[8Fold] Six-Gun Judas #1 "High Midnight"
jamie.rosen at sunlife.com
Wed Oct 31 14:02:51 PDT 2007
_=_______________________-_ "My name is Judas Iscariot. I
=< ' | ====== |______________| kill people for money. Always
\| | ======== |______________| have, probably always will."
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The sun was a brilliant stain against the night sky when Judas
Iscariot rode into the town of Stewart's Pit, New Mexico.
Most of the good folk of Stewart's Pit were hidden away behind their
shutters and crosses, and he couldn't blame them. The heat of the
desert sun was bad enough at noon; at midnight it was almost
unbearable. The only man who came out to meet him was Sherrif Parsons,
a tinder-thin man with a handlebar mustache that likely weighed more
than he did, and a pair of gleaming, unused pistols in the holsters
that hung at his side.
"Heard your town has a problem," Judas said, keeping the brim of his
hat low to block out the sun and keep the sherrif from getting too
good a look at his face. "Lookin' for someone to fix it?" The sherrif
rested his right hand uneasily on the grip of his pistol. "You think
you're the man for the job?"
Judas shrugged. "If there's a man that needs killing, I reckon I can
"This is no ordinary man." The lawman's eyes were wary, just the way
Judas liked them.
"Nor am I, sherrif. You know that or you wouldn't've sent word."
"I know people tell a lot of stories about you. They also tell stories
about Paul Bunyan, but I ain't seen no blue ox in my day."
"You just haven't looked hard enough." He looked up at the sun. "The
way I see it, sherrif, you've got about another day, maybe two, before
the sun and lack of sleep turns your people into wild beasts. Now, do
you want this man dead, or should I be on my way?"
The sherrif gave him a long, hard look, and swallowed dryly. "You kill
him," he said at last, "and then you get the money. You understand?"
"Hell, I got no problem with that." Judas laughed. "Just so long as
you realize that if'n I don't get the money, I'll take it outta your
hide, and your people's."
The sherrif squinted. "Then it would seem we have ourselves a deal."
Judas nodded. "I reckon we do."
It wasn't hard to find the man responsible. He was holed up in a shack
at the edge of the graveyard just outside of town, underneath a
makeshift cross fashioned from planks torn from the roof and lashed
together with bailing twine. He stank of cheap gin and garlic, and
Judas could smell him long before he saw him through the gaps in the
There were rotting bags of wheat piled outside the shack, and Judas
made note of the Bowie knife stabbed into the one nearest the door, a
few grains spilling from the sack to mix with the dusty ground. He
rested his right hand on the grip of his pistol and pushed the door
open with his left.
Inside the shack, a man in tattered preacher's clothes sat on a
crudely fashioned stool, his back to the door. From the motion of his
shoulders and the pile of wooden shavings at his feet, Judas could
tell he was whittling.
"I don't normally have a problem with shooting a man in the back,"
Judas said, drawing his weapon. "But a man of the cloth, I'd rather
look him in the eye."
The preacher spun to face him, and his eyes were wild, red and lined.
The constant daylight hadn't served him any better than the townsfolk,
"You're not one of them," he said. "You walk in the light."
The bullet tore clean through the preacher's chest and chunked into
the wall behind him, splitting it nearly in two. It took only the one
shot to put the man down, but breath was still rattling and gurgling
in his throat as Judas loomed over him. As he cocked the revolver once
more, he saw the piece of wood that had fallen from the preacher's
hand, and realized that every wall was covered in identical pieces --
row upon row of sharpened stakes.
Judas crouched beside the preacher. "You're dying, father," he said,
putting the hammer down. "I couldn't do anything about it even if I
wanted to. But there's something you need to tell me."
The preacher's voice was faint, each word a struggle. "They came at
night," he said. "They killed anyone who fought back. Kept the rest as
"Except for you."
"I ran. I thought God had abandoned me, and I abandoned them. I left
them to die. Perhaps, if my faith had been stronger..." His eyes
closed to almost slits. "There are dark forces in the world, and I
found one. My soul was already damned for my cowardice. What harm was
there in trafficking with spirits? I found a dark magic. A magic that
brought unending, unholy light to the land."
"Keeping them inside."
"Except for Sheriff Parsons. They keep him alive to serve them. He
betrayed the town, just as I did." The preacher began to cough, blood
staining his teeth. "Please, help me..."
Judas stood up and cocked the hammer back on the revolver. "Give my
regards to Jesus."
The Sheriff was there to greet him when he rode back into Stewart's
Pit in what must have been late afternoon.
"You did it?" he asked, eyeing the gunslinger warily.
Judas shifted the extra bulk behind his saddle. "I did." He squinted
up at the sun, which had just started to move through the sky. "I
reckon you should have sundown in about two hours. Now, about my
"Yes, of course." The Sheriff's eyes darted past Judas. "Would you
like to spend the night in our hotel? Complimentary, of course."
"That's mighty generous of you," Judas replied, climbing down from his
horse. "But I'm afraid I'll have to decline." He spun on the ball of
his foot and stuck three bullets in the Sheriff -- one in each hand,
and one in his right thigh. The man cried out and fell to the ground.
"See, I reckon I know how dangerous your hospitality can be, and I am
to be out of here by sunset." He flung the blanket off his horse,
revealing the preacher's entire supply of stakes strapped to its back.
figure I have about two hours to get this done."
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