Authors: R.J McCabe
Zata spoke in the native tongue to the chief ‘Are you sure about this? They say the devil lies here, just waiting to take a human form.’
The chief did not look at the interpreter when he spoke. ‘It is the devil I wish to bring, I want the white men to pay. Killing them with the knife or arrow, taking their scalp, it’s not enough. The time has come to unleash evil upon those people.’
The interpreter regarded the man for a moment
‘Your will is the will of the people. If however, you decide this is not the way you wish to go, then I will be happy to ride to their camp and kill the man responsible.’
Now the chief was looking at the interpreter. He placed a hand on his shoulder. ‘I know you would do that for me Zata, but this man is different, I saw it in his eyes. He has no soul and I cannot risk losing another to him. We will bury my son and he will seek his own revenge.’
At this, the interpreter nodded and then signalled to two of the other men to begin digging, they looked nervous, scared even, but they dug, for their chief they dug.
Sheriff Bill sat in the chair at his desk. He felt drained, The muscles in his legs and arms felt heavy and tired. He was looking forward to getting into bed for the night and letting sleep take him.
Ken was at his desk reading a book, his glasses perched on the tip of his nose. Bill thought back over the days events, it really had been a crazy one, from the fight with Big John, to the beautiful horse he had inherited from Sheriff Watts via Ken Murphy.
The murder of the sheriff was weighing on Bills mind. The former sheriff seemed to have been loved by and known to so many that he reminded Bill of the kind of old school law men Bill had grown up hearing about, men of true principle. For him to then be murdered with no one bought to justice, it was a travesty.
Bill thought that he would start asking questions soon, trying to put the pieces together and set about catching the bastards responsible. Once he had gotten used to the town and its people, he would look into it a little more. He figured it would mean a lot to Ken if they brought those men in. Bills train of thought was broken and he looked up as the door opened. A boy of around sixteen years of age, walked in to the room looking flushed and anxious.
‘Hello there young man, What can we do for you?’ Bill asked.
Ken looked up from his book
‘This here is young Cobb, the lad I was tellin' you about who looks after the horses.’
Bill smiled. ‘Pleased to meet you young Master Cobb.’ The lad seemed a little out of breath not bothering to return the sheriffs greetings.
‘What’s wrong Cobb? Someone been at the horses?’ asked Ken.
‘No Sir,’ Cobb said, still trying to get his breath. ‘Monty sent me over, told me to tell you that two of the Blackwater boys are causin' a fuss in the bar, gettin' a little rowdy.’
Ken stood up, seemingly glad that something was happening. ‘Blackwater boys huh?’
‘Yes Sir’ said Cobb.
‘You know which ones they are? It’s not Joel is it?’ asked Ken.
‘No sir, I'm not sure who the one is but the other one is Big John Duggan. The man you whooped earlier Sheriff Bill.’
Bill and Ken looked at each other, Bill rolled his eyes, not believing the man could be back in town and causing trouble the same day Bill had dealt with him.
‘I suppose we had better get over there and see whats goin' on Sheriff,’ said Ken, getting up from his seat.
Bill let out a sigh
‘I suppose we had.’ He got up off his chair and he, Ken and Cobb headed towards the door. Bill stopped for a moment, taking his guns out from his belt and checking they were fully loaded.
In the bar, Big John and Davey Doolan had drunk a little more than they had planned to. Big John had been keen to get the liquor and leave as soon as possible, but Davey, a tough man in his own right, had talked John into downing a whiskey with him. That had led to two, then three, and so on. Now the two of them were feeling the effects, their voices were raised and they were acting up. Ordering drinks and not paying and then Davey had produced his gun, pointing it at the bars owner, Monty, telling him they shouldn't have to pay for their drinks as they were Blackwater men.
A couple of other customers had walked over to the aid of Monty, only to be pistol whipped and sent sprawling across the floor by Doolan. Now the bar was only half as full as it had been when they had first entered with many leaving to avoid any confrontation.
Everyone turned towards the door when Bill and Ken walked in, a sheepish looking Cobb scuttling behind them, everyone that was except John and Davey, who faced the bar and continued to down their whiskey. Bill and Ken took a few steps towards them before stopping a couple of yards away.
‘You boys havin' a good evenin'?’ asked Bill.
‘We were,’ came a voice. Bill thought the voice didn't sound like that of Big John, but the other, smaller man.
‘I thought me and you had come to an understandin' today John,’ said Bill, his voice calm.
Big John turned around slowly, the other man too. The four of them now faced each other. Cobb had crept off into a corner of the room sensing trouble.
‘What understandin' do you think me and you had come to Sheriff?’ asked Big John, his broad face stern, head tilted.
‘Well, I thought the understandin' was, either you stop actin' like an asshole, or I come and kick your ass again.’
Big John laughed, a short laugh and nudged Davey
‘I told you this guy was a rare sort.’ He then looked back towards Bill.
‘You got lucky today, I almost drowned you. I’m working for Joel Blackwater now so you fuck about with me and he will come down here and fuck about with you and trust me you don't want that.’
Bill looked down at his boots for a moment, then put his thumbs in his belt and looked back at the two men in front of him.
‘See, this is the thing. It doesn't matter which way you choose to look at it. You got your ass kicked today and then left this town with your tail between your legs, tucked tight against your asshole. So you then go and hook up with Joel Blackwater, a guy I heard is also an asshole, and then you come back here, for reasons I'm not sure of, and you have this guy with you who, well call me judgemental, looks like the same sort of asshole as you. So what is it about you and assholes John? You are gonna have people talkin' about you.’
‘Who the fuck do you think you're talkin' to? I’m Davey Doolan you fancy dan son of a bitch and I'll shoot you and your grandpa here, right where you stand.’
Bill looked at Ken, and Ken at Bill before looking back at the men.
‘You know theres a name for people like you two.’ Bill said.
‘You’re damn right there is,’ replied Davey.
‘Mother fuckers.’ Bill said.
‘I was thinkin' of dangerous. Whats that mean?’ asked Davey.
‘Its kind of self explanatory, but whilst you are tryin' to work it out I'm gonna (pulls his gun) warn you that I don't want any assholes, or mother fuckers in my town, so I'm going to ask you to leave. Do it quietly and there'll be no trouble from us but do it any other way and you will be two be two dead, asshole, mother fucker’s, your choice.’
The two Blackwater men shared a glance and then looked back at Bill. John was about to speak when Davey placed a hand on his chest.
‘Come on big fella, lets take our liquor and get back to camp. I can see the sheriff here is trying to clean up his town, so we gonna give him a hand and leave. I figure if we stick around and make his job harder, then maybe he’s right and that does makes us a pair of assholes.’
Big John looked at Davey, his mouth open a little in shock at how co-operative his friend was being. ‘Okay Davey, whatever you say,’ and with that the two men downed their last drinks and walked out of the bar.
Bill and Ken stood still until the men were outside, at which point Ken turned towards Bill. ‘That went a little better than I thought it would.’
‘That it did Deputy’ replied Bill ‘And thank the lord for that.’
The two men rode in silence on the cart, the liquor stacked in the rear. Big John could sense that Davey was in deep thought, he wasn't sure how to approach what had just happened in the bar.
‘He sure is a piece of work that sheriff ain’t he Davey?’
‘That sheriff is a queer piece of shit and if it wasn't for the fact my eyes were a little hazy due to the whiskey we put away, I would have drawn on him and shot that prissy son of a bitch right there in that bar but I don't know him and he might be quick on the draw even if he don't look it. I've seen too many friends put in the dust because they drew on some sober son of a bitch, when they had a gut full of booze. I ain’t goin out like that but mark my words Big John, I'll have my day with the sheriff and he's gonna regret talkin' to me like he did, you mark my words.’
John liked the approach, he admired Davey’s way of thinking. He wasn't sure how tough the man was with his hands or how fast he was with his gun, but he had a clever way about him, John knew a dangerous man when he met one and he sensed something dark in Davey Doolan.
John looked around and realised how dark it was, the moon was hidden behind clouds and he couldn't see more than ten feet in front of the horses. ‘You know where we’re goin' Davey? Cause I can’t see shit.’
‘Sure I do!’ Davey said. ‘I've travelled these roads many times in the dark, you kind of get a feel for them, the bumps, the smells, the…’
‘Did you hear that?’ John interrupted.
‘I heard you interrupt me John thats bout it. As I was sayin' you kind of g…’
‘No shh, listen, I heard somethin'’
Davey halted the cart and the two men sat in silence listening, the first sound that came was the horses breathing. The men strained to listen. ‘What you hear John? You think we bein' followed?’
‘I don’t know what I heard but it wasn't like no sound I'm used to hearin' out here.’
Again the two men listened, but there was no other sound other than the horses.
‘Not sure I like being out here in the middle of nowhere knowin' what Joel did to the chiefs son over at the Apache camp,
said Big John.
‘I don’t think they are out here John. As stupid as those feather wearin' fucks might be, they know better than to fuck with Blackwater men. Come on lets get back to camp.’
Davey snapped the reigns but the horses didn't move, instead they began to move as if something was bothering them, their heads shook and their hooves stomped on the ground. Davey tried to take control of the reigns but the horses behaviour was becoming increasingly agitated and unpredictable.
‘What the hells got these horses so spooked,’ said Davey still struggling with the reigns.
‘I told you I heard somethin', it was kind of like a…,’ and then from somewhere nearby in the dark came an ear piercing scream, a scream the likes neither man had ever heard before.
John grabbed a rifle whilst Davey let go of the reigns and pulled both guns from his belt.
‘What the fuck was that?’ said Doolan.
‘I don’t know Davey but I don't like it one bit, sounds big, pissed off, and plain fuckin' evil!’
‘Yeah, well, I just hope it ain’t you and me who's gonna be screamin' in a minute.’ Davey’s comment sent a cold shiver down John Duggan’s broad back.
‘Who’s out there?’ Davey called, ‘You better know who you're fuckin' with!’ he added, but no reply came.
Davey then jumped down from the wagon and looked out into the darkness. Big John followed his lead and jumped down from opposite the side of the cart. He two of them stared out into the black of the night and it was then a smell reached John’s nose. It was a very unpleasant smell and seemed to burn the inside of his nostrils as he inhaled.
‘You smell that Davey?’ he shouted but no reply came. ‘Say Davey, you smell that? It don't smell right to me,’ But still no reply came. ‘Davey?’ he called again, ‘Answer me dammit. This ain’t no time to fuck around. Don't be an asshole!’
Big John stood still, his ears straining to hear something, anything from the other side of the cart. He was pissed at Davey for not answering, he was being a dick. He’d had a hell of a day and he wasn't in any mood to be messed with.
‘God Damn it Davey!’ Big John said through gritted teeth and walked around the cart, rifle in hand just incase anything or anyone was to jump out of the dark, they’d be sorry if they did, he thought.
John had walked around the rear of the cart as he didn't want to be too close to the horses, they were unsettled and he didn't much fancy being kicked or even worse trampled on. When he reached the other side of the cart he saw Davey standing a few feet away from the front wheel looking off into the distance, his back to John.
‘Hey Davey, what is it? What you lookin' at?’ Big John asked.
Davey didn’t react, he seemed to make a sound though, a low sound, barely audible but John heard it all the same.
‘Davey?’ John’s voice was more of a whisper this time though as he’d become aware of how loud his voice sounded in the dark.
Davey didn’t react, so John began almost creeping his way over to Davey, a feeling of unease gripped big man. He took a few more steps towards Doolan and then in the blink of an eye Davey was facing him. John could see that Davey’s chin and the cheek under his right eye were gone, ripped off it seemed and the eyes, Davey was a dark haired man with dark brown eyes, but these eyes were pure white. Davey’s mouth began to open but it didn't stop opening where it should have, it continued until his jaw was at an obscene angle, chin almost resting on his chest, tongue moving in all directions like a blind snake. Blood trickled out of Davey’s mouth and on onto his shirt. Then he let out a guttural, growling noise.
John stood frozen with shock, looking at Davey with complete incomprehension, his own mouth hung open, his eyes wide. He stood that way until Davey’s hand reached out with insane speed and grabbed John around his throat, crushing his adam’s apple but pulling him toward Davey at the same time. John did the only thing he could, he pulled the trigger of his rifle. The blast was deafening in the still of the night and three quarters of Davey’s head disappeared.
‘Fuck!… Fuck!…’ shouted Big John and he watched the other man stand for a few moments before dropping backwards onto the floor.
John was breathing deep, sweat covered his brow. He had just blew his friends fucking head off and what the fuck had been wrong with Davey’s face?
He stood for a few more moments like a statue, that was until he once again heard unrest coming from the horses, then a wet ripping sound coming from the front of the cart, he spun around, the rifle gripped tightly in his hands.
‘Who the hell’s there? I'll blow your brains out of your skull if you try and fuck with me.’ He said, trying, but failing, he thought, to sound menacing.
Of course, no sound came, no sound except a low droning coming from the horses, a sound which he had never heard from any horse. What the fuck was going on? John thought.
He walked slowly around to the front of the cart squinting in the dark trying to make out something, anything that would give him a clue as to what was happening. He reached the first horse and saw that its head was lowered, the sound it was making was not like the breathing he had heard moments before, it was hard, laboured. Slowly the horse raised its head. The eyes weren't the dark glistening colour they usually were, they were white, almost glowing. The animals face had smears of blood across it but John couldn't see a wound. He tried to look a little closer but the horse thrust its head forward, snapping its teeth together and missing John’s face by millimetres.
‘Jesus christ,’ he yelled out.
He heard a movement from on the cart behind the horse. Big John turned, pointing the gun in that direction but was unable to see anything on the cart other than the liquor they had collected from town. He moved closer, leaning over the edge of the cart to get a better look on board. Then he heard a swooshing sound as if a giant bird had flown just inches above his head. He looked up and it was then a terrible realisation hit him. John knew that someone or something was standing behind him, the feeling immense and then, as if to confirm his fears, a laboured wheezing noise sound began to come from behind him. It was coming from a throat that sounded like it was full of glass and breathing with lungs that were punctured with a hundred bullet holes.
The sweat on Johns brow made him look like he'd had a glass of water thrown into his face. He was afraid, more afraid than he had ever been in his life. He had only one choice. He whirled around and aimed the rifle in-front of him, as soon as anything came into view he would blow it away.
Something did come into view, a large figure, easily as large as him but not quite the same shape. Whatever it was grabbed the gun and ripped it from his hands with a strength and speed he could not begin to comprehend. The gun was tossed into the dark and he stood facing the thing in front of him.
John began to make out more of the figure. It wore no shirt and its dark hair hung long over its face. The heavily boned skull seemed to be painted and there was also paint on its chest. It resembled an Apache only the shoulders were swollen with more muscle than any man should have. It had a tree trunk like neck which supported a head, a head in which one gleaming white eye was visible among the matted black hair and then, before John knew what was happening, it jumped at him, knocking him against the cart, its mouth sunk into his neck and the pain that those once human teeth bought with them was immense. John felt the warmth of his own blood flood the top of his shirt and visions flashed in front of his eyes. He began thinking of the fight earlier that day with the sheriff, how quick and accurate that sheriff had been. He thought of Joel eating his apple, Joel with the devil, apparently, in his eyes. Well, he had met the real devil tonight and it was much more frightening than Joel fucking Blackwater.
He then began thinking about Missy, sweet, sweet Missy. He had been bad to her, he wish he could go back, treat her right, but now it was too late.
John could feel the life seeping out of him, he would never get the chance to make a mends, never get chance to hold her hand, to kiss her cheek or…to punch her face! He would never get chance to rip the eyes from her head! He would never be able to take a knife and cut the organs from her body, or would he? Maybe he would.
Hate began to fill him, consume him. His insides felt white hot with rage. He thought of the sheriff, about tearing him in half, listening to his skin rip and the guts hit the floor. His thoughts were swirling now, one act of brutality bleeding into the next, all logical thought was leaving him, making way for thoughts of mutilation and murder.