Mark of the Shadow Part 14: Mountain Meadows
The site of the massacre was worse than I imagined. Life seemed lessened here. Tree’s green leaves were duller and the dirt was powdery and loose.
Dull quasi-grey mounds covered bodies commemorating a terrible tragedy.
“What happened here Rolph?” I asked as we unpacked the horse.
“Far as I can remember some travelers were passing through when they were ambushed by indians and some Mormon marauders. No one’s quite sure what happened. Mormon’s claim their Brigham Young had nothing to do with it. I aint so sure.”
“So no one knows why they did it?”
“Well, the people here been treated bad before. When people get treated like scum they tend to act like it. It’s the sad truth of our world.”
Rolph tied the horse to a tree and left the pack their. He pulled out a canteen and a 6 shooter. Stuck the canteen in his pants and the gun in his holster.
“Rolph when you gona teach me how to do that?”
“Tie up a horse?”
“No, you know what I mean… I mean the gun. I figure maybe I should know more.”
“Maybe your right, but I don’t want to have to teach ya if you don’t need to know. When we find the cure you won’t need to know anymore.”
“Why? Ain’t like I can go home till after the war or nothing. Won’t I have to stay with you.”
“No you won’t be staying with me. I’ll find some place for you ’til the wars over.”
We were walking through the site checking mounds to see if they were weak. Looking the place over for little hidey spots.
“But I want to stay with you!”
“No. I’m the whole reason your in this mess. The last thing I want is for you to end up another casualty.”
“So teach me.”
“Alright, alright I’ll teach you. First we got to look over this site, nice and thorough.”
We looked it over real closely but it just seemed like a meadow to me. Nothing strange happened, it certainly weren’t haunted. Maybe this was a dead end.
Rolph decided we had better start digging through these graves in case the cure was buried with them. I got tired of digging, but Rolph was determined. I decided to wander off and see what else this place had to offer.
I was walking, thinking about home. Wondering what it would be like if Rolph came to live with us. I supposed he wouldn’t be home much. Maybe he’d take me out hunting with him. Daddy’d cook us dinner and we’d all talk about the exiting things we did that day. Carlson would be there too. Carlson’s smart maybe he’d work for one of them big schools in the area. Then we’d all go out to the lake together and fish. Just the four of us sitting out on the rocks with the cool morning mist on our skin. The silent splashes of the water and the low fog on the lake making everything mysterious. If somebody else show’d up they’d probably turn and run when they saw we had all them guns.
Rolph might see a duck and he’d hand me the gun and we’d shoot it together his hand holding me steady. That’d be the most wonderful dinner we’d ever had.
Course I remembered it was all only a dream when my foot fell through the earth. I screamed and pushed my way out. Rolph came running but I wasn’t in any danger. Looks like I’d fallen into a grave, cept there was no body inside.
“Looks like we aren’t the first ones to be digging around here.” said Rolph. He looked around the site. “Whoever did this, it wasn’t too long ago. There’s still tracks.”
He was right some hoof prints remained. Whoever did this knew what they were looking for.
“It might not of been the cure though right?” I asked.
“True, but whatever it was it was important. Only thing I don’t understand is why they would take the body too.”
“We going to go follow these?”
“You got a better plan miss?”
I shook my head and we made our way back to the horse. We packed up and Rolph lead the way. He showed the horse the trail, had him stick his nose in the tracks and everything. Then Rolph took out some more of his herbs and rubbed them on our horses nose. The horse snorted and kicked back a bit. Rolph spent some time calming him down, then we were off following that trail through the night.
Rolph said we couldn’t stop cause we might lose the trail. Then we’d be back where we started. The trail lead through a vast forest. Down a cliffside and along a river. I slept through some of the trip, but Rolph woke me when we arrived.
The trail seemed to lead to this log cabin surrounded by the woods and a brook. There were no lights showing. Rolph tied up the horse away from the house where it wasn’t visible. Again he took his gun, and this time a satchel. He gave me one of his knives and told me to be careful with it.
The knife was long, bout the size of my forearm. The handle was hand carved with some ancient language inlaid. The knife looked nasty, both sides were serrated, so it looked like teeth. It was heavy in my hand, and so I held it with both arms.
We crept toward the house, Rolph reminding me to be quiet. Rolph opened the front door after he had decided no one was awake inside. It creaked open. My eyes had to adjust to the dark. Rolph dipped his left hand into his pack and it came out covered in some sticky wax like substance. He whispered a word and it lit up with white flame. His other hand pulled out his gun. The house seemed plain enough. Their was a desk with a book open, and a fireplace in the corner. This room lead into a kitchen and a second open room wherein we noticed the dead body hanging from a hook on the ceiling.
It looked too whole. If this was the dead body that had been dug up shouldn’t it have been a pile of bones by now? But no it was a full, corpse swinging softly back and forth. It didn’t smell either. Always look on the bright side my Daddy’d said.
Rolph lead me away from that room and through the kitchen which aside from the bloody knives looked like any other kitchen. That room lead into the room I was too frightened to enter. The soft light from Rolph’s hand illuminated a figure siting away from us in an armchair.
“Get up and turn around,” said Rolph raising his gun.
There was no response.
“Get up!” yelled Rolph.
The figure slowly stirred as if awoken from a trance. I saw a gleam of black on his head. The figure rose turned, and lifted an arm as if shielding itself.
“Where’s the cure!” shouted Rolph.
“What time is it? By god put down that torturous tool!” said the figure in a brisk accented voice.