The last few nights’ rain had come down pretty hard, just like tonight. The road was wet and empty except for the riders approaching. They pulled along side a mountain's edge and dismounted walking towards the back of their packhorse. The body of a young Hispanic woman lies on the back; she was strangled, but not before being severely tortured. The body dumped along the cliff side was never found yet her story begins, after her death. Marisol Quintana was the daughter of Jose and Maria Quintana, farmers from a local village. She comes from a poor Mexican family along the boarder taken from her home one night. Her family devastated by her disappearance and left with no hope of ever finding her, or ever knowing what happen to her.
A year has pass since Marisol’s disappearance. Her family never giving up hope of one day finding her. Again the rains and storm begin. With each new rainfall more damage is done to the mountain cliffs, as the mudslides seem to reshape their structures. On this night however, the mountainside seems to open up exposing something that had been hidden for a long time. There is a golden glow surrounding the area, as the leaves and mud part away to reveal a frail body once thought lost forever.
For a while nothing happens, then stirring, more movement and she rises. At first she loses her balance but catches herself before she can fall. Disoriented, she looks around not recognizing anything. She looks up a top the mountain and begins to climb. When she reaches the top she pulls herself up. Her hands and nails look bloody, but it’s only the dark wet mud, which covers her from head to toe.
She doesn’t remember how or why she is here. The only thing on her mind is that her family must be worried about her. Marisol straightens herself and begins to walk. She clears a path through to an open road, walking in the rain for the last hour she hears a wagon along the road. An elderly man, a farmer pulls beside her, “hey, do you need a ride?”
Marisol looks at him. She turns to the man and answers; “I’m lost and not sure where I am.”
“Well, you must be really lost; you’re a long way from town and by the looks of you, you must have had quite a long walk.” The old man looks at her, “you been drinking or something sweetheart, you don’t look so good?”
Marisol shakes her head no. “I’m not sure how I got here. Please, are you heading into town?”
“It just so happens I am.” She gets into the wagon and the man looks at her, poor thing, she’s trench, but not even shaking. Doesn’t even look cold, hope she’ll be all right.
Marisol sits and wonders how she got here, trying desperately to remember something. I remember returning to the house for lunch. Then there was thunderous sounds on the ground, riders were approaching but from which direction. While she is thinking of what happen she is recalling slowly that day. Marisol is unaware that a whole year has now pass. Then, I remember how dark the day had become as if…yes! There were many men burning homes. With a shout of revelations, “Dios mio!”
The driver nearly runs off the road when she shouts. “What’s wrong?”
Marisol looks at him, but she is afraid to tell him anything of what she remembers. “Nothing, please I am sorry to have frighten you. I just wish to go home.”
“All right little lady, we should be in town soon.” She sits back, sighing hoping to remember something. The old man looks at her. She is a pretty thing, dark brown curly hair, although it is dark out, the gentleman has a lantern hung on the wagon, revealing the young woman to his right. Her eyes are a little lighter maybe hazel or just light brown. Her features are round; skin is soft but slightly dirty. The rain probably washed most of the dirt away. She is slender, tall about 5’6’’, her body well proportion, used to hard work, not a bad looking woman. If only he were younger. The man smiles at her but she seems oblivious, like in her own world. He spurs his horses forward, continuing their journey to Four Corners.
A few hours later in Purgatory, a Mexican town which houses some of the worse outlaws this side of the board, six new riders come into town, getting off there horses they enter the saloon. Inside are more men drinking, gambling and seeking entertainment for the evening. The leader of these six men sits inside with a young woman named Maria. They see him and walk towards him, noticing his men approach he bids the lady away. All six men sit and wait for their boss to speak. “Have any trouble boys?”
“No sir everything went according to your plan. As you predicted no one interfered.” The young dark hair man replies.
“Good, have you heard if the seven men guarding Four Corners have become aware of our plan?”
“As far as we can tell no one has been left alive to bring them word.”
“Good, gentlemen you do me proud. We will soon enter phase two of my plan and rid ourselves of Chris Larabee and his men and then this area will become ours.” The dark hair man looks at him; “you have a question Ike?”
“Yes sir, others have tried to destroy these men and failed in the pass; I’m not sure sir if we’ll be able to rid them as easily as you hope.”
“Nonsense, what the others lack we have in abundance money and men. We will succeeded.”
The look he receives unnerves him, his only response, “yes sir!” Hoping he has not given his boss reason to dispatch him.
“Good, enjoy yourself boys you’ve earned it.” When the others leave he calls Ike to stay behind. Then he turns his attention to him, “you ever question my plan again and I’ll kill you.” He leans back in his chair smiling, “I hope that’s perfectly clear Ike?”
“Yes sir, perfectly clear!” He tip’s his hat and heads to the bar. His boss watches him as he leaves, smile gone from his lips. Jameson a former Captain from the Confederate Army. Ponders the next phase of his plans.
Four Corners situated in the west has become larger with new people arriving every day. Since Chris Larabee and his men arrived the town has become a place of great new hope for a better life. New businesses have come bringing larger revenue which means more money and for Ezra Standish more money for him. Sitting in the saloon, we find our resident gambler with four other men playing draw poker and winning.
“Gentlemen, three queens, two nines, I believe that’s a full house.” The men playing, give up reluctantly as Ezra wins again. “Thank you gentlemen, should we play again?” They all look at him and decide it would be better to leave the table while they still can. “Come, come, gentlemen; I am sure your luck will change.”
While outside the saloon Chris and Vin are sitting drinking coffee and keeping an eye out over there adopted home. Then from the eastside of town someone rides in bearing up on his saddle the two stand in unison and walk over to the rider. Chris arrives first, “it’s a kid,” He lifts the boys head then turns, “Vin you better get Nathan he looks bad.” Vin heads to the clinic while Chris carries the boy towards the church. “Josiah!” Chris enters and Josiah races towards him, “Vin’s gone after Nathan, the boy looks bad.” Josiah whisks the boy from Chris’ arms and takes him to the spare room laying him gently on the bed. “Josiah, do you recognize him?”
“His name is Joshua McKenna the family just moved out here about four months ago. I just saw him last week when Nathan and I went by the Indian Village. We stopped by to see how they were doing. Being the newest family to arrive we decided to check on them everything seemed find.”
Just then Vin and Nathan come in. Nathan looks at the boy taking charge while the others go outside to discuss what to do. “First light both of you go and check on the family. I’ll have Buck ride with you. I want to stay and see what the boy can tell us.” They both nod in agreement.
While the men were discussing what to do, from the other side of town we see the old man and young woman he picked up along the road. “Here you go young lady, I’m headed just outside of town but you can get help here.”
“Thank you sir, you are most kind.” She walks along the boardwalk not use to towns she bumps into Ezra.
“Pardon dear lady.” Taking hold of her arms and looks into her eyes. For a brief moment something familiar strikes him then is gone. “Are you alright?”
“Yes, thank you. I am not familiar with such large towns. Would you be able to tell me where I might find help.” She looks at him pleadingly.
Ezra looks around searching for Chris and Vin, but seeing neither, he takes her into the saloon and both sit away from the other gentlemen. “Tell me what seems to be the problem?”
She’s not sure what to tell this man, nor if he can help her. Seeing how he is dress, she has never seen such a bright color full jacket before and noticing no badge she is uncertain. “I am unsure you can help me senior? Are you the law in this town?”
He smiles at her, showing his dimple and gold premolar, “in a manner of speaking.” Looking at her uncertain face he continues. “Be at ease dear lady, if I can not my compatriots will.”
She looks at him, “compatriots senior, what is that!”
Ezra smiles again, “they are my friends who help protect this town.”
She looks at his eyes; she has never seen such green beautiful eyes before. “Then perhaps you can help me, yet I am not sure how. She gives him a look of bewilderment, “you see I am uncertain as to where I am, my name is Marisol Quintana.”
Taking her hand into his he introduces himself, “Ezra Standish.” Looking at her current attire, he continues. “This is most disturbing. What do you remember?”
“Many riders. I see only their shadows as if they’re but not?” She answers, still mesmerized by his eyes.
“Hmm it does sound strange. For now you must rest and we will talk again tomorrow.” He takes her hands, “agreed?” She nodes her head, “then I will speak with my friends but first to the hotel for you where you will receive some much needed sleep.”
“Thank you senior. You are very kind.” Ezra always finds it surprising how people say that about him, he must be getting soft.
After settling the young lady into a room, Ezra sees Chris leaving the church. “Good evening, Mr. Larabee.”
Chris looks at him, “Ezra, your card game finish?”
“Yes, the gentlemen decided they had enough of losing. If you have a moment I would like to inform you of a curious event which just occurred.”
Chris stops and turns to Ezra. “What would that be.”
“A young lady came into town asking for help, but could not remember quite what had happen to her, only that she was lost and was not sure how she came to be here.”
“Where is she now?”
“I thought it prudent that she rest and told her, we would speak again in the morning.”
“Strange that’s two people in trouble in one night and we don’t know what’s happen to either one.” Noticing Ezra’s ignorance he explains about the boy. “So, tomorrow morning Josiah, Vin and Buck will ride out to see the family, make sure everything is all right. I’ll expect to see you in the morning with the young lady.” On hearing he will have to get up early, does not thrill Ezra.
The next day the young lady instant on bathing before meeting anyone this morning.
Inside the bathhouse she begins removing her clothing, looking at herself in the mirror she recalls a little more and almost breaks the glass, wanting to cry she looks away and enters the barrel of water. The water flows through her body, residual mud slowly disappearing, she again begins to recall events leading up to the present.
The memories start coming in, too fast recalling horrible, bad things. She then screams a scream so loud and bone chilling that it shatters the glass mirror she almost cracked. Ezra rushes in, sees her standing their naked, his thoughts marvel at the beauty of her body.
Then she looks at him her eyes are dark and menacing. Moving towards the gambler, she grabs and lifts him throwing the lithe con man across the room knocking him unconscious. Leaving the room she takes what clothing is lying about and puts it on.
She begins walking along the town boardwalk, and then gunshots are heard coming from the saloon. Clenching her hands a deadly smile comes over her, she turns to the sound. Entering the cantina, there are a few cowboys drinking, she sees a man holding a gun to the bartender. The man is laughing, he sees her and makes a move in her direction. “Stop right their lady,” then he motion her, “come over hear.”
She sees another man behind the storage area in the back. “Hey I just found a safe in the back.” He then looks at the woman too. “Who the hell is she!”
“Don’t know just another whore looking for a good time.” He starts to laugh making Marisol angry. The man looks at her. “What do you want lady?”
The second man looks back at the bartender, “old man you’re going to open that safe for us.” He walks to him, which distracts the other man holding the gun at Marisol. With lighting fast reflexes she disarms the man grabbing and throwing him right through the window. The man who had grab the bartender shoots and hits her square in the chest, knocking her down. As he leans over the counter; however, she begins to rise, pulls the second man over, throwing him to the ground. He begins to scream. Then smiling she grabs his crouch and slides him across the floor and threw the saloon doors.
Outside she then takes the gun and points it at the man. “Please don’t shoot me!” He begins to cry bringing her back to reality, she walks to him lifts and throws him against the wall, drops the gun and leaves. The bartender rushes out seeking the sheriff. He looks around searching for the mysterious woman not seeing her he heads to find JD.
Back at the bathhouse Ezra regains consciousness looks at the shattered glass all around him. He gets up staggers across the room. “Marisol!” He shouts, no response. He looks around but doesn’t see her anywhere. “Dam'it what the hell happened?” He has to find her and quick.
He runs outside and races to find her. He sees JD headed towards the saloon and notices the two men on the ground. He listens as the bartender begins telling them what happen. After hearing the description of the woman Ezra turns in the opposite direction and continues searching. Passing alleyways and even along the cemetery. Then just as he was about to give up, he spots her walking along the street back towards the bathhouse. He reaches her turning her around she is startled, “Ezra? What am I doing outside? Wasn’t I going to bathe this morning?”
“Never mind that, lets get you back inside before anyone sees you.” She doesn’t remember what took place a few minutes ago, and the look in her eyes is gone too, what is going on here? After returning to the hotel and sitting her down he begins asking her questions. “Do you remember anything that happened in the bathhouse?”
“Just feeling how good the water felt on my body. Then.” She stands and walks around the room. “Nothing, I thought… something but its now gone. What happened?” She looks at Ezra waiting for an explanation.
He sighs and begins recounting the events, “well after rendering me unconscious and leaving the bathhouse, you apparently stopped two men from continuing their rein of terror in the saloon.”
She laughs it felt good to laugh. But looking at Ezra, he wasn’t laughing. “Ezra, you wish me to believe all that. Please! This is not funny?”
“I would have to agree with you.” Ezra also stands; “I could use with a libation, would you care for one?”
“No…I don’t understand if what you say happened why don’t I remember?”
“I am uncertain.” He takes his whiskey flask out and drinks. “You recall nothing else?”
With a look of confusion, “sorry, only seeing you.” They are both silent for a long time.
“All right we will visit my friends now.”
The man sitting in the saloon, sipping aimlessly the shot of whiskey, he is a burley man over six feet tall, slight graying hair, not at all an unpleasant looking man, he touches his chin wondering about the rumors about a mysterious woman with extraordinary strength. Our mysterious killer who for the past year has been terrorizing citizens of Texas and has now moved to Arizona, finds this intriguing “maybe she’s the one? The one this search has lead me to?” He will try to find out as much information on the woman. There should be more incidents concerning her, he has no doubt about that. He has left spies in the neighboring towns to inform him about the seven men and the woman.
After both Marisol and Ezra speak with Chris regarding the events since her arrival exhausted she retires to the hotel room, which Ezra usually stays when not gambling and sleeps. The next morning after a sleepless night, Ezra was still up by five a.m. Marisol had by this time awakened and enters the saloon. “Morning, dear lady were you able to sleep last night?” Ezra stands and offers her a chair.
“I suppose so, as restful a night as any. I use to be able to dream but last night nothing. Not even of what could have happen to me.”
“Well, you did say that last night some of what happen was coming back to you. Perhaps more will begin to return later?”
“Perhaps?” She wasn’t convinced. Having a dreamless night was worst than not being able to sleep, which is what she believed happen.
“Would you care to ride out and search for your family?” She was silent for awhile…nodding her head in agreement he leads her to the livery stable to saddle two horses for the trip. They both head south towards Mexico.
A few minutes later from the other side of town, Josiah, Vin and Buck return with news.
Chris walks up to them as they all dismount in front of the saloon. “I expected you last night what happen?”
“We found more than we bargain for. The boy’s family was burned out looked like they were inside when it happened. The boy must have found a way out.”
Chris looks at Vin “what about the surrounding neighbors did any of them see what happen?”
The others looked at one another Buck answered. “Looks like they weren’t lucky either.”
This got Chris’ attention, as you could slowly see the anger fuelling, “Dam’it, we better find out what the hell is going on.” Chris saw JD approaching them. “JD find Ezra, tell him we’re riding out!”
“I just saw him riding out with that young woman from yesterday, looks like they were headed south.” The others looked surprise what woman could they be talking about.
On seeing this Chris responded, “I’ll explain later, JD tell Nathan to ride with you head north.” When JD left Chris looked to the others. “I know you must be tired, but I need you to split into teams, Josiah, you and Buck head west while Vin and I will head east. Warn people about what’s been going on and get them to come into town.” They all headed in different directions and Chris hoped Ezra and Marisol would do the same and warn people. They knew about the boy too.
Marisol and Ezra headed straight into Mexico staying clear to pass Purgatory. On crossing the boarder they turn towards Marisol’s village. When they arrived nothing was left. Everything was burned down. She couldn’t believe her eyes they dismounted and searched for clues. Looking around Ezra heard a noise behind what was left of the old church. With gun drawn, “show yourself!”
An old man came out, “please senior don’t shoot.” Hands up in the air he wearily came out from behind.
Marisol recognized him right away, “Poncho, what has happened here?”
He looked at her not sure at first who she was. “You, but how?”
Startled she presses him, “I am not sure what you mean? I have not been gone that long for you not to recognize me?”
“True, I wasn’t sure who you were, but it has been nearly a year since last I saw you. That night the strangers came and burned the village. These men took you and your family tried to stop them but you were gone. With the village destroyed the people left. Your family believes you dead.”
None of this made any sense to her, a year has pass where had she been, why did she not remember? It was too confusing, “I don’t understand Poncho, how could a year have pass and I not recall this.”
“I do not have the answers child, but it was a year ago when you disappeared.” She felt light headed and almost passed out, wanting to just lay down and wake up from this nightmare that would not end. She walked away headed towards the only home she had ever known. Not much remained. Ezra walked behind her and put his hand on her shoulder. “We’ll get to the truth of this heinous deed.”
Then looking up three riders were approaching. The old man seeing them hid behind the church again. The last couple of days there had been bandits coming to take what they could from the village. When the riders approach and saw the man and woman standing in the ruins they rode in slowly. Ezra pulled Marisol behind him and was ready with one of his guns in and. “Gentlemen! Good afternoon what brings you here.”
They were smiling circling the two of them. “Looking for supplies senior, but I see we found something more appealing, eh boys!” They all laughed.
Ezra knew that even shooting one of them the others would no doubt shoot him leaving Marisol vulnerable. He had to think of a way out he whispered to Marisol to be ready to ride. Marisol had other ideas she made the first move jumping at their leader and dismounting him. Ezra acted fast and shot the man closes to him, leaving only one man unguarded, who then shot at Ezra hitting him in the shoulder. Marisol saw this, leaving the other man she then attacks the man who shot her friend. The two men who’d been attacked could not believe the strength of the woman and when they recovered, they re-mounted and rode off.
Marisol wanted to give chase on foot but remembered Ezra. She turned and went to him. “Ezra you have been hit?”
“Do not fret, it is only a shoulder wound.” Then looking at her, “are you all right?”
“Yes!” Looking at his shoulder she realizes he needs medical attention. “I need to get you back to town!” She gathers the horse’s looks for Poncho, but he has gone, she helps Ezra onto the horse and both ride back to Four Corners.
It has already become dark; Chris and the others had returned finding some families all right and others only ruins found. Buck and Vin were outside watching over the town while Chris and Josiah spoke with some of the people who decided to return with them.
Nathan had gone to the clinic to gather some supplies for the boy who was still unconscious at the church. JD was just coming out of the jail when he spotted two riders coming in and realized it was Ezra and the woman. He called out to Buck and Vin and they too saw. “Ezra what happened?” Buck grabs him, helping him dismount when he touches the ground he almost loses his footing.
“We seem to have run into some trouble at the young ladies village.” They look at the woman dismount, she runs to Ezra’s side.
“He has lost a lot of blood, the trail was hard I tried to stop the bleeding, but it kept opening.”
“Now, now dear lady I assure you I will be just find.” Just then Nathan was coming downstairs when he saw the commotion.
Vin sees Nathan approach, “Nathan! Ezra’s been shot, looks bad.”
Nathan looked at the wound, “let’s get him into the saloon.”
“Ah yes a drink would be nice about this time.” Ezra was losing his balance as Buck and Vin held him up taking him to the saloon.
Nathan motion to the bartender, “Owen, whiskey please!”
When the bartender brings over the bottle, Ezra looks at Nathan, “for medicinal purposes only Mr. Jackson?”
“Of course Ezra. Now take a long drink. That’s it!” Then Nathan takes the bottle from him. Removing his jacket and shirt with the help of Marisol he pours whiskey on the wound cleaning it which makes Ezra flinch as he bears down on the pain. “Hold him still while I try and remove the bullet.” The bullet had not exited the shoulder, which they had hoped. The continued blood flow had weaken Ezra, nearly rendering him unconscious.
Gritting his teeth, trying to maintain some assembles, looks over to Nathan. “Mr. Jackson, that was quite painful. In the future please be so kind as to just shoot me and be done with it." The gambler growls.
Nathan couldn’t help but smile as he pulled the bullet from his shoulder. “I’ll remember that the next time you get yourself shot.” Holding the bullet to Ezra’s eye level. “This one could have had your name on it.”
“How reassuring Mr. Jackson.” Breathing a sigh of relief, with his good hand he reaches over to the whiskey bottle.
Buck grabs it, “I think you’ve had enough for one night.”
“You, are a cruel man Mr. Wilmington.”
Chris and Josiah enter the saloon, “what happened?”
Marisol looks at Chris, “three men attacked us at what was left of my village.”
Chris looked at Nathan, “is he going to be all right?”
“He’ll be find, won’t be able to use his arm for a while but he’ll recover.”
“Why thank you Mr. Jackson.” He looks at Marisol’s concern face. “Dear lady I will recover, but you have more to tell Mr. Larabee.”
She looks at Chris again, “there was an old man at the village, he told us that the village was burned down a year ago. Which does not make sense. If what he says is true then I don’t remember where I’ve been for the last year.” The others look at her.
Buck turns to Nathan after he finishes patching Ezra. “Is that possible, could she have forgotten, lost her memory?”
“Buck to be honest I don’t know. When it comes to the mind it is hard to say. I can only heal the body. But the mind is something which holds many mysteries.”
Marisol sits next to Ezra looking at him, making sure he will be all right, he takes his good hand to comfort her. “Well gentlemen, what are we to do?”
“There were a few more families also burned out and it appears this could have started a few a year ago.” It was his turn to look at Marisol. “I know it’s hard but we need your help you need to try and remember.”
She doesn’t want to remember, her family gone and not sure where they could be. “I will try Mr. Larabee, but now may I please take Ezra to his room? He is tired and needs rest.”
“Buck why don’t you help them?”
But Marisol wouldn’t hear of it. “No I can manage.” She lifts him, tenderly making sure she doesn’t injure his wound and both walk away.
Buck looks at the others “well right now I wish I were Ezra.” They all give him a smirk smile and JD turns up his eyebrows.
Chris on the other hand, has a more serious look. “Boys we’re going to need to get some answers and soon. Too many people depend on us to watch over them.” They all agreed and starting tomorrow they would begin getting those answers.
After carefully helping Ezra into bed, she sat next to him watching him sleep. She should have been more watchful of him. He was injured because of her. Who ever those men were they would pay for this. Turning the lamp off, she walks over to the window and was looking out. She closes her eyes to remember something. Chris was right, she has to find a way to help.
While Ezra lay sleeping Marisol begins to remember. Then something strange started to happen. Both started dreaming, there is a mist or fog that illuminated the area. Then Ezra found Marisol looking out into the horizon. “Marisol where are we?”
“My village.” From the distance they could see fire in the sky. Then six riders coming towards them then just pass without noticing either of them. The image changes and again they see the six men, then the screams of a woman. Marisol knows now who that woman is, she turns to Ezra holding his hand tightly, “that’s me!” They continue to look on, after the scream's end, the riders mount their horses. The scene changes again and the riders dump her lifeless body along the mountain ridge. It was the same place she had awakened from. She again turns to Ezra. “I’m dead.” Which sounded like a declaration rather than a statement. Tears begin to roll off her eyes as the realization that she will never see her family again.
Ezra woke with a start and looked around but Marisol was not to be found. Getting up and dressing slowly he goes downstairs headed to the saloon, his friends were not there, he goes to the church, they are not there either. They must have left early to search for clues to the fires. He takes his sling off his arm and pulls himself up on his horse, he has to find Marisol.
Earlier that morning Nathan had gone into Ezra’s room to check on him. Seeing him sound asleep he checked his wound and changed the bandage. Marisol was also asleep on the chair next to the bed. After he finishes he quietly leaves the room, disturbing neither one.
Chris saw Nathan return “how are they doing?”
“Both sound asleep. I changed Ezra’s bandage and it looks find. I’ll check on him when we return later.”
Ezra wasn’t sure which way Marisol would have gone, but he gambled and headed south. Times like these he’d wish he were a better tracker like Vin. He traveled for at least a few hours and was about to give up when he spotted her, riding as fast as he could he reaches Marisol. She was bent over a body. He reins in his horse and dismounts walking toward her. There was still life in the man and then with one quick twist, she breaks his neck. Ezra stops.
Then Marisol stands and looks at the body, she then walks over to the other body, where moments ago she had done the same. It’s as if she wanted to make sure they were truly both dead. When satisfied she turns and heads to her horse she sees Ezra. At first she doesn’t recognize him, then walks to him “you shouldn’t be up and around like this? Your wound may open again.”
“I am not concern with my injury, then with just what happened.”
She turn to the two bodies “these are the two men who attacked us.” Then she looks at Ezra. “They have paid for what they have done.” She heads to her horse and mounts. “We should get you back to town and make sure your wound is looked at.”
“Marisol! We can’t just leave them?”
“They have received their penance.” He couldn’t believe how emotionless she seemed, Ezra mounts his horse and as Marisol rides off, he turns one last time to look at the two bodies and rides off after her.
For the longest time neither one spoke. Then Ezra asked her, “what happen?”
“How do you mean?” Marisol looks at him with questioning eyes.
“Last night and now this, who are you?”
“I am Marisol Quintana daughter of Jose and Maria Quintana.” Declaring it with defiance laced to her voice.
“That’s not what I mean. Last night that dream.” She didn’t answer and then Ezra takes her reins and both look at each other, her eyes were again light brown, as the sun shun on them they seem to turn green. He then takes her arm and feels her wrist, there is no pulse. He looks at her again, places his hand on her neck, still no pulse. “There has to be a logical answer? You are alive not dead.”
With great sadness she replies, “I am dead. Nothing you say or do will change that.”
Then out of despair Ezra takes her into his arms and kisses her. “Did you feel that?”
She touches her lips, looks at the man with bright green eyes, and an array of colorful jackets, now wearing a blue one. Marisol answers, “yes.”
“If you were dead, you would be unable to feel that. But you felt it.”
She is quiet for a moment and raises her arm. “Then how do you explain that I have no heart beat.”
Ezra shakes his head, “I can’t. Maybe we should let Nathan look at you. Maybe he can explain this.”
“No! No one must know.” The look in her eyes change again and became dark and angry. He knew not to press further. Both rode the remainder in silence.
While on the other side of the valley, six good men ride searching for answers to the identity of the assailants, who have been terrorizing the populace. Vin was examining the latest burning. Then he notices a set of horseshoe prints, he’d seen a set earlier at one of the other homes that where burned down. “Chris over here.” Chris walks over and looks at the horseshoe print. “I saw this same print at Malley’s ranch. I know it’s not much...”
“Can you tell which way they were headed.”
Vin stands and looks at Chris, “where else, Purgatorio.”
Chris looks out at the descending sun, anger rising, “all right boys lets ride out.”
Back in Four Corners Ezra and Marisol have just returned. Dismounting, Mary Travis the proprietress of the Clarion Newspaper approaches them. “Mr. Standish as I understand Nathan told you to remain in bed today.”
“He did Mrs. Travis, but circumstances sometimes change. Have the others arrived as yet?”
“No, but said they would properly be gone until tomorrow. Nathan left you in my care, when I went to your room you were gone.”
“I appreciate your concern, but as you can see I am well looked after by Miss Quintana. She brought me back safe and sound.”
Marisol smiles at the newswoman, “it’s all right Mary I’ll look after him.”
Mary smiles back and excuses herself, “Mrs. Travis.” Mary turns around to look at Ezra. “You will advise me when the gentlemen return?”
“Of course, Mr. Standish.”
Then Marisol helps Ezra to his room after the long and strenuous ride he welcomes the rest. She helps him with his jacket hanging it and helps remove his gun belt, as well as his derringer and shoulder holster. “Ezra you came fully loaded were you expecting trouble?”
A somewhat sarcastic smile appears, “I always like to be prepared for any contingency.”
She then removes his shirt to inspect the wound it has a stain of blood. “You’ve open your wound.” Sitting him down on the chair she takes the bandage off, then cleans the wound. The stitch Nathan had put merely moved but was still intact. The blood had all ready dried so she just re-bandaged the injury. “You are very lucky Ezra it was not too serious.”
“Thank you dear lady.” They then look into each other’s eyes. They had shared a lot these pass few days not so much with words but more on a spiritual level. He laughs to himself at the thought; spiritual I wonder if Josiah would agree? He then takes his hand and caresses her cheek tenderly. She smiles and closes her eyes feeling his touch, then the gambler gently kisses her. She reciprocated, embracing one another they lay gently on the bed. They continued exploring one another, letting passion guide them, each breathing harder. Ezra could feel his own heart pounding.
She begins exploring him feeling his breath on her. She gently turns him, his heart beating faster, she feels as though it is a part of her. She enjoys herself, watching him sigh as she opens herself to him. She never realized how much she needs him or his touch. She wants pleasure not pain, recalling what had happened to her, the memories come flooding in. She starts hurting Ezra, but is unaware until he calls out to her.
“Marisol?” She looks at him, tears in her eyes, he caresses her, wiping the tears away and begins to kiss her again. This time becoming more intense. Both needing the tenderness of loves touch. Both have suffered pain, now more than anything they want peace.
After their love making, they settle into each other’s embrace, Marisol looks over to the man she just made love to, “I’m sorry if I hurt you.”
“It was but a moment.” Looking at her he brushes away her hair. “Dear lady you have transformed me. Never has a woman touched me as you have.”
She starts to hum a song, then begins whispering the words. He smiles at her the song is a Mexican lullaby. “My mother use to sing me to sleep as a little girl. Use to always make me feel safe and happy.” She looks up to Ezra, “just how you make me feel.”
They lay together Ezra leans over to her, take's her lips into his and kisses her. Her hand slowly caressing his inner thigh, she rolls him on his back, kissing him more intently. His breathing becoming rapid, she moves kissing his chest, then his stomach. She can feel him harden as she mounts him. She is gentle at first, he touches her breast and wants her to go faster, and she complies. As he opens his mouth with delight, she bends down to kiss him, tears run down his eyes, hoping it never ends.
“Mr. Jameson, the boys are back.” Jameson an ex-confederate captain still wears his uniform proudly. He turns to watch his men riding into Purgatorio.
As the men returned, they notice the uniform and salute. All these men had served under Captain Jameson during the civil war. Since the war ended none had returned home instead, they had traveled together continuing to serve their Captain.
These men having been commission by some of the cattle ranchers to be rid of the homesteaders are receiving riches, riches they had never known before. They don’t care how, the money is obtained. All these men know is that they will never see their families again.
“Captain Jameson, Corporal Jennings reporting.” Saluting their Captain and dismounting wait for Jameson to response.
“Corporal Jennings report.”
“As you for saw sir, those seven men have been spotted headed this way, only six of them will be arriving shortly, the other has been reported still in town with the woman you wanted spied on.”
“Excellent Corporal we’ll leave now and head for Four Corners. With only one in town it will be easy to take the woman.” They all mount their horses and rode off making sure to veer far enough and with night approaching it will not be hard to leave unnoticed.
Six riders’ road into Purgatory night already was enveloping the town. They all dismount and head into the saloon. It will be hard to find the men they are after. The six riders enter and look around all these men are known outlaws, who come here for refuge. Chris notices Maria, a woman he once met and asked for her help. She sees him too and comes to the bar. “Senor Chris, I did not think you would be back here?”
“Nor I Maria. I wish this were a social visit, but I’m looking for six men who have been coming and going from here. They may have arrived about a week maybe a month ago.”
She looks around the cantina but they are gone. “I remember seeing such men, but they are no longer here. The Captain is also gone.”
“Captain? Maria do you know how many men this Captain has?”
“No, he usually sends six men to different areas. And there are always men with him when the others are gone.”
Chris looks at his men, “looks like we could be up against at least twenty men maybe more.”
Buck looks at his long time friend, “well that would explain how they could burn so many homesteaders without us finding out.”
Then Maria touches Chris and relays something she had overheard. “The man you are looking for, has been curious about a strange woman which he believes has magic. I only mention this because he spoke of your town Four Corners.”
“A woman with magic. Did he say anything more.”
“Yes, he said that this woman has come back from the dead. Curious no?”
Chris looks at his friends, “what do you suppose this man meant?” It was more a rhetorical question. “Boys, I have a feeling we should be heading back to town.”
Josiah walks up to Chris, before he mounts, “Chris the only new woman who has arrived is Marisol and right now the only person in town is Ezra.”
“I know Josiah, that’s why I think we better ride hard and fast.”
Vin heard, “well at least we have the moon out tonight it should make it easy to see ahead.”
They all agreed that with Ezra wounded they feared he wouldn’t be able to help Marisol and if he tried well they didn’t want to think about that. Also without knowing how many men the town could also be in danger. It seems this Captain played them for fools.
Back in town Ezra and Marisol were asleep. Then the door to their room abruptly opened waking both, the barrel of a shotgun pointed at Ezra’s chest. With lighting fast reflects Marisol sprang at their assailant disarming him and pinning him down. Then a gun was held to her head, as another man had his weapon pointed at Ezra. “Release him or my man will shoot your lover.”
The gambler looks at the man pointing the gun barrel, then turns to the woman he has fallen in love with, “Marisol he’ll kill us both save yourself.”
The stranger bent down to Marisol and whispers in her ear as she held the rifle at the other mans neck choking him. “I know you can’t die but your friend can. I do hope you don’t want to lose another one?”
She released the man and stands up, looking at the man who would threaten her friend. Aware of her naked body she does not flinch, “what do you want?”
“You of course. It was my men who created you, mind you when I first heard you were back, I never believed in the legends told of creatures called Avenging Angels. Yet here you stand in all your beauty and glory. You are a sight to behold.”
Ezra was angry at what this man just stated, “leave her sir, if what you say is true, then you and your men have all ready done enough to this woman. What more do you want?”
Looking at the conning gambler, “why her power.” Then he turns his attention to Marisol. “You have power beyond man’s understanding. I have heard stories of your kind toppling cities. Just think of all that power and working for me.”
“You are insane sir. What reason would she have to help you.”
Then the man turns to Ezra again, with a sinister glare he response, “why you sir. She will do anything to insure your safety.” Then he turns back to Marisol. “Won’t you my dear?”
She lowered her head and nods, ‘yes’. Ezra only closes his eyes, how could he have let this happened.
“Now, if you both will be so kind as to dress yourselves, we will be on our way. I have no doubt that your friends will eventually figure my ruse.”
They both dress, under the watchful eyes of their abductors and all head to the back of the hotel, so not to be seen. They have an additional horse for Ezra and Jameson has Marisol ride with him. They would hold Ezra until he was no longer needed. He knew that the connection between a living soul and that of an avenging soul could be broken, then he would be able to connect with her. He would have to give her the six men who had raped and murdered her, to have her vengeance. They all rode out as quietly as they arrived.
Several hours later Chris and the others arrived in town. It was quiet that didn’t mean much. “All right split up and take a look threw town, Josiah and me will head up to Ezra’s room and check there.” They all head in different direction.
When they reach the room, Chris busts in with Josiah ready to back him up. There was no one. They find the room trashed and blood on the floor, not realizing it was one of the assailants’ blood, made matters worse. “Dam they’ve taken them both.”
“At least they’re still alive.” Josiah replies, which will have to satisfied Chris.
They head downstairs to meet with the others. Vin arrives first. “The towns quiet.” The look on Chris and Josiah’s face made him realize they were too late. “Ezra and the girl?”
“Gone!” The rest arrive and were informed of their friend’s blight. “Vin you think you can track them at night?”
“No, even with the moon, it’s not enough light to see their tracks, it would be best to start at first light.”
“All right we meet at first light, get some rest we’ll need it to find Ezra and the girl.”
The others had arrived by mid-morning at the village where Marisol grew up. Jameson let Marisol gently off the horse and dismounted. “Is this the village where you were born?” She didn’t answer. “I truly am sorry for what happened to you.” Then he points at the six men dismounting. “These are the men who raped and murdered you.” The men weren’t sure what Jameson was planning but receiving a signal from him letting them know to play along, they did.
Marisol looks at all six with utter contempt and anger. Ezra gets off his horse and goes to her and pulls her behind himself. “What are you attempting to do Jameson?”
“To allow justice to prevail.” Then he looks at Marisol and sees the darkness behind her eyes. They say the eyes reveal the soul, right now her soul has nothing but malice. “Well boys have your fun.” Seeing Jameson smile and the only one standing in their way, is Ezra, well they don’t see the harm in having fun. Three of them grab the fancy man, pulling him away from Marisol throwing him to the ground and hitting him. Marisol reacts, grabbing one nearly tearing his arm off. Then the other three grab her, bringing the other two. Ezra gets up, but Jameson holds him back and tells him, “keep quiet son and watch her power.”
Marisol’s anger could not calm itself any longer. She tosses them one by one grabbing one and breaking his neck while pulling another, hitting him so hard in the throat, he chokes to death. The others panic, looking to Jameson for support, “you’re on your own boys,” he laughs.
She caught two more placing one hand straight into his spine and pulling it from his back, Ezra could not believe what he was witnessing. He turned away wanting to vomit. Another is attack, far less grotesque as his neck merely broken. The last two were begging for their lives, as she hit one smashing his face in, the other screams tries to get up, but with his own knife she cuts his throat and watches as his blood gushes and he takes his last breath. Jameson’s other men watch in horror, as their comrades die one by one.
She then looks at Jameson holding Ezra. She has blood on her hands, blouse and skirt. Ezra looks at her in horror; she feels shame and sorrow. Marisol looks at herself and realization comes back at what she has just done. She turns around and walks to the church, the only structure still partially intact. “All right boys take him and tie him securely, while I go and speak to our formidable ally. Oh and make sure you gag him.”
They take Ezra to tie him up. Desperately trying to struggle free, they begin to beat him knocking him unconscious. They finish tying him to a post, still sturdy enough to hold him.
Jameson walks into the church and sits next to Marisol. “I know that must have been painful for you. If you had not killed them, who’s to say the same thing wouldn’t have happen to another young girl like you.”
She turns to him “and what of you? These men worked for you, perhaps I will need to deal with you as well?”
“I will not fight you my dear. I will sit here in this church and await your judgement.” She turns away from him and sits looking at the altar and saying nothing. “I know your pain must be great to have killed those men the way you did. If you join me there are others like them that would do harm to the innocent. If I had known what these men had done, I myself would have killed them.”
She turns to him again “you will help me find these men?”
“Yes, even as we speak there are six more men that will arrive soon. If you vanquish these men, then you will be free to vanquish more killers, like the six you have already killed.”
“What of Ezra?”
“He will try to stop you. You saw the look of horror on his face. He does not understand that you must destroy what is evil.”
“I must think on your proposal.”
He then leaves her in the church and walks outside. He sees Ezra neatly tied and speaks to one of his men. “I don’t want him conscious, the longer they are apart the better our chances are of bringing her to our cause.”
“What about the dead men?”
“They served their purpose take them and burn them.” He couldn’t believe what Jameson did, those men trusted him would follow him to hell and back now it seem they were all expendable. But he was afraid to cause any trouble with that hellion creature being manipulated by Jameson, he could just as easily turn her on them.
Chris and the others arrived by nightfall. They had followed the trail leading them to the location where Ezra and Marisol first visited. It was dark and open with no cover they would have to wait ‘til first light again. “All right, it’s too dark down there to risk going in blind. We’ll have to wait for dawn.”
The next morning Marisol walks outside the church looking for Jameson. Jameson was sure that she lost all connection to the gambler. They had kept him unconscious all night, which leaves him pretty badly beaten. “I will join your cause.”
Just then six riders came down from the hill above her village. Jameson then turns to her. “There are the six men I promised you.”
As Chris and the others ride in, none of Jameson’s men draw their weapons per his orders. “Jameson release our friends and no one gets hurt.”
“You see Marisol he threatens us with injury. We have not drawn our weapons. You must protect us and kill them all.”
Chris looks at Marisol, then at Ezra tied to the post and unconscious. “Marisol what have they done to Ezra?” She blinks and looks to the direction Chris points. She sees Ezra’s lifeless body, held captive. Then turns to Jameson, who has taken a knife and now stabs her. She falls to the ground, lying motionless, the connection between her and Ezra has partially broken, but enough for a slow recovery, especially with Ezra unconscious.
Chris and the others were about to shoot but then one of the others pointed his gun at Ezra. “You make one move cowboy and your friend here dies. Now drop your weapons.”
“Chris if we drop our weapons we’re all dead.”
“I know Buck.” He looks at his men. “It’s up to you, do we shoot our way and hope we can save Ezra or do we drop our weapons?” But before anyone could answer a storm starts brewing from above, circling right above Marisol’s lifeless body. Then Ezra starts to wake up, Jameson does not see him recover and then lighting strikes down hitting Marisol.
Ezra waking and seeing what happen shouts “Marisol!” Which opens her eyes and she gets up, the rain starting to pour down, she runs to Ezra, attacking the man holding the gun. He hadn’t realized how truly fast she could move. With the knife still stuck in her stomach, she takes it out and uses it to release Ezra. Jameson’s men start shooting as everything begins to unravel, firing while trying to make their escape. “Marisol what did they do to you.” Ezra sees the blood flowing from the wound and notices it’s not healing.
She helps him to his feet, “stay here I need to stop Jameson.” Jameson was on his horse and ready to ride out. He turns to where Ezra and Marisol are and with his gun drawn and starts firing. She puts herself in front of Ezra taking the brunt of the bullets. Then as Jameson comes near, she jumps on his horse pulling him down. The others have taken care of his men, those that aren’t dead give up. Leaving Jameson to Marisol, they begin to fight, he has his own strength, which means that he is some kind of evil creature.
Ezra can’t help her, he is too weak. Nathan and Josiah run to aid him but he keeps yelling and struggling for someone to help Marisol. The intensity of their battle, begins rocking the very foundation, of what was left of the town. Finally, Marisol has the upper hand literally, when she brutally pushed her hand to Jameson’s upper chest, pulling out his heart and holding it as she stands. JD turns pale and falls to his knees vomiting, the others experienced on violence, were almost unable to keep it down as well.
Marisol steps back, with the beating heart in her hand, she put it to her mouth and takes a bite, swallows a partial piece; this is what her ancestors did to their enemies once defeated. This is what will destroy the demon and vanquish it from earth. The demon screams knowing its fate. It then dematerializes, turning to dust. She throws the remaining piece and smashes it, causing a sound no one should have to hear.
Nathan and Josiah released Ezra. He staggers to Marisol turns her around and embraces her, she has blood on her hands but he doesn’t care. She holds him as well, both clutching one another, he wants to cry for all the pain she has had to endure. The strain had become too much for him, being constantly beaten he collapses. Marisol screams out his name, “EZRA!”
He then looks at her with he’s jade color eyes, “it’s all right little darling; I just need to rest awhile.” She lays him on the ground he closes his eyes and his hand drops. She looks to Nathan as he bends down, he feels for a pulse.
“I’m sorry.” Looking at Marisol he shakes his head.
The Avenging Angel holds him in her arms, rocking him back and forth. Shaking her head, still unable to believe he is gone. The others try to comfort her, but she shouts at them to leave her. She holds him for the longest time, then she shouts up to the very heavens. From up above, clouds start to form and lighting strikes down, right into her hands. Josiah pulls Nathan away from the area. They all cover their eyes, as the intensity of the flash becomes blinding. Then Marisol places her hands upon Ezra’s lifeless body and a white glow illuminates both of them, for a brief moment they are gone. When the glow dissipates Ezra’s body lays alone on the ground. Marisol has disappeared.
Ezra opens his eyes and finds himself in familiar surroundings. Three days have pass since Marisol disappeared, leaving Ezra very much alive. Somehow she had performed a miracle, healing his body. But in so doing Ezra had fallen into a deep sleep, while his body was recovering from the lighting strike that had occurred. This was the second time he had awakened after his recovery was complete. Josiah told him what had happened.
Grief was all he could feel, his heart was so heavy. He knew it was the only way she would find peace.
He recovered slowly, no visible scars except for what was in his heart. After a week had passed and with the help from his friends, they recovered the remains of her body. Finding her body along the mountains edge, where his dream with her had revealed. Ezra decided it would be best to bury her at the village of her birth and death.
Josiah performed the funeral services. Chris and the others attended along with Mary each paying their respects to Ezra. He visited her gravesite almost every day replacing fresh flowers. Then one day, as he arrived at her resting-place, there was new flowers blooming more beautiful then the ones he brought. He takes it as a sign from her that she will be all right. He notices too, that the whole village itself begins to come alive again.
“Marisol it seems you have found contentment and no longer need my presence or flowers. I look at this village and see everything growing again. I believe you are still here, watching over your home. I will therefore say goodbye, but you will always be in my heart and I will never forget the Avenging Angel I once met and the joy she brought to my soul.”
Comments are always welcome.