Sheriff Roberts was awful surprised to see us when we made it back to Serafin! A new shipment of dynamite is set to arrive next week and he plans to blow Hell out that place before it has a chance to let loose any more creatures. Good riddance, I say!
After Eric and I got done jawing with the Sheriff I left the two of them and went to find the camp doc who'd fixed my broken arm, since I figured he'd be able to do something about my fingers growing together around my shotgun. When I got to the camp site, though, there was a whole contingent of soldiers already there, and a lot of them were in a bad way.
I could see the doc wouldn't have no time for me; the poor man was just about running off his feet trying to attend to all of the army. So I just slipped in there at his side and helped him out as best I could.
I emptied my shotgun first, a course. No sense risking any accidents.
Being around all these wounded soldiers brought back memories of the War something fierce, but then I wasn't there for my sake; I was there for their's. The doc was doing his usual fine job of patching them up, but some were just too far gone for him to keep them around. I spent what time I could with one of them, a young man by the name of Harley Jones.
He was brown-eyed, dark-haired and barely twenty; I especially hate to see someone so young cash it in. I promised him that I'd write his momma and tell her what had happened to him. That's gonna be harder than anything I've ever had to write in here, for sure.
Harley told me his detachment had been stationed with another in Masthead, way to the north, and they'd been at the southern edge of their patrol range when they got attacked by a whole load a Hell Bats and more n' a few Night Terrors. They fought em off as best they could and then made for Serafin because it was closer.
The doc called me away then and by the time I made it back Harley was going. He thanked me for staying with him and I told him ain't no thanks necessary; good fighting men do this for one another. He asked me to get something from his rucksack and I figgered it to be a crucifix or rosary that he'd want to hold as he met our Savior, but what I pulled out was a folded sheet of paper. Harley told me he didn't have no money or nothing else to give me but this, a wanted poster of an outlaw who'd been sighted near Masthead and for whom there was a big reward. Maybe I could bring him in and get the reward he wished he could have given me, Harley told me.
I started to tell him again what foolishness that was, but the words died in my mouth when I unfolded that poster. Beneath a portrait of the man's face was the name Captain Burns, and below that the sum of five hundred dollars. I tell ya, my heart starting beating faster, not because of the money, but because I knew both that name and that face: Captain Burns was one of Scafford's lieutenants! If anyone knew where the outlaw boss was, it would be Burns!
I looked up to tell Harley how much this meant to me and I saw I was too late; his eyes weren't seeing nothing no more, and his ears wouldn't be hearing anything neither. I closed his eyes myself and then said a prayer for this good boy's soul.
When twilight came the doc told me he had things pretty much under control, so I went back to the hotel to tell Eric what I'd found. Turns out he had something to tell me too; after I left he'd kept talking with Sheriff Roberts, and he'd gotten hisself deputized! He showed me his new bounty hunter badge, proud as a cat what had just got the cream.
I congratulated him, and I weren't blowing no smoke; I thought Eric would make a fine bounty hunter and it was a dang sight better profession for a man than just going around impressing folks with how well you can use a shooting iron.
I wanted to head toward Masthead immediately, but it turns out Eric had already agreed to do another favor for the Sheriff. Those miners who went out to Mt. La Terra hadn't come back like we were supposed to, and Eric told him we would check it out for him.
It shouldn't be much of a detour, and once we're done there we can head north to Masthead and hopefully to Burns.
Well, we didn't get out of town today after all, but that just might be for the best. When I went down to the General Store I found a prospector who was looking for anyone who might want to buy a scroll he said he'd found in the mines.
At first I thought he was pulling my leg, but when I took a look at that thing it sure didn't seem like no forgery. It weren't in English yet somehow I could understand it. The title was "Scroll of Flames" and it seemed like saying the weird words there would let you conjure up the Devil's fire.
I said before that I've learned not to doubt anything here in the Brimstone territory, and I thought it was just possible that this piece of paper could do what it said. So I paid the man's asking price and tucked the scroll into an inside pocket of my black duster. That way it'll be handy if ever I need it.
Eric ain't back yet, so I guess I'll see him in morning.
This is the first chance I've had to put pen to paper since the night before we headed off to check on the miners, and I'm afeared the story I got to tell is awful bitter.
We found the new mine easily enough, though the entrance was a strange sight, being an almost perfectly circular hole rather than the rectangle most mine entrances are. As we went in we saw the miners had already laid the tracks, though we didn't see any miners anywhere.
Then the tunnel opened up into a cave, and it was filled with more weapons than you'd find in the average fort! Eric and I nosed around real careful, and it was a good thing we did, since there was some booby-traps set around the stuff.
That and the S's on a bunch of the guns told me this was a Scafford stash. It looked like I didn't have to go to Masthead after all; the Scafford Gang was right here!
My mouth was dry as Eric and I crept out of the cavern down the tunnel real quietlike. There was a short passage and when we reached the next cavern I saw something I know I ain't never gonna forget, no matter how hard I try.
Six members of the Scafford gang were facing us, but it was what was behind em that'll give me nightmares for the rest of my life. It was a worm the size of a goldarn LOCOMOTIVE, rearing up straight out of a hole in the solid rock! It had a long mess a tentacle tongues sticking out of its mouth, like one of them Goliaths, but these tongues were a lot bigger and longer, and were dark purple stead of red. They writhed like a nest of snakes and I swear I saw one of them lick the top of a Scafford bandit's hat!
I yelled and pointed behind them, but the Scafford gang members just laughed and one a them called me out by name! They moved together into a firing line facing us, in front of the giant worm, as tentacles burst out of the floor around Eric and I!
Between the tentacles and the flying lead I took a sore hurting, and I realized then that somehow this great beast and the Scafford gang were actually working together! Don't ask me how that happened, if they was controlling it somehow, or if it was controlling them, but there was no doubt monster and outlaw were on the same side here.
The very idea made me so furious I pulled out that scroll and read it right quick, and when four of those stinking coyotes caught fire I laughed right back at them.
Eric and I put a few holes in the worm, but one of them closed up immediately, and the blasted Scafford outlaws were still standing. I managed to put down five of them with my shotgun before a tentacle grabbed me by each arm. I thought they was gonna tear me right in two, but I channeled all the grit I had left in me and sunk my teeth into the tentacle wrapped around my left shoulder. It turned me loose and the other tentacle slammed me down into the floor.
When I woke up again Eric was hurrying me out of the cave and northward. I asked him what was happening and he told me he'd finished off the Scafford men, but then that worm had healed some more til it hardly had a scratch on it! It lashed out with its tentacles like they was whips and cut Eric's leg badly. I was surprised he could support me with his leg like that and I took my weight off his shoulder as soon as I could.
We tried to go back to Serafin, but we was too late. That humongous worm was burrowing beneath the Earth and the ground was shaking so hard Eric and I couldn't even stand. When we finally got close enough to see Serafin the entire town was in ruins and . . . well, I ain't gonna describe what that felt like.
It's two days later now and this is the first chance I've had to write in this journal again. Eric and I have stopped for a quick dinner of rabbit, even though we're in sight of Masthead. It'll be good sleeping in a real hotel bed tonight, I will say.
I (ink blot) Wait, there's gunshots coming from that town! And a bunch of men riding hell for leather outta there, letting off a steady stream of bullets behind them. They look to be heading in the direction of Gregor's Gulch, and given the way they keep looking back toward the town I don't reckon they've seen us huddled down to the south yet.
I gotta go now. We might be a bit delayed arriving in Masthead after all.
I love the fact these are told from the first person point of view. Keep em comin'
I love the fact these are told from the first person point of view. Keep em comin'
Mighty fine writing. Wish we could journey into Brimstone with a story teller, err, I mean someone with the power of recolation such as yourself.