Doc went cross-eyed staring at all the gun barrels pointing at his nose. Slade. Miss Bonnie. Gunther. All had their sites trained on him.
“What, did one of you want the rabbit’s foot?” Doc asked. “I can’t say it was very lucky for the little fellow but I’ll fetch it if you wish.”
“Not funny,” Miss Bonnie said.
“Oh come now,” Doc said. “Who among you has never had rabbit stew?”
“That’s not the same thing,” Gunther said.
Miss Bonnie grabbed Annabelle by the wrist. “You’re coming with us.”
Annabelle pulled her hand back. “He’s fine.”
“Have you lost your mind?” Miss Bonnie asked as she pointed to Doc’s blood soaked beard. “Look at him.”
“He’s a genius, Bonnie,” Annabelle said. “He’ll figure out how to cure himself, won’t you Doc?”
“Indubitably, my dear,” Doc said. “There is no problem too great for science to remedy.”
“That’s not normal to want to bite into something alive like that,” Gunther said.
Doc sighed. “Did I feel a sudden urge swell up inside of me to snack on a small amount of living flesh?” the good doctor asked. “Yes. Does that mean I will carry that urge out on a human being? Of course not. I assure you that rabbit has left my hunger satiated.”
“This isn’t up for discussion,” Miss Bonnie said. “Get away from him, Annabelle.”
Annabelle stomped her foot. “You’re not my mother, Bonnie!”
The sound of hundreds of footsteps marching in unison up the road outside broke up the conversation.
Then came Blythe’s voice. “Company…halt!”
The footsteps stopped.
Gunther peeked out a dusty window and caught a glimpse of Blythe hovering over his zombie firing squad. Undead men and women all obeying the vampire’s commands with expert military precision.
“Aim high for a warning volley!”
“Aw shit,” Gunther said. He looked up at the ceiling. “I’m a-comin’ Mavis.”
The sound of hundreds of bullets being racked up into rifles filled Slade with dread. Instinctively, he dove for Miss Bonnie, knocking her to the safety of the ground.
A storm of bullets tore through the building, whizzing over everyone’s heads.
Sarah screamed hysterically.
Miss Bonnie punched Slade in the arm.
“Oh right,” the stoic said as he jumped back up and pulled Sarah down.
Miles, the Reverend and Annabelle all hit the dirt.
Slade shimmied on his belly to join Gunther, who was crouched next to the window with his pistol drawn.
Doc didn’t appear to be particularly concerned with his health as he casually strolled toward the window to join Slade and Gunther.
A bullet pierced through Doc’s shoulder. He slapped at it like it was a mild annoyance. “Oh my, that smarts.”
Unable to aim, Slade and Gunther poked their pistols out the window and shot blindly. By sheer luck, they were able to pop a couple of zombie skulls.
Doc, on the other hand, stood directly in front of the window, accepting one bullet after the other in his chest. That didn’t slow him down as he flicked his wrists, produced his pistols, and sent a barrage of fire toward the zombie army outside.
“Second volley!” Blythe commanded.
The zombies fired again, still aiming high as if to avoid hitting anyone.
“Cease fire!” Blythe commanded.
Slade and Gunther looked at one another, each man at a loss for words.
“Slade!” Blythe shouted from outside. “Now that I have your attention, I wonder if we might have a word?”
Slade reloaded his pistol as he answered. “Sure,” he replied loudly. “Go fuck yourself. There’s three.”
“Charming as usual,” Blythe replied.
Slade looked out the window to see Blythe float down to the ground. A werewolf handed the vampire a full whiskey bottle. Blythe took it and stuffed a rag into the bottle’s neck.
“You’ve got two options here, Slade,” Blythe said. “First, you can unload your silver, throw down your steel and come outside so we can talk about how I can turn you into a very rich and powerful man.”
“Bullshit,” Slade said.
“I won’t lie and tell you there won’t be a catch,” Blythe said. “You’ll have to do some things that run contrary to the adorable little moral code you’ve developed for yourself. But since the second option is that everyone you love dies a slow, painful death while you watch, I’d take the first one if I were you.”
The Reverend stood up, dusted himself off, and joined the men at the window.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading this,” the preacher said as he wagged his bible at Slade, “It’s that devil’s bargains only work out for the devil.”
“We gathered, Rev,” Gunther said.
“I’m going outside,” the Reverend said.
“The hell you are,” Gunther replied.
“The Lord will protect me,” the Reverend said. “Or if not, I’ll at least be able to buy you all some time. Either way…”
The Reverend pointed a finger toward the ceiling. “…his will shall be done.”
“This is a hell of a time to get your faith back, Reverend,” Gunther said.
“Faith is never entirely present nor is it entirely gone,” the Reverend said. “Everyday we all struggle over whether to doubt or believe. I must now choose to believe for if I’m not able to put my studies of the Lord’s ways to some good use here then my life will have been for nothing.”
Slade grabbed the Reverend’s arm. “He’ll kill you for sure.”
“Then so be it,” the Reverend said. “It’ll be a glorious distraction.”
The preacher looked at Sarah and Miss Bonnie.
“And I’m sure you’ll know what to do.”
The Reverend leaned in close to Slade’s ear and whispered. “I’ve seen the way you look at the whore, son. There wouldn’t be any shame in it if you can make an honest woman of her but come clean with the Widow Farquhar. No one likes being the last to know.”
Slade nodded. The Reverend opened the door a crack and waved a white handkerchief.
“Oh what the hell is this?” Blythe asked as he saw the Reverend walk out with his hands up, one of them clutching his bible.
“I wish to talk, demon,” the Reverend replied.