This story originally appeared in the zombie anthology Black Chaos II by Big Pulp Press.
Many a dime novel has imagined how Zarahemla Two Crows and I first met, and what prompted such odd bedfellows as us to embark on an adventure that would ultimately save the world from Armageddon. The truth is, Dear Reader, it all began in the late Winter of 1875, when my commanding officer took seriously ill, and attempted to devour my brains.
This, then, is how it really happened.
Having made the trek north to Fort Edmonton in the worst blizzard of the season, we found ourselves half-frozen upon our arrival at the great wooden gates. If the harsh weather were not trial enough, we had lost the greater part of our horses to a raiding party of Blackfeet who, fortunately for us, were more interested in our mounts than our scalps. It was late in the night, and exceedingly cold, made all the worse by a driving wind that blasted us relentlessly with blinding snow.
As advertised, the life of a North-West Mounted Policeman is never wont for adventure.
The night watchmen ushered us with great urgency to Rowand House, an impressive three-story structure dominating the center of the courtyard. I ordered water boiled and as many pelts and blankets as they could find. Several of the men were hypothermic and frostbitten, and I was forced to remove two of Sub-Constable Atwood’s toes and Sergeant Roark’s left ring finger, lest they become gangrenous.
After tended to my duties as surgeon, I took my leave of our commanding officer, Inspector Maclaren, and retired to the gentlemen’s mess. The cook’s boy had been roused upon our arrival, and was preparing our meal as I sat by the great fireplace in the large hall. By and by my comrades trickled in, taking their seats at large roughhewn tables. Soon the air was full with the haze of pipe smoke and the voices of rough men.
I had devoured one bowl of piping hot stew and was making headway into a second when the door flew open in a great gust of wind. To our surprise, a colossal brown bear festooned with icicles and heavy mats of snow ducked in under the lintel. Several of the men began shouting and drew their pistols. Constable Robins, given to a weak constitution, fainted dead away.
Slamming the door shut, the bear threw down the latch and stomped its boots. It glared, unconcerned, at the firearms pointed in its direction, and pulled open its giant maw to reveal the dark, ruddy face of a man with deep-set eyes that glinted like diamonds.
He scratched at his thick, gray-streaked beard, yawned, and tromped down toward the fireplace between rows of nervous troopers.
I daresay I had never seen a larger man, or a more peculiar one for that matter, and I doubt I ever will. From the top of his wild nest of black hair to the bottom of his heavy, nail-studded boots, he cut an imposing figure. His cloak, made from the skin of a grizzly, hung heavy across wide shoulders, and the room shook with every step he took. He passed me by without a glance and stood in front of the fire, warming his hands in silence.
The cook’s boy appeared beside him with a tankard of hot water, which the man took with a grunt of thanks. He threw back his cloak, revealing a great belt studded with high caliber brass cartridges and a brace of large revolving pistols, and sat down heavily on a small stool. It groaned in protest. He had singularly striking blue eyes, like glacier ice, set under a heavy outcropping of thick bone and expressive steel wool brows. If one had asked me to wager on the race of his forefathers, I would not have known where to place my bets.
After a minute the dusky man turned to me and pointed to the star on my lapel. “No disrespect, son, but ain’t you young for an Inspector?”
“Surgeon,” I replied, somewhat taken aback by the impudence of the man. “Well, assistant surgeon, specifically. I am attached to Inspector Maclaren’s troop.”
He extended a massive hand and said, “The name’s Two Crows. Zarahemla Two Crows.”
“Bonhomme,” I replied, watching as his hand swallowed mine in a bone-crushing grip. He pumped my arm vigorously, nearly dislocating my shoulder.
“Doctor Emmanuel Bonhomme,” I continued, recovering my tenderized appendage. “I’ve heard of you, Mr. Two Crows. You’re a scout for the detachment here, no?”
“On occasion,” he replied, pulling a long braid of chicory root out of his breast pocket. He clamped it between his teeth like a cigar. Firelight played across the shadowy creases in his boot-leather skin.
“We received word they had gone missing—that’s why we’re here. What happened?”
He chewed on the chicory thoughtfully before spitting the juice into the fire, where it sizzled and danced on the glowing grate. “Done gone got themselves kilt, I reckon,” he said.
“And you haven’t thought to search for them?”
He shot me a look that could have petrified a gorgon, and growled, “I twernt out in that godforsaken weather on a damn constitutional, Doc.”
“Look son, I’ve been cutting for sign since before your daddy was sucking on your grandmama’s teat. If what took those men could be tracked, I would’ve found it.”
“Whatever sort of mischief our comrades-in-arms befell, we’ll suss it out,” I said with confidence. “We always get our man.”
Two Crows leaned back and laughed so loud that the head of every trooper in the hall turned in our direction. “You’re stepping into territory beyond your ken,” he finally said, slapping me on the shoulder. “I wish you the best of luck. But if you value your hide, you’ll sit this one out.”
“We could use a seasoned tracker who knows the land,” I proffered.
Two Crows snorted. “Not for all the tea in China.”
Huddling deep into my beaver greatcoat, I clenched my jaw to stop the chattering of my teeth. Wind cut through fur and wool like a lance, freezing the very marrow of my bone. As Inspector Maclaren inspected our line of shivering troopers, the dappled mare under me pawed at the snow, her breath thick and heavy in the morning air.
If Maclaren felt the cold, he did not show it.
Satisfied, he waved his arm in a wide circle over his head and we rode out through Fort Edmonton’s main gate in single file. Thick fog was rolling up the banks of the mighty North Saskatchewan, enshrouding us as we traveled in silence. For miles all that could be heard was the creak of saddle leather and the jingle of our spurs. It was a ghostly world, beautiful in its serenity, and yet haunting in its stillness. It felt as if time itself were frozen.
The sun burned off the fog as we rode, and by mid-morning we ceased following the river and turned toward Father Lacombe’s small mission in the Sturgeon River valley.
It was Maclaren’s intention to question the priest about our missing comrades, and I was glad for the excursion, for it meant I could also see to the business of my immortal soul. From what I knew of Zarahemla Two Crows, it was an odd thing indeed for him to turn down any offer of employment. He was a hard old hunter, and had a reputation of reckless boldness. His warnings, which had at first perplexed me, proceeded to gnaw at my mind until I had developed a sense of foreboding that set my spirit on edge.
I am not a praying man by nature, but the West is a land steeped in mystery, and one’s faith in rational explanations can be easily shaken.
Bowing my head, I silently called upon Saint George to watch over us. We rode.
By noon we could see the small log chapel and outbuildings scattered among the tall pines. A thick blanket of snow had settled over the mission, and aside from a great flock of magpies flitting to and from the buildings and trees we discerned no activity. A chorus of high pitched, nasal squawks assaulted the silence as they bickered with one another in agitation. I traced a weak trail of chimney smoke high into the sky, and noticed ravens soaring in a great, lazy circle.
Maclaren saw them too, and gave the order to halt. We brought our horses into a line on a rise overlooking the mission.
“Don’t like the look o’ it, sir,” Sergeant Brown said. He spit into the snow and smoothed his mustache.
Maclaren creased his hawkish eyes as he watched the ravens. “Sergeant, take a man and secure the perimeter.”
Brown nodded to Constable Young as he pulled his Snider-Enfield carbine out of its saddle bucket. The two men broke formation and rode off into the trees silently.
“Keep sharp,” Maclaren said to the rest of us. He turned in the saddle and looked Constable Robins squarely in the eye. “And don’t get twitchy.”
I drew my Adams revolver as we started down the hill. Hippocratic Oath or not, our run-in with the whiskey traders at Fort Whoop Up had taught me the value of a serviceable sidearm, and gone were any compunctions I might have had against perforating a man bent on violence toward me. Indeed, I took down one or two of the rascals myself in the skirmish, much to my satisfaction.
We entered the mission grounds at a slow trot, fanning our line out in a wide crescent. Save for the rough chorus of magpies, all was still as death itself as we passed by the shuttered outbuildings. Corporal Franks, riding beside me, gave a low whistle and motioned with a bob of his chin. I followed his gaze to the corpse of a young Métis woman half buried in the snow. The birds had been working on the body for some time now, but something much larger had been at her first. While she was hardly my first cadaver, the young lady was a strong contender for the most gruesome. And she was far from the worst thing I would witness before this day was over.
Robins had dismounted, and was standing beside his horse. He looked at us with panic in his eyes, gagged, and promptly lost his breakfast on his moccasins. Franks laughed and rode past him, around the woodshed and into the church courtyard. I heard him cry out, and spurred my horse forward.
‘Massacre’ is a flaccid word compared to what met my eyes when I rode into the courtyard.
Franks was wiping the contents of his stomach from his lips with the back of a glove. He swore and looked at me in horror. He was a hard man, and had taken part in more than his share of bloody business, but I understood his terror. It filled me too. This was not the work of men.
The frozen corpses of women and children filled the courtyard, some torn limb from limb, others ripped wide open from neck to navel. Black from the cold, with their faces locked in rictus, mothers and babes stared at us with hollow eyes. Our horses shifted nervously at the smell of so much death.
Maclaren backed up his horse, revealing a white man in a red jacket crouched over a body. His face was soaked in blood, and he looked at us with wild eyes as he sat on his haunches, grasping his victims entrails in fingers stained with gore. In front of him lay the priest, flayed open like a book. The young Mountie snarled.
“Appears we found one of our boys,” Maclaren said. He looked at me. “What do you make of this, Doc?”
I dismounted and walked over to them, swallowing the bile in my throat. Years of medical training took over as I surveyed the grizzly scene. To function as a physician, it is necessary to see people as the meat and bone we are, and repress instinctual sympathies.
The crouching Mountie barked at me as I approached. Maclaren was covering him with a carbine, and I cocked my pistol. We stood and watched him for a few minutes. Apparently satisfied that we did not come to steal his meal, the crazed young man resumed feeding on the old priest’s bowels.
“Well?” Maclaren asked, hopping out of his saddle.
“I’ve read of some cases of cannibalistic hysteria,” I said, motioning to the bodies littering the courtyard. “But nothing on this scale, or this . . . violent.”
“He couldn’t have done it alone,” Maclaren said. “You think he found them like this? Maybe bears? This poor devil’s crazed with hunger. It’s not beyond a starved man to scavenge on the dead.”
“Weren’t animals,” Franks said, riding up to us. “No claw marks, no tracks. This were done with the bare hands of men.”
“Men literally tearing woman and children apart?” Maclaren shook his head. “No, there’s something else going on here.” He put his rifle in the saddle bucket. Walking up beside the young man he said, “What’s your name, son?”
A snarl through barred teeth dripping with blood was the young man’s reply.
Maclaren bent over and shouted in his face. “I said, what’s your name, son?”
The young man pounced suddenly and tackled Maclaren, clawing at his face with broken and bloodied nails. The two slipped on frozen gore and rolled in crimson snow. Maclaren fought him off with one hand while he struggled to draw his pistol. Franks and I circled the melee, trying to get a clear shot, but they were moving too erratically. The young man gnashed his teeth inches from Maclaren’s face. The smell of his breath must have been overwhelming. Maclaren retched. He kneed the man in the groin and stomach, but to no apparent effect.
Finally freeing his sidearm, Maclaren shot the young man in the chest repeatedly until they both collapsed. Panting, he sat up and spit into the snow. I rushed over to help him up, but the insane man’s eyes flashed open and he dug his teeth deep into Maclaren’s arm, tearing away a large chunk of flesh. My superior grunted in pain, and bashed the young man’s skull in with the butt of his pistol until it was a featureless mess of brains and splintered bone.
Franks clucked his tongue. “Well, if that don’t take the rag off the bush.”
“Dodgasted,” Maclaren cussed.
“Come on sir, let’s get that arm taken care of,” I said, helping him stand.
“And where the in tarnation were you two?” Maclaren barked. “That maniac darn near took my face off.”
Franks shrugged and said, “You was rasslin’ around like pirooting bobcats. Couldn’t get a clear shot.”
I pulled out my medical bag. “Let me see to that arm.”
Maclaren composed himself as I rolled up his sleeve and tended to his wound. It was a deep, ragged hole in the flesh of his forearm, coloring rapidly with infection. I flushed it with whiskey from my flask and gave the rest to Maclaren to steady his nerves.
“I’ll have to sew this up, sir.” I said. “It’s going to hurt.”
He dismissed my warning with a grunt and took a swig from my flask.
The other men were hanging around the edges of the courtyard, jumping at shadows. Maclaren looked up at Franks, “Get a detail to collect all the bodies. Put them in the woodshed. We’ll torch it. And search the buildings for survivors.”
“You know there ain’t no survivors,” Franks said.
“Probably not.” Maclaren gritted his teeth as my needle and catgut thread snagged on his flesh. “But idle men get twitchy. Best to give them something to do.”
Franks flipped a salute off the brim of his fur cap.
“So, what did you call this, Doc?” Maclaren said, looking at the pulverized young Mountie at his feet. “Cannibalistic what?”
“That make a man survive multiple forty-five-caliber bullets in the heart at point blank range?”
“So what’s your prognosis?”
“Sir,” I said, “I have no bloody clue.”
He frowned and I finished bandaging his arm with iodine gauze. “You’ll have to keep that clean,” I said. “It’s already showing signs of infection.”
“We’ll just have to keep a close eye on it, sir.”
Maclaren looked over my shoulder and nodded. “Looks like Brown found something.”
The Sergeant rode into the courtyard with Constable Young; between them was non-other than Zarahemla Two Crows. I nodded to the giant man in the bearskin cloak and he grinned back, spitting chicory juice from between his teeth.
Brown saluted Maclaren and paused, taking in the grizzly scene at the Inspector’s feet. “We found more like that, westward of here, sir,” he said in a voice as flat and cold as the Alberta prairie.
“You done gone got yourself nibbled on,” Two Crows said, motioning to Maclaren’s arm.
“Just a scratch,” Maclaren said.
“You’re a dead man walking, sure as I was born.”
“It’s hardly a mortal wound,” I said.
Two Crows shrugged. “Infected already, innit?”
“I dressed the wound myself, he’ll be fine.”
“By nightfall you’ll be like this ‘un,” Two Crows said to Maclaren, pointing at the dead Mountie. “Gnawing on your friends like so much raw beef.”
“What are you saying?” I asked. “Are you implying this is contagious?”
“Fiddlesticks,” Maclaren said. “This is clearly the effects of hypothermia and starvation—resulting in . . . er . . . cannibalistic hysterectomy—ain’t that right, Doc?”
“Hysteria,” I corrected. “That’s one hypothesis. There could be other—”
Maclaren cut me off and said to Brown, “Where did you find this crazy old half-breed anyway?”
“A large group left here on foot this morning. He was riding their trail, braining the survivors they left behind with a hatchet.”
“It was the only way to be sure,” Two Crows added.
“In that case, why isn’t this man under arrest, Sergeant?”
“On account of the ‘survivors’ trying to tear our throats out.”
“Bullet ‘tween the eyes should work too,” Two Crows mused, “but I reckon it a waste of ammo.”
“What in the Sam Hill is going on here?” Maclaren asked no one in particular.
“Recruiting,” Two Crows replied, as if that explained everything.
From the way we all stared at him, I guess he figured we didn’t catch his meaning. He spit a long stream of chicory juice into the snow and snorted. He looked at us long and hard before saying, “You take any thought to why all the dead are women and children? Where are all the men? Asides from the handful of stragglers what tried to eat your faces, that is.”
I can honestly say the thought had not crossed my mind. Maclaren and Brown looked equally perplexed.
“Someone . . . something . . . is perverting the menfolk,” Two Crows said slowly, like he was talking to stupid children. “Building an army of darkness. Soulless living corpses. The walking dead. Foul creatures fueled by human flesh—”
“Oh for Pete’s sake,” Maclaren cut him off. “Save us the melodrama.”
Brown looked concerned. “Creatures? What kind of creatures? Like . . . Wendigo?”
“No,” Two Crows said in earnest. “Something much worse.”
“He’s pulling your leg, Sergeant.” Maclaren mounted his horse. He rode up beside Two Crows and said, “Ride back to the Fort, half-breed, and stay out of this. Stop spooking my men with your mystic nonsense. You hear me?”
Two Crows shrugged and gave a lazy salute in reply. He spurred his horse without a word, and as he rode by he shot me a look that was equal parts amused and pitying. I watched him disappear into the forest and shivered, but not from the cold.
We tracked the trail of shuffling footprints westward. Franks estimated that it was made by two score individuals on foot, and at least one on horseback. Our quarry was moving at a rapid pace, and by mid-afternoon we were no closer to overtaking them. The sun, a ruddy disk on the horizon, cast long shadows behind us, for winter nights come early in the northern latitudes. As it sank behind the distant foothills of the Rocky Mountains, a bitter wind grew across the open plains, kicking up flurries of snow that blinded our horses and obscured the path. We were soon forced to stop and make camp.
Inspector Maclaren gave the order to dismount, and Franks grumbled that by morning the snow would hide the tracks. However, there was no going forward, and with the temperature falling so rapidly, any attempt to do so would be suicide. I attempted to helpfully point out that we could not see the trail any longer anyway, as the driving snow had reduced visibility to a few mere yards and nightfall was rapidly closing in around us. Franks repaid my observations with an obscene gesture and a handful of curses.
We dug shelters deep into the leeward side of a snow bank and pitched canvas lean-tos overhead to protect us from the flurries. Sergeant Brown had the foresight to include one of the newfangled “Rob Roy” alcohol stoves in his kit, and proceeded to boil weak coffee for the men. We had no fires, as the largest timber that could be found were twigs perhaps as thick as a man’s finger, and so felt ourselves greatly blessed to clasp a warm mug between freezing hands.
After I had seen to thawing myself out, I lit a small hurricane lamp and found Inspector Maclaren huddled in his dugout. He smiled weakly in greeting when I crawled in beside him.
“Fine evening, Doc.”
“Beau temps, indeed. Let’s have a look at that arm, eh?”
His face was pallid and feverish under the glow of my lantern, and he ground his teeth in pain as I rolled back his sleeve. Black veins spider-webbed out from under the bandage, creeping up the entire length of his arm. I carefully unwrapped the gauze, and was immediately assaulted by the most putrid smell imaginable.
“Well, don’t mince words, Doc. How’s it look?”
I shook my head and wiped away the oozing asparagus-colored pus while my stomach heaved like a ship at sea. I am not one to become nauseated easily, but the rancid, cloying odor was testing even my limits. “This is bad,” I said. His eyes met mine. After a long pause, I added, “I don’t think I can save your arm.”
“We’ll have to put a tourniquet on to keep the infection from your heart. At daybreak we return to Edmonton so I can treat you properly.”
“You mean so you can lop it off.”
“Goddamn, Doc. You have god-awful bedside manner.”
“I don’t believe I’ve heard you blaspheme before,” I said, genuinely shocked.
He shrugged and frowned. “Just found out I’m going to lose my arm. Maybe it’s a good time to start.”
For some reason this struck me as incredibly amusing, and we both laughed until tears were streaming down our faces. It was morbid and unbecoming, but sometimes laughter can be the best medicine. I dried my eyes and finished the unpleasant business of cleaning the festering wound, sprinkling it liberally with phenol and binding it with fresh iodine gauze. After I was done, I gave him a morphine tablet for the pain, and tied off his arm above the bicep to retard the infection.
“Not exactly what you signed up for is it?” Maclaren said.
“Eh? Sawing bones and treating young men for venereal disease? No, not particularly my dream when I entered the Université Laval.”
He laughed. “Tell you what, Doc. Let’s find who—or what—did this to our men, and then you can do whatever you want with my blasted arm.”
“It would be suicide for you to leave this unattended.”
“You know I’m not one to let that stop me.”
“Discretion is the better part of valor, is it not?”
“The difference between discretion and cowardice is a matter of perspective,” he argued. With a weak smile he added, “And besides, like you’re always saying, ‘We always get our man!’“
“We will, in due time.” I clasped his shoulder firmly. “But first, my friend, you must get well. I’ll get my kit, and stay the night with you.”
He harrumphed and turned over, wrapping himself tight in his buffalo skin.
Crawling back out in the freezing gale, I finished conducting my rounds. The elements will maim or kill a man as fast as anything, and I was taking no chances that night. We already had several casualties laid up at Fort Edmonton, and I would be damned if I lost any more on my watch.
After I was satisfied that the men were as safe from the elements as could be in our makeshift bivouac, I fetched my haversack and sleeping roll. The horses were huddled together miserably, and, taking pity on the wretched beasts, I detoured to feed them a bag of oats. The harsh wind was finally abating, and the flurries had calmed, revealing a fiery curtain of green and red shimmering in the northern sky like a great dragon stretched across the firmament.
I was thus lost in reverie when I heard the first scream.
The horses started and nearly trampled me in their panic. It was an unearthly howl, unlike anything I had heard before. It was the animal cry of a man torn limb from limb.
Holding my lantern aloft, I stumbled through the heavy snowdrifts. Sergeant Brown’s shelter had caught fire from his cook stove, and I watched in horror as he stumbled out covered in flames and holding his throat, which had been quite literally ripped out. Great fountains of blood pulsed from between his fingers, and he fell, writhing in the snow. Inspector Maclaren stumbled out after him, clutching an arm that had been violently separated from its owner. The Inspector was shirtless and awash head to foot in blood. He looked around with wild eyes as he gnawed on the limb.
Corporal Franks burst out of his dugout with his Adams revolver drawn, followed by Young and Robins, both grasping their Snider-Enfields like lifelines. Maclaren saw them and threw his head back, wailing inhumanly. Without hesitation Franks unloaded all five rounds into his chest, and Young hit him squarely in the shoulder, utterly destroying it in a shower of blood and bone fragments. Robins’ shot went wild and I heard it whistle past my ear. To this day I cannot fathom how he missed by so wide a margin, for I was coming up behind him.
Maclaren stumbled, moaning, his arm hanging limply at his side.
Franks and Young were scrambling to reload. Robins stood rooted to the ground, paralyzed with fear. I had my carbine, but could not get a clear shot, as they were between our homicidal commander and me.
Shrieking like a banshee, Maclaren charged them. He reached Robins first, and with a swipe of his hand took most the poor boy’s face clean off. I could hear the vertebrae snapping from where I stood, and saw Robins collapse, dead on the spot. Franks drew his Bowie knife and lunged, driving it deep into Maclaren’s gut, and the two fell to the ground, grasping and stabbing and clawing at one another.
After fumbling several cartridges, Young managed to get one loaded. He stood over the two men, and fired into the both of them in panic.
Franks slid off of Maclaren, clutching the hole in his chest and gasping for air. The Inspector rose slowly, gritting his teeth. Frank’s knife had eviscerated him, and his bowels spilled out around his feet. Young fumbled another cartridge, loaded, raised his rifle into Maclaren’s face, and fired point blank.
The impact of the .577 caliber round snapped Maclaren’s head back, disintegrating one side of his jaw. He cracked his neck like a prizefighter and looked Young straight in the eye. In a blur of motion he caught him by the scalp, and ripped out the young man’s jugular with his teeth.
Maclaren tossed him aside and looked at me.
We stood a short ten paces apart, and I didn’t fancy my chances of running. He moaned softly. His tongue lolled out from the massive hole in his jaw, dripping with blood and saliva. He ambled toward me.
I braced my rifle and tried to steady my nerves. At that range, one would think it an impossible thing to miss, but straw men and a friend intent on devouring you are vastly different things. There would be no time to reload if I missed. I was shaking from cold and fear. Conditions were not, how would you say, ideal? I sighted on his chest, as we were trained, but as I was about to pull the trigger I remembered what Two Crows had said, and at the last moment I raised my sights between his eyes, and fired.
Inspector Maclaren buckled, and fell.
I skirted around the motionless body carefully, and checked each of my comrades. All were dead. Collapsing in the snow, I stared at the carnage blankly. In retrospect, I know I was slowly freezing to death, but I felt nothing at the time. I truly believe I would have sat there until I perished, if Two Crows had not found me.
“Nice shooting, Doc,” he said, walking his horse into our camp. My dappled mare followed behind them.
I nodded, looking at nothing in particular.
“Yup. Got to brain ’em.” He held a large lantern up high as he surveyed the camp. Lowering it to look in my face he said, “It’s the only way to be sure.”
I watched him as he went around to my fallen companions, giving each a solid blow to the brainpan with his hatchet. When he was done he set the lantern on the ground and sat beside me, wiping blood-spatter off his brow with a bandanna.
“So, what’s next, Doc?”
“What’s your plan?”
“Plan? What plan?”
“Way I see it, you can sit here and freeze to death.” He counted off on a massive finger. “Or you can come with me.” He counted off another finger. “And catch the son of a bitch who started this whole mess.”
I sat beside the old hunter while he chewed on chicory. We sat for a long time, the two of us. Eventually he broke the silence. “Doc, my ass is done near frozen off. Iffin’ you pick option number one, I ain’t joining you. Just want to be clear about that.”
“Merde,” I said.
“So you’ve made up your mind?”
“Putain de merde.” I stood up and straitened my crimson Norfolk jacket. “What the hell. Let’s go. I am an officer in the North-West Mounted Police, and we always get our man!”
Two Crows heaved himself upright and, handing me my horse’s reigns, said, “That’s the spirit, Doc.”
We mounted and looked out to the western horizon. Dawn was breaking, and the sun painted the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains a glorious red.
Spurring our horses, we rode toward them with the sunrise at our backs.