Search for the Red Ghost
Thirteen-year-old Jake Thrasher’s mother is dead, and the only clues left by the beast that killed her are a few strands of red hair and a set of plate-sized tracks.
When his Army Scout father refuses to hunt it down, Jake takes matters into his own hands. Leaving the safety of his small ranch, Jake follows a sparse trail through an inhospitable desert filled with snakes, wolves, grizzlies, renegade Apache, and the ever-present threat of death. Will he find his Red Ghost? Or, will he succumb to the inherent dangers?
|Title||Search for the Red Ghost|
|Genre||Tween Action Adventure|
|Tags||American History; Western; Self-Esteem; Growing-Up; Self-Respect; Historical Fiction; Outdoors; Desert; Arizona; Coming of Age; Apache; Camels; Children’s Books; Adventure; Action; Survival; 1800s; Geronimo; Tracking; Hunting;|
|Release||January 19, 2016|
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Jake was watching the long purple shadows stretching over the canyon floor, when he thought he heard a horse nicker and snort. At first, he didn’t move, thinking his mind, or the wind, was playing tricks on him. Then, he heard it again, and his heart began to bump hard against his chest.
Quickly gathering his things, he edged himself off the rock. He wasn’t sure, but he thought the noise came from the stand of willows, now nothing more than an outline against the diminished light.
He was moving toward the dense brush to his left when several gray, white, and black Gnatcatchers flew out of the branches of one of the trees, screeching a raspy warning, and then the desert went silent. Jake yanked off his hat and grabbed a dead branch still covered in leaves. Bending low to the ground, he moved deeper into the scrub, sweeping the sand and gravel with the branch to cover his tracks. When he thought, he was deep enough into the brush to be out of sight, five young mounted Apache braves ambled into view and stopped short of his rock.
Dressed in baggy Mexican style white pants with breechcloths and moccasin boots, they were bare chested, and not much older than he was. The two oldest, were about eighteen, and carried rifles—Winchesters like the one his pa had given him. The other three, armed with bows and deerskin quivers, looked his age or younger. One, who appeared to be the leader, had a hand-carved war club decorated with roadrunner feathers on the handle fastened at his waist.
Sliding off the backs of their ponies, the youngest one took the horses, and picketed them. Two others started gathering wood, and then built a small fire.
From his hiding place at the base of a large soap-tree he had a clear view of the flat rock and the small fire, but it was hard to see the whole group, and he wondered where the oldest two had gone. He was peering between the branches sticking out near the bottom when he heard the snap of a twig a few feet in front of him.
Walker’s stories about Indians skinning their enemies alive, or baking their tortured bodies over hot coals, rushed through Jake’s mind. He gripped the stock of his rifle, and tried to remember if he reloaded it before he left the watering hole. He hoped he did. Rifle or no rifle, if they find me, it won’t be much of a fight anyway. That’s when the sound of water hitting the ground broke the silence, and the acrid smell of urine hit his nose. Jake’s shoulders relaxed, but he moved his finger to the trigger.
One of the young Apache near the rock called to the two squatting by the fire. He shook the limp bodies of several quail at them, and they rose to pat his back and push his shoulder. He called again, and this time the brave closest to Jake answered. In less than a minute, all five were sitting by the fire, roasting their birds. Jake let out a quiet breath, and twisted his body tighter around the clump of spindly leaves. It was going to be a long night.