Cover design by Kristi Ryder of for the author

Slayer of Monsters

Chapter 6

“Kaya, my sister!” Dashante’s voice came from inside a fog, calling the Woman Warrior awake. “We’ve taken you outside.”

For a moment, Kaya wondered where she was and what had happened. With a start, she remembered the two enemy guards rushing at her as she lapsed into a deep sleep. The mask of the demon/man, the flashing sword in the flickering light, came out of the fog. Quickly, she sat up and looked deeply into the face of her friend.

Dashante smiled. “I rode to Itsa-Chu’s camp and we came to watch at the cave. When the two guards went…

Cover by Kristi Ryder of

Kaya meets the Bone Eater

Chapter 5

Kaya-Te-Nse spun at the sound of a blade slicing the air, and dove to the side. A loud laugh roared through the room, ricocheting off the stone walls.

Two things were immediately apparent to the Apache woman. First, the blade was moving with blinding speed, but not at her, and second, the wielder of the blade was the most fearsome creature she had ever encountered.

Standing before her, its legs spread, covered in a flowing gown of bright shades of shimmering colors, was a creature with the face of a demon, and the height and width of a huge man…

The Eater of Bones

Chapter 3 & 4

Yellow Horse, called Jlin-Litzoque by his Red Paint People, came out of the dry wash at a lope. Since dawn, his pony had taken him miles downriver from his village. Although he’d seen only fourteen summers, the boy could track as well as many of the warriors in his village, and he had found the tracks of the Bone Eater.

Fearing he would be ordered to remain in camp, Jlin-Litzoque had hidden a canteen and his single-shot rifle under a blanket near his sleeping mat, ready to be taken up as soon as an opportunity of leaving presented itself. Yesterday…

Photo by James Wheeler on Unsplash

Seeking patterns in randomness is normal

Someone pointed out to me that my father and Elvis both died in 1977. And I never saw my father and Elvis in the same room at the same time. Coincidence? Perhaps.

The fact that my father worked at a brewery for thirty years and, as far as I know, had never seen Elvis Pressley, is a minor setback to my theory that the two were one and the same.

As untenable as the theory sounds, we have nearly half the country following the same sort of reasoning in their dismissal of evidence and embracing conspiracy platforms. (3)

According to…

cover by Kristi Ryder of for the author

A council is held

Chapter 2

Day was breaking over the ridges of the Dragoon Mountains, turning the purple dawn into rose. The eight men sat in a loose group outside the War Council Lodge in the stronghold of the Chiricahua Chief Cochise, watching the sunlight slide down the vermilion wall across the valley. “The Bone Eater is as tall as a pine tree,” Kuruk said to no one in particular. He was the leader of the Crazy Dogs, a warrior group of Kaya’s village, and was called “The Bear” for his courage and strength. …

Cover by Kristi Ryder of for the author

And The Eater of Bones

Chapter 1

Kaya-Te-Nse of the Red Paint Apache people gazed out at the expanse of the desert spread below her. The shale outcropping beneath which she sat was just below the top of the ridge of the low Singing Mountains and provided the things the woman warrior had sought. First, a resting place where she could watch her backtrail, and second, welcome shade from the blinding sun. With a deep inhalation, she stretched out her legs and leaned back against the wall of rock. …

Kaya and Her Power

“The nights are getting colder,” the old woman said. “Soon, the cold-blower will send his breath to freeze the branches of the trees and make the water in the trough hard.”

She rocked slowly in her chair while the children arranged themselves into three rows. As she waited for the clatter of their movement to die down, she softly sang a song her mother had given her when she was very young. To the children, the words made little sense, as few spoke the old language of the People of the Red Paint. But the rhythm…

Cover by Kristi Ryder of for the author

The Storyteller

(November, 1948)

The early winter zephyr swept down the rocky slopes of the saw-toothed peaks, skipped across the flat, deep desert and breezed along the empty gravel road of the Southwest Apache Reservation. A light rain had gradually turned into a frozen spray that softened the harsh outlines of the rows of clapboard houses. Over the mountains to the west, the clouds clumped dark and heavy with snow.

Along the road leading out of town, a drab one-story house sat apart from the others. The wallboards had once been white, but decades of wind and sand had stripped all but…

On Illumination Book Chapters

Biography of Tom Hanratty

I’m a scribbler. I make stuff up, and write about it. That’s what I do.

Somewhere, about 200 years ago, a shirt-tail relative of mine sat in a candle-lit garret scratching with his quill on foolscap. I suspect he made a coin or two penning spurious letters of recommendation for chambermaids, stable hands, and the like, or pleading missives or poetry for lovelorn dandies without the wit to write their own.

That started the whole ball rolling downhill to come to rest at my feet. Author of two novels, a spate of short stories, and a…

A Charles Goodfoote Mystery in Old San Francisco

Chapter 57

Goodfoote resolves a nagging feeling of unease

After Meghan returned to Chicago with William Pinkerton, Jubal T. Bedford planned to follow her and work out of the Home Office. Between bouts of trying to catch up with mountains of paperwork, I spent a few days ensconced in long meetings with William Darrigan and Seth Mahoney discussing the ins and outs of this wicked affair.

But something about this case still bothered me. The murders had been solved, the gold smuggling stopped, and the culprits, the worst of them, dealt with. As I expected, the cases against the remaining crooked tycoons…

Tom Hanratty

Scribbler of stories, lover of mysteries, retired Forensic Investigator and Tracker of critters.

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