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Of Smoke and Ash

 
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Glenn Douglas
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 11:23 am    Post subject: Of Smoke and Ash Reply with quote

Redemption retained none of the warmth he had known when staying there in days that seemed long past. Its smooth wood floors were cold under his feet, he could feel it through the thick soles of leather that he walked on. He stood with one hand on the butt of a gun that was alien to him and in his left hand he held that old Colt Dragoon that he'd taken many a life with. It's barrel angled toward the floor, it hung by his loose fingers and seemed hazardously close to falling. Glenn reached up wit his right hand and removed his hat and set it down on a small wood table he'd brought in when he was just a squatter here.

He set the Dragoon beside the hat and crossed the room. He tried a light switch and nothing happened. The power had been shut off, he knew, and he wasn't really sure how to get it turned back on again. Glenn had never been a homeowner before now. He hadn't really had a place to call home since he was young and York was still standing and not a smoldering pile of ash. He'd ask one of Foley's guys about it, or maybe he'd go on living like a squatter. The idea of calling someone to turn the power on, of paying bills made him sick to his stomach. Was Glenn Douglas going to settle down in a house, grow old and die in the dust?

As he crossed into the kitchen he saw, by the grace of sunlight coming in through a window, an envelope sitting on the counter. He tore it open and unfolded the scrap of paper to read a short letter.

Quote:
Glenn,

Congratulations, my friend. You're a homeowner now. I'll send some of the guys over in the afternoon to help you move in. In the meantime, I know you're strapped for cash and I have a few jobs that I can pass your way. Owning a house isn't cheap, so you'll need to start working soon. A mutual acquaintance of ours will be by to give you the run down. We'll need you to get to work straight away.

As always, if you need anything you only have to ask. We're family now, Glenn Douglas. You, me, and the rest of the boys are all brothers and we look out for each other. You know where to find me.

Sincerely,
Patrick Foley


Glenn tossed the letter back onto the counter and turned. The sound of footsteps made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end and he looked at the door through the kitchen and saw the shadow of a man cast upon the glass pane that took up the top of it.

"Who's there?"

"Uh...Name's Billy, Mist'r Douglas. Mist'r Foley sen' me an' the boys t'help ya move in."

Glenn walked across the room and opened the door and stared down at the shorter, balding man. He had a gap toothed smile waiting for the gunslinger.

"Good t'meet ya, Mist'r Douglas," Billy said as he extended a hand to shake. "I'm Billy, an' that's Jon, Nathaniel, an' Kieran," he said, tossing a look over his shoulder at the three young men standing in the yard behind him.

Glenn didn't shake the man's hand. He looked over Billy's shoulder, past the young men, and saw on the road a small track loaded up with a trailer.

"What's that?"

"Uh...well, that's your furniture, Mist'r Douglas. Didn' Mist'r Foley tell you he was sendin' this over?'

"I don't want it."

"What?"

"I don't want it." Glenn said firmly.

"Well, beggin' your pardon Mist'r Douglas, but Mist'r Foley insisted. He's not gonna be happy if we come back with this an' it ain't empty."

"So dump it somewhere else, or take it. I don't want his ***. Get off my property."

He stepped back and slammed the door in Billy's face, then pulled the blinds aside to watch and make sure that the man got the point. His hand came to rest on the new bit of steel at his waist. It wasn't as heavy as the Dragoon, the weight imbalanced him.

Billy sighed, gave Glenn a pleading look, and then turned and told his boys to get back in the truck. Soon, they were rumbling off down the road.

Glenn turned away from the door and stalked through Redemption, alone, as his mind raced. None of this was the way it was supposed to be.

Redemption was too cold.
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Madison Rye
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was approaching noon and the sky was bearing down on her. Redemption was a dark rendered silhouette brooding in any otherwise bland environment, as if some tornado had simply dropped it in one piece and moved on. While there were no witches to be found under that house, within it was trouble enough. But, out on that road she couldn't be sure of what went on in those walls, only trust the way the past had to be believed; he wouldn't leave without farewell and his kind of good bye always went out with a bang.

There was no subtle way to approach, with the steel-chattering-teeth of an old gate and the crunch of dust and gravel under feet in a yard only patched with grass here and there. There was no way to mask the sound of her old boot heels across older boards and the sound of her heart racing in her chest so violently there was a moment's lapse between her fist and the door when she felt sick.


Instead of knocking, she tried the handle and pushed the door open to set foot within. The light from the world at her back illuminated her familiar frame and profile as her eyes panned over the dark of the house the day that entered with her couldn't reach, and what she saw was a house that still resembled the one she left behind - there seemed, even in the shadows, that little had been changed and she was struck by the impression that she had never left. The smell of her still in the air, the smell of untreated wood and the persistent undertow of smoke and ash.


"Douglas." His name like a riddle or a hex. Madison didn't yell it, she didn't whistle. It was a low sound. It was a phonograph-whisper. Two more steps. "You dead yet?"
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Glenn Douglas
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Inside, straight through the door, there sat a squat wooden table with a single chair beside it. On this table was the letter from Foley, an old and weather beaten, sweat stained hat, and an old Colt Dragoon revolver. The room and the rest of Redemption was otherwise empty. Glenn Douglas had not heard Madison's call.

He was out back with a bottle in hand, a rag soaked in oil was hanging out of the mouth and a flame had begun to flicker to life. Glenn Douglas looked at Redemption one last time and steeled himself. Was that someone in the window? No, shadows of the past. His heart was trying to play tricks on him again, but he wouldn't fall for it this time. Glenn Douglas threw that first bottle and it erupted in a shower of glass and fire, the oil within bursting alight in a rage. He threw a second that had stood at his feet, and then a third. The wall lit up and the roof soon followed. Redemption seemed to be wearing a halo of flames and at last, Glenn Douglas cracked a smile.

"The end of an era," he mused to himself as he turned to quiet the horse tethered to the fence. He untied the beast climbed the saddle, which felt more comfortable to him than any plush leather car seat ever could, and rode off across the fields with the burning house to his back.
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There were few things a person could mistake and the smell of smoke was one of them. Skeleton-fingers of it reaching out like a great claw towards the house and engulfing it.

Madison, however, could also not mistake the hat or the Dragoon that she saw as she got closer to the table and the first bottle hit the house. There came the second and she was engaging her gun, holding it rigidly out before her waist, arms straight, as she marched down the hall to peer out window of her bedroom from the angle afforded from the end of it, to see a horse going wild on a post.

She only made it back to the lounge room when the third bottle struck and the house erupted. Old, old wood that was practically kindle in that over-dry desert where the sun was too low, too hot.


It was the third fire she had been within. On her knees, hands sheltering her head from the flying debris, fireballs and cinders. Her eyes turned to the front door as more fire ran up the walls. Ran across the ceiling. Ran towards her across the floor. The visions came to her then, despite the panic. Of burning theatres, of a burning city. Madison Rye closed her eyes. Allowed what had plagued her to enter her mind and be seen. That wicked panorama, running off its show-reel, over and over and over again.


It glowered like a madman's dream seen through his squinted, veined-red eye; where a bell tolled across strange plains of walking myth, wind-tattered truths and too-much sun; stories written and recited in the fading smoke.

In the fading smoke.

In the smoke.


Foley's words scorched and shrivelled.



Redemption sure as hell wasn't cold no more.
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2016 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A man walked down the street. He wore all black from head to toe. A black hat, black pants, a black jacket and black gloves. His eyes were green and his face was tanned, but everything else was black. He has thin lips and they were drawn into an even thinner line. He had a small black satchel that hung at his side, slung over his shoulders by a black strap. He ducked into the alleyways to his right and continued on, following them like a road. The alley went all the way to the the corner of a street, snaking out just behind an old place called Charlie's.

The bar was still open at this time of night. So the man leaned against the wall and hunkered down behind a heap of garbage tossed out by another establishment that shared an alley with Charlie's. He sat and watched and waited, perfectly calm and perfectly still. To kill time he went over the instructions in his head.

Get in. Find the safe. Steal the cash. Break the window, spread the blood, leave the Dragoon. Get out.

Simple. It was very simple. Tracer had robbed more sophisticated places than Charlie's in his life. An old run down bar would pose no challenge to a seasoned professional.

The minutes ticked by. The hours followed. The last drunk wandered home and the lights went out. Still he waited. The man allowed himself a moment to step out onto the street. Here he stood in the moonlight and took one long look at Charlie's Bar and saw that it was quiet and dark. He looked up and own the street, then he returned to the alley and stretched and popped his back.

From the satchel the man produced a long, thin bladed knife and he stuck that between his teeth, then grabbed hold of a drainpipe and began to climb up to the window on the second floor, obscured by the shadow the building cast against the moon. He reached the window and leaned aside with one arm crooked to hold him, his legs bent up to his chest. His whole body coiled to hold him aloft for a short time as he took the knife and used it's thin blade to slide carefully through the gap between the window and the sill. Sliding it side-to-side, he found the lock and gave it a little bit of attention, and then it released. The window went upward with ease and he climbed through, quiet as a cat.

The manager's office was dark and empty. He saw the safe inserted into the wall and reaching to the floor beside the desk. He replaced the knife with a gun. Not the Dragoon, but a smaller, sleeker number with a small suppressor. He walked out of the office to peer into the ground floor landing. He had to make sure he was alone first. A quick survey assured him of his privacy, and he returned to the office and knelt down in front of the safe. He smiled only slightly at it. It was heavily armored. A good safe. A strong safe.

The gun was set on top of the safe and he emptied the contents of his bag, which held: The thin knife, rope, a spare magazine for his gun, a variety of strange, mechanical and electrical contraptions, and an old Colt Dragoon.

He got to work.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Time passed and the man tricked the safe into opening. He emptied its contents, heedless of what he was taking, into the bag and then he packed up his things and stood. Leaving the safe open, the man stepped out of the office and took the stairs down to the ground floor. The bar looked more like a ghost town at this hour, all quiet with the dust floating through the air, illuminated by the pale moonlight. He walked toward a window and reached into his pack and pulled out the Dragoon, holding it by the barrel.

In a swift, sharp motion he cracked the butt of the gun against the glass and it began to crack. Twice more and it shattered, with chunks of sharp glass falling off in sheets. He tossed the gun on the ground where some of it had fallen onto the pavement and produced a small vial that was filled with what appeared to be blood.

Careful application left streaks of it on the ground and the broken glass, just enough to make it look like someone had cut themselves. A few hairs sprinkled about, and then he went back upstairs and left the way he came, through the window in the manager's office.

The man disappeared without a trace, the only evidence of the crime being what was left out on the street in front of Charlie's. It had been an easy score.
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