A Prairie Tale

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Chapter 23: Just Desserts

“One final time I will ask, where is Van Khan?” Murdoch said to the mutineers. The area continued to be silent, and in the hideout the only noise in the land was his loud voice. Eliza walks over to each of the hogtied bandits and strolls over briskly and bellows,

“Right you ’orrible lot! What’s happening?” All of the mutineers hogtied, licking the scorched earth, they all escape out of their lives. They struggle to escape, and are completely enthralled to him. James McCormack comes charging down on his horse, back from a successful burglary. He sees the suspects lined up in a row and he questions, “What’s the big deal with this, Murdoch? Have you got no mercy anymore?”

“These people ruined the very grounds of this honourable group! One by one, we’ll keep these ‘people’ in check.”

“Ay sir, but what are the whereabouts of Cain and Van Khan? Were they…”

“Van Khan escaped, and with Cain… come with me. You missed something when you came in…” McCormack was taken to the front of the canyon entrance, whilst Eliza and the remaining bandits speak to the mutineers. She comes up to the first, and asks,

“Oy you! Know anything of Van Khan? Or do you not have the tongue to speak it?”

“Uh… uhh… no. He ran away with everything! Supplies, map, vulture and all! You have no chance in hell catching up to him!”

Meanwhile, it is of McCormack’s horror he sees the proof of Cain’s status. Murdoch signals his dead body, impaled on a spike with the following sign aligned – “Traitors beware”. McCormack doesn’t look uneasy, and is even proud of what had to be done. “Did you kill him?” McCormack asked.

“Well, what do you think? Personal gain, I suppose.”

“Personal matters, is personal business, so well done lad. Your father would be proud.” Turning to him, Murdoch questions,

“Do you know much of my father out of curiosity?” Walking back to the hideout, McCormack responds,

“He was an honourable man, built this bandit hideout with his two hands. But that’s just about it, lad.”

“Do you know how he died, I mean, you do know he’s dead, right?”

“Ay laddie, killed by traitors that stabbed him in his sleep, at least that’s what Eliza told me, back in the days where you were just lovers.”

“…This is why I can’t have a repeat… what I did back there has to happen, otherwise I’ll have the same fate. Not a day passes by that I forget. At 17, I lead a guild and found love.”

“That’s impressive, and how did you meet Eliza?”

“Three years ago. Poker Table. Whitelock. Midnight. All you need to know, chum.” As they came to the hogtied bandits the conversation came swiftly to a close. A struggling Eliza, panicked, announced,

“There’s no use, love. They either don’t know or won’t blurt out a word.”

“Let me handle it.” Murdoch chuckled. “Which ones don’t know?” After signalling the four who don’t know, Eliza steps back in awe to see him violently slash each of their throats, and all the noises have been evidently silenced. The one remaining is shocked and struggles for dear life to escape. Laughing, Murdoch asks,

“Why did you do this? I asked it loads of times so I will continue to ask it, why?”

“You cut our pay, you restrict our leisure hours, I have had enough. Want to know where Van Khan is? One night, alone with Eliza, that Jezebel you call a wife. It ain’t that hard.” Angered, Murdoch grabs his head and punches him in the nose, and is violently bruised, with a bleeding nose. He spits in Murdoch’s face, and continues,

“I was only messing around, boss! The spirit temple, south of Mexico. He’s on the way there now, but I don’t know where that is, so good luck!” Looking intently into Murdoch’s eyes, the bandit asks gently, “Can you cut me loose now?”

“Of course I can!” He cuts him loose, and starts to wander freely. He runs to the nearest horse, and before mounting on it, Murdoch calls, “And one more thing.” Before he could react, Murdoch shoots him in the head, killing him instantly and falls onto the dusty gravel.

“You have lost the right to call me ‘boss’.” Silence ruptured following the gunshot, as all of the remaining bandits started to look intimidated by their supreme leader. McCormack puts lightly,

“So what now? Our numbers are reduced to ten, including us, and Van Khan.” With a sign and a think, Murdoch hatches his plan.

“A funeral of Eliza’s ‘victim’ will shortly take place. This will likely draw the sheriff and his team out. Once we thin those numbers, law enforcement will soon be off our sweet arses. Does that sound like something we can follow? Or would you prefer something longer and easier?”

A few nodding gestures repeated like canon spread through the camp, and Murdoch puts his plan into action. In two days, at high noon, the bandits are ready to take down the funeral plans. The law enforcement and Springwater may be present, which is a vital key to finding Van Khan’s whereabouts. Patience is needed first, and the gang take up an early rest in their dormitories.

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