He reflected back upon the day. He had risen early and broke camp with sufficient time to reach the ranch before nightfall. Two days ago, after a three-day ride across a waterless waste, he reached the Pink Sands waterhole and found it dry. The water hole no longer existed. Someone had cleverly placed explosives so they would bring down the face of crumbly shale from the cliff, at whose base the clear spring had seeped. The desperate need for water had forced him miles out of his way and now he was riding late.
His name was Brian Cole. He was a large muscular man standing around six foot tall. His face was tanned darkly, yet alive with intense blue eyes that had little wrinkles in the corners. His nose was well formed highlighting a mouth that spoke of smiles and good humour. Already at twenty-eight, his short hair showed traces of grey along the temples. He wore a slicker over a faded coat that covered a clean red shirt whose repairs lacked the woman’s touch. On his hip was a well cared for Colt revolver, positioned for fast use, yet his hands did not bespeak the well cared for hands of the professional gunman. They were rough and callused, hands of a man who worked on the range tending cattle, and fixing fences when they needed it.
Brian’s thoughts returned to the present as thunder reverberated from the peaks while the lightning streaked more frequently in the sky around him. They were now climbing steeply into mountains and he could feel the electricity in the air and knew that he had to find cover immediately. For some reason he unexpectedly recalled a time in his youth when he was ten years old. Indians had surprised him and his Uncle Nick Fanshaw. During the attack the horses had become frightened, dashing off the trail through a small gully. At the end of the gully there was a cave large enough to hide themselves and their horses. After a few hours the Indians had given up the attack. He remembered that his Uncle had said it was because the Indians were frightened of being on this mountain after sunset because it was a mountain of ‘bad medicine’.
He recalled that there was a flat imposing wall of rock at the turn into the gully, hiding it from the trail. A lightning flash had just lit such a rockface, probably the cause of the flood of memories. Speaking softly to his nervous dun, he searched the brush for an entrance. He was certain that this was the place, but it had been many years ago, and in this darkness he could be mistaken. Then, in the light from the lightning he saw a small game trail. Pushing aside the brush he saw that it led further up. Leading the horse around a blind corner he saw the dark opening of a cave looming before him.