Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Now Playing: Hellfire
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Chapter Sixteen of Hellfire

Chapter Fifteen concluded with:

             Dehner coughed from the smoke. “We’ve got to get out of here!”
            Hosea and Gail were already standing by the door to the storage room. Rance and Stacey quickly joined them but Rance shook his head when Hosea started to open the door. “By now, at least some of the guards are outside. The front door is locked. They know we will be coming out the back. We’ll walk into a hail of bullets.”
            Gail put a hand to her throat. “So, we burn to death or get gunned down by outlaws!”

Chapter Sixteen

     The Quick Dollar was engulfed in smoke as the fire continued on its voracious path of destruction. Ashes tinged with red began to rain all around them.
            “What are we gonna do?” Hosea yelled.
            Dehner gave the young man an intense stare. “Listen carefully, prophet.”
            Less than a minute later, Hosea rushed into the storage room. Rance crawled behind him, hoping he couldn’t be seen through the window. Hosea leaned against the wall beside the door and began to shout. “Oh Lord, take thy servant away to be with you. You have taken my beloved. You have taken the gambler and his friend. Now, I beseech you to take me. Like your servant Jonah, I beg for the comfort of death!”
            Dehner was now at the opposite side of the storage room, crouched down, gun drawn. He heard the laughter outside and watched as the door barged open and three men stepped inside carrying their weapons.
            One of them continued to laugh as he raised his Smith and Wesson, “I’ll gladly oblige ya--”
            “Drop the guns!” The three gunmen turned to fire and were met with three bullets from Rance’s Colt. Stacey and Gail entered the storage room. Dehner picked up the two of the weapons dropped by the gunmen and handed them to Hosea and his wife.
            “You may need these. Help me drag these owlhoots outside.” They dragged the three outlaws a safe distance from the burning saloon. Sounds of panic almost overwhelmed the crackling and collapse of buildings as the fire moved in all directions, engulfing the town.
            Another sound joined the chaotic cacophony: pounding hoofbeats. “The Rangers are here!” Stacey shouted as he ran along the alleyway behind the buildings, his three companions following. Reaching a clear passage, they crossed to the front of the street. Dehner eyed the chaos that was all around. Every outlaw was scrambling to save himself. The rangers halted and gawked at the destruction and panic in front of them
            “Captain Hatfield, so good of you to come to our aid!”
            Hatfield was a large man with a scarred face and a salt and pepper mustache. He headed a detachment of eight men. “What’s going on, Hooper?!”
            Stacey quickly explained the situation. Dehner noticed looks of amusement on the faces of Gail and Hosea as the gambler made himself the hero of his own narrative.
            After finishing, Stacey hastily introduced his three companions. Hatfield gave Dehner a curious stare. “Is this the gent you told me about?” He asked Stacey. “The man who could outdraw Lars Olsen?”
            Dehner’s eyebrows lifted. “That’s why you wired me to come here! You didn’t want to have to face Olsen yourself!”
            Stacey shrugged his shoulders. “There was a great deal on my schedule at the time. I had to delegate certain tasks. I’m sure you understand.”
            “I understand all right--”
            “That’s enough, gents!” Hatfield shouted. “There’s no way we can stop this fire. We hav‘ta find Olsen before this town becomes a pile of ashes.”

Tomorrow: Chapter Seventeen, the conclusion of Hellfire