We strive to make every Event collection different, and this year follows the same path. Event 1 was a mysterious explosion in Chicago. Event 2 was an abandoned ship running aground in California. Event 3 was a blackout that impacted a tech company. Event 4 is death.
I give you The Event: Gold Rush.
1853. Gold Madness has gripped the entire United States for more than four years. In fact, people from all around the world have flocked to the California hills to make a name for themselves and secure their riches. Only a small percentage will succeed.
Witherspoon was a gold rush boom town, but it wasn’t very good at it. Near a provincial railway system on a less-traveled transcontinental path, Witherspoon had visitors … just not that many.
One evening, however, the town’s reputation took a turn for the worse. A violent outlaw known only as “Red Jack” stepped off the train on the outskirts of the city and ambled down Main Street. He ordered a shot of whiskey from the bartender of The Painted Dollar saloon. There were three filthy gold miners sharing a table in the corner. They were laughing up a storm, already several drinks into the night, apparently celebrating a recent excavation victory.
One of the miners nodded to Red Jack, who returned the act of familiarity.
Quickly finishing his drink, he strolled three buildings to the north and shot the U.S. Marshal who sat peacefully on the porch outside the Sheriff’s office.
As the Marshal lay dying on the creaking, dusty boards, Red Jack said, “I told you I’d pay you back.”
Without missing a step, he entered the empty building, dropped his weapons on the Sheriff’s desk and locked himself in the holding cell. Then, he sat and waited.
The people of Witherspoon were shocked into silence. They recognized Red Jack from his bounty poster, but only had a smattering of understanding of his crimes. Murder! the poster shouted. Theft! Rustling! But no one knew the details.
Stranger than that, the next morning, Red Jack was found – still alone in his jail cell – dead, with no apparent cause. No bullet wound. No evidence of stabbing. Nothing. Just … dead.
Years later, the transcontinental railroad would be finished, the Gold Rush would slowly evaporate and the nation would be drowned in the blood of brothers fighting brothers.
The true details of what happened that fateful evening in Witherspoon would remain a mystery to this day.
Who was Red Jack? What were his ties to the Marshal? How did the villain die? Was it natural causes or something much more insidious? Who were the miners? How did Red Jack know them?
These and many other questions can be explored in The Event: Gold Rush!
Total Volume: 177 pages, 44,874 words
Steve Metcalf - The Chalice of Cana (15,031)
Robert S. Miller - Three Brothers (20,100)
Alicia Copeland - Repentance (4,999)
Orrin Hanratty - Several Instances in Which Time Travel Ruins the Old West (1,206)