Summer, 1874 / Kasher Point, Wyoming
Yellow haze from an extended drought hung like the softer fog of velvet
swirl to reach out and gently caress the outer edges of town where a
phantom rider on horseback suddenly appeared as if spawned from its very
With what little traffic there was to tangle with easily avoided,
anything that moved simply managed to disturb yet more of the dust that
had already been kicked up from around them by the shuffle of boot, hoof
and wagon wheel alike; which in turn stuck like a fine coating of grit
to the back of most everyone's throat that may have been forced to spend
as little time that they could out in the heat.
Those that happened to notice the stranger's arrival also made note of
the polished badge with its eight point star clearly pinned to his vest
before they quickly moved to alert others nearby that a federal lawman
had arrived with whatever trouble such a visit might have otherwise
brought with it.
From the relative comfort of his saddle, Marshal Augustus Poe watched as
two men bathed thick with sweat carried a limp body of another out
through the open doors of the Agarose, one at the shoulders of the
unfortunate soul while the other carried a pant leg bent at the knee in
The two-story clapboard tavern had long been known for its rough trade
in both gambling and cheap liquor alike; along with several rather
tawdry and curvaceous young women who were made available and ready to
tend to most any pleasures of the passing traveler and local alike; but
only if they were willing to pay their price with as little quibble or
complaint as possible or might otherwise have been tolerated by
Poe had also made note of several other dead bodies as they lay quiet in
the dirt nearby while he gently guided his palomino along the main
street of Kasher Point, Wyoming.
Long hair bleached white by the sun; his skin had become dark and
creased from the soft caress of wind as he'd often traveled the open
plains; while in a confounding turn, thicker wisps of a beard that he'd
grown of late had somehow managed to show up dark and red with gray
mixed in throughout as if just to annoy him.
Unfortunately, this new look had also managed to give those that he may
have met in passing the idea that he was a much older man than he
actually was; while one look into the dark pearl gray of his eyes showed
hard experience mixed with layered depths of grit and determination.
On more than one occasion he'd considered a clean shave, but in the end
had figured it best to wait and see how the beard grew in before he made
any more such radical changes as he already had.
Merit from an otherwise stalwart reputation of honesty and
incorruptibility as a lawman had often preceded him where he traveled;
which in turn aptly cut into the amount of prospective challenges to his
authority that may have been otherwise found, along with his willingness
to demonstrate prowess with both pistol and long gun alike that was sure
to have made it far less likely that others may have still chose to draw
against him when pushed.
The farther that he went as he made his way along main street, he
couldn't help but watch as the town around him desperately tried to
clean itself up as best it could from under what remained of the late
An unwavered stretch of heat and lack of rain would likely continue to
keep the local undertaker busy until winter, as all it ever took was a
spark; flared tempers with pistols drawn that more often than not led to
dire circumstances for all involved one way or the other.
Dirt was dirt; it didn't really care if you were right or wrong when it
covered your coffin.
From the looks of things, he figured to have missed the most recent
action at the Agarose by less than a day if not two while he took note
of several women mixed in with the men as they lay bloody yet peaceful
in wait for their turn with the rough pine boxes that would serve as
their final rest.
A lanky dark-haired man, his face ravaged by pockmarks, wore a black top
hat and coat as he directed the efforts of others while they worked
along the street.
He carried the look of your average undertaker - tall, thin and gaunt
with the perpetual frown that came with a job that no one ever seemed to
enjoy when it involved tending to the dead.
Dark eyes beneath the brim of the top hat measured Poe as he passed by;
not that many undertakers worth their salt ever missed a new arrival who
might otherwise have found themselves in need of their business sooner
than later - particularly so, if the newcomer just happened to be
wearing a badge as this one clearly was.
With a reluctant sigh once the newcomer had passed, the undertaker also
realized that he'd probably need a whole lot more pine by nightfall; it
was just the way of the west as far as he was concerned. Especially when
lawmen suddenly appeared out of the blue like this one had.
It wasn't long before Poe found yet more evidence of the recent
Hot lead from whatever it was that made such tedious work for the grave
diggers had vented holes haphazardly across the outer walls and tall
doors of the Agarose.
It must have been one hell of a gunfight, something that he was more
than happy not to have been a part of.
As he dismounted at the rail in front of the Sheriff's office, Poe
watched while several flatbed wagons rolled by on their way to collect
more boxes. Too much pine for one hearse to handle meant livery wagons
would have to haul off the dead.
Each driver sat hunched over his reins as if they already regretted what
it was that they would have to do.
Not the first time he'd seen it happen and probably not the last.
With his horse now properly tied to the rail, Poe stepped up and onto
the boardwalk as he made his way toward the sheriff's open door.
"Took you long enough, just sent the god dammed telegraph a couple hours
ago." The familiar deep basso voice of Franklin Tombs rumbled out to
greet him from within. "Hell, Poe, you should have at least warned me
that you were coming. I haven't had time to properly hide the whiskey or
lock away the women folk."
"Good to see you too, Franklin." Poe replied easily with a smile as he
walked into the single room office to shake the beefy hand of his old
friend once again.
"Though from what I hear of the women around here, they're no better
than the weak lemon water that's rumored to serve as whisky for the
common traveler or I might be offended by such a crude and callous
Franklin Tombs was the man responsible for having convinced Poe to join
up as a Marshal, although Poe himself had often referred to it more as a
hard twist of the arm rather than simple conviction that may have caused
him to pick up and wear a badge as he had.
Together they'd roamed the territories for several years before Tombs
suddenly up and quit to take the Sheriff's job that he now held. Once
settled, he'd also married a local woman last Poe had heard and managed
to produce a couple of children to chase after.
At a few notches above six-foot, Tombs thick muscled build hinted at
someone who could easily have wrestled a bull to the ground bare handed;
an ample bulk that also often served as simple intimidation rather than
the twin six shooters that he wore - which in turn easily resolved most
any problem that may have otherwise come up amongst the locals without
having drawn any blood in the process.
Poe also noticed that since he'd last been out this way his friend had
lost much of his dark brown hair. Thinned remnants that remained now
wrapped around the bald spot atop his head and showed speckled hints of
Not one to waste time with idle conversation, Tombs pulled out a
half-empty bottle of whiskey and two shot glasses which, in turn, lead
to several toasts to old friends and the various badges that they'd worn
along the way.
Once they'd finished, Poe put his glass down and looked at his friend.
"You mentioned something about the telegraph earlier. While I hate to
take credit for showing up to answer it, truth be told, I just happened
to have been riding through the area and wanted to stop by to give my
regards only to discover a whole lot of dead folks out there in the dirt
just now … care to tell me what the hell happened?"
"You remember old Henry Plummer?" Tombs asked, before he tipped his head
back to drain the last of his shot.
"The Sheriff of Bannack City back in the early sixties?" Poe replied
with some surprise. "Wasn't he strung up with a couple of his deputies
around January of sixty-four?"
"That they were. Along with several other men, whose collective guilt is
still debated to this day …" Tombs sat forward to rest his elbows on
the desk, "… there was also a Mexican greaser by the name of Pizanthia
who was killed three ways to Sunday by the same mob."
Tombs paused to pour another shot before he sucked it down as well.
Given the nature of the work going on in the street of his town, Poe
couldn't blame the man for having found comfort from a bottle.
He'd probably known most of the people who'd died.
"Trapped the son of a bitch in his cabin only to use a god dammed
howitzer on him when he refused to come out and surrender all peaceful
like. Damn fools went even further and emptied their guns into him
before they strung him up half-dead.”
Tombs shook his head at the thought.
"Morons then shot him full of yet more lead once his feet left the
ground simply because he was stubborn enough not to have been dead in
the first place, now ain't that something to consider as charitable on
He paused as he sat at back in his chair which released a loud creak of
protest as it shifted beneath his bulk.
"Burned him up and what was left of his place after that …the damn
cowards. The day that I shoot a man that I had just strung up with a
hundred rounds or more of lead ..."
The big man angrily downed another shot before he pushed the empty glass
away with clear disgust.
"I take it that greaser had something to do with your problem today?”
Poe suggested with a smile, while his old friend frowned at him. “Kind
of hard to do when you're dead and all like that, isn't it?"
Tombs simply cleared his throat as he gently shook his head.
"A man in town who once worked out that way …” the nature of his
smile as he spoke unsettled Poe just a bit as he listened, “… and
knew of Pizanthia and the whore that he once kept: white woman about
twenty-five to thirty, long auburn red hair and skin that bordered upon
pale to anyone that saw her, who also went by the name Medusa. Damn
greaser whored her out when he could and apparently made plenty of good
money doing it. Perhaps too good, given the company that she kept … if
you know what I mean."
Poe patiently waited for him to continue, having politely refused
another shot when it was offered before his friend simply capped the
bottle and pushed it aside.
"Now it would appear that this whore was always around the greaser's
cabin working her business, day and night …” He paused for a brief
moment as he recalled the events, “… so just before the mob that
finally came for him arrived, someone who'd kept a watchful eye on the
greaser saw her go into the cabin with him all cozy like while neither
hide nor hair of her was found once they'd dragged him out of the place
kicking and screaming, or even after they'd burned it right down to the
"I'm guessing from what you've just told me that you've run across
Pizanthia's whore recently?"
Tombs nodded as he glanced out the window at the failing light. "Night
before last, Graven pulled in with a new stable full and set them right
to work. One of them was a white woman who had long auburn red hair and
skin that bordered upon pale even for this neck of the woods; called
herself Medusa as well, when asked."
The big man paused a moment as he thought things through before he
"To fully understand just how strange this is going to sound, you'll
have to listen with an open mind for a bit."
"Sure." Poe readily agreed, having clearly sensed the seriousness of his
friend's mood as somehow the strangeness of his story appeared to have
made even him uneasy as he'd told it; something that Poe had never
witnessed in his friend before now - clear traces of fear, uncertainty
Even while during the darkest days of their previous adventures
together, the big man had more often than not shown himself as someone
who couldn't be easily intimidated.
Apparently, that is, until now.
"Two slick looking, middle-aged gambler types with wire rimmed
spectacles came in on yesterday's stage." Tombs continued with solemn
"Pin striped suits, fancy vests, waxed mustaches and bowlers like those
you see in the big cities. They set about trying to sliver off a few
shares of the locals pocket change with a few card tricks. All was going
well until they got called on it and a fight broke out."
Tombs rose to his feet and began to move back and forth behind his desk
as he spoke; which reminded Poe of when the big man had paced by the
campfire while talking strategy when they'd been on the trail of a
"Now, even though they usually don't allow weapons when gambling, that
hasn't seemed to stop anyone from carrying one. Hayden Cork and Miller
Thompson both pulled their guns, as did each of the gamblers with shots
exchanged all around. Dorsey Levin managed to duck down and watched as
one gambler took bullets from both men. Apparently he then returned the
favor by killing Thompson outright and wounding Cork without having
slown down one bit."
Tombs stood behind his chair with both hands on the back.
"All hell broke loose after that and it became a free for all. Everyone
who had a gun pulled it out and started blasting. Those that survived
recalled both gamblers having been hit more than once and never having
flinched because of it. Most, if not all, of them also claimed that
their eyes began to glow dark red or some other godforsaken color once
they'd been hit."
The sound of horses as they strained to pull a heavy wagon echoed in
through the doorway while they passed the office just outside.
It was a bit unsettling to know what it was that the wagon might have
carried to make such weight.
"Medusa …" Tombs continued somberly, "… who was upstairs with a
client, apparently came out when the fireworks started; wearing a
flowing red dress and open bodice with a shawl. She must have startled
someone by her sudden appearance at the rail as they shot her square in
the chest. Damn whore then managed to fall over that rail only to
collapse an otherwise perfectly good card table flat down to the ground
when she landed on it; spilling chips, cards and liquor over
Poe waited out his friend's pause as he pictured the scene.
"Funny thing is that apparently she didn't stay down long before she got
up and started slashing people with a straight razor. Craziest thing
that I've heard as of yet was when Wild Bill Davenport managed to get a
straight bead on her with his pistol. She just walked up to him and
batted his gun away to one side before she slit his throat without Wild
Bill having made much of an effort to stop her. He just stood there and
let her do it. She finished him with one swipe. Ear to ear, caused quite
Poe almost pointed out that it wasn't all that uncommon for whores to
carry razors in case of trouble - they were easy to hide and quick to
use - but he also realized his friend would have known that just as he
"Bout that time, both gamblers and the whore Medusa must have decided to
skedaddle their way out and grabbed a couple more whores for insurance.
Saddled up and were on their way out by the time I showed up with my
Tombs smiled and looked strangely amused.
"Managed to get a shot off at the last of them but seems I missed and
hit the whore that was sitting in front of the gambler who'd held her
tight. Not long after, he left her to lie stone dead in the road once
she'd fallen from the horse. It would seem that I haven't lost my touch
with long guns any."
Poe didn't even try to hide his confusion. "You got her but missed him?"
"Somehow I managed to get a bullet to go around him and through her,
back to front while he held her tight against him."
"That's not possible and you know it Franklin."
Tombs pointed an index finger at Poe. "Iknewyou'd say that. So, I did a
little checking around her clothing and body. Found blood on the back of
the dress near her wound that hadn't soaked through from the inside to
get to where it was."
"Meaning the rider was hit as well."
"Yep, never flinched or slowed down one bit. Just let her fall to the
ground as he rode off and didn't miss a beat. A whore's a whore,
butg'ddamnif they're still not women folk underneath."
"Alright, what else is there that I should know about?" Poe asked
"Afraid I'm gonna have to show you the rest. Let's take a walk … shall
There were fewer bodies laid out on the street and several boxes that
patiently waited for pickup when they passed through the doors of the
Tables and chairs lay overturned and broken, spread haphazardly around
the room, while broken glass crunched beneath their feet as they walked
through the mess.
Poe stopped at one particular table that lay completely flat; covered as
it was with poker chips and coins splattered with blood.
From the rest of the mess around him, he turned to look up at the rail
on the second floor balcony as he considered the woman who'd fallen from
"She got up after a bullet nailed her square and fell from way up
there?" he asked with some surprise. "You're absolutely sure that she
was hit before she fell?"
Tombs nodded as he too considered the balcony rail.
"According to those who witnessed it, the shot put her back hard against
the wall where she stumbled forward and just up and fell over the rail,
not unlike a sack of potatoes as one of the witnesses put it rather
bluntly, I might add."
With his hands rested upon his gun belt, Poe slowly turned to take in
more of the damage around them.
He found blood splattered and mixed to pool with dirt and other debris
along several walls along with one particular area of the floor that was
several shades darker than the wood around it.
Unfortunately familiar with the result of someone having bled out from a
slit throat, combined with the oval shape of the darkened wood, he knew
it could only have come from one source.
"I take it that's where she pulled her razor?"
Tombs nodded, as he moved to stand just outside the darkened area. "Slit
his throat, held his head to one side by the hair and kissed him on the
neck as his blood gushed out against her, or so I've been told."
"You've got … to be joking." Poe offered incredulously.
"Nope, and that's not all of it; saved the best part for last." The big
man replied as he moved to take the side stair up to the second floor
without further explanation.
Once Poe managed to catch up, he realized what his friend had meant.
The body of a dead man lay face up and naked on the bed in front of
them, brown eyes open and blank; from what could seen at first blush,
the dark tan of his muscled body offered some evidence that he must have
worked long hours under the sun.
Little or no facial hair or stubble of beard growth suggested a recent
shave, while long tangled brown hair flowed over the pillow around his
Several articles of clothing, a pair of boots and a gun belt lay piled
haphazardly over a nearby chair.
Tombs moved to one side and gestured for Poe to take a closer look while
he watched and waited.
For his cursory exam, without having touched the body Poe looked for
wounds in the usual places as he worked his way up from below the dead
man's waist, across his lower abdomen, over his chest and up to his
From what he'd seen or otherwise heard of in passing about situations
not entirely unlike this one, more often than not when a whore chose to
kill or otherwise maim her client for one reason or another, she'd
usually done so once her victim had been properly distracted through
unfettered access to softer far more vulnerable areas of his anatomy
that they'd exposed for far different reasons than what she'd done with
A quick flick or two of the razor would normally have been enough to
incapacitate most any man who might have otherwise tried to chase them
However, other than several assorted scars from long healed wounds, not
a mark on the otherwise healthy looking body seemed unusual until he got
to the neck area.
Poe leaned in to get a closer look at wounds of some sort along the
right side of the man's throat where small rivulets of blood had trailed
down to the pillow beneath his head.
Ever so gently, he reached out to turn the dead man's head to the side
so that he could get a closer look at his wounds. From initial
observation, he was startled to realize that from what he could see of
them, they clearly looked to be some sort of bite mark; with distinct
pairings of puncture wounds top and bottom not unlike that of a snake
From the loose feel of the dead man's head as Poe gently turned it back
and forth several times, his neck appeared to have somehow been broken
"Franklin, as funny as this may have been on your part to set up, you
and I both know that vampires simply do not exist. Care to explain what
the hell really happened here before this prank gets out of hand?"
His smile died on his lips when he found that his friend had remained
solemn and was not smiling back.
Tombs simply reached to pull the toothpick that he'd been chewing on and
tossed it out the door.
"Had no idea that you'd be showing up like you did today Poe. Found him
like this not long after the fight. As best we can figure, Medusa tried
to dismount when she heard the first few shots and when the dead man
objected ... voila; snap, crackle and pop."
Poe seriously began to consider the same far-fetched conclusion that his
friend had, given the evidence that he'd found in front of them.
A vampire had done this.
He'd heard and seen many strange things in his day, but nothing that had
ever looked clearly as strange as what he was looking at now.
"Okay …” Poe began with a long sigh, “… for the sake of
argument; if this whore and her friends were reallyvampires, and I'm not
about to say that quite yet, what exactly do we do about it now, given
that they're probably long gone by now?"
Poe patiently waited for his friend to admit that this had all been some
kind of sick practical joke.
From the big man's lack of reaction, such an admission was as unlikely
to be forthcoming as he may have otherwise hoped or wished for.
Excerpted from "Blood-Lines: Weird Wild West - Book I" by Bob Sellers Jr. Copyright © 2016 by Bob Sellers Jr. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.