I could say that before I’d met Seamus I didn’t believe in spirits or magic or things of a supernatural disposition, but that would imply that I’d given such things even a passing thought. I hadn’t. I spent my days focused on getting through my days. I didn’t have much to do with God and it seemed He felt the same in regard to me. I believed in what I saw, ignored what I couldn’t, and didn’t dwell on the unknown.
Then I met the famous Dr. Seamus Harker, travelling medicine man and worker of miracles. Of course, back then I thought he was full of shit. Most, or rather all, of these hucksters just sold colored water and morphine to the desperate, drunk, or despicable. They turned a profit on the pain and ignorance of the unprepared and the hopeless. Nothing magical or supernatural about that. That’s just what folk do.
But after spending some time with him, originally as a bodyguard and then as a friend, I started noticing that his medicine worked more often than not. Over the years I’d seen him cure a blind man, bring a plagued woman back from the brink of death, and even reattach a severed pinky that had gotten cut off a child. Each of these efforts had drained him some, sure. Maybe caused a few more white hairs to appear on his scalp or bent his back a bit more for a few days. Nothing serious.
So it was that I almost didn’t recognize the ancient-looking thing that fell bonelessly out of the back of our wrecked wagon. The demon (I swear to God an actual red-skinned, horned, fire-snorting demon) had minutes before torn through the roof of our little travelling home and was now rampaging through the canyon after the assassin that had killed our friend Felix and critically wounded Clive. From the sounds of it, the gunfire and the screaming, things weren’t working out so well for him now that the demon had caught his scent.
I ran over to Seamus and knelt down next to him. He was awake, but barely.
“What the hell did you do?” I asked, feeling like I could cry if only my eyes weren’t dried up balls of jerky. “We could have found another way.”
“What’s the point of knowing how to summon demons if you don’t do it every once in awhile,” Seamus croaked, his chuckle quickly turning into a cough. “Besides, we’re running out of time, Titus. I don’t know how long you can stay...like this.”
He waved an old, liver-spotted hand at me. I knew how I looked. Mouth and nose sewn shut. Red-tinted glasses sewn over my eyes. Ears filled with wax plugs. My soul rattled around inside my body, howling to be released and sent on from this world, but I couldn’t let it go. I still had work to do. I still had to bring the man who killed me and over a dozen women to justice.
Molly rushed over and took Seamus’s hand, making an odd cooing noise at him when she saw the extent of his sacrifice. I stood and walked over to Clive, the man responsible for my condition, and saw that he had succumbed to his wounds. I picked up the book he had tossed at me and put it in the pocket of my coat. Reaching into the smoking ruins of our wagon, I grabbed the sack of items I had taken from the bordello and made my way up the canyon, following the sounds of growling and screaming.
I passed Felix and said a silent goodbye to him, stooping to close his eyes as I did so. I had just grabbed a rock and hoisted myself up when a body hurtled past my head and landed with a bone-shattering crunch a few feet behind me. I guess I didn’t need to look too hard for our assassin. The demon wasn’t far behind, cloven hooves striking sparks off the canyon wall as it leapt down and picked the shattered man up by the head, preparing to finish the job.
“Wait!” I shouted, waving my arms to get the demonic abomination’s attention. It swung its giant, bovine face toward me and if I had any blood left in me it would have turned to ice water. “I need him alive for another minute. I have a question.”
The demon let out a frustrated snort and shoved the man’s face at me. I couldn’t tell what he’d used to look like, his face was like too swollen and bruised, but he did look younger than I had imagined. He also didn’t look long for this world.
“Where is he?” I asked.
“Triple Star Saloon,” the assassin gurgled. “Town called Folly. Please, don’t....”
“Don’t start begging for your life now,” I said, annoyed. “We tried to talk this out and it didn’t work out.”
“No. I know that,” he chuckled, blood bubbling from his torn lips. “Wouldn’t be professional. I...I have a partner watching the guy who hired me. He’s there to make sure...he pays up. Don’t hurt him. Please. He ain’t the one pulled a trigger on your friends.”
I looked over at the dead bodies of Felix and Clive, but I couldn’t feel any anger toward the man who killed them. That honor belonged to Darryl Farnsworth.
“I’ll see what I can do,” I said. “I won’t go out of my way to hurt him, but I won’t hold back if he gets in my way.”
“He won’t. he’s a bit of a coward,” the assassin waved a hand, broken fingers wagging limply, at the demon. “You sure weren’t kidding about Hell, were you?”
“Afraid not,” I sighed. “But I have a feeling I’ll be seeing you there soon enough.”
“I’ll keep an eye out for you.”
I turned so I wouldn’t see the demon crush his head, but hearing it turned out to be worse. I walked out of the canyon, toward the town of Folly. It was time to put an end to this little dance.