Daily Archives: February 2, 2016

How the West Was ZOMBED – Chapter 15

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And so it went the next few days. The Marshal would arrive bright and early, put in a long day’s work on the formerly Olmsted now Farquhar property, and listen as Sarah talked away about her life, her hopes and dreams, with the occasional bible verse thrown in. Sarah was no slouch herself, working as hard as her delicate constitution allowed.

Together, they cleared and seeded the land, got Olmsted’s old water pump working, and shined the cabin up prettier than a new penny. Sarah dipped into her inheritance to purchase supplies and provisions, which Slade hauled back from Anderson’s General Store.

A lesser deputy might have questioned his boss’ loyalty to his job, but Gunther was proud of his match making skills and demanded full reports whenever Slade checked in on the Buchanan Boys.

Slade always felt bad for leaving Sarah all alone so far from civilization, but Sarah insisted, quoting biblical verses off the top of her head as evidence that a man in the home of a woman he isn’t married to was enough to make the man upstairs blow a gasket and then some.

Late in the afternoon of the third day, Slade was on his way back to town when a peculiar sight off in the distance caught his attention. Two cavalry men in blue uniforms stood next to a buckboard wagon. A third man lying in the back cried out in pain.

Slade rode on over as any good Marshal would, only to catch a loud argument.

“AM I THE LIEUTENANT OR AM I NOT?”

“DOES THAT MATTER ANYMORE?!”

“HE’S DONE FOR! YOU KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE!”

“HE COULD PULL THROUGH!”

“Afternoon,” Slade said.

The Lieutenant was a big burly man with red hair and a full beard. The Private was a young man with blonde hair.

Slade went up to the wagon for a closer look. The third man clutched his neck, trying in vain to close up a hole and keep the blood from trickling out. He gasped and gurgled for breath.

The Private put his hand on the victim’s. “Hold on, Carl! Hold on!”

Carl was not holding on. His eyes rolled into the back of his head. One last, loud gasp and his head fell back. His life was over.

The Lieutenant withdrew his pistol and pumped three rounds into Carl’s forehead. On pure instinct, Slade drew his Colt. He and the Lieutenant traded glances until Slade holstered his weapon. The Lieutenant did the same.

“You didn’t have to do that,” the Private said.

“You know I did,” the Lieutenant replied.

Slade didn’t care for the sight he’d just seen. He figured it wasn’t a crime to shoot a dead man, but the act still puzzled him.

“What happened?” Slade asked.

“I don’t even know where to begin,” the Lieutenant said. “Or if you’d believe me.”

The Lieutenant sipped from a metal flask. He offered some to Slade, who declined.

“Injuns?” Slade asked.

“If only,” the Private said.

“Men,” the Lieutenant said. “And women. Overcome by some…I don’t even know how to put it. A delirium I suppose. Like rabid dogs with immense strength.”

“The more you shoot at them the faster they come,” the Private added.

“What?” Slade asked.

“My thought exactly,” the Lieutenant said as he hopped in the driver’s seat. The Private took his place next to him.

“Are you lost from your regiment?” Slade asked.

“We are the regiment,” the Lieutenant said. “What’s left of it.”

Slade could only repeat, “What?”

The Lieutenant yanked the reigns, telling his horses it was time to walk away.

“You’d have to see it to believe it,” the Lieutenant said. “I pray you never do.”

Dumbfounded, Slade stood there, alone on the open prairie, doing his best to make sense of what just happened. Unable to do so, he hopped onto Chance and headed back for Highwater.

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How the West Was ZOMBED – Chapter 14

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To say that the Olmsted property was a dump would be an insult to dumps. Without old Frederick looking after it, the log cabin had gone into disrepair and the few acres became overrun with weeds and tall grass.

“Oh my,” Sarah said. “I knew enough to be skeptical when the advertisement described it as ‘luxurious’ but this isn’t how I pictured it at all.”

Sarah and Slade walked into the cabin where they found cobwebs, dirty dishes, and dust, dust, and more dust.

“I have my work cut out for me,” Sarah said. “So be it. As the good book says, ‘idle hands are the devil’s handiwork.’”

Slade nodded.

“Thank you, Marshal.  I don’t want to keep you from your duties any longer.”

Slade tipped his hat then headed for his horse, only to stop abruptly. He had something to say, and without Gunther around, it was going to be difficult for him, especially since Sarah was new to him.

“Is everything all right, Marshal?” Sarah asked.

“I don’t…”

Sarah removed her bonnet as she waited for the words to come out of Slade’s mouth. All that long pretty hair didn’t help the Marshal connect his brain to his voice box any faster.

“I reckon I don’t feel it’s right to…”

Big brown eyes. Staring. Blinking. That’s all Slade saw.

“…to leave you all alone out here…because you’re a woman and all.”

Sarah smiled. “Oh, I know,” she said. “This certainly is unorthodox. Ever since he passed, I’ve come to realize how much I relied on Jedediah for everything.”

“I’m sorry,” Slade said.

“It’s all right,” Sarah said. “He slipped away peacefully in his sleep. Such a kind, gentle man. It would have been nice to have known him a bit longer but seventy-four years is more than anyone can ask for.”

Slade felt a burning need to check to see if he heard that correctly.

“Seventy-four?” he asked.

“Unusual, I know,” Sarah said. “But father needed a loan and Jedediah had the money. Can’t say anyone ever asked my opinion.”

Fortunately, Slade’s stoicism prevented him from sharing his opinion.

“But you need not worry about me, Marshal,” Sarah said. “I’ve come to accept that no man will ever want a once married old maid of twenty-six so I shall persevere and learn how to survive on my own.”

Slade was only two years older. And he was alive. He was beating old Jedediah on two fronts.

“I’ll lend a hand,” Slade said.

A rusty axe was buried in a tree stump, surrounded by logs Olmsted never got around to. The Marshal went to work splitting them.

“You’re too kind, Marshal,” Sarah said.

“Rain.”

“Pardon?”

“Call me Rain.”

“Very well,” Sarah said. “Rain.”

Sarah retreated to the cabin and went to work on tidying up. An hour later she poked her head outside to check on her helper only to find him shirtless, his sweaty muscles gleaming in the sun.

“Oh my Lord,” she said. Good church goer that she was, she averted her eyes and walked back inside.

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