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      Red awoke from a dream to greet the new day. He threw off the poncho that had served as a blanket. As he stood and looked east, dawn was breaking over the mountains. He felt the deep chill of the morning air, put the poncho on and turned to reviving his fire from the night before, which was nothing more than embers now. He grabbed some of the firewood that he had stacked nearby the night before and soon had a small but hot fire going.

      He boiled some coffee and cooked the last of the bacon that he had bought back in Albuquerque. He had managed to make it last almost three weeks by dining on rattlesnake and rabbit as often as he could hunt them up, but he hadn't been able to scare anything up yesterday. All he had left now was a bit of jerky and a few biscuits, so he had to hope for good hunting over the next couple of days until he got to Mojave Villages.

      As Red ate the bacon and a biscuit, he tried to remember what he had dreamt about, but the details had slipped away while he was busy with the fire and breakfast. The only thought that lingered was that someone that he cared for had died. This thought gnawed at him as he tossed the week old coffee grinds onto the fire and put out the fire.

      Kicking out the fire worked out his agitation and he was once again in good spirits as he packed his bedroll and saddled his horse, Blaze. As he mounted up, he saw that the sun was about to climb from behind the mountains. He turned his horse to face east and watched as the sun appeared. As that sunlight reached him, the biting chill in the air was reduced to a pleasant one. He tugged on the reins and headed west.

      Red rode on through the day without seeing a soul, not even any animals. He didn't mind the solitude. He had grown to enjoy it since he had left St. Louis. He used the time to let his thoughts drift. He also knew that there would be little solitude in San Francisco. Red had heard that San Francisco was as big, maybe bigger, than St. Louis had been and it was full of new opportunities. Everyone going west had talked about the gold to be found and the riches to be made in California. He had dreamt of coming west himself since he had been a boy, but there had always been something holding him back. When nothing finally kept him from going, he had headed west to fulfill that dream.

Absolut Paradigm

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