This is the prologue from \"Rustlers Moon\" by Jim Jones. Here I am portraying a nine year old boy hiding from his parent's murderers...
North American (US Western)
Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors.
momma wakes me in the middle of the night and I can tell she's scared out of her skin, even though I'm still half asleep, she says get up on the hill and hide in the underbrush. Don't come out and tell me or your pa comes for you. Nobody else you hear me? I started to say, what is it, mama, but before the words are even out of my mouth, she says on a horse voice that I've never heard before now Jared your life, depends on it. With my heart pounding. I do as I'm told, scooting out the back door, my long underwear, rocks and dry grass poking my feet as I go. As I run up the hill, I hear horses approaching the gallop and men hollering, although there's still a distance away and I can't make out what they're saying. Something in the sound causes a chill to creep up my back and I get that funny prickly feeling in my stomach sometimes comes when you're excited about something, but also comes when you're scared. I'm almost to the thick underbrush near the top of the hill when the first shots ring out, startling me so bad I nearly tripped, I staggered down beneath some mesquite and wiggling a little farther in, being careful not to snag myself on the branches. I'm just turning around and trying to catch a glimpse of what's going on below. When paul yells out a curse and I hear his old Henry rifle discharge followed by mama's scream. I hear more shots and angry voices that I I don't recognize. They said I'm more like a pack of wolves on the hunt than humans and I must admit I'm purely terrified. I know I need to go down and help my parents. I tell myself to get up and run back to the cabin. I'm nine years old, I have my own rifle and I know how to use it. There's no excuse somehow my legs won't move. No matter how many times I tell them to, no matter how many times I curse myself for not acting like the man my paw would have me be all the while. The shouting and shooting continues. It seems like it goes on for hours. It may have only been a matter of minutes all of a sudden it's quiet kind of quiet that spooks you when you're out hunting the birds quit singing like maybe there's a mountain lying around waiting to pounce again. The silence probably doesn't last but a few seconds. But with me holding my breath and having my heart all up in my throat, it seems a lot longer. Then I hear a voice that chills me to the marrow. It's just sort of soft and hard at the same time. I don't know how a voice can feel cold but it does. The voice says alright boys fan out, see what else you can find the looks of it. This old dirt farmer and his woman's all the tier. But let's just be sure if I was ashamed before, I'm mortified now. I know something awful has happened to ma and pa. I can tell by the way their voices aren't among the ones I hear but I can't move I guess. I know how the field mouse feels when the owl was circling. You sense it even if you can't see it and you know if you bud, you're dead but you can't stop shaking. Even so A part of my mind keeps thinking paul would turn away in disgust if he could see what I was doing. Well, another part kind of way in the back of my mind says Jared. You're never going to have to worry about facing your paw because he's moved on to a better world. I know that means my mama has passed to and I can feel the tears start to well up in my eyes A shudder and a sob starts to work its way up from my guts. When I hear boot steps crunching in the dirt about 20 ft down the hill, I don't rightly know how you stop a sob, but I do right in his tracks. The Saab has tracks. I try not to breathe as I wait to see who's coming up the hill. I realized that if I hold my breath it'll all come out in a rush and I'll be like that field mouse with the owl. Try real shallow breaths. Sure who's ever coming up the hill will be bound to notice. He walks on past me though goes up on the top of the hill where he's silhouetted by the light of the quarter moon, The one they call the Rustlers Moon Up above me like that. He looks about 10 times larger than life with his big hat and a rifle. He carries one hand as if it weighs nothing. As long as I live. That image will be burned into my mind like some kind of brand. I know the man is the owner of the voice I heard. Don't ask me how, but I know it as well as I know my own name. Then he speaks and at first I think he's talking to me, which causes me to wet my pants adds another shame to my predicament. Then it seems like maybe he's just talking to the air or the spirits or something because he speaks like he's having a personal chat with somebody. Well, we have us an interesting situation here, don't we? I purely enjoy these times when I get to make some kind of choice, I'll come back to roost way on down the line. I could have the boys burn this place to the ground and clean up all the mess that's left hanging around. So I'd be shed of it from now on on the other hand, we could grab what was worth taking, leave that old man and his woman laying there. We do that. It could get interesting in a few years as things develop, don't you reckon all this is said in a conversational tone that's chilling nonetheless. And I feel again that he's talking both to me and about me. That doesn't make sense to me though because I figure if he knows I'm here, he just shoot me or hold me out for something worse. While I ponder the question, he starts walking back down the hill. And just as he gets, even with my hiding place, he stops, turns and looks down to where I'm hiding equivalent, I find myself looking at the coldest bluest eyes I've ever seen then or now or no doubt forever. He lets out a little chuckle and says, yep, could get interesting in a few years as things develop. I reckon right then that Rustlers Moon goes behind a cloud and it seems like my life slips into a fog