Abacus Jones, Soulless Cowboy in:

           I was just outside the cave, tryin ta get some fresh air, save fresher than the codger’s pit of a mouth, but all I was getting was the scent of the disposed meat-stuffs, and the wastes afterwards of their uses.  It was dark out now, but bein so far down even the light of the moon wasn’t hittin anywhere down here.  The light of the cave was still at the edges of my eyes when I was suddenly pounded to the ground, losin grip on my gun in the process to somewhere in the stenching wastes.  I couldn’a see it, but I heard the splutter. 

            I spun around, my back aching bad, and there it were, the Slooth demon from eighty miles east, from Tucka, and he…she…fuck, it was pissed. 

            The thing let out it’s howl, a choking cackled shriek.  It would make a normal person’s ears bleed on accounta the pitch bein something like that of a lady singer breakin a glass, but a side worse, luckily mine could take it well enough, but I’d have a headache for a while. 

            It sat hunched in the dim light of the cave’s entrance, it’s hulking body rising and falling heavily with each huffing breath.  It’s skin was dark, scaley, thick.  Without my pistol, I didn’a have much hope of dealin with the thing, and without light, even less.  On the up side, at least now I knew what had been stalking me earlier.  Slooth demons are quite sneaking bastards.

            “Aye, Slooth.  You been a following me?  That’s eighty miles ya know?  Might you betta take a rest a’fore we get this sort a’thing started?”

            I knew the thing didn’a understand my Englishes or nothing, but that didn’a stop me from tryin. 

            The thing hunched lower, like a cat readying for pouncing a wingless bird.  It knew it had me, it’s eyes gleaming that golden glow, it’s teeth dripping with expectant moistness.  I looked down, around me in the vile wastes, hopin maybe the gun was stickin up a little.  Nothing.  It was just too dark.  I thought about howling for the codger, but figured on a new plan when I saw the Slooth as low as it could get.  I scooped up a dollop of waste, threw it in the beast’s eyes, and turned tail and ran.

            I heard it leap after me right away, and on my spurs I could feel the heat of it’s quickly gaining mass that would soon overtake me.  It was pounding it’s thick shoulders against the sides of the rocky hills around us, mostly unable to see with a thick bit of stuff still in it’s eyes, but it could smell me just as well as any sort of huntin animal.  I kept up my pace, hearin the thuds coming from behind me, and then I had me another Edison, I’d stop.

            Okay, so that didn’a sound like a great idea, I know.  Puttin my shoes to a hault with something twice as big as me sickin after me like a rabid horny beast, but it was all I done come up with in the seconds since this all started. 

            I stopped, cold in my tracks, and listened closely to the beast, and ducked as soon as I felt it lungin towards me, soulless sense and all, and the thing flew over, then stopped and turned to me once again.  But now we was face to face, and I had him right where I needed him, I just needed to be real fast.  

            It’s eyes still glowed gold, and it growled that disgusting shriek again just before it lunged towards me one last time.  I jumped, ramming my right hand down on the beasts head, making it pass under me, and forcing it to hit the ground.  The second was all I needed, that one second for it’s head to fall in the devil weed, and fade under it’s spell. 

            The Slooth’s body slumped, and went relaxed against the ground.  I took a quick breather, and then pranced around the thing, and went to find my gun.  Codger was waitin by the cave entrance when I came back, lookin a bit confused, so I explained to him what done just happened.  He didn’a seem to care so much bout it, said he weren’t worried none.  I made him search the stuff around for my pistol, luckily he was good at that, too good.  Found it near right away, and I’d only just got my one arm all grossed up. 

            We went back inside, as I needed some light to clean out my pistol.  The bodies was still shining through, the map’s word’s callin out to me to be read, but I had business to finish first.  Slooth ain’t something you leave around to get ya later.  After I was done, I headed back out, and up to where I’d left the Slooth, gun at the ready, and carryin a candle in my free hand. 

            The candle weren’t the best light, but it lit up the area well enough.  The Devil Weed was sparkling whenever the small light hit it, strange stuff that weed.  Kinda pretty at night, something a normal fella might never know.  I followed the thin walkway upward til I came up to the Slooth still tranced by the weed.  I didn’t want this to come back and bite me later, so I put the barrel right to it’s skull, and pulled the trigger six times.  It had stopped breathin by the second, but I had to be sure.  I found myself wonderin if I could haul it back to Tucka now for at least a partial reward.  But it’d have to wait for now, at least til after I decided what to do with this codger and his fleshlight map.

            Sure, they already paid me, generously and such, but this weren’t what I was hauled in for, least not to my knowing.  Much as I know, these youngins was all sacrificed, and not just by the codger, but the whole town that done hired me in the first place.  Now, I made a promise to them in the weed, I’d get their revenge for em.  But then what about the gold?  Hated the thought of givin it back, getting mobbed outta another town on accounta one thing or another.  No, not yet.  I could deal with the codger in time.  Sick ole bastard like that probably couldn’t go on to live a normal life now anyway, I’d be doin that town a favor.

            In the end, I decided to give the map reading a go.  I was just as curious as anyone else bout the Hand’s true potential.  I holstered my spent piece, and made my way back to the cave and the stinkin codger. 

            “Are you ready to begin, Jones?”

            “Yeah, codger.  Ah reckon ah’m a ready for this.  Not that anythin can make this sitiation proper or nothin, not now anyway.  But ah done got paid handsome already, which is a might bit more appealin than most of my works.  So yeah, let’s get this started.  But let’s get one thing straight first.  Ah ain’t doin this for none of you sick people, killin your own kids off and such for some silly rituals.  Ah’m doing this for me now.  And ah’ll be usin that Hand first a’fore ah hand it on over to your mayor.”

            “You would take our town’s treasure from us?  You would abscond with it after all the sacrificing our townspeople have made for it?  And you would be such a fool as to forewarn us?!”

            “No, codger.  I just want to use it for one little thing.”

            “One?  You’ll swear this in a blood oath then?”  I nod.  “Well, then I see no reason why not.  Course we’ll have to discuss this with the mayor.  But what is it you wish from the Hand?  And what makes you think it can give you what you desire?”

            “Ah reckon it’s the only thing left in this world that could now, on accounta it bein the thing that took it from me in the first place.”


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