Dark as a Dungeon

The Gospel According to Willard (Chapter 4)

The Trail

Wandering from the train wreck, the drunkard led us in pursuit of tracks wondering out into the wilderness. Whatever we were tracking intended for us to abandon hope of finding it, for it used all manner of crafty means to shake us from its trail. What confounded us was a patch of etched rocks that bore some sort of devil magic markings. Neither our Celestial witch, nor our Kraut man of science could make head nor tail of them.

Prosperity Falls

Eventually we stumbled upon the town of Pemberton’s Crossing, which was all but abandoned the evening we arrived. We passed an empty, but not abandoned church and livery on our way across the bridge to the town’s main street. There on main street, the town’s residents had boarded themselves and prepared various superstitious and diabolical trappings to protect themselves. Some sacrilegiously mounted crosses and employed whatever folklore wards they knew to keep something at bay.

Creatures of Darkness
After seeing a bright light and fog of tendrils approach, we heard the baying of wolves and at the townsfolk’s urgings through barred doors, we rode across the river for sanctuary. We dismounted in a haste and held up in the town’s church. Eventually, we heard the blood-curdling neighing and whinnying of our horses as they were savaged by wild, unnatural beasts. The cries were awful and finally I could stand it no more, so I stepped out into the darkness and made my way to the corral where our animals were being devoured by twisted wolves.

The Lord answered my prayers and illuminated the corral and made targets of the vicious wolves, who were plenty mortal and died and ran off quickly when faced with righteous wrath and hot lead. Surveying the carnage, though, I realized quickly that our mounts had paid the price for our cowardice. Why we holed up inside instead of making a stand, I can only attribute to the weakening influence of the Devil himself.

Defending the Sanctity of Hallowed Ground
With virtually all of our mounts dead, including my own favorite mule Malachi, the worst sort of sacrilegious blasphemy was suggested. Not once but incessantly. A cacophony of godlessness rang from the mouths of the dandy liar and other members of our band. They wanted to bring beasts of the field into your house, Lord! These animals that piss and shit so freely to defile the sanctity of your temple? Lord, my blood began to boil at the notion. With the patience of Job, I endured the first few suggestions . . . but the unclean would not cease. To demonstrate my righteous displeasure and end these profane demands, I shot the drunkard’s spare horse. None of those insisting on storing the animals in your house had a living steed themselves, or I would have chosen their steed.

The unfaithful looked at me with such scorn, Lord. As if I, who was defending the hallowed ground of your holy temple, was the villain in the affair. The Good Book says that none are beyond salvation and redemption, but that is not my purpose, Lord. Mine is to render souls unto you for judgment. When the time comes for the drunkard to be judged, Lord, I ask that you bear in mind that he neither asked that his animal be allowed to desecrate your church or protested when his animal was shot to prevent them others from forcing it in.

Vague Recollections

I also recall some business about a lying half-breed and a saloon keeper who ran his mouth a lot. The saloon keeper reminded me a lot of you know who, and I felt it best to stay clear of the place as best I could.

For all the troubles of its curse, Prosperity Falls is a place high on sass and wanting in faith. If not for my suspicion that the town’s ancestors might include god-fearing souls that dark agents of Scratch have usurped from you, I would let this wretched village perish like Sodom and Gomorrah. My hands are yours, Lord. I do your bidding in this and all things.



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