Daily Archives: July 23, 2016

Undead Man’s Hand – Chapter 16


Bill’s room was filled with books. They stuffed his shelves. More were stacked up on the floor. Dusty tomes on the occult and supernatural. Titles such as “Zombiology: The Physicality of the Undead,” “Lattimore’s Treatise on the Vampiric Species,” “Werewolves in the New World,” and “Witchcraft: A Brief History,” just to name a few.

Hand drawn sketches hanged on the wall. Pointy fanged vampires. Hairy werewolves. Fair haired witches. The majority of the sketches were of zombies. Hideous, brain chomping zombies.

Bill stepped into the room. A few seconds passed until he noticed Jericho hadn’t followed suit.

The gunslinger looked at the doorway. Jericho stood in the hall, knocking on an invisible barrier that prevented his entry.

“Oh right,” Bill said. “I invite you in.”

With that, the barrier was gone and Jericho stepped inside. Bill closed the door and locked it.

Jericho looked around the room, spying all the sketches and books. “You certainly have educated yourself, Mr. Hickok.”

The guest pulled Lattimore’s Treatise off of Bill’s shelf and perused it. “A first edition Lattimore. Impressive.”

“Expensive,” Bill replied.

“And here I thought the Legion Corporation’s Board of Directors had managed to burn every copy and convince the public that Lattimore was stark raving mad,” Jericho said as he returned the book to the shelf. “Then again, all of these authors were either murdered, publicly maligned into ruin, or bought off to cease further publications.”

Jericho took a peak at Bill’s copy of Zombiology. “I suppose that’s why you’ve kept mum on your knowledge of the occult?” Jericho asked as he closed the book and shelved it. “You fear the Legion Corporation will defame your reputation and rob you of your celebrity status?”

Bill stood there, defiantly stone faced.

“Perhaps it is your life you’re more concerned about?” Jericho asked.

No response.

Jericho wagged his pointer finger at Bill. “Ah. You fear for those you love.”

“Enough chatter,” Bill said. “Are you the real deal?”

Jericho opened his mouth. Click! His fangs popped out.

Bill motioned to a full length mirror in the back corner of the room. Jericho stepped in front of it. As soon as he did, the mirror reflected not the image of a man, but that of an invisible being. No face. No hands. It was as if a hat and suit were hovering in the air on their own.

“Satisfied?” Jericho asked.

“Yup,” Bill said as he gestured to a lumpy sofa behind a coffee table. Jericho sat down. Bill took a comfortable chair to the right of the table.

Bill drew one of his revolvers and pointed it in the vampire’s direction. “Just so we’re clear, this is filled with six silver-tips. I can shoot the wings off a horse fly at a hundred paces so putting one through your black, useless heart from this range would be as easy as pie for me.”

“Oh my,” Jericho replied. “Your paranoia is unnecessary but understood. Have you the payment?”

Bill fished a small netted bag out of his pocket and plopped it down on the arm of his chair. The vampire stared longingly at the golden coins.

“Have you the goods?” Bill asked.

The vampire reached for his pocket. Bill cocked the hammer of his revolver. “Slowly,” Bill urged.

“Of course,” the vampire said as he timidly put his hand into his pocket. He removed a deck of cards, flipped it over, and spread them out across the table.

“Just as you requested in our letters,” Jericho said. “At a glance, a simple deck of playing cards, nothing out of the ordinary for a legendary gambler to be carrying.”

Bill kept his gun pointed at the vampire as he leaned closer to look the cards over.

“But at a closer inspection,” Jericho continued. “You can see that the face cards and the aces feature renderings and the names of the Legion Corporation’s Board of Directors, as well as their most trusted associates.”

Bill nodded.

“It took me a great deal of time and expense to have this printed for you,” Jericho said.

If Bill was grateful to the vampire for that, he didn’t let it show. “Why?”

“Pardon?” the vampire asked.

“You sought me out,” Bill said. “Looking to make a deal. I know shit heels have no problem turning on other shit heels, but I want to know the specific reason behind your betrayal.”

Jericho smiled. “Very simple. I have long been a loyal soldier to the Legion’s cause. I have done their dirty work. Carried out their directives without question. Bided my time as younger vampires who have accomplished less than I have were promoted to higher stations than I. All of that I have endured but what I can no longer stand is…the mockery.”

Bill sat silently, waiting for the explanation.

“Vampires do possess extraordinary healing powers,” Jericho said. “But alas, we do not heal to the most robust version of ourselves possible. Instead, we remain stuck in the condition we were when we were turned. Thus, the scars on my face will never disappear. As you can imagine, amongst a group of beings whose looks remain perpetually youthful and beautiful, I am the butt of many a joke. The Chairman won’t even allow me a medallion so that I can enjoy the sun’s warmth.”

“There are no vampires who look old?” Bill asked.

“There are,” Jericho replied. “A number of the elderly have been turned. However, few have had the misfortune of having been turned whilst looking as I do.”

Jericho stacked the deck and handed it to Bill. The gunslinger took it, then tossed the bag of coins at the vampire, who caught it effortlessly.

“Why are you so inquisitive as to my reasoning?” Jericho asked.

“I trust no vampire,” Bill said. “And you reaching out to me seems like a good trap.”

“It does,” Jericho said. “And I have no way of assuring you that it isn’t. I can assure you though that you have purchased the betrayal of enough vampires that word has begun to circulate and the Board may very well be onto you.”

Bill stood up and put the deck into his coat pocket. “We’re done here. Take a walk.”

Jericho remained seated. “Excuse me?”

“Our business is over,” Bill said. “So unless you’ve got any other information worth a shekel or two, move along.”

“But it’s daytime,” Jericho said.

“Not my problem,” Bill said.

An agitated Jericho stood up. “Common courtesy dictates that you let me stay until nightfall.”

“Bloodsuckers don’t get common anything,” Bill said. “I renounce my invitation.”

As soon as those four words poured out of Bill’s mouth, Jericho flew out of the room and into the hallway as if some kind of invisible force was pushing him. His hand desperately clinged to the bag of coins.

Bill walked over to his side of the door. Enraged, Jericho pounded his fists on the invisible barrier that separated him from Bill.

“And just where am I supposed to go?” Jericho asked.

“The lobby,” Bill said.

“Like a common peasant?” Jericho snapped.

Bill reached through the doorway. For him, there was no invisible barrier at all. He yanked the bag of coins out of Jericho’s hand and slammed the door.

Outside, Jericho pounded his fists against the door. “Damn you Bill Hickok! Damn you to Hell!”

With a smirk on his face, Bill tossed the bag of coins into the air then caught it. “Dumb ass vampires. Twelve of them hoodwinked with the same bag.”

Bill pulled one of the coins out of the bag and peeled off the golden foil to reveal a circular chocolate disk. He took a bite out of it. “Mmm. Still good too.”

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Undead Man’s Hand – Chapter 15


Wild Bill Hickok was the most recognized celebrity in the West. A gunslinger for hire who took the jobs most reputable lawmen wouldn’t go near, his exploits became the stuff of dime store novels, newspaper articles, and tall tales told around a campfire.

He was a tall man who wore a long, grey coat over his fancy suit. His prized possession was his hair. It too, was long and it flowed far past his shoulders. No pony tail. He just let it hang naturally. A compliment might have been that it made him look like a noble lord, though his personality did not reflect that premise. An insult might of been that it was a womanly style, but no one in their right mind ever insulted Wild Bill.

There are many theories on why he wore such a large, wide-brimmed hat. Some say that he was so hot that his head needed the extra shade. Others opined that he was so quick on the draw that it was only sporting to make himself more visible to his opponents.

Or, maybe he just really liked enormous hats. Whatever it was, it was a secret he kept to himself.

Like any celebrity, he had his own entourage. These men weren’t just hangers-on. They were the gunmen that Bill had long trusted to watch his back.

On Bill’s right was Jack Vermillion. He preferred to be called “Texas Jack” but some called him “Shoot Your Eye Out Jack.” That nickname was self-explanatory. He had a penchant for shooting the eyes of bad men out. He felt it sent a message to evildoers across the West that he was looking for them.

Jack never smiled. His face was one of perpetual anger. All day long. Night too. Too much time spent thinking about the gruesome acts he had to commit during the Civil War. He’d been a cavalry man, and though he wore plain, grungy clothes, he still wore his saber on his hip to prove that he’d once been somebody.

The man to Bill’s left was John “Turkey Creek” Johnson. His friends just called him Crick. Earlier in his life, he’d been a lawyer and an accountant but found that shooting men for a living was a more respectable and less stressful career. His mustache was pencil thin and he always wore a snappy suit.

Wild Bill was more than just a celebrity. He was, in fact, a superhero. He had the power to bullet anywhere. He did it with a pair of 1851 Colt Navy Model revolvers. Custom made, they featured ivory grips and had his name etched onto each handle.

Like any superhero, he had his fans. As he and his compadres walked through Deadwood, a ten-year old mop topped boy ran up to him.

“Will you do it, Bill?” the boy asked. “Huh? Will you, will you, will you?”

Bill smirked. The boy tossed his apple into the air. In a flash, Bill pulled his revolvers and obliterated the piece of fruit before it hit the ground.

“Wow,” the boy said.

Bill tussled the kid’s hair, then moved on down the road with his posse.

Sure, every hero has admirers, but they also have more than their fair share of detractors. There’s just something about power that makes people want to challenge it.

“You ‘aint shit, Bill Hickok!”

Bill sighed. When he stopped, Jack and Crick stopped. The trio looked to the street, where lecherous drunk Morris Ashby was slandering Bill’s good name in between belts from the bottle of bourbon in his hand.

“Killing Bill Hickok don’t make you Bill Hickok, shit for brains,” Jack shouted.

“We’ll see about that!” Morris yelled.

“How many times do we have to go through this, Morris?” Crick inquired.

Morris hiccuped. “As many times as I damn well please.”

The drunk reached for a piece strapped to his hip. He pulled it out but Bill shot it out of his hand, then shot the booze bottle, smashing it to pieces.

Morris belched. “Same time tomorrow, then?”

Bill tipped his hat and the crew was on the move once more.

“You’re going soft, Bill,” Jack said.

“Yeah well,” Bill said. “I’ve got a lot of bad to make up for and if I shoot every asshole I come across, I’ll never be let through the pearly gates, will I?”

Fans. Check. Detractors? Check. There’s one more type of person any superhero inevitably encounters on a regular basis – someone in desperate need of the hero’s special power.

A sobbing woman ran out of ramshackle house. A gruff, bearded man chased after her with his belt in his hand.

“Bitch, how many times do I have to tell you to have my breakfast waiting for me before I wake up?” the man asked.

“I’m sorry,” the woman replied.

“I’ll make you sorry.” The man raised his belt high in the air and was about to bring it down when Bill fired, opening a hole up right in the middle of his hand.

The sorry excuse for a husband dropped to the ground, screaming and clutching his wounded hand as blood sprayed all over.

Bill looked down on the man. “Next one will be through your pecker.”

Despite the excruciating pain he was in, the man felt the need to nod to Bill, thus indicating he got the message.

“God Bless you, Bill Hickok,” the woman said.

“Ma’am,” Bill said as he tipped his hat.

The trio marched onward.

“See what I mean?” Jack asked. “Soft.”

“The old Wild Bill would have at least fucked her,” Crick noted.

“You mean the young Wild Bill,” Bill said. “The old Wild Bill doesn’t have time for such distractions.”

The trio reached the Grand Central Hotel. It was a large brick building with a luxurious facade, home to many of Deadwood’s most infamous citizens.

“Who are you meeting, Bill?” Crick asked.

Bill reached into his pocket and retrieved a handful of bullets. Their tips were so shiny that they gleamed in the sunlight. He loaded them into his revolver, then holstered his weapons.

“Someone you’re better off not knowing,” Bill said.

“That narrows it down to just about everyone,” Crick said.

“I’ll need you boys to sit a spell,” Bill said.

Crick and Jack looked confused.

“You going in alone?” Crick asked.

“As I said, this is someone you shouldn’t know.”

“I don’t like it,” Jack said.

“You don’t like anything, Jack,” Bill replied.

“That’s true,” Jack said.

Crick and Jack found themselves a spot on a bench on the front porch as Bill stepped inside.

In the lobby, guests walked about, lost in their conversations. They weren’t the sort of high faluting hoi poloi one would have found in the lobby of a big city hotel. Rather, they were unwashed, unhappy, and prone to arguing with one another over the most minor of insults.

Off to the left, there was Aunt Lu’s Cafe. Freed slave Lucretia Marchbanks was Deadwood’s best cook, and even people who weren’t guests of the hotel often popped in for a bite of one of her succulent dishes.

Wack. Wack. Wack. Lu stood behind the counter, bringing down a humongous butcher knife onto a slab off beef over and over again.

A surly looking customer walked past the counter and headed for the lobby.

“Sir!” Lu called out. “You forgot to pay.”

Bill didn’t like the looks of the man and put his right hand on the handle of his left revolver just in case.

“Fuck you nigger bitch,” was the customer’s response.

The man pulled out a cigar, put it into his mouth and was about to light it up when Lu’s butcher knife came sailing through the air, slicing the cigar in half before finally chopping its way into the wall.

The customer, his face filled with fright, plunked a few coins down on a table and ran for the lobby.

Lu stepped around the counter to retrieve her knife.

“Howdy Bill,” Lu said.

“Lu,” Bill replied.

Lu pulled the knife out of the wall. She counted the notches in the wood. “Shit. Fifth asshole this month to try to take advantage of my delightful nature.”

“No man can resist your cooking, Lu,” Bill said.

Lu smiled. Luckily for her, all those years over a hot stove hadn’t affected her beauty one iota. She drummed her fingers over Bill’s chest.

“That what brings you here, Bill?” Lu asked. “To get things cooking?”

Bill grinned. “Would that it were, but duty calls.”

Lu pouted and walked back around the counter. “You’re no fun, Bill Hickok.”

Bill surveyed the room. All the customers seemed happy. Normal. Then Bill noticed him. In the back corner, a timid man with a face full of pock mark scars sat alone, staring off into nothingness.

“He been here long?” Bill asked.

“Him?” Lu asked as she pointed at the man with her knife. “Creepy little man. Came in before dawn.”

Bill knocked his knuckles down on Lu’s counter. “You’re a peach.”

“About time someone realized it,” Lu replied.

Bill swaggered to the back of the room and stood over the man’s table.

“Jericho?” Bill asked.

“Mr. Hickok,” the man said. His voice was soft and sullen.

“Let’s move,” Bill said.

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Undead Man’s Hand – Part 2 – Charlie’s Bodyguard


Charlie Utter is a rarity in the West.  He bathes and shaves early and often.  He doesn’t drink, smoke, or gamble.  He has a gun, but it’s only for show.

His focus is on earning a good living through honest work.  He’s the man behind Utter Freight, a delivery wagon he runs between Deadwood and Cheyenne, Wyoming.

When Charlie’s brother, Stephen, comes along for the ride, he quickly wonders what Charlie’s two partners contribute to the Enterprise.

Martha “Calamity Jane” Cannary quickly proves her worth against a gang of bandits who want Charlie’s money, wagon and uh, well, never mind.

As for legendary gunslinger James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickock, the service he provides to the business proves invaluable.

Chapter 11         Chapter 12         Chapter 13

Chapter 14

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Undead Man’s Hand – Part 1 – Bullock’s New Job



Four years before the West was zombed.

Rather than give in to the demands of an angry mob, Seth Bullock, Sheriff of Lewis and Clark County, Montana, hangs his prisoner right on the steps of his office, holding the mob off with a shot gun all the while.

What’s good for justice ends up being bad for his family’s well-being. He, wife Martha and daughter Maggie beat it out of town in the middle of the night.

Months later, they arrive in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, a lawless mining camp filled to the brim with cutthroats and criminals, outside the jurisdiction of the United States.

Bullock thought his lawman days were over, having opted to go into the hardware business with friend Sol Starr, a business deal that, while prudent, will take years to pay off.

Alas, when he’s offered a one year appointment as Deadwood’s Sheriff, he realizes this is his chance to move his family out of squalor.

Meanwhile, the town fathers are divided on the issue of Bullock’s appointment. Newsman A.W. Merrick thinks Bullock’s the man to bring law and order.  The Reverend Henry Weston Smith’s head is in the clouds, so he tends to vote however Merrick tells him to.

Doctor Valentine McGillicuddy thinks the idea is bad but won’t elaborate.

Mayor E.B. Farnum elaborates loudly, namely, that the true boss of the town, saloon keeper, pimp, and all-around criminal Al Swearengen will be none too pleased about the idea.

Chapter 1        Chapter 2      Chapter 3

Chapter 4       Chapter 5      Chapter 6

Chapter 7      Chapter 8      Chapter 9

Chapter 10

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