Dominion

Terri Sutro

It was a dark and stormy night (no really, it was!).  Kid and Heyes had been riding for what seemed like hours, the cold rain drenching them to the bone, the wind howling through the skeletal trees.  They both knew their horses, and they themselves, couldn’t take much more.  Heyes was in front, letting his horse follow a faint track through some overhanging trees.  It wasn’t so much that Heyes knew where he was going, it was just easier to let the horse go where it wanted than to fight it along a different route.  The cold and dark was lulling Heyes and Kid both into an exhausted stupor.

Through the fog covering his brain, Heyes realized that the horse had stopped.  A screeching sound followed by a loud bang startled him into full wakefulness.   In front of them was a large structure that on closer inspection was an old barn.  Heyes dismounted, motioning Kid to do the same.  They entered the barn cautiously, making sure to grab the banging door so it didn’t spook the horses.  Heyes pulled a match, thankfully and miraculously dry, from his pocket, lit it and quickly surveyed the surroundings.  It wasn’t a large barn, but it was snug against the storm.  The dust and cobwebs gave them the idea that it hadn’t been used in a long time, so they decided to bed down the horses for the night – not that the horses or the men had any intention or desire to go back out into the storm.

Kid looked out through the crack between the doors, old habits making him check that no one had followed them. 

“Heyes, look at this…”  He held the door open a bit more so Heyes could see the outline of a large bulk of a house.  They were both surprised they missed it as they rode up, but chalked it up to exhaustion and the dark.  There were no lights on in the house, but the occasional flash of lightning lit up the surrounding area, giving the two-storied, gabled house an eerie look.

“Guess we better make sure no one is home.”  Heyes grinned, the state of disrepair of the barn telling them that no one had lived there for years.

“I don’t know Heyes; the barn is fine with me.”  Kid couldn’t explain the uneasy feeling that the thought of going into that house gave him.  Maybe it was too many of Heyes’ spooky stories when they were children.

“Oh c’mon Kid, it’s got to be better than sleeping on moldy old hay.  I’m going; you can stay here if you want to.”  Heyes headed back out into the storm, the wind grabbing the door and slamming it back against the outside wall.  Kid sighed and followed, shaking his head.

They stepped up on the decrepit porch, making sure to glance in the windows just in case they were wrong about no one living there.  The lightning lit up the interior enough for them to get a glimpse of broken furniture and more cobwebs.

“Looks pretty deserted to me; I’m going in.”  Heyes reached for the doorknob, which turned easily in his hand, but the door wouldn’t budge.  “Give me a hand here Kid.”  Kid thought about clapping, but common sense won out and he went over and both men threw their weight against the door.  It held against them for a few seconds, then flew open like it was pulled from the inside.  Heyes landed on the floor first, Kid landing on top of him, knocking the breath out of both men.  They looked up sharply at the sound of a match striking, and a raspy voice…

“It’s about time you got here; I’ve been waiting for you.”

************************

The sepulchral voice echoed in the foyer.  Both men lurched upright in one uniform motion, two bodies stick straight, two hands pointing weapons at the figure in front of them.

‘Gentlemen…”  The black clad figure took two hurried steps back.  “…there is no need for weapons.”

The outlaws didn’t budge.

“What do you mean it’s about time we got here.  Heyes cocked his head, trying to get a clearer picture of the man in the dusky room.

“We didn’t know we were gonna be here…how did you?”  Kid’s deep blue eyes never left the figure, his finger solidly on the trigger of the Cole Peacemaker.

“You were meant to be here, gentlemen.”  He ignored their confusion.  “I’ll show you to your rooms.”  The man arched his back and started up the stairs.  “Well?  Are you coming? All will be explained in time.”

Kid glanced at his cousin with a wordless question. 

Heyes shrugged.  “All right.  Tell us this.  If you were expecting us, who are we?” A smile tweaked his lips. 

The man scowled.  “Games…there is little time for what must be done…and no time for child’s games.”  He took two more steps, turning back when he realized he was not being followed.  Sighing.  “Very well.  You sir…”, he pointed at Curry…”are Jedediah Curry.  And you are Hannibal Heyes.  And I would be grateful if you would put those weapons down.  Weapons are not needed here.  They’d be useless in any case…but I’ve said too much.  Will you come now?”  The last words uttered with a note of impatience, he turned and without a backward glance, he once again began climbing the stairs. 

The two outlaws exchanged confused glances. 

“Heyes…”  Curry whispered.

“I don’t know, Kid.  But what have we got to lose?”  Heyes holstered his weapon and started up the stairs.

“I don’t know…that’s what worries me.”  Curry reluctantly holstered his gun and followed his partner.  A feeling of intense disquiet settled upon him and he found himself looking over his shoulder more than once.

Once on the landing both men looked right and left – their guide seemed to vanish.

“Where’d…”  Kid started, once again drawing his gun.  Turning he squinted against the shadowy light trying to find the man.  “Heyes…”  He turned back.  There was no one there. “Heyes!”  His voice grew louder and he inched forward.  “Hell and damnation…Heyes, where are you!” 

“No need to shout Kid…I’m right here.” 

The baritone whisper came out of the shadows, causing Curry to jump back.  “What the…where were you?” 

“Looking for the…proprietor.”  The sly grin creased the man’s face.  “He seems to have vanished.  “Found us rooms though.  Come on, I’ll show you.”  He turned and led the way down the corridor to a set of double doors. 

He pushed them open and walked through.

Kid swallowed hard, hesitating at the door.  One of these days, I’m gonna kill him…don’t know when…just one of these days…”  He stepped through and found himself in a very large parlour suite. 

The furniture was rich, dark mahogany, the oil lamps cast a warm glow, enhanced by the brightly burning fire.  There was wood stacked on the ample hearth, and kindling neatly placed in the copper holder.  A bowl of apples sat on a round table, covered with a white linen cloth. 

The beds – two enormous four posters – were covered with multicolored quilts.  Pillows beckoned to the tired man. 

Kid’s vision finally brought him back around to his partner.  Heyes was propped casually against the wall next to the fireplace.  Kid stiffened…what…who was that…there was something that floated by….”  He shook it off.  I must be more tired than I thought. 

“So, I think we should stay.”  The baritone voice sounded confident. 

Thunder cracked above their heads, rattling the windows.  The ensuing lightening lit the skies outside.  Within a few seconds the sounds of pouring rain could again be heard pounding on the roof.

“Of course.”  Kid mumbled resignedly.  He turned back to Heyes.  “I’d be happier if we left.” 

“Kid, we’ll drown out there.”  Heyes said, smiling.

“Maybe the barn…”  Kid asked hopefully, knowing the answer before the words were spoken.

“Now Kid.  Why would we ride out and risk pneumonia or sleep in that cold, cobweb filed barn when there’s this nice, warm room just beggin’ to be slept in?”  He picked up an apple and idly tossed it from hand to hand.  “Why that’s just plain…” He grinned again.  “You do what feels right, Kid.  I’m gonna get a good, warm, night’s sleep.”  He started taking off his clothes, tossing them over a chair.  Picking up a book, he climbed into one of the beds.  He took a large bite of the apple.  Mmmm….definitely better than the barn.” 

Curry watched incredulously.  Heyes was usually much more cautious about things that looked too good to be true.  Mainly cause they usually weren’t.    “All right Heyes…but I don’t like it.”  He pulled his boots off.  Nope, don’t like it at all.   Not one bit.”  He tossed his clothes on another chair and climbed into the other bed.  “And I don’t ‘spect I’m gonna be doing much sleepin’.” 

A yawn was all that met the man’s complaints.  “You forget to put the light out Kid.” 

Curry turned, ready to tell his cousin what he could do with his thoughts, but Heyes was already buried under the quilts.

“Fine.”  He crawled out of bed and walked to the table.  One of these days…  He waited a moment hoping his eyes would adjust to the sudden change in light, then started back to bed.  He glared in Heyes’ direction – stopping at a sudden light emanating from next to Heyes’ bed.  “Heyes?” 

Mmmm…go to sleep Jed.”  The light dissipated. 

Kid shook his head.  Yep, I must be more tired that I thought.  Seein lights where there aren’t any. I just need some sleep.  Crawling into bed, he lay on his back watching the shadows from the fire dance on the ceiling.  Sleep came in fits and starts.  He woke twice to what he thought was a woman sighing…no, moaning…hell, he didn’t know what he meant.  He started to call out to Heyes, but the sounds of snoring dissuaded him.  No sense in both of us not sleeping.  Finally he rolled over, punched his pillow into the shape he wanted and forced himself to sleep.  He missed the soft laughter that floated through the room and finally disappeared.

************************

Morning found Kid Curry decidedly testy.  His mood did not improve when he woke up, looked over and saw an empty bed where Heyes should have been. 

He lurched out of bed, hurriedly pulled his clothes on and flew out of the room, strapping his gun on as he ran down the stairs. 

He skidded to a stop when he reached the ground floor, hearing voices and smelling breakfast.  His grumbling stomach reminded him that he hadn’t eaten in over a day.  Once again he shoved the weapon into its holster and followed the smells and the sound of his cousin’s voice.

“Good morning!”  Hannibal Heyes nearly leapt out of the chair to greet an unsmiling Kid.  Slapping him on the back, he ushered him to a chair, shoved him into a sitting position and immediately poured him a cup of coffee.  “Here ya go…you’ll feel better after you get some of this into you.  Ellar…that’s his name..you know the fella that greeted us last night…Ellar…well he may not be the most cheerful of fellas, but he sure can cook!  Are you hungry…what am I saying…of course you’re hungry…you’re always hungry.”  He laughed, and slapped Kid on the back again.

Coffee slurped out of the cup, depositing a puddle on the long wooden table.  “You’re all-fired cheerful, Heyes. 

“Well why shouldn’t I be.  Good night’s sleep, good food, no one chasing us…why aren’t you?  Heyes put a large plate in front of Kid. 

Overfull with eggs, bacon, toast and potatoes it temporarily diverted Kid from his concern.  Picking up a fork he ate with gusto.  After a third plateful, he sighed loudly and sat back.  “All right Heyes, maybe you’re right,   But there are still things that got me worried…how did they know we were coming and how do they know who we are and there was this light and these moans…”  He stopped, seeing the amusement on his cousin’s face.  “All right…it isn’t as..well it’s not…it’s better in the daylight.”  He slammed his fork down to emphasize his point.  “Look, we’ve gotten some sleep, we’ve had some food…let’s get outta here.  This place gives me the willies.”

“You’re just tired.  Ellar said we could stay as long as we wanted…well he actually said we were ‘sposed to.  Seems like a nice fella…well for someone who’d look more at home in a haunted house…”  He stopped at the look on Kid’s face.   “Oh yea, he said the house has beings, he said its name is Bru de Bone or somethin’ like that…just right for Halloween.”  He paused just long enough.  “Look, Kid, he’s just an old man who’s lonely.  I don’t know how he knew we were coming and I don’t know how he knew who we were.  Maybe one of the posse chasing us told him.  Maybe he just knows things.  Maybe one of them beings told him.  I don’t know.  What I know is that it’s cold and wet outside and warm and dry here.  We got comfortable beds and good food and no one’s shootin’ at us.  So I say we stay for a while, get some rest, then we can move on.”

“The beings told him?  Thanks Heyes that made me feel much better.”  He held up his hands in surrender.  “Fine.  We’ll stay.  But if I get killed in my bed,you’re gonna have to live with it.” 

“That’s the spirit!”  He looked at Kid.  “I didn’t mean that the way it came out…”

“Have you had enough Mr. Curry?”  The hollow voice startled both men. 

“Anyone ever tell you it’s not safe to keep sneaking up on a body.” 

“No, no one has ever told me that.”  The dour expression did not change,  The mistress awaits you in the study.”

Another exchange of glances. 

“Mistress?”  Heyes finally asked.

“Yes sir…Mistress  Brigid.”  His already scrunched face tightened even more.  “Mistress does not like to be made to wait.” 

“A lady never does.”  Heyes’ attempt at a joke fell as flat as the pancake that remained on Kid’s plate.

“OK, that’s it.  Heyes, we ‘re leavin’.  Don’t care where, but we’re leavin’ now.”  Curry rose and strode forcefully from the room.

Heyes turned to the old man.  “Looks like the lady will be waitin’ after all…much as I’d like to meet her, when my partner  gets an idea, there’s no stopping him.”  Heyes nodded and hurriedly went to catch up with Kid.

Which was why he found it very confusing that as soon as he left the kitchen, he found himself in the study. 

Facing the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.  And Kid was no where in sight.

Heyes smiled.  Sometimes things just have a way of working out. 

************************

Kid Curry was also not where he expected.  He expected, when he left the kitchen, to climb the stairs, pack his bag, get on his horse and get as far away as he could from this house. 

Where he found himself after he left the kitchen was in a jail cell. 

Facing the biggest, angriest sheriff he’d ever seen.  And Heyes was no where in sight..

Kid covered his face with his hands.  Sometimes things just had to go from bad to worse. 

************************

 “I’ve been waiting for you, Mr. Heyes.”  The voice was deeper than most women’s.  Mellifluous.  Hypnotic.  “I do not like to be kept waiting.” 

“My apologies, ma’am.”  He wanted to say more but for one of the few times in his life, was at a loss for words. 

“Accepted.”  She stepped closer.  “Are you wondering how your true names were known?”  She took another step forward. 

Her heavy perfume overwhelmed his senses, he felt himself reeling, dizziness overcame him…he was spinning…no the room was spinning...the last thing he remembered before darkness claimed him were her words…’The house knows everything, Mr. Heyes.”

************************

Kid was having a dizzy spell of his own.  He’d uncovered his head when he’d heard the Sheriff talking.  It wasn’t the Sheriff’s voice that opened his eyes.  It was the very familiar voice of Lom Trevors, Sheriff of Porterville.  Former outlaw.  Friend to two outlaws seeking amnesty. 

“He’s in my jail and I’m keepin’ him.”  Sheriff Ezekial Lumbarger shook a fist in Lom’s face to emphasize that possession was indeed more important than fact.

Lom just smiled.  A cold, hard smile.  “Zeke, I know he’s in your jail.  But you just said you don’t know why he’s there or how he got there or who the hell he is for that matter.  And I do know him.  He’s a friend of mine and I’m asking you to let him go.  In my custody of course.”

“Dad blast it Lom, I do know him – he’s Kid Curry.  Everyone knows him.   And I don’t give a hoot how he got in my jail, he’s here and I’m keepin’ him.”  The Sheriff crossed his arms in front of him and stood there, looking very much like a pouting eight year old.

“Damnation Zeke, will you listen to yourself? You can’t keep him.”  Impatience grew in Lom’s voice.  There was work to be done, and the amunsement of this game was fast fading.   

Kid had also tired of being the observer.  Scuse me.  I understand I resemble that fella Curry, can’t begin to tell you the trouble that’s caused me.  But my name is Thaddeus Jones and I’d be grateful if you’d listen to Sheriff Trevors and let me out of this here cell.”  Kid was trying to be both confident and contrite.  “Nice to see you Lom.” 

Both men turned to the prisoner as though they’d suddenly remembered he was there.

“Now look Zeke,  you let me take him and I’ll make sure you get credit.  And the reward.”    Lom smiled genially.  “And you won’t have to deal with what happens when his partner shows up.”

The Sheriff’s countenance darkened.  “I ain’t afraid of Hannibal Heyes.  I got ways of dealing with fellas like that.” 

Kid wasn’t sure why Lom had so readily agreed with him as to his true identity, but he hoped he’d have time to deal with that later.  “Now look Sheriff.  First off, I’m not sayin’ I am this Curry fella.  But if I was and if my partner knew I was in jail, why nothing would stop him from getting’ me out.  And you know this Heyes and Curry run the Devil’s Hole Gang – and well, there ain’t no more ruthless a gang of outlaws anywhere.”  He looked from Lom to the Sheriff.  “Ain’t that right, Lom?  He nodded encouragingly at Trevors. 

Trevors put his hand out for the keys.  “Get the irons, Zeke.”

Lumbarger’s breath was shallow and he seemed fixed in place.  Silently he handed the keys over, turned and walked away.

Trevors unlocked the cell and opened the door, good humor returning to his voice.  “You sure do have a way of getting’ yourself into trouble.  Where’s Heyes?” 

“Lom, why the…why’d you agree with him on me bein’ Kid Curry?”  Kid rose and took a step towards his friend,

Lom held up his hand to stop him.  “We’ll talk when you’re out of here.”  He took the irons the Sheriff offered and calmly shackled Kid’s hands, ignoring the scowl directed at him.

Lumbarger’s voice finally returned.  “What’re ya gonna do with him?”  Stage don’t come through till tomorrow?  Why not just leave him here for the night?” 

“By tomorrow we’ll be halfway home.  And with less attention than having him on a stage full of other passengers.  Let’s go Curry – sooner we get going, the sooner we get you where you belong.”  Trevors took Kid’s arm and led him from the cell, past the glowering Sheriff and out the front door of the jail.

************************

 “You wanna tell me what’s goin’ on?  And get me outta these things!  Kid’s eyes were dark and his voice a growl. 

“All in good time Kid.  You don’t want the good citizens of…well the good citizens to think we’re in cahoots.  Let’s get us some horses and we’ll talk on the way.”    Lom pointed in the direction of the livery.

“On the way to where?  Where are we anyway?  And how’d I get here?”  Kid stopped, glaring at the other man.

“Kid people are beginning to stare.  Let’s just get goin’.  There’s a time for questions and a time for answers.  I got some of my own.”  He took the outlaw’s arm a bit more firmly and shoved him forward.  “Like for example, where’s Heyes?  Not much separates the two of you.” 

Kid sighed.  “All right, Lom.  We’ll play it your way.  For now.  Heyes is at this house.  We found it last night – comfortable enough, if you like haunted houses.”  He found himself grinning at the lawman’s expression.  “Anyway, after breakfast, I was gonna leave.  I left the kitchen and next thing I knew I was here.  Where is here anyway?”

“And Heyes is still at the house?”  They’d arrived at the livery and Lom ushered Kid in.

“Well of course he is, at least he was…Lom I don’t know what’s goin’ on, but I don’t like it.  Now will you get me out of these things and let’s get movin’.  Kid stuck out his shackled hands and waited impatiently for the lawman to do his bidding.

He unlocked the irons and removed them from Kid’s wrists.  “We should go.  Storm’s comin’ in.”

Kid looked at his friend questioningly.  “It’s clear and dry.  What storm are you talkin’ about?”  A funny tingle was running up Kid’s spine.  The tingle that always told him something wasn’t right. 

The man raised his eyebrows, hesitating for a split second.  “The one that always shows up right after my leg starts aching.  You know, the leg that got shot up…”

“Yea, ok, I remember.”  He pushed the tingle away.  No one other than Lom would know that story.  He watched the Lom talking to the stablekeeper.   You’re just on edge because of that house and losing Heyes.  It’s Lom.  Who else could it be?  Then what was it that just wasn’t sitting right.  And there was still that question of how he’d gotten out of the house into that cell in the first place.  How long had he been there?  Kid’s head swam with the questions and he found himself grateful that Lom finished his negotiations for two matched coal black stallions and handed him the reins. 

“You ready?”  Lom mounted his horse and started walking it out of town.

Kid eyed the horses.  Did small towns keep horses like this?  “More that you know.”  Kid followed suit and soon they were out of town. 

Picking up the pace, Lom took the lead. 

Kid, happy to stay back a bit and study things, wanted to ask how Lom knew where he was going.  But at this point, the thought of one more question was more than Kid felt he could deal with.  Whatever was going on, he was going to have to let it play out.  And be prepared to whatever was going to happen when they reached their destination.  The house. 

************************

Hannibal Heyes woke up with a splitting headache and no idea where he was.  He struggled to his feet, the room still swirling.  He hung on to the back of a chair until things stopped moving and he felt like he could take a step without falling back down. 

“Thaddeus?”  He called out tentatively, the sound elevating the throbbing in his temples.   Wonderful.  And things were going so well.

“Are you ill, Mister Heyes?”  The voice was back, as was the scent.  “I wondered if you would ever wake.”

She was in a gown of the deepest green velvet, a green that matched her eyes.  Her red hair was a mass of curls, bound somehow on top of her head.  A black velvet choker with a cameo of a woman was at her neck. 

The vision was sufficient for Heyes to forget about his throbbing head.  “No ma’am, I’m fine. “  He took a step towards her.  “Ma’am where is my friend?”

“Your friend is gone Mr. Heyes.  I chose you.  You will be my victory.”  She held him with her eyes.  She stopped suddenly and turned away.  “They are close.” 

Hannibal Heyes was a lot of things.   A patient man, when it cam to danger involving his cousin was not among them.  “Look lady, I don’t know who you are and I honestly can’t say I care.   Tell me where my friend is and tell me now.”  The menace in his voice had chilled many men;  it seemed to have no effect on the woman at all.  “Fine.  You’re leaving me no choice…if I have to tear this house down one room at a time…well, let’s see…what’s in here…”  He walked to another set of double doors and tried to pull them open.  They wouldn’t budge.

“NOOOOOOO….” 

The shriek sent shivers running down Heyes’ spine.  “Guess this must be the place.”  Heyes pulled again on the door.

“You mustn’t let them in.  It will spoil the game!”  Her voice was angry, annoyed.  In an instant she was by his side. 

“Get away from me, lady.”  He shoved her away, more harshly than he’d planned. 

She fell against the heavy side table, lying there momentarily stunned.  She reached out as if to stop Heyes, but to no avail.

“I’m sorry, but if my cousin is in there, I’m going to get him.  Now don’t get in my way.”  He took a deep breath and pulled on the doors again.  This time they flew open, revealing a cavernous blackness and a bone chilling cold.  Heyes involuntarily took a step backwards.  “What the…”  He turned to the woman…but she’d vanished.  “Of course.”  He swallowed hard, preparing to enter the blackness.  “Kid!  Kid you in there?”  He shouted into the black.  He tentatively put his hand forward.

As soon as he touched the blackness, a wave of nausea and terror staggered him.  He fell back, a cold sweat covering his face.   Breathing heavily, he sat there.  I’ll just catch my breath.  Hang on Jed, I’m comin’.”  He pushed himself up, ignoring the fear that tried to envelop him, he walked towards the dark.  He’d almost reached it when he heard the sound.  Thundering, coming towards him.  It grew louder and louder until it threatened to run him over.  He jumped just as the horses flew through the black at him.

************************

 “Heyes!”  Kid tried to control the horse, to avoid crashing into his cousin. 

They’d fairly flown back to the house, taking paths that didn’t seem to exist before they’d started down them.  He’s lost track of day and night and, if truth be told, had no idea what day or month he was in.   He’d figured out early on that this wasn’t Lom.  He didn’t know who it was or why he looked like Lom.  He’d come to the conclusion that he didn’t know what the hell was goin’ on, he didn’t like it and really wanted his nice simple life back.  Running from the law sounded wonderful right now.  He decided he’d definitely mention this to Heyes as soon as he made sure his cousin was all right, then flattened him.  He didn’t have a particular reason for flattening his cousin, he just needed to hit someone and Heyes had to have started all this with his Halloween stories. 

They’d entered another path and the horses moved quicker and quicker, there was no holding them back.  The man in front of Kid seemed to meld with the horse, they moved in one fluid motion.  Kid hung on and waited it to stop.  Then he saw the blackness and tried with everything he could to turn away from it.  The horse would have none of it and drove forward to be side by side with its brother. 

Kid could hardly breath, they were moving so quickly.  The wind whipped against his face.  Every fiber of his being fought to stop, to no avail.  He hear  thin, high pitched laughter from the man beside him, more like a howl of victory and then all went black.

************************

 “Well.  “Bout time you woke up.”  Heyes voice brought Kid out of the blackness. 

“Heyes?  What the…what’s goin’ on?”  Kid sat up suddenly, grabbing for his gun.

“Won’t do you any good, Kid.  I have no idea what’s goin’ on, wish I did.  Where’d you go, anyway? 

“Where’d I go?”  Where’d you go?  I was here, then I was in jail…yea jail, don’t ask me why or how.  Only reason I’m here is Lom got me out…”  He squeezed his eyes closed, ignoring the confused look on Heyes face.  “Look, you asked, I’m tellin’ you.”  He sighed loudly.  “Heyes, can we just get out of here?”  I don’t much care who these people are or what they want.  Maybe it’ll make more sense with a whiskey,  maybe a double….hell, maybe the bottle.”

Lom,huh.  I got a beautiful woman.”  He held up his hands in surrender.  “I don’t understand either, but I agree with you Kid.  Let’s find the front door and get movin’.  He looked around the room.

“The front door…”  He also looked around.   “Of course.”  The room they were in had no doors or windows.  It looked very comfortable with big heavy furniture, a brightly burning fire, there was just no way in or out.

‘Well it does beat some of the jail cells we’ve been in.”  Heyes was trying to be jovial. 

“Glad you can find the humor in all this Heyes.”  Kid finally holstered his gun.

“Gentlemen.” 

The voice came out of no where and both men jumped at the sound.

“You are summoned.” 

Ellar…where’d you come from…how’d you get in here!”  Heyes shouted at the man – covering the distance between them in two long strides.

“More important, where’s the door, so we can get out.”  Kid had drawn his gun and was now pointing it at the man.

“You are summoned.”  The hollow voice showed no emotion. 

“Fine!  Let’s go!”  Heyes whirled around pointing as he spun.  “Show us the door out!” 

Ellar nodded. 

************************

 “Getting’ mighty tired of this Heyes.”  Kid was sprawled on a hard surface.

“Yea, me too.”  Heyes rolled off his stomach and surveyed the room. 

Big, empty, only furniture were two large chairs.  “Looks like something I saw in a book once…something King Arther sat in…”  The fire that blazed in the  huge stone fireplace was the only light in the room. 

A scent flooded the room, the scent of heather and mist and something darkly magic. 

“We have a contest.”  A man’s voice filled the room. 

The outlaws spun to face the chairs, now filled with a man and woman.  They looked at each other.

“Your beautiful woman?”  Kid mumbled.

Heyes nodded.  “That one yours?”

Kid shrugged.  “Hard to say.”

 The two beings studied the men as though they were under a microscope.   “Do you know of me?” 

The outlaws watched as the being became Lom, then slowly he…it…became something else.  Tall, muscular he was fair complected with long red hair.  He work garb of leather and mail.  He looked human, but no one in the room believed that was the case.  “I am your friend…no…I am the Sheriff…or am I someone else….”  He laughed, a cold, arrogant laugh.   “I am Dagda.  I rule this dominion.” 

The woman turned angrily to him.

The man ignored her.  “This is Brigid.  We have been longer than time itself, coming from your homeland to find a new place.  This one suits us.”

“It suits me.  And this is my place.”  There was no longer any melody to her voice.  It was cold and flat. 

“We shall see.”  He rose.  “The game has been enjoyable.  Living in the memories you provided.  Experiencing your humanness.  You will learn to obey and enjoy your fealty to us.”  He sat back down.  “The time is here.  A test.  We shall learn and one of you will survive.  You will fight to the death.  He who is victorious shall have a place of honor.” 

The outlaws exchanged looks. 

“I don’t know or care who you are.  My friend and I are not fightin’ anyone.  We have a place and it’s not here.  So if it’s all the same to you, we’ll be goin’.”  Heyes’ silver tongue had seldom failed him, he hoped it wouldn’t do so now.

Kid had a more direct approach.   “Where’s the door?”  He fired a shot into the wood paneling directly over the head of the man.  “Next one goes lower.”

The man smiled and spoke quietly to the woman.  “I will have my victory in him.” 

“We shall see Dagda.”  Bearing a striking resemblance to the man, she glided to him.  “You will bring me glory.”  She caressed his face.  “And my rewards shall be great.  The door will show itself when the battle is done.”  She raised her arm.   “Begin.”

The men did not move.  For an excruciatingly long moment. 

Then in a heartbeat, Heyes tackled Kid, pinning him beneath him. 

“What the hell…Heyes have you lost your mind?”  Kid tried to push him off, but Heyes hung on, both men rolling over and over.

“Play along, Kid.”  Heyes fierce whisper.  “Let ‘em think they’re getting what they want.”

Kid understood and this time roughly pushed Heyes off, leaping to his feet. 

Heyes rolled to a corner and also stood. 

The men studied each other as they circled in the firelight. 

Don’t want’ta do this Heyes.” 

“I want to live Kid…easy as that.” 

This time it was Kid who leapt, knocking Heyes backward and into the wall.  “How long do we do this?”  He whispered.

“Not sure.”  Heyes shoved him off.

“Enough!  There will be blood!  Or you both shall die!”  The man’s roar filled the room.  “ELLAR!  Weapons!”

The man appeared from nowhere carrying a tray that glittered in the dim light.   “Gentlemen.”  He offered the tray to both outlaws. 

Laid out on the tray were weapons.  Silver, deadly, they seemed to draw energy from the two outlaws, humming and whispering. 

Heyes reached for one – a sword, deadly sharp with a jeweled handle and a slightly curved blade.  He balanced it in his hand, testing it’s weight.  “A fine weapon.”  He smiled directly at Dagda.  “Good for killin’.”  

Kid reached outward to a knife, at least twelve inches long.  Something caught his eye and he looked up.  Ellar’s eyes directed him to another weapon.  Trusting his instinct, he reached for it.  A spear, long, sharp and deadly in every way. 

“Be careful, sir, it is very sharp.” 

“As he uttered the words, Kid’s palm slipped across the blade, nicking his palm and leaving a droplet of blood on the weapon.  He winced imperceptibly and grasped the body of the spear, not bothering to test it’s feel.  He moved instantly backwards, facing the two beings, twirling the weapon as though it was a baton. 

This what you want?  One of us kills the other?  What do I get when I win?”  Kid now tossed the spear, almost playfully from hand to hand.  There was no playfulness in his words.

“Whatever you desire.”  Dagda laughed, feeling victory in his reach. 

“I desire her.”  Heyes instinctively took a position opposite his cousin.  “And when I win, I’ll have her.”

They once again danced back and forth, equal combatants, shadowy figures in the firelight.  When they stopped, Kid had his back to the beings. 

“Shut up Heyes.  I wan’ta live too.  And I’m gonna.  And when this is over I’m gonna burn everything that reminds me of you in the fire and finally be free.”  His eyes were a slate blue, dark and angry, they bored into Heyes.

“If that’s how you want it, Kid.”

“That’s how I want it Heyes.” 

“Well then, let’s get it done.”  

They moved forward, circling each other, crouching, jabbing, knowing, waiting for the moment to strike…leaping in unison, weapons flying forward…the screams of destruction as the blades found their homes and the fire that followed as the beings melted to the ground and turned to ash. 

************************

Neither knew how long they’d been unconscious.  The thunder as the two beings were destroyed had knocked them both out.  Now, they struggled to clear their heads and follow the voice that came out of nowhere.

“Go raibh maith agat.  Thank you.”  It whispered and was gone.

************************

  The sun rose on two men stretched out under a spreading oak tree.  It’s leaves, golden and red looked like a Wyoming sunset to the men.  There was a calmness in the air and for a moment neither moved.  They lay there content in the silence.  Suddenly as if both had the same thought at the same time, they sat up, then stood up as though hit by lightening.

“Where is it?”  Kid ran forward, shoving brush aside as he went.

“Should be right there…I mean, here…hell…where is it?  He shouted as he followed his partner

“There…”  Kid stopped suddenly.

Heyes nearly knocked him over as he too saw the flat surface where a house once stood.  Their horses stood placidly chewing on bright green bushes that clumped together where the barn should have been.

“Heyes?.... 

“I don’t know Kid.  Maybe it was a dream.” 

“That we both had?  I don’t think so Heyes.”

“Then were is it?” 

They walked forward, reaching out as though maybe it was there, just invisible.  Catching themselves, they both lowered their arms, embarrassed. 

“What’s that?”  Kid pointed towards a square object in the center of the plot of land.  He walked forward and picked it up.  “A book.”

“I can see that…here let me have it.”  He snatched the book away.  “Legend of the Tuatha De Danann.”  He scratched his head.  “Didn’t Grampa Curry mention that name once?”

Mebbe.”  Kid peered over Heyes’ shoulder as he opened the book.  The first page was a drawing. 

“Well I’ll be…”  He shook his head. 

The drawing was of the beings they’d encountered in the house that wasn’t there.   He turned the page.  It was Eller, holding a tray of weapons. 

“Ya know Heyes, I hear Texas is right nice this time of year.  Maybe Mac will have a job for us.”  He straightened himself and walked to the horses.  “If we leave now, we can make it in…well, let’s just leave now.”

Heyes studied the book.  “Wait, Kid.  It wasn’t a dream, it was real.  Well as real as it could be.  I remember the story.  They were magical beings that invaded Ireland.  Maybe they came to do the same here.  But we beat them Kid.  Don’t ask me how, but we did.”  He finally noticed Kid waking away and ran to catch up.  “Wait…Jed..look, the knives…”  He grabbed Kid’s arm and stopped him.  “Will you look…  The pictures were of the weapons they’d used to kill the two beings. 

“That’s it Heyes.  We’re leavin’.  Now you can get on your horse on your own, or I’m gonna flatten you, tie you to your horse and lead you outta here.  But sure as anything, we’re leavin’.   He glared at his partner. 

Heyes stared silently at his friend, then broke out into laughter.  “All right, Kid.  You’re right.  We can talk about this later.” 

“Ain’t gonna be talking about this.  Ever again.  I’m serious Heyes. 

They walked side by side to their horses, saddled them, mounted and started riding. 

“Wonder who Ellar was and why he helped us.”  Heyes mused.

“So help me Heyes…”  Kid started and kicked his horse into a gallop.

“Just a question Kid.”  He spurred his horse on to catch up.   “His name means steward.  Maybe he was sent here to help. 

“Shut up, Heyes.” 

“But Kid, aren’t you curious?” 

“No. Now I’m tellin’ you to shut up, ‘fore I do something we’ll both regret. 

Heyes cocked his head at his partner and sighed.  “Well if that’s the way you want to be.”

“It is.” 

For an hour they rode in silence, each digesting the events that had befallen them.

Finally Heyes could be silent no longer.  “Kid?” 

“Don’t start, Heyes.” 

“I think I know what happened.”  Heyes persisted.

Kid’s sighed loudly.  He knew he just had to let Heyes get it out of his system or this would go on forever.  “Fine Heyes.  What happened.

Eagerly, Heyes started.  “Well I think those two, Dagda and Brigid, were trying to bring their ways here to the good old US of A.  I dunno, maybe they didn’t like Ireland…”  His eyes widened.  “…or maybe they snuck on board a ship that came here…”

“If they were fairies or leprechauns or whatever they were, why’d they have to sneak on a ship.  Couldn’t they just be here?”  Kid, always the practical one, had decided if he couldn’t make Heyes stop, he could at least annoy him during the telling of the tale.

Heyes made a face, continuing as though he’d never been interrupted.  “However they got here, they decided to stay.”

“And why us?  How’d we get involved?  I mean were they just waiting for us to show up?”  Kid also continued his journey.  “And who was Ellar?

“Will you let me finish!  I don’t know why us.  Maybe we just happened to be here.  Maybe we were supposed to be here…maybe…maybe….maybe it’s cause we got here on Halloween!  And Ellar was a good…well a good somethin’ and was supposed to help us.”  He pulled his horse up.  “That’s it Kid.  We got here on Halloween and that must mean somethin’!”  He grinned.  “Halloween..” he said fondly.  “One of my favorite holidays.”

Kid turned to stare at him, sighing again.  “Heyes, I think you have finally gone loco.”  He thought for a moment, before riding away.  “Anyway,  I think I like Easter better.” 

Heyes grinned.  “Did I ever tell you the story of the Easter Rabbit?  Kid?”

But Kid had his head down and was riding as hard as he could.

 

 

Note:  THE TUATHA DÉ DANANN.

Ireland was invaded by a mystical race known as the Tuatha De Danann, who are to be distinguished from all other races who invaded and conquered Ireland, for where there is vagueness in Irish tradition concerning individuals of other invading races, there is by contrast a great wealth of detail concerning the heroes and heroines of the Tuatha De Danann.

The Tuatha De are described as physically outstanding; tall, red-haired, fair-skinned, powerful aristocratic and mystical beings who mingled with mortals and yet remained aloof and superior to them. Their principal residences were in and around Brú na Bóinne, the
Boyne Valley, where Newgrange and the other great monuments stand today.

According to Lebor Gabála the Tuatha Danann were the progeny of those Nemedians who followed Jobhath, the third son of Nemed, out of
Ireland after the Battle of Conann's Tower.

Led by their commander Jarbonel they settled with others of their race near the city of
Thebes in Greece, in an area "between the Athenians and the Philistines." Here they practised the arts of sorcery, magic and necromancy; for according to Forus Feasa there arose great conflict between the Athenians and the Assyrians: "…and several battles fought between them. These sorcerers would use their diabolical charms and revive the slain Athenians, and the next day bring them to battle, which so dispirited the Assyrians…"

The Tuatha Danann then wandered across Europe settling first in Scandanavia, and later in Alba (Scotland) and "The Northern Isles".

From Alba they resolved to reclaim
Ireland from the Fomor and the Fir Bolg, for Ireland was theirs by right of heredity, their Promised Land. With them they brought four great magical treasures: the Lia Fáil or Stone of Destiny which shrieked under the rightful monarch of Ireland at the time of his coronation; the Spear of Lugh which would brook no defeat of the warrior who wielded it; the Sword of Nuada (Cliamh Solais the Sword of Fire) from which no one could escape once it was drawn; and the Cauldron of the Dagda from which none came away hungry.

Names: 

Dagda, The Irish-Celtic god of the earth and treaties, and ruler over life and death. Dagda is one of the most prominent gods and the leader of the Tuatha Danann. He is a master of magic, a fearsome warrior and a skilled artisan.

Brigid:  The "Fiery Arrow or Power," is a Celtic three-fold goddess.  The daughter of Dagda.  Known by many names, Brighid's three aspects are (1) Fire of Inspiration as patroness of poetry, (2) Fire of the Hearth, as patroness of healing and fertility, and (3) Fire of the Forge, as patroness of smithcraft and martial arts. 

Ellar:  Gaelic for steward