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The Evil Gun Part 3 - Walking Corpses and the Bank Robbery

Max_Writer

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* * *

 

 

 


Father Bishop ran towards Eastwood’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 Eastwood’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.

 

“Keep it quiet out here,†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.

 

“You saw two tracks, right, Wilder?†Marshal Pierce said. “Two men.â€

 

“Yep,†Wilder said.

 

“That’s them?†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 man’s pistol. The pistol went flying and the man’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 didn’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 didn’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.

 

“That ain’t natural,†Marshal Pierce said, doing likewise.

 


* * *

 

 

 


Gemma saw the priest she’d seen propositioned the night before heading down the street a block or so south of Leone’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 Leone’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 Leone’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 Leone’s until she realized it was Eva.

 

“Get on,†Dr Weisswald said.

 

“Eva,†Gemma said. “What is going on? In the middle of the night.â€

 

“Gunshots,†Dr. Weisswald said. “We 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 didn’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.

 

“I’m here,†Dr. Weisswald said. “I need to treat them. Don’t move them.â€

 

“They’re dead,†Otto said.

 

“They are … already expired,†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 she’d heard.

 

“You just shot a bunch of corpses!?!†she said.

 

“They were shambling towards us,†Otto said. “One of them even had a gun aimed at us.â€

 

“Dead men can’t walk.â€

 

“Well, it was.â€

 

“Dead men walking?†West said.

 

“What do you mean?†Marshal Pierce said as he mounted his horse. “Corpses?â€

 

“These men have been dead for hours!†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“You saying these are a bunch of undead cowboys?†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.

 

“Sounds like you’re talking hoodoo,†Father Bishop said.

 

“I’m just saying what science told me,†Dr. Weisswald said. “I’m not saying that they could walk. I didn’t see them walk.â€

 

“So, you’re saying these men were dead before me, Wilder, and Lambert here shot them?†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“Far as I can tell,†she said.

 

“Sure smell like it,†Otto said.

 

“We should watch out for the Marshal,†West said.

 

“Eva,†Gemma said. “What happened here? What?â€

 

“We shot these corpses, apparently,†Otto said.

 

“I’m sorry?†Gemma said.

 

“Walking corpses,†Wilder muttered.

 

“We shot corpses,†Otto said. “Walking like─â€

 

“Why would you shoot …?†Gemma said.

 

“I got a bad feeling about this,†West muttered.

 

“They were walking,†Otto went on. “And they shot the marshal in town.â€

 

“That …†Gemma said.

 

“They shot the marshal?†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“He’s dead,†Otto said. “I think priest … boy over there was doing last rites.â€

 

“We need to take these bodies in town to get them identified,†Marshal Pierce said. “Wilder follow me. I don’t care if they’s corpses or not.â€

 

“Marshal!†Gemma said. “What happened here?â€

 

“These men shot the town marshal. We rode them down and now we’re going to find out why they shot the marshal.â€

 

“Well, why is he saying they were corpses?â€

 

“I’m not calling them corpses.â€

 

“But that’s what she said!†Otto said.

 

“Well now they are,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“Well, they are now,†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“That doesn’t make any sense!†Gemma said.

 

“Come, Wilder, let’s go,†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 he’d shot wasn’t dissolving like those creatures in Nevada.

 

“I am severely disappointed,†he said to Marshal Pierce. “The 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 McKenna’s, waking the old, bearded man up.

 

“Whatcha got?†the old man said when he opened the door and saw Marshal Pierce standing on his front porch with the man over his shoulder. “Oh my goodness. C’mon, let’s see what we can do for him. C’mon! Bring him in.â€

 

“Oh, I doubt you can do anything for this one,†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“You’d be surprised boy!†Doc McKenna said.

 

Marshal Pierce put the man down on an examining table and Doc McKenna quickly found he was dead.

 

“Oh, I can’t do anything for this man!†he said. “He’s dead.â€

 

“Hold on,†Marshal Pierce said.

 

He went to the door.

 

“Hey Wilder, bring the other one in!†he called. “You might can get this one.â€

 

Wilder brought in the other dead man.

 

“Why, he’s dead too!†Doc McKenna said.

 

“Yeah, I know,†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“He’s been shot over six times!â€

 

“Six?â€

 

“Look at this. Forty-five. Forty-five. Wait a minute. Well God damn.â€

 

Doc McKenna went pale.

 

“Now this looks like …†he said. “This is … this can’t be. This can’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.

 

“This can’t be!†Doc McKenna said. “This can’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.

 

“God damn,†he said again. “That’s Dan Hunter. This is Mike Smith. They got brought in earlier today. That stranger in town gunned ‘em down when they tried to kill him. How the hell they’d get out there? Why’re you shooting up corpses?

 

“I ain’t shootin’ up anyone,†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“I thought you a Federal marshal,†Doc McKenna said.

 

“These men were walking!†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“No no no no no,†Doc McKenna said. “There ain’t no way they’re walking. They’re dead. They been dead for hours. Take a whiff!â€

 

He leaned over one of the dead men and took a long sniff.

 

“Oh, they been dead for hours!†he said again.

 

“That’s what the other doctor said,†Marshal Pierce said. “The lady with the pants.â€

 

“Well, you should listen to her,†Doc McKenna said. “She knows what she’s saying. There’s a lady wearing pants!?!â€

 

“Hey, which one is more surprising to you?†West muttered.

 

Doc McKenna looked at the man for the first time.

 

“Lady wearing pants or dead men walking?†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“Y’know, I heard these men were connected to the McGoohan gang,†Doc McKenna said. “But, they’re dead.â€

 

He seemed shaken by the information as well.

 

“I need you to get the deputy,†Marshal Pierce said to Doc McKenna.

 

“Go get the deputy!†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 doctor’s office. He looked disheveled and tired.

 

“What’s going on here?†he asked.

 

“You the deputy?†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“Yes sir.â€

 

“You’re the marshal now.â€

 

“What?â€

 

“Marshal was gunned down by these two men right here.â€

 

Deputy Hill looked over the bodies and seemed confused.

 

“These two men … they’re dead already,†he said. “They died this afternoon. That drifter gunned ‘em down.â€

 

“God saw fit for them to die twice today,†Marshal Pierce said.

 

After some confusion, Deputy Hill had them show him where the town marshal’s body was. They found Father Bishop there, administering last rites to the corpse. They retrieved it and brought it to Doc McKenna’s. It also had numerous bullets in him. Deputy Hill told them he’d tell the people of town the next day.

 

“So, these men gunned him down?†Deputy Hill said.

 

“Yes,†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“But they were dead?â€

 

“Well, two doctors say yes.â€

 

After some more confusion, Deputy Hill told them he’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 McGoohan’s gang though there was no proof of it.

 

The rest of those involved in the altercation arrived at Doc McKenna’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.

 

“Marshal, those men were shot more times than you shot ‘em,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“So this doctor is telling us,†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“Did he tell you it was a .45 cal?â€

 

“He did.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.

 

“Nope,†he said. “Help me with this next body!â€

 

“Hold it!†Jacali said.

 

But the doctor was already heading down the steps, West helping him carry the next corpse.

 

“Where did the guns go?†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“Did you tell what gun shot the other ones?†Gemma asked.

 

Dr. Weisswald examined the town marshal’s body and found the holes were small. She guessed they were made by handguns.

 

Doc McKenna and West returned for the Morton’s body.

 

“You do know something about that grave!†Jacali confronted the doctor. “What is it?â€

 

“Help me with this other body, boy!†Doc McKenna said.

 

“I’ll help with the body if you tell me,†Jacali said.

 

Doc McKenna ignored the woman.

 

“Answer the lady’s question,†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“That was a man who got gunned down here about 10 years ago,†Doc McKenna said.

 

“Does that sound right?†Marshal Pierce said to Jacali.

 

“Hm,†she said.

 

“What grave? Why do you have these questions?â€

 

“It’s the only unmarked grave in town. It’s out back of that hanging tree. It just seemed strange.â€

 

“Is it filled?â€

 

“Yes. You didn’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.

 

“Didn’t know his name,†he said. “All right folks, it’s late at night. I need to get some sleep. I’ll see y’all in the morning.â€

 

“Before we go though, do you know what he looked like?†West said.

 

“What who looked like?â€

 

“The one buried in the unmarked grave.â€

 

“I don’t know. He was just a drifter.â€

 


* * *

 

 

 


Dr. Weisswald saw Gemma Jones safely back to Leone’s Five Star Saloon.

 

“Because of all the events tonight, do you want to just stay with us?†Dr. Weisswald said to the girl. “We can protect you.â€

 

“With … with who?†Gemma said. “You and …?â€

 

“Jacali.â€

 

“Why, I hardly know you.â€

 

“Well, I mean, we’re all women here.â€

 

“That’s very true.â€

 

“It’s okay if you don’t, I just … maybe you can handle yourself. It’s okay.â€

 

“I’ll … I’ll stay here for the night but I do appreciate the offer.â€

 

“All right.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 Eastwood’s and invited everyone who had been involved in the strangeness the night before to breakfast at Leone’s. Dr. Weisswald pointed out the drifter’s room. He said they’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 Leone’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.

 

“Whistling up company?†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“Right before the two people whom he supposedly gunned down appeared,†Jacali said. “He seems kind of sketchy.â€

 

“Let me get this straight,†West said.

 

“Well, I’ve heard that phrase before,†Gemma said. “I’m not sure it’s in the same context.â€

 

“This guy shot these two guys and then these two guys came back and shot the town marshal,†West said.

 

“Sounds like y’all had a very eventful night!†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Where were you?†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“Oh you,†West said. “I forget you’re here sometimes.â€

 

“I do too,†Professor Stalloid said wistfully

 

“I think regardless of anything, he was the only one who shot these two men,†Marshal Pierce said. “Last one to see them ‘alive,’ however you want to say they came back or whatever you want to believe. So, we need to question him, regardless. And he’s been pretty distant from all of us. I don’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€

 

“No,†Jacali said.

 

“I’m not going near him,†Gemma said.

 

“I could attempt it,†Father Bishop said.

 

“I could drug him,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“You could drug him?†Marshal Pierce said. “How?â€

 

“I don’t know.â€

 

“No. You know! You wouldn’t suggest it if you didn’t know.â€

 

“Well, we know he likes to come over and drink,†West said.

 

“Doesn’t look like he accepts other people’s drinks though,†Jacali said.

 

“Oh, he does,†West said.

 

“He has,†Marshal Pierce said. “He did mine the other day. He just drank it without even questioning it.â€

 

“And then he even thanked him,†West growled.

 

“What kind of drugs are you talking about, there,†Marshal Pierce said.

 

Professor Stalloid took another bite of food.

 

“How about you stop eating there for a second!†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“Opium,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Opium? I want him to be of the right mind to tell us what we need to know.â€

 

“It might make him more suggestive.â€

 

He went back to eating.

 

“Or we could sedate him and then take him away to … interrogate him, instead,†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“Yeah, how about sedate him instead?†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“That would work,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Maybe better,†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“I don’t really know what’s going on,†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“Father, do you mind at least giving the highlights of last night to this gentleman?†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 Leone’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 didn’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 didn’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 doctor’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 didn’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 Leone’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.

 

“What is going on in this town?†Gemma said.

 

Father Bishop went to the window of Leone’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.

 

“What’s going on!?!†West said.

 

“McGoohan’s gang!†the man said. “They’re robbing the bank!â€

 

“You God damned townsfolk!†Dan McGoohan shouted from one of the windows. “We’ll kill you all! Just get outta here!â€

 

“Kill everybody who ain’t him!†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.

 

“There’s Indians out there!†someone yelled.

 

“There ain’t no God damned injuns out there!†Dan McGoohan yelled.

 

Marshal Pierce was choosing his shots, trying to make sure he didn’t shoot McGoohan. He gunned down another of the outlaws.

 

“Put some dirt on it!†McGoohan screamed. “Stupid townsfolk! You’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 Leone’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.

 

“Should I play some music to go with this excitement?†the piano player asked.

 

“Seems like a bank robbery,†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 he’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.

 

“You son of a bitch!†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 McGoohan’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 man’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.

 

“He should be dead!†she said to her.

 

“Who?†Dr. Weisswald said. “Why should he be dead?â€

 

“He’s been hit so many times,†she said.

 

“McFly! I mean!†McGoohan cried out as the drifter shot him in the shoulder and he fell to the bank floor. “Damn 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 Hill’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 McGoohan’s men weakly stirred and prepared to shoot him from behind. The drifter swiveled coolly and blew the man’s head off from 12 feet. Then he lit his cigarillo.

 

“Dry work,†he mused to himself. “But I am always so damned dry.â€

 

He shook his head and ambled towards Leone’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 drifter’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 McGoohan’s men had managed to escape during the terrible gunfight.

 

They saw the drifter exit Leone’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.

 

“If you don’t mind us using your holding cells,†West growled.

 

The drifter didn’t even look up from under his hat. He just reached down and took the keys off his belt, tossing them to West.

 

“Bring these back,†he muttered.

 

“Will do,†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.

 

“Who the …?†McGoohan said as he awoke.

 

He looked around, obviously confused, and grunted.

 

“God damn it!†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.

 

“Quit hitting yourself,†West growled.

 

“Jack Parker: where?†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“Jack Parker?†McGoohan said.

 

“Jack Parker.â€

 

“How the hell should I know?â€

 

“You should know. You’re part of Valentine’s Gang, aren’t you?â€

 

“Yeah.â€

 

“So where’s Parker?â€

 

“I dunno. Probably with Valentine. Find Valentine, you can find Parker, I bet.â€

 

“Then where’s Valentine?â€

 

“He’s probably out there somewhere.â€

 

“Out where?â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

Marshal Pierce slapped him again.

 

“Why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here?†McGoohan said.

 

“I feel like you did that wrong,†West said.

 

“What the hell happened to your face?â€

 

“What’s going to happen to yours if you don’t answer our questions.â€

 

“Federal marshal huh? I see your badge.â€

 

Marshal Pierce drew his Peacemaker and shoved it in McGoohan’s face.

 

“Parker,†he said again. “Where?â€

 

“I dunno,†McGoohan said.

 

Marshal Pierce lifted the gun and fired it out the window. McGoohan flinched.

 

“That hurt my ear,†he said.

 

The man seemed cowed though he still put on a brave front.

 

“You’re a federal marshal, you can’t do nothing,†McGoohan said. “But I don’t know where Jack Parker is. Like I said, he’s probably with John Valentine. I sent a telegram to John Valentine probably up in Colorado or Utah. That’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 ain’t got nothing to do. Let go of my hand! We ain’t in a relationship.â€

 

“Your boys look dead,†West said.

 

“Not all of ‘em,†McGoohan said. “I see a couple of ‘em over there, bleeding out.â€

 

“Hey! They aren’t bleeding out!†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“Ooh,†McGoohan said. “I like your … why don’t you leave me alone and I’ll talk to her.â€

 

“Wait for what?†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“I was supposed to wait ‘til he got here.â€

 

“So, they’re coming here.â€

 

“Iunno. He didn’t tell me he was coming here, he just told me to wait. Told me to make sure they didn’t take it away without him knowing.â€

 

“Take what away?â€

 

“The Crescent. He wants the Crescent. Valentine’s been interested in the Crescent for a while and he’s crazy. He’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. Didn’t know y’all had some kind of … crazy man … working for you.â€

 

“Seems you called him McFly,†West said.

 

“That was just some fool I used to hate,†McGoohan said.

 

“The Crescent?†Gemma said.

 

“He die about 10 years ago?†West said.

 

“No,†McGoohan said. “I never got to kill him. He got away.â€

 

He tried to grab West in a threatening manner, but was so badly injured he couldn’t.

 

“You run into a man named McFly, you tell me, ‘cause I’m gonna kill him!†he said.

 

He told them he wasn’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 didn’t know anything about the drifter.

 

“Did you see what happened with the people that touched the Crescent?†Dr. Weisswald asked.

 

McGoohan went pale and looked terrified.

 

“Yeah, I was on the chain gang,†he said. “When 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. Didn’t like the look of it. Looked dangerous. Weird. Strange.

 

“When they touched it, some kinda light touched ‘em. Went into their hands. One of ‘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 ‘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.

 

“That was enough for us,†he went on. “I ran. We fled. The overseers and guards tried to stop us but there was thirty of us and five of them. We overran ‘em like a train. Just crashed through. It was like we all had a single purpose to get out of that place. And then … we were away.â€

 

“You need some opium?†Dr. Weisswald said.

 

“Yes, please,†McGoohan said.

 

“How ‘bout this new thing?†Professor Stalloid said.

 

“I’ll take some opium from the lady,†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.

 

“So─†he said.

 

“And you are?†West said.

 

“I’m Lambert Otto.â€

 

“Hi Lambert.â€

 

“Hello.â€

 

“I’m Jack.â€

 

“Nice to meet you. I heard you’re a bounty hunter.â€

 

“Yeah.â€

 

“You probably heard I am too.â€

 

“Just now.â€

 

“Well, now you know. And now we got a bounty on our hands.â€

 

“I do.â€

 

“Are you trying to say you’re not gonna share it with me?â€

 

“Well, I have Wilder over here and this marshal and … apparently all the people the preacher wanted to bring, helping me out. So money’s actually supposed to be split between Wilder and I.â€

 

“I promised him the bounty,†Marshal Pierce said. “As long as he got me to talk to McGoohan.â€

 

Otto frowned.

 

“How much do you think all these other men are worth?†Marshal Pierce said. “He could claim all these dead bodies.â€

 

“Now that I wouldn’t mind,†West said.

 

“Seeing as how the new marshal doesn’t care.â€

 

“True. That would be worth a few hundred.â€

 

“But he was worth two thousand,†Otto said.

 

“Indeed,†West said.

 

“A few hundred isn’t …†Otto said.

 

“Y’all can duel for it,†Marshal Pierce said.

 

“I don’t think I want to do that,†Otto said.

 

“Maybe a competition of sorts,†West said.

 


* * *

 

 


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