Holy Smoke by Cam Jace Storykiller
Copyright©by Cameron Jace 2019
WICKED WITCH of WONDERLAND
A brand new series with no relation to my past books. A brand new world.
Two Girls. Two Worlds. One Villain.
The Shifting Sands Region
The girl on the pale horse didn’t speak much, but with a body count of ninety-nine souls, she didn’t need to. Her words were bullets in dead men's skulls, and she never misspelled the word death. She carried two guns on her.
A magnum 45 with a silver barrel and some otherwordly pistol hat shot one bullet per round.. She had designed it that way to oblige herself to never miss–and die if she did.
Two crisscrossed belts hung loosely over her tight leather pants. Black, the color of night, the same as the long duster coat that caressed her body and hid her guns.
A poncho, the color of sand, covered her upper body underneath the coat. Not only did it protect her against the cold of nights, but it carried a memory with its fabric, for it was once a rug her enemies rolled her into, thinking she died.
The girl was such a sight to behold, pleasant to her saviors, sore and bitter to her enemies.
The black hat on her head tilted its way down over the upper half of her face. Beautiful eyes hid underneath, but she wasn’t going to show them to anyone—not now.
A small nose with slightly flared nostril showed from under the hat. A tight jaw, anticipating dread any time of the day or night.
Her lips, once red, were buried under the desert’s grimy dust, dry and cracking and longing to quench her thirst.
As she slowly rocked upon her horse, little of her dreadlocks waved from under her hat. Dreadlocks she was proud of. They gave away her father and mother’s history more than she would have liked to show. And no, she wasn’t of Indian descent.
She was a black silhouette riding a pale horse across the wastelands in the middle of the night. They said the Grimm Reaper opposed God and opted out of scything her soul, for she was stronger than will itself. Only God — or whomever was responsible of this lost and forbidden county — knew about her vulnerable soul, and that she was never going to show it.
Maybe she wasn’t just a sight to behold. She was a darkness to behold.
But light always found a way through tiny cracks. Maybe unnoticed, but thinly present. The girl’s light shone through her silver boots. Well, once silver, now caked with mud — and blood — but glittering like a fallen star down her at her feet.
Her pale horse trotted down the hill. Tired and worn out, it snorted and whined. Had it not loved the girl with all its hooves and big black eyes, it would have knelt down in defeat and called it a night.
But the horse was part of the girl’s soul, part of her legend — or curse. Thirst would soon kill it, but maybe not tonight. It allowed the girl the ride on its back as far as to the nearest town.
Another town with no name.
The girl’s head bobbed loosely on her chest, but hitting a bump in the road, her eyes flipped open, holding on to the straddle.
She still didn’t talk, and the horse didn’t expect her to.
Closer to town, the horse stopped before the lights ahead. A lantern shimmered in a dusty yellow in the distance, inviting mosquitos and flies to orbit it. A sign blurred faintly above it.
Cap'n Bill Weedles Bar.
The horse stopped. The girl squinted, her head hardly moving. The night’s shadows blurred her weak vision. The lantern’s light looked like fire from the deepest of hells.
Three horses were saddled at the front porch. It suggested there would be up to six people inside. Seven, counting the bartender. Add a couple of hookers upstairs and the total would be ten people.
An easy kill. She had done it before.
The girl craned her head at the rest of the town. Ten houses, give or take. That meant families, which she hated. She never shot the unarmed, but families will eventually have a few wannabe heroes at hand. Two, she estimated.
Twelve people to kill. The horse snorted.
She shook her head. She knew what it was thinking. She could read its mind.
The horse thought the girl had always been a pessimist, seeing the darker side in people. He offered the possibility of families liking her and wanting to help her.
She gently patted the horse glided down into the mud. Not a graceful landing. She was bleeding after all.
Her left hand tried to stop the bleeding from her stomach as much as she could. She hated herself for needing help. Hated herself for not knowing how to stitch herself with one hand, and for getting shot in the first place—though she killed her shooter in the end.
Sideways, the horse looked at her. Its big black eyes, moist with sympathy, alert with dread.
She wanted to enter the bar. Though she needed help, she pretended she needn’t any.
Slowly she walked to the double door. Honkey tonk music sounded from inside. Not loud, but descent. The mood seemed jolly, but in her experience she only attracted misery. Jolly was a temporarily feeling that sooner or later…
She banged the double door open. Just slightly to announce her presence, both her hands to her sides, near the guns. She didn’t mind bleeding, full frontal now. They wouldn’t notice right away. Somehow people expected her to never bleed, so her pain took time to be noticed.
Her silver boots creaked upon the wood.
She saw men playing poker. Three of them.
Two men drinking at the bar. One was the bartender himself.
So it was three horses outside, five men inside. Not six. She hated being wrong.
A couple of feet into the bar, the music stopped.
That’s what happened when a stranger walked into town in the middle of night. These weren’t safe times.
She was a stranger in a strange land… always been.
Standing by the bar, she took a deep breath, hands on the holster, scanning the vast room. People had good times here. No gunshots marred the walls. No crippled tables or broken chairs. The stairs to the second story seemed intact and hadn’t been rebuilt. The whiskey on the shelves stood half-full. These were times when finishing your drink without being shot was a thing of dreams and fairytales.
She eyed everyone and watched them shrug to her sight. It wasn’t just that she stood straight ahead and oozed death from her soul — still hiding her eyes underneath the tip of her hat. And it wasn’t her hands close to her otherworldly guns. Not even the fact that she was bleeding, or the fact that she was a girl.
It was the color of her skin. Her ancestry.
“What can I do you for?” Asked the bartender. Twenty five of age. Decent. Blond hair. Innocent face. Hardworking fella. She would hate if she had to kill him.
The girl said nothing, her eyes locking with the young man who was watching the others.
A few seconds passed before she would come to the judgment that none of them intended to shoot her — at least not now.
It was time to ask for help. She hated that part.
The young man’s eyes carefully locked onto her wound. His face twitched with sympathy. The sight of the dead had been a norm in these lands. The sight of pain was frowned upon. You were either alive or dead, but don’t you bother us with your struggles.
“Do you need a doctor—?” He gently asked her.
Oh, those blue eyes of his. They reminded her of how she longed to be held, spooned in the night, and told she was going to be okay.
But she cut him off with an abrupt movement of her gloved hands.
Tension boiled in the room.
Finally she spoke, “Whiskey.”
The young bartender exchanged looks with the other man by the bar then nodded, “I imagine on the rocks?” he smiled, preparing it.
The girl said nothing, which meant ‘on the rocks.’ She only signaled for him to double the shot.
A double on the double.
He filled her glass and theatrically slid over to her. She reckoned she scared him away, like she did with all men.
“Ya drinking all of this?” one of the older men at the poker table yawned.
She didn’t even register his existence, and instead of gulping it down, she parted the poncho around her wound and poured the whiskey down in the hole made by a stranger’s bullet.
A feverish scream escaped her lungs. She bit her lips, the chords in her neck protruding out. She closed her eyes and took a deep, deep breath trough her nostrils.
“It ain’t working,” the bartender said, actually looking like he cared. “Bullet’s still inside?”
She looked at him. Shrugged.
“The gentlemen by the poker table is the town’s doctor,” the boy waved a hand behind her. “We’re only thirty people here in Weedles Town, so he has time on his hand.”
The doctor looked drunk to her.
“He is good at sobering out,” the bartender chuckled. “Like you’re good at staying alive.”
She wanted to smile. She wanted to be grateful but it just didn’t happen. She could see her horse snorting through the double door outside. It told her to trust them.
Suddenly a door flung open from her side. The girl snapped her gun and aimed. Just before shooting, she saw a man zipping his trouser, and standing right in front of the loo.
She calmed down.
The man looked horrified, holding to his zipper, not having anticipated that kind of death.
She pulled her guns back in, noticing how terrified everyone was. Only the boy sympathized with his eyes.
So they were six people in the hall after all. It satisfied her she was right.
The boy said, “We’re good people. We don’t want no blood spilled.”
She nodded, looking at him.
“We’ll have our doctor fix you,” the older man by the bar said. She hadn’t noticed the badge on him before. He was the sheriff. “And then I want you out first thing in the morning.”
She nodded again. “My horse is thirsty,” she finally spoke.
“We’ll take care of him,” the bartender assured her.
She realized she was dizzying, spiraling down a rabbit hole of her own pain—and past.
She fell to her knees.
Well, she wouldn’t let that happen. Just on one knee, hands gripping the bar. “There is money in my pocket. Two stars and a half.”
“We don’t want your bloody money,” the Sherif said.
Reluctantly, she let the bartender boy help up again. This time her hat gave her away. It tilted upward, and he saw her eyes.
“Emerald green,” his mouth formed an O letter and his eyes glittered, “Let me help you upstairs.”
She wanted to say thank you, but instead she gently pulled away and limped herself up the stairs. She made an effort to say, “My name is…”
“They call you Door,” the boy interrupted. “We know, Dorothy Gale.”