* * *
It was overcast and cloudy again on Monday, August 13, 1928. The two men drove back to town around noon. McCree parked in front of the general store while Zippy stayed in the car. McCree went into the store and found Harv Taylor there.
â€œHarvey!â€ McCree said.
â€œYuh yuh,â€ Taylor said. â€œHow can I help ya?â€
â€œYouâ€™re that fella that was here the other day, the fisherman.â€
â€œFisherman. Hunter. Outdoors enthusiast.â€
â€œYou caught anything?â€
â€œWhatâ€™d you catch?â€
â€œI got a large one. I got a 10-point.â€
â€œWhoa. Thatâ€™s a lot. Well, where were you hunting?â€
â€œThat nice spot around Smith Creek.â€
â€œAh. I see. Well, thatâ€™s good.â€
â€œI heard a lot of shooting over there.â€
â€œYeah, people were saying there were strange, strange noises of shooting. Lots of gunfire. Lots of gunfire in that area. Very strange. Very strange indeed.â€
â€œThankfully I got it before it got scared by all that noise.â€
â€œYeah, they can â€¦ they can bolt if youâ€™re not careful.â€
â€œYes, Harv, I was wondering if you could point us in the direction of the â€¦ Simon family. Iâ€™m looking for Mr. Simon.â€
â€œWell, yeah yeah. Whatcha lookinâ€™ for him for?â€
â€œI was told that he actually knows the best hunting spots.â€
â€œWell, I didnâ€™t know Lloyd Simon was even a hunter.â€
McCree wondered if that was the man they had killed in the woods.
â€œI heard since he had so much land that he actually had some very exotic creatures in his area,â€ McCree said.
â€œExotic?â€ Taylor said. â€œWhat kind of exotic creatures do you get?â€
â€œI wasnâ€™t even told that much but â€¦ if itâ€™s something I havenâ€™t gotten, Iâ€™d love to get one.â€
â€œIowa ainâ€™t got much in the way of exotic. Leastways, not that I know of.â€
â€œDo you know his residence?â€
â€œWell, let me get you a map and Iâ€™ll show you, best as I can here.â€
Taylor leaned down as McCree put his hand in his pocket with his 1911 .45 semi-automatic pistol. Taylor came back up not with a map but with a sawed-off shotgun that he pointed at the man.
â€œNow, donâ€™t be moving any,â€ Taylor said. â€œPut your hands up.â€
McCree did so.
â€œThank you,â€ Taylor said.
He reached over to the telephone on the wall while not taking his eyes or his aim off McCree. He held the ear phone to his ear and spoke into the mouth piece without looking away from the other man.
â€œSimons,â€ he simply said.
A moment passed.
â€œYes, Wanda?â€ he said. â€œYeah, I got a hunter man here â€¦ who says that he hears your husband likes hunting. Oh, he did? Oh, he is? I heard that. Well, you want me to hold onto him for now? You do? You think he did?â€
The man turned his head away from the mouthpiece.
â€œLloydâ€™s wife would like to talk to you,â€ he said. â€œSeems like he got gunned down in the woods yesterday.â€
â€œSo thatâ€™s what the gunfire was,â€ McCree said conversationally.
â€œPut your hands up!â€ Taylor barked.
McCree did so.
â€œOr Iâ€™ll blow you in two right here,â€ Taylor said. â€œYou understand me?â€
He turned back to the phone, still not taking his eyes off McCree.
â€œAll right Wanda,â€ he said. Then back to McCree. â€œYou got any friends here with you? The truth please. Iâ€™ll know if youâ€™re lying.â€
â€œI do not,â€ McCree lied. â€œIâ€™m in here by myself.â€
â€œHe was here with two others before,â€ Taylor said into the telephone. â€œAll right. Yeah, theyâ€™re probably around here somewhere. All right.â€
He hung up the telephone receiver.
â€œWandaâ€™s on her way,â€ Taylor said. â€œSheâ€™ll be here soon.â€
* * *
Zippy sat in the car. When 10 minutes went by without McCree returning, he began to get worried. He waited five more minutes but, aside from local people keeping away from him, nothing had changed. He put the Thompson on the floor of the car, hid the pistol his Johnsonâ€™s bloody jacket and put it on. He looked around but no one was on the street at all.
He climbed out of the automobile and headed for the door.
* * *
Inside the store, McCree suddenly sidestepped to one side, going for the gun in his pocket. Taylor fired one barrel of the sawed-off shotgun but missed, the blast blowing a hole in one of the shelves filled with stock. Groceries flew into the air.
â€œYou God damned robber!â€ Taylor shouted.
McCree drew his 1911 semi-automatic and shot Taylor in the left arm. Blood spurted and Taylor screamed. Taylor returned fire with the second barrel as McCree ducked towards the front of the building. The blast just missed him, blowing another hole in the free standing shelves in the center of the room. McCree returned fire, the bullet smashing a bottle high up on a shelf.
* * *
Zippy had just reached the edge of the building when he heard the gunfire and the shout. He stepped to the edge of one of the front windows and saw the exchange of gunfire. He saw Taylor break down his shotgun and start to reload.
Zippy drew his Colt revolver and fired at Taylor, shattering a pane of glass. The bullet struck a doll on the shelf on the wall above the man, who looked his direction in surprise. His second bullet struck the man in the right foot, which knocked it into the left foot and sent the man tumbling to the ground in a splatter of blood, his head slamming into the counter as he fell.
Zippy ran into the store and McCree told him the leader of the witches, Wanda, was coming there now. He suspected she could also cause terrible things like the shriveling of his arm. He thought she would be arriving soon and said they should get a better vantage point.
â€œWe can kill her on the spot!â€ he said.
â€œWhat if itâ€™s not just her,â€ Zippy said.
â€œThen we kill everyone on the spot.â€
â€œListen, theyâ€™re going to kill me if they find me and I canâ€™t drive with this arm so â€¦ Iâ€™m at your mercy here.â€
They went to the automobile again. McCree saw a woman on the street who fled into the door of one of the houses. He was unsure if that was Wanda. No one else was out there.
He and Zippy got into the car and drove down to Johnson Street, turning north and parking on the dirt road there. He and Zippy hid by a tree where they could see cars coming from the east or west on Main Street.
They soon heard vehicles approaching. The sound came from the east.
â€œWe need to get outta here,â€ Zippy said. â€œWe have fired guns in a rural town.â€
â€œHey, Zippy, can you start the car?â€ McCree said.
â€œOh, yeah, Iâ€™ll just â€¦â€ Zippy said.
The vehicles proved to be two pickup trucks and both disappeared in front of the general store, out of sight of their vantage point. McCree thought he saw a single figure in each truck.
â€œI believe theyâ€™re with the cult to and we should just go kill them now so theyâ€™ll have less numbers,â€ McCree said.
Zippy just looked at the man, aghast.
â€œI donâ€™t know what goes on in your head, McCree, but I have a good life, all right?â€ he said. â€œEverythingâ€™s going pretty okay for me. Itâ€™s not great. Iâ€™m lonely. But it could worse, right? I have a job. I have the things I like in life. Iâ€™m not gonna risk my everything to get rid of this cult!â€
â€œI just learned thereâ€™s more dangerous things than monsters in this world,â€ McCree said. â€œAnd â€¦ sure, I canâ€™t hang these trophies anywhere or take evidence of any kind, but â€¦ this is thrilling!â€
â€œOh, thrilled? Thatâ€™s what youâ€™re describing it as!?! I would maybe used traumatized.â€
â€œSo, would you like us to leave and get more people to handle this?â€
â€œHereâ€™s the thing, I donâ€™t think you should go around shooting at anybody you see just â€˜cause you think â€˜Theyâ€™re in a cult. Theyâ€™re in a cult. Theyâ€™re in a cult. Theyâ€™re in a cult.â€™â€
â€œBut itâ€™s pretty obviousâ”€!â€
â€œItâ€™s either gonna get us killed or in jail or both.â€
â€œGet us killed in jail.â€
â€œYes! I happens!â€
He looked at the bloodstained man.
â€œI canâ€™t get us out of here, McCree,â€ he finally said. â€œItâ€™s up to you . But â€¦ donâ€™t make the wrong choice.â€
â€œIf we donâ€™t stop the cult now, they could just get bigger and replenish their numbers,â€ McCree said. â€œDo you want to fight more of those monsters?â€
â€œYeah, they just roll people in bottles!â€
â€œYou saw those monsters, right? They might be in bottles! We mightâ€™ve killed one when I shot that bottle in there.â€
â€œIâ€™m just worried that weâ€™re going to be outnumbered or shooting the wrong guys.â€
â€œShouldnâ€™t be. We can - we can â€¦ we canâ€™t stroll up anymore. Harv proved that.â€
â€œWelp, zip it. Weâ€™re here now, ainâ€™t we? I guess weâ€™re going with this plan.â€
McCree checked both of his rifles.
â€œFor the sake of the town,â€ he said.
He crept towards the general store, going behind the nearby house, walking around the back of the building. Once he reached the corner of the building, he put the elephant gun on his shoulder and took the Greening off his other shoulder. He peeked into one of the windows on the side of the building but didnâ€™t see anyone in the store downstairs. He noticed the lights had been turned off. He moved around the back of the building, peeking into windows.
Zippy crept to the front and saw the two Model T pickup trucks were still there.
McCree saw the door on the back and, peeking in windows, saw a storage room towards the back of the building. He saw a set of wooden steps leading up to the second floor, which much have been somewhat small as the arched roof of the second floor didnâ€™t cover the entirety of the building. He crept towards the front and saw Taylorâ€™s body still behind the counter. Zippy caught up to him.
â€œYou want to go in first, or me?â€ McCree said.
Zippy looked at the man.
â€œIsnâ€™t that like asking which bear goes into the bear trap first?â€ he said.
â€œBasically,â€ McCree said.
â€œWell, thank you brave leader.â€
McCree stuck his head in but didnâ€™t see anyone in the place. The room was dim but plenty of light came in from the front windows. He climbed through the window behind the counter. Zippy followed him and they both noticed the telephone ear phone was off the hook.
â€œUh,â€ Zippy said. â€œUh. Uh.â€
He got close to McCree.
â€œWhat the zip does that mean!?!â€ he whispered. â€œYou said he called someone, right?â€
â€œThey mustâ€™ve called again,â€ McCree said. â€œCalled her back. Letâ€™s go check upstairs.â€
â€œThen why did they take the phone off the line? They just called her back. You ring somebody up, you ainâ€™t gotta unplug it. We ainâ€™t gonna findâ”€â€
â€œI donâ€™t know what theyâ€™re thinking!â€
â€œWhat if he was just tricking you?â€
â€œThat doesnâ€™t make much sense, really. I guess.â€
â€œIâ€™m going upstairs.â€
â€œWhy did they take the phone off?â€
McCree headed to the back room. He pushed the door there open with his shotgun. Boxes and stored items filled the room. He could see the back door amidst the clutter. The windows were closed and the room was stiflingly hot. An open set of steps led to a door at the top to the left.
McCree snuck up the stairs as quietly as he could. The stairs squeaked terribly and he stopped.
â€œI tell you what,â€ Zippy whispered to him. â€œIâ€™ll watch the door. If somebody pops out at you, Iâ€™ll just blast off.â€
He waited below while McCree tried to sneak up the stairs. They creaked under his feet. He reached forward and tried to turn the latch on the door but found it locked. Then he thought he heard a floorboard creak behind the door. He blasted through the door with one barrel, blowing a decent-sized hole in the wood. Someone on the other side flew backwards and crashed to the ground in the other room.
â€œIf you could tell us where Miss Simon is, we wonâ€™t have to kill you,â€ he said, trying to throw his voice while breaking open his shotgun and putting a shell in.
There was a gunshot and a bullet crashed through the wall next to him from the room above, piercing both it and the outer wall of the building. It missed him by a pretty good margin. It sounded like a rifle shot.
At the bottom of the stairs, Zippy crouched and moved up a couple of steps. At the top of the steps, McCree went to a crouch as well and blasted away at the door where the lock connected it to the doorjamb. The door swung open five or six inches before stopping. McCree ducked down as much as he could while still aiming at the door.
â€œLast chance!â€ he called.
â€œPlease donâ€™t hurt me!â€ a womanâ€™s voice called. â€œIâ€™ll come peacefully if you please just promise not to hurt me.â€
McCree put another shell in the Greening shotgun.
â€œPlease,â€ the voice continued pathetically. â€œPlease. Donâ€™t hurt me. I-Iâ€™m so scared. Iâ€™m so frightened. Please donâ€™t hurt me.â€
â€œThrow your gun in front of the doorway!â€ McCree called.
â€œI will,â€ the voice said. â€œI will. Wait. Iâ€™m scared itâ€™ll go off and then youâ€™ll shoot me. Please. I donâ€™t want to throw it.â€
â€œI know you can jabber, woman!â€ McCree called.
â€œSlide it!â€ Zippy called.
â€œI can,â€ the womanâ€™s voice said. â€œI can jabber very well.â€
McCreeâ€™s eyes suddenly unfocused as he went completely numb. He stared straight ahead, crouched at the top of the steps. Zippy crept up the steps.
â€œHey!â€ he whispered to the man. â€œSnap out of it! Whatâ€™s going on?â€
The man didnâ€™t reply at all. Zippy shook the man. When he didnâ€™t come around, Zippy aimed his Thompson sub-machinegun at the door.
â€œAre you still there?â€ the womanâ€™s voice called.
There was a long moment of silence.
â€œI know thereâ€™s at least three of you,â€ she said. â€œYou might as well come out. Or donâ€™t you remember that the phone is off the hook. Thereâ€™s some more people on the way. And theyâ€™re going to be armed to the teeth. If you give up now â€¦ we wonâ€™t hurt you. Iâ€™m not coming out until they get here. But youâ€™re welcome to come in if you want to get shot in the face, you son of a bitch! I know someone else is out there.â€
Zippy grabbed McCree by the arm and tried to pull him down the stairs. The man came unbalanced and crashed to the bottom of the steps in a heap. His eyes refocused and he looked around. He was in a great deal of pain from the fall but didnâ€™t seem to have any broken bones. The Greening was still clutched in his hand.
â€œIâ€™ll kill her!â€ he muttered to himself.
Zippy quickly moved down the steps.
â€œThey got more guys coming!â€ he said. â€œWe gotta do this quick, whatever weâ€™re doing!â€
â€œIâ€™ll kill her quick!â€ McCree said.
He crept back up the stairs. Zippy followed him up the creaking steps. McCree gasped when he heard the noise on the steps behind him. He shoved on the door as quickly as he could. It opened about a foot and a half. Another gunshot rang out and another bullet crashed through the wall, just missing the man.
McCree pushed the door and stepped into the room.
It was obviously a living room of some kind. A large Philco radio stood in the corner with a few stuffed chairs near it. Far back in the corner was an icebox and a kitchen area. He saw another door leading towards the front of the building. He also saw a woman behind one of the stuffed chairs that had been pushed out from the wall, the rifle she held pointing to the top of the stairs. She had long, dark hair, striking blue eyes, and was quite pretty.
She fired at the man but the bullet struck the wall next to him, blowing a hole in it. McCree fired a single barrel of his Greening at her. The woman tried to leap out of the way but the blast struck both her and the chair, blasting stuffing everywhere and knocking her back against the wall in a spray of blood. She collapsed to the ground.
He looked behind the door to see another corpse, the man whoâ€™d been there when heâ€™d opened fire. He also had dark hair and a cap lay on the ground next to him. The boy couldnâ€™t have been more than 16 and a double barrel shotgun lay on the ground next to him.
â€œYou shouldâ€™ve taken the deal,â€ McCree said.
Zippy entered the room with the two dead people. Stuffing from the chair floated in the air.
â€œJesus zippinâ€™ Christ, McCree!â€ he said. â€œI mean, these people are cultists, Iâ€™m sure, but â€¦ their families.â€
â€œZippy, their families are probably cultists as well,â€ McCree said. â€œLike she said, theyâ€™re probably on their way now. We got two more options now, Zippy. We can stay up here and try to pick them off from the second floor, but if any lawman show up then I wonâ€™t know whoâ€™s a cultist and whoâ€™s not. So, maybe we should start to gettinâ€™.â€
He went to the womanâ€™s body. She wore the dress of a typical housewife. He didnâ€™t find any identification so he shot her in the neck, splattering himself with blood and nearly knocking her head off her body. The blast blew a hole in the floor.
â€œLetâ€™s get outta here, Zippy,â€ he said.
â€œI was ready to go before!â€ Zippy said.
They ran back to the car and drove out of town.
â€œWhat about Abe?â€ Zippy said as they drove. â€œâ€˜Cause if we donâ€™t do anything about him, whoâ€™s to say they donâ€™t come after him, kill him and his kid?â€
â€œOkay,â€ McCree said. â€œLetâ€™s go to Abe, find out where they all live, and just finish it today!â€
â€œJesus Christ, you animal!â€
â€œWe have to finish it, Zippy! If we donâ€™t finish it now, Abe and his family will be in danger!â€
â€œWhat if we just got Abe and his kid out?â€
â€œThatâ€™ll be Plan B.â€
â€œThatâ€™s Plan B!?! Killing everyone is Plan A for you? It always is! Why should I even be surprised?â€
â€œIf you canâ€™t tell, Zippy, I am not a fan of cultists.â€
â€œI mean, anybody who you could call a cultist, Iâ€™m assuming right now, is dead or gonna be.â€
McCree turned the motorcar around and took a route back to Abe Rikerâ€™s that didnâ€™t take them through town. The back roads were very empty and they eventually returned to the run-down farm. Everything looked the same there. McCree went to the house and knocked on the door. It was answered by a hung over Abe Riker.
â€œWhat?â€ he said. â€œWhat the hell!?!â€
â€œAbe,â€ McCree said.
â€œYouâ€™re covered in blood!â€
â€œAbe, ignore the blood. Now, were there any other cultists besides Simmons?â€
â€œThe Simmons family?â€
â€œWanda and Lloyd Simon â€¦ what is going on!?!â€
â€œUh â€¦ they attacked us and they are no longer with us.â€
â€œNo no no no no no no no no no.â€
Riker started to push the door closed but McCree pushed it further open.
â€œNo no no no no no no,â€ Riker said.
â€œAbe!â€ McCree said. â€œI need you to calm down.â€
â€œThereâ€™s so much blood.â€
â€œI need you to calm down.â€
â€œThereâ€™s so much blood on you!â€
â€œAbe, I need you to calm down.â€
â€œItâ€™s in your mouth! Itâ€™s on your lip!â€
â€œItâ€™s not in my mouth, Abe.â€
â€œNo. No. No.â€
He turned and went into the kitchen.
â€œZippy, you talk to Abe,â€ McCree said. â€œIâ€™m gonna go freshen up.â€
â€œMaybe itâ€™s just better if we abandon him,â€ Zippy said. â€œMaybe this was a bad idea. If we donâ€™t involve him anymore in this.â€
Riker took a bottle out of a cabinet, opened it, and drank straight from it.
â€œAbe,â€ McCree said.
â€œJesus Christ,â€ Zippy said.
â€œAbe, just give us two more last names,â€ McCree said.
â€œI donâ€™t â€¦ I donâ€™t â€¦â€ Riker said. â€œWhat? Why!?! What are you doing?â€
â€œWeâ€™re trying to rid the town of the cultists!â€
â€œHow? What have you done?â€
â€œWe killed two of the giant things.â€
â€œWhat does that mean!?!â€
â€œYou just pointed out the blood, did you not?â€
â€œYou killed Wanda and Lloyd Simon? Youâ€™re â€¦ Lloydâ€™s been missing! Thatâ€™s what I heard. You killed him too?â€
â€œHe shot at us first.â€
â€œYou killed Wanda?â€
â€œShe also shot at me! She cast some sort of spell. You said she was a witch yourself!â€
â€œThis â€¦ the â€¦â€
â€œI fell down a flight of stairs.â€
â€œI â€¦ I donâ€™t â€¦â€
â€œWe saw those things!â€ Zippy said. â€œThose giant things with the hooves?â€
â€œWe killed them, Abe,â€ McCree said.
â€œNah â€¦ nah â€¦â€ Riker said.
â€œYou canâ€™t kill â€˜em; they canâ€™t die.â€
â€œWe just need these kinds of guns.â€
â€œYou canâ€™t kill something that big. You canâ€™t â€¦ what?â€
Zippy managed to calm the man and, besides Wanda and Lloyd Simon, the only other person whoâ€™s face he saw was Thomas Benjamin. However, he didnâ€™t know who else as it was too dark to see.
â€œYou canâ€™t just kill â€˜em!â€ Riker said. â€œYou canâ€™t just shoot â€˜em!â€
â€œThatâ€™s what I said at one point!â€ Zippy said, looking pointedly at McCree.
â€œLook, Abe, you donâ€™t understand,â€ McCree said. â€œThey can â€¦ do things â€¦ by just talking. Look at his arm. Where do they live, Abe? Do you know?â€
Riker was able to give directions to the Benjamin farm.
â€œAgain, Abe, do you want us to get you outta this town?â€ Zippy said. â€œBecause, personally, Iâ€™m opposed to gunning down people in their homes as much as I can avoid it! But as you can see, Iâ€™m not in control of the car right now.â€
â€œIâ€™m a farmer,â€ Riker said. â€œWhere would I go? I owe the bank money on this house. What about Eugene? Heâ€™s still in school!â€
â€œThatâ€™s why I say we just need to finish off the cultists,â€ McCree said.
â€œI donâ€™t know who they all are!â€
â€œHopefully, this one will talk. They really donâ€™t like talking to us.â€
â€œYouâ€™re gunning them down! Iâ€™m not surprised!â€
â€œI just asked for a name instead of killing them. They shoot at me; I have to shoot back.â€
â€œI â€¦ I â€¦ I â€¦â€
â€œI-I-I donâ€™t know anybody else.â€
Riker looked carefully at McCree.
â€œIs his daughter in on it?â€ he asked. â€œSheâ€™s only eight years old.â€
â€œShe shouldnâ€™t be,â€ McCree said.
â€œOkay, youâ€™re just going to leave an eight-year-old with no parents?â€ Zippy said. â€œNo mommy and daddy? We should just get out!â€
â€œIâ€™m rather wealthy. I could adopt her.â€
â€œOh yeah, â€˜I just killed your mom and dad, youâ€™re my daughter now.â€™ Have a happy life! Jesus Christ!â€
McCree suggested they go back to Providence until the heat cooled down before returning to finish the job. He promised Zippy if he found a way to fix his arm, he would let him know. He asked Riker not to tell anybody about them.
â€œBecause Abe, if you do â€¦â€ he said.
He just shrugged.
McCree drove to a place outside of Boone and tried to clean as much blood off himself as he could before returning to the small city to retrieve their possessions and get them on a train out of Iowa.
He kind of enjoyed hunting people â€¦