Welcome back to our tales where Urban Fantasy meets the Old West. Yes sir, we’re on our asses trotting in the direction indicated by our grisly Hand of Glory on the hunt for the wicked witch of the west. Saddle up and join, Sam, Snake, and Smoke for another rousing round of CONJURING MISERY. (Brought to you by the yarn spinners Camille Douglass, Dave Benneman, and Jami Gray).
So east is the direction. Several years ago I forsook the East, leaving my past and not a small measure of unpleasantness in my wake. Heading West, and never looking back. Now it seems, I’m heading east and directly into trouble once again. I adjusted my scarf snugging the knot to conceal my scar. My hand on Dragon Breath I swallowed. “As you said earlier Miss Snake, we’re burning daylight.” I started down the hill and paused. “I assume that thing has to tag along.”
Snake grinned at my discomfort. “We’ll handle it Fancy Britches.” She looked at the hand with disgust and then at Smoke. “Won’t you, sister mine?”
Smoke stomped back inside and came out with the abomination wrapped in a ratty blanket, and started down the hill pushing past me, where I assumed their mules waited with Daisy Bell. We rode three abreast, me on the left, Smoke on the right Snake between us. Our hats were snugged down to shield our eyes from the sun. The sound of hooves accented by the occasional screech from a predatory bird circling overhead was the only sound. Its silhouette floated high above us. As if it were keeping pace with us. I couldn’t keep my eyes off it even though it meant looking into the sun. Maybe it’s a vulture, waiting for us to dry up and drop dead in this heat.
At mid-day the bird’s shadow passed over me. A sort of vision exploded in my head. Blood and smoke-filled my nostrils. Blinded, I heard screams. Ethereal screams. It lasted only a moment, but when it cleared the sisters were staring at me.
“Are you going to share?” Smoke asked.
“What?” I tried.
Snake snorted and tipped her hat up and held me with her icy gaze. A half-smile creased her face. “What ever the hell that was that has your hands shaking like you got the palsy.”
She was right. My normally steady grip quivered like a fat man’s belly. “I had a brief flash of something.”
“Like a vision.” Smoke pulled her mule around so she could see me without looking around her sister.
“Except I couldn’t see. The air was filled with smoke, the cloudy variety, as opposed to the feminine type. I smelled blood. The screams were the worst part. They chilled my bones.”
“Anything else?” Smoke swatted at some unseen thing.
I considered. “No, I don’t think so.”
The sisters looked at one another. “You think he had a premonition?” Snake directed her question to Smoke.
“Sounds like it.” Smoke spat.
I followed the darkness created by the bird across the desert as it approached our location again. I tilted my head skyward. The hair on the nape of my neck started doing a jig as it drew near. “What the hell is that?”
Smoke let out an exasperated sigh. “A bird.”
“I know it’s a bird. Just because your riding a smart ass doesn’t mean you should be one.” I chuckled at my wit. I was the only one who did. The shadow passed over me again, sending a cold chill up my spine. “Did you feel that?” They looked at me quizzically. I pointed at the shadow as it circled for another pass. I guided Daisy Bell close to Snake and motioned for Smoke to sidled up on my other side. She did so without argument. This time it touched all of us.
The sisters looked hard at one another. I knew they’re sharing something. “So what is it?”
Snake pulled her hat down and kicked her mule forward. “It’s not good.”
Smoke wheeled her mule around and rode next to Snake. “Are you coming?”
I urged Daisy Bell forward until she pushed in between my companions. I thought by separating them, whatever passed between them might linger with me too. “So how not good is it?”
“We think it’s a familiar.” Smoke clucked at her mule who was falling behind.
“Familiar to who?”
“Donoma.” Snake looked around me. “Are we sure he’s not as dumb as he looks?”
“As sure as we can be without…” Smoke grinned. “Well, you know.”
“I guess. I mean unless you wanted to…Well, you know.” Snake winked at me.
“Can we put my intelligence aside and get back on track here?” I pointed to the sky where the bird no longer circled. “You think that’s Donoma?”
“No, it’s her animal spirit guide.” Smoke explained as if talking to a child.
“It might as well be her.” Snake interjected. “Whatever her spirit guide sees, she also sees.”
“Then she knows we’re coming?”
“Silly boy. She’s always known we’re coming. Now she knows we’re close.”
“How do you know we’re close?” These two could wear down the patience of a martyred saint.
Smoke unwrapped the twitching thing that used to be Villalobos’s hand and held it out to me.
“I’m not touching that thing.”
“Then have faith. We’re are indeed close.” She put the hideous thing away.
Snake pulled one of her six guns out and held it across the saddle. She motioned for me to unsling the shotgun. “Keep your eyes peeled. Question every movement.”
“I can feel her too.” Smoke’s hands started to glow.
Come on back next week for part two!