* * *
Father Bishop ran towards Eastwoodâ€™s and found Jack West in the street heading his way. He told him to meet Wilder in the barn and then he continued on to Eastwoodâ€™s. He went on up to the rooms above and banged on the doors, finding Jacali and Dr. Weisswald and telling them there had been a murder. They quickly got dressed. As they were leaving, the drifter opened up his door.
â€œKeep it quiet out here,â€ he said in a husky near-whisper.
The three of them headed for the livery stables. They arrived as Marshal Pierce, Wilder, and Otto rode out and headed south. They headed in to get their own horses.
* * *
Marshal Pierce, Wilder, and Otto tore down the street towards Neff Hill Graveyard. They were 30 yards away when they saw a couple of men stumbling up the hill. They were hard to see in the dark, had their backs to the riders, and were heading up the hill with guns in their hands.
â€œYou saw two tracks, right, Wilder?â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œTwo men.â€
â€œYep,â€ Wilder said.
â€œThatâ€™s them?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
He pulled his horse to a stop and aimed at the two men. Both Otto and Wilder pulled their horses to a stop as well, both men aiming their own rifles at the men on the hill. Marshal Pierce shot the man on the right in his right hand. There was a spark as the bullet struck the manâ€™s pistol. The pistol went flying and the manâ€™s hand was smashed. Blood dripped from the terrible wound.
Wilder shot the man on the left, hitting the man in the back. The man stumbled but didnâ€™t fall. Then Otto also shot the man on the right in the lower back. The man fell to the ground.
The other man turned around and looked in their direction. He started walking down the hill towards them.
* * *
When Gemma heard more gunfire from outside, she grabbed her two small knives and headed out of her room and down into the bar, unlocking the front door and going out onto the porch. She looked around, unsure where the gunfire had come from. She didnâ€™t even bother to get dressed and was out there in her underwear.
* * *
Father Bishop returned to the dead town marshal and read last rites over the body. He heard the gunfire coming from the south. He stopped his rites and got up, heading towards the graveyard.
* * *
Marshal Pierce worked the action on his Winchester and then again fired at the man who was drunkenly walked towards them, this time hitting him in the chest. The man stumbled, falling backwards, and crashed to the ground. Otto and Wilder spurred their horses towards the wounded men.
â€œThat ainâ€™t natural,â€ Marshal Pierce said, doing likewise.
* * *
Gemma saw the priest sheâ€™d seen propositioned the night before heading down the street a block or so south of Leoneâ€™s. Then she heard hoof beats and saw three riders heading south the next street over at a gallop.
* * *
West, Dr. Weisswald, and Jacali had gotten gear on their horses as quickly as possible and tore out of the livery stables, heading south after the other men. When they reached the corner of Gold Street and Show-Down Street, Dr. Weisswald noticed a figure outside of Leoneâ€™s apparently in her underwear. She thought it looked like Gemma Jones.
Dr. Weisswald pulled her horse up and turned down Show-Down Street, galloping towards Leoneâ€™s.
* * *
Otto and Wilder reached the bodies. The nearer man was on his back. The further was on his face. Otto put the carbine in the scabbard and drew his saber, dismounting and heading for the further corpse. Wilder dismounted and approached the nearer. Marshal Pierce rode over and dismounted as well.
Two riders galloped from town and headed their way.
* * *
Gemma was a little intimidated by the rider who galloped to the front of Leoneâ€™s until she realized it was Eva.
â€œGet on,â€ Dr Weisswald said.
â€œEva,â€ Gemma said. â€œWhat is going on? In the middle of the night.â€
â€œGunshots,â€ Dr. Weisswald said. â€œWe need to go see what it is. I need to go help people. And put this cloak on.â€
She tossed the girl a doeskin cloak and the girl pulled it over her shoulders. She held a hand up and Dr. Weisswald pulled her up onto the back of the horse. Then she spurred it and they headed south.
* * *
When Jacali and West arrived at the graveyard, they saw their companions examining the bodies. It was fairly dark as the moon was less than half full.
Otto and Wilder didnâ€™t recognize the two dead men though they stank like rotten flesh.
Jacali dismounted and headed into the graveyard, looking for anything out of the ordinary.
Dr. Weisswald rode up with Gemma Jones on her horse. The two dismounted as Father Bishop ran up, only slightly out of breath.
Marshal Pierce put one of the bodies on the back of his horse and noticed there were several more bullet holes in the corpse than they had made. He told Wilder to put the other on his. Otto picked up one of the Colt Peacemakers.
â€œIâ€™m here,â€ Dr. Weisswald said. â€œI need to treat them. Donâ€™t move them.â€
â€œTheyâ€™re dead,â€ Otto said.
â€œThey are â€¦ already expired,â€ Wilder said.
Dr. Weisswald went to the man he stood near and examined him anyway. She realized the dead man was already suffering from rigor mortis. He had been dead for a few hours at very least. There were also numerous bullet holes in the body, more than the shots sheâ€™d heard.
â€œYou just shot a bunch of corpses!?!â€ she said.
â€œThey were shambling towards us,â€ Otto said. â€œOne of them even had a gun aimed at us.â€
â€œDead men canâ€™t walk.â€
â€œWell, it was.â€
â€œDead men walking?â€ West said.
â€œWhat do you mean?â€ Marshal Pierce said as he mounted his horse. â€œCorpses?â€
â€œThese men have been dead for hours!â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œYou saying these are a bunch of undead cowboys?â€ West said.
Father Bishop had heard about voodoo doctors in Jamaica who could raise the dead, supposedly, though he had always heard they drugged folks with certain terrible substances to make them seem dead but kept them alive. They would dig up the comatose later and, keeping them drugged, convince them they were still dead and force them to work in whatever capacity they might. He realized Dr. Weisswald was obviously mistaken.
â€œSounds like youâ€™re talking hoodoo,â€ Father Bishop said.
â€œIâ€™m just saying what science told me,â€ Dr. Weisswald said. â€œIâ€™m not saying that they could walk. I didnâ€™t see them walk.â€
â€œSo, youâ€™re saying these men were dead before me, Wilder, and Lambert here shot them?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œFar as I can tell,â€ she said.
â€œSure smell like it,â€ Otto said.
â€œWe should watch out for the Marshal,â€ West said.
â€œEva,â€ Gemma said. â€œWhat happened here? What?â€
â€œWe shot these corpses, apparently,â€ Otto said.
â€œIâ€™m sorry?â€ Gemma said.
â€œWalking corpses,â€ Wilder muttered.
â€œWe shot corpses,â€ Otto said. â€œWalking likeâ”€â€
â€œWhy would you shoot â€¦?â€ Gemma said.
â€œI got a bad feeling about this,â€ West muttered.
â€œThey were walking,â€ Otto went on. â€œAnd they shot the marshal in town.â€
â€œThat â€¦â€ Gemma said.
â€œThey shot the marshal?â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œHeâ€™s dead,â€ Otto said. â€œI think priest â€¦ boy over there was doing last rites.â€
â€œWe need to take these bodies in town to get them identified,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œWilder follow me. I donâ€™t care if theyâ€™s corpses or not.â€
â€œMarshal!â€ Gemma said. â€œWhat happened here?â€
â€œThese men shot the town marshal. We rode them down and now weâ€™re going to find out why they shot the marshal.â€
â€œWell, why is he saying they were corpses?â€
â€œIâ€™m not calling them corpses.â€
â€œBut thatâ€™s what she said!â€ Otto said.
â€œWell now they are,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œWell, they are now,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œThat doesnâ€™t make any sense!â€ Gemma said.
â€œCome, Wilder, letâ€™s go,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
Wilder put the corpse on his horse and noticed there were several more bullet holes in the body than they had made. The two men headed into town. Wilder was a little surprised the man heâ€™d shot wasnâ€™t dissolving like those creatures in Nevada.
â€œI am severely disappointed,â€ he said to Marshal Pierce. â€œThe last creature I shot with this gun dissolved and I thought it was special.â€
* * *
Jacali found the hanging tree, a bit of torn rope still upon it, at the top of the hill. She also noticed an unmarked grave behind the tree. There was a marker, a crudely made cross, but there was no name or anything on it. From the weathering of the wood, she guessed it was about 10 years old. She found every other marker in the graveyard nearby had a name or a carving or something except for that one.
She returned to the others and they spoke briefly about how many times the men had been shot. Otto told them only four shots had been fired on the men. He questioned how many times the men had been shot and asked what caliber the bullets had been. Dr. Weisswald thought they were mostly pistol wounds.
* * *
Marshal Pierce and Wilder went to the jail but found it locked up and dark. They headed over to Doc McKennaâ€™s, waking the old, bearded man up.
â€œWhatcha got?â€ the old man said when he opened the door and saw Marshal Pierce standing on his front porch with the man over his shoulder. â€œOh my goodness. Câ€™mon, letâ€™s see what we can do for him. Câ€™mon! Bring him in.â€
â€œOh, I doubt you can do anything for this one,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œYouâ€™d be surprised boy!â€ Doc McKenna said.
Marshal Pierce put the man down on an examining table and Doc McKenna quickly found he was dead.
â€œOh, I canâ€™t do anything for this man!â€ he said. â€œHeâ€™s dead.â€
â€œHold on,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
He went to the door.
â€œHey Wilder, bring the other one in!â€ he called. â€œYou might can get this one.â€
Wilder brought in the other dead man.
â€œWhy, heâ€™s dead too!â€ Doc McKenna said.
â€œYeah, I know,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œHeâ€™s been shot over six times!â€
â€œLook at this. Forty-five. Forty-five. Wait a minute. Well God damn.â€
Doc McKenna went pale.
â€œNow this looks like â€¦â€ he said. â€œThis is â€¦ this canâ€™t be. This canâ€™t be!â€
He went to the back of the examination room, through a door, and down a set of steps. Marshal Pierce followed the man down to a cool cellar with several coffins and another examination table. The coffins were all empty and there was a strange smell in the room. He looked in two of the coffins near the door.
â€œThis canâ€™t be!â€ Doc McKenna said. â€œThis canâ€™t be!â€
He walked back up the steps, Marshal Pierce following him. They found Jack West had arrived while they were in the basement.
Doc McKenna looked over the men again.
â€œGod damn,â€ he said again. â€œThatâ€™s Dan Hunter. This is Mike Smith. They got brought in earlier today. That stranger in town gunned â€˜em down when they tried to kill him. How the hell theyâ€™d get out there? Whyâ€™re you shooting up corpses?
â€œI ainâ€™t shootinâ€™ up anyone,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œI thought you a Federal marshal,â€ Doc McKenna said.
â€œThese men were walking!â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œNo no no no no,â€ Doc McKenna said. â€œThere ainâ€™t no way theyâ€™re walking. Theyâ€™re dead. They been dead for hours. Take a whiff!â€
He leaned over one of the dead men and took a long sniff.
â€œOh, they been dead for hours!â€ he said again.
â€œThatâ€™s what the other doctor said,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œThe lady with the pants.â€
â€œWell, you should listen to her,â€ Doc McKenna said. â€œShe knows what sheâ€™s saying. Thereâ€™s a lady wearing pants!?!â€
â€œHey, which one is more surprising to you?â€ West muttered.
Doc McKenna looked at the man for the first time.
â€œLady wearing pants or dead men walking?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œYâ€™know, I heard these men were connected to the McGoohan gang,â€ Doc McKenna said. â€œBut, theyâ€™re dead.â€
He seemed shaken by the information as well.
â€œI need you to get the deputy,â€ Marshal Pierce said to Doc McKenna.
â€œGo get the deputy!â€ Doc McKenna said to West.
He told the man how to get there and gave him a shove out the door. West found Deputy Hill at his house and fetched the man to the doctorâ€™s office. He looked disheveled and tired.
â€œWhatâ€™s going on here?â€ he asked.
â€œYou the deputy?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œYouâ€™re the marshal now.â€
â€œMarshal was gunned down by these two men right here.â€
Deputy Hill looked over the bodies and seemed confused.
â€œThese two men â€¦ theyâ€™re dead already,â€ he said. â€œThey died this afternoon. That drifter gunned â€˜em down.â€
â€œGod saw fit for them to die twice today,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
After some confusion, Deputy Hill had them show him where the town marshalâ€™s body was. They found Father Bishop there, administering last rites to the corpse. They retrieved it and brought it to Doc McKennaâ€™s. It also had numerous bullets in him. Deputy Hill told them heâ€™d tell the people of town the next day.
â€œSo, these men gunned him down?â€ Deputy Hill said.
â€œYes,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œBut they were dead?â€
â€œWell, two doctors say yes.â€
After some more confusion, Deputy Hill told them heâ€™d tell the townsfolk about the murder of the town marshal. He noted some people in town thought Hunter and Smith were part of Dan McGoohanâ€™s gang though there was no proof of it.
The rest of those involved in the altercation arrived at Doc McKennaâ€™s. Doc McKenna looked around at the group who were crowded into the place and then told West to help him carry the corpses down into the basement. West helped the man carry them down.
â€œMarshal, those men were shot more times than you shot â€˜em,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œSo this doctor is telling us,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œDid he tell you it was a .45 cal?â€
Dr. Weisswald looked over one of the long-dead bodies and found the man from the cemetery had numerous bullets in him, rifle and handgun.
When Doc McKenna returned from the basement, Jacali asked him about the unmarked grave in the graveyard. Doc McKenna looked uncomfortable.
â€œNope,â€ he said. â€œHelp me with this next body!â€
â€œHold it!â€ Jacali said.
But the doctor was already heading down the steps, West helping him carry the next corpse.
â€œWhere did the guns go?â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œDid you tell what gun shot the other ones?â€ Gemma asked.
Dr. Weisswald examined the town marshalâ€™s body and found the holes were small. She guessed they were made by handguns.
Doc McKenna and West returned for the Mortonâ€™s body.
â€œYou do know something about that grave!â€ Jacali confronted the doctor. â€œWhat is it?â€
â€œHelp me with this other body, boy!â€ Doc McKenna said.
â€œIâ€™ll help with the body if you tell me,â€ Jacali said.
Doc McKenna ignored the woman.
â€œAnswer the ladyâ€™s question,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œThat was a man who got gunned down here about 10 years ago,â€ Doc McKenna said.
â€œDoes that sound right?â€ Marshal Pierce said to Jacali.
â€œHm,â€ she said.
â€œWhat grave? Why do you have these questions?â€
â€œItâ€™s the only unmarked grave in town. Itâ€™s out back of that hanging tree. It just seemed strange.â€
â€œIs it filled?â€
â€œYes. You didnâ€™t even care to write his name on the grave?â€
Doc McKenna had just come up the stairs from the basement for the last time.
â€œDidnâ€™t know his name,â€ he said. â€œAll right folks, itâ€™s late at night. I need to get some sleep. Iâ€™ll see yâ€™all in the morning.â€
â€œBefore we go though, do you know what he looked like?â€ West said.
â€œWhat who looked like?â€
â€œThe one buried in the unmarked grave.â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. He was just a drifter.â€
* * *
Dr. Weisswald saw Gemma Jones safely back to Leoneâ€™s Five Star Saloon.
â€œBecause of all the events tonight, do you want to just stay with us?â€ Dr. Weisswald said to the girl. â€œWe can protect you.â€
â€œWith â€¦ with who?â€ Gemma said. â€œYou and â€¦?â€
â€œWhy, I hardly know you.â€
â€œWell, I mean, weâ€™re all women here.â€
â€œThatâ€™s very true.â€
â€œItâ€™s okay if you donâ€™t, I just â€¦ maybe you can handle yourself. Itâ€™s okay.â€
â€œIâ€™ll â€¦ Iâ€™ll stay here for the night but I do appreciate the offer.â€
Dr. Weisswald rode away.
* * *
Tuesday, April 13, 1875, started out like any other day in Yellow Flats, though with one major difference. Town Marshal Hill went around town information people of the tragedy which happened the night before and introducing himself as the new town marshal. He noted the killers had been gunned down by the federal marshal and his men.
Marshal Pierce went to Eastwoodâ€™s and invited everyone who had been involved in the strangeness the night before to breakfast at Leoneâ€™s. Dr. Weisswald pointed out the drifterâ€™s room. He said theyâ€™d talk about that.
They all met for breakfast at a couple of tables pulled together in the saloon and enjoyed a good breakfast. Jacali made sure the drifter was not there. In fact, very few people were in Leoneâ€™s that early.
Jacali told them before the gunfire the night before, the drifter had been whistling out the window of his room. She noted they had talked to him about it and asked why he had been whistling in the middle of the night. She said the man told something about whistling up company.
â€œWhistling up company?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œRight before the two people whom he supposedly gunned down appeared,â€ Jacali said. â€œHe seems kind of sketchy.â€
â€œLet me get this straight,â€ West said.
â€œWell, Iâ€™ve heard that phrase before,â€ Gemma said. â€œIâ€™m not sure itâ€™s in the same context.â€
â€œThis guy shot these two guys and then these two guys came back and shot the town marshal,â€ West said.
â€œSounds like yâ€™all had a very eventful night!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWhere were you?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œOh you,â€ West said. â€œI forget youâ€™re here sometimes.â€
â€œI do too,â€ Professor Stalloid said wistfully
â€œI think regardless of anything, he was the only one who shot these two men,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œLast one to see them â€˜alive,â€™ however you want to say they came back or whatever you want to believe. So, we need to question him, regardless. And heâ€™s been pretty distant from all of us. I donâ€™t trust a man who keeps to himself that much. So, we need to figure out a way to make this drifter tell us what we want to know. Anybody actually been able to talk to him?â€
â€œNo,â€ Jacali said.
â€œIâ€™m not going near him,â€ Gemma said.
â€œI could attempt it,â€ Father Bishop said.
â€œI could drug him,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œYou could drug him?â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œHow?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know.â€
â€œNo. You know! You wouldnâ€™t suggest it if you didnâ€™t know.â€
â€œWell, we know he likes to come over and drink,â€ West said.
â€œDoesnâ€™t look like he accepts other peopleâ€™s drinks though,â€ Jacali said.
â€œOh, he does,â€ West said.
â€œHe has,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œHe did mine the other day. He just drank it without even questioning it.â€
â€œAnd then he even thanked him,â€ West growled.
â€œWhat kind of drugs are you talking about, there,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
Professor Stalloid took another bite of food.
â€œHow about you stop eating there for a second!â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œOpium,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œOpium? I want him to be of the right mind to tell us what we need to know.â€
â€œIt might make him more suggestive.â€
He went back to eating.
â€œOr we could sedate him and then take him away to â€¦ interrogate him, instead,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œYeah, how about sedate him instead?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œThat would work,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œMaybe better,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œI donâ€™t really know whatâ€™s going on,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œFather, do you mind at least giving the highlights of last night to this gentleman?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
Father Bishop filled the man in on what happened the night before. Professor Stalloid objected that he had been listening to them talk. They tried to figure out what to do about the drifter. Marshal Pierce suggested West and he be at the bar and when he came into Leoneâ€™s, and offer him a glass of whiskey once again. He said the man would take it as he had no reason to doubt him.
He asked if the sedation smelled and they told him the opium would be bitter, but as the man simply shot the alcohol down, he might not notice.
Otto wondered if didnâ€™t come back to have a drink. Jacali wondered what they would do if the man insisted he saw them pour the drink. Father Bishop pointed out he bought an entire bottle the night before. He suggested persuaded the bartender to help but Marshal Pierce didnâ€™t want to endanger anyone else.
They discussed how to put it into the drink and Professor Stalloid and Dr. Weisswald told him they had powdered opium he could simply pour into the drink. Dr. Weisswald prepared some opium and then prepared a tincture of opium to keep on the top of her doctorâ€™s bag.
Otto stood up and left. He was going to go try to hunt down Dan McGoohan again.
* * *
Professor Stalloid went to the mine that morning but planned to return after lunch. When he arrived, he asked about when they were going to do some human testing. He pointed out there were some dead bodies in town they might be able to start with. Professor Terwilliger was put off by the idea but one of the other two scientists was for it. He also wanted the man to bring back the biologist.
* * *
Jacali wanted to find out about the unmarked grave, but she was not very good with talking to people. She went to talk to Marshal Hill but he was hesitant about talking about the drifter who came into town 10 years ago. The man was very evasive and then left.
When she returned, she told them there was something about the unmarked grave that people in town didnâ€™t want to talk about. She thought sure there was something there.
* * *
Around 2 p.m., they heard gunfire again. It started out slowly but then started to become more and more intense. Those still in Leoneâ€™s peeked out to realize it was coming from the bank, about a block south. Several townspeople were around the outside of the bank, most of them behind what cover they could find, shooting at the bank. A great deal of gunfire came from the bank towards them.
One little old lady stepped out of the dry goods store with a double barrel shotgun. She let fly with both barrels and there was a shattering of glass before she was gunned down by fire from the bank.
West headed down the street. Wilder, Jacali, and Marshal Pierce followed him.
â€œWhat is going on in this town?â€ Gemma said.
Father Bishop went to the window of Leoneâ€™s and peeked out down the street.
Dr. Weisswald headed out the door, trying to keep to cover. Gemma followed her.
* * *
When they got closer they saw a lot of silver dollars all over the boardwalk in front of the bank. An old lady lay dead in the street near the boardwalk across from the bank. They reached a man who had an old cap and ball pistol which he was struggling to reload as quickly as possible.
â€œWhatâ€™s going on!?!â€ West said.
â€œMcGoohanâ€™s gang!â€ the man said. â€œTheyâ€™re robbing the bank!â€
â€œYou God damned townsfolk!â€ Dan McGoohan shouted from one of the windows. â€œWeâ€™ll kill you all! Just get outta here!â€
â€œKill everybody who ainâ€™t him!â€ Marshal Pierce said.
The men and Jacali returned fire. West fired a shot trying to create a ricochet and hit one of the outlaws behind cover. He missed but someone yelled. Jacali fired an arrow into the bank, hitting one of the outlaws. She heard someone scream.
â€œThereâ€™s Indians out there!â€ someone yelled.
â€œThere ainâ€™t no God damned injuns out there!â€ Dan McGoohan yelled.
Marshal Pierce was choosing his shots, trying to make sure he didnâ€™t shoot McGoohan. He gunned down another of the outlaws.
â€œPut some dirt on it!â€ McGoohan screamed. â€œStupid townsfolk! Youâ€™re all gonna die!â€
West was winged by a bullet and Jacali was hit by splinters from bullets striking wood near her. Wilder provided cover fire and kept the outlaws heads down.
* * *
Professor Stalloid had heard the gunfire when he returned to town and skirted around the trouble, entering Leoneâ€™s from the rear. He found Father Bishop near the front windows, peeking out and looking down the street. All of the dance hall girls were clustered around the man and peeking out as well.
â€œShould I play some music to go with this excitement?â€ the piano player asked.
â€œSeems like a bank robbery,â€ Stalloid said.
He went up to his room to get his medical supplies.
* * *
Marshal Hill was hit several times and stumbled out into the street where he lay on his face in a widening pool of blood.
Dr. Weisswald ran to help the fallen townsfolk.
West stood up and fanned his gun, firing into the bank. Several men went down. Jacali shot an arrow into the bank that went over one of the outlaws head but ricocheted and struck him. The man screamed there were Indians behind him and heâ€™d been shot in the ass. Marshal Pierce fired into the bank and another man started screaming. Otto came around a corner and took careful, gunning down another of the outlaws. Wilder blasted a lamp.
There was a clatter of hoof beats as another 10 men rode in, their faces covered by bandanas. They thought they had been winning when the men appeared and started shooting the townsfolk and anyone else they could see. Withering gunfire erupted from the bank in light of the new men. Marshal Pierce was hit as was Jacali, though neither was badly hurt. One of the outlaws stood up.
â€œYou son of a bitch!â€ he yelled.
He pulled the trigger and his gun exploded in his hands. He fell with a scream.
Between the men still alive in the bank and the riders outside, they were now outnumbered.
Then, over the gunfighter, they heard the ring of spurs as the drifter walked up the street, gun in each hand and started gunning down McGoohanâ€™s men, never missing, it seemed. He calmly shot one gang member after another even as everyone else continued firing at the men. One of his misses hit the horse one of the outlaws was sitting on. He turned towards the bank, dropping his shining guns and drawing two more, firing into the structure. Every single bullet seemed to hit someone in the chest.
Wilder blew one manâ€™s head off. Otto gunned down another man. West fan-fired his other pistol, hitting several times. Jacali was amazed at the man in the middle of the street. She just watched the drifter.
The gunfire started focusing on the drifter but nothing hit him. Gemma watched the man closely and realized several of the bullets hit the man but there was no blood, no impact, no nothing. It was terribly disturbing. She grabbed Dr. Weisswald.
â€œHe should be dead!â€ she said to her.
â€œWho?â€ Dr. Weisswald said. â€œWhy should he be dead?â€
â€œHeâ€™s been hit so many times,â€ she said.
â€œMcFly! I mean!â€ McGoohan cried out as the drifter shot him in the shoulder and he fell to the bank floor. â€œDamn it!â€
It was soon very, very quiet.
The drifter spun his guns and lightly slid them into the holsters. He picked up his fallen guns and tucked them away under his duster. He looked around and walked over to Marshal Hillâ€™s body in the street, ripped the star off his chest and the keys off his belt, and declared himself to be town marshal until the town got a new one. He put the star on his shirt.
Gemma felt herself slightly aroused despite her fear of the man.
As the drifter turned to leave, one of McGoohanâ€™s men weakly stirred and prepared to shoot him from behind. The drifter swiveled coolly and blew the manâ€™s head off from 12 feet. Then he lit his cigarillo.
â€œDry work,â€ he mused to himself. â€œBut I am always so damned dry.â€
He shook his head and ambled towards Leoneâ€™s, dropping empty cartridges into the dust and reloading his pistols as he went, the gathering crowd silently parting for him. The bullets appeared to be silver. West noticed the drifterâ€™s guns gleamed in the sunlight with a particular sheen.
Dr. Weisswald started seeing to the townspeople as Professor Stalloid ran down with his medical bag. Gemma went around trying to help the other people who were still alive.
McGoohan proved to be alive though unconscious. Dr. Weisswald got to work on the outlaws and managed to keep a few of them alive. A couple of McGoohanâ€™s men had managed to escape during the terrible gunfight.
They saw the drifter exit Leoneâ€™s and go to the jail. He brought a chair out front, leaned it against the wall, and pulled his hat over his eyes.
They dragged the unconscious McGoohan and a few other surviving outlaws to the jail.
â€œIf you donâ€™t mind us using your holding cells,â€ West growled.
The drifter didnâ€™t even look up from under his hat. He just reached down and took the keys off his belt, tossing them to West.
â€œBring these back,â€ he muttered.
â€œWill do,â€ West said.
They entered the jail and put the prisoners they had in one cell and Dan McGoohan in the other. Then Dr. Weisswald used camphor to wake the outlaw leader.
â€œWho the â€¦?â€ McGoohan said as he awoke.
He looked around, obviously confused, and grunted.
â€œGod damn it!â€ he said.
Marshal Pierce slapped him. McGoohan tried to slap him back but even moving his arm a little obviously hurt terribly. Pierce caught his hand and slapped him with his own hand.
â€œQuit hitting yourself,â€ West growled.
â€œJack Parker: where?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œJack Parker?â€ McGoohan said.
â€œHow the hell should I know?â€
â€œYou should know. Youâ€™re part of Valentineâ€™s Gang, arenâ€™t you?â€
â€œSo whereâ€™s Parker?â€
â€œI dunno. Probably with Valentine. Find Valentine, you can find Parker, I bet.â€
â€œThen whereâ€™s Valentine?â€
â€œHeâ€™s probably out there somewhere.â€
Marshal Pierce slapped him again.
â€œWhy donâ€™t you make like a tree and get outta here?â€ McGoohan said.
â€œI feel like you did that wrong,â€ West said.
â€œWhat the hell happened to your face?â€
â€œWhatâ€™s going to happen to yours if you donâ€™t answer our questions.â€
â€œFederal marshal huh? I see your badge.â€
Marshal Pierce drew his Peacemaker and shoved it in McGoohanâ€™s face.
â€œParker,â€ he said again. â€œWhere?â€
â€œI dunno,â€ McGoohan said.
Marshal Pierce lifted the gun and fired it out the window. McGoohan flinched.
â€œThat hurt my ear,â€ he said.
The man seemed cowed though he still put on a brave front.
â€œYouâ€™re a federal marshal, you canâ€™t do nothing,â€ McGoohan said. â€œBut I donâ€™t know where Jack Parker is. Like I said, heâ€™s probably with John Valentine. I sent a telegram to John Valentine probably up in Colorado or Utah. Thatâ€™s where I sent the message. But he sent me back just to wait. Wait and watch. My boys got anxious, you see. They get anxious when they ainâ€™t got nothing to do. Let go of my hand! We ainâ€™t in a relationship.â€
â€œYour boys look dead,â€ West said.
â€œNot all of â€˜em,â€ McGoohan said. â€œI see a couple of â€˜em over there, bleeding out.â€
â€œHey! They arenâ€™t bleeding out!â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œOoh,â€ McGoohan said. â€œI like your â€¦ why donâ€™t you leave me alone and Iâ€™ll talk to her.â€
â€œWait for what?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œI was supposed to wait â€˜til he got here.â€
â€œSo, theyâ€™re coming here.â€
â€œIunno. He didnâ€™t tell me he was coming here, he just told me to wait. Told me to make sure they didnâ€™t take it away without him knowing.â€
â€œTake what away?â€
â€œThe Crescent. He wants the Crescent. Valentineâ€™s been interested in the Crescent for a while and heâ€™s crazy. Heâ€™s so crazy. But he told me to watch the town. But then the boys got a little restless, so I figured we needed a little action. Didnâ€™t know yâ€™all had some kind of â€¦ crazy man â€¦ working for you.â€
â€œSeems you called him McFly,â€ West said.
â€œThat was just some fool I used to hate,â€ McGoohan said.
â€œThe Crescent?â€ Gemma said.
â€œHe die about 10 years ago?â€ West said.
â€œNo,â€ McGoohan said. â€œI never got to kill him. He got away.â€
He tried to grab West in a threatening manner, but was so badly injured he couldnâ€™t.
â€œYou run into a man named McFly, you tell me, â€˜cause Iâ€™m gonna kill him!â€ he said.
He told them he wasnâ€™t going to attack the army because they would be outnumbered but his men wanted some action so they figured they could rob the bank, make a quick job of it, and get out of town, satisfying them for a while He was only supposed to find out about the Crescent for John Valentine. He didnâ€™t know anything about the drifter.
â€œDid you see what happened with the people that touched the Crescent?â€ Dr. Weisswald asked.
McGoohan went pale and looked terrified.
â€œYeah, I was on the chain gang,â€ he said. â€œWhen the dynamite was blown, we were sent in to clear off the rocks and look for gold. But we found that thing! That awful thing! That Crescent thing! Three men approached it. I hung back. Didnâ€™t like the look of it. Looked dangerous. Weird. Strange.
â€œWhen they touched it, some kinda light touched â€˜em. Went into their hands. One of â€˜em fiddled with one of them spikes on it. Pulled it out. Then he touched the others and then all of a sudden, they started ripping out chains off. One of â€˜em put back the spike and they broke us all free. Another one of the three pulled out another spike, started waving it around. Like he was gonna touch us with it.â€
He pointed at Gemma though his eyes were unfocused and she was unsure if he could even see her.
â€œThat was enough for us,â€ he went on. â€œI ran. We fled. The overseers and guards tried to stop us but there was thirty of us and five of them. We overran â€˜em like a train. Just crashed through. It was like we all had a single purpose to get out of that place. And then â€¦ we were away.â€
â€œYou need some opium?â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œYes, please,â€ McGoohan said.
â€œHow â€˜bout this new thing?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œIâ€™ll take some opium from the lady,â€ McGoohan said.
She put some opium on his tongue.
Otto grabbed West by the arm and pulled him into the far corner of the jail.
â€œSoâ”€â€ he said.
â€œAnd you are?â€ West said.
â€œIâ€™m Lambert Otto.â€
â€œNice to meet you. I heard youâ€™re a bounty hunter.â€
â€œYou probably heard I am too.â€
â€œWell, now you know. And now we got a bounty on our hands.â€
â€œAre you trying to say youâ€™re not gonna share it with me?â€
â€œWell, I have Wilder over here and this marshal and â€¦ apparently all the people the preacher wanted to bring, helping me out. So moneyâ€™s actually supposed to be split between Wilder and I.â€
â€œI promised him the bounty,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œAs long as he got me to talk to McGoohan.â€
â€œHow much do you think all these other men are worth?â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œHe could claim all these dead bodies.â€
â€œNow that I wouldnâ€™t mind,â€ West said.
â€œSeeing as how the new marshal doesnâ€™t care.â€
â€œTrue. That would be worth a few hundred.â€
â€œBut he was worth two thousand,â€ Otto said.
â€œIndeed,â€ West said.
â€œA few hundred isnâ€™t â€¦â€ Otto said.
â€œYâ€™all can duel for it,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œI donâ€™t think I want to do that,â€ Otto said.
â€œMaybe a competition of sorts,â€ West said.
* * *