Justice

Denver.

A bustling, wild, but dangerously exciting town setting on the eastern slopes of the Rockies where the prairie met the mountains.  A town filled with a lawless raw energy. A rapidly growing western town filled with miners moving on through the Rockies in search for the next gold mining camp.  Or with cattle barons who ruled vast cattle empires on the rolling plains just east of the city.  Filled with people of all walks of life who flocked to the West in search for a new start.  A city growing too fast with little, if any, law enforcement to curb the waves of crime which traveled the West in search for its next victim.

Jeremiah Pitt knew the monster was here, somewhere, in Denver.  The magic within the Iroquois war-axe constantly whispered to him, giving him directions and advice, whenever awakened from it silent slumber by the arrival of evil.  Through the night, from one saloon to the next, he searched.

He found the mortal coil which contained the evil monster within a smoke filled, brightly lit saloon filled with rows upon rows of tables for the gambling crowd.  As he entered the establishment he noted the long bar stretching down the entire length of the building to his left and the dozens of large kerosene lamps hanging from the ceiling which lit the established with a yellow-hot glaring light.  The kerosene light, drifting through the heavy tobacco smoke filling the room, seemed to magnify yet blur the images before him. To his right the gambling tables were packed with cowpokes, cattlemen, bankers and a smattering of farmers.  All with cards in their hands.  All smoking cigars or pipes or rolled cigarettes.  All losing money.  All except the house and a few independent card dealers who had rented out tables for their for their own private game.

One of the rented tables in the far back of the crowded establishment belonged to the one he hunted.  A big man.  Built like a bear with massive shoulders and thick arms.  Long black hair, pulled back of his shoulders, clean and glistening, matched the thick beard and mustache masking most of the man’s face.  He was dressed like a gambler.  A white shirt underneath a three button black silk vest.  Tailored dark gray slacks.  An expensive white shirt with long sleeves ending in a pair of gold and diamond cufflinks.

He did not look like a monster.  But Jeremiah Pitt knew.  True evil never disguised itself in something horrific to look upon.  The darkest evil always appeared to its intended victims as something beautiful or powerful.  Appeared as someone to trust and honor.  Better, obviously, to lure the unsuspecting into its deadly web.

He made his way slowly past the gambling tables.  The heavy silver spurs strapped to his worn and scarred boots jingling musically with each step.   A hand rode on the handle of the heavy .44 caliber Remington revolver riding low on his hip. Stuffed into his gun belt behind him was the war-axe.  The magic talisman whispering to him even as he approached the table casually.

Half way to the table where his prey sat the big man sitting at the table looked up, narrowed his eyes, and frowned.  Yet continued to deal cards out to seven men sitting around the table.  Stepping up to the table Jeremiah laid a hand on the shoulder of one of the players.  The man looked up and into Pitt’s face.  And then, unbidden, for some reason slid back in his chair and stood up, handing his freshly dealt cards to him in the process.

Pitt accepted the cards, sat down in the chair, and smiled at the dealer.

“Been riding a long time to find you, mister.   A long, hard ride.”

“Yes?” the black bearded giant grunted, lifting one shaggy eyebrow suspiciously.  “Why your interest in me?”

“Seems like we have mutual acquaintances.  A young Comanche family traveling south out on the plains about a week’s ride from here.  A family with two young boys.  Migrating to Texas.  Minding their own business.  Remember meeting them about a month ago?”

“Sorry. I don’t,” the big man grunted, shaking his head as he folded up his hand and laid it gently on the table and smiled amicably at Pitt.

“You should.  You butchered all four of’em with that bowie knife stuck in your belt there.”

The six men sitting around the table threw cards onto the middle of the green velvet tabletop and hurriedly got out of their chairs.  They moved away from the buffalo hunter and the card shark rapidly.  The scraping of chairs across wooden planks floors around the gambler and hunter became a quick staccato of rapidly retreating witnesses.

The bearded gamble, hands lying palms down on the green velvet of the table, watched in amusement as people cleared a large space around him and the man sitting across form him.  Returning his gaze back to the unshaven, unbathed hunter his smirk for a smile widened maliciously.

“Interesting, stranger.  You walk into this saloon, find me minding my own business, sit down at my table, and accuse me of murder.  Tell me.  Why would I want to kill four Comanche?  What would I gain killing four dirt poor Indians?”

“Souls,” Pitt answered just loud enough for the gambler and no one else to hear as he laid the Iroquois war-axe onto the table beside him.  “You eat souls for sustenance.   Especially the souls of children.”

What happened next is in dispute.

No two stories are exactly alike.  Witnesses, the entire saloon, recount numerous versions of the incident.  None of them were written down.  Only passed along orally from one generation to the next.  Researchers have been unable to verify the folktale.  The incident is soundly ridiculed by many historians, calling the story too outlandish to believe.  A few, however, believe the stories as being gospel.

As the folktale goes, the gamble turned himself into a howling monster.  For a second or two he eyed the buffalo hunter silently.  Almost complacently.  And then suddenly he leaped out of his chair, hurling himself over the top of the table hands outstretched in an effort to grab the hunter’s throat.  In that brief space, while in mid-air flying over the table, the black haired man changed.  His whole physical being morphed into a howling, hairy beast with a back lined with massive horns and teeth as long and as sharp as daggers.  Hundreds of them.  His already powerful hands became gargantuan in size, his fingernails turning into massively sharp talons.

The patrons of the saloon left in a wild stampede of pure terror.  Left so violently every window of the saloon’s ground floor was shattered and doors were ripped off their hinges as hundreds of bodies flew out into the night in their efforts to flee.  Into the night the patrons fled.  Most screaming in sheer terror as they ran in the night down dimly lit streets.

Only one mortal stayed behind to witness the fight.  Denver’s most renowned drunk.  Too drunk to stand up and run, he lay in a corner of the building beside the rear door of the establishment.  He was almost crushed by the fleeing crowd.  But through the frenzied mass of screaming, terrified men pushing and cursing their way past him, he swears he saw what happened next.  Swore to his dying day what he saw actually happened exactly as he related it to whomever wanted to hear it.

The buffalo hunter moved faster than the monster hurling toward him.  The tall man came out of his chair, swiped that strangle looking war-axe off the table, ducked underneath the monster’s outstretched claws, twisted completely around in an one hundred eighty degree arc in the process, and brought the sharp edge of the war-axed down on the back of the monster thick neck.  Brought it down with a force powerful enough to cleave head from body.  The monster’s head bounced twice on the wood plank floor, rolled a foot to one side, and then . . . unbelievably! . . . began  to shake violently!  Shake violently,  openig its mouth to begin screaming in an unholy voice, as  . . . as . . . ghosts by the hundreds fled from its mouth and soared into the air above its body!

Hundreds and hundreds of ghosts flew out of the monster’s mouth, rose up above the hunter still gripping his war-axe, and then fled through the walls, ceiling, and busted windows with blinding speed!

As he lay against the far wall of the saloon the town’s drunk watched as the hunter glanced in his direction and smiled.  Walking to a still upright card table he grabbed a half filled glass of whiskey and tossed it down his throat with one sharp toss of his wrist.  And then, grabbing the neck of the whiskey bottle, the killer of monsters walked across the cluttered mess of the saloon and handed the bottle to the drunk just before stepping out into the night.  Never to be seen again.

Swear to god! the drunk swore over and over to anyone who would buy him a drink and listen to his tale.  That’s exactly what happened that night.  Swear to god!


Justice

He swung out of the saddle of his big Appaloosa with a smooth, cat-like ripple in muscle and sinews, reaching for the long barreled Sharps 44-40 caliber rifle at the same time.  In the dry dust of the open prairie heavy Spanish spurs jingled as he gripped the rifle in one hand and used the sleeve of the old cotton shirt of the other arm to wipe sweat from his brow.

The large horse, long used to her master, bent down and began munching on the burnt grass of the high plains.  The man underneath the wide brimmed, battered looking Confederate cavalry hat eyed the horse once and grinned.  The damn horse was smarter than he was.  It was she who found the buffalo trail and began following them while he swayed back and forth in the saddle half asleep.  It was she who came up down wind from the herd slow and easy like and then snorted just loud enough to wake him.

Dammit.  The horse was not only smarter.  It was a better tracker as well.

Underneath the hot July sun he turned and gazed off into the distance and eyed the small herd of buffalo milling around feeding a thick carpet of prairie grass.  At least 1000 hundred yards away he figured.  The blur of black bodies shimmering and dancing in the heat and haze of mid afternoon.  The heat and haze would make it a tough shot.  Judging distance through the dancing mirage of the summer’s heat was always difficult. But there was no breeze.  It was just too damn hot for anything else to be moving around out here.  No breeze meant the shot would be a little easier to make.  Maybe.  If he could knock down the big bull leading the heard with one shot everything else would fall in place.

Back in camp the boys laying track for the new railroad branch leading down to Denver would have fresh meat tonight.  If he and his boys could knock down five or six big animals and skin’em, and butcher’em before nightfall.   Running a dirty hand across his lips speculatively, narrowing his eyes, he turned his head to peer off to his right.  Just topping a hill on the rolling plains were two tiny specks.  Maybe two . . . three miles away.  His boys.  A couple of Chinese cooks and two old Mexican muleskinners who came along to help him dress out the game he knocked down.  A messy, bloody, thankless task.  But one which required him to do his end of the business first.

Flipping up the blade sights of his rifle he found a flat rock lying on the ground which would be the perfect rifle rest for his shooting.  Kneeling to one knee in the hot dust of the open plains he slowly unwound his long frame onto the ground and rested the heavy Sharps onto the rock and reached out with a hand to adjust the rifle’s tall sights for the right yardage.  Head above the gun sights he eyed the lay of the ground.  A gently down hill slope stretched out between him and the buffalo.  Half smiling to himself he lowered his face down to place a cheek against the wood of the rifle stock and peered through the sights at his target.

And grunted in surprise.

The two pale white, translucent, figures were on their knees in the dirt half way between himself and his first target.  Maybe five hundred yards directly in front of him.  A Nokoni Comanche warrior and his squaw.  Yet . . . not Nokoni Comanche.  At least . . . not a living Nokoni Comanche.

Ghosts.  Both kneeling.  Both with their heads down and almost touching their chests.  Both obviously weeping in pain and agony.

He frowned.  Frowned, but not the least bit surprised.  Ghosts. Weeping.  Out here in the vast sweeping plains filled with nothing but burnt grass, waves or rolling heat, and buffalo.  He knew they were ghosts because he could look through their slightly warped and wavering forms and see the buffalo on down range.

Lifting his head he stared off toward the buffalo but saw nothing of the ghostly pair. Lowering his head he used one eye to stare through the gun sights again.  And again saw Comanche warrior and squaw on their knees in the dust, their hands clasped together in front of them now, their heads lowered to their chests.  And weeping.  Their bodies visibly wracked with pain as they wept.

Lifting his head again he stared off toward the buffalo and paused, his dirty, unshaven face settling into a thoughtful mask.  And then, his face turning into a smear of irritation, he sighed heavily, shook his head, and slowly climbed to his feet again. Cradling the heavy Sharps into one arm he turned walked back to his mount, spurs jingling loudly in the hot air.

“Come on, girl.  Let’s go see what the hell’s going on,” he said softly as the Appaloosa lifted her head and flared her nostrils inquisitively.

Across the rolling plains horse and rider rode.  It did not take long.  Slipping down into a low gully the two came slowly up a gentle rise toward the top of a hill before the big boned horse pulled up sharply.  He glanced forward, eyes narrowed, and saw the grisly sight lying half covered in the ground.  Bones.  Human bones.  Along with the cloth and leather remnants of clothing a Comanche man and woman might have worn.  Rolling out of his saddle, the Sharps rifle back in its saddle holster, the tall man stepped away from his mount and began walking toward the bones.  As he did he reached behind him and pulled out an ancient looking weapon from the back of his gun belt and gripped it firmly.  It had a long curved oak handle and an old iron, but razor sharp, axe blade cleaved into the end of the handle.  The handle was decorated with odd looking but colorful symbols.  And four long, hoary old Crow feathers dangled from it from leather thongs.

It was not a weapon normally found on the high plains.  No Comanche, Sioux, or Apache warrior carried a weapon of this design.  This war axe was old.  Very old.  Far older than the man who gripped it tightly in his right hand.  Far older even than the man’s great grandfather who took it away from an Iroquois medicine man back before the American Revolution. Nevertheless, in the hands of the man Fate had touched even before his birth, the ancient Iroquois war-axe was a powerful weapon.

It was a weapon filled with magic.  Ancient . . . long forgotten magic.  Magic powerful enough to summon ghosts.  Or hurl the supernatural wraiths back beyond the veil which separated the Living from the Dead.

Wife! the male of the two hissed, coming to his feet hurriedly and reaching out to touch the shoulder of his grieving wife as he watched the tall man approach. He sees us!  This hunter sees us!

The woman, still beautiful in a plain way even in death, came to her feet and turned to face the approaching man.

What shall we do, husband?  We cannot run.  We cannot leave our children!

We will stand our ground, wife.  There is nothing this hunter can do to us.  Our fates have been written.  It cannot be changed.

            The tall hunter came to a halt in front of the ghosts and eyed them cautiously. The power talisman of the Iroquois war-axe in his right hand he first eyed the ghostly couple in front of him and then dropped his gaze to the ground and eyed the collection of bones half buried in the dust.  The bones told a grim tale.  A horrible tale.  A tale of senseless slaughter of an entire family by someone . . . or something . . . which had long past what could be called human.

I am called Jeremiah Pitt. My ancestors are both White and Indian.  My Indian ancestors are mostly Mohawk and Onondagas.  They lived beyond the Great River to the east of us.  My White ancestors were famous Puritan witches and warlocks of old.  Hunters of the Dark Magic, one and all.  I see, sister and brother, you still mourn for you children.  Is there anything I can do?

The ghostly couple looked hopefully at each other and reached for each other’s hand to clasp as they turned to look at the hunter again.

The monster took our children’s souls.  He killed us all with his powerful hands and then somehow reached out and ripped from us our children’s spirits and rode off into the sunset.  Can you find them for us, Hunter? Can you bring our children back to us so that, together, we can journey beyond the great divide?

            Pitt turned and looked off toward the west and narrowed his eyes thoughtfully.  Toward the sunset.  What kind of monster was powerful enough to steal souls?  Even more curious . . . why, apparently, only the souls of children?   He did not know the answers.  But something deep inside him stirred.  The voices of his Mohawk and Onondagas . . . powerful medicine men and warriors all . . . along with his Puritan forefathers . . . stirred deep in his subconscious.  They were telling him he had to hunt.  To hunt and rescue the souls of the children.

The eyes of a relentless hunter returned his gaze back to the grieving parents.

I will bring them back to you, brother. If they and this creature who keeps your children captive can be found, I will find them.  This I promise.

Without saying another word he turned and walked back to his big Appaloosa and swung into the saddle.  Galloping across the rolling plains he pulled up beside the lumbering wagon and his comrades and told him he would be gone for a few days.  Handing them the big Sharps .50 and a full ammo belt, he waved, and wheeled the big Appaloosa around and galloped off into the west with thundering hooves.


The Gift

The jangle of heavy spurs along with the thud of boots slapping against rough wooden planks clearly echoed through the night’s frigid cold.  The boots . . . the janglin’ spurs . . . of a man walking slowly . . . deliberately . . . across the wooden boardwalk of the town’s only hardware store was loud enough to be heard by anyone if they had been standing outside in the darkness.  But no one was foolish enough to be standing outside tonight.  A Northen’er was coming in off the plains.  Bringing harsh rain mixed with snow and a wind that’d cut you to pieces.  Everybody in town this time of night was barricaded behind stout doors and strong walls and sitting close to pot belly stoves to keep warm.

Even the town’s only saloon had its main doors closed and its dozen or so kerosene lanterns blackened out.  Looking like a drunken derelict huddling forgotten in darkened shadows.

But he wasn’t.

Holding a lantern up in front of him with his off hand he moved slowly down the walk his eyes constantly moving to take in the shadows which filled crevices and corners of this sleeping town.  His gun hand rested on the butt of the big .44 caliber Remington revolver as if it was expecting trouble.  His face, bathed in the harsh golden-yellowish light of the lantern, confirmed it.  He was expecting trouble.

The light revealed the face of a man who had lived too close to the edge of the abyss.  Horizontally across the bridge of his nose was a vivid red scar freshly closed and still healing.  Vertically running down his left cheek was an older scar partially covered by the dark brown whiskers tainted with streaks of light gray.  Odd gun metal gray eyes underneath brows wrinkled in anticipation eyed the world around him.  Not a handsome man . . . not necessarily an ugly man.  But the scars told a story to any astute observer.  This man wasn’t an ordinary cow puncher.  He wasn’t a farmer.  He wasn’t a mule skinner.  He was something different.  Someone maybe honest folk should stay away from.

He was dressed in worn sweat stained buckskin.  Long brown hair, streaked in gray, was pulled back behind his head, Indian style, and tied into a long single rope of hair.  Riding low on the right side of his waist was the heavy belt and holster which carried the Remington .44 caliber revolver easily . . . almost casually . . . close to his gun hand.  Stuffed in the front of his belt was the butt of a  .45 caliber Colt revolver.  On his left hip in a beaded deer skin sheath was the ugly form of a long bladed knife.  But riding in the gun belt, tucked in the middle of his back, was the long handled and darkly glistening blade of an ancient weapon.  An Iroquois war axe.  A weapon handed down from generation to generation.  Handed down to the male heir who had The ‘Gift.’

The ‘Gift.’

There was no need to talk about.  No way to talk about it to anyone for it to make sense.  You either had it or you didn’t. You either could see things no one else could see or you couldn’t.  You either could feel the presence or you couldn’t.  If ya couldn’t see it or feel it . . . well, pardner . . . that meant you were just normal.  And normal t’wernt bad

at all.

But Gawd help ya if ya could feel it and see it.  It meant yer destiny was set.

It all began way back before the county became a country.  Before the Revolutionary War.  Way back in the 1760’s.  Great great Grandpa Josiah Pitt and some of his neighbors were fighting the Iroquois up close to the Canadian border during the French and Indian Wars.  Fighting with the British to keep marauding Indians and the French out of the Hudson Valley.  As the family story goes great great Grandpa and his band of men found a Iroquois campsite.  A campsite with lots of captives, mostly women and children, the raiding party were taking with them back to Canada.  A fight ensued.  A bloody brawl that cut up both sides mightily.

As the story goes one swift Iroquois warrior seemed to rise out of the darkness directly in front of Josiah with a war axe in hand and ran screaming toward him while emitting a blood curdling war cry.  Grandpa Joshia lifted his long rifle and took careful aim at the warrior.  But his powder had become wet and the long rifle misfired!  He barely had enough time to club the warrior with the useless rifle and draw his knife before the warrior was on him.

It was a savage, silent, fight to the finish.  Grandpa Josiah was cut up bad from that Iroquois war axe.  But in the end it was he who took the axe from his opponent and killed the warrior with his own weapon.  And the moment that happened The ‘Gift’ settled into the bones of all the selected male Pitt heirs yet to come.  There was no other way to say it.  As strange as it sounds it nevertheless was the harsh truth.  Those who possessed The ‘Gift’ saw Ghosts.  Ghosts and Evil.

But more than that.  The ability to see Ghosts and Evil was only a minor curse the odd Iroquois war axe carried with it.  The true curse was the need, the overwhelming desire, to pursue Evil and defeat it.

Which is the reason why he was in this miserable little town huddled in a cul de sac at the base of the towering, snow capped Grand Tetons.  He was hunting a Ghost.  An ethereal creature hiding in the hulking form of an old buffalo hunter.  Two nights earlier he came across a sod house set out on the wide expanse of the eastern plains of Wyoming.  A sod house bathed in moonlight with smoke rising out of a small chimney and one lone kerosene lamp glowing dully sitting in the middle of the open door of the home.

Inside the eerily silent home he found them all dead.  Husband, wife, two small children.  All dead.  Brutally murdered.  It took some time to bury the dead out on the plains a few yards away from their home.  But he buried them, made rough crosses to mark their passage into the afterlife, and then climbed with aching bones and tired muscles up into the saddle of his big Appaloosa mare just as the biggest, brightest full moon hung directly over him and his horse in a sky filled with a hundred billion unblinking stars.

That’s when he heard the laughter.

The insane cackling of a madman.

Or the braying, taunting howl of a Ghost.

The Navajo called them the yee naaldlooshii.  Skinwalkers.  Witches who had the power to take on the image of other creatures, including humans, to do evil things.  Male or female the evil in them unleashed controlled them and roamed the night hunting their prey.  Skinwalkers were known by all the tribes by one name or the other.  Few natives knew the true reality of the horror.  The yee naaldlooshii need not be living, breathing creatures.  Many were already Ghosts who, for one reason or another, returned back to this world to haunt the living.

Great great grandpa Josiah Pitts had killed a skinwalker years ago with the skinwalker’s own weapon.  It was now his  . . . Jeremiah Pitts . . . curse to hunt down and send yee naaldlooshii back to the bottomless pits of Hell.

In the distance of the rolling plains the Ghost taunted him.  Challenged him to find and face him in combat.  Occasionally he caught sight of the spectral, ghostly, image of the skinwalker darting back and forth from one hiding place or another  across the plains over the two days as he tracked the creature to here.  Why the creature wanted to confront him in this hovel for a Western town at the base of the magnificent Tetons he had no idea.  But here he was, lantern in hand, trudging slowly across the wood flooring of the hardware’s front heading for the town’s only barn and blacksmith’s shop.

The massive Spanish silver spurs on his boots barked loudly with his every step.  He didn’t mind the noise.  He wasn’t trying to hide from the fiend.  The fiend wasn’t trying to hide.  His gun metal gray eyes eyed the gapping blackness of the open barn door knowing the skinwalker was inside waiting for him.  The entity wanted to face him.  To destroy him.  To claim his soul as its own.

Gripping the brightly lit lantern in one hand Pitt stepped off the boardwalk and made his way across the frozen dirt of the town’s only street and came to a halt in front of the gaping mouth of the open barn door.  Lifting the lantern high over his head he stared into the darkness of the barn for a second or two before deliberating bending down and setting the lantern in the dirt just in front of the barn door.  Standing up he took two measured steps back away from the lantern.  The first measured backstep underneath the bright moonlight beaming down on him clearly illuminated his presence to anyone who  decided to glance out of a window.  But his second backward step . . . the second step engulfed him into a massive shadow cast by the town’s only bank.  . . . and with that step Jeremiah Pitt dissolved into nothingness!

The gray eyed, buckskin clad figure was gone!  Vaporizing into the night as if he too was a . . . was a ghost himself!

From inside the blackened barn a terrible wail of anger mixed with surprise sang through the night air.  An unholy sound that held its high pitched notes for some seconds in the darkness of the barn before slipping away in the wind.   It was quickly replaced by the sound of something heavy . . . something massive . . . sliding through the dirt of the barn floor.  One of the two large barn doors moved slightly as if pushed open partially by an unseen hand.  And then, after a slight pause, something incredible emerged into the moonlight.

A twisted, contorted, but massive black shadow of what once had been a man came out of the darkness of the barn dragging one foot behind it in the process.  Hair, as white as snow, ragged and stringy, began moving due to the night’s soft wind like Hydra’s snakes.  A horrid nightmare slid into the moonlight but was not fully illuminated by the bright silvery beams.  Instead it seemed as if the creature’s blackness absorbed the moonlight’s every bright photon hungrily.  As it approached the yellow light of the burning lantern it still did not reveal any shape or form!  Like the moonlight the darkness of the creature drank the lantern’s light fully.

With a grunt of irritation the creature lifted the lantern with one hand and examined it carefully before angrily hurling it out into the middle of the street.  Twisting first to the right and then to the left the creature sought to fix one dark eye on the human who hunted him.  Seeing nothing he snorted in disgust . . . and froze to absolute stillness!

For a second or two the black shadow remained absolutely motionless.  And then, incredibly, the contorted, twisted image of the compact creature seemed to rise up . . . to straighten itself to its full height . . . before slowly turning around to face the darkness of the open barn.

Jeremiah Pitt stood in the open space of the barn.  Stood with his legs apart.  With the .44 Remington in one hand.  The Iroquois war axe in the other.  Loose and relax.  But his gun metal gray eyes firmly affixed on the now much taller shadow standing in front of him.

“So, foolish man”, the hissing laughter of the yee naaldooshii floated through the air, “You trick me with those spurs of yours by making me rely on hearing your approach.  And then you lure me out of my trap by setting this lantern down in front of the door. Very adept, human!  Very adept!  But it will help you naught.  Are you prepared to die?”

brstatehamB.R. Stateham is a fourteen year old boy trapped in a sixty-two year old body. His enthusiasm and boyish delight in anything mysterious and/or unknown continues.

Writing novels, especially detectives, is just the avenue of escape which keeps the author’s mind sharp and inquisitive. He’s published a ton of short stories in online magazines like Crooked, Darkest Before the Dawn, Abandoned Towers, Pulp Metal Magazine, Suspense Magazine, Spinetingler Magazine, A Twist of Noir, Angie’s Diary, Power Burn Flash, and Eastern Standard Crime. He writes both detective/mysteries, as well as science-fiction and fantasy.

Pitt’s eyes remained unblinking on the shadow before him.  His lips remained tightly clinched.  He waited.  Waited for the Ghost to move.  Waited for the right moment to strike the blow with the war axe that would finish the fight.  When it came it was sudden.  Fast.  And violent.

The Ghost leapt toward Pitt.  At the same instance Pitt leapt toward the Ghost.  The .44 caliber Remington came up with lightning quickness.  BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!   Three loud, incredibly loud, shots ripped through the night air.  Three heavy .44 caliber lead balls slammed into the middle of the shadow’s torso.  Pitt knew bullets would not kill the nightmare.  But it would slow it for a half second before it regained its full strength and lunged for Pitt’s throat.

The half second pause was just the factor which meant victory or defeat.

The shadow staggered, stepped back, then stood up again and lunged.  A shadowy hand stretched out with blazing speed toward Pitt’s throat.  But it clutched empty air when it snapped its soul-eating fingers closed!  Pitt ducked under the outstretched shadow hand, rolled one shoulder past the reaching shadow and came to his feet behind the creature.  At the same time he came to his feet the hand gripping the ancient Iroquois axe swept laterally out and behind him.  The blade of the axe bit deep into the Ghost’s back.  There was an unholy howl of pain.  And then, incredibly, the darkness of the shadow creature began to be absorbed by the war axe.  Like a thick sponge tossed into a bucket of water it back to suck the creature into the axe’s ancient iron blade.

Even before Pitt could stand up and turn to face the skinwalker the creature disappeared completely into the ancient weapon.  For a moment or two the wooden handle of the war axe bucked and tossed in his hand as if it was finding it difficult to keep the evil creature’s soul imprisoned.  But it soon subsided and disappeared altogether.  A grim smile of pleasure spread across Pitt’s thin lips as he shoved the handle of the war-axe into his gun belt behind his back.  Turning, holstering the .44 Remington, he walked out of the barn and headed toward his horse.

In the night the jingling of heavy silver spurs run in the bright moonlit night.  But no one heard them for all the fair citizens of the no name town slept in their beds safely and securely completely unaware Evil had come calling.