* * *
Marshal Pierce was stopped at the edge of the camp by soldiers. He showed his badge.
â€œIâ€™m sorry, sir,â€ one of the soldiers said. â€œNo civilians.â€
â€œIâ€™m not a civilian,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œYes, you are, sir.â€
â€œIâ€™m a federal marshal. Iâ€™m here on government business.â€
â€œDo you have some kind of papers?â€
â€œI donâ€™t need papers.â€
â€œYes, you do, sir.â€
â€œLet me talk to your superior.â€
* * *
â€œWho are these people and why are they here?â€ Captain Black asked Brandon Stalloid.
The officer sat behind a makeshift desk made of barrels and boards in his tent. He did not seem happy about the two women in his camp.
â€œThis is a well-known doctor in my area and â€¦ her assistant,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
Captain Black stood up and looked over the two women.
â€œI know many â€¦ native tales about native magic â€¦â€ Jacali said. â€œAnd I think that there may be horrible curses on this place.â€
Captain Black rolled his eyes.
â€œBut I mostly just help the doctor,â€ Jacali said.
â€œAll right Professor Stalloid, if you say so,â€ Captain Black finally said.
He got the womenâ€™s names and made them sign papers that bound them not to mention anything they saw in the camp under penalty of jail and massive fines. Jacali couldnâ€™t read them so they had her make her mark and witnessed it.
They were sent into the mines.
* * *
Marshal Pierce was made to wait about 10 minutes before he was shown to the tent of Captain Black. Father Bishop had caught up to him by then and was allowed to accompany the man.
â€œHow can I help you, sir?â€ the captain said.
â€œIâ€™m here on government business concerning Dan McGoohan,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œHeâ€™s escaped. Heâ€™s not here.â€
â€œYes, but he was in these mines before, correct?â€
â€œYes, he was.â€
â€œIâ€™ll be in and out. I just need to track him. I will not interfere with whatever is going on here.â€
â€œYou can track him outside of the encampment. My men have been all over this place. Theyâ€™re going to ruin any tracks that might be anywhere within these tents.â€
â€œIâ€™m sorry, I just need to check. I donâ€™t care what these men have done â€¦ or havenâ€™t done â€¦ to these tracks.â€
Captain Black frowned.
â€œGod has sent us a clue that something here could help us,â€ Father Bishop said.
Marshal Pierce looked at the man like he was crazy. Captain Black rolled his eyes and just shook his head.
Marshal Pierce noted it was his jurisdiction and he could get the paperwork but that would just take time, time he didnâ€™t have. Captain Black, obviously annoyed at the two men, finally acquiesced.
â€œFine,â€ he said. â€œFine!â€
He told one of the soldiers to escort the men into the mines and let them look around for tracks and then escort them out. The man saluted him and led them to the mines.
* * *
Professor Stalloid escorted Dr. Weisswald and Jacali to the chamber in the mine that held the Crescent. They were amazed that it was just about exactly the same as the drawing of the medicine man in Nevada. They thought it had the same number of spikes but then realized there were more on the actual item than on their drawing.
Professor Terwilliger was delighted they were there.
â€œOh!â€ he said. â€œOh! Professor Stalloid! Oh!â€
â€œAnd friends,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œWelcome!â€ Professor Terwilliger said. â€œWeâ€™ve been testing this morning and trying to use the saws again but it hasnâ€™t worked at all.â€
Professor Stalloid whispered to the man to speak a little less loudly about projects whilst in town.
â€œOh!â€ Professor Terwilliger said. â€œOh! Youâ€™re right. Thank you.â€
He turned to the women.
â€œRemember, donâ€™t speak loudly about projects in town,â€ he said.
Professor Stalloid told him he brought the women in so they would have an excuse for knowing if anyone found out. The women looked at the Crescent as Professor Terwilliger told them some of their plans for the day with the device.
â€œWait, are they here to touch it?â€ he asked Professor Stalloid.
â€œWhat?â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œNo! Weâ€™re not ready for human studies yet.â€
â€œOh yeah yeah yeah. Donâ€™t touch it. Donâ€™t touch it! I could be quite dangerous! Oh, theyâ€™ve cleared them so I can tell them anything and I told them last night so weâ€™re good!â€
â€œThatâ€™s why I brought â€˜em. Iâ€™ve got your back.â€
â€œSo, you know about the dust. Weâ€™ve done some tests but â€¦ are you a biologist?â€
Dr. Weisswald nodded.
â€œThatâ€™s prefect!â€ Dr. Terwilliger said. â€œThatâ€™s great.â€
He showed her the dust and the chemical lab while Professor Stalloid set up electrolysis to see if the energy coming off the thing would be enough to silver coat something. He dumped in the pellets of two shotgun shells, connected the wire, and left the silver water. Dr. Terwilliger told them about the item being embedded in rock for 50 million years. He noted he wished they had some of the prisoners that were originally there because some of them saw what happened and a first-hand account would be useful.
â€œWhen did the prisoners escape?â€ Dr. Weisswald asked.
â€œTwo weeks ago,â€ Professor Terwilliger said.
â€œWell, maybe we can get Wilder to check it out. Heâ€™s a tracker.â€
â€œWasnâ€™t he going with that face man?â€ Jacali said. â€œTo track prisoners already.â€
â€œYes, if he can get some of the prisoners who were eye witnesses, I would love to talk to them,â€ Professor Terwilliger said.
Professor Stalloid found that his experiment was working. He found it quite interesting.
â€œWas Dan McGoohan one of the prisoners?â€ Dr. Weisswald asked.
â€œHe was!â€ Professor Terwilliger said. â€œHe was one of the escaped prisoners. There were about 20 of them. Some of them didnâ€™t see anything, because weâ€™ve already questioned a few that were brought in. They were in the back. When all the prisoners started running away, they just started running with them.â€
Marshal Pierce, Father Bishop, and another soldier entered the large cave. Dr. Weisswald recognized the Federal marshal badge on his chest. Professor Terwilliger went to him.
â€œAre you more scientists?â€ he asked.
â€œAbsolutely not,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œOh,â€ Professor Terwilliger said.
He noticed the badge for the first time.
â€œOh, federal marshal. Oh,â€ he said. â€œWell, never broken the law myself.â€
â€œI wouldnâ€™t think you had,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œStalloid, thereâ€™s a Federal marshal here,â€ Professor Terwilliger said. â€œI think heâ€™s here to arrest you.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think he is,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œI-I havenâ€™t done anything wrong lately.â€
â€œOh,â€ Professor Terwilliger said.
â€œLately?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œLately â€¦ uh â€¦ well,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œSome things Iâ€™ve done are questionable.â€
â€œWhat have you done, my child?â€ Father Bishop said.
â€œWell â€¦ I made these silver â€¦ balls â€¦ right now,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWell, itâ€™s a priest!â€ Professor Terwilliger said. â€œHow quaint.â€
â€œMan of law, man of science, man of God,â€ Marshal Pierce mused. â€œWhat seems to be happening here?â€
â€œOh, we donâ€™t want to bore you, sir,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œYouâ€™re not going to bore me,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œSpeak.â€
Professor Stalloid told him about his electrolysis experiment that was causing silver to adhere to the lead buckshot of his shotgun shells. It was amazingly boring as the man showed him the buckshot and explained exactly what had caused it.
Father Bishop went over to look at the Crescent. Heâ€™d never seen anything like it before in his life.
When Professor Stalloid brought up the prisoners touching the thing and ripping shackles, Marshal Pierce stopped him.
â€œDan McGoohan?â€ he said.
â€œI donâ€™t know,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œI wasnâ€™t here. I donâ€™t know which prisoners were here.â€
â€œDan McGoohan was one of the prisoners that escaped. You said they touched this and their shackles came off?â€
â€œYeah, and then they turned to dust.â€
â€œThe shackles or the people?â€
â€œYou telling me one of these things is Dan McGoohan.â€
â€œNo. I donâ€™t know who those are.â€
Marshal Pierce sighed.
â€œI wasnâ€™t here,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œI understand that,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œWe canâ€™t identify those people. Theyâ€™re piles of dust, sir!â€
â€œWhat Iâ€™m trying to say isâ”€â€
â€œDental records do not exist!â€
â€œThereâ€™s no teeth!â€ Professor Terwilliger said.
â€œEven the teeth are dust!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œThatâ€™s according to our biologist here,â€ Professor Terwilliger said. â€œThis is Doctor â€¦ Iâ€™m sorry, I didnâ€™t catch your name.â€
â€œWeisswald,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œWeisswald!â€ Professor Terwilliger said.
â€œI know Dan McGoohan was one of the three and youâ€™re saying the three prisoners are these dust piles, then by putting that together, Dan McGoohan is one of these dust piles!â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œIf you say so!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œI-I donâ€™t think it was established,â€ Professor Terwilliger said. â€œI believe that Dan McGoohan was one of the ones who escaped, sir!â€
He looked them over.
â€œI think you need to go talk to the Captain!â€ Professor Stalloid said, turning back to his work.
â€œIâ€™ve already talked to the Captain!â€ Marshal Pierce said, frustrated.
Father Bishop read last rites over the ashes. The soldiers gave the man a look.
Marshal Pierce asked the scientists if there was any way to determine who the three people were.
â€œSomeday, maybe weâ€™ll have the ability to â€¦ I donâ€™t know, to tell a person by tiny pieces of their flesh, but weâ€™re not that far yet,â€ Professor Terwilliger said. â€œIâ€™ve had some ideas though. Iâ€™ve had some great ideas about that.â€
â€œDo you have a list of all the prisoners that escaped?â€ Marshal Pierce asked.
â€œThe town marshal might!â€ Professor Terwilliger said.
Marshal Pierce cursed.
â€œOr possibly Captain Black,â€ Professor Terwilliger said.
â€œTalk to the Captain!â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œGood luck with that!â€ Professor Terwilliger said. â€œNice fellow.â€
â€œIâ€™m sure he is,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œHis food is terrible!â€ Professor Terwilliger called after him. â€œBut nice fellow.â€
Marshal Pierce left.
Dr. Weisswaldâ€™s test verified what they had thought. The little piles of dust were composed of everything that made up a human being almost as if all of the liquid had been removed from a man, leaving only that. The powder wasnâ€™t ash but much finer. She also learned they had tested lizards and rats touching the thing.
â€œWell, I donâ€™t know what to do with this thing,â€ Jacali said. â€œI donâ€™t really want to touch it.â€
Dr. Stalloid touched the thing with a pickaxe but nothing apparently happened.
â€œWhomever that one man was, the impatient one, the one who definitely did not wait,â€ Jacali said. â€œHe really wanted this thing though.â€
â€œI remember that guy,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
Jacali put a rock in the middle of the circle but nothing happened.
* * *
Captain Black did, indeed, have a list of men who escaped. There were 30 of them with various charges. He had a soldier write up a copy for Marshal Pierce. About a third of them had been caught and a two or three others had been found dead in the wilderness. The list had been updated from the day before.
Dan McGoohan was listed as having not been found. Captain Black was of the opinion that he had probably left the territory, otherwise he would have been caught.
Captain Black ended up talking to Marshal Pierce for several hours, keeping him and Father Bishop at the camp. They ate lunch there.
* * *
Gemma Jones helped out around Leoneâ€™s Saloon, fitting in and getting to know the girls. They all seemed very nice though Margaret Smithson was a little jealous of her. As she was working, she heard gunshots in the distance. They seemed to be coming from the north side of town. She went to the entrance of Leoneâ€™s and leaned out the front door, looking around.
A man came down the street a minute or so later. He looked like a drifter. He was dirty and grungy. His eyes were small and mean-looking, mostly obscured by the brim of his hat. He wore a long coat and he had a pair of guns on his belt. A half-burned, unlit cigarillo jutted from the left corner of his mouth. She didnâ€™t recognize him. Other people he walked by gave him a wide berth. People off the street talking stopped when he walked by, just staring at the drifter. Only the sound of his spurs jingling rung down the street.
He ambled to Leoneâ€™s, scowling. He gave the girl a look as he walked by her.
She felt herself breathing hard, nervous and afraid, though she didnâ€™t know why.
He sat at a table and ordered whiskey. The bartender brought the man a bottle and a glass.
She left the room quickly, going to a small closet with a window and closing the door. She slid down the door to the floor and started crying.
* * *
After several hours, Wilder and West managed to track down one of the prisoners to a cave on the plains. The man was half-starved and desperate for water. He had been eating raw rabbits and was ready to go back.
â€œOh thank God!â€ he said when he saw them.
West got into the manâ€™s face.
â€œSo, Iâ€™m wondering â€¦ did you see Dan McGoohan?â€ he asked the man.
â€œNot for a couple weeks,â€ the escaped prisoner said. â€œNot since we escaped.â€
â€œYou see which way he went?â€
â€œI didnâ€™t see which way he went. I ran! You donâ€™t know what happened in there! You donâ€™t know what happened in there! That face? That ainâ€™t half as scary as what I saw! And that face is scary! Makes me wanna puke!â€
West backhanded him in the face.
â€œThat ainâ€™t nothinâ€™!â€ the man said. â€œYou seen what I seen?â€
â€œWhat did you see?â€ West said.
â€œStick a nail in my fingernail!â€
â€œWhat did you see?â€
â€œI saw â€˜em touch it. They touched that thing! They touched that thing! And then - and then - and then they started ripping the shackles off like they were made of paper! Paper! Thoseâ€™re iron shackles! Just pop! Just pulled â€˜em right off! And-and-and-and then they started - they pulled out something out of it and waved it around, like they were gonna touch us and the others are touching it like they were in love with it! Like it was a woman! And-and thereâ€™s this â€¦ purple light â€¦ and-and-and we â€¦ we said â€˜No!â€™ And we ran! Dan McGoohan was runninâ€™ too! Last I saw him, we were runninâ€™ out that mine! The overseers, thereâ€™s only five of â€˜em, you canâ€™t stop all 30 men! We ran â€˜em over like a train!â€
â€œSo those three things, what were they?â€
â€œThe three what?â€
â€œThe three men that touched it. They transformed?â€
â€œYeah! I dunno! They just ripped the chains off! And then we left. We left â€˜em. I was afraid they was gonna touch me with that thing they found! That rod or whatever it was!â€
West tossed the man a canteen and he desperately drank the water out of it. Wilder handed him some beef jerky and then they tied his wrists behind his back. They returned to town with him and handed him over to the town marshal.
* * *
Marshal Pierce had verified his list with the town marshal and found it up-to-date except for the name of a man who had brought in just that day. He had a similar list and told Marshal Pierce the man had been brought in by a man with terrible scars on his face and a man wearing a bear. When he checked the name listed with the bounty, he told Marshal Pierce the scarred man was called Jack West. He hadnâ€™t caught the bear manâ€™s name. He also asked Marshal Pierce to pass on to Jack West that heâ€™d sent the telegram.
* * *
When they met in Leoneâ€™s for dinner that night, they saw a new face there. The dirty drifter was sitting alone at a table, no one near him, with an unlit cigarillo in his mouth, drinking whiskey. He drank and paid and drank and paid, never speaking except to the bartender.
When they were all seated, Stalloid took out a deck of cards and asked if theyâ€™d like to have a friendly game of poker.
â€œI donâ€™t play, sir,â€ Jacali said. â€œWilder, howâ€™s your day been?â€
â€œWe â€¦ uh â€¦ went out at dawn to the surrounding hills and found a â€¦ half starving man â€¦ who had been feasting on â€¦ hares and rats and all manner of small critter,â€ Wilder said. â€œHe â€¦ did not know much â€¦ so we brought him back into town and â€¦ gave him to the sheriff.â€
â€œWe found the horn that the man who did not wait at all, the impatient one, was talking about,â€ Jacali said. â€œThey said the prisoners who were escaping might know something about it. They saw something in the cave. Maybe. Some of them touched it and there are some ashen piles of what looks like used to be people near it. We havenâ€™t touched it yet, because we think it might be dangerous.â€
â€œHe said it turned â€˜em into monsters,â€ West said. â€œHe said they looked scarier than me.â€
â€œThat would be a sight to behold,â€ Jacali said.
Marshal Pierce stood nearby.
â€œIâ€™ve seen scarier,â€ Professor Stalloid said, putting his cards away. â€œTake a seat Marshal.â€
â€œI donâ€™t gamble,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œSo, some people touched it and didnâ€™t turn to dust?â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œAs far as we know,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œThey left them behind,â€ Wilder said.
â€œEverybody ran away,â€ Professor Stalloid said.
â€œWell if they touched it and turned into monsters, maybe they didnâ€™t immediately disintegrate,â€ Jacali said.
â€œBut they were close to the Horn when they were disintegrated,â€ Dr. Weisswald said. â€œAt least, they didnâ€™t leave it.â€
Marshal Pierce put his hand on the back of Westâ€™s chair.
â€œLet me buy you a drink at the bar,â€ he said.
â€œAppreciate it, marshal,â€ West said. â€œIâ€™ll take that drink.â€
Marshal Pierce told the priest to find out what he could there and he and West went to the bar. He told West he didnâ€™t know what the people were talking about with all the talk of monsters.
Town Marshal Morton entered Leoneâ€™s and looked around. His eyes finally rested on the drifter. He asked the drifter about the gunfire that happened earlier.
â€œI was defending myself,â€ the other man said husky near-whisper that carried even across the wide room.
He told the marshal the two men drew on him and he had to defend himself. The room had gone quiet and someone nearby pointed out the dead men were hot heads and bullies and it was not really surprising. The bartender piped up, noting the stranger had been real peaceable since heâ€™d come into Leoneâ€™s that afternoon. Marshal Morton seemed very nervous about talking to the man and merely nodded and left.
* * *
Across the room, Gemma Jones was between songs. She couldnâ€™t help but hear, just like everyone else in the place. The drifter continued to drink as the noise in the saloon rose once again.
* * *
Father Bishop approached their table.
â€œBear man,â€ he said.
â€œThe bear man has a name,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œLike most of us,â€ Jacali said.
â€œI donâ€™t know it,â€ Father Bishop said.
â€œIt would be a good question to ask rather than saying â€˜bear man,â€ Jacali said.
â€œHey, Father Man,â€ Professor Stalloid quipped.
â€œWhat do you think I was getting to?â€ Father Bishop said. â€œYou didnâ€™t let me finish my sentence.â€
â€œYou could say â€œHello, sir.â€™â€
â€œHe doesnâ€™t necessarily look like a â€˜sir.â€™â€
â€œAh, so â€˜madam.â€™â€
â€œWhat are your names? If you donâ€™t mind my asking.â€
â€œMy name isâ”€â€ Wilder said.
â€œProfessor Brandon Stalloid!â€ the professor interrupted. â€œSaver of children! Healer of women â€¦ and men alike!â€
His voice carried. People looked up from their drinks and conversations and card games. Gemma Jones, always the professional, noticed but continued singing.
â€œAnd my name is Jacali,â€ the Indian woman said.
â€œJacali,â€ Father Bishop said. â€œInteresting name. Interesting person. You, madam?â€
â€œWeisswald,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œA pleasure,â€ Father Bishop said.
He looked at Wilder.
â€œAnd â€¦ uh â€¦â€ he said.
â€œMy name is Wilder,â€ he said.
â€œNice to meet you,â€ Father Bishop said.
â€œBut you can call me Bear Man.â€
â€œNice to meet you.â€
â€œIt will not offend me.â€
â€œIâ€™m Father Peter Bishop.â€
â€œNice to meet you as well, Father,â€ Jacali said.
* * *
Marshal Pierce asked the bartender for two glasses of whiskey. The bartender dropped two glasses on the table and then poured the whiskey in both sloppily. He shoved one to each of them and got his money.
â€œThe man you captured,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œHe was one of the prisoners, correct?â€
â€œYeah,â€ West said.
â€œYouâ€™re looking for Dan McGoohan as well, correct?â€
â€œI sure am. Need the money.â€
â€œEmployed the help of â€¦ bear man over there?â€
â€œWilderâ€™s been very useful.â€
â€œWilder? Thatâ€™s his name?â€
â€œI didnâ€™t catch his last name. Not sure if he had one.â€
â€œIâ€™m just gonna be one hundred percent with you. I donâ€™t know which nameâ€™s more fake: Wilder or Jack West. Regardless of last names. I would like to team up.â€
â€œHaving an extra gunâ€™s not always a bad thing. You good at finding people too, Marshal?â€
â€œProbably not as good as â€¦ that wild man over there, but â€¦â€
â€œMy jurisdiction can get us places you couldnâ€™t normally get.â€
â€œThat is valuable.â€
â€œHereâ€™s the deal Iâ€™m gonna make. You can have the bounty. I care not for that money. But what I do care for is Dan McGoohan survives. I must speak to him alive.â€
â€œOh, I can definitely assist you there. Iâ€™m an expert marksman. Iâ€™ve disarmed many a man.â€
â€œI usually shoot to kill but â€¦ in this case I need him alive. That is my one rule.â€
â€œAll righty, if I get all the money.â€
â€œWith Wilder. What does a man of his â€¦stature want with money?â€
â€œIâ€™m not sure. Could be, perhaps, he buys his pelts.â€
â€œHe buys his pelts?â€
â€œI dunno. I didnâ€™t ask him any personal questions.â€
Marshal Pierce looked across the room at the stranger.
â€œSo, you havenâ€™t spoken to him yet, correct?â€ he asked West. â€œThe drifter?â€
â€œNo, not yet, but he looks like he might be looking for McGoohan too,â€ West said. â€œMight know something.â€
West looked at the man with his bulging eye.
â€œWhat do you say we take him some whiskey over there and ask him some questions?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œNot a bad idea,â€ West said.
The drifter got up from the table and walked towards the bar.
â€œWell, looks like we got him right where we want him,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
As the man reached the bar, Marshal Pierce ordered three more glasses of whiskey.
â€œOne for my new friend here,â€ Marshal Pierce said, pointing towards the drifter.
The man didnâ€™t pay him any mind.
â€œMuch obliged,â€ he merely said to the bartender in a way that didnâ€™t sound like he actually was.
He dropped some coins on the bar for the bartender and turned to leave.
â€œYou forgot your glass I just bought you here, sir,â€ Marshal Pierce said to the man.
The drifter stopped. He turned around and looked at the man from under the brim of his hat for what felt like a long time. The saloon went quiet. Only Gemma Jones singing continued. She stared at the drifter in terror.
The drifter took the whiskey, drank it down, and put the glass down on the bar.
â€œMuch obliged,â€ he said to Marshal Pierce.
Marshal Pierce didnâ€™t think he was.
The drifter turned and walked out of saloon. Gemma Jones finished her song just as the man left. The piano player, a bowler-wearing man with a half-finished bottle of whiskey on the piano, finished the song and took another drink himself. People started talking once again.
â€œHeâ€™s less friendly than I am,â€ West said.
â€œHurry,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œLetâ€™s catch him.â€
They drank down their whiskey and headed out of the saloon. When they got to the porch they saw the drifter head around the corner and followed him to Main Street. He was heading north.
â€œUsually when I buy a man a drink, he gives me his name,â€ Marshal Pierce called to the man.
The drifter stopped and turned around very slowly.
â€œI ainâ€™t no usually,â€ the drifter said.
He turned and walked way.
â€œWhat is a man who isnâ€™t â€˜usualâ€™ go this time of day?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
The drifter stopped again. He didnâ€™t turn around this time.
â€œMan needs a place to lay his head once his thirst is quenched,â€ he said. â€œIf itâ€™s ever.â€
He walked away.
â€œDan McGoohan mean anything to you?â€ Marshal Pierce called after him.
The drifter just walked away. Marshal Pierce growled under his breath. He watched the man walk up the street and go into Eastwoodâ€™s Saloon and Hotel. He gave the man a minute or so before he followed him. West went with him.
The proprietor, John Eastwood, stood behind the desk set in the front of the saloon. He looked uncomfortable. There was a register book and Marshal Pierce turned it around and looked at it. He saw the names Dr. Eva Weisswald, Jacali, and Jack West, the last people to sign it. Marshal Pierce asked about the man who had just come in.
â€œWouldnâ€™t sign,â€ Eastwood said. â€œI wasnâ€™t about to make him.â€
â€œDid he â€¦ pay well?â€ Marshal Pierce said.
â€œHe paid for the room. He paid for a week.â€
â€œBut not more? For you to stay quiet? For you to cover for him or anything like that?â€
â€œDoesnâ€™t seem to be a man with something to hide?â€
â€œIf he had paid extra, you should probably try to bribe me to find out, shouldnâ€™t ya? But he didnâ€™t, Marshal. He did not pay me any extra to keep my mouth shut.â€
â€œDid you just ask a Federal marshal to bribe you?â€
â€œNo, Iâ€™m trying to help you know how to do your job right.â€
Eastwood laughed it off like the whole thing had been a joke. Marshal Pierce laughed to, putting his hand on his gun.
â€œHe didnâ€™t pay me any extra,â€ Eastwood said again. â€œI donâ€™t know his name. I asked him to sign the register book. He just walked up the stairs. Did you see that man? Gives me the creeps! I wasnâ€™t about to ask him nothing.â€
â€œDid he pay for multiple nights or just for tonight?â€
â€œHe paid for one week, exactly. Said he only needed one week. I donâ€™t know what that means. I donâ€™t care.â€
Marshal Pierce turned to West.
â€œMan comes into town pays for a week,â€ he said. â€œSounds like a bounty hunter to me, to be honest. Heâ€™s looking for Dan McGoohan. And we better find him before he kills him. â€˜Cause thatâ€™s a man doesnâ€™t take any bounty alive.â€
â€œSounds about right,â€ West said.
Marshal Pierce slid a silver dollar to Eastwood.
â€œIf you ever find out his name, you tell me first,â€ he said. â€œAgreed?â€
Eastwood took the silver dollar and tucked it away.
â€œYes sir,â€ he said.
â€œAnd any time he walks in, maybe just nudge the registry just a little bit,â€ Marshal Pierce said.
Eastwood looked nervous and told the man heâ€™d do what he could but he wanted as little to do with the drifter as possible.
â€œAs does most of this town,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œHave a good night.â€
They went back to Leoneâ€™s.
* * *
â€œI saw you earlier at the mine,â€ Father Bishop said to the others at the table.
â€œYes, and a priest at the mine was very surprising as well,â€ Jacali said.
â€œI was with the marshal.â€
â€œHeâ€™s looking for Dan McGoohan. I wish to read him his final rites.â€
â€œYeah, the marshal made that very clear,â€ Professor Stalloid said. â€œAnd I donâ€™t think he knows what looking for Dan McGoohan is like. He really, really wanted it to be one of those three bodies. I couldnâ€™t explain it to him.â€
Dr. Weisswald asked Wilder if they could go with them the next day to track Dan McGoohan.
â€œWeâ€™re not interested in the bounty,â€ Jacali said.
â€œNo,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œAt least Iâ€™m not,â€ Jacali said.
â€œNeither am I,â€ Father Bishop said.
â€œI have â€¦ no qualms about it personally,â€ Wilder said. â€œThough you should take that up with â€¦ Mr. West â€¦ as he is the one that did hire me.â€
â€œThe guy with the face?â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œYeah, I donâ€™t really like talking with him at all,â€ Jacali said. â€œCould you do it for me, please?â€
â€œI can do it,â€ Father Bishop said.
â€œYes,â€ Wilder said. â€œLet the â€¦ preacher man speak to him.â€
â€œWe donâ€™t let no man speak for us,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œI just donâ€™t like seeing his face very much,â€ Jacali said.
â€œBy the way, if any of you would ever need to repent anything from your past, feel free to call,â€ Father Bishop said.
â€œI think â€¦â€ Jacali said.
They decided they would just show up the next morning with them and see what happened.
Marshal Pierce and Jack West returned to drink at the bar. Father Bishop joined them.
â€œMr. West,â€ the priest said. â€œWould you mind if I and another of Mr. Wilderâ€™s associates join you and him in trying to find Mr. McGoohan tomorrow. None of us want anything to do with the bounty, itâ€™s just â€¦â€
â€œWell, if you donâ€™t care about the money then I donâ€™t care if youâ€™re there,â€ West said.
Father Bishop returned to the table and told them what he had said. Then he returned to drink with the men at the bar.
* * *
When Gemma Jones finished singing for the night, Dr. Weisswald approached the stage along with a few other people. The piano player was chugging on the whiskey bottle. The other admirers were all men, there to compliment her, give her a silver dollar, or even proposition her. Dr. Weisswald was the only woman and, with her height, white hair, and doeskin clothing stood out from the men.
â€œYour singing is the best Iâ€™ve ever heard,â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œOh!â€ Gemma said. â€œThank you. I do appreciate that. Iâ€™m â€¦ Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™ve seen you before.â€
â€œIâ€™m Eva. Call me Eva.â€
â€œEva. Iâ€™m Gemma. But Iâ€™m sure you know that.â€
â€œUh-huh. Are you just here for the week or â€¦â€
â€œOh, Iâ€™m just here for a few weeks before I go wherever the wind takes me.â€
â€œDo you know where that might be next?â€
â€œWhoâ€™s to say? And whoâ€™s asking?â€
â€œUh â€¦ me? No reason.â€
â€œCome sit. Would you like to have a drink?â€
â€œAh, tea would be fine.â€
The two women found a table and sat down, getting tea. Some of the men wanted to join them but a glare from Dr. Weisswald and a word from Gemma sent them on their way.
They had a nice conversation, Dr. Weisswald mentioning there was an artifact they were investigating and they were looking for the escaped prisoners as they would know more about it.
â€œOoh,â€ Gemma said. â€œAn undiscovered artifact. How interesting.â€
â€œWell, I mean â€¦ itâ€™s discovered now,â€ Dr Weisswald, ever-pragmatic, said with a kind smile.
â€œWell yes,â€ Gemma said. â€œYes.â€
They talked for a little while in a friendly fashion. Dr. Weisswald also talked about some of the others, especially Wilder and Jacali. She told her about Professor Stalloid and his elixirs as well. Gemma wondered if Professor Terwilliger had anything to do with the artifact.
* * *
That evening at the Eastwood Saloon those who were staying there heard a strange and unsettling whistling. It seemed to be coming from inside the hotel rooms. It had an eerie ululating tune but it was not very nice. Jacali looked out of her window and soon realized it was in one of the adjacent rooms. Though that window was also open, it seemed like whomever was whistling was standing back far enough from it that she couldnâ€™t see them.
Dr. Weisswald got Jacali and they went to the room where it was coming from. The whistling stopped when they knocked on the door and then the doorknob rattled and the door opened. The drifter stood there. He looked them both over.
â€œNot interested,â€ he said.
He started to close the door but Jacali put her hand onto the door just before it closed. She pushed it open. He stood there behind it, glaring at the two.
â€œWe ainâ€™t that type of girls,â€ she said.
The man let his gaze slowly settle on each of them.
â€œAll right,â€ he said.
Jacali felt pressure on the door as he pushed on it to close it again. She didnâ€™t let him.
â€œYou the one doing that whistling?â€ she said.
The man looked at her.
â€œYes,â€ he said. â€œSometimes at night â€¦ you gotta whistle up your company, donâ€™t you?â€
â€œWhistle up your company?â€ Dr. Weisswald said.
â€œAre you coming in â€¦ or are you staying out?â€ the drifter said.
Jacali looked at Dr. Weisswald.
â€œWhistlingâ€™s keeping me up,â€ Jacali said. â€œJust hold it down a little bit.â€
â€œOnce you let go of the door,â€ the drifter said.
She glared at the man and, just for a second, his eyes glowed with an unnatural luminescence. Jacali was shocked by the strange and eerie occurrence, removing her hand from the door. The drifter closed it and they heard it lock. The two woman looked at each other before returning to their rooms.
* * *
When gunfire rang through the village in the middle of the night, it woke up several people through the town. Father Bishop got dressed, ran to Marshal Pierceâ€™s room, and banged on the door. The other man cracked the door with a gun in his hand. When he saw it was the priest, he opened the door the rest of the way.
â€œI heard some gunshots outside,â€ the priest said.
â€œAll right, let me get dressed real quick,â€ Marshal Pierce said, closing the door.
Another door opened and Lambert Otto peeked out in his long underwear and boots pulled hastily on.
â€œWhat the hell are you doing out here at this hour?â€ he said.
â€œGetting the marshal,â€ Father Bishop said.
â€œI heard a noise outside. Go back to bed, sir.â€
â€œBut â€¦ but â€¦â€
â€œIt is a matter of the law. Do not worry.â€
Marshal Pierce came out of his door.
â€œWho you talking to?â€ he said.
â€œUm â€¦ a man,â€ Father Bishop said.
He pointed at Otto. Otto looked at the man in surprise and saw his badge.
â€œYouâ€™re a marshal, arenâ€™t you?â€ he said. â€œThe marshal thatâ€™s been around town?â€
â€œYeah, Clayton Pierce,â€ the marshal said. â€œAnd you?â€
â€œLambert Otto,â€ the other man said. â€œBounty Hunter.â€
â€œLambert, get dressed,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œYouâ€™re coming with us.â€
The man scratched his head and went back into the room, quickly getting dressed. Father Bishop went to his room and retrieved his crossbow. The three of them headed downstairs and found Wilder in the saloon. They all headed out and soon found where the gunfire had come from.
Marshal Morton was in one of the crossroads of the town. Heâ€™d been gunned down and was badly injured.
â€œFather, do you know first aid?â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œWilder, are there any track?â€
The priest nodded and got to work on the man but then Marshal Morton gasped his last and died.
â€œI didnâ€™t have anything to stop the bleeding with,â€ Father Bishop said.
â€œWhatâ€™s it look like?â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œMultiple guns?â€
The priest told him the man had been hit with at least five bullets. The sheriffâ€™s own Colt Peacemaker lay on the ground next to him, still smoking. He had obviously fought back whomever attacked him.
â€œSomebody lured him out and killed him,â€ Marshal Pierce said. â€œWilder! Tracks! What do you see?â€
Wilder found a pair of footprints heading south towards Neff Hill Graveyard. Marshal Pierce said theyâ€™d go to the livery stables and get the horses.
â€œI need Jack West,â€ he said. â€œFather, go to Eastwoodâ€™s. Get the rest of them. Find a doctor that actually knows what the hell theyâ€™re doing and make sure they come. No offense, but you are a father. Wilder Man and Lambert, youâ€™re with me. Get your horses. Weâ€™re gonna ride them down.â€
* * *