Wild Western: Moonsick #1

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#1  Edited By dngn4774

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves..."

Pastor Judah Creed took solace in his work. Like a shepherd, he devoted each of his days to his flock, hearing them, nurturing them, and most of all, guiding them through their darkest days. He found purpose in his new home of Gaius, New Mexico; being that the up-and-coming town had brought in an endless stream of lost souls every Sunday. The offerings to his father's house were far from modest, and the growing population often left his tardiest parishioners standing--not that any of them had seemed to mind. Judah was blessed with a silver tongue; he was a rusher, with the kind of charisma that dwarfed all other voices outside of the altar. Whenever he wasn't preparing sermons, offering guidance, or expanding the church he could often be found offering a helpful hand to the local townspeople. Like all good Protestants Judah worked hard without the demand of gratification. Such piety made him a revered person in Gaius, causing many of his peers to consider him a pillar of the community.

Late one night, Creed was woken by the sound of glass shattering. He cautiously reached for his lantern and proceeded down the steps of his living quarters. Downstairs, a sound of thunder rumbled preceding a bolt of lightning which lit the room. The white light revealed a shattered pile of glass beneath one of church’s windows. Upon discovering the area of impact Creed saw a dying crow twitch over the pile of broken glass.

“Help…me…Father!” A desperate voice pleaded over and over. The soft voice bellowed, starting low as a whisper, but gradually increasing in volume. The Pastor frantically turned his lantern in search of a sobbing damsel but found nothing.

No Caption Provided

As he turned his back he saw a young woman kneeling at the altar with her hands clasped in prayer. She looked beautiful in the moonlight. Her hair was comprised of lengthy auburn locks, complemented by eyes as green as a virgin meadow, and a creamy skin tone with only the slightest tinge of a bronze hue. Her face carried much youth to it whilst her modest curves extenuated a more womanly physique.

Upon looking closer Judah noticed that the young woman’s garments had been soaked with rain, tattered in holes and cuts, and stained with blood. Her body rapidly shuddered in fear before her eyes darted towards him. Before he could begin to inquire she had already begun to explain. “F-foul creatures were hounding me, in the dark. I fled--but the storm had stolen all sense of direction. I kept running a-as fast as I could, but I could still hear the beasts howl-l. Just when I though the creatures would end me, I opened my eyes and saw your church.”

“Fear not child, your prayers have been answered.” The Pastor assured her.

He walked over by his podium and withdrew a robe from the nearest drawer to cover the shivering woman, before walking her down to the first row of church pews. She clasped his hands and smiled. “Thank you, Priest. The lord has truly blessed me.”

Judah’s hands had recoiled. He was taken back by the heat of the young woman’s hands and the strength of her grip. “What is your name, child?”

“Abigail.” She smiled as they heard a rumbling behind them.

No Caption Provided

The doors had ripped open with another thunderous pounce as a young man appeared in the door way. The young man was of average stature, with black hair, thick brows, a brown mustache, and a faded chinstrap beard. His silver eyes gleamed like stars but his stern face made them all the more bizarre. He was dressed head to toe in black, apart from a white, ten-gallon sheriff hat that was spotted with blood. He held a large burlap sack in one arm and stroked the brown whiskers on his chin, before licking some of the blood out of his mustache and walking slowly to the pair.

The priest rose from his pew. “What in God’s name?!” Abigail quickly moved behind the priest, slamming the man on his back whilst digging a knee into his chest and her fingers into his neck. “I’m afraid your god can’t save you, but don't worry, you'll meet him shortly. Just so you know, this isn’t”—

“Personal?” The pastor interjected. He cackled in a manner that unsettled the two ruthless bandits.

“You mind letting us in on the joke?” Josiah asked, gritting his teeth. It annoyed him that his victim was beginning to lose his mind. Seeing the fear in fallen prey is what gave him the most satisfaction from his hunts, but the laughter had stripped him and his spouse of that prize. Even the holiest of men had wet themselves at the thought of meeting their maker in such a ghastly fashion, so why was fool still laughing?

“Certainly!” Judah smirked. With lightning speed he sprung both legs beneath Abby’s pits and flung the girl in the tattered dress to her husband. In reaction to the priests startling strength they both backflipped, landing on their feet in the center of the church. The strays both growled, until the priest’s eye’s glowed yellow. “Small world isn’t it.”

The three beasts howled, honoring the rules of their forefathers, before halting their transformations to fully revert back to their human forms.

“That’s better” stated Judah. “So what is your story? No wait, it’s more fun if I guess.” He looked at them inquisitively trying to read the slightest hints in their body language. “Obviously you two aren’t local--if you were you’d be answering to me.” Creed paced back in forth. “Now let’s see…two strays on the run stumble in a new town, presumably looking for a fresh start. Their own survival is determined by their ability to kill and steal efficiently. If you two have been doing this for awhile you must have developed enough control to lay low, and have gotten smart enough to avoid crimes of opportunity. You pass up the small stuff and aim for the big score—bank robbers! Now that's the ticket.” He smiled at the burlap sack, now circling them like a shark. “Banks are big money, but that takes weeks of planning, planning and proximity. You need a place to hide, with close enough access to the town, but with enough distance to keep the locals from getting suspicious, so how do you pull it off? Where did I fit in?...Eureka!” The priest snapped his fingers. “You hide in plain sight, first taking away an element the town needs, then filling that void with your new identities. Sweet Lord almighty that is brilliant! You kill the man of God to become the new voice of God, that way your words remain unquestioned. Not only are the sheep afraid to deny you, they practically beg you to accept them, so they can feel accepted by God. Then in the time between heists you snack on the poor souls no one would miss, do the job that needs doing, and ride off into the night to do it all over again.” He stopped pacing then gazed back at the two outlaws. “How did I do?”

Josiah grunted. “We’re leaving now.” He dipped a hand into the sack and threw a small pouch of gold coins at Judah’s feet, “for the damages.”

Josiah and Abby headed towards the door before Judah spoke up. “It must be lonely, without a pack.”

They stopped then held hands. “We’re in a pack of two.” Abby proudly announced.

“Even true love has its limits. You’re both mastered this lifestyle, I can tell that much wasn’t a guess, but sooner or later all strays reach a dead end. Tell me, how long do you think you can keep fighting the world before it bite’s back?”

They both remained silent, and released their hands. Neither had given much thought about the elephant in the room.

“It took decades for me to find love, only to lose in a single moment. For a time I tried to convince myself that the pack was eternal and that love was fleeting, but such a lie only cheapened the richest experiences of my life. What if I were to tell you there was a way to have both?”

“I’d say you talk too much preacherman, just get to the damn point already!” Josiah exclaimed.

“Fair enough. I have need for many services in this town, services that are not for the faint of heart, or the weak-stomached. If the pair of you could utilize your skills to benefit my interests there could be many advantageous rewards, one of which being an invitation back into a pack. I suppose what I’m trying to ask is, how interested are you in my interests?”

The two wolves glanced in each others eyes, pondering the matter for several seconds before confirming their decision.

**

Gaius, New Mexico Territory, 2 hours before dawn

No Caption Provided

Abby smashed in the door of Doctor Judd Wallace while Josiah scaled the walls on the back of the house.

“What was that noise?” Mrs. Wallace asked, hearing their border collie bark furiously in the distance, before whimpering silent.

“Damn dog probably broke something. Get back to sleep woman.”

The floorboards creaked as the Wallace’s eyes fluttered open. Doctor Wallace reached for his lantern but it had moved away from the nightstand. He could hear the rocking chair move back and forth as a lantern lit. Josiah placed the lantern on the floor as he chewed another piece of flesh from the family dog’s neck.

“What the hell are you?”—

Josiah cut him off. “It isn't safe to keep a flame so close to the bedsheets, you'd be surprised how fast everything could go up in flames.”

“Honey, what’s are they—Aagggh!” Mrs. Wallace screamed as Abby jumped into their bed sniffing each of them.

“Sorry, I just needed to be sure that you're sheep. You wouldn’t believe the kind of night We’ve had." She took another whiff of the homeowners. "Splendid, now, let's make this quick.” Abby drilled her nails through Mrs. Wallace’s sternum, moving her digits past the ribcage and crushing the heart whilst she slashed Mr. Wallace’s throat with a single nail from her other hand. Josiah stared at the light leaving the doctor's eyes, soon noticing that some of the blood that squirted from the gash in deceased's throat had landed on the corner of his mouth. Josiah smiled briefly before licking his lips.

Previous Chapter (Moonsick #0)

Wild Western Roundup (Group Archive)

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#2  Edited By dngn4774
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ImpurestCheese

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@dngn4774: A pack of werewolves, well no good can come from this. Must say I feel some kinship with Abby, she's almost exactly the same as me physically

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#4  Edited By cbishop
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#5  Edited By dngn4774

@impurestcheese said:

@dngn4774: A pack of werewolves, well no good can come from this. Must say I feel some kinship with Abby, she's almost exactly the same as me physically

Then may I say good for you and god bless Scotland! ;)

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@dngn4774: Minor word errors throughout. Was a little surprised by the priest-wolf - good job. Their dialogue still feels...modern, somehow. Curious to see how this and Dampierre reconcile the werewolf ideas.

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@dngn4774: Thanks, I have a blend of Scottish and Czech DNA, so some of it is Central European as well

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@cbishop: I think it's my lack of prose. The flowery language of the characters is a common signature of the western genre, but I learned to be much more direct with my audience to avoid confusion. One of the most amateur mistakes a writer can do is get caught misusing words he/she doesn't fully grasp, so I tend to narrate as bluntly as possible. Still, I guess it could use more style to it.

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cbishop

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@dngn4774: Hmmm...I don't know if that's it. The priest's dialogue felt okay. So did the Wallaces'. Abby and Josiah just feel off somehow. I could just as well expect them to run out and jump on a motorcycle as a horse.

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dngn4774

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@cbishop: I'll try to watch out for that in the future. The biggest let down for me was that I managed to push my own main characters into the background to advance the plot. I'll try to give them more lines in the next issue.

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@dngn4774: Nothing wrong with making your readers wonder where the main characters went. I've seen that work on plenty of occasions. Besides, you were introducing a character who it appears will be playing a significant role. Nothing wrong with that either.

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Aw... not the Dog... Josiah and Abbey are getting quite a body count on their path of destruction!

You should be proud.

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@tommythehitman: It's actually quite liberating to let your character out of the comic hero morality. I never thought horror would be this fun, but there's something so good about letting characters be bad.

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@dngn4774: Cool!

Late one night, Creed was woken by the sound of glass shattering. He cautiously reached for his lantern and proceeded down the steps of his living quarters. Downstairs, a sound of thunder rumbled preceding a bolt of lightning which lit the room.

The white light revealed a shattered pile of glass beneath one of church’s windows. Upon discovering the area of impact Creed saw a dying crow twitch over the pile of broken glass. This could be all in the same paragraph. It isn't wrong, just a suggestion.

With lightning speed he sprung both legs beneath Abby’s pits and flung the girl in the tattered dress to her husband. I'm still trying to picture this and can't. Does he front flip...I get it but trying to work it out isn't gel-ing in my head

He stopped pacing then gazed back at the two outlaws. “How did I do?” Tells them their life story, brilliant. Very super villain

Even true love has its limits You can mark this day as where the wedge began that turns Abi against Josiah. Won't happen today, nor tomorrow but I feel it will happen

Doctor Judd Wallace. I know he's now dead but can I make Judd the older brother of Abraham Wallace, the sheriff of Fort Leavenworth from Red Fog. Just a small link from one corner of the universe to the other. No big deal if you say no

bby drilled her nails through Mrs. Wallace’s sternum, moving her digits past the ribcage and crushing the heart whilst she slashed Mr. Wallace’s throat with a single nail from her other hand Nice killin!

Very good

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@batkevin74:

Late one night, Creed was woken by the sound of glass shattering. He cautiously reached for his lantern and proceeded down the steps of his living quarters. Downstairs, a sound of thunder rumbled preceding a bolt of lightning which lit the room.

The white light revealed a shattered pile of glass beneath one of church’s windows. Upon discovering the area of impact Creed saw a dying crow twitch over the pile of broken glass. This could be all in the same paragraph. It isn't wrong, just a suggestion.

I'll edit that.

With lightning speed he sprung both legs beneath Abby’s pits and flung the girl in the tattered dress to her husband. I'm still trying to picture this and can't. Does he front flip...I get it but trying to work it out isn't gel-ing in my head

In my head Abby had both hands on his throat and a knee on the center of his chest. With superhuman speed he drew his legs back, hook each one beneath her and catapulting her back into Josiah while he was walking up the aisle to the alter. They both flip back, Abby doing so in midair to avoid a collision, then all three werewolves growl an intermediate form, between human and full-blown werewolf. Had to play around with physics a bit for it, but that was the best way to describe image in my head.

Doctor Judd Wallace.I know he's now dead but can I make Judd the older brother of Abraham Wallace, the sheriff of Fort Leavenworth from Red Fog. Just a small link from one corner of the universe to the other. No big deal if you say no

Yeah sure. I'm probably going to name drop the Doctor once but other than that I have no further use for the character. In my head the married couple was like late 50's-early 60's so he might be better as a dad or uncle, but sure, go ahead.

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@dngn4774: Abraham Wallace is in his late 40's so a brother in his late 50's isn't a stretch, hell people were having litters of children back then because there was no television or internet :)

The Wallace Clan (Judd, Micah, Elmer, Mary, Elizabeth, Abraham and Mary-Sue) Judd became a doctor like first sons often do, Micah became a lawyer, Elmer a preacher (as often the idiot son gets sent to be), Mary got married off as did Elizabeth, Abraham became a lawman and Mary-Sue went back to Ireland with their mother. They occassionally keep in touch via the unreliable mail system. Abraham knows his older brother went down New Mexico way years ago.

Okay I'm down with the flip now, just took a bit to see in my head.

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@batkevin74: It's so sad to know that there were a countless numbers human beings who died before hearing the sentence: "You and me baby ain't nothin' but mammals, so let's do it like they do on the discovery channel."

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I enjoyed this chapter. When she said her name was Abigail, I thought "Oh, no!" but it certainly turned out I was worrying about the pastor without reason. He can more than take care of himself.

Like batkevin, I struggled a bit with the physical detail of the fight between Abby and the Pastor. But it didn't detract from the impact of his turning. I also paused when she called him Priest. Most Protestant pastors I know correct people who call them that. Of course, once I finished the chapter, I understood why he's maybe a little less caught up in that identity than most.

Thanks!

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@wim_garnet: I actually tried to research the difference between a priest and a pastor; aside from the denomination they are equivalent in rank and often used interchangeably (albeit incorrectly). Neither of the Strays would catch that difference because both of them roamed between Catholic and Protestant dominated territories. Thanks for reading this!

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Another enjoyable second read. What Abby does to Mrs. Wallace at the end - really chilling.

@cbishop My next stop is WW: Legend of Johnny Smokers.

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#23  Edited By cbishop

@cbishop My next stop is WW: Legend of Johnny Smokers.

A title I need to get back to. Hope you enjoy it! :)

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@cbishop: Sun's kinda set on the west...

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@batkevin74: I don't know if you've noticed this or not, but I tend to get motivated when everyone else is getting bored with it. lol

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