Part II: It's Last Call Somewhere In The World
Updated: Sep 28, 2020
Hello again, Meghan here. Person who has no idea what she's doing. I bring to you more vampire cowboys. I am overwhelmed by the support they got last time, I hope you continue to enjoy them.
While this whole... whatever this is... doesn't have an actual title yet, it does have chapter headings. Those headings are being stolen liberally from some pretty awesome bands because, it's me here, of course that's what I'm doing. If you want to follow along with the songs being used, I've made a Spotify playlist. Give it a follow, there might be sneak peeks on there before the next chapter comes out.
I'm also going to try to figure out how to send out update alerts via a mailing list or something? I dunno, stay tuned.
Without further ado, back to these assholes. Please leave a comment or let me know on Twitter how you like it. Thank you!
It's Last Call Somewhere In The World
The ride back to the town was spent in the kind of awkward silence usually reserved for angry lovers or disappointed parents. Stryker didn’t speak and Leon still felt too sick to press the matter. Even Styker’s horse was quiet as they rode through the desert, watching the desolate scrub slowly give way to pens of cattle and an actual, honest to god road.
The town was a small cluster of buildings on either side of a dusty road scarred with deep wheel ruts. It clung to the edge of the livable land, the desert visible by the horizon. Considering the desolation of this part of the New Mexico territory the town was basically Manhattan. Jack pulled his horse to a stop near the town’s best saloon and slid off in one graceful, fluid motion. Leon, on the other hand, nearly fell off and was only spared the indignity of finding himself face first in manure by Jack’s steady hands.
“There ya go. Get your feet under you. You’re alright.” Jack said, holding him up for a minute. Leon forced strength into his limbs and brushed the vampire’s hands aside. His knees buckled for a minute but held.
“I’m fine,” he said. Jack snorted.
“Fair enough. Now, go get a horse. Livery over there looks pretty good.” Jack handed Leon his saddle, bridle, and other sundries. He wilted under their weight but stayed resolutely, stubbornly upright. “We’ll meet back here in, oh, say an hour. Probably not last call yet. I’m gonna go see if I can get myself a quick bite.” he laughed to himself at Leon’s outraged expression and sauntered into the saloon.
Leon, hefting his supplies, slowly made his way down to the stables with horses for sale. The horses gazed at him with hopeful looks, wondering if he was perhaps holding onto an apple he had no more use for. The owner of the place, weatherbeaten and creased like a paperback left out in the rain, looked at a man wandering in carrying his own saddle and saw dollar signs. He waddled over, bow legged, and greeted him with the over dramatic warmth of a circus ringmaster before showing him the horses for sale.
The hunter knew he had a fair amount of money on him, left over from frugal living and his last allowance from the family. Still, he didn’t want to be taken advantage of when it came to this transaction. When he saw a sweet tempered white and brown painted mare he feigned disinterest and pointed out imagined flaws. The mare’s ears flicked forward, interested in the men arguing in front of her. She swung her big, anvil head back and forth, fascinated. Her face was bisected almost perfectly, the blotch of white on the left side had given her one startling blue eye. The other was a more traditional honeyed brown. Leon added this to his argument. She stood carefully as he checked her teeth and made disappointed sounds. She turned her head to watch him as he picked up each of her hooves to check the quality of her shoes and the health of the limb. Leon was impressed to find such a good horse here, even though he complained about every little thing he could think of.
In the way of all negotiations, Leon paid a little more than he had wanted to but the horse seller got less than he would have preferred. Thus, it was a perfect sale. With the money exchanged, Leon saddled his new horse and led her out of the stable. She followed him happily, head high, looking genuinely excited to be going on an adventure. He tied her up next to Jack’s horse, Shadow.
“Be good,” Leon told the vampire’s horse. “This is a lady of quality.” Lady, newly christened, swished her tail in much the same way a woman might flutter her fan. Shadow snorted, annoyed, and turned his head away. Leon laughed a little and patted his new girl on the neck. Feeling slightly buoyed by his new partner, he decided to risk taking a little walk to the general store at the other end of the small boulevard. He had lost his hat chasing Jack and knew it was bad for a man to be without one in this weather. He cringed at the thought of how bad a sunburn might be before remembering with an unpleasant start that he might not ever see the sun again.
He swore under his breath and walked faster, determined now to buy a new hat in defiance of his current situation. One day he would need to keep his head out of the sun again. Less than a week and he’d be back in the sunlight. Call it a gift to his future self or a lucky charm, either way he was not leaving town without a hat.
The general store sat at the corner of the road, with proud windows covered in painted script advertising their current wares. A horse was tied in front of it, looking bored. A crossbow was tied to the back of the animal. Leon paused. What in the blazes was someone using a crossbow for out here? He only knew them as an old hunter’s weapon, but maybe someone here had a legitimate use for it. Maybe keeping coyotes away from cattle or something. Probably cheaper than buying shotgun shells all the time. With a shrug, Leon climbed the step onto the wooden walkway and pushed his way inside.
The store was well stocked, crammed with boxes, barrels, and all kinds of items piled up neatly against the walls. Leon took a glance around before realizing he wasn’t the only customer. Taking up the general store manager’s attention was a woman in men’s denim trousers and a yellowing blouse. Her hair was auburn and plaited into a thick braid that hung down her back, capped at the end with a twist of silver. Leon stared at her in horror and hurriedly backed out of the general store, the door hanging open behind him for just a moment. He could hear a thickly accented voice ask “What was that?” before the door closed with a polite click.
“Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh shit.” Leon whispered, half mantra and half prayer, as he quickly dove into the nearby alley. Staying low, he ran as well as he could behind all the buildings on the street, ducking around trash and chicken coops. He had to find Jack, the thought lighting up a section of his brain that pulled him towards the vampire. He didn’t have time to think about the repercussions of that new detail, Leon lunged for it and made his way to the blinking dot in his mind that now represented Jack Stryker’s presence.
He was led to another alley, this one next to the saloon. Leon could hear music from inside the building and the murmur of people talking and drinking.
“Stryker?” he whispered, looking around. An annoyed growl rumbled from the shadows of the alley like the den of a wild animal and Jack walked out, hastily doing up the front of his trousers. He glared at his new charge.
“This better be good, you are interrupting a very important business transaction.” the vampire said.
“There’s a hunter here. I mean. A hunter other than me. A hunter’s hunter. Fuck.” Leon said, his words falling over themselves in their haste to get out of his mouth. “An assassin. Fuck, she’s here for me. We gotta go.” he wheezed, hands finding his knees, nausea consuming him again. Jack watched him and swore. He waved a hand at the alley and a man ran out and back towards the saloon, bandanna pressed against his wrist.
“Why would some assassin hunter be after you, Carpenter?” he asked, trying to keep the annoyance of a half-finished meal out of his voice.
“I thought if I brought in a big vampire bounty they’d forgive me. It’s why I went after you.”
The vampire peered at him curiously.
“What did you do that was so bad?”
“It was an accident, I swear. The church, and the candles, and then everything was fire and fire and fire.” Leon dry heaved and Jack steadied him. “I killed her. I killed a Saint.”
“Well, fuck.” The vampire said.