Mark of the Shadow Part 11: About a Boy
I was beginning to suspect Carlson needed a real doctor. Or maybe he just needed some real food. We’d been sharing the jerky I found, but even rationing it, it got eaten quickly. I found a stream nearby that I could collect water from.
It’d been 2 days since we were out on that boat. I still didn’t know how we’d get back to town with Carlson being the way he is. He still couldn’t walk, or really do much of anything sides drink the water I give him.
My legs were raw as a turkey before thanksgiven day, but I knew I had to be watchful in case anyone happened to pass by. I climbed in the tree that Carlson rested up against so I could keep an eye on him as well. I didn’t think I’d be able to climb down again without falling – my legs were on fire. So far no luck seeing anyone. To pass the time I began reading the diary I had found in the grave site I had dug up the day before.
It described an affliction on the boy who’s diary this was. He described something growing in him, crushing his insides in order to get out. He had never seen it, but others told him that it looked like a black spot with tendrils.
He’d been marked, just like me.
They were moving through Utah on the trail to California. They had heard tale that there was a cure for the black spot there. They’d had a bad run in with Brigham Young’s Angels as he describes them. They’d been told to get off Mormon land, and they’d complied as well they could. Not like there were any signs or anything. After that they changed trails and continued. There were no more problems, or troubles aside from the curse itself described. However not soon after that the journal ceased.
There were sketches in the journal as well. A snake with its jaw wide open. A thousand little dots arrayed in a swirl shape getting less dense the further along on the swirl. I couldn’t make sense of these drawings, or some of the passages.
The passages sometimes switched from descriptions of the day’s happenings to a description of a hellish landscape complete with brimstone and fire. It described piles of dead and even more garish sown together corpses of dead bodies lumbering around. Whatever this place was I did not want to go there. It seemed as if two different people wrote in the book as one set of passages never referenced the others, yet the script remained the same. It was puzzling and frighting as I realized that whatever was happening to this boy could happen to me.
One picture in particular caught my attention. It showed what I perceived as a map of the area. I saw the lake, and the mountains. Only thing was is it showed a huge jagged line from the lake down passed the city to some hills. The map was wonderfully drawn, perhaps copied out of a book, but the line looked hurried and scratched in. Perhaps another aspect of the dual writers of this diary. I’d have to show Carlson, maybe that was some secret map symbol.
Unhopeful I looked around the area one last time. And there they were. Two men on horseback riding out to us. I shouted to them, and jumped down from the tree. As I did my legs gave out and I had to simply lay there until they reached us. I heard Carlson scream, or rather he cried out for it was not in terror. I righted myself and looked our saviors over.
It was Rolph, and a man I’d not seen before. He was older than Rolph with a gray beard and a wrinkled face. Behind that though he looked strong both of mind, which I could see through his intense eyes, and of body. He dressed similarly to Rolph, although he carried a crucifix around his neck.
I ran to Rolph and there a small moment of happiness as we embraced. Then he saw Carlson and his touch grew cold.
“What the hell you doing getting these people involved,” said the stranger. A holy man who swore, maybe he ain’t that holy I thought.
“She’s under my protection. She’s the one I told you about, and he’s her family,” replied Rolph.
“Rolph he’s been shot. He’s going to die!” I said.
“Thats fine, it’s all he deserves. If you ain’t remembering correctly he did almost get you killed,” said Rolph.
“He didn’t know, please you have to help him. He don’t deserve this.”
Rolph looked down at me.
“John, load the man up on my horse.”
“Where do you plan on taking him? The cities closed,” replied the man I now knew as John.
“It’s about time I make my choice about the Goshute. They have medicines. We’ll go there.”
“It’l be a day, or two before we make it to them. You know that. He’ll never make it Rolph.”
“Damnit, this sweet little girl has kept him alive for two days, I’ll be damned if two members of the Order can’t keep him alive for one.”
“Excuse me sir. Who are you?” I asked quickly.
“I’m John Cooke. You’ll be riding with me today little lady.”
John leaped atop his horse and scooped me up placing me in front of himself. John pulled out a doll from his pack in the side. She had rosy red cheeks, a white blouse, and a torn blue skirt.
“This was my daughters, please take it.”
It was wonderful. The doll was the softest thing I’d even felt. It was dirty and falling apart, but somehow that made it better, it made it more like me.
“Run Joseph, run with the power of christ at your back!” he yelled and we were off. Joseph was the fastest horse I’d ever been upon and I didn’t think Rolph could keep up, but he was never far behind us.