Random Picks – Western/Suspense/Thriller, Creature Horror, Espionage, Literary
I almost gave up on this. Almost.
I’m still keeping the word limit to 1,000. That’s pretty tough. Hooray for passage of time.
Oh and starting tomorrow, no more “pick” posts, just the daily project itself with the random picks listed at the beginning.
On the seventh morning of his quest, the mercenary gunman, Tall Connor, awoke from a deep slumber with the last vestiges of a scream of terror echoing through the passing hallways of his dreams.
His fire was down to embers and his companion had not risen, though the sun had been up several hours. The Kentucky native, Connor, kicked his companion in the back to wake him. That entity, which dwelled in his own slumber beneath the poncho he wore, was a Spaniard named Berto, and woke with such a spoken fury of Spanish curse words, that Connor soon regretted waking him.
“Just shut your mouth and put that kettle on,” Connor demanded.
The journey south had been long and arduous. The duo had just reached the borders of Uruguay and had only just escaped Brazilian incarceration and transportation back to Union custody after a bounty hunter named Torfillo had briefly captured them.
Only by the ingenuity of Berto had they tricked Torfillo and escaped.
Berto threw some dry sticks on the fire, voicing complaints in Spanish all the while, and prepared them a meager breakfast of tea, eggs, and cooked bolo mouse meat.
Connor’s dream had been of the very beast the Confederacy had sent him to awaken. The Guarani people of the area of South America then known as Uruguay had legends that spoke of a god of death, whose touch would turn people’s souls to dirt, and whose appearance would drive men insane. The creature’s name was Luison. Supposedly, a half-man half-beast deity, Luison could be summoned by ancient and forbidden rituals.
Connor had been hired by a clandestine group of land owners in Mississippi and Louisiana to seek out the remnants of one of the Guarani tribes and enlist them into the service of the Confederate Army against the Union Army in what was surely about to become a major Civil War in the Americas. Connor was a mercenary and bounty hunter – no deed could outweigh his greed. In accepting the assignment, Connor became one of five men sent to different parts of the continent to seek supernatural weapons to use against the Union.
In his dream, the wolf-like Luison had eaten his soul.
On their third day in territory currently claimed by Uruguay, Tall Connor found the abandoned Jesuit mission where he’d been instructed he might find someone who knew the Guarani tribe that still existed and worshipped the old deities.
The old, faded building that served as the main chapel was in disrepair. Connor attempted to kick down the front doors only to find a jumble of wooden furniture stacked ceiling-high behind it, preventing entry. He and Berto moved around to a side entrance and found it barred shut.
Using Connor’s shoulders to boost him to the crude tile roof of the chapel, Berto scrambled up to the bell tower and found a trap door leading down. The door had been torn violently away from its hinges.
“Senor,” Berto called from the roof. “There are claw marks all over. Maybe a jaguar, big cat.”
“Can you get in?” Connor called up. He didn’t like the feel of the place and was anxious to leave.
Berto did not answer, and Connor took it as an affirmative. “Get in there and see what you can do about these doors.”
After several minutes had passed, Connor could hear Berto cursing to himself and dragging more furniture away from the barred door. It struck Connor as odd, seeing as how the barred door seemed enough to withstand a basic assault without extra obstacles beyond it. Then Connor realized that Berto wasn’t cursing, he was screaming, begging to be let out.
“You’ll not like what you find in there, Tall man,” said a voice at Connor’s back. The click of a revolver sounded in his ear as its barrel was placed against his temple. Before he could react, Torfillo had pulled Connor’s own revolver out of its holster and kicked the helpless mercenary against the chapel wall.
Backing away, the chupalla-wearing Torfillo leveled both revolvers at the unarmed man.
“For dishonoring me, I have a mind to not take you back to Massachusetts and just kill you here, amigo,” Torfillo said laughing. “But since you made it this far, I think I will see just what you might do with what your employers have given you to accomplish.”
Berto could still be heard inside the mission, screaming for help and moving obstacles from the door way.
“Your friend fears something, yes?” Torfillo taunted, laughing still. “I think you’ll fear something too before this is over.”
The side door burst open and Berto shot out in a sprint, not paying attention to the two other men. Before he had run twenty yards away from the chapel, Torfillo shot him dead in the back.
“Now, amigo, I’ll take you to Luison,” the bounty hunter chuckled.
“You didn’t have to kill him,” Connor said, raising his hands in surrender.
“On the contrary,” Torfillo said, “Luison will not come to those who do not offer him blood.”
As Torfillo escorted him away from the chapel, Tall Connor could not help but see the massive pile of bones through the open door of the chapel.
On the thirty-seventh day since Torfillo had led him to the Guarani’s hidden lair, Tall Connor was still running. He did not know where he was or what direction he was going. His horse had been eviscerated, his supplies lost. The vision of the horror he had helped unleash was burned into his mind permanently, superimposed over every fleeting thought.
Luison was chasing him.