Damned-Web

 DAMNED

A DARK FANTASY STORY


 

 

deerskull

1.

Dust, shadows, and magic—their presence hung in the air liked thick acrid smoke from a fire, burnt of rotted leaves and snake oil.

The smell was prevalent as the old man, whose leathery brown skin faced a lifetime of sun, rode his horse into the desolate town. He passed the broken archway of rotted wood that displayed the message: “Welcome to Deliverance.” Underneath it, someone had scrawled in blood, “No.”

The afternoon was torrid and the old man, who went by the name of Yorick, closed his eyes for a moment, praying for the dizzy spell to pass as black spots flashed before his eyes. He needed to be at his best when he faced him. A single lapse in judgment meant death.

His throat was raw and dry. There were bits of sand still stuck in his teeth and underneath his tongue from the sandstorm he encountered a few miles back.

Yorick had lost track of the time he had spent drifting in this inferno. Beads of sweat trickled down the side of his cheek and neck and he wiped them with the back of his wrinkled hand. His tunic was drowned in perspiration and his lips were marked with black scabs from where they had cracked and bled.

“We’re here,” Yorick said to no one in particular, his voice dry and thirsty.

His steed continued its steady gallop towards the center of the town where an unnerving silence and hungry vultures greeted them.

The grotesque birds rested on the posts of the skeletal fences. Their flaps of skin were layered on their face like pink folds of rubbery cartilage, giving them the sinister look of wily old men. Their beaks were moist with hunger as they watched the strangers with narrow dark eyes.

“We’re not food yet,” Yorick said as he guided the mare past the predators, who continued to stare. Their mouths were salivating.

The horse moved at a modest gait down the scorched road. On either side, old buildings aligned the path.

Yorick gazed into the hollow windows of these domiciles and frowned as he imagined what demons resided in them, waiting for the opportune chance to devour his weary body.

At the end of the path was a saloon, the only building in town that had undergone some upkeep. Potted plants hung from the sidings of it, green and healthy with infant purple buds ready to blossom. Above the entrance hung the skull of a deer, the largest one this side of existence. Despite the lack of a jaw, Yorick was convinced it was smiling at him like an old friend.

Welcome old man. Yorick’s hallucinations had the deer skull taunting him. Come have a drink. We serve liquor and blood, along with a side of entrails. Stay for the whiskey, but leave in a coffin.

Yorick knew he would find him here.

His quest was almost at and end.

He reached inside his satchel and felt the cool metal in his hands, along with the broken wooden shaft bound to it. It calmed the rapid beats in his chest. His thumb brushed against the whetted edge of the weapon and it comforted him to know that it was still sharp.

How long had he been waiting to use it?

Like an hour glass shattered amongst the sands of the desert, time was an entity that had become lost to Yorick. The fiery opal sun rose every morning and burned the sky like a silent god of vengeance, casting its relentless wrath down on Yorick.

By night, a blanket of darkness fell over him and froze his old bones. On some nights, tiny white diamonds illuminated the sky. On others, cerulean sheets flashed high above, lighting the yonder with brilliant blue pulses. A torrential downpour always followed, soaking Yorick and chilling every inch of his body.

The next day was the same, as was the following day, and the one after that. Although his journey had become an endless void of repetition, enough to drive any man insane, one single idea grounded him—revenge.

Yorick had loved them like no other could. His wife, Delilah, had been the only one in this world that was able to turn him into a decent man. He was convinced that if he hadn’t met Delilah on that sunny afternoon down by the lake, Yorick would have wound up eating the end of someone’s rifle. Luckily, her bright eyes had subdued him like a siren’s song, just long enough for her to cast the rest of her spell over him.

Over time, Delilah had stripped away the darkness in his heart, filling it with a burning ember, and flooded his ears with kind words when all he heard before were the songs of blood.

If Delilah had been his machina, then his daughter, Lily, was his humanity.

Every word she spoke was always filled with innocence and joy and Yorick loved her like he loved breathing. He missed the weight of Lily in his arms above all things.

I don’t want to be a shadow, Lily had said. Were those her last words? Yorick cursed himself for not remembering such a precious moment in his life.

He closed his eyes and reminisced about Lily’s rosewood colored hair, strawberry lips, and eyes that were blue like luminous glass. Or were they green like brilliant emeralds?

Yorick shook his head, agitated as he tried to remember. “Stupid old man, remember you fool.”

Their deaths were brutal and left Yorick savagely howling at the heavens, screaming obscenities. Gone from his heart was every last ounce of joy. In its place, the darkness returned.

Lily’s pleas echoed through his mind again. I don’t want to be a shadow.

He tried to recollect other moments he shared with his daughter, but as time drifted forward, his memories faded into a tiny speck on a bleak horizon.

Cherished moments of his past had become fragile threads, so frail that even the gentlest breeze threatened to obliterate them from his mind.

He needed to remember his daughter. She kept him sane. She kept him focused.

Yorick’s greatest fear was that with each subsequent sunset, she’d permanently vanish, like an apparition dissipating in the thick fog that overcast his memory.

“I’m going inside,” he said, staring at the entranceway to the saloon. He was undecided if his words were directed towards his horse or the mammoth deer skull. Yorick dismounted from his horse and unbuckled the notches of the saddle.

He patted the barrel of his steed affectionately. His mount was the only companion he had during his journey through the strange terrain and he was hesitant to part with the loyal creature.

It was a one way trip into the saloon.

He wished he had an apple to give.

Yorick took a deep breath and gave his horse one last pat before announcing, “You’re free to go now.”

The horse looked at him with complacent eyes and stayed.

Yorick gave it a clout in the rear but the mare remained in its place, adamant on lounging by the hitching post of the saloon.

“Stupid animal. Fine stay here, but don’t be expecting me back anytime soon, or ever,” Yorick said. “And try not to get eaten by those birds over there. They try and bite, you bite them right back, you here?”

The horse whinnied, as if it understood Yorick’s words.

Yorick tilted his dusty hat, gave his animal a final nod, and then pushed open the bat wing doors of the saloon.

The air inside was frigid but the sudden flood of coolness was appeasing to Yorick. It delivered him instant relief from the sweltering heat outside.

The interior was similar to all the other alehouses he had frequented. At the back of the tavern was a long paneled oak bar, polished to a brilliant luster. Behind it was a cabinet filled with bottles of pristine liquor: beer, rye, bourbon, firewater, and cactus wine.

On the banisters hung tinged skulls from an array of creatures; some Yorick recognized like the bison and the elk, but others were queer monstrosities in nature. Sure enough, the skull of the massive deer hung inside the saloon as well. It was still grinning.

“Fucker,” he said as he raised a mighty middle finger to it.

“Talking to bones now, are we?”

Yorick spun around to the direction of the voice. At the center of the room was a card table lined with green felt. There he was, sitting behind it, the evil Bastard; the one Yorick had been searching for.

In his left hand, a thin smoldering cigarette rested. In his right was a glass of amber liquor. His narrow face was without blemish and his tireless grey eyes seemed to smile at the sight of Yorick, though his thin lips didn’t. A cream colored suit fit comfortably on his slender body that complimented the silver of his neatly trimmed hair.

“Welcome stranger,” the Bastard said. “Have a seat.”

Yorick touched the metal weapon in his satchel again for reassurance. As long as he had it, there was no need to be afraid of the evil sitting before him.

“Don’t mind if I do,” Yorick replied as he strolled over to the gaming table and seated himself in the empty chair across from him.

“Care for a drink?” the Bastard asked.

“Is it poison?”

“It’s my piss.”

“I can’t say no to that.”

The Bastard laughed and tilted the bottle of amber liquid towards a spotless glass and poured. Yorick watched with thirsty eyes as the liquor flowed into the cup and filled a swig’s worth of drink.

“Please,” the Bastard said as he set the bottle back down on the table and gestured towards the drink. Yorick eagerly grasped the glass and fired its contents down his mouth and swallowed. The liquor burned his throat and his eyes began to water, but it was hard and sweet nonetheless. It had also extinguished his thirst.

“Another,” Yorick said as he pushed the empty glass to the Bastard.

“One drink should be more than enough to satisfy your needs.”

“Pour me another,” Yorick ordered. The Bastard smiled and poured the bottle, filling the glass halfway this time. Yorick finished it in one shot and slammed the glass onto the table while sucking in air through his teeth. The potent aftertaste was still caustic on his tongue.

“Better?” the Bastard asked.

“You’re a hospitable gentleman,” Yorick replied, wiping the edges of his mouth with a calloused thumb. “I’m sorry to say I’m here to kill you.”

The Bastard furrowed his brow at the threat. “And here I’d thought we’d play cards,” he sighed. “Was it something I said?”

“You killed my wife and daughter.”

“It’s a false accusation.”

“It was by your hand that they died,” Yorick growled.

“I don’t recall,” the Bastard said in between drags of his thin cigarette. “It seems it’s my word against yours.”

“This ain’t no court of law.”

“So you mean to kill even though I’m innocent?”

“You are never innocent.” Yorick watched as the Bastard inhaled deeply from his cigarette. Funny thing was he never expelled the smoke. “If you keep breathing in that smoke, you might just kill yourself before I get a chance to.”

“I wouldn’t want to deprave you of that joy, would I?” the Bastard said sarcastically.

Yorick leaned back in his chair. “Are you ready to die then?”

“I was ready to leave this place long ago, but sadly my work here is never done,” the Bastard said. “But before you decide to murder me in cold blood, I would like the opportunity to investigate these claims made against me.”

Yorick stared at the Bastard wearily. Was it another one of his tricks? He was known for them after all.

The laws of man, however, deemed it unfair for Yorick to kill him without offering him a chance to prove his innocence, despite the Bastard being no man.

“I’ll allow it,” Yorick finally agreed.

“Excellent,” the Bastard said. “Then let us proceed.”

Yorick was startled as his surroundings began to dissolve before his eyes like a burning photograph. Small tiny holes formed in the walls of the saloon, their edges black and burnt. The holes began to radiate, increasing in size until reality around him was nothing more than torn pieces of charred fabric, burning into grey ash. What was left was white—stark and infinite white.

“Magic tricks don’t impress me,” Yorick said.

“How far back should I go?”

“What are you talking about?”

The Bastard pointed a bony finger at Yorick’s forehead and whispered idioms that had no significance to the human ear. Yorick was growing impatient of this farce and was ready to interject when abruptly, the Bastard ended his incantation. That was when the strangeness began.

Yorick watched as black wisps of wiry mist escaped from the pores of his own skin and filled the white emptiness around him, settling into landscapes and scenes from his days of old.

His memories were like paint, the white was the canvas, and the Bastard was the artisan of his past.

“This is a good of a place to start as any,” the Bastard said as he strolled up the gritty stone path towards the farmhouse at the peak of the hill. Yorick noticed the sky was a luminous shade of violet and the silhouette of the clouds cast themselves against the majestic heavens like silent ghosts. The air had a sweet smell of burning wood and fresh cut grass.

Yorick recognized this moment and the events that were about to transpire.

“Shit,” he muttered to himself as he trailed behind the steps of his foe.

A fire burned at the back of the log cabin and in front of it was a moment in his time that he had displaced from his recollection. Kneeling before the orange embers of a fire were a man and a woman, their hands tied behind their backs.

The Bastard leaned against the side of the hut, observing the scene with lively eyes. Yorick strolled over and stood next to him.

“That’s you there, isn’t it?” the Bastard asked as he pointed at one of the two men standing in front of the captives. Yorick nodded as he looked at himself almost thirty years ago.

The two men were wearing masks, both made out of deer skulls.

Even from this distance, they looked terrifying.

“I like the headwear,” the Bastard observed.    

“Can they see us?”

“No. We are nothing more than ghosts and shadows to them,” the Bastard replied. “We are here to watch only.”

The couple was on their knees, begging to the young Yorick and the other man. Their pleas fell on deaf ears. The woman’s face was contorted into a look of pure terror and her screams were hysterical and unnatural. The man buried his head into the dirt and openly wept, his body rocking back and forth, like an infant being cradled.

The older of the two killers—the one that wasn’t Yorick—lifted the bottom of his bone mask and spat out a globule of phlegm into the dirt. He dropped the mask back down and resumed chewing the tobacco in his mouth.

“Who is that man?” the Bastard asked.

Yorick spat the name out as if it were dirt in his teeth. “Gavin.”

“Ah yes, how can I forget?”

Yorick balled his hands into a fist, his long nails digging into the base of his palm, and watched silently as Gavin drew a heavy revolver from his holster.

“Don’t take it,” Yorick whispered to his young self.

His words were ignored. The young shit took the gun without hesitation.

From afar, Yorick still remembered how cold the metallic grip of the gun was and how the trigger felt underneath the weight of his index finger. Yet he failed to recall his wife’s face, or how her voice even sounded.

His memories were a wasteland of dirt and shit.

Yorick’s younger self raised the gun and pressed the barrel against the head of the man.

“Do it,” Gavin said, smiling.

The man opened his mouth but before any words could escape from it, young Yorick pulled the trigger.

The back of the man’s head erupted into red, wet gore and his body crumpled to the ground next to the woman. Her screams were silenced by the ear-splitting sound of the gunshot.

Her eyes turned to wet glass and her mouth was agape as her husband became nothing more than a husk of lifeless meat, bleeding from the hole in his head.

Half an inch—that was the length the young shit’s finger needed to move to decimate a man.

The Bastard turned to old Yorick and shook his head.

“Someone has been naughty.”

Yorick remained silent, as the second gunshot roared into the air of the warm summer evening. The woman wedded her partner in cruel death, amidst the scent of burnt gunpowder and blood.

“I think we’ve seen enough here,” the Bastard said. “Shall we continue?”

“No.”

“But we must.” The Bastard walked away from the horrific scene ambivalently, as if he were walking away from a dead cat, lying by the side of a dirt road.

Yorick stared at the young shit, holding the gun. He was standing coldly over remains of the dead.

“You were weak,” Yorick cursed before turning away in disgust, leaving the scene altogether.

He followed the Bastard deeper into the dark macabre of his consciousness.

The gravel path beneath his feet led to another memory of Yorick’s past.

The dirt and stones faded away into earth and grass. Dried leaves formed underneath his feet and the crisp smell of trees and the tranquil sounds of a flowing brook filled his senses.

Another version of his younger self sat on a chestnut mare. One end of a robust rope was knotted around the saddle while the other end was a fitted noose, coiled around Gavin’s neck.

The length of the rope was suspended over a bulky branch of a tree, situated at the center of the forest.

Gavin’s arms were tied behind his back and the balls of his feet barely touched the ground. He was doing his best to gain solid footing.

“Comfortable?” the young shit asked.

Gavin’s eyes were wide and he was trembling, like a naked man in a snowstorm. Young Yorick took a drag from his cigarette and smiled.

“You son of a bitch,” Gavin cried. “I took you in when you had nothing.”

“My thanks go out to you.”

“You ungrateful mongrel, I taught you everything you know.”

“You taught me how to steal, how to rape, and how to murder.”

“I taught you how to survive!” Gavin protested.

“What’s the point of surviving? Ninety percent of the time, I don’t feel alive.”

Gavin bared his teeth. “I thought we were kindred spirits. That we’d be doing what we did forever.”

The young shit shook his head. “No, I grow bored easily.” He tilted his head towards the rope. “Now this, this is fun.”

“Cocksucker. Fine, do it then, but at least pour me a drink first. Grant me this last request.”

The young shit drove his spurs into the side of his horse, moving it forwards. Gavin was pulled several feet off the ground and there he died; sweat on his brow, piss in his pants, and thirsty.

“You murdered the only friend you had,” the Bastard observed.

“He was no friend of mine.”

“You also denied him his last wish. Where’s your sense of humanity? Didn’t you feel the least bit guilty?”

Yorick tried to remember what he felt, but he couldn’t. The memories began to lose their luster until they were the color of dirty snow. He couldn’t recall what led up to that moment or why he had decided to kill Gavin in the first place.

He did remember Gavin though; a man filled with cruelty. The atrocities that he committed were demonic in nature. Yorick recollected the dark skinned man, nailed to the crossbeams of a saloon, crying for mercy which never came.

Gavin and Yorick were both wearing those same deer skull masks that night.

“Devils they are, don’t you forget that. They are not human. They deserve to suffer and they deserve to die,” Gavin had said, just before opening up the man’s stomach with a razor and laughing as his entrails slithered out of his body.

Yorick grimaced as he recollected the gallons of blood, draining from the man’s body and the viscera pooling on the bar room floor.

“Well Yorick,” the Bastard said, lighting another thin cigarette. “How did you feel?”

“I felt nothing.”

“Is that so?” He had a wide pointed smile that antagonized Yorick. “Well one more place to visit. It’s the most important one.”

“Fine,” Yorick said. “And then you die.”

“We shall see,” the Bastard said as he embarked on his journey, deeper into the forest. “Come.”

Yorick followed at a steady pace. Just before the clearing faded away from his view, he glanced back one last time

Gavin’s body swayed serenely in the air like a falling leaf caught in the wind. His younger self looked at his work with pride, and enjoyed the smoke in his lungs as he gazed at the dead man suspended above him akin to a wolf staring at a full moon.

The Bastard led them through the silent trees, eventually stopping in front of a little log hut in the middle of another clearing.

It was quiet. A rusted iron shovel protruded from a pile of fresh dirt, sticking out like a splinter in a finger.

“And who’s grave was this?” the Bastard asked as he walked over to the mound and surveyed it.

“It was my wife’s,” Yorick replied. “And you best take a step away from it. I don’t want your maggoty presence defiling it.”

The Bastard shrugged and redirected his attention from the dirt tomb towards the aged wooden door of the hut. “Shall we enter?” he asked.

“I prefer not to,” Yorick replied.

“And why is that?”

That was a good question. Why didn’t Yorick want to go inside? It was his home after all. The idea of stepping foot in the cabin, however, tugged at his stomach like barbed wire wrapped around his intestines.  

No good would come from entering that place.

“I don’t want to see what’s inside,” Yorick stated.

“But you already know what we’ll find, won’t you?”

Yes, Yorick knew. His head suddenly felt like it had caught fire. The memories tore at him like a hurricane of sharp teeth, causing Yorick to stumble.

He failed to remember the last time his wife kissed him or his daughter’s favorite bedtime story. Yet he remembered this horrid moment in time as clear as polished crystal.

“Careful now,” the Bastard said. “You’re not the murderous spring chicken you used to be.”

“Fuck you,” Yorick muttered as he regained his footing.

The Bastard’s smile was long and filled with merriment. He walked over to the door of the hut and slowly pushed it open. The creaking of the corroded hinges announced his presence to those dwelling within.

Despite Yorick’s refusal to enter the hut, he suddenly found himself standing inside in its shadowy corner. He was joined by the Bastard, who had clearly used sorcery to summon him here.

“Now, what do we have here?” the Bastard asked.

It was a little girl, standing with a man wearing a deer skull mask.

Yorick held his breath.

“Why are you wearing the mask, daddy?” the girl asked.

“Does it frighten you?” the Damned Man asked.

The girl shook her head. “No.”

“And why not, Lily?”

“Because I know it’s you under there.”

To hear his daughter’s voice again broke his stupid old heart. Yorick bit his lower lip as he struggled to hold back tears. He refused to cry in front of the Bastard.

“I don’t understand daddy,” Lily said. She was five years old at the time.

The Damned Man gently lifted her onto the edge of the bed and rested a weary hand on her delicate shoulder. It was strange seeing the man in such a vile mask speak to the girl with such tenderness.

“What don’t you understand?”

“Where did mommy go?”

The Damned Man’s voice was somber. “Your mother has sinned. It’s because of her wickedness that she won’t be coming back.”

“But where did she go?”

“She’s dead.”

Hearing those words made the muscles in Yorick’s legs turn to wet noodles.

Lily was crying now. “Who killed her?” she asked.

“The foulest of creatures,” the Damned Man replied. “This evil hides in shadows and conspires for good people to do bad things. It was he who made your mother sin and it was he who killed her as well.”

“I’m scared of this man daddy.”

The Damned Man said nothing as he brushed his daughter’s hair back with his calloused hands. There was blood on them still.

“I’ll find him, sweet heart. I promise you, I’ll find him and rid the world of him.” The Damned Man’s voice broke.

He was crying.

“Are you scared of him too, daddy? Is that why you’re also crying?”

“I’m afraid, but not because of this man—this bastard who tempts us all.” The Damned Man’s voice was shredded with sorrow. “I’m crying because you’re cursed by the sins of your mother. You were born out of her wicked ways. You are a deception and a shadow.”

Lily began to bawl hysterically. The Damned Man held her closer.

“What am I going to do? I don’t want to be a shadow,” she said in between sobs.

“I will deliver you,” the Damned Man said as he reached for the feather pillow on the bed. “I will make sure that you leave this world without sin. I will make sure the evil does not take you as it did your mother.”

“Can you please take off your mask so I can see your face?” Lily asked.

“No.”

Yorick closed his eyes and gnawed at the tip of his fist. He refused to cry. Now was not the time to show weakness to the Bastard.

The sounds of struggle and the muffled screams tore his spirit into bloody ribbons, and only when it was all over did Yorick open his eyes again.

To his relief he was no longer inside the hut, but standing next to the pile of dirt where his wife was buried, guarding it as if it were some treasure waiting to be stolen.

For a brief moment there was silence with only the sounds of the western wind rattling the leaves in the ancient oak trees. It was quickly disrupted by the screams of the Damned Man inside his home.

The inhuman sounds of angst and sobbing wove themselves into a chorus of horror that made Yorick shudder.

The Bastard pulled out a long slender cigarette and placed it in between his lips. He inhaled and the tip of it commenced to burn without the need for a flame.

Evil magic, Yorick knew.

“So Yorick, I must ask, how am I to blame for this?” the Bastard inquired as he took the cigarette out of his mouth with the tip of his thumb and index finger.

“It was your hand that swayed me, and your influence that made my wife sin.”

The Bastard laughed with disbelief.

“How cliché,” the Bastard said. “I made you do it, right? Isn’t that how it goes?”

“Do you deny that it was your influence that killed my family?” Yorick asked.

“I believe that the choice you made was yours and yours alone.”

“You took that choice away from me,” Yorick protested. His hand went instinctively inside his satchel. He grabbed the metal weapon in his hand. It was still sharp.

“I did none the sort,” the Bastard said as he flicked the cigarette onto the ground. “Now if we’re done with this folly, I have other business to attend to.”

“No!” Yorick shouted as he drew the broken spear shaft. Before the Bastard could contend with the weapon, Yorick punched him in the chest with it. When he withdrew his hand, the point of the weapon was buried deep in the Bastard’s heart.

For a moment the Bastard stared at his wound with wide eyes as a single drop of blood trickled down his suit, painting a crimson line on its snow-white surface.

“You killed me, you villain,” he gasped.

“Your death shall absolve my family of all their sins,” Yorick said, pleased with his actions.

At long last, his old broken body could rest knowing that the evil was slain. A drink was what he needed, one that celebrated the end of his journey. Perhaps he’d find a cot in a small room and a bathtub to wash away the caked dirt on his skin. Yorick was so tired that he felt he could sleep for a decade.

However, before Yorick could revel in the idea of peace for too long, the look on the Bastard’s face turned from horror into one of mirth and laughter.

“Just kidding,” he said. “You didn’t really kill me. Oh Yorick, you are quite a clown.” The Bastard gripped the end of the broken shaft and pulled the spear out of his flesh like a knife from a hot loaf of bread. “You expected to kill me with this?”

Yorick’s failure to kill the Bastard ripped into him like talons. He dropped to his knees, trembling, while staring at the dirt beneath him as he gasped for breath. The invisible tentacles of panic clasped at his chest and tightened.

“Seriously Yorick what is this thing?” the Bastard asked as he held up the fragmented spear to his eye and examined it.

“The lance,” Yorick crowed. “It pierced Him. It was to kill you as well.”

“Just because it worked for one doesn’t mean it’d work for another,” the Bastard chuckled. “Where did you get this anyways?”

Yorick didn’t remember. He tried to think of the moment he first held the broken spear and the confidence he had felt, which all died a moment ago.

He felt nothing now except terror, loathing, and the thirst. The last was the worst—withering and ravenous.

The Bastard tossed the weapon on the ground before Yorick and smiled.

“Maybe next time, Yorick. I heard the ninth time’s the charm,” he said as he turned his back to him, ready to walk away.

“Wait, I need a drink,” Yorick begged. He could feel the dryness of his throat closing in on him. The blistering pain on his burnt lips had also become unbearable.

“I have none left to give,” the Bastard replied. “Maybe when you find me again, I might have one for you then.”

Yorick watched as the Bastard disappeared into the shadows of the foliage. He whistled a cheerful tune that gave Yorick a sense of nostalgia from a memory lost long ago.

Why couldn’t he remember what it was? He stayed on his knees, trying to recall the memories but none of it came. It was all fading away, like a pebble sinking into the darkness of open water.

 

*

 

Dusk finally arrived and Yorick’s knees were sore and his mouth was cotton dry. He looked at his surroundings and questioned his own sanity for kneeling in the dirt, alone for so long.

What possessed him to do so? Yorick had no answer.

He rose to his feet nimbly and retraced his steps back to the clearing where he had left Gavin.

Yorick found him sitting on his horse, chewing his foul smelling tobacco and spitting globs of filth onto the leafy ground. Yorick’s mare rested next to them, saddled and waiting.

He placed his foot in the stirrup and pulled himself onto his horse gracefully.

“Took you long enough, boy,” Gavin said. “I’ve been waiting forever. Where did you go anyways?”

“I was looking for someone.”

“Who?”

“I can’t remember,” Yorick replied. “I found this on the ground though.”

In the palm of his hand rested the shaft of a broken spear, the metal still sharp and polished.

“What are your smooth, girlish fingers going to do with that?” Gavin laughed. “You can barely grip your own cock properly.”

“Might be I’ll use it on someone someday,” Yorick replied. “By chance you have any water? I’m awfully thirsty.”

“I saw an old farmhouse a few miles down the road,” Gavin spat. “I say we pay them a visit and ask for some hospitality. We might get lucky and find us some whiskey.”

“I hope there’s a pretty girl in there for me,” Yorick said.

“Not if she gets a good look at you wearing one of these,” Gavin said as he reached into his horse’s satchel and pulled something out of it. He handed it to Yorick.

It was the skull of a deer.

“What is this?” Yorick asked.

“A mask,” Gavin replied.

“Why do we need a mask?”

“I figure it’ll help us hide from the eyes of the big man,” Gavin said, pointing up to the sky. “At the rate we’re going, we‘ll be damned in no time.”

Yorick shrugged and tried it on his head. It fit snuggly. He snapped the reigns and drove his spurs into his horse.

Gavin rode ahead by a few paces. “So you don’t recall who you were searching for?”

Yorick’s eyes focused on the orange opal in the purple sky, slowly descending beyond the vast horizon. “I’m sure I’ll remember when I see him.”

 

 End.

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