Killstreak Part Two
Disclaimer: This is continued several years later after his events as a boy. Feel free to comment and enjoy.
The miserable, cold rain had made the dirt paths muddy and boggy causing great difficulty to move around the town of Blackwater. I had been held up in the dingy town saloon where I had stayed in one of the rooms above. I had been staying here in this festering pit for weeks. I've had the opportunity to get on a horse and ride far away from here, but for the odd reasons that I can't explain, I didn't leave. Instead I would sit up there in my room alone and in the dark. I would constantly sip away a glass of whiskey while I would stare out of the window, watching the world go by. I guess it was just the fear that had gripped me, the fear of the fact that I could've been an outlaw.
Of course it was a simple case of paranoia as in the end; I finally had the courage to pack my belongings and leave. I didn't know where I was going to go. My first guess was to cross the border into Mexico but I didn't it was safe. Instead I saddled my horse and took to the road towards Tall Trees. Ah Tall Trees. It's a hunter's paradise up there. I knew that no one would dare look for me up there as its huge basin and woods held good hiding spots. As I slowly rode up the narrow trail, I felt the temperature drop dramatically. Before I knew it, I had arrived at the Manzanita Trading Post. The place was quiet and it must've housed at least thirty people. After inspecting my supplies, I realised that I was low on food and ammunition so I had to make a visit the main trading store. As I dismounted my horse and hitched it to the post, I felt a wave of discomfort. It was as if I was being watched.
It was a different feeling as I entered the store. The store owner seemed the friendly sort as the store felt warm and welcoming with a mellow yellow glow from its lamps. I didn't waste time in getting the stuff that I needed as I had a fair idea of what I wanted anyway. Just as I was about to pay the man, I was distracted to sound of another man entering the store behind me.
"Hey you!" he yelled, calling out to me. "Is that your horse out there! It's in the way!"
"Well hang on a second and I'll move it." I replied calmly as I made note of my revolver that sat in the holster.
"I don't wait for nobody." The man replied as he drew his gun. "Now I don't know about you, but I'm sick of you outsiders coming here and thinking that you own the place. Well it ends here."
"Does it now?" I replied with a smug smile as I revealed my revolver from under my dusty poncho.
"I'll give you three seconds to move that horse or I'll put lead in you!" The man threatened me.
"Oh I don't think so." I replied as my senses kicked into gear.
Like before, my surroundings began to slow down around me as I made for my gun and drew it. Firing two shot, I hit my opponent in the head and watched in victory as he crashed to the ground. I knew then that I had to get out of here. As I approached the door, there was something on the man's person that caught my eye. A match box protruded from his pocket. Its insignia was that of a silver eagle and it looked familiar to me. Inspecting the insignia, my eyes widened as I realised that I had seen this image before.
It was the same image that was on one of the attackers I had killed when I was a kid. It was the same gang and I realised that they must've still been operating in the area. My heart began to thump, pelting hard against my chest as if it was trying to escape. Those awful flashbacks began to play in my mind once again. The same dream that I had suffered on countless times. I had to move on otherwise I wouldn't be able to move at all. Mounting my horse, I hit the trail which took me up into the snow hills.
It had become much colder and darker because the trees had blocked out the natural day light. I felt relaxed by the sound of the flowing falls that ran to the side of me. I was going to follow the stream up to the Aurora Basin where I would set up camp for the night. I kept the insignia close to me as I grasped it tightly. I didn't want to let go of it not even for a second. I then began to contemplate getting my revenge in taking down the gang once and for all disregarding the fact that it would be a suicide trip.
By now, my horse had become exhausted from its trip. I had reached the basin and quickly found my spot to set up camp. As soon as I got the fire going, I set up my crockery in order to cook something to eat. Just as I thought I was going to be in for a peaceful evening, I was drawn to a stirring sound in the bushes. It was an elderly lawman, streaked with snow and blood and clutching a bullet wound to the arm. I needed to help him quickly before he could pass out. I sat him down by the fire and attended to his wounds with some pliers and a rag soaked in whiskey. He started to relax as I bandaged the wound and offered him something to eat.
"T-thank you boy." The Marshal said as he took a deep breath and reached for my whiskey bottle. "I was convinced for a second that I was a dead man out there. Can't be too careful out here these days."
"What are you doing out here, Marshal?" I asked him as I passed him a tin of beans and bacon. "It's a long way out for a man like you."
"I was out here stalking a gang of criminals." The Marshal explained. "They had recently raided the bank at Armadillo and stole the safe. Before we knew it, they had taken it up here where no one would dare find them. I was sent up here with two other Marshals to bring them in but that proved to be a big mistake."
"What happened to your men?" I asked again. "Are they alive?"
"We got separated up in the valley." The Marshal replied as he stared down at his food. "I heard two shots and I never saw them again. I assumed that they must've been killed."
"I am sorry, Marshal." I said as I gave my deepest respect. "You're free to stay with me and I can ride you back into town if you want? The whiskey won't heal that wound of yours. If we don't get you help soon it'll become infected."
The Marshals expression began to change as he saw the insignia which I had taken from Manzanita Post. I recognised the look anywhere. The image was related to his experience.
"Where did you get that?" he asked me as he pointed to the object.
"I got it from the trading post." I replied. "Some punk tried to stop me but I killed him and took it. It's a keep sake for personal reasons."
"Well it's a bad idea." The Marshal muttered. "That is the mark of the Griffin Gang, the boys that I have been chasing."
"I see." I replied as I realised how the two situations had so much in common.
I was seeking a new life after the gang that was nearby me already. Was this a sheer coincidence or was it fate. Helping the Marshal to his feet, I led him to my horse and propped him up on the saddle. I burnt out my camp fire and mounted the horse before setting off back down the trail. I couldn't let him stay up here. He needed medical help. We had safe ride back through the great plains of West Elizabeth. The sun was up casting its warm rays down upon us. The area had a peaceful feeling and it was one I had felt many times before. As we rode on, it felt as if time was slipping past us as I told the marshal my story. I thought I was boring him but it turned out that he was interested and it sounded like he wanted to help me.
"I know I'm a man of the law." He told me. "But that gang runs on pure vermin. They are above the law's hands now. If my memory serves me correctly, there's a $200,000 bounty out for the gangs head."
"A bounty huh?" I replied as I took in every word. "$200,0oo, that's a lot of money, but I don't think money would patch over the pain that I have suffered."
"But you do want revenge right?" the marshal said as he tried to catch me out.
"Oh I want revenge alright, marshal." I countered. "I want to see them hang for what they did to my father and the torment that they have given me. Seeing them die is a reward to me."
"I understand." The marshal replied as he changed the subject. "I never did catch your name though. Who shall I call you when I credit you to my superiors?"
"They call me Killsteak." I replied. "You can call me Killstreak."
"Killstreak, hey? That's one hell of a nickname."
"Yeah well you better get used to it." I smiled.
As we rode into Blackwater, I stopped outside the law office and dropped the marshal off. The officers on duty had immediately sent out for the doctor who arrived several minutes later. It wasn't long before the marshals wounds were patched up and in no time at all he was back on duty. As I told my account to one of the officers, I was told to report to mayor down at the town hall. With no objection, I took a slow walk down towards the far end of the town where the town hall was. Apparently the Mayor was already expecting me as I told to go directly into his office. This whole gang business had become a serious business.
The mayor was a well to do British senior, dressed in the finest expensive fabrics. He sat there, reclined in his office chair as he smoked a Cuban cigar. The smell of smoke filled the room. It was like heaven to my nostrils. However, this was far from a social call.
"You wanted to see me, Mister Mayor?" I asked him as I stood before his desk. "I was told that it was pretty urgent."
"Ah you must be the guy that everyone's calling Killstreak. Am I right?" the mayor relied as he studied my rough, tatty apparel. "Well to me, you look like a mere drifter, but it has come to my attention that you have quite a gritty history."
"That's right." I confirmed. "I've had a previous run in with the Griffin Gang. It has become a personal matter of mine."
"So I'm told." The mayor nodded as he gestured me to take a seat. "Do sit down won't you. I've called you here to ask for your help. As you may know, there is a bounty out for these men. You see, the law can no longer handle these scumbags so it is left for any bounty hunter to go and claim the money. I don't suppose you're interested in claiming the money yourself? It'll help you make a new start in life."
"I don't want the money." I replied. "I want justice for what they did doing my young adulthood. I know where they are; I just want to take them down and then go."
"I'm afraid I can't let you do that." The mayor said disagreeing with my request. "There is a thing such as law and order here and I can't let you just go and brutally kill these people. They may have hurt you but they are human beings and they will be trialled in a court of law. They will be hanged for what they have done, just by the book."
I was annoyed by this. I couldn't believe that I was not allowed to set the record straight. Well I wasn't prepared to let this slide. The Mayor could see the change of expression in my face.
"I'm sorry mister mayor but like you said, it's no longer in the law's hands." I said. "I'm going to find those men one way or the other."
"If you do that then you will hang with them." the mayor warned as he gave out a threat. "Now I'm trying to make a proposition with you here but I guess you're not willing."
"What proposition?" I replied as my eyes narrowed. "I'm not going to work for the law."
"Oh but I think you would benefit from it if you were to have a job in enforcing the law." The mayor went on. "You see. You could always be a bounty hunter?"
"How can I be sure that I will have a satisfying life here?" I asked suspiciously.
"You will be living in one of the luxury houses in this town. All paid for of course." The mayor replied with a grin. "Trust me as man of my word, you will be happy here. If you turn down my offer then you won't be see the gang get trialled."
It took me a few moments to make my mind up. I was easily convinced by the fact that having a new life would improve my way of thinking. Begrudgingly, I accepted the offer and shook the mayor by the hand.
"What must I do?" I asked as I gritted my teeth in regret. My faith and trust had been put into this man.
"It's simple really." The mayor replied. "I'll call off the bounty and you'll go up there and bring in the gang. If and when you return, I will see to it that you will be the one to hang them. Then once it will be over, you will start a new life as I an idol."
"What makes you think that I can bring them in?" I asked quizzing the mayor as I got up to leave.
"Well they don't call you Killstreak for noting." The mayor smiled as he watched me walk out of the door.
Things had happened so fast. I was now a bounty hunter and my first task was to report to the station. I felt even weirder as I pinned on the golden star to my jacket lapel. I had to leave my old instincts behind in order to uphold the law. I didn't like it at first, but I knew that it was for the best. Just seeing that gang hang was good enough for me.