Summary: This time of the year, halloween, horror, because of adult situations, language and possible blood and gore l have rated it MA but it’s not too naughty…if it’s not your thing just don’t click in 🙂
Rated: MA WC 18,100
Friendly Note: Please be aware that in the writing of this story, no human beings or animals were caused any undue harm or suffered any prolonged after effects:)
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
The Sisters of No Mercy
The three men knew immediately they were between a rock and a hard place, one lame horse, almost out of water and facing an opposition force of at least eight, they weren’t entirely sure, they weren’t sure either if the fella’s shooting at them were Injuns, Commanchero’s or just plain bandits and it didn’t matter none, there was no time for conversation, another shot followed by a cry brought the count down to seven, they hoped.
“No, it’s too risky Joe,” as usual the eldest and the youngest of the Cartwright brothers were disagreeing,
“Sure it’s risky , but it’s the only chance we got, lessun you can think of something?”
Hoss surveyed the situation, removing his Stetson, he scratched at his sparse head of hair and thrust the hat back on his sweating scalp, shaking his head he turned to his elder and usually wiser brother,
“Shortshanks gotta point Adam, won’t take them yahoo’s long to get above us and then,”
As one, the three men looked up into the surrounding foothills, without any further discussion, Joe checked Cooch’s cinch and grinned,
“A couple of ’em’s bound to give chase, but they won’t see me or Coochie for dust, won’t take me long to reach the outskirts of that town, it don’t look much, but, any port in a storm eh…you ole women can follow me in when you deal with the dregs that l’ve left ya,” the boy’s grinned widened it did little to belie the danger involved, swing mounting into the saddle he tipped his hat in salute,
“Ok brothers, let’s see some Cartwright fire, cover me,”
Adam and Hoss did as requested with no respect for accuracy they set off a barrage of bullets, the last they saw of their young brother was dust.
True to his word, with the confidence of his own and the black and white horses abilities Joe reached the outskirts of the ram shackled, run down excuse for a town, dismounting even before Cooch had reached a stand still, he shooed her out of the line of fire, grabbed his rifle and stood his ground, his first shot was true, horse and rider bit the dust, his second and third went astray but the fourth again found a target, two down one to go, bullets splattered around him but he had the advantage of terra firma, he knew full well that firing a gun from the back of a galloping horse was at the best anything but a random affair.
Taking a bead on the third rider he was about to pull the trigger when the man suddenly brought his horse to a shuddering halt, slightly lowering his sights Joe wondered what was on the man’s mind, what he was thinking to attempt, he appeared to not be looking straight at him, seemed to be looking over Joe’s shoulder at something behind him, but the boy wasn’t easily fooled he kept his aim steady, circling his horse the man sped away, not being of the mind set to shoot anyone in the back, Joe slackened his arm, the rider turned and fired one last lucky shot, for him yes, for Little Joe Cartwright no, the bullet found it’s mark thudding into the young man’s thigh it spun him around in a half circle and slammed him into the upright of a rickety fence, unfortunately the upright wasn’t as fragile as it looked, his head met the wood full force and knocked him almost senseless, he hit the floor face down, dazed and cussing through clenched teeth he tried to haul himself to his feet, only managing to collapse back down onto his knees, blood trickled from a gash over his eye and poured through the fingers of the hand that was clasped over the wound in his upper thigh.
He was only thankful that his Pa and brothers were nowhere in ear shot, stifled giggles prompted him to try to turn around, which only added to his problems, a red hot poker of pain slashed up and down his leg, a low groan emerged from his throat as he sunk to the ground bringing his back to rest on the offending post, frantically he tried to regain the breath that had stayed locked in his throat, agonizing waves of pain nauseated his stomach, finally he managed to open his eye’s.
Before him stood three stunningly beautiful women, his breathe once more caught in his throat.
The women were clothed shoulder to toe in black silk, fine lace veils covered their heads, but did nothing to disguise their loveliness or the uncanny likeness they had to one another, the thought crossed his mind, they were obviously sisters, if he could have been able to speak he would have been struck dumb.
The younger of the girls was already at Joe’s elbow, a small, gentle hand cupped his chin, as soft, supple fingers smoothed away the trickle of blood that had made it’s way down the side of his face, the touch, feel and scent of the girl triggered his senses, the added breathy, sweet voice, whispering in his ear, activated his body’s natural response, his fondness for the wearing of close fitting pants left very little room for expansion, now there was even less, Joe had the strange feeling that the girl, her mouth being so close to his blood smeared cheek, wanted to lick his face, he yearned for the caress of her tongue on his skin.
Overcome by a sudden weakness which he figured was due to his injuries, Joe felt light headed and dizzy, the girls fingers stroked their way upward toward the broken flesh on his forehead, he willed her hand to be stroking the part of his anatomy which was rapidly trying to rise to attention, he felt he should at least make an attempt at an apology if not for his his bulging groin at least for his foul language.
“I’m sorry mam, l think l have a…,” his faltering voice and grasp on reality were fading fast, his eye lids drooped then closed which robbed him of the macabre sight of the girl as greedily she licked the warm blood from her fingers.
“Sister!” the rebuke went ignored until the girl felt a sharp slap on her wrist.
“It’s so warm and sweet,” the girl sulked an explanation
“What a waste, sister surely we can do something,”
The second woman had dropped to her knees, the object of her distress was not the lump that had settled in the boy’s groin, but the pool of blood that was now forming beneath Joe’s thighs.
“What a waste,” she repeated, “when we need it so,”
She dipped her fingers into the warm fluid mass, raising them to her nostrils, appreciatively she sniffed, without realising her small pink tongue sensually lapped at the reddened tips.
“Stop it both of you, l am quite aware of how badly we need to feed, but look my sisters at what we have, the human is not just a bleeder he is also a breeder,”
Both girl’s dark eye’s widened at the knowledge, the eldest of the women continued,
“We only have two days more, two days in which we can breed, we can fill our veins, yes but we must fill our wombs or our species will be lost forever, look at the human, perfect, young bodied, his strength leaving him, already he is weakening and weakening fast, he will be so responsive to our powers, leave him his life juice for the moment, we will use that later, there are two others out there we will feed on them,”
The younger sisters watched in silence as their sibling moistened one palm with her spittle, then bending pressed her sticky hand down upon the oozing bullet wound, the blood slowed and eventually stopped, bringing her hand to her mouth she too tasted the red globules that clung to her palm, four smouldering, greedy eyes watched in envy, she breathed a satisfied sigh
“Oh yes sisters, it is truly sweet and warm, the finest l have tasted, but come let us feed else where,”
“I just hate it cold and all congealed, in fact l’ve heard that it is not good for you taken like that,” the younger sister sulkily grumbled.
“Be patient little one, tonight we will enjoy a warm treat, only a mouthful each mind you,” the elder sister turned to the younger , “now be good, l am aware that you have never been penetrated, l am sure your sister and l will be happy to let you join with the human first, the sensation of the seed carrier bursting forth in one’s cavity can be extremely pleasing…come now sisters,”
The three women pulled their voluminous skirts up and over their shoulders and swooped toward the corpses of the slain bandits.
“Come on Hoss you must admit it was strange the way they just up and left,”
The brothers, due to Sport’s injured foreleg and the fact that the lshooters had fled, were having this conversation as they rode double up on Chub, walking the horses in the direction of the town, the direction their younger brother had taken.
“Way l sees it elder brother that was a Blessing, why yer never happy till yer knows the reason fer every whole thing beats me, or maybe it’s because the kid turned out to be right,”
“For heavens sake Hoss, it has nothing to do with that, look, you set out to waylay, ambush, whatever, an everything’s going your way, you have even made it to higher ground and you can wipe out your target, which unfortunately just happened to be us, but suddenly you stand up, shout to your buddies and they all high tail it out of there, why would anyone do that?”
“Like l said brother a Blessing…daburnit but them critturs turn mah stomach, they hardly wait fer a body tah stop breathing,”
The brothers had come across a flock of great black buzzards feeding on the bodies of two men,
“Aint never seen ’em that big have you?”
“No l haven’t Hoss but buzzards big or small are not at the top of my list of concerns,”
Taking his gun from it’s holster Hoss fired, not aiming at the great birds, for it was not in the man’s nature to deliberately harm any creature, aiming above them was enough though to send the scavengers soaring into the blue, Hoss watched mesmerized, “l reckoned there was more than three,”
“Little brother obviously got two of them,” Adam noted,
In bewilderment Hoss shook his head, “not them dead fella’s, l was meaning them feathered undertakers,”
Adam gave a small sigh, his inner senses alerting him to something not quite right
“Hoss it’s too quiet, if the kid had made it he would have sent help or be on his way back or even sent up a signal, l thought to stop and bury these poor souls but l think we ought to press on,”
A sense of foreboding descended on the brothers as they drew nearer to the obviously abandoned town, worried for their Little Joe’s safety they urged Chub into trot, Adam dropped his injured horse’s looped rein and let Sport follow at his own pace.
Before long they were standing over their stricken brother, the pool of blood had dried in the sun and soaked into the dust, Hoss checked for vital signs and was thankful to feel a faint but regular pulse and that Joe’s breathing although shallow was also regular, satisfied that his brother’s leg wasn’t broken, and that the head injury didn’t look to need stitches, he hoped that it wasn’t too serious, he knew though he had to wait till Joe had recovered consciousness to confirm this opinion, but thankfully both injuries had ceased bleeding, which was a good sign, with Adam’s help he hoisted his brother on to his broad shoulder and made for the centre of the deserted town.
The run down Hotel looked to be the best option, finding a fairly usable room, they made Joe as comfortable as possible, Adam decided to check out the doctors surgery they had passed on the way to the Hotel and Hoss went to get water and find some way of heating it, by the time Adam had returned Hoss had stripped the young Cartwright of his blood soaked pants, complaining that as usual the kid never troubled to wear drawers, then provided himself a logical explanation as to why the boy resorted to this lack of clothing.
Fortunately it didn’t take long to remove the bullet, lodged as it was in the fleshy part of Joe’s inner thigh, and even more fortunately Little Joe remained unaware of the whole proceedings, both brothers agreeing in accordance with Doc Martin’s usual prognosis, that as long as an infection didn’t set in, the patient would be fine.
Satisfied with the outcome and that Joe was sleeping peacefully, Adam and Hoss decided to investigate the town and forage for anything that would be remotely useful, knowing that they were ostensible trapped for a least two days, not being able to leave Joe and with Sport’s lameness they had no option but to wait for the West bound Stage Coach, on it’s way to Virginia City, not that it stopped in the town but the trail ran very close by.
On their return back to the Hotel both men had the same perturbed, uneasy feeling that their every move and step had been watched., after discussing their fears they decided it was due to the empty town combined with their recent life threatening experience and the fact that they were so dog tired they were ready to drop, never-the-less they agreed upon setting a watch, after once more checking their sleeping brother, Adam retired to the room next door, Hoss settled on the moth eaten sofa at the top of stairs.
As much as he fought against it Hoss’s eyelids began to droop and then finally closed, only to spring open at the muffled sound of voices, pushing his large bulk upright he sped to his young brother’s room, the boy was sleeping peacefully, slightly warm to touch but not feverish, it was Joe’s tendency to nightmares, and also to walk and talk in his sleep, Hoss reckoned it was Joe that had woken him, now that he was up he also looked into the next room, Adam had crashed out fully clothed onto the bed one hand was thrust under the pillow, Hoss reckoned rightly that his brother was fisting his gun.
Satisfied that everything was OK he returned to the uncomfortable sofa, never-the-less within minutes sleep once more stole in upon him.
The sisters were in a state of unsuppressed excitement, they had feasted more than adequately and they now had two more suitable breeders, strong virile and what was more they were brothers, this they found, for no good reason to be an added bonus, the sisters were ready to proceed with their fiendish plans to save their species.
First, as the elder sister had promised they would enjoy the warm sweet nectar that flowed in the young humans veins, and then the breeding procedure would commence, she knew that the young man being already weakened would be able to offer little or no resistance, the two new candidates handsome, in human form though they were, this was not a necessary requirement, they were both physically and emotionally strong which meant they could be difficult to possess, but there again they only had the two days and the risk was well worth the taking, after all if they failed the breeding, they would still be excellent to feast upon
“Surely sister,” the second sister inquired, “a little teasing is not to be passed over, and it could very well weaken a strong resolve,”
“Of course you are right sister, you never know, human passion is an extremely tenuous emotion, we may very well over power one or both, just long enough to complete the procedure, come let us drink to our success.”
The three women their eye’s dark and sparkling with desire congregated on either side of Joe’s bed, at a given signal the younger girls neatly folded down the bed sheet, then taking an arm in each of their hands, they waited for the elder sister to withdraw the small silver dagger from her sleeve, raising the glistening knife she reminded her sisters not to loose control and not to use their finely pointed fangs, they were only allowed to suck, with two swift, deft movements she nicked each arm, just above the wrists, Joe’s arms were raised, his flesh oozing crimson was pressed against the two open mouths, allowing the sisters to drink the boys life fluid, within moments a clicking of fingers brought an end to the sisters brief, liquid repast, they stood back from the bed pursing their mouths and licking the traces of Little Joe’s life blood from their lips, they watched their elder sister as she, as before, with her own spit stemmed the blood flow, it was now her turn, lifting Joe’s thigh, which caused the boy to grimace and whimper, she removed the bandage and pressed her lips to the wound drawing the red fluid into her mouth, within minutes the boy’s discomfort was evident, his breathing became ragged, his chest heaved as he gasped for air, hastily she exhaled, begrudgingly she replaced the bandages and lay the injured limb back onto the blood stained bed..
The three sisters, gazed with a longing desire at the boys heavily perspiring prone figure.
“Little sister, he will offer no resistance, it is time for your penetration, come sister, we will tend to the others, my desire for the feel and touch of human flesh is strong, l always have found fresh warm human life juice to be a powerful aphrodisiac.
The human lay stretched out before her, naked apart from the sheet which lay neatly folded across his groin, due to the boy running a slight temperature, a fine film of perspiration, covered his smooth, muscled frame giving it, in the darkened room, an ethereal glow.
Slowly the black silk gown fell from her shoulders, swishing to the floor, her naked body rose from the ground and hovered inches above Joe’s, with fluttering fingers and tongue she caressed every part of his soft flesh, whispering breathy enchantments, she brought the boy to a height of sexual excitement, he responded to her enticement with soft groans and murmurs, his body aching with her every touch, as his breathing escaped from his lungs in rapid gasps his eye’s flickered open, the sexual stimulus he was experiencing surged through his body in waves of burning ecstasy, he felt her fingers drawing him into a delicious whirl of desire, her eye’s possessed him, he gazed in awe at her milky white nakedness and pleaded for her to help him, the ache from his injuries became secondary, for his need to touch and caress her was overpowering, as much as he tried to move his arms, hands even his fingers, he couldn’t, he was paralysed, he cried out to her, he begged, pleaded, horror blended with passion as he, aghast watched her raise herself above his groin, his manhood stood, engorged, proud and ready, it too demanding release, his whole being trembled, his eye’s widened in horror as she descended upon him her legs spread, moisture dripped from her opening, hot droplets, stinging his flesh, his cry of pain dissolved into a guttural groan, as downward with a fierce thrust she straddled him, he was trapped inside her, fisted hands pawed and pummelled his smooth, tanned chest, savagely she took him, writhing back and forth until with a cry of orgasmic agony his body and hers were bound in a flow of inhuman reproduction.
Adam awoke with a sudden awareness that, something, a feeling akin to ‘having someone walk over one’s grave’ had swept over his body, goosebumps raised the hair on his arms and the small curls on the back of his neck to a tingled expectancy of something almost evil, his body, especially his groin, in total opposition, ached and throbbed with an unreleased passion, he had no need to glance at his trousers, even so he did, hastily he undid the buttons to give release to his swollen cock…it took no more than a few strokes to bring himself to a necessary but not enjoyable climax…his nerves and senses were raw, listening for any sound, his tawny eye’s strained to see in the darkened room, any movement any clue to explain his almost irrational paranoia, someone or something was near and watching…moans of rapture that he had believed were part of his own extremely sexual dream were evidently being experienced by someone else.
The blackness of his attire blended well with the shadowed interior of the hallway, he, himself became a shadow, he watched transfixed as his brother, groaned and writhed in a simulation of passionate enjoyment, even before he had raised a hand to shake the big shoulder, Hoss shuddered to a climax,
“Dadburn Adam…what in tarnation, lawdy,” feeling the sticky wetness in his groin, Hoss fiddled with his pants, “aint had one of them in years, gimme a moment brother, anyhows what’s the problem?” Hoss grinned in the darkness, continuing to chatter to disguise his embarrassment, “sorry musta nodded off, had one humdinger of a dream though,”
“Yes, brother so did l,” before Hoss could reply Adam turned and hurriedly strode along the corridor to Little Joe’s room, still pulling at his pants Hoss quickly followed.
“Kid sure looks like his running a fever, ya think he’s got an infection Adam?”
“He’s got something but it isn’t an infection,”
Joe’s skin, and bed sheets were saturated, damp with perspiration, with no thought for the boys dignity, Adam snatched at the top sheet which was wrapped, entwined in Joe’s legs doing very little to cover the boy’s sweat slicked body,
“Hey, Adam that aint hardly right,” Hoss protested,
“I agree, brother but it is necessary,” finally managing to free the coverlet and expose Joe’s genitalia it was plainly obvious to both brothers that he had also had a similar experience, he remained oblivious, asleep or unconscious but still in a state of semi arousal.
“Aint hardly possible, is it, all three of us is it?…Adam ya reckon it’s coz of the dark or summit, l aint seen Little Joe’s skin so white, aint a speck of colour in his face?”
Not waiting for the any answers Hoss, proceeded with a third question,
“Whatya reckons goin on here Adam?”
Choosing to give no reply, Adam’s hard, cold expression brought a puckered frown to the younger man’s face,
“Turn that lamp up, don’t open this door to anyone but me, from now on Joe is not to be left alone,”
The puckered frown changed to a look of serious concern,
“Adam, whatya saying?…whereya going?”
Before he left the room the tall man turned,
“You heard me stay here and keep the door closed,”
Hoss was torn, he scanned the bed where his sleeping younger brother lay, looking closer to death than life, then turned his attention to the closed door and the fear that he should be at the side of his elder brother, he was aware that his brother was keeping something from him, but his confidence in Adam spurred him to do his bidding, so he sat in the shadow by the bed and waited for his brothers return.
In the rafters of an old barn at the edge of town the three sisters sat shoulder to shoulder looking onto the deserted street, they watched as the tall man exited the Hotel, inspected left and right then strode toward the old Livery Stables.
“Sisters we have only one more night, no time in which to possess a human such as he is, his thoughts are too strong, to curious, too cunning, we must concentrate on the weak one,”
“What about the big human, surely he has seed perfect for our needs?”
“I have no doubt about that, but we are running out of time, the big man’s mind and thoughts are pure in their simplicity, it too would take a great deal of not just time but strength and as we approach the final day our strength will fail, we have the advantage of the young humans frailty from loss of blood and we must use it…second sister you too must become impregnated, little sister has succeeded, the humans seed has fertilized her womb, she is carrying the future of our species, she must be protected…come rest we can do no more, we wait for dusk and we will be ready.”
With a sigh of relief Hoss sprang to his feet,
“Dadburn it brother, whereya been?, ya sure had me spitting feathers,”
Adam walked to his brothers bedside, laying his hand on Joe’s forehead, he shook his head, he would of preferred some kind of heat to have met his flattened palm, not the cool, cold touch of death.
“How’s the kid?”
“Nary a peep from him, and he aint feverish, l sure as hell wish he was…thrashing about, crying out, he aint moved…come on brother, stop giving orders an asking questions tell me whatya think, whatya know is going on?
Turning from the bed, he took pity on his younger brother,
“l’m sorry Hoss, l shouldn’t of been so short with you…listen l could sure use a cup of coffee,”
“Me too brother,” Hoss friendly slapped his brother’s back and softly punched his arm, “ elder brother l’ll rustle up the coffee but ya gotta do your part,”
Hoss returned with the mugs of steaming black liquid, setting them down, he made himself comfortable, Adam, whilst his brother had been downstairs brewing the coffee, had dragged the flea bitten sofa from the hall and the mattress he had been sleeping on, into the room that he and his brothers would occupy until tomorrow when they would leave to take the stage that passed the outskirts of the town.
“In your own time brother, you just work away, l aint going no place,”
“You remember those fella’s up and ran off, you thought it was a Blessing?”
“Yer said they was shouting about the devil’s sisters, sirens and such like,”
Now it was time for Adam to nod, he then asked of his brother to listen and not to interrupt, to leave any questions till he had heard him out.
Adam proceeded to try and explain to put into words the inconceivable thoughts that were spinning around in his head, an explanation that he himself dared not to believe, to try to tell his brother of the dark, evil, occult influences and beings that were trying, and may well have succeeded, especially where Little Joe was concerned, to infiltrate their bodies, to possess their minds, their very souls.
Hoss’s disbelief whether by non-understanding or incomprehension, Adam was not sure, was evident.
“Adam, are yer telling me you believe all this to be true, these suckybusses, changings, vampeers, aint that stuff all just sorta like fairy stories?”
Adam shrugged, the black clad shoulders rose and fell, his hands cupped his chin, then drawing them together as in prayer he moved them upwards toward his scalp, separating his palms as his fingers scratched their way through his dark hair.
“Hoss l have tried to give you some kind of explanation to what l, and you have seen over the last twenty four hours, what more is to come l do not know, l can do no more than that, all l ask is that you do everything l tell you or ask of you, and then hopefully with the Good Lord’s help we can all make it home in one piece,”
“Elder brother, l hear what you’re saying and can see with my own eye’s what’s been happening, but l can hardly believe any of it, but when it comes to saying and doing, you do the saying and l’ll do the doing,”
The brothers clasped each other as only brothers or true friends can, “the dawn is almost upon us, an l knows one thing l aint doing an that’s shutting ma eye’s, do ya ‘spect ’em back?”
Adam shook his head,
“No Hoss, the hour’s of darkness are these evil bitches playground, but we won’t take any chances, one of us must be with Joe until we get on that stage, one thing l am sure of, they are bound to this town in some way or another, they will not travel far outside the perimeter…try and get some shut eye while the sun is up, l got a feeling once it goes down we will need to be on our toes,”
“An what about you brother?”
“First l am going to take a leaf out of Pa’s book,”
“Pray Hoss l am going to pray,”
“Amen to that,”
Both men lowered their heads, clasped their hands and fervently asked for deliverance.
Sunlight streamed through the window it’s soft warmth sweeping his face in a welcoming caress, slowly Joe opened his eyes, immediately pressing them tight shut as the harsh glare stabbed at his pupils, turning his head from the light he flickered his eyelids, testing the brightness, he wondered why his brothers lay huddled together on the floor, Hoss having the better part of the deal as Adam’s long lean body lay disproportionately between the mattress and the bare boards, but his mind and thoughts were a jumble of bizarre unexplained occurrences he chose to ignore his sleeping brothers.
He remembered getting shot, he also remembered the women, especially the young one, tending to him, he also remembered that she had come to him, or was that a dream, it felt so real, it had to be real, even now he could feel the pleasures he had shared with her, but at the back of his mind somewhere in a dark recess he could also recall a feeling of horror, terror, but not the reasoning for such fears.
Closing his eye’s this time to the throbbing in both his head and leg, his immediate pressing problem was the desert forming in his throat and mouth, he had noticed a pitcher on the table at the side of the bed, he hoped it held water, once more opening his eye’s he faced the jug, so near yet so far, just out of reach of his outstretched arm, he would have to sit up and push himself across the bed, apart from any movement sending shooting pains from his leg to the top of his head and down again, an incredible weakness made it almost impossible for him to raise his hand let alone his body.
Never-the-less his craving for water was paramount, he struggled till his breathing turned to panting gasps, redoubling his efforts his fingers touched and almost grasped the jug but he could not get any purchase on the handle, only succeeded in pushing the pitcher further away from himself, to the very edge of the table it slid, he watched in misery as slowly it toppled over, and yes it was full of water, which Adam to his alarm also found out, the jug falling on to his chest rolled onto the floor, the contents splashing his face and pouring down his shoulder brought him to a sudden awakening, trying to back away from the unexpected drenching he fell against the massive snoring mound that was his younger brother, Adam’s groans of annoyance were interspersed with a bear like roar, Hoss belying his bulk leaped to his feet, the rifle he had been cuddling clasped firmly between his large hands.
The muffled giggle from the bed forced both the elder Cartwright’s to turn and view the younger, Adam, moping the water from his head and shoulders was the first to make any comment,
“Well, little brother, you must be feeling better?”
This remark was in total contradiction to his brothers physical appearance, Joe stared back at him, his dull, lifeless, dark circled eye’s loomed large from a sickly, pasty, white face, a small grin fixed on his slightly open mouth as he tried to ease his jerking gasps for breathe brought a strained tightness to his lips.
“Feeling fine,” he openly lied, “just a bit thirsty, sorry for the drenching, reckon though it’s time you fella’s got outa your pit,”
Joe’s wispy, reedy voice gave further evidence to the falsehood, Hoss retrieved the jug, that had thankfully remained intact due to Adam’s hirsute, muscled chest breaking it’s fall, and what is more it still held a small amount of water, Hoss poured the contents into a glass and handed it to Joe, both brothers noted Little Joe’s shaking hand, plus the effort it took him to raise his head, with Adam’s help he managed to sit up against the head board, Hoss went to refill the empty jug, Adam turned to the window lifting the catch he pushed it open, a warm refreshing breeze filled the room, remembering his brother he turned back to the bed.
“You OK with that Joe, not too cold?”
“Nah, not a bit cold, feels good,”
The empty glass that had been clutched in Joe’s shaky grip, had slipped sideways on the bed, removing it from his brothers hand Adam was startled at the boy’s icy fingers,
“You sure you’re warm enough,”
“Sure, l told you l’m fine,”
“Sure you are,” Adam agreed.
Joe closed his eye’s, as his elder brother fussed with the bedding, Adam wasn’t satisfied until the blanket was covering his brothers arms and shoulders, he pondered at the small incisions on the boys arms, quizzically he looked at his brother, Joe’s eye’s were closed, he decided not to worry him.
“Adam?”not waiting for any response Joe continued,“Adam where are the women, have they left?”
“Mmm, the ‘women’…to be truthful little brother, neither Hoss or l have seen any women, were they not just a figment of that fine imagination of yours?”
“No…no, they weren’t…no, they were as…as re…as real…re…,” Joe’s voice trailed off.
Hoss returned with the water pitcher in one hand and two mugs of coffee fisted in the other,
Placing the jug on the table, he refilled the empty glass,
“He’s asleep,” Adam advised, Hoss nodded and once more left the room he returned from the lower floor, this time he brought a tray holding three bowls, Adam stopped him from disturbing Joe.
“He’s gotta eat something Adam, look at him, he looks half ways to the grave, yer can jist abouts see through his skin.”
Adam agreed but wanted a moment with Hoss, instilling in him the necessity to rest and get more sleep in the day light hours, as they would have a fight on their hands, not a fight where they could use guns and bullets in the usual manner, Hoss was still having trouble trying to comprehend the enormity of the situation.
“Adam, the kid keeps talking about the women, l aint seen not another soul, who we gonna be fighting?”
“Listen closely to me brother, be happy you don’t see anyone or anything,” handing his brother two small cork plugs, Hoss took the items, stared at them in puzzlement.
“What in tarnation are these for?”
Adam went on to explain, as soon as it was dusk Hoss was to place the cork plugs in his ears, Adam had another pair for Little Joe, he had made them from discarded whiskey bottle corks, if Joe and Hoss couldn’t hear the enticing enchantments from the women they would be protected, Adam held up the palm of his hand to quieten his brother, and continued, telling Hoss he had to forget all Pa’s teaching and lessons on courtesy and manners afforded to the female sex, these women, if one could call them that, and undoubtedly beautiful they were, but they were evil, unearthly beings, they would have to be killed, he was not to think of them as women, they could only be destroyed when they were in their womanly form, when these beings were in their immortal form, which was the shape and appearance of giant buzzards they were immune to bullets, fists, clubs, and yes he had tried to leave the perimeter of the town, he was forced back by the huge birds, it would be impossible to make a run for it, what with Little Joe’s condition and Sport’s lameness, which he hoped would not give them trouble tomorrow, when they would take their only chance, the passing stage, but tonight they had the ultimate fight on their hands, good against evil.
Hoss spoke not a word, but gave Adam a bowl of a food, warm grits mixed with dried fruit, not a feast but edible, then he turned to see to Joe.
“If you can get him to eat any of that Hoss you are a better man than l,”
Hoss grinned, a forced strained grin which stayed on his lips, never touching his icy blue eye’s.
Waking his brother, much to the Joe’s disgust and annoyance, and mainly because of his debility Hoss managed to force the boy to swallow a number of spoons full of the mixture, finally satisfied he helped his brother to a second glass of water, the exertion of eating brought about another bout of fatigue, even before he had finished his drink Joe was once more asleep.
Hoss sat down to eat his own food, it mattered not to him that it was cold and starting to congeal, the fact that he had something to do, prepare the meager meal, see to his brother, eat his own food, these basic functions took his mind away from the mass of questions that were building in his mind, he continued to eat .
In silence Adam sat and waited, he knew Hoss would ask questions as and when he felt the need, the determined look on his brothers face strengthened Adam’s reserve, if there was one man in Nevada and beyond that he could rely on it was his brother.
Adam’s worry now was had he remembered everything, he felt slightly ridiculous, he the scholar, the ‘Professor’ as Little Joe called him, trying to think of the ways and means to defeat vampires, demonic creatures, changeling’s, the evil succubus that were draining the very life blood from his young brothers body, if it wasn’t happening in front of his eye’s he would be the first to argue and dispute the validity of the situation, would have said it was all a dream, one of Joe’s crazy nightmares, but it wasn’t, in a short few hours he and his brothers would be extremely lucky to get away with their lives.
“What about you brother, where are your plugs?”
Hoss of course did not agree, but could offer no argument to Adam’s decision that he would be the ‘fly in the spiders web’ he would succumb to the lures of the enchantress’s, enabling and allowing them to visit him in their female form, which would give Hoss the opportunity to destroy the sirens, Little Joe of course being unable to offer any help or assistance.
And so the day drew on, dusk was upon them, as well as the corks to block Joe’s ears, Adam had administered a small dose of laudanum, which he thought and hoped would keep his young brother safe and free from the expected return of the women, he was sure that Little Joe was the target of these female atrocities.
The sisters stood shoulder to shoulder in the gloomy darkness of the Hotel, determined in their quest to prolong their heinous species, the elder of the three spoke, her words hissing and insidious spilled from deep red, almost black lips.
“You both know what has to be done, our only concern is for the continuation of our race, the survival of the species is tantamount, even to the point of our own destruction,” her eye’s dwelt upon the second sister, “we are expendable,” she turned her gaze, lovingly to the youngest of the three, “you are not, you must save yourself at all costs…are we prepared?”
“Adam yer gotta open that window? aint no air in here, aint hardly healthy,”
Bemused, Adam looked up at his big brother, considering what was ahead of them a bit of warm, stale, air was the least of his worries, fear and concern jostled for dominance in the clear blue eye’s that stared down at him from beneath Hoss’s furrowed brow, without saying a word he stood, as he passed he gave his brothers shoulder a quick squeeze, Hoss sat slumped at the end of the bed where Joe lay.
Even in his drugged sleep Joe’s eye’s moved and twitched beneath their lids, Adam dared not to think what visions and dreams were pursuing his brothers troubled mind, the boys shallow breathing catching in gasps as he murmured and whimpered in his delirium.
Releasing the latch Adam pushed open the window, the cooling evening breeze flooded in, fanning his face with it’s sweet, refreshing air, it hurried to dissolve the room of the stifling odour, but the stench of fear stayed in his nostrils.
For a few moments he stayed at the window, gazing out at the setting sun he wondered at its glory, hues of pale yellow, orange and pink streaked the dusky, cloudless sky, the beauty of nature seemed to him at that moment to be unsurpassed, he looked out across the dry prairie to the horizon at the dying sun sinking before his eye’s, it seemed also to mock him, how could such malevolence, evil stand, even exist, side by side with the beauty and goodness of God’s ordinance, he turned his eye’s westward to home where he knew that very same sun was with it’s last rays bathing the Ponderosa, his whispered words carried away into the golden night were heard only by himself and his maker.
“l’ll bring them home Pa, l promise you that, l’ll bring them home.”
“Hoss you get some sleep,” Adam turned from the window
“Adam don’t ya reckon we should both be on our toes?”
“Trust me Hoss, you will be more help to me if you do as l ask, l am relying on you brother, remember these things may look like women but they are not, you must put that they are women right out of your head, they are evil and they will kill me and you to get at Joe, he is there target… you get some shut eye now,”
“Don’t ya fret none, l hear ya brother, for now anyways,”
Hoss placed the small corks into his ears, smiled at the serious, dead pan face of his elder brother, checked both his six gun and rifle, made himself as comfortable as possible, pulled the big hat down over his face, then closed his eyes and tried to grab at slumber, it was useless, although his body was resting his mind was in turmoil, sleep was impossible, but he remained in repose, hoping that this would ease his brothers mind, even if it was doing very little to ease his own, without hearing a sound he knew that Adam had crossed the room, he also knew exactly what he was doing.
Returning to the mattress on the floor Adam stopped at the bed, and stretched out one long arm, rested his open palm upon the side of his youngest brothers head, gently he moved the straggling curls that half covered one ear, then taking Joe’s chin in his fingers he moved the boy’s head and repeated the action, finally satisfied that both corks were secure, a wry smile twisted at his mouth, boy’s due a hair cut he mused, under his hat Hoss sucked through his teeth and chewed on his lower lip, he’d listened to his elder brothers warnings but he still had no idea what to expect, but whatever it was he would be ready, a drowsy calmness came over him within minutes he was asleep.
Adam lay back on the mattress, deliberating on what else he could do, on what he had done and hoping that he had done enough to ensure the safety of his brothers, a drowsy calmness swept over him within minutes he was asleep.
Adam had never in his life felt so relaxed at peace, the sweet scent of spring flowers wafted on a light breeze, playing with his sense of smell, the trickling, gurgling sound of a nearby stream was music to his ears, in his minds eye he could see it polishing small pebbles to a glistening shine as it passed along it’s way, the lush green, growth beneath him cushioned his back, it pleased him to pinch the daisy like flowers of the wild camomile and then bring his hand and fingers to his face and drink in the apple scented aroma.
As he lay eye’s closed feasting his senses an overpowering surge of passion swept over him, now the only thing that would please him was the feel of a woman’s soft flesh, feel his hands tracing the curvaceous outline, running the tips of his fingers from the back of her neck and shoulders down into the small dip at the base of her spine then to palm and squeeze the rounded buttock cheeks… he could almost feel the mottled hardness of an aroused nipple, feel it between his fingers, to roll, to tweak, nip and suck upon.
He was amazed at the powerful awareness of his senses for he knew he was dreaming, he was certain he was dreaming, just where or when he had fallen asleep he couldn’t recall, the urge to awaken, the need to awaken overcame him, to counteract the dread of something unnatural trying to control him.
Vainly he struggled to open his eyes, his lids were heavy as lead, as if the tips of some ones fingers were pressing on them keeping them closed.
Startled, a pleasant cool, fine spray of water rained down, the droplets feather soft on his skin, the gurgle of the stream became a soft voice in his ear, again he forced himself to prise open his eye’s, the fingers pressed, the soft voice whispered for him to feel, to touch, to listen, her soft words dripped into his ears as honey onto warm biscuits, slowly spreading it’s sweetness.
The pressure lifted, his eye’s remained closed, small tipped fingers stroked his face tracing their way down his neck to caress and twirl at the small curls of hair covering his chest, he made no resistance as his shirt was unbuttoned, he shrugged the material from his arms and shoulders, the palms and fingers touched and twirled, a moist soft tongue flicked across his nipples, lapping at them, both the small round buttons, surrounded in soft black fuzz hardened to arousal, the fingers twisted and turned at the fine curled hairs, tracking their way down his chest, closely followed by the licking tongue the searching fingers rested in his naval, only to undo the barrier of pant buttons then continued down the hairy, black trail that ended at the base of his engorged phallus, the fingers worked their way round the stiffened organ around down and under.
Adams breath caught in a gasp of pleasure as the cupped hand caressed and squeezed his aching scrotum, his balls heavy with unleashed seminal fluid, his pleasure heightened as the flicking, licking tongue settled itself at the pulsing head of his rigid shaft, he raised his hips to meet what only in his minds eye he could see, warm breath drifted down his cock as he pushed upward into the open mouth waiting to encase, suck and pull him to a desired climax, a savage, primeval roar emerged from his throat, followed by a groan of ecstasy as the demanding mouth ceased and was replaced by a tight, wet canal of fire, the woman leaned over him, stiff nipples, fronted the breasts brushing against his hirsute chest, his moans increased as his hips and cock propelled his seed upward, a final guttural cry of satisfaction heralded his complete and total emptying.
He’s desire sated, his body physically spent, Adam couldn’t understand why or what was preying on his mind.
Even in his drugged sleep Joe felt the searching fingers seeking and touching, she had come back to him, her hands roamed over his body, his eye’s slowly flickered open, several times he blinked to clear his vision, this wasn’t right, it wasn’t her, his body was ready to enjoy her delights, his manhood firm and strong, the throbbing in his balls aching for release…
No, he couldn’t betray her, shaking his head, he tried to deny the lustful yearning, tried to turn away from the woman whose hands and mouth were bringing his body to sexual arousal, he felt useless…used…his weakness angered him, his disobedient body angered him, passion gave way to a rising fury, his anger gave him an added strength, in desperation he tossed his head from side to side, his shoulders responded as his strength increased he tried to kick out, kick the woman away from him, away from the bed, he yelled for her to get away, he glared transfixed in horror, his eye’s not wanting to see or believe what was happening before him.
The woman was hovering above him preparing to straddle his body, he cried out in disgust, he had seen this before in a dream, a nightmare, a horrible, grotesque nightmare, or was this the same nightmare, he brought his hands down to cover his full, throbbing, erection, trying to think of something, anything other than what was happening to him, he wanted release, relief, to spill his seed anywhere but not inside the evil , however beautiful it seemed, this vision of evil that was looking down upon him.
He tried to envisage the most embarrassing thing that he could think of, but his mind was full of sexual longing, sex, that was it sex, the shame he would feel if his Pa caught him in the act, fucking, even worse if he caught his Pa…his mind gradually overcame his desire, he sighed with relief as his body responded.
Grabbing for the sheet to cover his nakedness, his body shuddered with terror, in front of his eyes the woman changed took on the form of a large black bird, it’s outspread wings flapping, his eye and mind so fixed upon this transmogrification he didn’t at first realise that though he could see the black flapping wings he could hear not a sound, he could neither remember hearing his own screams, it wasn’t real, he begged, pleaded and prayed that this couldn’t be real, it was all a hideous silent nightmare, he called on his Pa his brothers on God to wake him, to take it away, to no avail, the beaked head, it’s mouth open made a stab at him, vigorously he moved his head from side to side trying to avoid the creature, suddenly the sound of flapping and squawking assaulted his eardrums, the noise that assailed his ears was now deafening…even so the silence was worse, he struggled to get up off of the bed, knock the vicious apparition from his sight , the thing returned to a female form, dragging his hands through his hair he recalled his elder brothers words to try and convince himself that it was all happening in his head, the nightmares he had as a child when he would go running to his brothers bedroom, or more often Adam or Hoss would rush in to his room, to his rescue.
‘It’s only a nightmare, it’s only a nightmare, it’s only a nightmare’
Once more the woman was upon him, backed up against the head board of the bed he shoved her away, in his mind he continued his mantra,
‘It’s only a nightmare, it’s only a nightmare, it’s only a nightmare’
He could see his brothers big white hat, he called once, twice, three times there was no response, now all he could here was groaning and moaning, he couldn’t tell where it was coming from, maybe himself, he ducked and flung a wild punch as the bird woman’s beak tried to peck at his head, cringing as his fist made contact with a feathered wing and passed straight through it, the thing once more became a woman, as hard as he could he struck a back handed blow across the beautiful face, but there was little strength in the blow, she grinned wickedly turning his blood to ice, she came for him again, trapped he could move no further away to avoid the puckering lips and snakelike tongue.
A savage roar turned his head, ducking from the monster he was barely able to make out Adam half naked laying beneath two women, one straddled his groin, whilst the other caressed his body, the rage that swept through him renewed his waning strength, his girl in the throes of her own orgasm brought his brother to an untamed, bestial climax.
Throwing himself across the bed he grabbed for the only thing in his reach, the large pitcher of water, this time he flung it across the room, it crashed against the head of the woman stroking and caressing his brother’s chest, stunned she fell to the mattress, the cold water drenching his body, brought Adam to his senses, grabbing the woman on top of him by the shoulders he flung her away from his body, she fell heavily against the wall, shards of the broken vase struck Hoss on his hand jerking him from an enchanted sleep leaping to his feet, he found Adam struggling with two women, and Joe writhing on the bed where a great black bird was perched on his chest, Joe’s arms were flaying in all directions trying to prevent the beast from pecking at his face and eye’s, Hoss holding his rifle as a club swung at the bird, he couldn’t remember whether or which or what he should do, it was good enough for him that whatever it was, it was attacking his little brother, he swung back and forth with the rifle, one second he was attacking a bird the next a naked woman, as luck would have it, with one massive blow he struck just as it was morphing back into a feathered state, he made direct contact with woman’s head, the half creature was knocked toward the window, shrieking, blood pouring from a cracked skull, Hoss turned his attention back to Adam, both women now birds were pecking and scratching with their razor like beaks and talons, a cacophony of flapping and shrieking squawks filled the room, made worse by Joe yelling curses as he managed to throw himself from the bed only to fall heavily, half stunned, on to one of the bird’s, his body passed through the creature onto the mattress, the winged monster immediately proceeded to peck at him, Hoss of course could hear nothing, and it mattered not, still brandishing his club he weighed in, suddenly both birds swooped upward together they turned and made for the half open window, stretching down their vicious talons to grab the half creature that lay bleeding on the floor, the winged monsters crashed threw the window, Adam, now on his feet rushed after Hoss both brothers fired shots at the feathered vampires as they disappeared over the rooftops.
Adam stood shirtless blood oozing from various wounds and scratches, Hoss repeatedly asked him if he was OK, to which he repeatedly replied that he was it took a few moments for either man to realise that Hoss still had the corks in his ears, once they were removed they hugged each other, streaks of red transferred itself to Hoss’s shirt, they looked around the blood spattered, feather strewn room, Little Joe his body like Adams, scratched, torn and bloodied, he lay naked and motionless face down on the mattress.
“Joe” Hoss gasped a cry.
Even before they crossed the room Adam and Hoss, with sighs of relief saw their young brother stir and move, their sighs of relief turned to stifled chortles, which in turn changed to uproarious laughter as they watched him struggle to his knees, several times he pushed his bare butt upwards trying to take weight on his elbows which would enable him to push himself to his feet, the more he tried the more his elbows buckled and slid beneath him bringing his buttocks and swinging genitalia flopping back down to the mattress they laughed until their eyes were streaming,
“Elder brother l aint seena purty’er pair of cheeks since that little heifer got stuck in the mud by the Truckee, an that’s the truth,”
“Hoss l don’t know about prettier but it is certainly the funniest pair of cheeks l’ve seen,”
Exhausted by his attempts to stand and not wanting to be at the brunt of his brothers humour, which he knew was nothing more than a combined release for the fear and horror they had all experienced, Joe discontinued his efforts, laying flat out on his belly he turned his head to look up at Adam and Hoss.
“l caint see what you too hyena’s got to laugh at, l been near fucked to death by a woman that can fly, and pecked to death by a bird that l can punch my fist through, and l don’t know which was worse,”
This statement brought about a further attack of hysteria, finally managing to compose themselves, Adam took pity on the youngest Cartwright.
“Come on Hoss, let’s give the kid a hand we can’t leave a small part of the family jewels permanently on display,”
Joe’s disgruntled squeaked echo of ‘small’ almost set the brothers off again.
Turning onto his back Joe took both of the hands that were offered, even so his legs buckled beneath him and he had to be helped onto the bed.
The adrenalin rush that had kept all three brothers battling had passed, subdued, they sat side by side, shoulder to shoulder trying to understand and knowing they never would.
“Reckon l’d best get those cuts cleaned up,” Hoss suggested
“Where the hell are my pants?” Joe questioned
“l got a feeling this is not over,”
“Whatya mean they gone aint they, Adam yer never happy with how things turn out?”
“Hoss l’m not saying it for the sake of it or to scare either of you…,”
“Well your doing a good joba scaring the hell outa me,” Joe interrupted
Adam shrugged and walked over to the window, there was still hours to dawn, he couldn’t shake the feeling that they were not yet out of the woods, he hoped he was wrong, but he knew he wasn’t, why had they left so suddenly, he just had a bad feeling, the sort of ‘bad feeling’ that his father often got, the feeling, that he told his father he was ‘worrying for nothing’ about, now he knew how wrong he was.
He turned to his brothers, Hoss was sitting behind Joe daubing the cuts and scratches on his brothers back and shoulders, Joe hissed and jerked at each contact with the alcohol soaked cloth,
“OK, maybe l’m being over cautious but l’m still your elder brother, so you’ll both do as your told,”
Two pairs of eye’s, blue and green, etched wide with fear, stared back at him waiting for an explanation, orders or plan, or all three.
Hoss was the first to speak,
“l aint able ta bandy words with yer brother, what’s on yer mind?”
Joe, trying hard to swallow the lump in his drying throat, looked first to Hoss and then to Adam, the brother he would argue with that black was white, just to liven up a dull day.
“Shoot,” he gasped his agreement.
He hoped his voice sounded to his brothers a lot more confident than it sounded to his own ears, the thought that he would have to go all through that again scared the pants off of him, but one thing he vowed, his pants, though torn and blood stained were going to remain firmly attached to his butt.
At the insistence of his brothers Joe stretched out on the bed, and to be honest he was thankful, every part of his body seemed to him to be giving him pain, but apart from that he was experiencing moments of complete weakness, dizziness and nausea, swept over him to the point that he could hardly raise his head, he hoped and prayed that the bullet wound hadn’t become infected, but when Hoss had checked the wound and dressing it all looked OK, Hoss and Adam told him to get some shut eye, but that was a no, no, every time he closed his eyes all he saw was horror.
Hoss beckoned to the still shirtless Adam to sit, he then doctored to his elder brother as he had done to his younger, hoping that neither of his brothers realised the gut fear that was lurking in the pit of his stomach, he could stand nose to toe with any man and slog it out and he had done so on many an occasion, but when he saw his rifle slide straight through that birds body, and Little Joe fall from the bed and disappear into the feathers of another of the creatures only to reappear on the mattress, a shiver passed through his large body, he often said only believed in what he saw with his own eyeballs, well he saw what he saw and it scared him as he had never been scared before.
Adam sat trying to fathom out what was the next move, the stinging, burning sensation searing through every cut and scratch, kept him alert, he decided it was Hoss’s way of getting his own back, he inwardly laughed at the pun, yet he inwardly felt more terrified than he had ever done in his life, he hoped his persona of the big, brave, elder brother who knew exactly what he was doing had come across, in truth he was shit scared and apart from keeping watch had no idea where to go from here.
The high pitched whinny of a frightened animal straightened the backs of the three men,
“Cooch, that’s Cooch,” Joe was up and off the bed before he realised that without Hoss’s arm he would of been on his knees, he tried to push Hoss away, “it’s Cooch,”
Hoss bodily picked him up and put him back onto the bed, Joe struggled but it was useless.
Adam collected Hoss’s and his own rifle, he threw one to his big brother, Joe watched silently, knowing what they were going to do, where they were going to go, the fear of being left behind, left on his own was terrifying,
“Where’s my gun?”
Adam threw him his gun belt,
“Stay there,” he pierced Joe with a glare that many men had withered under, Joe’s glare matched Adam’s, Adam softened slightly,
“Joe you can barely stand, Hoss and l need to do this, we cannot be watching out for you, stay here, we will be back”,
Joe sucked in his breathe he knew Adam was right but it didn’t help, stiffly he nodded, pressing his back against the headboard, again he was trapped, he placed his gun at his side but knew it would not be of much use.
As they flew into the stables the two birds released there grip on the dying bundle of flesh and feathers, it dropped to the earth a bloody mess of inhumanity, the two birds followed it to the ground, large beaks ripped and tore at the flesh, till nothing but the bare bones remained.
The stalled animals baulked at the stench of the blood, they pawed at the earth and tossed their heads, softly snorting and whinnying their agitation.
The two remaining sisters materialised, their strength renewed through the blood and flesh of their dead sibling,
“There is very little time left, sister you must complete your task, you must drain the blood of the seed giver and nurture the eggs in your womb, your sister has given her life as l will give mine, as too you will eventually give yours when your fledglings are ready to leave the nest you will give of yourself, you will be their first blood feast, go now and await the moment.”
As one bird flew to the rafters the other swooped low over the backs of the tethered horses, Chub snorted and stomped his annoyance, Sport kicked out a hind leg, tossed his red mane and whinnied, Cochise, squealed, long and loud and tried to pull back from the tethered rope.
Managing to make it to the broken window Joe stood, gun in hand, leaning against the frame, silently he watched his brothers walk purposely to the stables, he could hear the animals kicking, squealing and stomping, the fear that his brothers were walking into a trap filled his mind his chest heaved as he gulped air into his lungs and prayed for their deliverance, within moments his vision blurred and the world tipped sideways, falling to his knees, he sucked in a breath hoping to dispel the dizziness in his head and the nausea welling up from the pit of his stomach, on his hands and knees he crawled back to the to the side of the bed, he barely had the strength to drag himself up and throw himself across the mattress before a blanket of black covered him and pulled him down into a well of nothingness.
Together they reached the open stable door, the horses for the time being had vocally quietened, but continued to stamp and kick, Cochise pulled constantly at the rope tying her to the tethering ring fixed to the stable wall, the rotting wood groaned and squeaked as the rusted ring loosened.
“What’s yer plan?” the question came from the big man.
“What plan?” Adam questioned a reply as his eye’s searched the large barn trying to become accustomed to the gloomy interior.
“Aint yer got any kinda plan,” Hoss duplicated his brothers actions.
“Oh that, that plan,” cautiously Adam entered the barn and scooted into an empty stall, Hoss followed on his tail.
“Yeah, that plan, what is it,” Hoss whispered loudly crouched down beside his brother,
“What do you think?” Adam squatted on his haunches, his eye’s scanning the shadows for movement, his ears pricked for any untoward sounds,
“Reckon as how we orta kill the unholy bitches,”
“That’ll work for me,” Adam agreed, shaking the barrel of his rifle at the far side of the barn, Hoss nodded and scurried to the opposite empty stall.
When it happened it was fast, sudden and over in almost the blink of an eye, help when it came, came from an unexpected quarter.
The large bird perched in the rafters watched and waited, the moment it had been longing for was near, the blood feast would be hers and hers alone, to drain the life juice of the human, then rip the still warm flesh from it’s bones.
The act of procreation was pleasing and the feeling of the humans enlarged seed pod gushing it’s precious flow into her fertilization canal, she had found to be an extremely enjoyable experience, but the transformation to and from human form was nothing but a chore and what’s more it was the time when she was most at risk, vulnerable to any attack, she would only have to perform that duty once more, to enable her to drain the the warm body, then she could remain in her feathered form, and feed, yes at last to feed, to tear the flesh, to swallow the lumps of warm meat, feel it slither down her gullet, that is the thing that gave her the most pleasure, she stretched her neck upward, the great razor sharp beak opened, so much she wanted to squawk her delight, silently the long neck withdrew back into the black feathered wings, two evil, hellish, raven, beady eye’s surveyed the scene below, now the moment had come, without a sound the clawed feet walked the length of the beam and also without a sound the spanned wings glided the atrocity back to the broken window of the building opposite.
The downward swoop of the squawking bird took them both completely by surprise, automatically they armed their rifles even knowing that a bullet was useless against the fiend, Hoss again turned the weapon around and swung at the bird as it made a dive toward him, the barrel of the rifle went in and out through the feathered monstrosity, backing away his foot disappeared into a gopher hole causing him to fall sideways against a dividing wall, immediately the great bird was upon him, rushing to his aid, Adam dived onto the bird his body sinking through the feathers, he fell heavily upon his brother, the bird squawking flew upward and returned to continue the attack, swooping low over the stalled horses.
Finally Cochise due to her never ceasing efforts managed to dislodge the tethering ring from the wall, squealing her fright, she leaped backward from the stall, spun on her hind legs bringing her forelegs above her head she reared to her fullest extent, her waving legs caught the side of the swooping bird, swiping the creature against the tetchy sorrel’s rump, Sport kicked back, his two powerful hind legs catching the bird in full flight catapulting it across the barn where it crashed against a stout wooden stanchion and slithered to the floor, there to lay motionless, all the while Chub had been tossing his head, stamping his feet and whinnying deep calls to his stable companions to anyone watching it would appear he was actually issuing instructions.
By the time Adam and Hoss had disentangled themselves their problem was solved, the fallen mass of feathers morphed back and forth from sylph like maiden to grotesque bird, Hoss watched frozen in horrified disgust, Adam at the precise moment fired at the woman’s head, it only took the one bullet, startled Hoss jumped back, simultaneously the horses calmed, Cochise meekly walked back into the stall, the brothers exchanged glances, Hoss with a final look at the changeling seeing a slight movement fired two more bullets into the remains of the bloodied woman, Adam turned from comforting Sport, his big brother stood over the body his gun hanging limp from his hand, his large bulk shuddered as he leaned against the post for support.
Concerned Adam called to him, Hoss turned, his eye’s mirroring his agony,
“Guess it just don’t hang right with me brother, even iffun she was as ugly as sin itself, an l reckon inside that’s about the way of it, Adam l aint never raised a finger to harm no woman and now l just emptied two bullets…”
Adam rushed to his brothers side, circling his arm around Hoss’s shoulder,
“We did the right and only thing, that was not a women, it was a heathen, evil monster bound only to kill and destroy, believe me brother, there was nothing else we could have done,”
Pushing his shoulders back Hoss gave his brother’s hand a tight squeeze
“l hears what yer saying brother, l knows it’s the truth but it still looks like a woman ter me,”
Giving Hoss’s shoulder a friendly squeeze in return, they both walked back to the stalls where the horses seemed to be now completely unperturbed.
“Let’s get the horses checked and get back to the kid, he’ll be spitting feathers by now,” Adam’s dimple highlighted his usual dark sense of humour.
“l don’t reckon as how you can find that funny,” Hoss petted Chubb stroking his velvet nose and patting his neck, Adam satisfied that Sport was fine was now checking on Cochise,
“You’re right, sorry, l guess l’ll just have to make do with the image of the kid waving his bare butt in the air,”
This did bring a chuckle to Hoss’s throat, suddenly he stopped smiling and stood back away from Chub, Adam in Cooch’s stall was unaware of the change in Hoss’s manner, the big man walked out of Chub’s stall into the centre of the barn, a feeling of dread hit the pit of his stomach as he shouted to his brother his feet were already moving, running, carrying him back to the hotel.
Hoss’s strangled cry, brought Adam’s head up and away from his inspection of Cochise legs, at first the words didn’t register,
“The other one, where’s the other one?”
Within seconds he was out of the barn and racing across the street he overtook Hoss before he reached the door of the Hotel,taking the stairs two at a time both men hurtled down the corridor, Adam flung the door open it rocked back and forth on it’s hinges, both men shouldered into the room, the sight that faced them was hideous, an apparition, barbaric in it’s blood lust perversion, they stood, frozen, staring, just for a moment time stopped.
For a brief moment the bird rested on the ledge of the broken window, the human lay face down on the bed, the coal black eye’s gazed greedily on the bloodied back, the scratches and cuts already starting to crust, silently it glided to the bedside, the woman’s fingers traced over the gashes bringing the reddened tips to her lips she licked, the black eye’s glazed over, the slight traces of blood adding to her need for the red liquid.
Placing a hand on Joe’s shoulder she turned him on his back, her fingers played through his hair, traced each side of his face, passing gently over his closed eyelids, it would be so easy, she thought, so easy to arouse him, to use him once more, she moved her palm and fingers slowly across his naked chest, tweaking the reddish brown nipples, his skin was smooth and silky beneath her fingers, placing an open palm on his groin she felt the throbbing movement beneath his clothing, she could and should drain him of his life fluid, bringing her mouth close to his neck she licked and sniffed at his moist flesh, her desire to drink and feed swept through her body.
Joe moved, bringing his hands up to clasp her shoulders, he was already in her power, his eyelids flicked open, at first fear and then confusion shone from the green orbs,
“l’ve come back for you,” her voice trickled into his ear, “l’ve come back to join with you once more, yes once more we shall be as one.”
Placing both hands each side of his face she brought her lips to rest on his, his mouth parted, their tongues mimicked copulation, sucking, drawing in and out tasting each other, fueling their passion.
At the first sound of a gunshot Joe drew back…no…no the voice pleaded, the hands caressed, the lips pressed, the moist tongued searched, he responded, at the sound of the next two shots his mind reacted, three shots, trouble, pushing the woman away from him, regardless of his spinning head Joe struggled to sit, both hands on his shoulders the siren forcibly pressed him down onto the bed,
“No, no my brothers, they need me, three shots, they fired three shots, let me go,”
Once more he struggled to raise his head and shoulders, the back hand slap stunned him, he remembered Adam’s words, ‘they are not women’, he slapped her back, her inhuman strength easily overpowered his weak attack, another vicious back hand to his face split open his lip which trickled blood, the scent and colour brought about a frenzy of lust, her knees pinned Joe to the bed, giving in to her passion she openly licked at his lips sucking at the oozing blood, Joe cringed trying to scramble away from her, it was useless, she sat straddling his chest, looking down on him in triumph,
“You will be mine, l will feed on you, drink your juices, feast on your flesh,”
Joe’s terror was choking him, he pleaded for his life his voice cracked and shaking,
“Please, don’t do this, please don’t,”
She looked at him not understanding his thought or reasoning,
“Don’t? Don’t? There is no don’t, it is done, l must now complete my task, you have fertilized me, your seeds are growing in my birth chamber, already l feel movement,” gulping mouthfuls of air, to counteract the bile and nausea that was rising from his gut, Joe listened in disbelief, “l have only to feast on your blood and flesh to make me whole, you have played your part, the species will survive, you cannot fight me, you are mine,”
The mantra started in Joe’s head, making one last concerted effort, he managed to struggle a few inches toward the top of the bed where his gun was hidden beneath the pillow, how he would reach it he didn’t know the woman’s knees were painfully holding down his upper arms, with a mighty shove he managed to dislodge her and for a brief moment his arm was free, he stretched for his gun, ignoring the manic laugh that met his ears, his fingers tipped the ivory handle, he cried out as a hand grabbed a fistful of his hair and lifted his head from the bed dragging his fingers from their quest, a clenched fist slammed into his jaw, his head fell back flopping over the side of the bed, the demonic laughter stayed with him, his terror increased as gently his head was lifted, the woman’s face was before him, her beautiful lips parted as if to place a kiss , transfixed he watched two needle like fangs slowly moving downward from her mouth, using all the strength that was left in him he twisted his head away from the horrendous sight, unknowingly exposing his most vulnerable body part to the heinous blood sucker, his scream went unheard as the monster sunk her inhuman incisors into the vein bulging in Joe’s neck.
Once more he prayed, this time for his own deliverance or oblivion he received both.
Hoss and Adam shrunk back from the sight of the naked woman, sitting across the body of their unconscious brother, her head nestled in Joe’s neck, turning to face the intruders, blood dripping from the two fangs protruding from her mouth, time froze as she and the men stared at each other, Adam aimed his gun, in the moment it took for him to steady his shaking hand, a black winged monster rose from Joe’s chest knowing it was useless Adam staggered to the window, his legs were responding to his demands but he felt as if he was walking through a roughly ploughed field, he leaned out of the window drawing in lungfuls of air, a cry of joy escaped his lips as a ray of sunlight heralded the dawn. TBC
Hoss’s voice, low and trembling brought him back to reality, Joe’s head and shoulders were cushioned by the big man’s thighs, he dreaded to ask, he didn’t have to, Hoss read his thoughts, heard the unspoken words,
“No he aint,”
Hoss the healer, years ago Adam had given that name to his giant of a brother, the most gentlest of men he had ever known, the large hand cupped Little Joe’s chin, keeping the smaller man’s head firmly but gently from moving, he daubed at the oozing incisions, it was Adam’s turn now to read his brothers thought’s.
“No, l didn’t, but are worries are over, it, she, it will not do anything in daylight,”
Hoss had resettled Joe’s head in the crook of his massive arm, slowly he pressed the canteen of water to his brothers lips,
“Come on shortshanks, just a sip, open up that smart mouth of yorn, just a sip, that’s it, yer can do it,” Hoss continued his cooing and soft persuasion until, the droplets of water that he had managed to trickle over his young brothers lips, caused Joe’s tongue to search for the moisture, raising Joe’s head a fraction more, Hoss held the canteen to the open mouth, Joe’s hand made a grab at the water container, tipping it up so that he could drink his fill,
“Easy punkin, easy, we got plenty,”
A spluttered coughing prompted Hoss to raise his brothers head and shoulders until he had him resting against his chest, Joe’s eyelids fluttered open, confused and unaware of his surroundings he struggled to free himself, his eye’s filled with terror flicked from one brother to the other, his frantic struggling increased as he tried to escape from his brother’s hold on him,
“Rest easy shortshanks l got ya, it’s only ole Hoss, l got ya,”
Adam sat down on the bed and took his young brothers hand, stroking it as was his fathers habit.
“It’s over, little buddy, it’s over,”
The term ‘little buddy’, which Adam hadn’t used for years would have heralded a sharp response from Joe, this time the familiar words caused him to focus and realise he was safe, with his brothers, gradually his struggles ceased as his body relaxed against Hoss’s.
“l sure hope that’s the truth brother,”
“l told you Hoss, we are protected by daylight, by the sun,”
Hoss pulled Little Joe into a closer embrace, feeling as if his arms alone were all that was needed to ensure complete protection, Joe responded pressing his head close to Hoss’s broad chest, his eye’s closed, his mind savouring the feeling of complete safety, his exaggerated breathing quietened as his chest rose and fell to the same rhythm as his big brothers.
Crinkling up his blue eye’s his face a mixed look of amazement and non-understanding, Hoss questioned his brother,
“Adam how come ya know so much about this weird shit an stuff?”
Running his fingers through his dark hair Adam scratched his head and exhaled the air from his lungs, anger, unexplained and unintentional fell from his mouth.
“Big brother, if l didn’t know so much about this…this as you call it, weird shit and stuff, we would all be carcasses, drained of blood, waiting to be ripped to pieces,”
Snatching his hand from Adam’s, Joe took a grip on the sleeve of the black shirt, Adam and Hoss, startled by their brothers sudden movement, turned their attention to him, Joe’s eye’s, wide, round, filled with fear, his pasty, grey face covered in a film of perspiration, his grip tightened on Adam’s arm, gulping in air, terrified to speak the thoughts that were haunting his mind, his fear transferred itself to his brother’s,
“Punkin, yer OK, yer fine,” Hoss tried to calm the boy, the green eye’s fired with panic, for a second rested on his big brother, then returned to fix his elder brother with a terror stricken stare,
“Am l…will l…what’s gonna happen…tell me…if l…”
Pulling his young brother from Hoss’s arm, Adam in a unusual tactile action drew Joe close, he could feel Little Joe’s heart thudding against his chest,
“No Joe, no little buddy,” again he used the childhood expression.
Joe pushed himself from his brother’s grasp, his stare intensified, his breathing leaving his body in gasps, inhaling a lungful of air, he composed himself,
“Don’t you lie to me Adam, kill me now,” he made a grab at Adam’s holster pulling the gun free he placed it to his forehead, “l’ll do it,”
Hoss unsure at what was happening, batted the gun from his brothers hand, Joe slumped back against Hoss.
“Dadburn it what’s this all about?”
Taking his brothers shoulders in his hands Adam forced Joe to face him,
“Joseph, l have never lied to you, get it out of your head, there is nothing wrong with you, you are the same stubborn, ornery, annoying, argumentative kid brother that you have always been,”
Joe’s eye’s filled up, “Is…is that…the tr…truth?”
“Sure it is kid,” breaking into a tight smile Adam tousled Joe’s curly hair, as much as he hated the gesture Joe was glad for the familiarity, returning a similar strained grin, Adam pulled his little brother back toward him and hugged him tight, he felt Joe’s body slightly relax against him then suddenly stiffen as the foreboding thought of what he had attempted forced Joe to suck deep into his lungs, holding his breathe, knowing that when he exhaled he would loose control, it was then the trembling started.
“Hoss, get them blankets, wrap him up, his going into shock, l’ll get something hot to drink…you OK,”
“Sure, put plentya sugar in it”
Hoss knew exactly what to do, within minutes Joe was a bundle of cloth, only his head was visible as Hoss held him close, cooing nonsense, rocking him, waiting for Adam’s return.
Sipping their coffee, Adam had brought back three mugs full of the strong, hot beverage, overly sweetened, as far as he was concerned they all needed the pick-me-up, he cooled it with the last of the alcohol, Joe had drunk as much as they had managed to force him to drink, and was settled still swathed in blankets, once more against his big brothers chest, the shivering had lessened, he appeared either to be asleep or unconscious, his vital signs being OK, Adam and Hoss enjoyed the brew.
Adam outlined his plan, they would get to the crossroads outside of the town, it was the main trail to Virginia City, Hoss and Joe would then take the stage, he would ride Cochise across country to the Ponderosa, Sport had recovered from his lameness, but Adam didn’t want to risk running the horse hard over uneven terrain, whereas Cooch was fit and very much used to such antics, they would then meet up in town, no doubt Pa would be with him, and he would also bring a wagon, or buggy to take Joe home after he had seen the Doc.
“Amen to that brother.
For a few moments they drank in silence relishing the hot, sweet coffee, draining the mugs to the very last drop
“Adam…what was all that about…before…you and Joe?”
Adam’s heart filled to bursting as he stared at the trusting, innocent, questioning face of his big, young brother, rocking his even younger brother as if he were a child, he recalled his harsh words of earlier,
“l apologise Hoss, l am sorry for targeting you, using you to vent my anger,”
“Brother iffun l aint use to it now l never will be, you and shortshanks, l kinda reckoned that’s as how l’m so big, so’s the two of you could bounce offa me,”
Taking Hoss’s jowl’s in his palm’s Adam bent to kiss the soft, flaxen hair, if his brother had been standing upright the act would have been impossible,
“l swear to you one day big brother, the thoughts and words of Hoss will stand alongside Plato, Socrates and Aristotle and will not be found wanting,”
“Them’s mighty fine words elder brother, an l reckons as how them fellas yous talking about maybe said some fine words too, but you aint gave me no answer no how, what in tarnation was Little Joe so feared about?”
Now Adam touched his fingers to Little Joe’s sweat dampened hair, lifting a single curl that had fixed itself to the boy’s forehead, he twisted it between his fingers and replaced it back from whence it came.
“He thought, no he believed, that…that the female fiend that had drawn the blood from his body would turn him into a vampire…that he too would now lust for the taste of blood,”
Even as he listened Hoss tightened his arms into a fierce bear hug, around his kid brother.
“And that aint what’s gonna happen Adam is it? is it?”
“No Hoss, you heard what l said to Joe, that is not going to happen, and that is the truth”
Mounting Chub, Hoss rode supporting Joe in front of him and trailing Sport behind, it was decided that Adam would ride ahead in case the Stage wasn’t running to it’s schedule or they had the timings wrong, the one thing they couldn’t afford to do was miss connecting with that stagecoach.
Their thinking was correct, Adam reached the crossroads with only minutes to spare, placing himself and Cochise almost suicidally in the path of the hurtling coach and horses, Cochise nervously pawed at the ground, not being so totally in tune with the man on her back, sensing the danger she tried a few evasive manoeuvres, spinning round, dropping her shoulder, half rearing, but Adam who was well used to Sport’s little idiosyncrasies held firm and not until the last moment did he allow the pinto to leap to safety, trotting alongside the vehicle, Adam couldn’t help but chuckle at the driver, Silas ‘spit’n’wind Walsh, as he wrestled to bring under his control the six horses, who knowing they were homeward bound took great dislike to being slowed, cussing at the top of his voice, finally he succeeded.
Tipping his hat to the elderly couple who poked their heads out of the windows, Adam quickly turned Cooch’s head and neck, just avoiding the stream of tobacco coloured spit that would have splattered against the horses cheek.
“What in the name of tarnation, yer near got yerself killed Cartwright, yer daddy running outa ready cash, yer gotta go holding up the stage, l aint carrying no Fargo
box this trip, or have ya taking to a spota horseflesh thievery aint that Little Joe’s paint?”
“Keep your pants on Silas, even for you one out of three isn’t bad, l am not robbing the stage, nor have l stolen the pinto and yes it is Little Joe’s horse, just want to hitch a lift for my brother’s,”
The grumpy driver looked around him,
“Where the hell are they, l sure don’t hanker spending more time than l hafta in this God forsaken spot,”
As the man spoke Hoss hove into view,
“Lil’ Joe aint looking too good, he carryin fection? Shouldn’t take ’em at all iffun he’s carrying ‘fection… ”
“No he is not carrying ‘fection he is carrying a bullet wound, l have not yet heard of anyone catching a bullet wound, although l could arrange it,”
“Yer listen up Cartwright an listen good, l’m not the one whose askin fer help, l aint obliged ta stop an pick no fella up ‘ceptin at a stage depot, even iffun his name is Cartwright,”
“You are completely right Silas, l apologise, my brother has a bullet wound he is probably a frogs hair away from a fever, l would take it as a favour if you would allow him, accompanied by Hoss to travel with you into Virginia City, l will pay what ever fare is due…”
“Hush up, yers always was a long winded cuss, it’s yer manners ahm afta not yer money,” turning his attention to Hoss Silas shouted for him to get a move on, Adam dismounted ready to help his brothers,
“Oh there is another favour, could you take it easy going in, l’m hitching the horses to the back and Sport is not 100%,”
“l’ll be dadblasted, yous be tellin me when and where te scratch me ass next,”
Obligingly the other passengers made room for Hoss and Joe, allowing them to take one side of the coach, Adam slammed the door shut and nodded at his brother,
Eyeing the oldest Cartwright’s blood stained, dishevelled appearance“You aint hurting is ya Cartwright?” Silas called down to Adam
“No Silas there is nothing wrong with me, why?”Adam eyed the crusty old man,
“Well git that saddle offa that lame beast, iffun yer so worried ’bout it,”
Shaking his head Adam did as he was asked, the man was the most cantankerous of men but he would never see any animal in trouble, or mistreated.
Hefting the saddle up Adam rested it beside the driver, expecting the man to assist him in placing it onto the luggage rack, Silas sat unmoved, reins in hand, he spat accurately between the rumps of the horses, neither one of them flinched or moved an inch, being more than used to the drivers peculiarly, disgusting habit, turning to face the eldest of Ben Cartwright’s son’s Silas grinned, his lips parting, exposing a mouthful of discoloured broken teeth.
“Yer said yersef yer weren’t hurting,”
Adam climbed up onto the seat and hefted the saddle onto the roof beside the rest of the luggage.
“Will that do?”he asked of the driver as he climbed back down settling himself once more onto his brothers horse.
“It’s yer saddle Cartwright iffun yer happy, l aint about to argue,”
“Silas l am not one to listen to gossip, but l have to agree with what is being bandied about town,”
The driver’s face crinkled, his eye’s disappearing into his cheeks as his grin widened, bringing his chin and long nose to almost touch, he scratched at his badly trimmed, tobacco stained beard, his inquisitiveness got the better of him.
“An what’s ‘sactly bin bandied ’bout town Cartwright?”
“Spit and wind Silas, you are just spit’n’wind,”
Aiming another strool of spittle between the horses rumps, the man wiped his dribbling mouth with the back of his hand.
“Reckons l kin live with that, least as wise l aint ta mean ta spit, aint yer the Cartwright boy that’s so tight fisted yer caint pull yer hand outa yer pants without splitting the seams,”
“No Silas, you are getting me confused with Little Joe, he’s the Cartwright with the tight pants,”
With a slap of the reins and a crack of the small whip he kept at his side the stage lurched forward, Adam could hear the drivers throaty, flemmy laughter as the vehicle thundered away toward the horizon.
Taking a last look back at the ram shackle buildings Adam didn’t see the lone black bird perched in the shadows, pressing his heels against Coochise’s flanks the horse did not need any second asking, she knew she was headed for home, fleet of hoof and as sure footed as ever she did exactly what was asked of her.
Approaching the town Silas slowed the horses from an easy loping canter to walk, he then drew the stage to a halt outside Doc Martin’s surgery, climbing down to assist Hoss supporting a semi conscious Joe as they alighted, Adam and Ben not realising that the stage would stop anywhere other than the stage depot, hot footed it down the street and were at the Paul Martin’s surgery just as Silas was climbing back aboard, Adam stopped and made a grab at one of the driver’s legs.
“l am beholden to you Silas,”
The man seated himself before he spoke,
“l reckon as how yer are Cartwright, an l will hold yer ta that, iffun it wasn’t you and yer brothers l would never have stopped, that blasted dead town gives me the willies, an that’s a fact,” he spat a globule of tobacco onto the street and walked the team of horses forward to the stage stopping point.
Ben, Hoss and Adam sat in the waiting room, Hoss twiddled the big hat through his fingers, Ben couldn’t sit still, for the umpteenth time he questioned his son’s, striding from one to the other.
“Adam, Hoss exactly what happened to your brother?”
Hoss looked across at Adam, his brother kept his eye’s lowered,
“He took a bullet in his leg, it bled, we couldn’t stop the bleeding, we did what we could Pa,”
Doc Martin emerged from the treatment room, in two strides Ben Cartwright, tracked by Hoss, were both at his side, concern deepened the furrows hooding the dark brown eye’s which flicked from his friends serious face to the open door of the treatment room, Ben could only see the outline of his youngest sons legs, Joe lay as still as death, draped in a white sheet, there was not a movement in Ben’s heart, it hung like a stone in his chest, smothering him, denying him the benefit of a life supporting breath.
The doctor’s comforting arm circled the elderly Cartwright’s sagging shoulders,
“Ben, l have him sedated, as soon as l deal with Adam l’ll speak with you, please,” the doctor nodded to Hoss, Ben spun round his concern finding another target,
“Adam?” it was only then he noticed the cuts and scratches on his eldest son’s neck and arms, “will somebody tell me what’s been going on?” his patience and temper were vying for predominance.
Ben’s feeble stab of anger failed, fear for his boy’s flooded through him, he welcomed the strength of Hoss’s huge arm as it guided him back to the row of chairs, his tired body slumped onto the uncomfortable wooden seat as he watched the door close behind his eldest son and the man he was silently pleading with to help his children, both grown men but still his children, the supporting arm gently applied pressure, he looked up into the anxious, summer, blue eye’s of his middle son, reflecting his own worries, grasping the boy’s sturdy knee he whispered the two words that he had heard so many times from another son, offering him reassurance, words that he knew very well to be untrue, the Cartwright mantra.
Paul Martin, however took no notice of the same two words, as reply to his request for Adam Cartwright to remove his dirty, torn black shirt, finally the tall man did as he was asked, stripped to the waist he sat on the stool he was directed to and allowed the fatigue that he had willed to the back of his mind to sweep over his body, resting his arms on the treatment table, he turned his head to view his bandage swathed brother.
“It’s Joe who needs the doctoring,”
The doctor ignored the sharp remark continuing to cleanse and apply salve on the pecked and clawed skin.
“Apart from the bullet wound your brother has similar injuries, hazarding a guess l would say a large bird of some kind?”
“I wouldn’t call them life threatening, whereas a bullet wound…”
“Adam are you questioning my method of treatment? l would not dare to advise you on how to construct any kind of edifice…,”
Keeping his eye’s fixed on the shallow rise and fall of his brother’s chest, Adam’s dark head drooped onto his hair covered chest,
“l apologise Paul…how is he? will the kid be OK?”
“l have every reason to believe so, but l’d rather explain it all outside, l’d like to ask you some questions?”
“My main concern Adam are the incisions on Joe’s arms, and what looks like two puncture wounds on his neck, these wounds are showing signs of infection, some kind of knife has been used on Joe’s arms, but the wound on his neck, now that is a mystery, as is the inordinate loss of blood, which the wound caused by the bullet is not entirely responsible for, can you help me out here?”
“l’m not really sure about anything but the bullet, am l done?”
“Keep those wounds clean and use this salve, although l am sure Hop Sing will have some perfectly good remedy in his box of tricks,”
Adam pocketed the small container, and watched as the doctor checked his brother’s pulse, then placed a palm over Joe’s forehead, not knowing whether the Doctor was satisfied or not, he followed him into the adjoining room.
Paul explained that Joe’s loss of blood thankfully was not life threatening but was of great concern, he was very anemic, also he was running a slight fever, which was not unusual considering his injuries, he had spoken to Joe before he sedated him so wasn’t too concerned about the concussion but it was best that he be kept a check on, they knew the score, he believed Joe would be best at home.
It was a silent group of men who made their way back to the Ponderosa, Ben, his mind eased somewhat, tried to make conversation and piece together the events that his son’s had experienced since he had last seen them, but they were being decidedly closed mouthed, finally giving in to his son’s grudging silence, he came to the decision that after a good meal and a rest they would be more forth coming…they weren’t.
Slowly life at the Ponderosa returned to normal , Joe, although suffering occasional nightmares was almost fully recovered, apart from a slight limp, and a nervous disposition.
Ben however was still in the dark regarding his son’s unnerving experience, the many times he had broached the subject, it had been dismissed out of hand, eventually he decided that it was more than enough to have his boys home safe and well, and with that in mind he invited a few close friends Paul Martin, Roy Coffee and his foreman Candy to dinner.
During the course of the meal the subject came up of the recent Bank robberies during which a number of people had been killed, Virginia City fortunately had not been amongst the casualties, Roy had received a wire from Tom Connor’s the sheriff of Carson City alerting him of the gang of five men which were in his opinion heading their way into Roy’s territory, Roy though assured everyone that the problem had been resolved.
Clem was escorting the last gang member to Yuma, the man had been found half dead and out of his mind with another of the gang, who happened to be his son, by the time they had got the boy to the Doc’s there was nothing to be done.
Nodding in agreement Paul Martin sat back sipping a glass of fine red wine and as with the rest of the men sat around the table waited for the sheriff to continue, although he was in fact fully aware of the events.
The demented man couldn’t wait for Roy to lock him up, said it was the only place he felt safe away from the evil one, in his lucid moments he asked to see a man of the cloth, he wanted to confess his sins, said the evil one was sent in punishment for his wrong doings, that he and the men he rode with had killed and robbed, but that he didn’t deserve to die the way they had, sucked dry, their flesh torn from their bodies, he had set the fire only to destroy the evil one, now his own boy was dead he had nothing to live for he deserved to die but not like that, he’d rather hang.
Around the table five pair of eyes were on the sheriff, nobody noticed Little Joe sitting frozen stiff as a poker in his chair, neither eating nor drinking, his eye’s fixed to the dinner plate in front of him.
The sheriff continued, of course he had taken a few men with him and ridden out to check the old man’s story as crazy as it was, he had his job to do, they had found the remains, burned beyond recognition, they buried the bodies, most of the buildings had been burned to the ground along with he reckoned a large black bird, something like a buzzard, bird feathers all over the place, they returned to town, Judge Tomkins, sent the man to Yuma as he had openly confessed his guilt he declared the man indeed to be guilty but insane,
Roy Coffee, picked up his glass and took a drink, a stunned silence, broken only by the sound of the seven men’s breathing descended upon the table, Adam Cartwright’s mellow, soft, voice boded a question that he had no reason to ask for he knew the answer.
“Where was this Roy?”
“Heading toward Carson, the crossroads on the other side of Dead…”
Joe’s cutlery clattering to his plate brought all eye’s to his direction, pushing his chair from the table he mumbled and staggered to kitchen door, taken no notice of Hop Sing he flung the door open and fell out of the house landing on all fours, his dinner hit the dirt at the same time as his hands and knees.
Both Ben Cartwright and Paul Martin made to stand, Hoss beat them to it,
“You’re off duty doc…it’s OK Pa, he aint up to such a big meal,”
Hop Sing made a pot of ginger tea, as Ben poured brandy for his guests, Hoss and a pale faced Joe returned, Joe made comfortable on the sofa, sipped the warm tea.
As he was leaving Paul Martin beckoned to Adam to accompany him to his buggy,
“There were a few things that Roy omitted from his story, one deliberately because l had asked him to and another because he was unaware of what l had discovered,” the doctor waited for a response, when nothing was forthcoming he continued, “he never mentioned what the boy died of, would you have any idea?”
Pulling at the lob of his ear Adam shrugged, then thrust both hands into the waist of his pants, hooking his thumbs over the leather belt.
“l have no idea Paul, how would l?”
“Anemia, a total loss of blood, his arms were sliced with small knife marks, his neck, on both sides had small incisor, puncture wounds very alike the wounds Joe carried,”
“How did the boy’s father get away?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Roy said the town was burned, was everything burned, l just wondered how the boy and his father managed to escape?”
“l suspect the man did his best to save his son, how or why he was able to do this l have no idea, the old man had no cuts, no incisions…there was one thing about him,”
“And what was that? Adam asked
“He was profoundly deaf,”
The doctor noticed the colour drain from Adam’s face,
“Roy said there were a great deal of feathers,”
“Yes, feathers but not any remains of a large bird…”
“I know l asked him to,”
For what seemed to be hours Adam and Paul stared at each other in total silence, the tall Cartwright made the first move,
“You went out there?”
“Yes l did, l was curious, would you like to know what else l found?”
“l am not sure, but l know that will not stop you telling me,”
Climbing into the buggy, Paul Martin waited until he was seated before he replied,
“l found a nest with three eggs, it must of fallen from the rafters, l retrieved it from the burned out remains of what l presume was a barn, two of the eggs were broken,” again Paul Martin waited for a response from the tall Cartwright, he did not wait long.
Adam leaned into the buggy resting his arms on the padded side bar.
“And the third egg?”
The doctor flicked the reins, Adam stood back waiting for a reply, Paul Martin expertly maneuvered the buggy and came to a halt beside Adam, who stood hands on hips, still waiting for an answer.
“l destroyed it,”
Other Stories by this Author
- The Ballad of Ben Cartwright (by ansinico)
- Invisible Mending (by ansinico)
- Early Nights (by ansinico)
- Love, Honour and Obey (by ansinico)
- ETTA (by ansinico)