Thunder and Bloodshed

Slowly the townsfolk start to flock in to the church, soon filling the building to its capacity were upon people begin to mill around near the outside of the church, light gradually fading in the sky.  All the people are wearing their Sunday best, smart and clean.  The Dogs see Ferris walk in to the church with Ami-Lou on his arm, he looks over at Ambrose as he goes, and then Cuthbert with a huge grin on his face follows in.

Brother Ambrose pushes the doors open to the church making a grand entrance, drawing all of the congregation attention and strides up to the dais his coat billowing behind him.  Brother Jesse walks behind him to the doors of the church then stops and turns to the crowd gathered without, standing in the doorway.  Standing at the pulpit look down over the gathered crowd, Ambrose notices the mine works are sat all together in the centre part of the church, their arms fold across them, Ferris sat in the centre with Cuthbert on one side, Ami-Lou on the other.  There is a lot of smiles and comradery amongst them, but they soon give a stone face as they look back to the proceedings.

Brother Joshua walks on past the church and out through the crowds, people looking on in awe, some are even trying to reach out and touch the hem of this coat as he passes by, his long rifle across his back.  Joshua soon leaves the crowds behind as he draws close to his destination, still able to hear and barely see them.  The house he has come to is the one they saw the night before, where Ferris had gone, now the door is closed and curtains drawn.  Joshua walks on past the house then doubles back going around the back of the house, finding an old unused door, its wood looking aged and warped.  Joshua takes a look through the rear window, but not finding a good view of within, the curtains obscuring the scene, however they seemed to move slightly as if something against them just moved.

Joshua bangs heavily against the rear door, waiting for an answer but hearing nothing, no sound can be heard in response.  With this Joshua tries the door seeing that it may give with a few hard pulls as it doesn’t appear to be locked.  After his third hard tug on the door it gives in to the pressure, swinging wildly out at him, Joshua stepping back and regaining his balance.  The wind whips up a dust cloud of black soot from the unsettled door, blowing it across his view, a rank aroma emanating from the opening.

As Joshua enters the room he spots the head of Pleasance pop out from an adjoining room, blinking his bleary bloodshot eyes at this intruder.  Pleasance pulls himself in to the room, still wearing a blood stained shirt, but quickly pulling up his leather breaches to cover his modesty.  He stutters and stumbles his words to begin with but soon gets venom behind them as he asks Joshua why he is there, to which Joshua replies with him looking for a missing person, informing him that evidence leads to this house.  “See no one here….now leave me be.” Pleasance states to the watch dog, thumbing behind himself and turning his head.  Joshua however informs him that he is going to come and take a look, walking on in to the room towards him.  Pleasance steps up to block any further progress, informing Joshua that he has seen the place and to now leave him to his own privacy.  Joshua informs him that he will need to see the whole house,

“Does a man not have a right to his own private area?” Pleasance asks.

“Not when a Dog is investigating a sin.”

“Vary well.” Pleasance looks down. “I have nothing to hide. Take your pound of flesh, and at the end of this you will see how wrong you are.”

As Joshua goes past Pleasance and on in to the room, he hears a murmur from in a corner and catches a movement behind him, a glint of something metallic.  Turning Joshua gets confronted by a pickaxe flying towards him.  Quickly Joshua ducks the blow and jumps back to his feet pulling his large gun, Pleasance nearly over-balancing with the missed blow as the pick-axe flies through the space where Joshua head once was.  With a quick recovery Pleasance lunges again with the point of the pick-axe towards Joshua, but Joshua raises the barrel of his rifle aiming at his head.  The gun goes off taking Pleasance off his feet, exploding in his abdomen.  On the floor Pleasance grasps for a pistol hidden under a floorboard joining in with the gun fight.  Pleasance kicks out at the Dog hoping to knock the gun out of his hand, then pushes his own gun in to Joshua’s chest.  As Joshua drops he rolls towards a table bringing his own knees up to hit it out at Pleasance to disrupt the shot.

After the table impacts with Pleasance hitting his hand, he topples over to the floor.  As he lays there on the floorboards, blood pouring from his gun wound in his stomach, he appears to be very resilient holding his guts in looking defiant but helplessly up at the Dog.  His teeth are chatting together, face pale, the spent gun laying on the floor.  Joshua walks over Pleasance and puts his pistol to the side of his head, asking him the where abouts of the youth Roland.

“He will show me the way.” Pleasance answers coughing up blood.

“Who will show you the way, Roland?”

“His death will show me the way”  More blood forces itself out of his mouth, his voice becoming weaker.

“Where is he!”

“He is with the guide.  Out in the mines.”

“Who is the guide?”

Pleasance vomits up more bile, bloody and alcohol, his eyes rolling in to the back of his head. “The shower of ways.”

Brother Joshua kneels down putting his knee and weight upon Pleasance’s arm that is holding against his guts, applying more pressure and pain.  Pleasance flays his other arm about, wrapping it around Joshua’s knee in an agonising death-lock.

“The guide…..the guide…the bird.  We would spill an offering to its effigy, to help stop us getting lost in the mines.  I also did an offering to it to help guide me to Ami-Lou’s heart.”

“For the grievous sin of sacrifice and demon worship, I hereby sentence you to death.  May the King of Life guide and shelter your soul.”  With that a loud wet bang explodes blood and grey matter all over Joshua’s hand and the wall behind where Pleasance head once was.  Joshua stands back up shaking the end of his gun off, small grey solid fragments dropping off to the floor in a squelch, Pleasance’s remaining lower jaw looking back up at him in an evil grin.

All eyes are upon Brother Ambrose as he stands looking over the congregation, his voice echoing around the hall as he gives his sermon.  A faint humming can be heard from amongst the miners, all in sync and unison.  Outside Brother Jesse echoes the words that Ambrose stated, sharing the sermon with the gathered crowd that could not make it inside the church, raising his voice so that all could hear even the ones within the church.  All the miners turn their attention to Ferris seeing his reactions, Ami-Lou gripping his hand and smiling up at him, they keep their sync of humming.  Ambrose booms his voice out trying to distract the tune with un-rhythmic phrases.  Cuthbert however timidly raises his hand and stands interrupting the Dogs speech, “if it’s alright watch dogs but we have a bit of a tradition here, a song we sing before we start, I think everyone will be happier if we can do this, to raise our spirits before the sermon.  If that is okay with yourselves.”  All said with utmost polite respect.  Jesse hearing this raises his voice more to stop anyone outside from hearing Cuthbert, while shaking his head subtly for Ambrose to see his feeling towards this request.

“Of course we can have a sing song in the church of the King of Life, but since this is the first song in a church newly opened.”  Ambrose suggests before leading in to a song, a song that seems to link in pitch and rhythm with the miners humming.

A cough, “um shouldn’t we ask the people first sir.”  Cuthbert interrupts again, “it’s their home as well.”  Outside Brother Jesse takes up the song Ambrose started, raising his voice again, the Book of Life raised in his hand.  Cuthbert turning to see Jesse winches upon seeing the book, quickly turning back forward.  A ripple shudders through the building.

Ferris pulls himself away from Ami-Lou’s arms standing and speaks to Ambrose, “Sir, Cuthbert has a point, he may be a fool but he is a traditionalist.  If you order it I am sure everyone will do as you wish, but it will mean a lot to the town if you respect their wishes.”  Then he sits back down again.  Cuthbert seeing Ferris speak up and then sit back down, decides to sit back down himself, dropping like a dead weight back in to his chair, flopping his arms and legs about, his chair rocking back then swaying back in place.  A quiet ripple of laughter washes through the congregation upon seeing this comical act.  Even Ambrose can’t help but crack a smile across his face.  Brother Jesse bangs open wider the doors to the church and marches himself down to the front of the congregation.  Ambrose turns away from Cuthbert giving his full attention to all the other townsfolk that are gathered here other than miners, “certainly I would love to give the congregation the vote on what to sing.”

A very loud bang echoes across the town, sounding like a heavy wooden door being thrown open and slamming against something.  Everyone in the church turn their heads and look around.

Upon hearing what Ambrose said, Cuthbert quickly snaps up turning to Ferris and winking, “Why thank you for that.  If I may open with a song,” he slaps Ferris on the back, “this guy has shown me everything I have needed to know in life.”

The candles in the room flicker as some dust swirls up, Brother Joshua eyes adjusting to the changes in lighting, it is almost as if a darkness has blanketed the house.

A chill wind blows through the church, the skies outside dims with an eerie redness, people start to talk in tongues.  Some other townsfolk recoil in fright from what has suddenly started to happen around them.

Brother Jesse barges past Ferris grabbing Cuthbert by the scruff of his neck, in an attempt to pull him out.  However as Jesse does this Cuthbert uses the momentum to throw his head at Jesse, looking almost like his eyes narrow, his teeth become sharper and nails longer, as he looks back in to Jesse’ eyes.  Ferris quickly jumps to his feet kicking his chair out avoiding any physical contact.  Suddenly all the candles in the church go out send the place in to darkness, women begin to scream, and the men kick and punch out.

A loud drawn out thunderclap of a gun shot rings out from across town, quickly followed by a second, the ringing slowly fading in to the distance.

Jesse finds himself sat on the floor of the church, his jaw throbbing from the impact with Cuthbert’s head, his hands never getting a good purchase on Cuthbert’s clothes.  Next thing he knows is finding a Cuthbert pounce down on top of him pinning him to the ground, feeling a lot of pressure against his throat.  What seems like an age, Jesse pulls his gun pressing it deep in to Cuthbert’s stomach.

The lights flicker back on within the church, and Ambrose can now see Cuthbert on top of Jesse pinning him to the ground and flailing at him, the other miners gathered in a defensive ring around Ami-Lou, while the other townsfolk are running here and there aimlessly.  More evidence of the fact that the temperature has been dropping, as a frost is slowly forming over the walls and stalls.  Ambrose moves his position as he draws his own weapon, making sure he can hold both Ferris and Cuthbert in his line of sight.  Jesse pulls the trigger on his gun, but almost instantly Cuthbert leaps away from the blast, looking almost like he has wings on his back, moving with inhuman agility.

A third gun shot rings out from across town, echoing and reverberating through the church, matching the shot from Jesse’s gun as it impact in the church’s ceiling.  A howling seems to roll through the area, the Tree of Life bends snapping under the pressure of the cold.

Ferris kicks out grabbing and dragging Cuthbert with him, heading towards the doors.  Ambrose quickly circles around the pews of the church coming around to cut of their exit through the doors, gun in one hand and the Book of Life held aloft in the other.  The retreating miners come to an abrupt halt, the atmosphere thinning and as it does the frost can be seen subsiding its way from the church.  The miners begin to calm and step back a few paces as the look at the guns held on them.

A thunderclap cracks through the sky followed by the lightning, lighting up a silhouette of Joshua stood in the doorway.  Upon his coat can be seen drips of blood splatters and a few lumps of grey matter, gun still in hand.  All eyes turn upon Joshua now, all fight leaving the miners quickly, Ferris still standing defensively in front of Ami-Lou, confusion runs through all their eyes, they look distraught at the broken Tree of Life.

“I guess you were right watch dogs.”  Ferris speaks up breaking the growing silence.

“Out of the church, NOW!” Ambrose commands.

“Come on boys, in this together.” Ferris instructs the other miners, now with a more subdued tone.  As Ferris walks through the doors and past Ambrose he asks if he could ask of one thing, “Who died?”  Ambrose and Jesse turn to Joshua, “Mr Pleasance, he attacked me.”  Ferris winches, pain can be seen spread across his face.  On the other hand, Ami-Lou looks concerned with this news but also relieved.

Everyone walks out of the church, Archibald stand out there looking on with shock on his face.  Amongst the shocked onlookers is a surprised Temperance, seeing Joshua covered in blood and things!

“Ferris, Cuthbert, the rest of you, go get that still, bring it in to the light.” Ambrose commands of the miners.

“You trust us to go alone?” Ferris replies looking in to Ambrose’s eyes.

“No!” Interjects Joshua.

“Thought not.”

Joshua takes Ambrose to one side and explains to him about what Pleasance had said regarding the sacrifices and the imagery.  With this Ambrose begins to run to the mine.  As he goes in and goes deeper it feels much more cold and darker than before, Joshua accompanies him on the journey in, followed by Jesse who manages to help guide them through, all the while Ambrose calls out Roland’s name, clutching tight the Book of Life and whispering prayers.

They finally come across a dim room with many piles of rubble, and a half naked man trapped in the centre, a bird design scrawled on him.  As they approach the man looks up at them, “Mister….m..m..m..mister, sorry I….sorry” and on he gibbers the poor guy Roland, “Don’t kill me mister.”  They can see that the ceiling has come down pinning Roland in place, but the ceiling has been held in place in such a way as to slowly allow the rubble to fall down upon the floor and Roland.  Carefully Ambrose reaches down for Roland and cautiously picks him up out of the debris.

As the Dogs make their careful way from the room and out of the mine, they can hear in the distance the distil being dragged and taken out, finding the bird imagery de-faced and broken.  Everything and everyone making their way back in to town.

Once Randle sees the Dogs walk in town with Roland he rushed up to them and throws his arms around his brother.  While Randle holds his brother he glances over at Brother Jesse, Jesse winks back at him and Randle just shakes his head, “Okay, maybe you didn’t kill him.”

“I suggest you get rid of that shiv now.”  To which Randle pulls out the make shift blade and doses it on the ground, stamping his foot on it as if it is a light cigarette.

A pile of all the bits from the distil is amassed before everyone, Ami-Lou looks broken hearted at Ferris seeing this, but he doesn’t match her gazed but instead buries his head in his hands, she then turns away from him and walks away.  Ambrose turns to Ferris and Cuthbert, “Destroy it!”  Ferris looks up as if only now hearing for the first time, “I’m sorry watch dogs, what did you say?”

“Destroy it.”  Ferris turns to the pile with a heavy heart, “Come on Cuthbert, come on boy we don’t need it anymore. We haven’t got long, lets be proud this last time.”  They pick up their pick-axes and slowly take to the machinery breaking it apart.

Ambrose turns to Ferris and Cuthbert once they have finished, “I have never killed a man in cold blood before.”

“Well actually I am feeling pretty angry right now.” Cuthbert looks in to his eyes.

“I lost by best man today, and I have a feeling I am going to lose Ami-Lou too.” Ferris confesses, “Go ahead.”

GO. AHEAD!”

“That’s not how the King of Life does things, that’s for the demons.  But you will leave this town and return with a steward.”

“Is this a joke watch dog, as I am not finding it funny” Ferris questions.

“This is your penance, For both of you.  You will bring a steward to town so this will not happen again.”  Ferris agrees to finding a steward, and tells Cuthbert that it be best they go, sooner the leave the sooner they get back.  In the background a whispering can be heard, turning they spot the brothers talking, with one hitting the other to keep quiet.

And there sets the sun on another town.

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2 thoughts on “Thunder and Bloodshed

  1. An extremely vivid account this week.
    Exploding abdomen and having to hold his guts in,poor devil!
    Bits of brain all over the place-Yugh!!

    Good to see we have a rank aroma included.
    Most enjoyable

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