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Subject: Journal of Clyde Burroughs, Part VIII rss

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Adam Mitchell
United States
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Dec. 13th

We're right outside the Golden Road Mine entrance now and about to go in. If neither of us make it back, I ask whoever finds this journal to please send it to Chief United States Marshal Chester Engels in Washingon D.C.

If I do make it back, then I have to decide what to do about this . . . this thing growing out of me. I thought I would get it cut out, but the first day we bedded down it, he, said his prayers! I-I don't know what I'll do if I make it back. Good-bye.

Dec. 14th

Colonel Benjamin Scafford is dead.

He's dead, and I'm still alive.

When we went in Eric and I were both filled with stubborn resolve, and we would need it. The first enemy which confronted us, steeping out from the lefthand passage of the T-junction, was a walking dead man in a pancho with a pistol in each hand. I think it was the Undead Gunslinger I've heard about. He opened fire on both us and we shot back. Eric came out okay, but I got hit more than once, and each one of those hits seemed to have a strange effect on me.

Finally after Eric hit it enough the thing backed up around the corner and vanished. Eric and I both agreed not to go after it, not after what we'd heard about it. We were here for Scafford, not him, and we couldn't afford to waste out strength and ammunition.

So we went right, into a room with a waterfall, and I triggered a rope that set off a shotgun aimed at me. I was lucky enough not to get hit, and I was actually glad of the trap, since it showed we were on the right track. Course it would also let Scafford and his boys know we were on the way.

Turns out there was monsters closer than that, though. Barely had the roar of the shotgun died away when three of those Void Hounds appeared us, and a weird-looking manlike thing stepped out across the room from us. He had tentacles around his mouth and was carrying a blade and a knife. He started saying something in a foreign language, but we didn't pay much attention to him. Before we knew what was happening six giant rats were also around us, having run out from a big nest near the strange thing.

Eric and I went to work, blasting the things near us. We took some bites while we were clearing them out and the last rat was worrying it jaws on my poncho when Xotc shot it in the head.

The alien man had been chanting for over two minutes now and I admit I was getting a little afeared of what would happen when he finally finished. I'd seen what reading that scroll had done, and that had taken less than a minute to say. Fortunately Eric managed to get him right between the eyes with a last shot and so I swung my shotgun over to the nest and blasted it to pieces.

On the body of the alien man I found some lamp oil and a little magnifying glass. I kept both of them, but found myself using up the lamp oil awful quick.

Instead of going through the tunnel the alien had come from, we went with the southern tunnel. It led to an open cavern with another six giant rats and another blasted nest! Eric and I had to bleed a little before we put these ones down, but the only way out of the cavern was a portal. I didn't think Scafford woulda risked going into another world with so few members of his gang, so we went back the way the chanting monster had come.

I triggered another shotgun that did some damage to me. I bandaged myself up and we found ourselves in a flooded cavern with ways out to the left, right and in front of us. We went left and found ourselves in a long tunnel. We had only gone a little way along it when Eric whirled about and started shooting his guns at me!

I was so surprised I couldn't even more, and that turned out to be an awful good thing. There was a loud thump behind me and when I turned around there was a Night Terror lying dead, bleeding from half a dozen holes.

I still laid into Eric a little, since I'd felt the wind of those bullets on my FACE! Still, I only cussed him out a little and we went on. Finally we reached the end of the tunnel, in a cavern dripping with some kind of acid!

I didn't have much chance to take it in, since Eric stumbled over a rope that yanked a bolt from a cage right near him. Another Night Terror boiled out of it, only this one had something wrong with his skin; it was like it was already rotting!

It was harder to kill than the last one, but my shotgun and a bullet from Xotc put paid to it. Then we had a decision to make, because there was only one other exit to that cavern, and it was another portal.

I didn't know what to do! Like I said before, I didn't think Scafford would be in another world, but then there'd been this captive critter stashed here for anyone who came this way, so it had to be right! Except . . . what if the trap was meant to work the other way? What if Scafford had put it here to sic on anything that wandered INTO the mine through this portal?

Eric and I were in quite a fix then, trying to decide whether to go into the other world or try to go back and try another way. We argued about it, but the flame in my lantern was getting low and neither one of us wanted to be poking around this mine in the dark. So took our start and dashed through the room. I was able to avoid all the acid, though Eric wasn't quite so lucky.

The world we came out in was hotter n' any stretch of desert I've ever been in! The passage floor was made of this weird blue metal, etched with words I couldn't read, while the walls and ceiling were rock. I was so blamed hot that I felt I had to take off my duster and hat, but Eric barreled right around the corner and down the hall. I was going after him when I heard his pistols firing!

I ran like the blazes which were all around us and burst into a room behind Eric. The very first thing I noticed was an awful stench. Eric later told me that the stink came from the first Scafford gang member he put down, and that it was a whole lot worse while he was still breathing.

Yes, the Scafford gang was here, and so was their leader. Colonel Scafford had changed a lot since the wanted poster of him was made; his legs were entirely gone! What he had instead was four slimy, leathery tails holding him up off the ground. It was horrible, but it didn't make any difference to me. Colonel Scafford was within reach of my shotgun at last, and that was all that mattered!

Except it wasn't, cause I could see that Eric's fancy device was aimed the Colonel's way, and I knew nothing would be getting to or from Scafford until the machine ran out.

So I did it by the book. I flipped my badge open and told them they was all under arrest. Scafford shot at me, the bullets impacting the invisible wall around him and clattering to the floor. I took down another two gang members, including one Eric had wounded. The last outlaw was a big, hulking brute that must have been seven feet tall, with muscles the size o' cannonballs!

Before I knew what was happening that giant was behind me, and I had to duck a punch I swear woulda taken my head off if I landed! Eric shot it quite a few times, and I swung my shotgun around and gave it both barrels in the gut, and it didn't even seem to notice!

It hit Eric a glancing blow that still nearly knocked him through the rock wall! Finally he took it down and I aimed my shotgun straight at Scafford, now that he weren't trapped no more. I'd wanted to bring him in for so long now, but I could see that I'd never take him alive. He shot at me, hitting me, but nowhere serious. Then my shotgun boomed, Xotc fired, and Scafford went down in a heap.

I couldn't help thinking it was too easy, after all this time, and I was right! Scafford reared right back up on his tails, firing at us again, but Eric shot back and Scafford went down again, this time for good.

We made it out of the mine right before my lantern went out. We went in the direction of Fort Burke and made it there before midnight, about ten minutes ago. Xotc is already asleep and I'm dead on my feet. I'll figure out what I'm gonna do with the rest of my life tomorrow.
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