Them What Ails Ya

Them What Ails Ya: A Sixth Gun Christmas Yarn, Part 4

There’s a reason the cannibals didn’t come a-looking at the sound of gunfire in the valley.

An awful reason.

Directly, we spotted the cave Boone Friedricks and his men had been using as a hideout. It was a gaping maw in the rock wall, and bits of bone and clothing–cast offs from their victims–littered the ground leading up to the cave.

The horrid odor of decay came from within, but I didn’t see sign of a sentry or lookout.

The stranger motioned for me to drop back a step or two. He pulled one of his revolvers and inched closer to the warren. The idea of walking into that pitch-black hole in the ground didn’t appeal to me one bit. The stranger must’ve had the same notion. After peering into the cave for a few seconds, he turned to me.

“Fetch one of those bones and some scraps of cloth,” he whispered. “Make a torch.”

As I set about the grim task, I wondered just whose clothes… whose bones… would be lighting our way.

“Stay a couple of steps behind me with that fire.” The gunslinger drew his second pistol. “Don’t get close enough to blind me. Hold it off to the side a bit, too. I don’t want to be back-lit. The light’ll make us both easier targets as it is.”

The cave was a lot deeper than I expected. The tunnel wound down and off to the side, like a giant serpent had burrowed its way through the stone. The torch guttered in the wind.

We hadn’t taken more than a dozen steps when a gunshot rang out from somewhere up ahead.

I flinched. The stranger didn’t. Read More

Posted by cullenbunn on December 22, 2011  /   Posted in Comics, Fiction, Sixth Gun

Them What Ails Ya: A Sixth Gun Christmas Yarn, Part 3

Ezra cried out in the dark.

I don’t speak lightly of miracles, friends! Miracles are too few and far between, and to treat them with an air of triviality … why, that’s a fool’s business!”

I’d heard those words-well-rehearsed to part rubes from their money-a thousand times in a thousand mud-hole towns. But hearing them at that moment, after all that had happened, reminded me of happier times, back when a bunch of rickety wagons felt like home, and I had friends and family and hot meals and a warm bed-

But Ezra was dead. So was my brother.

And I didn’t have a home, not any more.

I was dreaming-I knew it-but I couldn’t wake up. I didn’t want to wake up. A good dream can damn near fool you into thinking you’ve died and gone to Heaven.

“… I’ve traveled far and wide, through lands civilized and savage, to find the perfect fixings for this here tonic …”

I’ll admit, I’d never so much as tasted the potion. The stink of it-like rotten eggs and bacon grease-put me off. Nor had I been allowed to watch Ezra brew the stuff in his wagon stocked with strange-smelling roots and jars of colorful powders. But Jessie told me the primary ingredient of the tonic was whiskey, and a lot of it. The way Ezra near pickled himself with the stuff, I believed it.

“… And if this elixir ain’t a genuine miracle, then I don’t know if such a thing truly exists! One sip, friends, and you’ll feel strong as an ox, healthy as a horse, and -dare I say-positively virile!”

Ezra’s voice grew distant, like he was calling from the bottom of a deep well.

This’ll cure them what ails ya, folks! It’ll drive the foul spirits from your body like your granny chasing cats from the kitchen!”

The shadows swallowed up the old man’s voice, and he was gone.

The dream ended. Read More

Posted by cullenbunn on December 20, 2011  /   Posted in Comics, Fiction, Sixth Gun

Them What Ails Ya: A Sixth Gun Christmas Yarn, Part 2

It didn’t take me long to find one of them murderous bastards.

I had a good notion as to where Friedricks and his band might be hiding out. Up there in the hills not too terribly far from camp, there was a series of tunnels. Jessie and I went exploring up there when the weather was warmer, and on more than one occasion I’d stolen away with one of the camp girls for a kiss and a hug up in the shadows of those caves. The snow had hit hard and fast, almost as if the cannibals had brought the foul weather with them. If they were looking for a place to hole up until the thaw, the camp might’ve been there best choice, but I reckon they didn’t want to live amongst their food. The caves were the likely second choice.

Trudging across the snow, I glanced behind me and saw the path of my footsteps trailing back towards camp. Part of me wanted to turn and hike back in that direction. But another part of me wanted to keep marching on. Even after I killed those bastards-assuming I survived-I wanted to just keep on walking, leaving a trail of footprints leading on into forever.

I’d had it up to my gullet with Mr. Newcomb and his cruel ways. The camp wasn’t a home to me, not any more. With Ezra and Jessie gone, I didn’t have much of anything to return to. I think I decided then and there that I won’t never going back. Read More

Posted by cullenbunn on December 18, 2011  /   Posted in Fiction, General

Them What Ails Ya: A Sixth Gun Christmas Yarn, Part 1

A couple of years ago, I wrote a Christmas story featuring one of Drake Sinclair’s adventures before the events of The Sixth Gun. To firmly root the tale in the comic book tradition, Brian Hurtt and I also put together a bookend comic, and Brian supplied some stellar artwork to spruce up the story along the way. So, in honor of the holiday, I’m posting the story’s four chapters here over the next few days. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you enjoy it. If you’ve already read this Christmas yarn, you might want to check it out again to give your holiday spirit a jolt. After all, nothing says “Merry Christmas!” quite so well as cannibals.

“If old Ezra could read minds and foretell the future and such, how come he didn’t know he was gonna get himself ate by cannibals?”

That’s how my brother, Jessie, saw things, and I reckon it was difficult to argue with his reasoning no matter how bad I wanted to do just that. Even after all the peculiar things we’d seen over the years, Jessie was ever the skeptic, especially when it came to Ezra. Me, on the other hand, I believed the old codger’s tales of learning mind-reading from a medicine man, hypnosis from a Creole voodoo priest, and potion-making from a beautiful French witch. According to my brother, that made me no better than a rube paying two-bits for a palm reading. But I never needed a lick of proof in regards to Ezra’s abilities. I don’t know much about faith, but sometimes you just got to go with your gut.

So how come Ezra didn’t see his death coming? Read More

Posted by cullenbunn on December 16, 2011  /   Posted in Comics, Fiction, Sixth Gun
© COPYRIGHT 2019 Cullen Bunn