Free Short Story: Umasked


Unmasked is available today via Smashwords, and coming soon to other ebook retailers, as a free download.

William Charles Milton Wilcox II left a life of privilege to round up outlaws on dusty trails. As he tells his latest charge, “Everyone changes who he is at one time or another.” But true change requires something more than truncating his name and pinning on a marshal’s badge. One night the ghosts of his past catch up with him when he shares his campfire with an outlaw unlike any other he’s been duty bound to escort to prison. Now U.S. Marshal Milt Wilcox must confront the man he is, and discover the man he wants to become.

Frontier Tales

Growing up in the 60s and 70s, I saw my fair share of cowboy westerns, and I gained an appreciation for the genre. As years and decades passed, the western genre faded into near obscurity. I’ve missed those old shows. The Cartwrights of Bonanza, the Barkley’s of The Big Valley, and even Marshal Dillon and his Dodge City friends of Gunsmoke fame provided entertainment that included a strong sense of family and camaraderie, and as much humor and pleasure as drama and angst. Sure, those old shows could be laughingly melodramatic; I miss them, nonetheless. The recent western reboot, with shows like Hell on Wheels, are far too dark for my tastes. it seems we’ve gone from sugar-coating frontier life to slathering it in blood and guts. Surely, there’s a middle ground?

The best thing I’ve found to fill the void in recent years wasn’t even a true western. Firefly was a short-lived science fiction series that explored the frontier of space while paying tribute to cowboy westerns. The cast was a group of misfits who fit together beautifully as a pseudo family. The show gave me everything I’d missed for so long: Family, camaraderie, humor, pleasure, drama, and angst. Sadly, the network pulled the show with only 13 episodes in the can. And, for me, the void persists.

Enter: Frontier Tales.

Since I have been unable to fill the void with TV, I’ve looked to the printed word, instead. In the early 2000s, I discovered an active community of Bonanza FanFiction writers, and even entered their ranks, publishing under the pseudonym of Freyakendra. Truly good writing amongst the ranks of FanFiction authors is tough to find, but there are some real gems if you look hard enough. Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Frontier Tales, a webzine dedicated to keeping tales of the west alive. I’ve read two stories there so far, and enjoyed both enough to find the desire to post reviews (coming soon; stay tuned). I’ve also discovered a novel, which I’ve already purchased and sent to my Kindle, thanks to a review posted there.

Soon to come: Reviews of tales from Frontier Tales…..