Damon Blitz and The Treacherous Wolves traveled through the woods at a leisurely pace, the wolves played and sniffed around for prey while Damon reflected on recent events. He’d barely escaped with his life, and the wolves nearly turned on him. Weakness is for those who have a death wish, Damon thought. Especially when playing with creatures like The Treacherous Wolves. The moon shined bright in the sky and the bare trees swayed in the wind, the frigid air bit into his skin with a stinging sharpness. Only some of the stars were out, escaping the everlasting darkness of space to complement the moon’s radiant glory.
The only sounds were Damon’s uneven footsteps as The Treacherous Wolves moved in otherworldly silence, prowling for prey and keeping a keen eye on their master, smelling for signs of weakness, waiting for a reason to devour him should he fail to remain strong. The Wolves walked in a V formation, the alpha in front. Damon looked into the distance and spotted a little town. Finally, Damon thought. A resting place. He picked up his pace and the Wolves did the same, assuming their master has found juicy prey for them to devour.
The town was empty and desolate upon Damon’s arrival, the wind blew and kicked up dust, the lights were out in nearly every place except one: The Saloon. Damon sighed and cut his hand through the air and The Treacherous Wolves disappeared, he walked toward The Saloon. When Damon walked in, the place was empty. Not a soul in sight except the barman. He walked to the bar and ordered a whiskey straight and scanned the room. Two floors, the first one with twenty brown, round tables with four chairs each, a jukebox in the corner and a piano that looked like a relic in back. The ashy brown floorboards looked like they could use a good waxing and the bar wasn’t any better, Damon lifted his arms and they were caked in light gray dirt. He dusted himself off and shook his head in annoyance when the bartender came with the whiskey.
“Yeah, sorry about that.” The Bartender said, “I meant to clean the place up, but got sidetracked at the town meeting.”
Damon raised a brow.
The bartender looked at him more closely, “Wait,” he said, “you ain’t from around here, is you?”
“Just passing through,” Damon replied.
“Well,” the bartender said, “welcome to Deadman’s County.”
“A fitting name,” Damon said, “it’s just about as quiet as a cemetery.”
“That’s only because the residents turn in before dark,” The bartender started, “thing about this town is, at night, The Saber comes out and goes on a killing spree.”
“Yeah,” the bartender continued, “The Saber is a legend that’s been told here for centuries. He was a big man with fiery orange hair and scarlet eyes, his scalding gaze intense enough to burn through steel. Some say he was 6’5” while others say he was 7’0”, but that’s neither here nor there, anyway, The Saber used to roll into town every night, at about midnight, and start devouring people like a savage. Rippin’ their throats out, tearing their beating hearts from their chests, and just slashing about like a madman.
“There was one night, especially, right here in this saloon I’ll never forget. This place used to have a lot of regulars but, after that night, well,” the bartender gesture to the place in it’s entirety, “you know. Anyway, folks were making a ruckus like they usually do: women standing on tables and river-dancin’, men clappin’ and stompin’ their feet, hootin’ n’ hollerin’ and carryin’ on. Ronny, one of the workmen in town, was playin’ like a man possessed, I mean, his fingers were runnin’ away on that thing!” The bartender looked at the piano, “every time he played it made me forget that thing hadn’t been tuned in about twenty-five years.” He looked back to Damon, “Anyway,
“It was just like any other night, live with debauchery, when this large, broad-shouldered fella walks in. Now, the music and festivities didn’t stop, no, everybody kept on having a good time. The fella comes to the bar and orders the same thing you just did, whiskey straight. He knocks back about five of those without breaking a sweat and the other guys are starting to respect this stranger. He sits there for about an hour, taking in the festivities and letting the whiskey do its thing. Then, one of our regulars, Billy Weissman, gets to messin’ with him, lays a bear paw on the man’s shoulder and gives him a firm shake.
“‘Hey there, fella,’ Billy says, ‘how ‘bout a game of drink?’
“The man says why not and the saloon grinds to a halt. The women get off the tables and the men stop their hootin’ n’ hollerin’ and everyone gets to moving all but one table, setting up the glasses and bringing out the strongest whiskey we have called Black Death,” The bartender leans closer to Damon, “one sip of that’ll knock ya out, drink a whole bottle and it’ll put ya in the grave.”
The bartender’s dark brown eyes stare into Damon’s light hazel ones, the wind lows outside and the saloon doors swing wildly back and forth. The air grew cold and the lights flickered, the silence ensued for a long time as the two tested each other’s mettle.
“Now,” the bartender spoke, “comes the scary part.
“The two fellas go to the table and sit down, Billy pours the fellas cup first and then his. One of the scallywag’s kisses Billy on the cheek and shakes his shoulders, Billy cracks his neck and gets ready to handle some business. The fella on the other side is ice cold and stock still, only difference between him and a dead man is the slight movement of his shoulders. Billy picks up the glass and gestures to the fella to take the first drink, no bother explaining the rules beforehand as everyone knows there’s one rule: first one to fall loses. The fella looks at Billy with devious eyes and picks up the glass, he looks at the bottle reflectively and smells the contents, just getting’ it all in his system and whatnot, then chugs the thing down without hesitation.
“The crowd is impressed, strike that, astonished! Never had they seen anyone chug a glass of Black Death and stay woke enough to tell about it. Billy tried to hide the fact he bit off more than he could chew but his face betrayed him, the fella looks at him with those devious and fiery red eyes, like a demon when you sell your soul, and motions Billy to drink. Billy’s face gets a little pale and his deep blue eyes lose a bit of their color, one of the scallywag’s shakes his shoulders and tells him he’s got it and Billy shakes himself and gets fired up. He picks up the glass and everybody cheers, he hesitates for a moment, imperceptibly, but he does hesitate, then chugs down the glass of Black Death.
“The crowd goes wild and Billy’s grown himself a sack, the fella is still cool, calm, and collected like a crime boss. A little smirk comes over his face and those fiery eyes light up, the demon inside dances with glee and excitement at the prospect of beating someone on their home turf. He fella pours another glass of Black Death and drinks without remorse then pushes the bottle over to Billy. The crowd ooh’s and aah’s as the fella sits comfortably without a care in the world. He tilts his head to the left and hunches his shoulders, Billy looks at him like he ain’t human ‘cause he ain’t never see nobody drink two glasses of Black Death like that. I have, but that’s another story,
The Saloon doors swung open and Damon’s and the bartender’s attention snapped toward it. The bartender instinctively went for the revolver he kept under the counter, but Damon was unfazed, anyone that wanted to try something funny would get a more than rude awakening leading to the most agonizing sleep. The two looked at the door for a moment then turned away, the bartender continued,
“‘seems I’da done it this time,’ Billy says, ‘I ain’t never see nobody drink like that,’
“The fella just smirks at him and motions him to drink. Billy shakes himself and beats his chest then goes to pour another glass with shaky hands. It takes all his concentration and focus to complete this basic task. With the glass full and the crowd waiting in anticipation, Billy had a look on hi face that said he was having second thoughts. Never, in all my days, had I seen or known Billy to have that expression. Honestly, I always thought only one thought a day went through his mind and that thought was either sex or drink but, seems that I was wrong. Billy was having second thoughts, and third thoughts, and fourth thoughts. I think that was the first time I ever saw Billy think about what he was doing.
“The fella sits there with a satisfied smirk on his face and the demon is dancin’ even wilder in his eyes, Billy’s breathin’ is heavy and laborious and a cold sweat breaks from his forehead and temples like soldiers charging to war. Billy clutches the glass with a trembling hand and a veiny forearm, he starts to wobble and sway like trees in the wind, the fella’s smirk becomes more pronounced and begins morphing into a smile. Just when Billy looks like he’s had it, he slams a fit on the table, wills the glass to his lips and chugs it with the ferociousness of ten thousand bloodthirsty men.
“The crowd cheers, the scallywags jump up and down and the other fellas hoot n’ holler n’ rave as they all put their money on Billy, and he was coming through once again. Billy’s face is cast downward as he pushes the bottle to the fella and the crowd grows quiet. The fella sits there with a devious smile and demons dancin’ in his eyes, he hunches his shoulders then relaxes’em and sighs. He looks at the bottle of Black Death whiskey and takes it up with a cool hand, not a tremor detected, and pours the devil’s drink just as casually as you’d pour tea from a kettle then pushes his glass over to Billy while he takes the bottle, chugging it like mad!”