A Six Gun and the Queen of Light

Part 6

A Six Gun and the Queen of Light

By Mark Slade

Story Break Barbed

In the morning, the sun rose high. Already a blistering day out in the plains, the sun burned its light harshly on the town of Bedlam. In the streets, the debris from a saloon (two doors from the one Logan had stayed the night) was scattered across the street: blood-stained pieces of wood and clothing.

Logan walked out from his saloon and saw the damage. A man in a bowler was sitting in a rocking chair smoking a pipe.

Logan looked over at him. “What happened?”

The man blew black smoke from his pursed lips. “A horde came into town. Tore Jim Brubon’s saloon apart.”

“I thought they only stayed out in the plains,” Logan said.

The man burped up his breakfast, took a puff. “They do. It’s when they bite someone and they change into a horde. The people bit always come into a town.”

“You’re pulling my leg,” Logan said, his eyebrows arching down.

“Nope.” The man took a couple of puffs. “If a person is bit, the poisons from that creature spread – then a change comes. You grow tusks from your snout, fangs from under your bottom lip, hooves instead of feet and hands.”

Logan sighed. He took off his hat and ran a hand through his short ginger hair then placed it back on his head. “Son of a bitch,” he whispered.

“What?” The man stopped rocking in his chair.

“I ate one of those things,” Logan said matter-of-factly.

Astonished, the man removed his pipe from his mouth – raised an eyebrow. “Why would anyone eat a horde?”

Logan shrugged. He turned, spied Nat at the livery station.

“I thought it would be mighty tasty,” was Logan’s answer.

“You didn’t tell me I could turn into one of those things,” Logan screamed at Nat. Nat hadn’t seen Logan come into the barn. He nearly jumped out of his skin. Nat dropped a bucket of water. “Into what?”

With a low growl, Logan came across the left side of Nat’s face with an open-hand slap, then a right cross from the other side. Nat flew into a pile of hay. It took him a few seconds to get it together. He sat up, touched his sore jaw with a hand.

“What’d you do that for?!” Nat yelled, his voice breaking a little.

“I like people to be straight with me.” Logan stepped forward. He grabbed Nat by his shirt lapels, picking him up off the ground. He brought his face close to his. He could smell Nat’s breakfast. “That horde I ate! You could have told me what that thing was.”

“Doc didn’t want to tell you… I swear it was him.” Nat’s voice cracked again. Tears were streaming down his cheeks.

“That’s all right, friend. Me and Doc will be having the same conversation, like this.” Logan dropped Nat. He fell hard on his back.

Nat scrambled to get back on his feet. “Logan!” he called out. Logan was already outside of the barn. Nat ran, stopping at the open doorway. “Logan? You can’t hit an old man! It’s not right!”

Logan unsheathed his Colt. He waved it at Nat. “Who says I’m gonna hit him!”

Nat caught up with Logan in the middle of the street, barely missed by a stagecoach. Logan stopped and turned to Nat. Nat was scared. He took a few steps away from Logan.

“You can’t kill an old man,” Nat said nervously.

Logan just stared at him, nostrils flared. His eyes were moving back and forth, back and forth. His brain was adding things up. In the distance, somewhere under the hot sun, an eagle was adding punctuation to this bit of swordplay.

“Take me to Genevieve Queen,” he finally said.

Reluctantly, Nat agreed. He nodded, flashed an uneasy smile. “I’ll get us a couple of fresh horses.”