The Master of
Kid Curry started to open his
eyes and began to sit up, but the pain in his head made him think again about
doing that. Funny, he didn’t remember drinking that much. ‘Must have been some
party’, he thought to himself, ‘too bad I don’t remember it.’
“Heyes” he said softly. When Heyes didn’t answer he reached out to nudge his cousin on the other side of the bed. His hand hit a wall though rather than his cousin’s shoulder. Frowning and trying not to move any more than absolutely necessary, he reached out the other way and found only empty space. Curiosity caused him to slowly open one eye and sit up. At first he just sat there with his head in his hands, wishing he hadn’t drunk so much. With great reluctance he opened the other eye. Kid looked around puzzled to find bars for a door and bars on the window. Then both eyes were wide open. He was in jail. He frowned again. Slowly he got to his feet and made his way to the window. He couldn’t see out, the window was too high. He looked around the room and found a small stool. After dragging it over to the window, he placed one booted foot on it and stood up so that he could see out. He had a fairly good view of the main street of the town. He didn’t recognize the street or any of the businesses or buildings at all. Stepping back down he gently sat down on the bunk again. He had no clue where he was, or why he was in jail. Not that he couldn’t come up with reasons why he should be in jail. He remembered now where Heyes was. He was supposed to meet him at the girl’s house. He was sure his cousin was already there. Frowning he lay back on the cot, ‘but where the hell am I?’
Kid hadn’t realized it until he heard a door quietly open that he had drifted back off to sleep. He’d only planned to lay there and think. Trying to figure out what was going on. His eyes flew open at the sound of the door and the smell of food and coffee.
“You awake son?” Someone asked quietly.
Slowly Kid sat up. More sleep had done him good. His head felt much better. Still hurt, but he thought now maybe he might live. “Yea,” He responded.
A grizzled old man dressed in a white dress shirt, worn pants and a tie came into view. With him he carried a doctor’s bag. “Sorry about the accommodations young fella, but the spare room at my office is filled with Ms. Williams who is tryin her hardest to bring twins into the world and the poor thing is not doing real good. Thought it was best to keep her close. And the hotel is full of trail hands from the drive that just came in. I’m afraid that Ole Charlie here’s ‘guest room’ is the best we could do.” He’d indicated the even older man standing behind him with a covered tray.
Kid looked at him a little surprised, “So I’m not under arrest?”
The old doctor smiled at him. When he did it took ten years off the man’s appearance and made his eyes sparkle with mischief. The smile was friendly and reassuring. “No, course not.” He reached for Kid’s arm to take his pulse. “Unless getting yourself a good size knot on the head is against the law.”
Kid rubbed the back of his head. He hadn’t realized until that moment that his headache had a specific starting point. He grinned sheepishly at the old doctor. “The way my head feels it should be.”
“Hurts does it.” The doctor answered with a soft laugh. He began to examine the huge bloody knot on the back of Kid’s head.
“Yea you could say that.” Kid winced as the doctor poked and prodded at it. He tried not to pull or jerk away from the doctor’s touch, but it wasn’t easy.
“Any idea how it happened?” Doc changed position so that he could look Kid in the eyes and examine the bruises that were beginning to form there and across his cheek.
Kid’s face went blank as he fell into deep thought and slowly it turned to a deep frown. “No sir. Can’t say as I do.”
The doctor nodded knowingly. “Can’t say as I’m surprised at that. What ever happened, you had a pretty bad blow to the head. One of them hands from the drive found you just outside of town. Found your horse a few feet away grazing, saddle and tack all in place, and couldn’t find anything that you could have hit your head on. He seemed to think that you might have gotten hurt someplace else and made it that far before you fell off. Any of that sound familiar?”
It was making his head hurt to try and remember, but he tried. Slowly Kid shook his head. “No sir. None of that rings any bells.” He looked up at the older man, “I’m not even sure where I am.”
“My name is Doc. Windham and this here feller is the Sheriff Charlie Knapp. This here town is
Kid gave that some thought. Obviously they didn’t know who he was, which, was a good thing or he would have been in this cell for real. And he sure wasn’t gonna tell them who he really was. He was about to tell them that his name was Thaddeus Jones, when Doctor Windham nodded his head again, “That don’t surprise me to much either. Don’t worry young fella. It’ll come back to ya. Now let me take another look at that knot on your head. Move over here closer to the window where I can see better. You’re gonna need a few stitches in that cut there on the back of your head. The one on your cheek there I believe will heal just fine with out it. We’ll get you cleaned up better and then you can have this fine dinner that Charlie brought for you.”
“So then I can go right? I mean …” Kid looked from the doctor to the Sheriff.
The Sheriff shrugged his shoulders as he scratched his chin. “I got no reason to hold ya. So I don’t see why not.”
“Well I have plenty of reason,” Doc Windham said firmly as he grabbed his bag beginning to put away the instruments he’d used to stitch Kids head. “I’m not gonna have you getting on some horse and takin off from here only to pass out just outside of town and mess up these beautiful stitches I just finished put in.” He looked at Kid. “Besides young fella I need to make sure that you don’t have yourself a concussion or worse before you try to ride out. I’m not sure yet that you don’t have a bone broken here in your cheek or maybe even your nose. Then there is the question of your memory loss…” He trailed off thoughtfully.
“So how long do you want me to stay?” Kid asked painfully.
“Well I’d prefer a week or two.” At the look on Kid’s face he smiled, “But I’ll settle for a day or two. How’s that?”
Reluctantly Kid nodded his head in agreement.
Ole Charlie sat the meal tray down for Kid and the two men left him to eat and rest up some more. Quietly closing the door behind them Charlie asked, “Doc what you wanna keep that boy around here for? You and I both knowed this ain’t a safe place for strangers.”
“Charlie ole friend, this ain’t a safe place for residents either.” The Doc smiled sadly, “I don’t want the boy in any more danger that’s for sure. But he needs to be able to defend himself when he does ride out. He’s just not in any shape to do that at this point. He didn’t say so, but I imagine he’s pretty dizzy when he stands up right about how. Besides he needs to be leavin at dawn. And that gun you took off his hip won’t do him a bit of good. You know that as well as I do.”
Ole Charlie nodded that he understood. Then thoughtfully, “You don’t suppose that boy could help us solve our little problem here do ya? Maybe he is the one that was sent.”
“That, my friend, is another reason why we don’t want this boy riding out too soon. Until he remembers everything,” Doc shook his head, “Well this town’s salvation may just ride out with him if we aren’t careful.”
Meanwhile some miles away Hannibal Heyes woke with a start. The bed next to him was empty. The soft warm cuddly creature that he had been sharing it with was no where in sight. Slowly he got out of bed and pulled his pants on. Buttoning them just enough to keep them from sliding off his slender hips, barefoot he wandered downstairs in search of her. Shaking his head slightly when he found the front door open. He picked up a blanket that was lying on the sofa and wrapped it around his shoulders. Then he quietly walked out on the porch. There she was. Wearing only his shirt as she sat on the porch rail leaning against the pole that held up the roof. She seemed deep in thought and was scanning the distance for something. Gently he slid his arms around her waist and pulled her back against him. Effectively wrapping the blanket he had around his own shoulders around her as well. He buried his nose in her hair. She always smelled so good. Tonight she smelled of blueberries and her hair of vanilla. And she tasted just as sweet.
“What are you doing out here?” He began to nuzzle her neck.
“He’s not here yet, Heyes.”
“Honey he’s a big boy.” Resting his head against hers “He probably went on to her place.”
Determinedly she shook her head. “No he wouldn’t do that. He would have checked in here first and at least let us know that he was okay and that he was going on there.”
Heyes sighed. She was right. Kid loved the girl as much as he did. Only difference was that Kid thought of her as a little sister. And Heyes had never had a brotherly thought about her. Kid would have checked in with her, he always did. If for no other reason so she would know he was around if she needed him. It’s the same thing he had done himself before he came here to her. Checking in with Kid’s girl, who was just down the road apiece. Slowly using his arms for support she turned around on the porch rail until she was facing Heyes. He then moved in closer as she wrapped her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. Laying her head against his shoulder.
She lifted her head to look at him. As she brushed his hair off his forehead, “
“Darlin’, you know how running errands for Big Mac can be. I’m sure he has just been held up someplace. It’ll be fine.” Heyes looked deeply into her eyes. He gave a resigned sigh, “Okay. If he’s not here by I’ll go look for him.”
Slowly she smiled and wrapped her arms more tightly around his neck hugging him close as she began to kiss his neck and throat working her way up to his jaw line. She pulled back a little so she could look into his eyes. “Promise?”
“Course.” He answered as he tightened his arm around her. Pulling her tightly against him he lifted her off the rail. He then carried her back up the stairs to the bedroom, and kneeling on the edge of the mattress he gently lowered her on to it. Careful to support his own weight until she was settled, his mouth found hers in an insistent kiss and without much coaxing from him she opened her mouth to allow his tongue access to play with hers as he thoroughly kissed her. All the while making himself comfortable against her body. He soon realized that her hands were no longer playing with the hair on the back of his head. Nor were her arms around his neck. She had shifted under him to allow herself to slide her hands between them and to the pants he had on. The buttons he had fastened when he put them on were now open and the pants were now being slid off of his hips.
He broke off the kiss, shifting to make what she was doing easier as he did he looked into her eyes, “Young lady just what do you think you are doing?”
She looked at him with wide innocent eyes, “Why am I doing it wrong?”
He grinned a mischievous grin that made his eyes sparkle with delight, “Nope.”
Kid had ridden late into the night. It wasn’t a very dark night. The sky was clear, and the full moon was very bright, big and yellow as it hung very low in the sky. He had delivered the bills of sale to the man that Big Mac had sold the parcel of land to and was on his way ‘home’. Well anyway the closest thing to home that he and Heyes had outside of Devil’s Hole. He knew that Heyes was there and the two girls would be waiting for him. He wanted to hurry cause he knew the girls would be worried about him if he didn’t show up when they thought he should have. He was actually beginning to enjoy the ride.
The warm night air mixed with the cool breeze was very pleasant. As he rounded the bend he thought he saw something stir just ahead of him in the road. The closer he got the clearer it became that there where two figures fighting off to the side among the trees. As he drew closer, he began to hear some strange growling sounds. Snarling and hissing like he had never heard in his life. His horse soon began to shy away from the noises. It took all of Kid’s strength to hold the animal from running away. As he got closer he realized that one of the figures was a great deal smaller than the other and seemed to be currently getting the stuffing beaten out of it. The sounds of blows landing were frightening in their savagery. As he got closer still he saw the hat that the smaller figure was wearing get knocked from its head and long red hair went flying. He realized then that the smaller figure was a girl.
“Hey!” Kid yelled as he kicked his reluctant horse into a run. After a few feet the animal skidded to a stop refusing to get any closer. So Kid jumped off and ran the rest of the way toward the fight on foot. As he reached the action the girl was sent flying backwards by a blow from the larger person she had been fighting. Momentarily stunned she just lay there. Her breath had been knocked out of her. As Kid grabbed the figure, he realized that she had been fighting a man. Kid spun the man around and what he saw shocked him, stopping him from throwing the fist he had reared back and ready. The man’s face was hideous. It was twisted into to a vicious snarl that was beyond anything Kid had ever seen before. His forehead was a mass of lines and wrinkles giving him a sinister deformed appearance, almost animalistic in its viciousness. He’s eyes actually glowed a sort of green/yellow color. But the worst was the man’s mouth and the fangs that protruded from it. They were actually dripping with blood.
“Well hit him!” Yelled the girl from behind him. It snapped Kid out of the shock of the man’s face and he threw the punch. It had little effect. The monster before him grabbed Kid by the front of his shirt with one hand and lifted him effortlessly into the air and held him there preparing to throw him. The girl was on her feet again and tackled the man sending him flying sideways. Momentarily stunning him and causing Kid to tumble to the ground. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” She snarled at him, at the same time offering him a hand up. “Get on your horse and get out of here.”
“Excuse me?” Kid was confused now, ignoring the hand and getting up on his own. “Looked to me like you needed some help.”
“Well I don’t!” As she turned back to the monster that had just grabbed her and spun her around. Fighting the thing more skillfully than any man Kid had ever seen. Actually she had skills that Kid had never seen before. He stood back and watch amazed at the moves this girl had. The way she spun and kicked, bobbed, weaved, then ducked and spun it was almost like she was dancing rather than fighting. At other times she almost seemed to be flying as she jumped into a spin and kicked; Landing punches that would have sent any normal man into unconsciousness effortlessly. In almost no time she had the thing down and it appeared to be unconscious. She then turned on Kid furiously angry. “You just need to move on mister. There is nothing that you can do here.” Kid was not paying any attention to her. He had walked past her and was examining the thing on the ground more closely.
“What is it?” He asked.
“Just never mind.” She grabbed his arm and tried to pull him away. All she succeeded in doing was turning him around. So now he faced her with his back to the creature on the ground. “Just get on your horse and go. This isn’t your problem.” There was almost desperation in her voice. She was clearly trying to protect Kid from something he just had no idea what or why.
“Look lady. I don’t know what your problem is. I was just trying to help you out.”
“I didn’t need any help.”
Kid smiled and shook his head, “Sure didn’t look that way to me. Looked to me like he…ahm it was about to get you down for the count.”
Kid smiling at her caused her to come unglued. “Look cowboy. The last thing I needed was for some two bit drifter to come along and stick his nose into something that he had no idea about what was going on.” As she continued to chew Kid out neither of them noticed that the thing on the ground was no longer unconscious and had slowly gotten to its feet and picked up a nearby limb from a tree. The limb was a good five inches thick and very solid. He reached out and grabbed Kid’s arm spinning him around to face it and using the limb like a bat to smash Kid across the face, sending him flying backwards into the trunk of a 100 year old oak that was nearby. Kid hit the tree trunk with the force of a train coming to a sudden stop causing his head to snap back against the trunk with a sickening thud. The thing started toward him to finish the job. Just as it began to reach for Kid to pull him closer so that it could sink its fangs into his invitingly warm neck, a look of shock came across its face and it stopped dead.
Kid bolted upright in the cot that was serving as his bed. The sudden movement had made his head throb mercilessly. “That was some dream.” He mumbled. Frowning, “at least I think it was a dream.” The fear and panic that Kid had felt in the dream as the creature approached him to finish him off had seemed all too real. But yet he couldn’t be sure that wasn’t a memory. “Nooooo!” He said to himself, “that is not possible. It had to be a dream.” The last thing he remembered just before he woke up was that the look of shock on the thing’s face was followed by it turning to dust before his eyes. Then, in his dream, he had passed out just as he had woken up.
The first thing next morning, Heyes sent a telegram to Big Mac and asked him if he had any idea where Kid was. The answer made Heyes nervous, but he hadn’t admitted it to the girls. Mac said that Kid had completed his task several days before having telegraphed him that the papers had been delivered and he was on his way ‘home’ in plenty of time to have been there already. The part that made him nervous was when Mac said he hoped everything was okay and to let him know if he could help. Heyes frowned at that. Mac wasn’t usually so concerned about their whereabouts or their safety. Anyway not so outwardly. When Kid still hadn’t shown up by , Heyes true to his word, saddled up and headed out to find him.
Heyes’ journey was uneventful. He had been kind of enjoying the ride. Warm weather clear sky, it had been very pleasant, until close to dusk. That was when he had passed the old man. The man was weary and covered with trail dust, dressed raggedy and looked for all the world like life had beat him down. There was no special reason for Heyes to notice the man, but he did. At first he found nothing unusual about him. He was just an old man who seemed to be walking home from someplace. But it was the second glance that troubled Heyes. When Heyes looked that second time, for no apparent reason, the man had stopped dead in his tracks, staring into space. From that point on the man had Heyes’ undivided attention.
“Mister,” Heyes asked, “are you alright?” He dismounted and approached the man fearing he was ill or having some kind of fit.
At first the man didn’t speak or acknowledge Heyes’ presence in any way. Then slowly he turned toward the younger man. Heyes was startled and involuntarily took a step backward when he saw that the man’s eyes were glazed over white. The expression on his face was blank almost stupidly so.
“You are not the chosen one’s leader.” He old man said to him. His voice had a distant far away quality to it that gave Heyes chills despite the warm weather. Heyes didn’t consciously think it, but the thought occurred to him that the voice did not belong to the old man and Heyes didn’t want to think about to who the voice might belonged to if not the old man.
Heyes looked around to see whom the man was talking to. Clearly there was no one there but the two of them.
“Ahmm, mister, I have no idea what you are talking about.” Heyes was shaken and quickly becoming spooked. This had all the qualities of one of Grandpa Curry’s spook stories he used to tell when he and Kid had been kids.
The man turned his sightless eyes toward Heyes. Heyes had the unmistakable feeling that despite what his own eyes told him, the old man could clearly see him and quite possibly even through him to his soul.
Again the man spoke, “You are not the chosen one’s leader, but still you must act as so.” Heyes was becoming extremely uncomfortable. The man continued, “The one yet to come has sent his minions ahead to prepare for his arrival. The true leader has been diverted by the evil one. You must guide the chosen one until this crisis has passed.”
“Excuse me?” Heyes was beyond confused and well on his way…well if Heyes was honest with himself the guy was beginning to creep him out.
“What you seek will be found when you find the chosen one.” The old man blinked and his eyes cleared. He looked at Heyes genuinely surprised to find him standing before him. “Something I can do for you sonny?”
Heyes opened his mouth wanting to ask the man a dozen or more questions. Who was the chosen one? How was he supposed to guide someone that he had no clue who it was? What did this old timer know about Kid? How was he supposed to find this chosen one? But quickly Heyes realized that asking the questions wouldn’t do any good as the old timer would have no clue what he was talking about. Heyes shook his head and smiled slightly, “No sir. I just thought maybe you might be sick.”
“Well thanks for your concern sonny, but I’m just fine.” The man studied Heyes closely, “but you don’t look so good. Boy you look down right spooked.”
Again Heyes smiled a little “Just worried about a friend, old timer.” Heyes looked at the sun dropping lower into the sky. “I should probably be heading on. You gonna be okay?”
“Sure. You have yourself a safe trip. And…” He blanked out again as he added, “remember, son, all things are not what they seem to be. As you near what you seek all will become clearer.” He shook himself and began to walk away from Heyes.
Heyes mounted his horse and turned to take one last look at the old man. He turned his horse completely around and twisted first one way and then the other in the saddle trying to look in all directions at the same time. The animal whinnied and dance nervously under his equally spooked rider. The old man was gone. Vanished as if into thin air. Heyes reached down and patted the horse’s neck trying to reassure the skittish animal. “Whoa, easy there big guy. Where’d that old timer go to anyway?” But hard as he tried, Heyes could find no trace of the man. Not even footprints could be found in the dusty trail where he knew the old guy had stood and walked.
With out any encouragement from Heyes the horse took off at a run. Heyes allowed the animal to run itself out. Truth be told, he felt like getting as far away from that spot as he could, just as fast as he could himself. Once the animal tired out and slowed Heyes found a place to stop and rest near a stream with a patch of grass for the horse to graze in. As he began to unsaddle the animal to turn him loose, he heard a giggle behind him. He spun around and at first he saw nothing, so he went back to taking care of his animal. He heard the giggle again. This time from the other side of where he stood. Again he turned to see where, or who was there and saw a blonde girl coming out of the shadows toward him.
“Oh Han.” Holding out her arms for him to hug her or even pick her up.
Heyes was stunned. He closed his eyes and opened them again. Surely his eyes and his mind were playing tricks on him. Heyes held out his hand, “Stop right there.” But she continued to move toward him at a steady pace.
She smiled a warm welcoming smile. “Hannibal Heyes where have you been? I’ve been looking every where for you.”
“There is no way you can be who you look like.” He took an unconscious step backward.
A hurt look crossed her face, “Han!” She whined, “It’s me Rachel. Don’t you recognize me.”
“Yea!” He nodded, “ I know who you look like, but there is no way you can be my cousin Rachel.” She had gotten close enough to touch him, despite the fact that he kept moving away from her. As she reached out her hand to caress his cheek, he jumped away from her causing her to giggle again. He continued to back away, not taking his eyes off of her for an instant. “Look just stay….” He stopped short as the creature in front of him was no longer Rachel. It had changed and morphed into his Aunt Grace. He closed his eyes and shook his head a little bit. ‘This night just keeps getting weirder and weirder.’ Heyes told himself.
“This is not possible.” His heart wanted to believe and rush into her arms for the longed for hug, but his head was winning out and he scrambled away from her making sure that he was out of her reach. “You can not be here. I buried you a life time ago.”
“Trust your eyes darlin and come give Auntie a nice warm hug.”
“Just stay where you are.” He scrambled to his feet and backed off even farther. He dared not turn his back on whatever it was that was doing this. This time before his eyes the creature morphed into another image. This image, even more inviting than the image of his aunt. Maureen moved toward her son with the soft loving smile that he remembered so well. In spite of what his head told him, he spoke, “Mo…momma.” He started toward her longing to feel her arms around him again, only to stop short.
“What is it boy? Don’t ya know me?” The gentle brogue was his mother’s; there was no doubt about that.
Being the cool, rational creature that he was, his head won out over what his heart wanted to believe and with a pained smile, “I know who you want me to believe you are.”
Once again there came a change as the figure spoke. “All right then if this image doesn’t appeal to you,” It morphed into two images this time, that of the two girls that were waiting for him and Kid miles away. “How do you feel about this image.” The creature purred seductively, “or this one.” The second image’s purr was equally as inviting.
This time Heyes pulled his gun. His head told him this was totally irrational, but it was an instinctive move on his part. Besides that he just didn’t know what else to do.
“You know you wouldn’t use that on either one of us.” One of the images purred.
Heyes smirked, “you’re right! If you were actually one of those lovely ladies, but since you aren’t…” he pulled back the hammer. As he did the girls dissolved into the mist laughing hysterically. From behind him again he heard a familiar laugh. He turned so quickly he stumbled and fell, directly before him he found an old man sitting on a near by tree stump.
“Well done laddie.” He was greeted. Then a frown crossed the familiar face. “Put the gun away boy. Unlike what was just here I mean you no harm.”
“G..Grandpa?” Heyes asked, slowly holstering the gun
“Aye boy,” Grandpa Curry responded.
“You can’t be here either. I buried you that life time ago as well.” But something about this vision seemed less sinister than the ones of the women had.
“Aye boy you did.” He indicated a spot on the ground. “Come sit lad. We need to have a talk.”
‘I gotta stop drinkin’ my own coffee.’ Heyes muttered to himself as he shook his head, ‘I cannot believe this is happening. This is not real. This has got to be a dream.’ But not being one to disobey his Grandfather, Heyes sat where the old man had indicated on the ground facing him, much as he had as a child when Grandpa Curry would tell them stories. Stories of fairies and creatures of the night that Heyes would have sworn were not and could not possibly be real. That is until tonight.
When he spoke Grandpa Curry seemed to read his mind. “No lad. I’m sorry to say this is no dream and I wish I could tell ya that such fancies as the stories ye been told weren’t real. But alas son they be.” Grandpa Curry chuckled as Heyes head shot up. “I’ve come to warn ya boy. You’re being sent on a fool’s errand. A dangerous mission.”
“I know.” Heyes answered, “But I have to go. Jed….”
“Aye boy. I know ya do. Our Jed is in a fix and needs you to help him out. But understand son, it will take your cool head to get you both out of this. Bless his heart, but Jed follows his heart, where you were able to see through the forces of evil tonight our darlin’ Jed might not have.” Heyes opened his mouth to defend his cousin, but Grandpa Curry set forward and looked Heyes directly in the eyes. Heyes felt as if the old man before him was looking completely through him directly into his soul. It was the same look Grandpa Curry would give him when he knew he was in trouble. “You don’t need to be defendin’ the boy to me. Jed is a good man, a smart man. He just tends to lead more with his heart than with his head. Unlike you, who listens to his head more than his heart. Now listen to me well boy, because my time here is short. You are entering an area where the forces of evil have taken a strong hold and will attempt to take over completely. The stories I told you and Jed when you were boys, were not all just stories. I know that you never believed in such. But you have learned tonight that such evil does exist in the world. You will need your wits about you and a cool head. Learn well from what has happened here tonight. Things are not and will not be what they seem. Trust your head my boy and not just your heart. That will be Jed’s role in what is to come. He will help you know when to trust your heart and not just your head. You will know when to listen to him.” Grandpa Curry’s image began to fade. “Remember son, the fate of many rests in your hands and your completing this task.”
With that Grandpa Curry was gone. Heyes looked around, but the night seemed to have taken on a different aura. It wasn’t as quiet, the usual sounds of the night had returned. Heyes hadn’t even realized that they were missing until they returned. He tried to shake off the feelings that he had been left with. But he couldn’t deny that he was more than a little spooked. He had never been one to be afraid of the dark, but when he built a fire for the night, it looked more like a bonfire than a campfire.
Kid rolled his eyes and groaned quietly. He had finally told the old doctor and sheriff that he remembered his name, and ever since the doctor had insisted on shorting it to the nickname. When he had told them his name they had encouraged him to telegraph his ‘family’ and let them know that he was all right. Kid had jumped at the chance to send a message to the girls trying to head off Heyes. When he found out that he was already on his way, he decided that it would be best for him to stay put and wait for Heyes to arrive. Especially since the old doctor and sheriff didn’t seem to be in any hurry for him to leave. He hadn’t figured out why, but they seemed to think they needed him to hang around. But he had learned that something was terribly wrong in this little town. He wasn’t sure what and curiosity was getting the best of him.
“Sir?” Kid responded to the doctor calling his name. Kid had been doing some carpentry work around the doctor’s office that had needed to be done for a long time and the old guy just hadn’t seemed to get around to taking care of it. Even so Kid suspected that the jobs were being invented in order to keep him around longer.
“Getting late son, better be heading in soon.”
“Will do, Doc.” The longer Kid was here the more he wanted to find out what exactly was going on with these people. For some reason they were clearly scared to death, especially at night. The streets of this little town would be abandoned at dusk and no one for any reason would venture out before the sun was fully up the next morning. For as quiet a little town as it was, people locked up at night like they were expecting an Indian raid, a rampaging cattle crew and outlaw gang hooraying the town all at the same time. They just didn’t lock their doors and windows they barricaded them.
So while he hung around town with the old doctor finding him odd jobs to do to help out around his office and the sheriff’s office, he had plenty to do to keep himself occupied while he waited for Heyes to show up. Kid began to gather up the tools that he had been using as the sun began to slowly leave the sky. Somewhere on the wind he heard the soft sound of someone giggling. It wasn’t a sound that was heard often in this town. It made Kid smile at first. Then a cold shiver ran down his back. ‘Boy,’ he thought to himself, ‘the wind must be blowing something up.’ He heard the sound of giggling again and as if someone stood beside him he clearly heard; “If you only knew.” He stood up and looked around him. There was no one to be seen.
She was dressed in dark clothing. If someone were to see her they would have sworn she was in mourning. But black was her usual attire. Her shinny long black hair was swept up in a rather stylish fashion on the top of her head making her look taller than she actually was. Her skin was deadly pale. Because of it, her lips looked very red. Her eyes had a hallow shrunken quality to them. All of this, she managed to cover to some extent with powders and rouges.
She had watched him often
since she had arrived in the little town, having spotted him almost immediately
after. Each time she did she dared to find away to get a little closer to him.
Now from the shadows she watched him gathering his things and preparing to go
in for the night. She sighed
appreciatively, Oh my, but he was a fine specimen of the male species. She
licked her lips slowly wishing that they were his and not her own. ‘Master said
that I could have one of my own.’ She thought to herself as she watched Kid
move about cleaning up from his labors. The way the sun glistened off the sweat
that streaked his muscles moved her in a way that she hadn’t been moved in
years. ‘I never thought I would find one so delicious, so young and strong.’
Slowly she began to giggle. It was a low sound at first, soft and musical. As
it became louder it began to get slightly demented. She forced herself to stop.
She floated form one shadow to another trying to get closer to Kid. She
stopped, standing still in her tracks when she realized that he had heard her
giggling. A smile began to spread across her face as she swept her hand from
her head downward, changing her appearance as she did so. With the glamour
completed where once had stood the beautiful creature dressed in black now
stood a little girl. Not more than 6 or 7 years old. The long black hair had
become white blonde and very curly. The dark eyes became a haunting pale icy
blue. The only remaining resemblance to the creature she had been before was
the black pinafore that the little girl wore. She smiled wickedly and giggled
Kid turned his head as the sound floated over and around him, seemingly coming from everywhere and yet no where. Again he shivered. Shrugging it off he collected the tools he had been working with, storing them neatly in the tool box and cleaning up the mess that was scattered around from the repairs he had been making on the old doctors barn. As he bent over to pick up the tool box a ball rolled to a stop at his feet, smiling he scooped it up and looked around for the child that had lost it. He spied her only a few feet from where he stood. He smiled at the little girl and slowly approached her. Squatting down he smiled at the “child”, “Hi there little one. Did you lose this?” He offered the ball to the little girl. Shyly she approached him. She had her thumb firmly in her mouth. Kid noticed that there was something unusual about the child’s eyes. They were such an odd color. He found himself reluctantly staring into them. Something he had not intended to do for fear of scaring her and there seemed to be enough scary things already in this town. He didn’t want to make it worse. But something about the child’s eyes mesmerized him and he couldn’t seem to help himself. He found himself looking deeply, almost trance like into the little ones eyes.
Slowly the child closed the distance between them and reached for the ball that he held out. Gently she took the ball from his hand. Careful not to touch him, ‘no’ she thought to herself, ‘must not touch him. Not yet.’ But more than ever she wanted this beautiful man to belong to her and she would have him. ‘Must not rush.’ Pulling the thumb from her mouth she favored him with a bright beautiful smile.
“Thad, boy, come on in here son, supper’s on the table and it’s getting too dark to be out there.” Doc called to him from inside his home/office.
Kid turned his head at the sound of Doc’s voice, “coming. Well littl…”his voice trailed off as he turned to say goodbye to the child, only to find that she had completely vanished. Slowly Kid stood up and looked around questioningly. The spell she had begun to cast on him not quite broken. He shook his head trying to clear it. He shrugged off the odd feeling that washed over him. “Get a grip Jed. Don’t let your imagination run away with you.” He grabbed the toolbox, his shirt and headed toward the house to wash up.
From the shadows she smiled broadly and sighed seductively as the glamour began to fade away and she returned to her natural form. He was even more beautiful up close. She had to have him. ‘Careful.’ She cautioned herself, ‘Master must approve first, and mustn’t rush’. She had desired men before. Many, many men, only to move to quickly and have to destroy them later because of her lack of patience. If she was to have this man, she must be cautious. Should she be careless again the Master would be very angry with her and not allow her to have another playmate of her own choosing. She watched him look around in confusion as he completed his clean up, grabbed his shirt and headed toward the house.
Suddenly he appeared beside her seemingly from no where. He was obviously very old. So old that if someone had tried to guess his age they couldn’t have begun to fathom it, but yet there was an elegant air about him. He was dressed very formally, in clothing of the latest styles and fabrics. He tended to be very vain about his physical appearance. As if it could make up for his frightening appearance. His eyes were cold and dark, with no white showing in them at all. If one were to look into them deeply they would have found an evil there beyond what most people could conceive of. A very old evil. Many had been unlucky enough to look him directly in the eye and very few had been lucky enough to live to tell the tale or even retain their sanity. With a gentleness that he did not seem to have he stroked the woman’s hair, petting her, as if she were a prized possession. Which, of course, she was. “What are you doing my love?”
She turned to him and smiled. “I have chosen a new playmate Poppa.” She snuggled against him and looked up into his ancient face, “Please may I have him.”
“Don’t beg!” He sighed with a touch of annoyance. “Who have you chosen this time? “
“I have chosen the young one here.” She bit her lip nervously as she indicated Doctor Windham’s house. She wanted so much to please the Master, but yet she wanted Kid too.
Silently the Master made his way to the window that overlooked the dinning room where the two men were just sitting down to eat. Slowly he began to smile. She had chosen well this time. Very well. She of course had no idea how well this would serve his purpose. She hovered at his side waiting expectantly for him to decide. He looked at her sternly, “You will not be allowed another if you fail to produce this time.” He warned her.
“Yes, Poppa, I understand.” She gave him a brilliant smile. “Does this mean I may have him?”
He smiled back at her. Truth be told he could never have denied her hearts desire, “yes, you may. If you are cautious and move slowly, it is very important that you gain and maintain absolute control over him.” The smile faded, “we cannot have a repeat of what happened with the Mayor’s son, my darling. Should you fail me again, I may have to destroy you along with your new plaything.”
She squealed and threw her arms around his neck hugging him tightly before she realized what she was doing. Quickly coming to her senses she jumped away from him and looked sheepishly at her shoes, “I’m sorry Poppa. I forgot myself.”
While she was looking down a look of affection passed across the Master’s face. If it were possible for him too, he would truly love this child. He was very fond of her and it showed in the way he treated her. More than once, he had, had to show the others of their order who was in charge, because of her and his affection for her. He was her sire, and she was the last that he had felt the urge to sire. All others had died at his hands as he fed on them. He knew when he had chosen her that he should not have done so. She wasn’t quite right mentally and the years since he had sired her had not been kind to her mental status. He knew she was a danger to them all, but he could not bring himself to do what he honestly knew should be done. Nor could he bring himself to order one of the others to do it. As they strolled away from the doctor’s home her happiness over took her again and she began to dance and twirl out ahead of him. He shook his head in bemusement at her. She truly had done well this time in her choice of playthings. Without knowing she had done so she had furthered his plan for this little town. The chosen one would be arriving soon in search of the prize that other members of the ‘family’ were even now bringing to him. With the chosen one would be another who with this one she had chosen would give him more power than he had possessed in centuries. He allowed himself a smile, he felt a little like dancing himself.
Heyes had spent a restless night following the visit from Grandpa Curry. It had taken him a long time to relax and finally get some sleep. Then his sleep had been plagued with images that had left him shaken. Images of Kid being manipulated, abused physically, and mentally tortured by some creature that wasn’t what it appeared to be. He awoke with the uncomfortable feeling that his dream wasn’t just a dream, that some how it was a warning. Hannibal Heyes, who was too logical to believe in such things, could not shake the dream and the warning. His need to find Kid was stronger than ever.
The little town was shaken to its core when its handsome young minister was found brutally murdered on the steps of his church. It had been a gruesome sight. They found him spread eagle on the churches front steps. He had been savagely ripped apart and mangled. It was as if some animal had gotten him. However, all the men in the town agreed that the injuries did not appear to have been inflected by any animal they could think of. All agreed that the way they found him seemed to be a message to the rest of the town. Since then no one had dared to approach the building, but yet clearly something or someone had taken up residence there. There were mysterious lights at night and sounds, sounds of screams, crying, moans, groans, and others that seemed unearthly in origin. Hard as Kid tried to get the Doctor or the Sheriff to confide in him, neither would talk, nor would anyone else in the little town. Kid also began to notice that individuals in town were beginning to come up missing. Only to have others in the town comment about how they shouldn’t have been caught out after dark. But yet, no bodies were ever found. Other’s appeared to be lost in a fog, daze and even drained of energy and life. Still others, appeared no to recognize family members or even folks that they had known all their lives and the rest were left to ponder why or what was causing the sudden change in behavior. Absolutely no one would explain to Kid exactly what they believed was going on in the town.
Heyes rode hard for the next several days feeling slightly more uncomfortable as each day passed. The days were anything but uneventful. Yet nothing major happened, just a series of minor set backs that left him with the uncomfortable feeling that he was being mocked and laughed at. If he stopped to rest, his horse would wonder off no matter how securely he tied the animal. The horse was restless and skittish constantly. Then the horse threw a shoe and Heyes ended up walking several miles out of his way to find a blacksmith. While he looked for a blacksmith the weather was calm and everything was peaceful. As Heyes found his way back to the road he should have been on his horse came up lame. While he walked trying his best to keep in the right direction and replace his horse, the weather turned bad raining torrentially, hail and wind. Again he was forced to seek a different road to find a town and a blacksmith to help him and again thing became peaceful. As soon as he was back on the right road he found it was blocked with standing water. Once he found his way around the flooded section of road, he found the road was again block by a mud slide.
It soon dawned on Heyes that
each time he was going the wrong way things would settle down. Then once he was
back on the right road each time he would encounter a hazard. Each time that
happened, Heyes could swear he heard the sound of laughter on the wind. The
hair on the back of his neck would stand up, a chill would race down his spine
and in spite of himself he would shiver. His nights weren’t much better. The
dreams became more graphic and violent. He had no other visitations from
something trying to pass themselves off as members of his family, but he
couldn’t shake the feeling that whatever was out there really wanted to torture
him a great deal more than it was. Heyes knew, somehow, that what ever was out
there was holding back. It was toying with him. Biding it’s time.
Then suddenly it all just stopped. The days began to pass uneventfully. This only served to make Heyes more uncomfortable. It should have been a relief. Something had obviously changed. Heyes knew that he had been misdirected away from Kid, but now he was sure he was on the right road again. He didn’t understand why the misdirection had suddenly just stopped or why the obstacles had been removed from his path. Heyes didn’t want to admit to himself that something could possibly have that much control over his actions, but since it had, what had changed. He’d been puzzling this over in his mind for miles now. He couldn’t bring himself to admit what one possible answer could be. Kid had to still be alive. He’d know if he wasn’t. But what else…
Coming over the rise Heyes saw in the distance a small figure alone in the field off to the side of the road. The person was doing some slow movements. At first Heyes couldn’t make out what was going on. He found himself fascinated by the motions that were like nothing that he had ever seen before. They were slow, graceful and very deliberate. It appeared to be some sort of exercise. As Heyes got closer still the figure took clearer shape. She was small. At first he had mistaken her for a young boy, but realized now that it was a teenaged girl, with long red hair pulled back into what looked like a horse’s tail on the back of her head. She was dressed in lose fitting clothing that gave her plenty of room to move. The clothing also added to the illusion that she was a young boy rather than a teenaged girl. Her face showed how hard she was concentrating on what she was doing. Her clothing was stained with sweat and the hair around her face was plastered to her head. She was a pretty girl. Not beautiful in the conventional sense of the word, by any means, but pleasant on the eyes none the less. Heyes stopped his horse and sat watching her, fascinated by what she was doing.
“It’s about time!” She snapped at him, not bothering to stop what she was doing.
Heyes looked around to see who she was talking to. “Excuse me?”
She allowed her arms to drop to her sides and bounced up and down a few times shaking her hands moving her head from side to side, “Where have you been? We have work to do. The Master has already arrived and….”
“Look miss,” Heyes smiled and shook his head, pushing his hat onto the back of his head. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but I think you have me confused with someone else.”
For the first time she looked at him directly. She stared at him in such a way that Heyes felt like she was looking through him as well as at him. Very few people in Hannibal Heyes life had ever looked at him with such scrutiny. Sheriff’s, new gang member’s before they learned, but never had a child looked at him so. She stopped what she was doing and took several steps closer to where he sat on his horse. As she frowned at him he leaned forward onto the horn of his saddle, “No I’m not confused at all. You’re not my watcher, but the forces of evil seem to think you are connected to him and through him to me some way.” Heyes looked bewildered. She may not have been confused, but he sure was. She nodded her red head at him and met his gaze with startling blue eyes, “I know you just the same.”
Heyes shook his head and smirked as he dismounted, “you know me?”
“Aye, Mr. Heyes. I do.” She answered with a nod. “I dreamt of you.”
Heyes was startled at her using his name as much as he was by her comment. He pointed to himself, “You dreamt of me?”
“Aye.” Her response was almost mater of fact. “I can help you with your problem.”
Now Heyes laughed. This tiny girl was gonna help him. She couldn’t have been much over five foot tall and 90 pounds soakin wet. “Sweetheart, I don’t have a problem.”
“It’s not sweetheart, it’s Bree and aye ya do.” She offered her hand.
Heyes shook it. He noticed that she spoke with a touch of brogue. A little softer than the one that ran through his family, but it was there. A touch of a smile crossed his lips at the thought of his mother’s soft voice. Shaking himself out of his private thoughts, Heyes folded his arms across his chest and regarded this young woman before him, finally with a sigh, “Okay. What makes you think I have a problem?”
“There are forces of evil that are following you, they have already managed to send you off the path you should be on, and your cousin is in great peril. If you don’t get to him soon then there will be nothing left of his soul to rescue.” Bree stared directly into his eyes with such sincerity that Heyes found himself drawn in by it. Absentmindedly he took a step back from this child.
He tried not to sound like he was just humoring her since she had such conviction in her voice, “Look exactly what can you do?”
Bree frowned as she began to gather her things (knapsack, bedroll, etc) that were scattered around the area. “I…” she looked at him shyly. Then taking a deep breath she finished, “I’m not really sure. I was hoping my watcher would catch up with me and help me figure it all out. The Master has found a way to delay him though. It’s pure luck that you and I met. I’m guessing that was not part of the Master’s plan, but I could be wrong about that.” She shrugged and again her eyes met Heyes’. “Someone is also looking out after you.”
Heyes held up his gloved hand to stop her. “Whoa. The Master? What are you talking about?”
“It’s getting kinda late. Lets make camp and I will explain everything to you.” She began to walk toward a clearing down the hill from where she had been exercising. “But you’re not gonna believe me.”
Heyes watched her go for a minute then muttered to himself, ‘don’t be too sure about that.’ Shaking his head at himself that he was even acknowledging that this could even possibly be happening.
A short way down the hill they found clearing that was next to a small stream. Silently they began to gather wood for a fire and make a camp. While Bree started the fire Heyes hunted for a rabbit for their dinner. She had started the coffee by the time he got back with the rabbit dressed and ready. She smiled when she saw him glance at the coffee pot. “It’s got to be better than yours.” Heyes looked at her startled. “I know lots of things about you Mr. Heyes. Most of it has nothing to do with what is going on here. So it doesn’t matter what you do or what you have done.” She looked across the fire at Heyes, “tell me about your trip so far?”
Heyes looked at her questioningly, then shrugged and began to tell her about the old man he had encountered and the visit from whatever it was that had appeared to him as the women in his life.
“You were also visited by a spirit trying to guide you, yes?” She asked him softly.
“ Ahmm Yea. I guess that’s what you would call it. It appeared to be my Grandpa, but…”
“Yea, since I was a little kid.” Heyes frowned at her. “How did you know that?”
“Because Mr. Heyes. As badly as the Master’s companion wants your cousin. Someone also wants you to reach him in time.” Heyes sighed heavily. Bree looked at him, her eyes full of understanding for his disbelief. “I know how hard this all is for you to understand. I don’t begin to understand everything either. That’s why I was hoping that
“He’s my guardian, my teacher,” she shrugged, “my watcher.”
“Okay there’s that term again. Exactly what do you mean by watcher?”
Bree looked at him a long time before she answered his question.
“Chosen one?” Heyes couldn’t
keep the skepticism from his voice.
“Each generation there is one girl chosen to fight the forces of evil. For this generation that is me.
He managed to swallow the laugh before he spoke, “Look Miss Bree…” He shook his head.
She smiled at him, “I know. It’s all hard to believe. I know, I’ve lived with it my entire life Mr. Heyes.” Her eyes met his, “You wouldn’t begin to believe the things I’ve seen.” Her smile faded, “I didn’t ask to be put in this position. It’s not something I wanted.” Her expression became unreadable, but there was such sadness in her eyes as she stared into the fire, “All I’ve ever wanted to was just be a normal kid and do normal kid things.” She looked up at him, “Surely with all you and Mr. Curry have been through you can understand that.” Heyes started at her use of Kid’s name and her reference to their past. There is no way this child could have known more than what the wanted posters said about them. However, he had the uncomfortable feeling that she did. But he had to admit to himself he understood that feeling of wanting things to just be normal.
With a heavy resigned sigh Heyes looked at this child in front of him, “Okay. So what do we do now?”
Bree shrugged, “Get to
“Wait, wait. Who or what is an Eris?” Heyes asked with concern.
“Oh Eris is the Master’s pet.” Bree added under her breath, ‘so to speak.’ “she helps him to bring others over to his will.” She looked at Heyes across the fire, “If she manages to get Mr. Curry under her control it won’t take much for them to take control of that town and they will use his gun to keep it. Exactly how we are gonna stop it…?” She shrugged again, “I haven’t got a clue.”
Heyes frowned in annoyance. “Well let’s get some sleep then and bright and early tomorrow morning we will head that way.” He slid down on his bedroll and pulled his hat down over his eyes. “Hopefully something brilliant will come to us on the way.”
Once again Eris appeared to Kid as the child. This time she was crying softly when he found her.
“Hey, little one,” Kid sat down next to her on the boardwalk, “what’s wrong?”
Eris looked up at him with tears in her eyes, “I can’t find my sissy. Will you help me?”
Kid stood and offered the little girl his hand, “Course I will. She’s bound to be around here some place.”
Eris smiled slyly. She resisted the urge to skip happily has she clasped his hand and slowly lead him away from the main streets of the town. She wanted him someplace away from prying eyes and nosey doctors. Somewhere that was shrouded with shadows and darkness to do her deed. With the skill that only her demon powers could give her she managed to throw her voice around the corner ahead. Calling her own name. Excitedly Eris released Kid’s hand raced around the corner a half a block ahead. She then transformed herself again. She changed her appearance from that of the little girl, to appear to be the child’s older sister once again. Once she had done this she patiently awaited Kid’s arrival.
Kid smiled as the child took off at a run and continued to follow, but did not quicken his pace. When he rounded the corner Eris was standing there looking lovely in a blue dress that was very low cut and extremely tight in all the right places. Kid looked at her appreciatively and then looked around to see where the little girl had gone
“Where’d she go?” He asked.
Eris looked around, “Oh Emmy?” Eris made up a name quickly for the younger version of herself. “She ran on home. I stayed behind,” She moved closer to Kid and began to innocently play with the buttons on his shirt, “Because I wanted to thank you for paying so much attention to her.” She looked up at him. She looked deeply into his eyes, bringing her lips slowly closer to his. Then she looked down at the buttons on his shirt.
“It’s nothing really.” Kid smiled at her, “She’s a sweet kid.”
Eris moved closer still, pressing her body against Kid’s. Slowly she ran her hands up his chest until her arms snaked around his neck. She played with the curls that brushed against his collar. Looking up at him she managed to look shy and vulnerable. What she really wanted to do was laugh wildly. Gently she brought first one hand around to caress Kid’s cheek. Tracing the shape of his mouth with her fingers, as she brushed her fingers along she could feel the beginning of his beard growing in. She began to become bolder as she looked again up into his eyes. This time she didn’t break her gaze, but stared deeply into his clear blue eyes. For a moment Eris thought he was going to pull away from her. But he didn’t and she moved closer. Stretching up on her tip toes in order to reach his lips. She rested her hand on his cheek and brought the other hand to rest on the opposite side of his face. Slowly she brought her lips to rest against Kid’s. At first he didn’t react allowing her to kiss him. Silently Eris began to chant the spell that her Master had given her. As she repeated the chant until it began to fill her mind. She deepened the kiss parting her lips so that her tongue could play across his lips. He tried to resist the temptation that her slightly opened mouth was to him, but she was so warm and willingly pressing herself against him. He began to give in against his better judgment. Eris knew she was winning when she felt Kid’s hands on her waist. Then a mere moment after his arms slid around her and he pulled her tightly against him. Eris allowed the chant to fill her mind until it became her only thought. As she did Kid’s will power seemed to fade away from him. He was aware of thinking that he needed to end this before it went any further, but yet he couldn’t bring himself to do so. Eris sighed deeply as Kid’s tongue finally slipped between her lips. Once this happened she changed the incantation that she was chanting slightly, but still not daring yet to repeat it aloud.
Still several days ride away Hannibal Heyes bolted awake from a sound sleep. He sat up straight breathing hard, sweat streaming down his face. His dream had been so real. ‘That’s it.’ He told himself, ‘it had to be a dream.’ But he had a sick feeling that it wasn’t just a dream. In it he had seen the encounter between Kid and Eris. He had seen her break the kiss and trail small pecks along Kids jaw until she reached his neck. He had tried to call to Kid, to warn him of the danger he was in, but nothing would come out of his mouth. He had tried to run to Kid, but his feet wouldn’t move. Then he had to watch helplessly as she bared fans and sank them deeply into Kid’s vein. Then came the demented wild laughter that he had heard each time he had been presented with a vision of some sort or another. The thing that sent real chills down his spine and went a long way to convince him that it wasn’t just a dream was that the laughter continued after he woke up.
As Eris drank deeply, she morphed back to her natural form. She stopped short of ending Kid’s life. Oh no, killing him was far from her plan. It was also not in her Master’s plan. He had big plans for Kid Curry. He needed muscle and he needed a gun. From deep in the shadows where he had stood watching, the Master smiled broadly. While a smile on most people tended to soften their expression and make them seem more open and accessible. On the Master the effect was quite different. Rather than making him appear friendly and approachable, the smile made him look demented and quite insane.
When Eris broke away from Kid she smiled up at him, softly out loud for the first time she continued the chant for several minutes before she allowed it to fade away completely. He gazed at her, but he wasn’t seeing her. He’s eyes appeared to be glazed over as if he were in some sort of a trance. The Master then emerged from the shadows and slid his arm around Eris’ shoulders. Gently he kissed her temple, “well done my love.” Eris beamed in the praise, “very well done. Now we can begin to truly take over this town.” He reached out and caressed Kid’s face, tenderly running his fingers along Kid’s jaw line as he would have caressed a lover. “With my new apprentice we will be unstoppable.” He turned and began to walk away back into the shadows, “come children. We have plans to make.”
Heyes glanced over at Bree. She still slept, but her sleep also seemed to be as disturbed as his own had been as she tossed and turned in the throws of some dream. Heyes got up from his bedroll, picked up the coffee pot and walked the short distance to the stream. There he washed his face in the cold water and ran his hands through his hair. His ‘dream’ had greatly disturbed him. He knew in his gut that it wasn’t a dream and that Kid was in serious trouble. Taking a deep breath Heyes sat down on the bank and stared into the water trying to think what he was going to do.
By the time Bree pulled herself from her dream Heyes had the coffee going and was frying some bacon. She sat up slowly and brushed her hair from her eyes.
“Morning.” Heyes smiled at her.
“Morning.” She looked over at him, “you look really tired. Didn’t you sleep well.”
“Oh about as well as you did.” He responded handing her a cup of the strong brew.
Bree sniffed it and took a sip then handed it back to him. “That’s really awful. No wonder Mr. Curry never lets you make it.”
Heyes frowned at her, “Now how exactly do you know stuff like that?”
Bree shrugged as she sat completely up and faced the fire, “I don’t really know. I just know.”
They were both quiet for a few minutes, both staring into the fire. The Bree looked up at him, “did you have a bad dream too?”
Heyes nodded, “Yea.” He handed her a plate with some bacon and beans on it, “it’s not much, but it’s edible.”
“Thanks.” Bree thoughtfully stared at the contents of the plate, “You know Mr. Heyes” her eyes met his, “we really need to get to that town. Fast. The safety of Mr. Curry and my Watcher both depends on it.”
“You dreamt about him didn’t you?”
Bree nodded, tears filling her eyes, “they were doing really awful things to him.” Angrily brushing the tears from her cheeks, “if we don’t get to them soon…”
Heyes reached out and gently whipped a tear from her cheek. “I know. My dream was,” he sighed, “pretty much the same. As much as I hate to say this, we are doing the best we can. We will just have to keep moving and hope we aren’t too late.” Heyes was feeling just as frustrated as Bree was, but as he looked at the young woman in front of him he was trying hard to keep his impatience in check. He kept reminding himself that this was still a little girl he was dealing with and though she put on a tough act, she was scared of losing the only person in the world that she loved, just as Heyes was.
Several days later Bree and Heyes rode into town. They quickly realized that they were being watched as they rode down the main street and glanced at one another. Heyes chuckled as Bree rolled her eyes at the amount of attention they were attracting. They pulled up at the saloon and dismounted.
Bree looked around. No one would make eye contact with her and they quickly disappeared into their shops or hurried along their way down the street. She looked at Heyes, “now what?” She questioned him.
Heyes shrugged slightly, pushed his hat back on his head then leaned against his horse, “Well I guess the only thing we can do is start looking for my cousin and your….” He frowned, “what did you call him?”
“My watcher, guardian, friend, my….” She began rattling off.
“Yea, him,” he looked around at the now deserted street; “though it doesn’t look like we are gonna get much help.”
“Okay,” Bree nodded, “I’ll go that way and you go that way and we’ll meet back here.”
Heyes nodded, “Sounds good.”
With that they separated and each headed the opposite direction down the street. Heyes started with the logical places he thought he would find Kid. Saloon, restaurant, hotel, at each stop he came up empty. Then with a resigned sigh he headed toward the Sheriff’s office. He opened the door and found the office was empty. Slowly he headed toward the back where the cells were. Taking a deep breath he opened the door that separated them from the main office. But they too were empty. Frowning he headed back to the street. Sighing deeply he looked first one way and then the other not sure where to go next. He spotted Bree coming up the boardwalk toward him looking like her world had ended. As she approached, “No luck huh?”
She sadly shook her head. He could tell she was trying to hold back tears. Heyes slipped his arm around her shoulders and hugged her. Despite how tough and worldly she tried to sound, she was really still just a little girl. “Did you check the doctor’s office?” He asked her.
She again shook her head. “Well…” he took a deep breath, “I guess that’s where we go next.”
Bree looked up at him, “Yea I guess so. But that kind of scares me.”
“Yea,” Heyes smiled at her, “me too.” He nudged her in that direction and started walking.
As they approached the little house/office that Doc Windham called home the front door opened and the good doctor appeared in the doorway with his shotgun. Heyes and Bree both stopped dead in there tracks. Heyes careful to keep his hands away from the six shooter that hung at his side.
“Whadda ya want?” The doctor growled at them.
“Easy there,” Heyes cautioned, “we are just lookin for someone. We already checked every where else in town we thought we might find him,” he glanced at Bree, “them and your place was the last one.”
Heyes cautiously took a couple of steps closer, “my cousin, fella about my height, little heavier, blonde curly hair, blue eyes…”
“Has a healthy appetite and pretty good with a hand gun.” The good doctor finished for him.
“Ahmm, yea that would be him.” Heyes nodded.
The doctor looked at Bree, “How about you young lady? You with this fella?” He nodded toward Heyes.
“Well, kind of.” She began, “my guardian and I were traveling together, and he told me if we should become separated to meet him here in this town. Mr. Smith has been kind enough to accompany me and try to help me find him.” Heyes was startled that she so easily shifted to the alias.
“huh-uh? And what would this feller look like?”
“He’s rather tall. Anyway taller than Mr. Smith here, but very thin, with dark hair and eyes. Most people mistake him for a preacher or a school teacher.”
Heyes and Bree glanced at one another, “Why’s that?” Heyes asked.
The doctor looked at him and sighed wearily. “Come on inside and I’ll explain. But chances are you aren’t gonna believe a word of it.”
As the doctor turned to head in, Bree quipped quietly, “don’t bet on it.” Heyes smiled at her as the doctor turned to give her a puzzled look.
Ole Doc Windham led them through the office section of his home toward the back where he had a modest living area, a small living room with a small but serviceable kitchen off to the side. He indicated that they should make themselves comfortable as he walked over and started a fire in the stove and put on a pot of coffee. Then he joined them at the kitchen table. He pushed the bowl of biscuits that was sitting on the table toward Bree who helped herself and pushed them toward Heyes. The old man steadied both of them for a moment and then, “So you would be young Thad’s cousin.”
Heyes tried to hide his smile at the use of the nickname, “Yeah.”
The doctor nodded. “The boy showed up just outside of town with a pretty bad lump on his head and for a few days had no idea what his name was.” He looked at the pattern on the checked table cloth as if it was the most interesting thing he had ever seen in his life, “I never did tell that young feller that I knew who he really was.”
Heyes sat up a little straighter, “Meaning…”
“Come on now Mr. Heyes. Ole Charlie may have missed how much that boy matched the description on that wanted poster on the wall. But I sure didn’t.” Heyes opened his mouth to protest, but Doc held up his hand to stop him, “I didn’t say anything on purpose son. This town is in trouble and has been for a while now. I thought maybe the boy’s gun would help.” Suddenly the old Doctor looked every bit his age and then some. It was as if he had aged years in just moments. “But I’m afraid that he was taken in by that vixen.”
Heyes closed his eyes and took a deep breath letting the information wash over him. Finally he asked, “Is he still alive?”
Doc got up to get cups and the now hot coffee off the stove. He looked at Bree. “You want some of this brew or would you rather have some milk?”
Bree’s eyes lit up, “Ohh sir if you have cold milk.”
He smiled at her, “Sure do.”
Heyes was trying hard to be patient, “Look Doc…”
“He’s alive.” Doc produced a pitcher of milk for Bree along with a glass. “Far as I know anyway.” Heyes sighed with relief. “Don’t be too relieved son. He’s alive, but barely and he’s in a bad way.” Doc began to explain what had been going on in the little town and how Kid had become involved. He told them about the disappearance of many of the town folk, Kid’s sudden appearance outside of town and the nasty blow to the head he had received. Doc explained further how the creature known as Eris had managed to manipulate Kid and trick him, eventually maneuvering him in such a way that she was able to gain control.
“What do you mean!?” Heyes snapped.
Bree joined the conversation for the first time. She began by explaining how the blow to Kid’s head had happened. Heyes shot her a stern look as she admitted for the first time that she had met Kid before running into him. She explained how the fight with the creature had led to Kid being injured. She told them how she had killed the creature and then turned her attention to Kid to see what she could do to help him. Bree went on to explain further that as she began to examine the blow on the back of Kid’s head she had been jumped by a second creature that she hadn’t realized was there. She sighed as she told the two men about how the fight with the second creature had taken her away from where Kid had passed out and that by the time she returned he and his horse had disappeared. She thought he hadn’t been hurt as badly as she thought and he had just left.
She went on to explain “Dr
Windham means that Eris has Mr. Curry under her spell now. She controls him and
by keeping him close to her, she has him dependent on something that only she
can give him. She uses him to feed on and for Mr. Curry that has become like…”
she struggled to find the appropriate word, “a drug. Something he has to have. It is keeping him
weak and sickly and as long as she has this control over him she can control
his mind. She can suppress his memories
and to some extent his emotions, he will do what ever she and the Master tell
him too without question.” She looked at Heyes, “Even if it means killing you.”
Heyes looked at the girl, “Kid wouldn’t….” he stopped himself deep in thought.
“After everything you’ve seen and heard,” Bree continued to look at Heyes, “You know better. Besides, when you find him, he may not even recognize who you are. To him you may be a stranger at this point. You will have to remind him.”
Reluctantly, “Yea I guess I will.” Heyes agreed thoughtfully. Heyes frowned as he remembered something that the apparition of Grandpa Curry had told him about Kid being under the control of something wicked and him needing to listen to his head and trust Kid’s heart.
By now Doc had poured the coffee, set a plate of sandwiches on the table and sat back down. He regarded the two before him. “So what do we do now.”
Heyes chuckled disdainfully, “I wish I knew.” He looked at the girl across from him. “You got any ideas?”
Bree nodded, “I’m gonna go patrol the streets and see what I can stir up.”
“Whoa little one,” Doc blurted out, “That’s not a good idea. You have no idea what is out there.”
“Sure I do.” Bree answered almost brightly. “Wickedness, evil, and all sorts of fun things and I know how to kill ‘em.”
“You’re probably going to be out numbered.” Heyes suggested conversationally as he took a sip of the coffee.
“I know.” Bree looked at him with a grin. “I figured you would probably go with
“Now wait just a doggone minute here.” The worry showed all over Doc’s face. “I can’t let you two just stroll out there.” He looked at the window, “why it’s getting dark. That’s the worst time to be on the street.”
“Unless you are looking to confront creatures that thrive on darkness,” Bree chirped, “then it’s the perfect time.”
Bree headed for the door, but looked back at Heyes.
He smiled at her, “Go on I’ll follow you in a few minutes.” She nodded and headed out into the street.
“Look young feller…” Doc began.
Heyes sat thoughtfully for a couple of minutes, then he got to his feet and headed toward the door too, “Doc. It’s okay. We’ll be back shortly. Just lock the doors and don’t let anyone else in.”
Kid sat in the saloon and nursed a beer. Eris draped herself around him caressing and cuddling him. Irritably he shrugged her off. He pulled the heavy coat he wore around him more tightly and pulled the collar up. He was always cold now. Eris dropped on to his lap and wrapped her arms around him. He shoved her off of him again. “Would you please just leave me alone.” He snapped at her.
Pouting Eris plopped into an empty chair next to him. “What is the matter with you?” She asked him, “You’re always so mean to me now.”
Kid nailed her with a look so cold and filled with hate that anyone that knew him would not have recognized him. Scoffing, “You are such a stupid bitch.” Even Kid in his diminished state realized it was out of character for him to call any woman such a name. From somewhere in the back of the dim saloon the Master laughed. Kid mumbled, “Yea and you can just shut the hell up too.” Picking up his beer and taking a taste of the cool liquid.
Cautiously the saloon doors opened. Heyes strolled in stopping only long enough to allow his eyes to adjust to the dimness inside. He immediately spotted Kid in the back of the saloon. He managed to keep his instinct to rush over to his cousin in check. Kid glanced up at him, but dismissed him as if he were a stranger, although if Heyes had been closer, the hint of recognition in Kid’s eyes would not have escaped him. Eris however, did catch it. Heyes was immediately struck by Kid’s appearance. He was deadly pale. Wrapped in the heavy coat he was wearing you would have sworn it was the middle of winter rather than a very warm spring day. His hair usually the color of corn, was lifeless and dark, as if it was extremely dirty. Heyes could tell by the way Kid held himself, his manner and expression, there was something very wrong. His cousin, basically a good-natured man was highly irritable and cranky. Heyes had seen Kid cranky, he had made Kid cranky, but not like this. This had a meanness to it that was out of character for the younger man. Regaining his composure Heyes strolled toward the bar. He leaned against it and pushed his hat back on his head, running his hand over his face he sighed deeply and willed himself to remain calm. The bartender nervously walked to where Heyes stood at the bar.
“Beer.” Heyes mumbled, just loud enough to be heard.
“Look mister,” the bartender began in a low voice, “Ifin I was you…”
Heyes looked up, staring at the man, “well you’re not me are you.” He answered coldly. without realizing he’d done so the bartender took a step backwards quickly realizing that his man could be as dangerous as the others in his bar, maybe more so, because this one had a determination about him that the others didn’t have. Heyes watched in the mirror behind the bar as Kid shrugged the girl off again. Kid had not acknowledged him as he came in. Heyes wasn’t sure exactly how to take that. He didn’t want to believe that Kid didn’t recognize him, but he had given no indication that he had. Reluctantly Heyes left the saloon and went in search of Bree, curious about what the teen had found.
Kid watched Heyes leave. It was all he could do to keep from jumping up and following him out the door. He wanted nothing more than to let his cousin know that he was alright while he still could. He knew that Eris had realized he had recognized Heyes and she would take steps to erase that memory as soon as possible. Kid also knew that he couldn’t risk it. Heyes was in enough danger just being here. It was taking all he had to fight off the effects of Eris’ feeding on him was having. The loss of blood was hard enough to deal with, without her and the Master figuring out that they didn’t have as strong a hold on him as they thought they had.
continued to feed on him, Kid knew that he couldn’t guarantee that he would be
able to hold on. He could feel her hold
over him getting stronger each time, but for some reason he was always able to
fight his way back, anyway so far. But as
her hold became stronger he could feel his memories slipping further away. The love that Kid felt for his cousin and
his friend was all that was helping him to maintain what control he still had. It was helping him to hold on to his identity.
Eris and the Master couldn’t reach Kid’s heart. They managed to have some
control over his mind, but as hard as they had tried they hadn’t managed to
make the hold they had over him go deeper the way they had with the
others. So they had settled for
suppressing his memory. But they were having trouble maintaining the control
they had over his mind. Kid was weak but he was fighting them with every thing
he had, but he knew he was slipping the last few days. Knowing that Heyes had
arrived in the little town had helped him. Seeing his cousin now had helped him
even more. He felt stronger now that he had the last couple of days. The hope
they were trying to drain out of him had gotten a boost. However, Kid was still
afraid. Not for himself, but for Heyes and what they would do to him.
Eris positioned herself yet again on Kid’s lap. This time she wouldn’t allow him to push her off. She could feel the Master’s stern gaze boring into her back. He was angry with her. Again she began to take the steps necessary to suppress Kid’s memory further. Once again she began to silently repeat the incantation that the Master had taught her. She was confused as to why it wasn’t working as it had with the others. She had never had this much trouble before gaining control over her playthings. All she knew was that she had to keep trying.
As Heyes strolled down the street the teen ran up beside him and fell into step. “Did you find Mr. Curry?” Bree asked him.
“Uhm-uh.” Heyes was lost in thought. He needed a plan and he needed it quick. Kid had looked terrible. He was deadly pale and sweating almost appearing feverish wrapping himself in his heavy warm coat on a day when it was anything but cold outside. His eyes were sunken in his head. The normal bright clear blue were clouded and pained. What ever they were doing to him, he couldn’t take much more of it. Angrily Heyes realized that his cousin was dying and he needed to find a way to stop it. Now! Heyes felt the girl’s eyes on him and allowed her presence to break his concentration hoping that she found out something that would help them both. “So what did you find?”
Bree grinned at him, “Oh I found lots of playmates.” She indicated several piles of dust as they passed a dark alley.” She shrugged, “but they wouldn’t play nice so I had to dust ‘em.” Heyes couldn’t help but smile a little at her enthusiasm. But then her excitement turned to sadness, “I couldn’t find
Heyes came to a stop and stood staring off into the distance. He was lost in thought again. “I think I might have an idea about that.” Bree followed his gaze toward the church at that sat slightly off from the other buildings in town. It sat on a hill that was surrounded by trees making the plot of land it sat on very shady. Next to it was the town cemetery.
“Oh…” Bree frowned, “No that would be way too easy and obvious.” Her frown deepened as she looked up at Heyes, “wouldn’t it?”
“Did you look up there?”
“Well no. Doc said…” Bree answered, “It’s…I just…They wouldn’t be in a church.” She finally finished.
“Think about it a minute. These things you have been fighting are creatures of the night.” He looked at her, “right?”
“Okay. And you tell me that they can’t come out in the daylight…”
“Well not out into direct sunlight anyway.” She agreed with him. Picking up where he left off she added, “And they can be injured even killed by crosses or holy water. So the chances…” she finished slowly, “of them hiding in a church…” She looked up at him, “You think?”
Heyes shrugged. “I don’t know. You know more about this stuff than I do. I’m making this up as I go. But if I was one of these things and I wanted to hide something important from someone who could do me a great deal of harm…”
“Hide that person in the last place that someone would think to look.” She started to run toward the church.
Heyes grabbed her around the waist. “Whoa! Hold on here.” He put her back on her feet but kept a light hold on her arm so she couldn’t take off again. “Let’s think this through and not go rushing in there blind.”
”Sweetheart.” Heyes put his hands on her shoulders and made her meet his eyes. “If he’s in there this is most likely a trap for you. You are probably the only thing of real danger to these things in this town, because you understand exactly what they are and how to beat them. You can’t afford to go running in there without some kind of plan.”
“But they could be doing …God knows what to him.” A trace of panic was beginning to slip into her voice.
“All the more reason he needs for you to be calm and clear headed.” Heyes wasn’t feeling as calm as he sounded himself. He knew that he needed to keep her calm if for no other reason not to tip their hand.
Bree tried to pull away from him, “but…”
“No buts!” Heyes told her sternly. “You told me yourself that you have been training your entire life for something like this.” Bree looked up at him the strain of knowing her only family was in trouble beginning to show. Heyes knew exactly how she felt. She was trying to hold it back, but tears still misted her eyes. “Now…” Heyes looked her directly in the eye. “Talk it out, what happens now?”
Bree took a deep breath and tried to think. “We can’t wait until dark. They will be stronger at night. We need to move while it’s still light.” She took a deep breath to steady herself and looked around at the fading light. Reluctantly she admitted, “We will need to wait until morning now. It’s going to be dark soon.” The breath she took following the statement was ragged.
Heyes nodded his approval and released his hold on her, “Okay. Then what?”
“Then…” Bree smiled and stood a little taller, “we go in and kick some vampire butt.”
“What will we need?” Heyes asked her, allowing the girl to talk it out. She knew what to do she just needed to lay it out so that she could see there was a plan.
“More of these.” She held up the stake she had in her hand. “That and the sunlight should do it. We can get those coverings off the windows and that will give them fewer places to hide.” She looked at his gun. “We can put some holy water on the bullets in your gun. Then you can shoot them. Maybe make some out of wood.” She looked thoughtful, “would that even be possible?”
Heyes nodded his approval, she was working it out and it was calming her down. “Okay. Now logically…” he pointed toward the church, “You have to assume that is a trap for you. What shape do you think this
The frown returned to Bree’s face. “They are probably using him to feed on, maybe torturing him.”
“Think he’s dead?”
“It’s possible.” Bree admitted, “But I don’t think so. The Master would want me to see him suffer then die.” She looked up at Heyes, “just like he would want you to see Mr. Curry die or better yet he would want you to kill each other. He would enjoy that and it would make him more powerful.”
Heyes smiled at her. “Good girl.” He turned with her and they headed back toward the doctors house to prepare.
The next morning, well after the sun had come up Bree and Heyes headed toward the church on the hill. Approaching cautiously, looking for anyone who might be around. Bree started to run toward the front of the church. Heyes grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
“Let me go.” She snapped at him.
“Bree!” Heyes whispered forcefully, looking deeply into her eyes, “Darlin you need to listen to me. We are only going to get one good shot at this, so we need to do it right.” Bree met his gaze defiantly at first, then slowly her expression softened and she nodded knowing that he was right. Heyes smiled at her and patted her arm, “good girl.”
“We’ll find him right?” Heyes looked into the eyes of a little girl who wanted so badly to be brave, but at the moment was finding it difficult as the prospect of losing the only person in her life that mattered had become a very real possibility.
Heyes did his best to smile at her reassuringly, “I’ll find him.” He told her firmly. “You take care of our friends in there.”
Bree nodded accepting the statement as a promise.
Seeing no one, they quietly moved closer. Once they reached the cemetery they split. Heyes approached the rear of the building, while Bree boldly went to the front door. The doctor had informed them the night before that the town reverend had been found murdered shortly after all the strange things had begun to happen in town. Both the front and back doors were locked. Bree pounded on the front door until she heard the lock being disengaged from the inside. Slowly the door opened. Bree plowed her shoulder into the door throwing all her weight against it. In surprise the creature inside fell back against the wall behind the door. Bree moving quickly grabbed the creature and threw it out the door into the sunlight. It screamed as it began to smoke and then burst into flames. The sound of it screaming roused the others inside. Almost instantly they were awake and alert. She appeared almost gleeful as she began to fight with the creatures that were now attacking her. Several piles of dust appeared on the floor of the church as she drove the stake that she carried deep into the chests of the creatures. Seeing their comrades’ fall so easily at the hands of what appeared to be a young girl caused those remaining to act with caution and fear.
“Who are you?” One of them asked her.
Bree smiled sweetly at the creature and threw the stake in her hand as though it were a knife. The creature looked at her with surprise as the stake wedged itself in its chest. When the creature’s eyes met Bree’s she winked at it, “I’m no one you will ever need to worry about again.”
Heyes had the advantage coming in the back door. He easily picked the lock and quietly entered as Bree continued to create the distraction in the front part of the building. He listened for a moment at the sounds of the battle taking place. Every instinct in him told him he should rush through that door and help her. Bree knew what she was doing and could handle herself. This was her mission in life, her fate, she could handle it. He had made her a promise that he would find
“Need to get down and check on the prisoner.” Heyes told the thing as it came to attention when he approached.
The thing frowned at him, obviously it didn’t recognize him, and “who are you?” It looked Heyes up and down sizing up how much of a threat he really was.
Heyes tried smiling at the creature, “I’m new.”
“Right.” The thing responded. “I don’t think so.”
“Oh well then how about…” Heyes threw the punch as hard as he could. He almost lost his balance and went down he threw the punch so hard. The creature’s head snapped back and it staggered slightly off balance. Quickly it regained its balance and turned toward Heyes. “Ok then, I guess that’s not gonna work.” Heyes reached behind him and pulled the stake Bree had given him from where he had tucked it in his belt at the small of his back. He only had her word that this would work. He sprang forward thrusting the stake toward the creature as if the stake were a knife. Heyes noted that the creature must know something he didn’t because it took great pains to avoid the stake. The creature grabbed his arm with both hands and held Heyes hand with the stake as far away from him as it could. Heyes was surprised at the strength that the creature had. Both men fell to the floor as they struggled for the stake. As luck would have it the creature was the one that hit the floor first and the force of Heyes weight landing on top of the creature drove the stake into the creature’s chest. Heyes watched in amazement as the thing turned to dust under him. Quickly he jumped to his feet and brushed the creature’s dust off. “That was just strange.” He said aloud to no one. Laying next to the pile of dust was a set of keys. Heyes leaned over slowly and carefully picked them up. Anyone watching him would have thought he believed that the dusted creature was going to pull itself together and attack him. Heyes opened the cellar door and made his way down the semi-dark stairs. “Anyone down here?” He asked.
“Who’s there?” Came the weak response. Heyes continued to move slowly and carefully. The room itself was basically made of dirt. There were no wooden walls for support. Only an occasional beam that helped to support the floor above, from the beam hung a lantern that gave off just enough light to see around the room. Tied to one of the beams was a man. He had been there for some time and had been beaten at some point. One eye was swollen almost closed and there was dried blood on the corner of his mouth. His clothes were dirty and torn. His shirt had been ripped open at the neck. On his neck were two small puncture wounds about an inch apart. He was pale and weak.
“Anyone else down here with you?” Heyes asked before he took a step closer to the man.
“No.” He quietly responded. “No one has been down here in days. They seem to be preoccupied with something else.”
“You wouldn’t go by
Heyes grinned and shook his head, “I’m sure you’ve felt better.” He told the man as he came forward to unlock the shackles that held him to the beam.
“The noise upstairs…” Niles began.
Heyes grinned at him, “That would be your girl.”
“Uh-huh.” Heyes grunted. Taking the man’s arm once he was free and helping him to his feet. “Shall we go see how much damage she’s done?” The two men took the stairs back up slowly.
Heyes caught her before she could land on
Bree dropped to her knees beside
Across town the Master knew almost as soon as it happened what had taken place at the little church on the hill. Kid sat smirking, cleaning his gun as the Master paced. It was more like he was stalking someone, or something as he marched around the saloon. His hands were clasped behind his back and he was muttering, quietly. His voice was so soft that no one could hear what he was saying only that he was speaking. Finally Kid couldn’t take it any longer.
“Something bothering you?” He asked trying to sound innocent. He didn’t understand why he wanted to antagonize the Master, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself. The Master being this vexed made him very happy. The Master turned and him. His intentions were clear in his manner. Eris was between them in an instant.
“He doesn’t mean anything by it Master.” She purred, trying to soothe him, “He is just anxious like the rest of us to move on to your next step.” She looked up into the gnarled face of the old Master and seductively stroked his face. The Master was having none of it. He raised his hand and slapped her across the face and then again with the back of his hand, this time sending her flying across the room. Kid was on his feet in an instant. The Master was ready for him. He grabbed Kid by the throat and held him several feet off the floor.
“Master! Noo!” Eris shrieked from across the room as she struggled to get to her feet.
He shot her an evil look, “He is lucky I still need him.” Looking back into Kid’s eyes, “Otherwise it would give me great pleasure to simply rip his throat out.”
Kid coldly met the Masters gaze. Very quietly and coldly he responded, “Try it.”
The master scoffed at him and easily threw him across the room. Kid bounced off the wall and slid to the floor, as Eris ran to his side. The master resumed his stalking around the room as the others cowered. Then the Master began to smile. If his plan wasn’t going to play out exactly he would just change it slightly. The smile became even more evil twisted. Slowly it turned to laughter. ‘Yes,’ he hissed to himself, ‘I’ll cut my losses here and start over someplace else.’ He turned to a group of his ‘family’ that were sitting quietly in a corner trying to blend in and not be noticed. “Bring me Hannibal Heyes.”
Kid’s head shot up at the
sound of the name. He shouldn’t have
even recognized the name. He could tell since her last attack that Eris’ hold
on him was stronger. Kid didn’t
understand how she was doing it, but every time she fed on him, his memory seemed
to become cloudier and more full of holes. It un-nerved him, he wanted to
understand why, what she was doing to him. He shook his head trying to clear it. He frowned, he was pretty sure he didn’t know
this Heyes fella, so he didn’t understand why it bothered him so deeply that
the Master wanted to hurt him. Kid’s chest ached at the thought of this Heyes
being brought here to the saloon. He knew what the Master would do to him and
it wasn’t something he would wish on anyone. Especially someone he cared about
so deeply. Someone he loved. Kid shuddered and shook his head as the thought
popped in his mind. ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ he questioned himself.
Kid tried to struggle to his feet. But he had the breath knocked out of him
when he hit the wall and his head was buzzing painfully. Eris pushed him back
down; indicating that he should stay put and cautioned him to remain quiet.
Several of the ‘family’ disappeared through the front door of the saloon and
head toward the doctor’s house/office.
Kid struggled to a sitting position and hissed at the Master, “You have no idea what you are getting yourself into.” The outburst surprised Kid, he didn’t know why he’d said it.
The Master turned on him and laughed. In the blink of an eye he had crossed the room and grabbed Kid by the throat. Pulling him off the floor and holding him above his head. “You do realize just how easily I could kill you and how much pleasure it would bring me?”
“No…” Eris pleaded with the Master tugging on
the sleeve of his arm he held Kid by. The Master shifted his gaze from Kid to Eris.
“Please Master,” She smiled at him seductively, “you said you still needed him.
Don’t allow your anger to cloud you judgment and foil all your plans.”
The Master gazed at her with the expression of a man who had a bad taste in his mouth, “You my darling…” He unceremoniously dropped Kid back to the floor. “Have gotten far too fond of your meal ticket here.” He stalked away, “Find someone else to feed on my dear, because one way or another this…” he looked at Kid with distaste, “one dies tonight with his friend.” As he reached the stairs leading to the second floor he turned back to Eris, “And you need to strengthen your hold on this one’s mind. He’s starting to remember. That, Precious, could be dangerous for us all.”
“I will try my Lord.” Eris looked at him, “But it is difficult to control him. It’s not his mind that he draws most of this strength from, but his heart. He listens to it and his connection to the other is strong. Their bond is strong.”
The Master strolled back to where Eris stood. Standing close enough to her that she could feel his hot breath on her face, gently he caressed her cheek allowing his hand to run down to her throat, “are you telling me daughter that you made a mistake?” He purred to her, “Did you choose again based on a pretty face and lust rather than on the ‘family’s needs?”
“No, Master.” She shrunk away from him, “Of course not.” She resisted the temptation to remind him that he had approved of her choice of Kid and tried to smile prettily, “I’ll do it, I promise. I’ll gain control and keep it.”
The Master smiled a particularly evil smile at her, “See that you do pet. I would hate to have to take matters into my own hands.” He placed a cold kiss on her cheek, “You will be most unhappy if I have to step in.”
The two creatures that the Master had sent for Heyes slinked along the street heading toward the doctor’s house. They knew this was where he and Bree had taken Niles after he had been rescued from the church. As they approached, Heyes was heading back toward the house after having fetched some water from the nearby well for the doctor to use to clean and treat Niles injuries.
In silent agreement the two creatures separated and approached Heyes one from either side, cutting of his path back to the house. Heyes stopped short and looked from one of the creatures to the other. Cautiously he backed into the sunlight, knowing that the creatures couldn’t follow him. What Heyes didn’t realize was that both creatures feared the wrath of the Master more than they did the rays of the sun. The creatures realizing they were safe as long as they remained out of direct sunlight ventured far enough out that Heyes became aware that one of them was holding a gun on him. The second creature produced a rope and lassoed him. Dragging him off his feet and into the protection of the shade with them, then they each grabbed a hold of the upper part of Heyes arms; holding him high enough between them to keep his feet from touching the ground. Heyes started to struggle until he heard a voice tell him, “Not yet boy.” Heyes looked around for the source of the voice and to his surprise so did the creatures, “Your fight isn’t here with them.”
In spite of himself, Heyes
looked from one creature to the other, “You heard that right?” Dumbly the two
nodded agreement that they had heard it as well. Heyes sighed, “Good! For a
minute there I thought something strange was going on.”
The two creatures dragged Heyes along staying to the shadows and dark corners of alleyway’s and streets. The sky had begun to become overcast which allowed the creatures to move faster. Turning the corner of the street the saloon was on they stopped short, releasing Heyes. Standing in the middle of the street was Kid. His eyes locked on Heyes. Heyes knew that stance. Feet slightly apart weight evenly balanced. Hat back on his head thumbs far too casually stuck in his belt at the buckle, gloves on, and gun tied down. Heyes met his gaze and smiled trying not to appear nervous or concerned. Which wasn’t at all how he felt. This was his cousin he was looking at, but at the moment Kid didn’t know that. Holding his hands away from his weapon Heyes slowly started to close the distance between himself and Kid.
“Don’t talk, just draw.”
“I’m not fighting you Kid.”
Kid sighed. “Yea you are.”
“Kid I know you don’t know who I am…” Heyes kept moving slowly closer, “But if you look in your heart you will remember the connection.”
Kid continued to gaze at Heyes. In his head he could hear the sound of a woman’s soft familiar voice, one with a soft Bostonian accent that he recognized, but yet he couldn’t place why he knew it. He shook his head trying to clear it. “No love, you can’t do this.” Then a second voice this one with a soft feminine Irish lilt to it, “Aye, nephew, you don’t want to hurt anyone, especially not my boy.” Kid’s head snapped around as he tried to find where the voices were coming from. There were lots of people around, but clearly none of them had spoken and if they had none of them were Irish. His eyes found their way back to Heyes.
Heyes grinned at him, “You heard that didn’t you?”
“I didn’t hear anything.” Kid protested, “Stop stalling and let’s get this over with.”
“Don’t worry.” Heyes tried to reassure him, “I heard it too. I can tell you who it is.”
“That’s it boy-o.” Grandpa Curry assured Heyes, to Kid, “Listen to him son, don’t try to puzzle it out listen to your heart talkin’ to ya.”
“SHUT UP!!” Kid snapped at no one; then turned back to Heyes. “I don’t care who it was.”
“Sure you do.” Heyes took the chance to move a little closer. “Listen to your heart. You know those voices. The first one was my Aunt Grace, your mother. The second was…”
“Shut up!” Kid yelled at him this time. Heyes caught the slight panic in Kid’s voice.
Heyes sighed, then spoke to his Grandfather, “I don’t know Grandpa, he doesn’t seem to wanna listen.”
From no where and everywhere came the response, “Oh he’s listening all right.”
From the boardwalk in front of the saloon Eris stood, she could tell she was loosing her hold over Kid. She wrung her hands as she tried to figure out how to re-establish her hold over him. She hadn’t counted on outside forces helping Heyes to make the connection with Curry. As they sky became more overcast others began to file out and line the street to watch what was going to happen.
“Please, son, walk away.” The voice spoke yet again. Again Kid again began to look around for the source of the voice.
“I know you hear that Kid. I hear it too.” Kids eyes shot back to Heyes.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t hear anything.”
Heyes smile broadened, “Sure you do. Listen to what Grandpa told you and look into your heart Jed and it will tell you what you should do. Listen to it. “
Eris began to pace the boardwalk. She needed to continue to have control of Kid, but she couldn’t figure out what to do. She knew the Master was going to be very angry with her, but the harder she tried to regain control over Kid, the more it seemed to slip away from her.
Kid stood and looked at Heyes. He tried to think, to pull out of his memory why anything this man before him had to say should be important to him. Without realizing it he reached up and placed his hand on his forehead and rubbed as if he were getting a headache.
“Don’t try to think it through.” Heyes told him, “Just listen to your heart. What does your heart tell you?”
Kid stood for a long time just staring at Heyes. The crowd on the board walk parted as the Master finally wandered out of the saloon to watch the show taking place on the street. Kid and Heyes both glanced at him. But Kid’s eyes lingered on the man/creature.
Eris raced to the Masters’ side, “I’m loosing my control over him.” She hissed in his ear.
“Yes, love, I know.” The Master turned to her, raising his hand he caressed her cheek, “And you have failed me my darling for the last time.” He quickly grasped her throat and with his free hand he produced a stake. The Master enjoyed the shocked expression on her face as he plunged the stake deeply into her chest, piercing her heart. He laughed as she dissolved into a pile of dust at his feet. Then, bushing his hands off against one another, he turned to the two men standing in the street. “Please gentlemen continue. Don’t allow a little family squabble to dissuade you from your moment of truth.”
Heyes again looked at Kid, studying his face. Something had changed. Heyes knew in that instant that the Master had made a serious mistake and the advantage had shifted. Kid may not have regained his memory, but there was a clear softening in his expression.
“Kid…” before Heyes could finish Kid reached for his gun. In one fluid motion the gun appeared in Kid’s hand with the hammer drawn back before Heyes could blink his eyes. For a split second the weapon was poised directly at Heyes chest. At the last possible second Kid shifted his weight and turned slightly. The well placed shot hit the Master directly where his heart should have been. Heyes winced at the sound of the gun going off, but resisted the urge to look down at his own shirt for the blood stain. Instead he followed Kid’s gaze toward the Master who was looking down at the hole in his own shirt. The force of the shot propelled the Master backwards into the crowd that was standing around watching what was taking place in the street. Instinctively the crowd behind the Master pushed back as he fell into them. With a shove they forced him out into the street between Kid and Heyes.
Looking up at first Heyes and then at Kid he slowly he began to laugh. “You can’t be serious?” He looked at Kid, “You don’t really think that will destroy me do you?”
“Nope,” Kid admitted as he glanced up at the clouds that were beginning to part. “But I think that will.”
At first the rays of sun missed where the Master was standing, but quickly the clouds began to move away from the sun and the rays of the time sun began to shine directly on him. Those on the board walk moved even farther away from the edge of the building back into the deeper shadows of the shade. They stood and watched in horror as the Master began to smoke. His skin sizzling as the sun hit him directly. He tried to turn and run back to the shade of the covered board walk, but found his path blocked by Kid. He turned back the other direction to find Heyes blocking his path. He turned yet again to find a bruised and bloody
The four of them turned as one to the crowd of people standing dazed on the boardwalk. Some of them there had turned to ash when the Master had been destroyed others stood as if in a daze not yet realizing that they were free from the control that they had be subject to for so long.
Kid was just as glazed over and looked as lost as everyone else, until, “M…Momma?” Heyes turned to see what Kid was talking about and saw standing off in the distance what appeared to be his Aunt Grace and his own mother. Between them with an arm around each of them was their Grandfather. They were smiling at them, pride and love shinning in their eyes as Grandpa Curry nodded his approval. Slowly they began to fade, “Heyes?” Kid questioned not taking his eyes off the spot where they had been.
“Yea?” Heyes raised his hand in a reluctant wave.
“Please tell me you saw that.” Kid finally tore his eyes away and looked at Heyes.
His cousin met his gaze with his own and answered softly. “Yea, Jed. I saw it.” Then a smile began to spread across his face as he turned toward Kid, “Welcome back.”
Kid looked around in confusion, “Heyes?”
“How much of all this do you remember?” He moved closer to Kid.
“I don’t know.”
“What’s the last thing you remember?”
“Being at Doc Windham’s and working on a shed outside and there was this little girl…” Kid frowned deep in thought, “Except there really wasn’t a little girl, it was….” The frown deepened as he lost his train of thought.
“Not to worry,”
Slowly the group turned and headed back toward the doctor’s house. As they did people began to wander away from the saloon back toward the homes that they had abandoned when they fell under the Master’s influence.
“So…” Heyes began, “Are things back to normal here now?”
Niles looked around at the people beginning to go return to their normal lives, cleaning up the mess left from the destruction of the creatures and slowly he nodded, “Yes I believe these folks are gonna be alright now.”
As they approached the doctor’s home the doctor and the sheriff walked out to meet them. Kid and Heyes stopped short and exchanged looks.
“Uh-oh” Kid muttered.
“No, boys, don’t worry. I ain’t gonna lock you up.”
Heyes shot a look at Doc Windham, “I thought you said he didn’t know who we were?” His smile was slightly pained.
“I did, didn’t I.” Doc chuckled, “Guess the ole coot is more observant that I thought he was.”
Charlie pulled his hat off
and scratched his head, “Don’t rightly see as how I could with what you boys
did for us.” Then he got a mischievous twinkle in his eye, “course there is
that reward money…”
Old Charlie nodded agreement, “Exactly right. If you ever need a…home…help…place to ahmm…rest a spell.”
Kid smiled at the two old timers, “Thank you very much.”
“Sure is good to know we have friends.”
“So…” Doc asked, “What are your plans? You boys hanging around for a while longer or what?”
Kid looked at Heyes and started to grin, “Seems to me we got folks waitin’ for us.”
Heyes agreed, “And they are probably getting pretty worried too.”
Sheriff Knapp nodded toward two horses saddled and tied nearby, “Yea we kinda thought maybe you boys might not be awantin to stay in one place to long.”
“Sure do hate to see you go though.” Doc added.
“Sure do hate to go, Doc.” Kid said while placing a friendly hand on the older man’s shoulder.
Heyes turned to Bree and smiled at her, “you gonna be okay now?”
She gave him a bright happy smile and looked up at
Heyes reach around her and offered his hand to
Heyes smiled and nodded then looked at Kid. Without speaking another word they headed toward the horses, mounted and headed home.