Shadows from Boot Hill

Shadows from Boot Hill

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by L. Ron Hubbard

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Every man walks with a shadow . . . but what happens when he acquires a second one? Just ask Brazos—a dead ringer for Jack Palance who’s a cold-blooded killer for hire with blood on his hands and a posse on his tail.

Desperate for cash, Brazos accepts $200 to gun down a local man named Brant. He’ll earn every penny . . . but in the end


Every man walks with a shadow . . . but what happens when he acquires a second one? Just ask Brazos—a dead ringer for Jack Palance who’s a cold-blooded killer for hire with blood on his hands and a posse on his tail.

Desperate for cash, Brazos accepts $200 to gun down a local man named Brant. He’ll earn every penny . . . but in the end there’ll be the devil to pay. Because to put a bullet in Brant means putting one in his partner as well—an eerie stranger schooled in the black art of witchcraft. This is one killing that brings with it a deadly curse—and a second shadow.

As Brazos is about to discover, the Wild West doesn’t get any wilder than when a man is damned to live—and die—in the Shadows from Boot Hill.

A note from L. Ron Hubbard, written many years ago, that could as well be addressed to you, today’s reader: “Dear Range Boss: Four million of my words have been published in fifty different magazines. . . . Just now I’m larruping fantasy fiction more than anything else, though I’ve been writing Westerns for some time, too. Hope your readers like Shadows from Boot Hill. The Old West was superstitious in the extreme and . . . reeks with more fantasy than The Arabian Nights.”

Also includes the Western adventures The Gunner from Gehenna, in which a plot to steal a miner’s gold reveals how a good man can go bad . . . and a bad man can do good, and Gunman!, the story of an aging gunfighter turned lawman who shows his town what a real man is made of.

“A minor masterpiece.”
—author Will Murray

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“If proof were needed that L. Ron Hubbard could handle the Western with the flair of a Louis L’Amour or Zane Grey, this book is it.” —True West Magazine

Product Details

Galaxy Press, LLC
Publication date:
Western Short Stories Collection
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Shadows from Boot Hill

On a hot afternoon in August, Brazos chased his shadow toward Los Hornos at a speed which indicated that all the devils from hell and maybe even some angels were hot upon him. He fled with more fury than fright, for it seemed to him that the murder of a banker ought to be considered in the light of public good. Too, he nursed a feeling of grievance, for the law had been so swift and determined that he had not even had time to collect the five hundred dollars in double eagles which was to have been his pay for the job. The buckskin money belt was damp and light beneath his buckskin shirt, just as both Peacemaker and Martini-Henry were empty at belt and saddle side.
And this was a hell of a country to try to get lost in.

And Los Hornos, ahead, was about as safe a sanctuary as a barrel of sidewinders.

Brazos swore at his luck, swore at his horse and swore at his shadow. He cursed the sage, he cursed the dust and he spat into the unoffending eye of a horned toad by the way. If he had good sense he’d larrup south to the border, but if he had better sense he’d crack a Wells Fargo safe before he went—for visitors in the land of the dons were welcome in proportion to their purses. It was like Brazos to barely keep a posse’s dust under the rim of the world behind and consider ways of replenishing his exchequer.

Los Hornos came writhing into sight amid its heat waves, moving slowly up in mirage as though somebody had a jack under the town and then dropping suddenly, as though the jack had slipped. Behind it, red sandstone buttes appeared ready for the frying pan; all around it, dusty sage drooped in drab boredom; in it, the inhabitants were following a theory that a fiery sun without was best combated by firewater within.

Brazos looked over his shoulder in anxiety. The posse thought he would have to head for Los Hornos, and the posse had a couple of Apache trackers along to confirm its guess. And this horse, which he had stolen from a sheepherder (which didn’t make it theft) wouldn’t last another league. He had to stop in Los Hornos or be stopped. His quirt fell and the weary mustang sped along.

Who did he know in Los Hornos? Only one man. Whisper Monahan. A slight shudder of premonition went over Brazos and, because he believed in premonition, he did not take the symptom in a good light. The last time he’d worked for Whisper Monahan they had not parted the best of friends. But a posse is a posse, and a half friend is better than an enemy with gun smoke in his fist, and so Brazos went streaming into the main street of Los Hornos.

A couple of Indian dogs leaped out of slumber and from under his hoofs with dismal yelps. A loafer in the shade of the store porch went right on sleeping. There was a sign, “Star Livery Stable, Whisper Monahan, Prop.” Brazos swung the horse, and the moist warmth and dimness of the stable swallowed him.

In the office, Whisper Monahan and a hostler named Henry looked languidly at the opening door and then came fully awake. For a few seconds the silence was very deep. Whisper Monahan was built close to the ground, and not all the sun in the Southwest could have turned his pasty pallor into anything but a pasty pallor. But, awkward and scared as he seemed, he always got what he wanted, no matter the methods he had to use.
Brazos was inclined to be truculent. He wasn’t very tall, but he wasn’t very thick, either, and when men first looked at him they thought him a forceful and powerful individual. His mouth was almost at forty-five degrees with his face, and his eyes proclaimed a dislike for the world. And now, with his buckskin stained and his flat Texas hat gray with dust and his much-used—if at present empty—gun at his side, he looked ready to take on a regiment, having just finished off a brigade.

“Hello, Brazos.”
“Hello, Whisper.”
“You come far and fast, Brazos.”
“I come with half the citizens of Tulos on my heels.”

“Well, now, Brazos, that’s too bad. What happened?”

“I killed a gent that needed killing, and I didn’t even collect the double eagles. This country is goin’ to hell for keeps.”

“Yeah. The law is gettin’ the upper hand, worse luck.”
“You gotta cover me, Whisper.”


“Because I said you gotta.”

Whisper grinned suddenly inside himself. “That’s too bad, Brazos. But I reckon you just better keep riding.”

“My hoss is half dead and I ain’t goin’ to keep riding.”

“Then you better start walking, Brazos.”

“You can’t do this to me!”

“You ain’t got a cartridge left in your belt and most likely none in your gun. You better be goin’, Brazos, afore them fellers come streaking in here and string you up.”

“You can’t do this to me!”
“I’m doin’ it, Brazos.”

“But they’ll kill me!”

Whisper was laughing inside himself now, though he looked very contrite and sorrowful. Brazos wore a silver cross on a silver chain around his neck, and when Brazos got pushed to it he generally fingered the cross in hopes it would bring him luck. Whisper saw him doing it, and knew that he had his man.

“Too bad,” said Whisper. “You better be goin’ afore they get here.”

“Now look, Whisper! Ain’t you always been my friend?”

“I’ve hired you once in a while,” said Whisper.

“Well, hire me again! I need help, and I need it bad!”

“Hire you? Shucks, I haven’t got anything for you to do.”

“Sure you have, Whisper!”

Whisper was hard put to keep looking thoughtful. Finally he scrubbed at his bald head and spoke doubtfully. “Well—I could get you to kill Scotty Brant for me, but you wouldn’t do that.”

“Sure I would, Whisper! You gotta help me.”

“Well—just as a favor to you, I’ll let you do it. I’ll even pay you a couple hundred for the job.”

“That’s white!” cried Brazos in relief. “I knew you’d help me.”

Whisper had won and he threw off his lethargy. “Henry, you saddle up Beans and ride hell for leather for the buttes. About dark you cut back, take to the bed of Dead River to cover your trail and come home.”

About an hour later Brazos was lying in the mow, not daring to breathe while Whisper “discovered” with shocked alarm that he had aided the escape of a criminal. But shortly Brazos breathed again, for the posse, hot for blood, went thundering out of town on the trail of Beans and Henry, flailing their jaded mounts and licking their chops as they envisioned the riddled corpse of one Brazos.

Whisper stood in the door watching them become a cloud of dust. Whisper, down inside, was laughing, but not at the joke he had played on the posse.

Meet the Author

As one of the 20 top bestselling authors of all time, with more than 325 million works in circulation, L. Ron Hubbard stands alongside an illustrious company of writers. But he also stands alone—as an author who actually lived many of the stories he wrote.

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Shadows from Boot Hill 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
MamaMouse More than 1 year ago
I listened to the Full-Cast audiobook version of this book. I would like to start off by saying that I have never read L. Ron Hubbard before. I am not a huge fan of western books and I never could figure out why people would always reference his works when they were talking about science fiction. I would look at the covers, say 'Western' and move on. Well now I know. I was looking for something that would make a great gift for my Dad, so I decided to try this cd and see if it would be something he liked. The stories themselves reminded me of old western movie. You could almost picture the saloon, horses, and men with guns. The cd I received actually had three short stories on it, Shadows from Boot Hill, The Gunner From Gehenna, and Gunman. I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to the first title Shadows from Boot Hill and it had a bit of supernatural in there! In Shadows from Boot Hill, the outlaw Brazos is hired as a hit man and ends up killing a witch-doctor. Before the witch doctors dies, he curses Brazos. Of course, Brazos doesn't believe in curses and continues on his mission to kill Scotty Brant. But strange things start happening to Brazos on his way to complete his assignment. He starts to wonder if the witch-doctor's curse actually did come true. In the second story, The Gunner from Gehenna, the gunner is an old partner of the local sheriff. The sheriff is a good guy now, but the gunner remembers when they ran together and wants one final run. He tries to talk the sheriff into stealing the miner's gold stash. When the sheriff refuses, the gunner ties him to his horse and decides to force him to help. The gunner has a few tricks up his sleeve, but will he be tricky enough to out-smart the sheriff? In the final story, Gunman!, the marshal of a town named Deadlight, Brazos Kincade (not the same Brazos from the first story), is on the final days of his job as sheriff. The town believes it doesn't need an old gunslinger sheriff. It is ready to join with the railroad and usher in a whole new type of living. There are some who want the sheriff to retire now, but he has three days left and he plans on serving out his time. There is a huge gold shipment being held in the bank and there are folks looking to rob the bank before Monday morning. Will sheriff even be there to save the bank or will he be forced into retirement before he can stop the robbery? Overall, I think this was a great little taste of some of L. Ron Hubbard's work. I think anyone who enjoys western stories will love these little gems. I think they will make great gifts for my Dad and I look forward to listening to them with him! The Narration Review All three of the stories were full cast productions. The sound quality was excellent and the cast of narrators really gave this an old-time western feel. ** Note ** I received this audiobook free from the Audio Jukebox Solid Gold Reviewer Program and Galaxy Press in exchange for an honest review. I received no chocolate or any other compensation in exchange for my review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this one. I dont want to spoil the plot, but I will careful in the decisions you make, you never know who might follow you out of it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*he bites the scruff of her neck* you will if i make you *he pushes into her hard and moabs*
BruceD More than 1 year ago
This title surprised me! So fun. A cowboy gone wrong haunted by the shadows of..... well I don't want to spoil the plot. The dramatic readings and sound effects are excellent on the audiobook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Shadows from Boothill" is one of the stories from pulp fiction's golden age, originally published in the 1940 issue of "Wild West Weekly." This is not your typical wild west fare; in fact, some reviewers have called this pulp "The Weird Western." Not surprising because of the paranormal twists that involve a witch doctor and an outlaw with two shadows. The outlaw Brazos encounters the witch doctor who swears this deadly curse on him: "I get you, white man." In that moment, a trembling Brazos strokes the silver cross he wears around his neck for good luck. What is the outcome...a cliff hanger...Hubbard's skill in developing plot and character keeps the reader in suspense until the very end. Two bonus western tales are also included in this volume: "The Gunner from Gehenna" and "Gunman!"