The Rifleman
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Something New
Written by Vanessa Rose aka lilyrose

It had been a fall night. The leaves were turning colors and everything was peaceful at the McCain ranch...

"Mark?" Lucas stepped outside onto the ranch porch looking for his son. Why would he be out here in the chilly weather? "Mark?" Mark was sitting on the stairs, with a dreamy look on his face.

"Mark?" Lucas repeated as he sat down beside the young boy. Mark suddenly noticed his father beside him.
"Oh, hi Pa."

"What are you doing out here? I thought you were doing your homework."

"Already finished." Mark said staring at the sun going down.

"Oh." Lucas nodded a little confused. Mark had never finished that fast. "So then what are you doing out here?"

"Thanking God." Lucas watched his son stare at the horizon.

"For what?" Mark looked at him and smiled.

"For my Pa." Lucas swallowed as his stomach tightened. He wrapped his arm around his boy's shoulders.

"I'm thankful for you too." The tall rancher said as his son leaned against his chest. "Why dont' we go read the Bible together?" Mark nodded and they both got up from the steps.

"Lucas! Lucas! Lucas!"  In the dead of night, they heard Micah's voice as he galloped into the yard with heavy breathing.

"What's wrong, Micah?" Lucas asked as he turned around. The tall rancher gasped as the moonlight showed Micah's face and body. The clothing was torn and bloody. Without emotion, Lucas nearly choked, "Son, go inside." Mark ran inside, tears falling down his face.

"Micah?"

"Yeah, Lucas?" Micah replied drowsily... he was tired and wounded--what would Lucas do? He had no idea what to do!

"I'll help you down, Micah. Just stay awake...Micah?" Lucas helped him down gently, knowing that with every breath, he was in agony.
"What happened?"

 "I was coming to see you...and suddenly my horse got upset, bucked me and... then I was attacked by coyotes or something... it’s all blur..." He coughed. Lucas tightened his jaw and clicked his lips.

He needed to clean the wounds before they got infected.

"Mark!" Lucas called. "Get blankets ready and put them in the buckboard! We're going into town." Mark did what he was told, his heart pounding with fear gripping him.

Thirty minutes later, Lucas, Mark and Micah arrived in town, which was eerily quiet except for the saloon noise. Sweeny came out of the saloon, surprised.
"What happened, Lucas??"

"Get Doc!!" Sweeny didn't even listen, he was just stone. "GET DOC!!!!" Sweeny snapped out of it and ran to the doc's.

"Burrage! Micah's in trouble! He's injured!"

--------

"Mark, you stay with Millie, all right? I don't want you to see this." Lucas put a hand on his son's shoulders.

"Okay, Pa... but will Micah be all right?" Mark looked at him innocently, tears dried on his face.

"Just pray, just pray for him, Mark." Lucas and Millie exchanged a look as Mark walked with Millie to her store.

Mark laid on the cot with nothing to do, wanting to know what was happening, crying his eyes out till he couldn't cry no more, he prayed and prayed.. until he felt himself drift away into a restless sleep...

A plate shattered. Mark bolted awake in the cot--noting that the sun was high up. Millie was standing across the general store with plates in her arms.

"Silly me, I didn't mean to wake you up, Mark." Mark studied her face. They were dried with tears.

"Where's Pa?"

"Mark, he's still with the doctor and he told me that you should stay with me...."

"What happened to Micah?? Is he all right? Is he okay?" Mark got up still in his clothes from the night before. "Millie, please, tell me what happened... did he... did he..."

"I'm so sorry, Mark." Mark burst into tears as he ran outside with Millie calling his name. He ran right inside the doc's office where he held his patients. Then he saw a body with a blanket covering it.

"NO!" Mark screamed as he went to his knees and sobbed.

"Mark," Lucas said softly behind him. Mark stood up and hugged the Rifleman tightly.

"Why, Pa, why? He couldn't have died... it wasn't fair!" Lucas stroked his hair gently, silently as his own tears fell from his face.

"I know, Mark... just let the pain come out... it’s okay, it’s okay... shh... I'm here son..." Doc Burrage sighed as he told Mr. Toomey to take the body to the graveyard.
-------
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." The words pounded in Mark's head as he sat near the creek beside his favorite tree.
It had been two weeks since the Marshall of North Fork had died.
"Isn't this fun, boy?" Micah smiled at him.
"Yeah, sure is, Micah! Do you think we could do this again?" Ten year old Mark asked.
"Of course! As long as I get the most fish!" Mark's face drooped. "I'm only joking, Mark." The boy grinned.
"Let’s get back to fishing! I have to beat Pa's record!"
"I miss you, Micah, I wish you could have stayed longer..."
"Mark?" Mark lifted his eyes off the water.
"Oh, hi Pa."

"Are you all right?"
 
"Yes sir."
 
"What’s with you? You have been acting strange lately... I thought... did I do something wrong?" Pa asked with worried eyes.
 
"I miss him, Pa."
 
"I know you do."
 
"Do you miss him?" Pa sat down on his heels and looked at Mark sternly.
 
"Micah was my best friend that I've ever had... he had my back, and I had his... he was an amazing man and he was like your grandfather that you've never had...” Pa explained. "I know you haven't been talking to me lately, I know you need your space, but we have always talked with each other and gotten through things like this..."
 
"Together." Mark finished. Pa smiled.
 
"Yes, together. Is there anything you'd like to talk about, Mark? I'm always here with you?"
 
"Thanks Pa... but no, I don't think so." Mark shook his head. "But what about school? Can I stay with you for a while?"
 
"Mark, you know, I have to be the deputy before a new sheriff takes over Micah's place." Mark sighed. "But I'll try to stay with you... dinner at the cafe?" Mark forced a smile.
 
"Thanks Pa." Pa ruffled his hair.
 
"See you tonight... and don't be late!"
 
--------
 
"There's no sheriff in town anymore... why don't we just go get the money right now?" Donny said leaning against the bedpost.
 
"Why should we? Y'know, I just wanted to be lazy for a while, just hang around the town, that's all." Donny's friend, Malcolm said yawning. Donny frowned.
 
"But you said we would get to do something fun--"
 
"Fine!" Malcolm snapped. "I hate ya whinin'. Let’s go to the saloon."
 
"Sure, sure." Donny smiled. Malcolm rolled his eyes.
 
They entered the saloon but parted ways--one to a gambling table and one to the bar. Malcolm rolled his eyes as Donny practically gambled all his money away.
 
"What can I do for you?"
 
"Anything." The bartender nodded and gave him the weakest thing. Malcolm gulped it down then slammed it down on the bar.
 
"Give me more!"
 
"Yes sir." The bartender said pouring more of the alcoholic beverage.
 
"Never mind! I'll pour my own drink!"
 
"Something that matter sir?" Malcolm turned in his seat to see a tall deputy in front of him holding a rifle.
 
"Who are you talking to me like that? The Rifleman?" Malcolm grabbed the bottle and gulped it down. He laughed. "Yup, you think ya are? Well--"
 
"A matter of fact, sir, he is the Rifleman." The bartender said. Malcolm laughed. Suddenly, a woman in jeans ran inside the saloon.
 
"Lucas! Mark's missing!"
 
----------
Lucas pointed his finger at the stranger.
 
"You better be careful, mister!" He turned around and followed Millie outside.
 
"What do you mean, Millie?"
 
"He was with Nils taking care of your horses, Nils had to leave and Mark's horse was gone." Lucas gulped.
 
"To the ranch with those coyotes that killed Micah that are still out there?"
 
"I think so, Lucas." Lucas closed his eyes and prayed a short prayer for his son. Millie put her hand on his forearm.
 
"Be careful, Lucas."
 
"I will."
 
-----------
 
Mark smiled as he looked at the wonderful colors of fall. God's creation. He swallowed, his throat tightening at the thought of Micah being gone.
 
That's when he heard the tree branch snap. He stilled in his saddle as Blue Boy snorted nervously. He patted his face gently.
 
"It’s okay, Blue Boy. It will be all right." That's when he realized that the sun was setting!!! He was supposed to be in town. He snapped the reigns and Blue Boy began to trot.
 
The land was eerie. Mark shivered and hurried the pace. The coyotes behind him yipped.
 
"Oh no." He whispered. He heard the pack of coyotes' paws pounding on the ground, coming closer to him.
 
Blue Boy neighed hysterically as a coyote caught up with them.
 
"Hurry, h---" The horse reared, Mark's grip loosened and he fell onto the hard ground. The air rushed out of his lungs. He groaned as he tried to sit up when a coyote jumped--he screamed. A shot sounded.
 
----------
 
"Mark! Mark!" Lucas lifted his boy's head on to his lap after he threw the huge animal off his son. "Mark?" He hoped that he hadn't been injured in the fall. Lucas looked for rocks to see if Mark had hit his head on... there wasn't any.
 
"Pa?" Lucas smiled and hugged his son.
 
---------
 
"Well, Sweeny, did those boys give you any trouble?"
 
"No sir!" Sweeny smiled. "They behaved like little boys."
 
“Wow.”
 
“Actually, they said that they wouldn’t rob the bank since you had been through too much…” Lucas nodded.
 
"I'd like you to meet the new marshal." Sweeny looked around, curious.
 
"Where is he?" Lucas tapped his badge on his chest. "You’re the marshal?" Everyone in the saloon whooped and clapped....
 
EPILOUGE:
 
Several weeks later, Lucas and Mark McCain stood in front of the tombstone. The younger McCain put flowers on it.
 
"I miss you, Micah, I'll always miss you but at least you get to meet Ma." Mark said. Lucas smiled at him encouraging the boy to go on. "You taught me a lot of things, Micah... I'll never forget you... ever..."
 
"Neither will I, Micah." Lucas cleared his throat.
 
They turned away to leave, finally accepting the fact of Micah leaving Earth...
 
"But Pa?"
 
"Yes son?"


"Will the pain ever go away?"
 
"I'm not sure... as long as we're together, we'll get through it." Mark grinned.
 
"As long as we're together." He repeated. "I sure am thankful for you, Pa!" Lucas laughed.
 
"So you can have rock candy from Millie's?" Mark sighed.
 
"How'd you know I was thinking of that?"
 
"Well... we've been father and son for a very long time---"
 
"Aww Pa!" Mark groaned still smiling.
 
"I'm thankful for you too, son." They walked out of the cemetery with something new...
 
Thankfulness for each other.
 
 
THE END

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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