The broken barbed wire fence curled around the post as if a demon had wrapped a belated Christmas present. Snow drifted around the bottom of the fence line, giving it a soft, pure quality that belied the truth of the harsh cold of winter. Jutting up through the feet-deep layer of the foothill snow were tips of rocks and sagebrush, with occasional patches of ground visible where the wind had wiped the earth clean, checking for any signs of spring. It was the kind of day, the kind of cold, that even stilled the birds. There were few sounds, and none made by living creatures. There was just the wind. The Wyoming mountains, even the foothills, of the early 1870s, didn’t have many visitors in good weather, and in bad, only the extremely courageous and self-reliant, or the foolhardy, ventured up the slopes.
Into this scene rode a lone man—who was no one's fool—mounted on a well-fed, shaggy bay horse. His hat was pulled low so that his features were barely visible. The part of his face that could be seen was covered by a ragged, dark beard, one worn by a man who doesn’t expect polite company to come calling any time soon. The collar of his well-worn sheepskin coat was turned up over a faded red silk scarf to try and keep some of the wind off his neck where his dark brown hair curled far past his collar. Hands covered in work-scarred leather gloves held the reins lightly as he slowly moved parallel to the fence.
"Congratulations! Your story, 'Pax,' was awarded Seventh Place in the Genre category for the 87th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition."