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How Legends Are Born

Part 3 of 9

A Compilation

Most of the bodies were cleared out by the time they passed through the doors of the Agarose. Tables and chairs lay overturned and broken, spread haphazardly around the room. Glass crunched beneath their feet as they walked through the mess.

Poe stopped at one table that was flat to the ground, covered with poker chips, coins and spilled bills. He looked up at the rail on the second floor balcony above him. “She got up after the bullet hit her and fell from way up there?” he asked with surprise. “You sure they hit her before she fell?”

“According to those who witnessed it, the shot put her back hard against the wall before she stumbled forward and just up and fell over the rail.”

Deep in thought with hands casual on his gun belt, Poe turned to look at the damage around the room. He found blood mixed with dirt and other debris. One particular area of the floor appeared darker than the floor around it. He once saw someone die from a slit throat, the dark oval shape on the wood floor now an easy reminder of what he had seen then.

“That is where she slit the man’s throat.”

Tombs nodded, moving to stand by the darkened area. “Slit his throat, held his head to one side by his hair and appeared to suckle him on the neck as his blood gushed out, or so the witnesses say that survived.”

“You must be joking,” Poe said incredulously.

“Nope, and that is not all, saved the best part for last.” Tombs said, moving to take the side stairs up to the second floor without further explanation.

The dead man in the room lay face up and naked on the bed, brown eyes open and blank. The deep dark tan of his muscled body told of work done in the open fields under hot sun. The dead man’s clothing, boots, and gun belt lay piled on a nearby chair. He had shaved recently while long tangled brown hair flowed over the pillow around his head.

When Tombs stood to one side and gestured for a closer look, Poe moved in to examine the man.

He looked for wounds in the usual places, starting below the dead man’s waist and working up. Whores who killed their clients usually did so once they had the soft spot out and their client properly distracted. With a quick flick of the razor any man would be cleanly incapacitated if not soon dead.

However, other than long healed wounds and assorted scars from previous fights, not a mark on the otherwise healthy looking body seemed unusual until he got to the neck area.

There appeared to be a wound of some sort on the right side of his throat with small rivulets of dried blood that had trailed down to the pillow beneath his head.

Ever so gently, Poe turned the man’s head to the left so he could get a closer look at the wound. He saw what looked like teeth marks that surrounded the wound with distinct pairings of puncture wounds top and bottom. From the loose feel of the man’s head as he turned it back and forth, his neck appeared broken as well.

“Franklin, as funny as this might have been to set up; you and I both know that vampires do not exist. Now do you want to explain what the hell really happened here?”

The smile died on his lips when he turned to find Tombs solemn and not smiling back. “I was not aware that you were already in the area, Poe. They found him like that after the fight. We figure the whore tried to dismount when she heard the shots and the dead man objected.”

He was seriously beginning to consider the same far-fetched conclusion that his friend had, given the evidence in front of them.

A vampire had done this

Poe had heard and seen many strange things in his day, but nothing that ever looked clearly as strange as that which he had seen today.

“Okay, if this whore and her friends were really vampires, and I am not ready to say that they are yet, what do we do about it now?” Poe finally asked, still waiting for his friend to admit this had all been some kind of sick joke.

“They were tracked as far as Tungsten Ridge to an old hunting lodge. To be honest, I planned to have someone from town lead a Posse up there. Guess you could do that for us just as well now that you are here and experienced in leading one.”

Poe laughed. “You were seriously going to send a Posse after them and not lead it yourself? I remember the day when you would have gone after them alone and not bothered to call for help even from me.”

Tombs did not laugh, but smiled in a knowing way. Apparently, he had not shared everything there was to share yet.

“After I sent the telegraph out asking for assistance from any Marshal nearby, I also sent one to friend at Fort Danna. He sent a reply shortly before you arrived informing me that he would dispatch a special cavalry force right away. I figured it would be too late by the time they got here, so I want to send you while the trail is still warm.”

Poe frowned, suddenly realizing why his friend had chosen to stay behind. “I am expendable while you have family that depends on you now.”

Tombs glanced long and hard at the floor before he looked back at Poe. “Same can be said for the men that I am sending with you. I do not exactly know what these things are or what they are up to, but Mary Jane would kill me herself for going off against them now that she is about due with our third.”

The two men looked at each other as silence filled the room around them. It did not take long for Poe to come to a decision. In the end, there really was not much of one to make anyway. He had sworn an oath to protect the people of the territories and was not about to start backing down from it now. Even with ample evidence that someone was running around the area trying to make it look like they were vampires.

“All right, we should get this posse of yours together and see what we can do before the cavalry arrives to mess things up and lose any chance we might have to find that whore and her friends. Probably best to head out at first light in the morning.”

Tombs smiled as he turned to leave the room. “They are already waiting for you at the stables, ready to ride out when you are. We did not know you were coming, but I am damn glad that you are here to lead them.”

Poe smirked, letting out a snort as they descended the stairs. “Tell that wife of yours I expect a proper meal when we get back. Let her know that I prefer my steaks thick. Only way to teach you to send me on a wild goose chase to find something we both know does not exist.”

Tombs stopped just outside the doors of the Agarose as the last of the bodies were hauled up and onto a wagon in the street. “Poe, be extra careful up there. Let them go if it looks bad. Cavalry will take care of them when they get here.”

The seriousness of the comment and the look of concern upon his friend’s face sent a chill through Poe. He did not appear to be joking and truly seemed worried about what might be waiting for them up on that ridge.

“Gonna go get my horse and move him to the stables with the others. Meet us there in a bit so we can figure out how we are going to deal with whatever it is that we might find.” Poe replied leaving his friend while he walked back up the dust-filled street.

Poe kicked himself when he found his fingers wandering to his gun belt to count ammunition.

For the first time in a long time, he felt fear of the unknown and wondered if he could best it before it bested him.

How do you kill something that bullets would not put down? He hoped to have that question answered by the time the Posse left town.

Looking around as he untied the Palomino, he wondered where the closest church might be. They might need some holy water and crosses before they headed out in the morning. He still could not believe what the evidence had told both him and Tombs.

They were going to be hunting vampires that could come out during the day.

Somehow, of the books he had read as a kid; none had ever seemed to mention that vampires could do that. Damn hacks probably had no idea what they were writing about half the time anyway.

* * *


Copyright © 2011 by Robert L. Sellers Jr. All rights reserved.
Please do not use without permission of the author.

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