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October 27 , 2008

Tales from the Crossing at Barracuda Flats


Barracuda Flats did not look like much. A string of lonely buildings atop a rocky ridge, the rough trail that fronted them leading through a gap in the mountains to a little-used mountain crossing. It was a place so small that it couldn't really even be called a town, with a local population of just five people and a scattering of homesteaders across the hills and valleys beyond the ridge. Barracuda Flats could even be called a boring place most days, its silence broken only by the distant roar of the river and the intermittent banging or occasional small explosion coming from the blacksmith's workshop. The laid-back sheriff seems to spend a good deal of his time sitting in a rocking chair in front of his jail, reading a book. The tiny hotel has a single resident boarder, a crochety old doctor who rarely comes down from his rooms. And the grizzled old owner of the trading post claims to know every inch of the mountains like the back of his own hand. Just a stereotypical frontier outpost in the territorial West, a placid little watering hole on the back-side of nowhere.

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But appearances can be deceiving. The little-used crossing is mostly used by the territory's most desperate outlaws. The pass itself can be deadly, and not just because of the usual dangers of earth-tremors, avalanches and rockslides. The blacksmith is a famous-name inventor, the deputy a wanted fugitive, and the proprietress of the hotel can't be trusted not to cause trouble just to amuse herself. Barracuda Flats is full of secrets, and most if not all of the people who wash up there are running from something.

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