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The Invasion of Crackland

The Invasion of Crackland

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Published by Devon Pitlor
Different forces gather in unlikely places to disturb the tranquility of King Zack's realm.
Different forces gather in unlikely places to disturb the tranquility of King Zack's realm.

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Published by: Devon Pitlor on Feb 06, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/20/2013

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-1
The Invasion of Crackland
by Devon PitlorPART ONE
I. Kemp Tanner, Nevada cowboyKemp Tanner, who usually wrote his first and last names with an inexplicablehyphen between them as 'Kemp-Tanner,' kicked one pointed, leather boot toeinto the dark sand of the Reese River Valley and discerned a large, windingmovement beneath the surface. It was, he knew, a lethally venomous speckledrattlesnake estivating from the torrid heat of summer. He kicked at thewrithing form again and a broad, triangular head arose from the sand. With aquick movement of his pocket knife, Kemp sliced the serpent's head from itsbody and kicked the viper's bulging skull, which was larger than a tennis ball,several yards away into a tuft of mountain brush near by. The snake's head,unaware that it had been severed from its six foot body, flared its loreal pitsand extended its dripping fangs. Taking no notice, Kemp pulled the bleedingbody of the serpent from the dust and struck off its several rows of rattlebuttons. He then proceeded to skin the creature, holding its still bleedingstump in his mouth and running his blade down the length of its body until hecould peel away the skin, exposing the pink and hemorrhaging flesh beneath.
 
When the skin was totally removed, Kemp threw it over a rail sticking up fromthe scant soil in his makeshift camp to dry. It might have made a belt or a tie-cord later. Kemp didn't know. What he wanted was the meat, which he slicedinto half-foot segments and threw into the charred bottom of his dutch ovenover the dressed carcasses of several rock rabbits, or as they were betterknown in Nevada, pikas. Into this blend he tossed a few dry sage onions andsome desiccated alfalfa grass. He poured some water from a canteen over thegrub and set it to boil above a mesquite wood fire under the tripod spider fromwhich his charred pot hung. Satisfied that all was done for his next rangemeal, Kemp walked over to the now dead snake head and carefully took it byits gory, severed head stub. Grasping the broad head with a gnarled hand oneach side, Kemp carefully squeezed a few drops of creamy yellow venom fromthe fangs onto the back of his hand. He was careful not to squeeze too much,then dropped his tongue to lick up the toxin, just enough to give him a numbbut momentarily potent jolt, his desert high for the day.Since his earliest years, Kemp had drifted up and down between the barrenShoshone and Toiyabe mountains in the cut of the often dry Reese River whichran from the Arc Dome in Nye County up through the desolate desert countrypast the poisonous Alkali Flats into the arid Smith Creek Valley northwardthrough empty Lander County to eventually join the Humboldt River at thecounty seat of Battle Mountain, which Kemp usually avoided on the grounds
 
that the tiny town was too crowded. Kemp's life was lived on the throw-downmostly from camp to camp on the Reese River range, and that was what he hadalways considered home. The stony outcrops of limestone and the jaggedlyirregular terrain, punctuated in all seasons by tufts of scattered brush were hishome, as were the feet of the talus slopes which dotted the sides of the foothillslike the creasing folds of dark, stony bridal gowns and contained enoughscattering pikas and chukar partridges to feed him a daily meal. The rock piles and screes of the valley were like the furniture of a living room to Kemp,who earned his living variously and had by age thirty-four never paid a cent intaxes. Toiling sometimes as a wrangler of wild horses, other times in cattle andgoat drives southward, Kemp presented himself as a representative of trueAmerican legend: the authentic cowboy. Although he had left the tiny two-room schoolhouse in Austin, the only actual hamlet community of LanderCounty, at age eleven and had very poor reading and writing skills, his survivalabilities were legion, and he was no stranger to working in the seasonal alfalfaharvests or even shoveling scoria in the lead or zinc mine tailings. He was, ineffect, a jack of all trades and guarded his independence as his natural Nevadahigh country birthright. He had a lame quarter horse which he drafted intogoat or cattle drives during the season, but mostly he navigated either by footor with his sometimes functional 1983 Dodge Rampage pickup, which wasscarred and buffeted by the desert sands and dented with the mark of hundreds of encounters with rocks, stumps and sudden talus slopes.

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Asticot88 added this note
Wonderful start to a novel!! Keep it coming.
Devon Pitlor added this note
I'm working on the second part now but my job is slowing me down. Look for it in a couple of weeks. Thanks for all the positive comments and the motivation!! It's nice to be so warmly appreciated. More soon.
MartinDrake added this note
One of your best!

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