Last Days Of The Gunslinger, John Amos
by Eric J. Guignard
In younger days, John Amos matched shot against other men for a bounty or a bottle, and he tried not to think of such times he was called murderer. But he’d been raised a gunslinger, and it was because of skills honed over thirty years of quick draws he’d been able to keep himself and the children alive, while the rest of farmers and townspeople in the territory around Elmore, Arizona, were killed off by the hoppers.
At the edge of a cliff littered with tall ocotillo and mesquite, John crouched with the boy, Lee, to observe. The hoppers grew larger than a man, and their rear legs were bulging springs of muscle and sinew, taut like the recoil of a grizzly trap. They spread far below, and John touched Lee’s arm in reassurance, and reflected that whereas once a man’s life wasn’t worth a nickel to him, now every living person was a precious blessing.
Since the hoppers’ invasion, John and the five children had carved out a life in the high mountain caves—if being trapped on the mountain could be called much of a life—while the creatures abounded in the valley below. None of those children were John’s by birth, but every one of them now called him Pa.