Deadwood by Eric J. Juneau

Copyright 2000 by Eric J. Juneau. All rights reserved.

This story is in no way intended to infringe on the established copyrights and trademarks of Monolith Productions, Inc. It is for entertainment purposes only and is not intended for sale. It may be freely distributed providing that no alterations to the story are made. The characters and incidents portrayed and the names in this story used herein are fictitious and any similarity to the name, character, or history of any person, living, dead, or otherwise, is purely coincidental and unintentional.



By Eric J. Juneau


"What is thy bidding, master?"


"Understood, master."


"They will not be needed."


"Then so shall it be… master."


"It's right there," Ophelia pointed as she looked through the binoculars. "Don't tell me you can't see it." She handed them off to Gabriel.

"I can' see a ting troo dese damn tings," he said as he tried to look again. His deep Creole accent made him hard to understand in a whisper.

"We don't have time for this," Caleb grumbled. They actually had plenty of time, he just didn't want to hear them bicker. "Let's go."

The four crawled up off the grass ground. Walking down the slope into the village. A drab, dark gray sky hung low over their heads and black puffy clouds swirled around each other, blocking out all the stars from above, shrouding the little town. An impending rain seemed just on the horizon, waiting for the right moment to strike.

The four slid down the slippery slope. Gabriel's massive frame seemed on the verge of teetering over and tumbling the rest of the way. Ishmael had his body angled to the side, taking shuffling steps down the incline. Ophelia made little baby steps, keeping her arms up for balance, staying as quiet as possible. She adjusted the green cape around her neck so she could hold her arms up. Caleb walked down as if the ground was even, not caring if he fell over, because he knew he wouldn't. The hill couldn't match his stubbornness.

"How does He want this done?" Caleb asked.

"Quick and painful," Gabriel said. That was his answer to everything.

"Is it just me, or does this seem a rather minor task for us, mm?" Ishmael said in his British-Indian accent.

"Who cares, as long as we get it done," Gabriel said.

"Yes, but even the lieutenants have tasks less menial than this."

"You over-analyze too much, Ishmael," Ophelia said.

"The lieutenants can burn for all I care about them," Caleb commented. "But I don't care much for doing work of a slave."

"We are the Chosen. Who cares what we have to do. We're rewarded just the same," Ophelia said in her voice just touched with an English accent.

Caleb wasn't convinced. "We should be doing better than this. Taking over towns, torching buildings, mass slaughters. It sounded so good in the brochure."

"As if you needed to worry, Tchernobog's golden-boy," Ishmael added.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Ehhh… nothing."

"You got something to say to me, Ishmael?"

"Are you blind or jus' stupid," Gabriel said, putting accents on the wrong words. "You waltz in whistlin' Dixie and suddenly become Tchernobog's apprentice."

"I'm nobody's good-old-boy. Get that straight."

"Oh yes. I believe Cheogh would have words to say about that," Ishmael interjected.

"Heh-heh, yeah, I heard aboud dat."

"What about Cheogh?" Caleb asked.

"Let's just say he seems a bit jealous as of late."

"That slime-faced grinning granite chunk belongs in a cage with the hell hounds. I don't care what he thinks. I don't care what anyone thinks."

"So much for a covert operation," Ophelia hissed. "Keep your mouths shut."

They had arrived where the countryside met the homestead town, night encapsulating the sleeping population. Since the gold rush, towns like this had been springing up everywhere, and were abandoned the next day. They didn't consist of much more than a church, general store, sheriff's office, bank, a bar or two, and an inn. The buildings were made so shoddily a strong gust of wind could tip them over any second, and they were so easy to burn too. The Cabal always sent one or two disciples to set up an identity in all these towns to keep an eye on the goings-on around them, and maybe recruit a few new followers in the process.

Caleb took the lead as he always did, the bad blood from the conversation still coursing through his veins. Anyone who questioned him could go to hell, and he would be more than happy to send them there with a one-way ticket. Didn't matter whether he was Tchernobog's champion. That sneering stone gargoyle Cheogh, who was rock all the way through to his head, or that bitch Shial, or anyone else who had a problem could take it up with him and his loaded shotgun. And as far as the other Chosen, well, it's not an ego problem if you know you're the best. Besides, Ophelia was right, they were all rewarded the same.

They approached the cathedral's large double doors, which were made out of heavy oak, decorated with stained glass and symbols of the Old Religion. Probably the first structure built by the lambs of this town.

"Time for fireworks." Gabriel pulled a bundle of TNT sticks out of his brown coat and approached the door.

"Eh, perhaps we should see if the door is locked first?" Ishmael interjected as he went up and tested the doorknob. It gave way easily and quietly.

"If you wanna do it de easy way…" Gabriel commented.

Caleb wasted no time, and pushed the door open with full force, not caring about being quiet.

"Avon calling."

They walked in the church's foyer. Bulletin board notes, flyers, and posters papered the wall over and under the coat racks.

"Pies, made to order, call Margaret 555-0176."

"Free kittens. John or Edith. 555-4219."

"Ooh, free kittens. Nothing like a little soft bundle of fur to keep you warm on lonely nights," Caleb said sardonically.

"Who's there?" called a voice from within the chapel.

"Ooh, company."

The four looked into the synagogue. They saw a lone figure at the very front knelt before the altar. He was twisting back looking for whoever was talking.

"Asking for forgiveness, father?" Caleb asked. He began walking toward the helpless preacher, Ophelia, Gabriel, and Ishmael right behind him.

"Who are you people?"

"Your best reason to be afraid." Caleb pulled out his highly cherished sawed-off shotgun from his trench coat.

The preacher scuttled to his feet and began to run left to safety. A single shot fired, stopping him in his tracks as the bullet whizzed by.

"Don't run, you're only gonna die tired," Ophelia said, holding a Colt .357 out in front of her.

The preacher slowly turned to them and held up his hands, knowing his number was up. "What do you want from me?"

"Oh, a little song, a little dance. Surprise me."

"Someone's been a very naughty boy," Ishmael said. "Guess what happens to naughty boys."

"They haff to stand in de corner," Gabriel finished.

They said nothing else, letting the frightened preacher's blood race with cold terror through his body. He looked confused, not understanding what was going on.

"Well? Go stand in the corner!" Caleb shouted. BOOM! He fired one of the barrels of his gun just to the preacher's side. One or two of the buckshot must've gotten him in the arm because he grasped his shoulder and winced in pain.

"Move." Caleb gestured to the right of them with his gun. The priest walked slowly without sudden movements to the crook of the wall, to face it with his back to them. He was situated between the door to the back room and the organ, a tight uncomfortable space.

The four walked behind him, their shadows slowly rising up on the wall. Caleb held up a hand, indicating that nothing should be done yet. He cocked open his gun, making sure it was as loud and sharp as possible. Humming a tune, he took out the spent shell and dropped it on the ground near the priest's feet. Taking a new shell out of his belt, he shoved it in the barrel and recocked it back, making sure to be as articulate with the procedure as possible. He could see that the preacher was now starting to shake uncontrollably, shivering like he was in a snowstorm.

Slowly, Caleb pushed the cold double-barreled muzzle against the neck of the preacher, who started shaking twice as much when the instrument of death was pressed into his sensitive flesh.

"Now make a wish."

Caleb gestured to Ophelia and pointed to the backs of his knees. Ophelia smiled a smile a humane person wouldn't be capable of, and raised back up her revolver. Nothing better than the sweet suffering, especially people of the Old Religion.

The priest suddenly twisted around. He swung his arm up, knocking Caleb's shotgun out of the way as he screamed with all his spirit.

Ophelia shot her revolver. BANG! BANG! BANG! Three times in the chest. The preacher slumped back against the corner and fell in a heap, head bent down, eyes disturbingly still open, three neat little red dots spreading bigger on his chest.

"Another notch on the barrel."

"Hardly worth my attention," Ophelia commented.

"Job well done," Caleb complimented himself. He replaced the gun back into his trench coat, straightened his lapels, and turned around.

He saw Ishmael at the wall behind the pulpit, his body pressed close, feeling it with his hands.

"What de hell are you doin', Ishmael?" Gabriel said. "Did you fall in love wit da wall?"

"The false wall is around here somewhere."

"What false wall?" Caleb angrily demanded to know.

"The false wall which leads to the alchemist room where the compound is."

"What compound?"

"The Deadwood Tonic we are to retrieve, mm, yes."

"No one told me about any Deadwood Tonic. We just came here to hurt people."

"Well, it was relayed to me by our Apothecary that the Deadwood Tonic he requires is behind a false wall in this church.

This was ridiculous. Caleb thought the plan was to just kill the minister and get out of here. No one said anything to him about some whatever tonic. He was expecting to get back by now, not go on some search.

"Why the hell did he tell you and not me?" Caleb asked.

"I don't know. I found no reason to question it at the time."

"Maybe you're not Tchernobog's good-old-boy afta all," Gabriel sneered.

"Do you ever stop talking?" Caleb retorted.

"Mm… mm… aha!" Ishmael apparently found the spot in the wall he was looking for. Taking a knife from his robe, he jammed it in the wall within a crease. After a couple pulls of the knife up and down like a lever, a square part of the wall shifted back. He pushed the indented section in farther, and disappeared within.

Caleb grumbled and cussed to himself, climbing up on the pulpit to follow Ishmael. Why the hell would they tell Ishmael something and not him? What was so special that only he needed to know?

The three entered the very narrow passageway and saw a steep spiral staircase going down.

"Are you coming or should I send an invitation?" Ishmael said.

Still grumbling, Caleb followed him down the stairwell. The steps and walls were constructed out of solid gray stone, lit at places by burning torches. Whoever made this had whatever was at the end of it in mind. He was starting to get dizzy from the close steep circles he was making. Did this thing descend into hell itself?

They reached the door, heavy wood reinforced with bars of steel. Ishmael pulled on the handle. It was locked.

Gabriel again pulled his favored TNT bundle out of his coat. "Demolition time?"

"Oh, yes, of course, I'd love to be roasted to a crisp in this compact space," Ishmael responded sarcastically.

"So how do we open it, genius?" Caleb said.

"Ahh, I'm speculating that applied pressure to a weak point just above the lock should do the trick."

"No problem," Gabriel went into his right pocket and pulled out a steel half-glove that fit from over the knuckles to the forearm. Gabriel slipped on the armored gauntlet, looked at it admiringly, making a beefy fist, accentuating the spikes on the knuckles.

"Excessive power. Just what he needs," Ophelia commented, rolling her eyes.

"You damn right." Without warning, he reared back his fist. The three others jumped back out of the way, just as Gabriel thrust forward, pounding straight through the thick door. Splinters of wood sprayed everywhere. Slowly, with pride, Gabriel drew back his hand, shaking off the sawdust. Ophelia went to work with her slim fingers working through the hole to unlock it. A faint buzzing sound could be heard coming from the room.

"Does that not hurt?" Ishmael asked Gabriel.

"I barely felt it," he replied as he took off the glove.

Click. "Got it." Ophelia unlatched the door and pushed it in.

"Oh boy."

If the four Chosen hadn't already been desensitized from the tasks they had completed for their dreaming god, the one word they would have come up with to describe this room would be 'disturbing'. The floor was white tiled and stained with pink splotches and trails from all the blood that had sat there, and in the white walls, and on the ceiling. Three cylindrical glass tanks stood against the back of the room, one of which was empty, two of which were not. They contained corpses hanging off of chained hooks gouged in the back of their skulls. One was viscerously gutted with his hollow body cavity displayed for all the world to see. Two ribs dangled out, hanging by meaty bits of red flesh. The other was relatively unharmed, his gaunt pale white body starting to turn a shade of bluish-gray with pink lesions spotted randomly. In the middle of the room was a steel table embedded with a rotating saw blade, the source of the buzzing. A semi-coagulated thick puddle of red ooze sheeted the worktable like a blanket. The other wall held a sink and cabinet with metallic tools like rusty scalpels and pairs of scissors strewn on the counter.

"Hm, extraordinary use of color. The composition is a bit lacking."

"Now, why would someone hide a lovely room of death like dis away from de world?" Gabriel added.

"All right. Now where's this 'Deadwood Tonic'?"

"I believe it's one of these chemicals." Ishmael went over to the sink and the row of unlabeled bottles above it. "Exim'ha," he cursed. "How did he know what anything was?" He took one of the bottles screwed, off the cup, sniffed it. "Eughh, some sort of embalming fluid."

"Like you know what it is just by smelling it," Ophelia said.

"I know enough to know it is not what we're looking for," he said and dropped it in the sink.

"Hey, this whatcha looking for?" Caleb picked up a large diamond shape vial off the shelf behind the door. It was filled with a clear liquid.

"'The Heart of the Diamond'. Of course," he said with realization. "Yes, Caleb, you have my gratitude."

Before Caleb could ask him what he meant by the 'Heart of the Diamond', Gabriel pulled back out his treasured bundle of dynamite. "OK, then. Let's start the party."

"Not yet, Gabriel," Ishmael said, "An explosion here would be fruitless."

"There you go again, thinking with your lesser developed brain cells," Ophelia added.

"At least I haff a positive attitude aboud my destructive habits."

"Hey, now. You two play nice," Caleb said.

"I'll try being nicer if he tries being smarter."

"You are seconds away from becomin' a floor stain!"

"Enough, both of you. You are beginning to try my patience." Ishmael took the vial from Caleb and slipped it under his tribal robe.

"Let's get out of here," Caleb ended.

The Chosen began walking back up the stairs. When they reached the top and exited through the secret passage, Gabriel pulled out a small concealable red can with liquid loudly sloshing around inside it.

"Is that gasoline I smell?" Caleb grinned evilly.

"You damn right." He handed it to Caleb and pulled out one more for himself.

The two began tossing the liquid around randomly. Ishmael checked the vial in his coat and headed out the door, as he was not needed in this part of the mission. Ophelia came up to Caleb.

"Do you know what all this rot about Deadwood Tonic is?"

"Don't know, don't care. I just do my job and get the hell out."

"Aren't you even concerned that only Ishmael was told about this part of the task?"

"It's him that should be concerned. If he thinks Tchernobog is gonna make him the lead general, Ish's gonna need a closed casket."

"Well, don't spend too much time dwelling on it," she seductively smiled.

Caleb smiled back. "Gimme some sugar, baby."

They kissed a deep wet kiss. Caleb could feel a few stray strands of her red bangs brushing against his forehead's rough skin. Ophelia pulled back, leaving Caleb's lips hanging, wanting more. She shifted her eyebrows, giving Caleb all the message he needed. She turned and walked out.

Caleb tossed away his now empty can among the pews. Gabriel spilled out his remaining gas and hurled the can with a grunt out one of the stained glass windows, shattering a picture of Jesus Christ standing among the lambs.

"Now you can pull out your little friend," Caleb said.

Gabriel smiled devilishly and took out his precious bundle of TNT. He placed it in the center of the room. Caleb smoothly took out his lighter and cracked the top, bent down and flicked it at the end of the fuse. Gabriel looked down at it in delight.

"Let's blow," Caleb said, casually walking out like the expected result was never to be expected.

The two found Ophelia and Ishmael waiting for them outside at the end of the entrance stairs.

"Ah, another job well done," Caleb said.

"Well, I hope you're happy that you finally got to blow something up," Ishmael said to Gabriel.

"Ecstatic," he replied.

The four walked down the dirt path away from the church like they were out for a midnight stroll.

"You got no appreciation for da finer tings in life… like explosions."

"I appreciate a good fireball as much as the next chap. I just prefer to make my exits less… obvious."