The Mistress of the Fourth Seal
SS Hampton Sr.
Publisher & Category:
Horror Bound Magazine, Issue 9, October 2009
Jeremy Conrad tightened his grip on his M-4 as a wagon lit by a pair of lanterns and pulled by a team of six horses creaked out of the pre-dawn darkness. As he watched the wagon he realized that except for the gurgling of the creek that ran next to the road curving down the canyon between towering forested mountain peaks, and the wind blowing through the nearby trees, everything was silent. Too silent.
“Mornin’,” a large bearded man with a black eye patch and a necklace of grizzly claws that hung against his calico shirt, called from the wagon piled high with household goods tied down by rope. A small black haired woman in a long dress with a heavy shawl over her shoulders sat next to him.
“Morning Griz, Lori,” Jeremy Conrad relaxed as the wagon drew close to his own. The eastern horizon was a pale ribbon from the approaching sun though the mountain road, long ago rumbled into dirt and chunks of asphalt, was cloaked in shadows.
Behind Jeremy came the creaking family wagon, also lit by a pair of lanterns, filled with trade goods. His wife Sheila, a strong willed woman with long bright red hair, drove the wagon. Their son Larry, 11 years old, thin as a rail and armed with an M-4, rode shotgun with her. Their son Bobby, 14 years old, tall and husky and armed with a Remington shotgun, rode point with him. Bringing up the rear was their 18 year old daughter Rachel, willowy with waist length brown hair, who was armed with an M-4.
In their fringed hide jackets, calico shirts, buckskin pants, cowboy boots and hide boots, and heavily armed, the family resembled a pack of lean, dangerous wolves.
“Mornin’,” One-Eye Griz, so named for killing a grizzly bear that almost killed him, greeted Sheila and the children.
“Aren’t you going the wrong way? It’s market day,” Jeremy said good-naturedly, referring to the monthly market in the old town in the Arkansas River Valley that was a welcome adventure of trade, songs, dances, games, and strong drink.
“Well, we’re movin’ on. Goin’ over the pass and find somewhere isolated to settle down ag’in.”
“Why? Is there something wrong?” Sheila asked, puzzled…