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. (more…)