He Who Casts The Shadow

A quiet town named Charon loomed in the distance ahead, and the cowboy rode east into the dawn light.  The Cowboy had been riding for days and his mare was growing weaker as they pressed on triumphantly with little rest.  His horse left bloody hoof marks for what seemed like miles when they first fled the massacre, and tainted blood of his loved ones painted his saddlebags.  The villagers scurried away at the sight of an unknown rider, glancing at him then his saddlebags cursing whatever demons they thought had done his work.  He heard some folk mutter hollow threats.  But most just cursed the taxman, outlaws, ruthless business men, and the devil, then quickly resided into their homes.  The Cowboy hadn’t seen who’d done this work, but he was ready all the same to seek his vengeance.  He just needed help, and he knew where to get it. Vindictive thoughts flooded his mind and he cast aside the surfacing evil that had conjured such thoughts. Half a heart beat was all it took for The Cowboy to realize The Sheriff was standing at the end of the dusty and reddened street.  The sun hung low in the sky sitting directly behind The Sheriff, resting gracefully on his shoulders.  The Cowboy heard tales of this famed chieftain, but he figured them to only be fables.  Legends of his courage spread like venom through an unsuspecting artery.  The common folk claimed he was sent from god to restore order and justify these lawless lands.  Some say he was sculpted by chisel, worked and crafted from the hands of Hephaestus himself until lightning struck the stone one night and the sculpture split asunder and out walked the Sheriff, ready to wage war on chaos.  Outlaws claim he sold his soul to the devil after his wife was murdered, attending courageous affairs of a man whose family couldn’t be saved.  And he now walks the devil’s red road, abiding the emperor of hell and feeding him so he can see his sweet wife in his dreams.  Wiser men knew better than to say anything, for challenging men that never showed their cards and drank whiskey with their non lethal hand was a good way to get dealt out of the game.  His horse stood sturdy and well built for war, but the Sheriff sat strong and commanding.  The Cowboy rode to greet the Sheriff but the Cowboy met his looming shadow first.  The Cowboy reared his horse, and his horse stopped athletically on the spot.  The Sheriff hovered his hand over his holster. The Cowboy did the same, and he noticed the Sheriffs shadow flinch, yet the man casting the shadow made no such move. “Can you live knowing you shotta innocent man in the street without so much as hearing his story?”  The Cowboy said. “Self proclaimed innocence usually coincides with being guilty.  Or at least in my line of work”, muttered the Sheriff.  “Hear me out then,” said The Cowboy.  The Sheriff nodded in approval, and The Cowboy rode to meet him.  The Sheriff was a particularly large man with inscrutable wolfish eyes, that hid his intelligence and instinct.  The Cowboy collapsed to his knees when he finally finished re-telling the horrors that had been haunting him day and night.  The Cowboy surrendered his ego and put aside his pride, and knelt before the Sheriff as he awaited his judgement.  Tears rolled down The Cowboys cheeks until there was a small well beneath him.  The Sheriff stood still digesting his words, but the looming shadow moved infinitely quicker like it was starved and ready to devour it’s next meal.  The Cowboy couldn’t defend himself from such wicked speed.  The wispy hand pulled a revolver as dark as death itself and The Cowboy rose his head to meet it, and it fired.  The Sheriff dreamt the sweetest of dreams as he danced with his wife again that night.

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