Dark as a Dungeon

The Gospel According to Willard (Chapter 5)

Wolves and Shining Knife die

The time for grasping as straws came to an end, and it was time for decisive action guided by Divinely inspired wisdom. After all, the train to Denver was due in two days, and there were pledges made to Mrs. Buechner and a town that we could not very well leave in the hands of dark spiritual forces and that misguided heathen cross-breed Shining Knife.

It was time to take account of what we knew and what we needed to know to bring justice and the Lord’s mercy to the cowardly inhabitants of Pemberton’s Crossing. Their weakness and lack of courage allowed them to eschew God and their own mettle in favor of superstitious injun magicks of Shining Wolf. They would not stand themselves against the wolves, and they allowed the diabolical fog to claim their nights while they huddled behind salt, iron, and devil magic to protect them.

These pathetic cowards did not deserve saving, but the Lord’s mercy is infinite and through His grace we found ourselves here to protect those who had grown lax in their faith.

We had reason to suspect Shining Knife was responsible for calling the diabolical fog, but his intentions seemed good and honest. He was cagey about the matter during initial probes by those engaging him. The time for pibble pabble had passed. Now was a time for plain talk with this half-redskin orphan. The boy was reluctant to provide straight responses, but ultimately his proud and boasting nature made him poor at keeping secrets and he confessed to conjuring the cloud which he claimed was comprised of his ancestral spirits. He did so to keep the wolves out of town and could not fully control the cloud which claimed members of the town like young Master Buechner. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

To test the boy’s boasts, we offered to travel to the hills and put down the wolves in their warrens. If he truly called the cloud just to defend the town, how could he refuse? The battle with the wolves was fierce, but the team acquitted ourselves nicely. The Celestial witch had trouble with her sorcery and blinded the team. The Lord saw fit to restore the vision Lucifer had taken away, and we proceeded to slay the beasts. The tenderfoot reporter, in particular, proved useful in battle. His shotgun blasts against the mother of the wolves took the fight right out of that horrific red-eyed creature.

With photos of the slaughter and the drunkard carrying the she-wolf’s hide, we returned to town and slept soundly. The next morning, we confronted Shining Knife. The threat of the wolves was gone, and now the only other unnatural evil looming to threaten Pemberton’s Crossing was one that an immature and not particularly forthcoming injun could unreliably control. My companions wanted to claim a sizable bounty for Shining Knife that would require us to bring him to Denver alive. Not serving Mammon, this reward meant little to me, but knowing the boy was a wanted man added to my suspicion of him.

We offered Shining Knife an opportunity to join us voluntarily on a trip to Denver. He’d previously refused citing his need to protect the town from the wolves. Wolves dispatched, excuse dispatched. He was reluctant to join. Leaving behind a man with such unnatural dark forces at his command seemed to much a risk, especially because this force of his had claimed Buechner’s son and others in the town. The boy owed a debt of blood.

To be sure the boy was not boasting, we baited him into beginning the summoning of the diabolical fog. When the boy began the ritual, we interrupted. The boy refused to submit to arrest when prompted by the German and despite warning walked away knowing it would mean his death. Before the drunkard or I could act, the quick-thinking doctor fired into Shining Knife’s head killing him instantly.

The cowardly locals who cowered like beaten bitch pups opened opened fire on our group. Cooler heads and the silver tongues of the tale-telling reporter and Celestial ended the gunfire. We calmly submitted to the emboldened mob and the townsfolk have detained us in a saloon. The truth shall set them free . . . or else.



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