somebody were snoopin' in the back room. I almost caught em' when Poky here had to butt in," Cameron said, handing the dart to the sheriff. "Ok, it isn't very poky... But it don't need to be sharp to hurt!" Cameron said. "Knock-out dart," sheriff said, handing the dart to Henry. Henry examined it briefly, and nodded. "I'll look around for some clues," the sheriff said, walking into the back room. Henry turned to Cameron. "Seems like those snakes don't like you around that much," he said. "I noticed," Cameron said. Henry chuckled a little, then went to join the sheriff. Cameron followed. "Nothin'" the sheriff told them. He turned to Cameron and asked, "Could you tell what direction the dart came from?" Cameron walked over to the place he had stood not long ago, and positioned himself the way he was just before the dart was fired. He thought hard, and spun slowly to the right, pointing to the direction it came from. The sheriff and Henry looked at him blankly. Cameron was pointing at a blank wall.
Chapter 5 "And Sold! To the Man With the Silver Star!"
“What is with this place??” Cameron muttered, closely examining the wall, running his fingers across the dark wood. “Nothing but mysteries.” The sheriff and Henry had already joined in searching. “Wh-What's this?” Cameron stammered. His fingers had hit a crack in the wall, out of which a piece of paper fell to the floor. He picked up the dusty paper carefully as Henry watched, eyes wide. Wait, did I say just Henry?? “Don't move,” a raspy voice said from... somewhere. Cameron froze, with the folded paper still in his hand. Henry looked like a statue.. same color, too. “Hand it over,” the voice said. Cameron swallowed hard. Finally finding his voice, he managed to stutter “A-a-rr-are you k-kidding? W-where ar-re you?” “Just drop it,” the voice said in a not-too-happy tone. Cameron eyed Henry, who had been listening, trying to locate the sinister voice. He nodded stiffly. Cameron didn't want to give away the answer to all their questions because some weirdo said to drop it. “Or what?” Cameron said. “Look up,” the voice said mockingly. Cameron and Henry looked up at the catwalk. There were about 10 ninja-looking men lined up on the catwalk, all pointing their guns, one in each hand, straight at Cameron and Henry. Cameron dropped the paper. Just the second as the paper touched the floor, a figure landed 2 feet in front of Cameron. He flew back, knocking Henry a little bit. The figure stood motionless, dressed completely in black, with a mask covering his face. Only his eyes showed through the narrow slit in his mask, but it was enough to make Cameron and Henry jump out of their skin. The two gray eyes stared at the trio, as he knelt down and picked up the paper. “Where's the sheriff?” Henry said quietly. The sinister voice guy looked up from the paper in his hand. “He's been taken care of,” he replied, pistol in hand. The man waved his hand behind his back, signaling the other men down from the catwalk. All but one of them walked over to the petrified figures of Henry and Cameron, guns and ropes ready. The other went to the leader, who was observing the paper. As the henchmen busily unarmed and tied Henry and Cameron, Henry was closely watching the actions of the other two. They had studied the paper, then walked to the rest of the men. “Let's take 'em to camp. We got to get there before the sun rises.” Henry and Cameron were shoved forward toward the back door. As they passed the end of the long counter, Cameron turned to see the figure of a man sitting behind the counter in a relaxed position. One of the moon's rays hit his face as he leaned forward, revealing a broad grin. It was the sheriff.