It was eight years ago. Val, Kyle and Penny Wilson were fourteen, twelve and eight, respectively. All three of them were living with their parents, Peter and Sarah Wilson, on a small cattle ranch, just outside of town. It was probably the best year so far, the cattle were well-fed and the grass was green all summer long, everything was perfect.
At least everything had been perfect, until the Wilsons started preparing for the coming winter. Their cow population had diminished due to sickness and the small amount of crops that they had grown had been eaten by bugs and varmints. Four of the Wilson's six cowhands had left for more lush and green places, places where they knew they could live in comfort. Needless to say, their best year had turned into their worst.
It was then, of course, that Morgan Cavanaugh and his huge entourage arrived in the area. Morgan, like most big cattle operations, began forcing the smaller ranches to move out, in order to acquire all the land himself. Several of the small ranches resisted, they didn't leave their homes, but instead stood their ground and fought back.
The Wilsons were one of those families. They openly defied Morgan Cavanaugh and his rowdy gunmen and they paid dearly for it.
It was a normal day in the dusty cow town, and the entire Wilson family had gone into town to get supplies, leaving their small ranch in the care of only one cowhand. Peter and Sarah Wilson loaded up their wagon, with help from their sons, and started back to their home. Milo Smith, one of their two cowhands stayed behind with the Wilson children to ensure their safety.
"We'll be along in a few minutes." Kyle assured his parents, from beside his horse. "Penny will ride back with us."
Peter Wilson waved his response as he drove the wagon out of town. Less than twenty minutes later, the Wilson children and Milo mounted their horses, Penny riding behind Kyle. They had been on the trail no longer than ten minutes when Val, who had been riding in front, signaled a halt.
"Don't make any noise," He said quietly, dismounting from his horse and studying the ground. "Something's not right."
Kyle stood up in his stirrups, his green eyes taking in his surroundings. They were in a slight ravine covered in loose rocks and shale.
The perfect place for an ambush, he thought, which is probably what is planned.
Kyle dismounted and helped Penny down.
"Milo, take Penny back to town, stay with her at the sheriff's place."
Milo looked doubtful, "And what are you and Val going to do?"
"Trust us, Milo." Val said in his quietly commanding way.
"Penny needs to get away from here," Kyle told Milo, "and, besides; Val and I can take care of ourselves."
Milo nodded, helping get Penny in front of him on his horse. "I hope you two know what you're doing. Don't get yourselves killed!"
"Don't worry about us," Val assured him, "just get Penny out of here."
Milo nodded again, turning his horse back in the direction of town. Penny looked back as she clung to the saddle horn, wondering what her older brothers were going to do.
Kyle watched his sister until she was out of sight, before turning to Val.
"What's your plan?"
"Don't really have one, yet."
They both stood in silence for a moment.
"Have you noticed how quiet it is, Val? There aren't even any birds singing."
Val nodded, "Let's move forward carefully and see what we find."
They had not gone even fifty feet when they saw a horse standing in the middle of the road. But, it was not just any horse, it was the horse that had been pulling their parents wagon. Both boys walked on in silence, fully expecting what they saw next.
There was their family's wagon, tipped on its side, with all their winter supplies scattered everywhere. They glanced at each other and Kyle swallowed.
"If the wagon is half destroyed, and the horse is standing in the middle of the road, then what happened to Mother and Father?"
Val shrugged, "I guess we'll just have to find out, won't we?"
They searched the wagon itself and the immediate area, and found something they wished they had not. They found their mother lying dead amid some shrubbery, still holding her rifle in her lifeless hands. Not ten feet away was a similar scene. The boys' father, Peter Wilson, had gone out fighting. He was slumped forward with his back to a mesquite tree, both his six shooters lying next to him and empty shells strewn around him on the ground.
There was nothing either brother could do now, except give their parents a decent burial.
They built a crude cairn of rocks and loose shale over both their parents and fashioned crosses from mesquite branches to mark the side-by-side graves.
Wordlessly, Kyle gathered up his father's guns and belted them on, reloading the empty chambers with extra bullets. Val retrieved his mother's rifle and did likewise, making sure it was fully loaded.
"Who would have killed them?" Kyle wondered aloud.
Val only shrugged.
Suddenly, both brothers looked at each other, simultaneously saying the answer, "Cavanaugh!"
And, as suddenly as they had said the name, Val and Kyle Wilson knew what they needed to do.
"Revenge!" Val whispered.
Kyle nodded, "Give murderers what they're due."
They mounted their horses and set out immediately for Morgan Cavanaugh's ranch. As they entered the ranch yard, some time later, they double-checked their weapons. Only three cowhands were in sight. One lounged in front of the bunkhouse door, idly smoking a cigarette, another was by the corral, repairing a broken bridle and the third was half asleep on the front porch of the ranch house. Kyle sat his horse in front of the house while Val rode his horse closer to the bunkhouse, casually aiming his rifle in the vicinity of the doorway.
"Where is Morgan Cavanaugh?" Kyle asked the cowhand who was sitting on the front porch.
The cowhand eyed the two boys, suspiciously, "What are you two doin' 'round here and why do ya need Mr. Cavanaugh?"
"We have a debt to pay." Kyle replied.
Something in Kyle's eyes frightened the cowhand, though he would never have admitted it. The cowhand stood up and popped his head inside the house.
"Hey, Boss! There's two kids out here, they say they owe you a debt or somethin'."
Kyle loosened his six-shooters in their holsters and wiped his suddenly-sweaty palms on his jeans. He stole a glance at his older brother, caught the slight nod and turned his attention back to the ranch house. Just then, Morgan Cavanaugh emerged through the doorway. He was a big man, well over six feet tall and weighed at least two hundred and sixty pounds. Seeing the two boys, he smiled slightly.
"Can I help you boys?"
Kyle's gaze pierced into Cavanaugh.
"You ordered our parents killed."
Instantly, Morgan Cavanaugh's features changed. He was no longer smiling and his eyes were cold.
"Who are you to start accusing me?!"
"I'm Kyle Wilson, mister. Over there is my brother Val. We came across our parents on our way to our ranch. They were dead when we found them, mister, both of them."
"The only one that wanted them gone was you. And the only one who would have the nerve enough to kill someone as decent as my mother is also you."
Morgan Cavanaugh stood speechless for a moment, but only a moment.
"Why, you-" He left off speaking and reached for his six-shooter.
Now, Morgan Cavanaugh was a fast hand with a gun, but his pistol had only just cleared leather, when he felt the first painful impact of a bullet in his stomach. Kyle's first and second shots from his right-hand gun, hit Cavanaugh in the stomach. The third and fourth hit Cavanaugh's heart dead center, killing him instantly. The gun in Kyle's left hand seemed to have a life of it's own. While the right-hand gun had been busy with Cavanaugh, Kyle's left-hand gun had taken out the cowhand that was on the front porch.
Ten seconds and six shots later, Kyle's guns silenced.
Kyle glanced at the body of Morgan Cavanaugh, as the gun smoke cleared, and he shoved new cartridges into his guns.
"We got them." Val said from next to Kyle.
"Yeah," Kyle replied, "But there were only three cowhands here. Where are all the others?"
"At our place, most likely."
"Then, let's go get them!"
(A/N:: This chapter isn't quite finished yet, I'll try and complete it soon.)