A Six Gun and the Queen of Light Part 1

Part 1

A Six Gun and the Queen of Light

By Mark Slade

We follow Sirus Logan as he arrives in the eerie town of Bedlam after a grueling journey. Stricken by illness, he collapses at a livery stable where he is taken in by the peculiar and inquisitive Nat Bramble.
Story Break Barbed

Logan rode into Bedlam feeling queer. It had been a long trip from Triton City across the Indian Territory. He’d been riding for two weeks, seeing nothing but the plains and plenty of rain. He shot a wild boar and ate as much of it as he could before hitting the dark trail that led to the town of Bedlam. It occurred to him that he may not have cooked the boar as thoroughly as he should have. He knew for sure when he was doubled over on his saddle and his horse carried him to a livery stable to drink water.

The owner of the livery stable found Logan passed out on the dusty ground by the watering hole, his foot still caught in the stirrup. The man was smaller than Logan in height but outweighed him by fifty pounds. Still, the man threw Logan over his shoulders and carried him to his barn.

Logan awoke, his head reeling, stomach turning over, to find himself on a bed of hay. He saw the pug-faced man who had brought him there and placed him on the hay with gentle care. The man was smiling at Logan, offering a ladle of water.

Logan refused the water and shook his head. “Where am I?” he asked with a groan.

“In my livery stable. Your horse carried you here, friend,” the pug-faced man said with a laugh similar to a donkey Logan knew when he was ten. He hated that donkey for killing his collie by kicking it in a barn, laughing about it.

“Much obliged –” Logan tried to get up, only his legs wouldn’t obey his brain’s command.

“I think you should stay where you are, Mr..?”

“Logan. Sirus Logan.”

“Now that’s a name no one could ever forget. I’m Nat Bramble,” the pug-faced man put his hand out, and Logan touched it briefly. “You make your living by that gun, don’t you, Mr. Logan? I can tell by how worn your holster is… and the gun in it.”

“How do you know I didn’t steal it?” Logan rubbed his blurry eyes.

“Sometimes you can just tell. Can’t always explain gut feelings, but you know how to read them. Don’t worry. I won’t spread the word, unless you want me to.”

Logan shook his head. “Don’t need to advertise,” he said.

“Thought so. I took the liberty of asking Doctor Abram to look you over. He should be here soon,” Nat said. He put the ladle back into a water trough after he swallowed a bit of his own. “You in town on business?”

“You ask a lot of questions,” Logan snapped at him.

“Yeah. I guess I am a bit nosy.” Nat laughed, and Logan cringed.

After a few minutes of uneasy silence, Logan abruptly spoke. “That trail into town… it sure is dark – even in the day – no sunlight. Why is that?”

“I don’t know. It’s always been like that. Loneliest trail I ever rode. Rarely even see any birds… other wildlife –”

“Except boars!” Logan sucked in pain from his gut, a sharp stabbing pain that sent his head reeling again.

“You ate one of those hordes?” Nat laughed.

“What the hell is a horde?” Logan held his stomach with both hands and rocked himself slightly.

“It’s something you shouldn’t eat,” Nat said.

“I’m kind of curious.” Logan sat up, grunted. “What kind of town is Bedlam?”

Nat grinned, pushed his cow-lick out of his eyes. “It’s like no other town you’ve ever been, Mr. Logan.”

“They all say that.”

“I don’t know who ‘they all’ are, friend, but I guarantee you’ll be telling the next person what I just said.” Nat walked over to the table where Logan’s gun belt lay. “My old man was a gunman, Logan. Not a very good one. He’d take whatever job came along – robbing stages, killing men for a drink. The only good thing about him was he took care of my mother and me as best he could. He was, no doubt, one of the most wicked men to ever come to Bedlam. When he was gunned down by a sixteen-year-old boy over a card game, I wept. The next day, when he was buried, I spat on his grave. Vowed to never touch a gun. I haven’t. That boy got away with a fifty-dollar silver coin with a chip in it. I expect he’s dead now too. I at least hope so.”

Logan sighed. “Some things were meant to be.”

“Yeah.” Nat flashed a smile. “That they are.”

Boots on the platform outside the livery station were heard. The door opened, and a short, stout man of forty-three appeared carrying a little black bag. The man looked much older than his years. His handlebar mustache was brown, but the beard and hair on his head were completely white, and the crevices in his face were deep and wide.

“Ah, Doctor Abram. He needs your care.” Nat pointed at Logan and smiled.

“What’s wrong with him?” Doctor Abram was gruff. His outburst sounded more like a cough.

“He ate a horde, Doc.” Laughter followed Nat’s bellow.

Doctor Abram bent down to examine Logan. He pulled his shirt up, touched Logan’s swelled belly. “Why in the blazes did you eat a horde?”

“What’s a horde?” Logan managed to say, his world becoming ever more blurry.

“Something you’re not supposed to eat!” Abram yelled at him. “You idiot cowboys – roaming the range, eating anything that moves.”

“He ain’t no cowboy, Doc,” Nat said. He pointed.

Abram moved his eyes to the gun belt lying on the table. “Figures. What are you in Bedlam for, mister?” Abram stood quickly, grabbed his bag.

“That’s my business.” Logan moved his hands around his swelled belly and grunted in pain.

“You better tell him, Mr. Logan, or Doc won’t treat you,” Nat said in a serious tone.

“If you are here to kill someone –”

“I’m not!” Logan blurted out. “I’m here to see Genevieve Queen.”

Nat and Abrams exchanged looks. Abrams knelt beside Logan, opened his black bag, and took out a bottle of brown liquid. He opened it and pulled Logan’s head to the bottle’s opening. Logan drank from it, nearly spit out, but Abrams made sure he swallowed every drop of the elixir.

Logan coughed. His head felt heavy. He laid back, closed his eyes. Within a few minutes, he was off into dreamland.

“He going to be alright?” Nat asked.

Abrams sighed, wiped his chin with the back of his left hand. “I don’t know. Homer Kelsey ate one of those damn things last year. Remember what happened to him?”

“Oh, yeah.” Nat nodded. “I remember. Somebody should tell Genevieve about him.”

“Wonder what that’s all about?”

Nat shrugged his shoulders. “Always thought Genevieve was a peaceful lady.”

“She has something planned. I’m going to keep my nose out of it. I suggest you do the same, Nat.”

“Who says I’m being nosy?”

“I do!” Abrams gathered his little black bag, headed for the door. “There’s never been a man who seeks out more trouble than you, Nat. Like I said, keep out of it!”

“Well,” said Nat. “What ruffled your feathers today?”