Tag: cowboy

Agents of the Vault – Part 25 & 26

Parts 25 & 26 – Does Charlie become a true Agent of the Vault?

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Agents of the Vault
Part 25
By Grant Baciocco

The next day, Charlie was well enough to get a tour of The Vault.  A deep, underground bunker that went below Yankton for several stories.  It was a feat of engineering for the time and it was safe to assume there was nothing much like it anywhere else on the planet.

Doc explained, “There are several Vaults throughout the United States and some throughout the world.  All part of the Coalition to keep historic, mystical artifacts safe.  This one here in Yankton is the biggest in the world.  Most of the Agents work out of here.”

Doc took Charlie around to the training rooms, a series of room where Agents of the Vault could work on their hand to hand fighting as well as their accuracy with pistols and long range rifles.  Most impressive, however was the lowest level, The Vault itself.  Spanning for what seemed to be about a mile underground, The Vault had row upon row of trunks, much like the one the writing desk was carried in. They were stacked six high in some places.

Doc pointed down a row of stacked trunks, “The desk you and Grisom brought in is now safely stored away here.  It’s a good thing we had the other desk out of storage for study when Grisom wrote to us.  That’s how we knew where to find you.”

Charlie nodded.

“What you see here just barely scratches the surface of the artifacts with mystical powers out in the world.  And these are just the ones from the United States.  The purpose of the Coalition and The Vault is to keep these items of power out of the wrong hands.  All of these Vaults are defended by the bravest men and women on earth.  And now, you’re one of them.”

Charlie reached into his pocket and felt the leather case that held Grisom’s badge that was now his badge.  He was nervous and excited to be one of The Agents of the Vault, but there was also a small piece of him that was terrified now that Grisom was gone.  He really had no idea what he was doing, but steeled himself in the fact that Grisom seemed to be the best Agent of the Vault on the roster and he always trusted Charlie, so he would trust that.

“We’ve got a wagon all set up for you,” Doc said. “You can get the Prairie Fire back to the indians.”  Doc turned and led the way back towards the Vault’s entrance.  Charlie turned and followed him, stopping to look one last time at the rows of stacked trucks in The Vault.

Part 26

Two days later, Charlie rode from the Pawnee camp having delivered Pahaat.  The Pawnee Chief had greeted him when he had arrived, but there was not a pleasant mood within the camp.  The Pinkertons and the Calvary had done a number on the members of this tribe.  There were survivors but only a handful.

“I feel like we brought this trouble to you.” Charlie said.  “We led the Pinkerton’s here.”

“You had only good intentions.” The Chief replied in his rough English.  “And you have returned Pahaat.  A small sliver of sunshine throughout the storm.”

They sat in silence for a moment.  About ten feet in front of them, Doris and Pahaat tumbled and played in the dirt.  Their antics brought a smile to both men’s faces.

“Has your little one decided to remain with Pahaat?” The chief asked.

“Not yet.” Charlie replied, “But I have a feeling it’ll be soon.  They seem more dependent on each other after Doris rescued him form the Pinkertons.  I have a feeling it won’t be long before we are back here.”

The Chief looked across his village, his people slowly were rebuilding and cleaning up the damage the calvary had done.  “I’m afraid a great conflict is coming between my people and yours.”

“I feel it coming too.” Charlie said.

“It is a shame that we cannot live in harmony with the wonders that are around us.” The Chief said, watching Pahaat jump tackle Doris from behind as the two played.  He turned to look at Charlie, “But you are an honorable man as was Grisom and as long as there is honor, there is a small glimmer of hope.”

Charlie reached out for the Chief hand and shook it.  He then gave a whistle and Doris looked over from her dominant position on Pahaat to Charlie and realized it was time to go.  She looked down at Pahaat and gave him a big, sloppy lick across the face and then bounded off toward Charlie, stopping to rub her head against the Chief’s leg.

The Chief looked down, smiling, “See you soon little one.” Doris gave a whistle and smile and then bounded off after Charlie who was already getting into the wagon.

She scrambled up the wagon wheel and took her spot on the buckboard right next to Charlie.  Charlie clicked his tongue and gave a snap of the reigns and the horses began to pull out.  Once they were underway, Doris gave a Charlie a questioning whistle.

“Where are we off to?” Charlie replied, “Let me see.”

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pice of paper, unfolding it with one hand as the other hand held the reigns.  He read Doc’s writing and then nodded, “We are headed to Baxter Springs, Kansas.  Apparently, that is where George Washington’s tent is currently being held for us.”

Doris let out another inquisitive whistle.

“Apparently, the tent has properties that keep it impervious to cannon fire.  It’s one of the things that kept Washington safe during the war.”

Doris let out a whistle of agreement and settled in next to Charlie.

They rode in silence for about an hour, en route to Baxter Springs.  Charlie felt Doris shift next to him and glanced down to see her with her back turned to him looking at something in her hands.

“What do you have there Doris?” he asked, startling the creature.  Doris quickly turned to him keeping the object hidden behind her.  She looked up innocently at him.  Charlie smiled, “Come on, show me what you got.”

Shyly, Doris brought her hand around into view to reveal a tiny, grey egg.  Charlie’s mouth hung open.  He was so flabbergasted, it took him a second to realize that he was pulling the horses off course.  He looked straight ahead and corrected the horse’s walk, then turned back to Doris.

Doris looked up at him with the big dark eyes, smiling.

Charlie let out a laugh and shook his head.  Doris gingerly placed the egg back into her pouch and the wagon continued onward towards Baxter Springs.


©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media – www.SaturdayMorningMedia.com

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Agents of the Vault – Part 24

Part 24 of The Agents of the Vault is here!  Trinity fallout!  Who survived?  Who didn’t?  What happens next?

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Also, if you prefer a PDF version of this part to read, CLICK HERE for that.

Finally, if you’d like to support my projects, visit www.patreon.com/saturdaymorningmedia

Agents of the Vault
Part 24
By Grant Baciocco

“I’m on a boat.” Was the next thing Charlie remembered thinking to himself.  “How did I get on a boat?”  His body was slowly rocking back and forth.  “Am I dreaming?”  He tried to focus his thoughts but they were cloudy.  His eyes were closed but in his mind he saw the single star shining through the smoke.  The last thing he saw after Jane was engulfed in flames.

As he focused, his senses slowly returned.  His body was rocking back and forth but he was not on a boat.  It was far to bumpy to be a boat.  His chest hurt badly.  The more he thought about it, everything hurt badly, but it was as if his chest was the epicenter of the pain.  He wanted to open his eyes, but he felt that that would cause more pain.  Every twitch of his fingers or wiggle of his toes seemed to cause lightning bolts of pain to shoot everywhere in his body.  Every jostle or bump from whatever vehicle he was in caused him pain.  Inhaling deeply, he opened his eyes.

The blue sky of dawn above the prairie greeted his gaze.  He got lost in the blue for a moment.  It wasn’t until he felt something pulling at his chest that he began to look around.

Without raising his head, he looked to his left and saw the wooden slats of the side of a wagon.  That explained the bumps.  He was in a wagon, not a boat.  He moved his eyes up to look above his head and saw two men driving the wagon.  He could see that one of them held a shotgun.  Neither of the men looked familiar, but all he could see was their backs.

Looking to his right he saw a man sitting next to him.  An older man with scraggly white hair and tiny, horn rimmed glasses perched on the end of his nose.  He wore a white shirt, with he sleeves rolled up under a black vest.  He was set about his work, pursing his lips as he did.  It took Charlie a moment to realize that the work this man was working on, was him.

Charlie inhaled and tried to form the word, “What?”

The man working on him gave Charlie a sideways glance.  “Morning kid.”  He went back to his work.  “Just stitching you up now.  Removed that bullet.  Nasty sucker.”

Charlie had heard the words through the pain ringing in his ears.  He took a few deep breaths.  Then inhaled and formed the word, “Who?” weakly.

The man continued to work, bandaging Charlie’s freshly stitched wound.  “Doc Harvey.” The man replied.  “I work with the Agents of the Vault.”

At the mention of the words “The Vault,” everything came flooding back to Charlie.  The Vault, the gunfight, Jane, Grisom, the desk, the fire.  Images and words poured into his brain as if suddenly snapped back to reality.  He instantly had a million questions but knew that in his current state, one word was all he would be able to get out.


At the mention of her name, Doris’ head popped up to Charlie’s right and she gave out a low whistle.  Smiling made new pains make themselves known in Charlie’s body, but it was a pain he gladly accepted knowing that Doris was safe.  Doris nuzzled her head up against Charlie’s and Charlie’s eyes closed with relief and, again slipped back into the blackness.

The next time Charlie opened his eyes, he could instantly tell that the pain that had overwhelmed his entire body had subsided.  In its place was a deep, body wide ache.  He quickly decided that he could live with that ache.  He was inside now.  A wooden room with the walls painted white.  Slowly propping himself up on his elbows to look around, he realized that the room he was in, though brightly lit by a few lanterns and candles, had no windows.

He was shirtless and, looking down, he could see his chest, where Jane had shot him was bandage.  The skin peeking out from under the edges of the bandage was bright pink with hints of bruising beginning.  He sat all the way up and at the sound of doing so, Doris came scrambling into the room.  Her claws clicking across the wooden slat floor as she ran.  She let out a long whistle as she closed the distance between the door and the bed.  Charlie saw her and held up his hands, causing his whole body to ache.

“Easy!” he shouted, his voice dry and crackled from not being used.  “Easy girl!”

Doris leapt into the air.  Charlie braced himself, but she landed gingerly on his bed without touching him at all.  Charlie opened his eyes and got a big, lick that smelled of sulfur.  He reached out and scuffled her ears, ignoring the deep ache in his chest.  It was just so good to see her.

“You’re awake.” A voice at the doorway said, it was Doc Harvey.  He crossed to the bed grabbing a chair that was against the wall and brought it bedside.  He sat down on it and took out his glasses, hooking the ends of them over his ears.  “Let’s take a quick look at that wound and we’ll get you up and out of here.”

Doc began pulling the bandages from the wound.  Charlie decided not to look down and examine it himself.  He’d prefer not to pass out.

“You had a bottle of Whittenmore dirt on you.” Doc said as he looked closely at the stitches holding the bullet wound together on Charlie’s chest, giving them a gentle poke here and there with his index finger.  “You get that from Grisom?”

“Yes, sir.” Charlie replied.  “He gave it to me right before the final showdown.”  Charlie suddenly turned to Doc and grabbed his hand, “Girsom!  Where’s Grisom, did he make it?”

Doc looked up at Charlie and sighed, “No kid, I’m afraid not.”

Charlie was silent.  Doris, who understood what was being said, scooted herself under Charlie’s arm.  He squeezed her tight.

“The Whittenmore dirt is powerful stuff but it doesn’t work miracles.” Doc said, beginning to reapply the bandage to Charlie’s wound.  “He died defending a piece of history, that was his job.” He added matter of factly.

Charlie looked down at Doris, trying to not let Doc see the tears forming in his eyes.  “So, the desk made it?”

“Oh yes,” Doc said.  “Came through just fine.  You did a fine job keeping it safe.”

“It was Grisom.” Charlie replied.  “I didn’t do anything.”

Doc stood and wiped his hands on his vest.  “Don’t sell yourself short kid.  If you hadn’t been there this could have all gone differently.  Because of you the desk is here in The Vault.  And as an added attraction, we now know of not one but two Prairie Fires—“

“No.” Charlie immediately cut him off.  “The Prairie Fires don’t belong to The Vault.  Doris is mine and Pahaat needs to be returned to the indians.”

Doc laughed, “Of course.  If you were listening to me I said, ‘We know about two Prairie Fires.’  I didn’t say we now have two of them.  We have no plans on keeping them and would prefer returning them to the wild.”

Charlie nodded, still shocked at the news of Grisom’s death.

“I have to ask.” Doc continued.  “What did you do to Jane?  We found her, burnt to a crisp.”

Charlie searched his memory of the night in Trinity and it was fuzzy.  The last thing he saw of Jane, she had burst into flames.  He turned back to Doc.  “The Prairie Fires.  They got her.”

Doc looked over at Doris who was now on her back, paws up in air, loving her belly being scratched by Charlie.  Doris looked up at him and gave him an upside down smile.  Doc shook his head and let out a whistle, “They can be vicious if they want to be.”

Charlie nodded.  “So what’s next?”

Doc sighed, “Well, we’ve been talking a lot about you here kid.  With the reports that Grisom sent back about you and the way you pulled through two nights ago, well, we figure you’d make a right fine proper Agent of the Vault.”

Charlie turned and looked at Doc.  “But, I don’t know nothing.  Outside of what Grisom ever told me.”

“Well, of course not, but you’re here now, in the The Vault.  We’d tell ya all you needed to know.” Doc said, “You and Doris could go out on missions, you know, if you’d want to.  We’d love to have you.”  Doc reached into his pocket and pulled out a small piece of folded leather.  He tossed it to Charlie.  Charlie opened it up and saw Grisom’s badge.  “Whether you decide to join us or not,” Doc said as Charlie ran his finger over the silver badge, “I think Grisom would have wanted you to have that.  If you decide to join us, feel free to consider that your badge.

Charlie nodded, then looked up from the badge in his hands. “Could my first mission be returning Pahaat to the indians?”

“I don’t see why not,” said Doc, smiling.  “Sounds like a good place to start.”  Doc turned to leave, “You just rest here and when you’re feeling up to it, we’ll set you up and send you out.”

“Thank you,” Charlie said.

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media – www.SaturdayMorningMedia.com

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Agents of the Vault – Part 20

Part 20 of The Agents of the Vault is here!  Was anyone hit in the opening gunfight between Jane and Grisom?  Listen and find out!

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Also, if you prefer a PDF version of this part to read, CLICK HERE for that.

Finally, if you’d like to support my projects, visit www.patreon.com/saturdaymorningmedia

Agents of the Vault
Part 20
By Grant Baciocco

Charlie scanned the street outside for signs of Jane but could only see her horse.  In the gunfight, she must have bailed off of it and it now stood still in the middle of the street.

Seconds later, Grisom came stumbling into the room, gun in hand, holding his belly.  Charlie could see a red stain spreading on Grisom’s pale linen shirt.

“Grisom!”  Charlie said, crossing to him and helping him sit on the edge of the bed.  “Is it bad?”

Grisom winced and for the first time, pulled his hand away from his wound and looked down.  The blood flowed faster now that he was not applying direct pressure.  He quickly placed his hand back over the wound and pressed down hard.

“Kid,” Grisom said between winces.  “Gut shots ain’t ever good.”  Grisom took a deep breath.  “Fetch my bag over there.”  He indicated his saddle bag which was next to the trunk that held the writing desk.

Charlie crossed the room, snagged the bag and quickly brought it back to the bed.  Charlie flipped it open and look expectantly at Grisom.

“There’s a small vial in the bottom.” Grisom grunted.  “Filled with dirt.”

Charlie rooted around in the bag as Grisom lie back on what was left of the bed.  Charlie’s fingers found a small glass vial at the bottom of the bag and held it up in the dimming sunlight.  It was filled with dirt as Grisom had said.  Charlie looked at Grisom who was hoisting up his shirt, exposing the gunshot wound.

“Take the top off the vial and hand it to me son.” Grisom said breathing heavy.  Charlie followed his directions, tossing the lid to the vial onto the floor and handing it over to Grisom.  Grisom took it and bunched his shirt up to get a better view of his wounded stomach.  Charlie stepped back, nervous, but ready to help if he could.  “You ever hear of Samuel Whittenmore kid?”

Charlie, perplexed at the sudden change of topic, shook his head as he watched Grisom slowly begin to tap out little flecks of dirt onto the pulsing gunshot wound.  “Whittenmore was 78 years old when he fought in the Revolutionary War.  He caught some British soldiers returning from the opening engagements at Lexington and Concord and, all alone mind you, took some shots at them.  Killed one redcoat with his rifle, pulled out his pistols, killed another and mortally wounded one more.  The British rushed him and this tough son of a bitch pulls out his sword to fend them off.”

The vial was now empty, a small pile of dirt on the wound was soaking up the blood making it a dark muddy brown.  Grisom threw the vial aside and began rubbing the dirt into his wound, gritting his teeth with every movement.

“What happened?” Charlie ask, instinctively crossing to the corner of the room where some discarded bedsheets lie.  He began to rip them into strips to form a bandage.  Charlie didn’t know much about medicine, but everything about rubbing dirt into a fresh wound seemed absolutely wrong.

“The British laid into him.” Grisom replied.  “Shot him in the face.  Bayonetted him repeatedly.  Left him for dead.”

Charlie crossed back to the bed and began helping Grisom bandage the wound best he could.

“Hours later, when, Colonial soldiers found him,” Grisom continued.  “Whittenmore was, amazingly, still alive.  They took him to a doctor who said there was no hope of his survival.”  Grisom let our a pained chuckle, “Tough old bastard lived another 18 years, finally stopping at 96 years old.”

“Sounds like a tough old man.” Charlie said, binding the bedsheets tight around the wound.

“He was.” Grisom said, attempting to catch his breath.  “There’s not doubt he was tough as nails.  But he had also happened to fall into patch of dirt there that the natives use to use as a healing area.  Legend had it that the dirt in that area had healing powers and it’s said to have kept him alive.”

Charlie nodded and helped Grisom tie off the knot of torn bedsheets now circling his midsection as a makeshift bandage.  “And that’s what was in that vial?”

“Yeah,” Grisom replied, with a slow measured exhale.  “Theres another vial of it in that bag.  You might as well take it and put it in your pocket, just in case.”

Charlie picked the bag up again and rooted around inside of it until he found the duplicate vial.  Feeling the cool glass in his hand, he regarded the small flecks of dirt tumbling within for a moment and then slipped it into his pocket.  Putting the bag down he walked over and helped Grisom sit up on the edge of the bed.

“That dirt going to heal you?” Charlie asked.

“Heal me?” Grisom said with a cough.  “No, but it might just keep me alive until someone gets to me that can.”

Charlie nodded and the prairie silence filled their room.  There air was still.

Suddenly sensing an absence, Grisom whipped his head around and scanned the room.  “Where’s Doris?”

“She took to ground, right after you left.  She heard something and took off.”

“Charlie, if anything happens to her—“

Charlie held up his hands, “I know, Grisom, I know.  But she had it in her head to do something and she went to do it.”

“Dammit.” Grisom said, wincing and grabbing his side as he did.  He sat quiet for a moment then turned towards Charlie, “You trust her enough on her own?”

“I do.” Charlie said, nodding.  Confident he was right.

Grisom smiled weakly and then winced, putting a hand against his side.  He let out a long slow exhale.

“What do we do next?” Charlie asked.

“We wait and see what Jane does.” Grim grunted.

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media – www.SaturdayMorningMedia.com

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Agents of the Vault – Part 19

Part 19 of The Agents of the Vault is here!  The showdown in Trinity begins!

If you want to subscribe to the Grantcast, you can do so with iTunes, or by using this feed in your favorite podcatcher.  Enjoy!  And let me know what you think of the story in the comments here, as we go along.

Also, if you prefer a PDF version of this part to read, CLICK HERE for that.

Finally, if you’d like to support my projects, visit www.patreon.com/saturdaymorningmedia

Agents of the Vault
Part 19
By Grant Baciocco

As Jane neared Trinity, she could see Grisom standing in the middle of the thoroughfare.  She slowed up her horse.  Brenner and the other Pinkertons rode up behind her.  Their horses breathed heavy underneath them, tired from racing across the prairie.  Gilmore was still wrestling with Pahaat, who thrashed harder now that they had slowed their pace.

“Ma’am.” Gilmore said, struggling to keep the wriggling prairie fire in his hands.  “I’m having trouble holding onto this varmint.”

Jane spun on her horse to face Gilmore, whipping out her gun and aiming it directly at his head.  “Do you want to die Gilmore?”

“No.  I don’t want—“ he stammered.

“Then you hang onto the prairie fire.” She hissed.  “If he touches the ground he will burrow and we will lose him.  If we loose him, you’re dead.  Understand?”

“Yes, ma’am.  It’s just—“

Jane fired a bullet that, purposefully knocked Gilmore’s hat clean off his head.  Pahaat stopped struggling at the sound of the shot.  Jane holstered her gun.

“Listen.” She said to the three men, “Grisom’s going to meet me in the street.  That’s plain to see.  I assume the other two men are up in the taller building there.  That’s where the trunk is and that’s where the other prairie fire is.  I’ll ride direct towards Grisom.  Brenner and Connors, you ride to the left of the buildings, Conners stop halfway, Brenner, go the full way around so you are behind Grisom.  Gilmore, you stay here.  Keep that prairie fire quiet.  If things get rough, you ride in from here.  No one shoots unless I signal.  Understood?”

The three men nodded and without a further word, began moving into the positions that Jane had ordered.

In the center of town, Grisom saw the Pinkertons split up.  “They’re circling the town,” Grisom said loud enough for Leland and Charlie to hear.  “Keep your eyes open behind the hotel. And down this way.” Grisom said, pointing away from the hotel.  The whole time, he kept his eyes on Jane out on the prairie.

Jane lowered the brim of her het and began riding directly towards where Grisom stood in the middle of the five buildings.  Slowly, she moved her right hand towards her hip as the horse loped forward, feeling the weight of her pistol in her hand.  Reassuring herself it was there, she slowly moved he hand back to the reigns.  The sun was hanging low to the west.  She figured they probably had about thirty minutes of pure daylight left before it began to set.  “That’ll be long enough.” She thought to herself.  “We get the trunk, the prairie fire and then ride south, leaving Grisom and the kid dead in this deserted town.”

She slowed the horse as she came within range of Grisom.  She trusted that Brenner and the Conners were in their spots around the buildings.  When she got close enough she glanced up to the top of the two story building.  She didn’t see movement in the window, but she knew that one of the others had to be up there.  She couldn’t tell where the third was.  She refocused on Grisom.

Grisom stood, motionless in between the buildings, staring directly at Jane as she rode up.  She pulled the reigns on her horse and it stopped about 15 feet from where Grisom stood.

“Grisom.” Jane said.

“Jane.” Grisom replied, respectfully tipping the brim of his hat towards her.

She smirked.  “It doesn’t have to end like this Grisom.” Jane said.  “You could just give me what I want and we could be gone.  Leave you and the kid and whoever else is with you alive.”

“We both know that won’t happen, Jane.“  Grisom said.  “You want the trunk, you want Doris and, most of all, you want me dead.  I can’t let any of those three things happen.  So there’s no way this doesn’t end in bloodshed.”

“What can I say Grisom?.” Jane said, smiling.  “When you’re right, you are right.  But at the very least, we could leave the kid alive.”

Grisom looked up at her.  “You and I both know you wouldn’t let that happen.”

Jane smiled wider.  “Dammit Grisom, again, when you are right, you are right.”

Grisom flinched when suddenly he felt the barrel of a gun pressed against the back of his head and he heard the pistol’s hammer click back.  He’d been so focused on Jane, he hadn’t heard the footsteps slowly walking up behind him.  He silently cussed himself out.

“Evening Ma’am.” A voice said behind him.  It was Leland.  “I have been held prisoner by this man here for several days days now.  I want him gotten rid of just as much as you.  I’d be quite obliged to join your team and help you get what you want.  The trunk, that stupid creature upstairs and Grisom here.”

“What do you get out of it?” Jane asked, intrigued by this new wrinkle.

“There’s a trunk on that there cart,” Leland said, indicating with his head.  “I’d be mighty happy if I could get up on that cart and ride off into the sunset.  After you get what you want, of course.”

“Of course.” Jane replied.  “It’s an interesting offer, Mr.—?”

“Leland.” He smiled.  “Just call me Leland.

Up in the second floor of the hotel, Charlie’s pistol was moving back and forth between Jane and Leland now.  Leland had ruined things and Charlie felt a little unsure what to do next.

Grisom wasn’t so worried.  “Charlie!” Grisom yelled interrupting the banter between Jane and Leland, “You keep trained on Jane.  Don’t worry about Leland.”

Grisom heard Leland shuffle behind him, “Don’t worry about me?  Don’t worry about me?  Are you plum crazy Grisom? I’m the guy with a gun against your head.”  With those words, Leland shoved the gun further into the back of Grison’s skull, causing Grisom to take a step forward.  “You feel that Grisom?  You feel that cold steel driving into the base of your skull?”  Grisom was calm as could be.

“Your gun ain’t loaded Leland.” Grisom said quietly.  “You’re a criminal.  You think I’d give you a loaded gun?  I knew you’d turn on us the first moment you could.  Thank you for not disappointing me.”

Leland held the gun steady.  “You’re bluffing.  I checked the cylinder.  It’s got six shots.”

“They’re empty shell casings.” Grisom said.

“I don’t believe you.”

“Pull the trigger and we’ll all find out.” Grisom said quietly.

Leland’s hand began shaking on the trigger.  Grisom could feel it through the barrel.

Bang!  A shot rang out.  There was silence.  Grisom felt the barrel of the gun leave the base of his skull and he heard Leland’s body hitting the ground.  Grisom looked straight ahead to see Jane’s pistol in her hand, smoking.

“I was growing tired of the drama.” Jane said.  Her gun now trained on Grisom.  “Call the boy out here and tell him to bring the prairie fire.  Tell my men where they can retrieve the trunk and we will make this quick and painless.”

“You can’t have the trunk.” Grisom said.  “And you can’t have he prairie fire.”

“You think I’m kidding about this Grisom?” Jane said, the annoyance dripping through her voice.  “I thought you’d know by now that I mean what I say.

Meanwhile, up in the hotel room, Charlie could barely hear what Jane and Grisom were saying.  He strained to hear them and not jut because they were far away, but also because Doris was making a whistling sound.  A sound that Charlie hadn’t heard before.

“Doris,” Charlie pleaded, “I’m trying to hear Grisom.  Would you be quiet?”

But Doris could not be calmed down.  She continued to whistle and scramble back and forth along the back wall of the room.  Charlie turned to see her climb up the wall into the window frame that looked out the back of the hotel.

“Doris!” Charlie said tersely, “Get out of the window!  Your liable to be seen!”

Doris ignored Charlie’s warning and he watched in panic as she disappeared out the window.  Looking back down to Grisom and Jane, he saw they were still locked in their war of words.  He quickly crossed to the window Doris had just climbed out of.  He looked down and saw Doris hit the ground and immediately start burrowing, disappearing completely.  He had just enough time to wonder where she was off to when a bullet whizzed past his head.  As he ducked back into the room, he caught view of one of Jane’s Pinkertons who had been guarding the backside of the hotel.  Charlie scrambled back across the floor to the window that faced main street.  That’s when he realized that there was now gunfire from out in the street.

Peering above the window ledge, he saw Grisom running toward the hotel in a zig zag fashion as Jane fired her pistol behind him.  Grisom wildly fired shots behind him in Jane’s direction, making her duck, but his aim was wild as he ran for cover.

Thinking that, with Leland dead, they were grossly outnumbered.  Charlie dashed back over to the window overlooking the back of the hotel and saw the Pinkerton that was there, slowly approaching the hotel with his rifle at the ready.  Charlie quickly took aim and shot the Pinkerton dead.

Below him, he heard Grisom slam closed the flimsy door of the hotel and begin to mount the stairs.

Gilmore, still on his horse, still firmly holding the Prairie Fire in his hands, heard the gunfire exchanges and looked nervously toward Trinity.  It was then he realized that the Prairie Fire in his hands had gone completely still.  For the first time in the day since they had captured it, it wasn’t struggling and it wasn’t whistling.  If it weren’t for the feeling of it’s tiny ribs rising and falling against his hands, Gilmore would have thought the creature had died.

“What’s going on little fella?” Gilmore asked quietly, giving the creature a gentle shake.  Pahaat didn’t move, only cocking his, burlap bag covered head to the side, listening.

Suddenly, Gilmore’s horse let out a wild shriek, reared up and then, as if the horses legs just simply refused to stop working, crashed to the ground.  Pahaat tumbled out of Gilmore’s hands.  The Pinkerton desperately reached to secure the creature, but his inability to do so, along with the searing pain now shooting up his legs made him realize that the horse had his leg pinned under it’s weight.

Frantic at incurring Jane’s wrath for losing the prairie fire, Gilmore looked around to try and discover the cause of the horse’s  ailment.  Scrambling up the horse’s stomach came the fuzzy ears of Doris who had a mischievous smile on her face.

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media – www.SaturdayMorningMedia.com

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