This is my Friday Fright for DarkMedia City this week. The picture should give you a "heads up" as to what it is about.
A vicious Wyoming wind blows across the top of the bluffs, throwing snow over the edge of the precipice to the ground far below. Before the white man came, this was the hunting ground for the local Arapaho. Many buffalo met their death here, chased off the cliffs by the hungry Indians.
The Arapaho and buffalo both are long gone from the area. Only a few hundred whites live here now, some on ranches and others in ramshackle squalor, calling weather-beaten trailers their homes.
But the wind and the cold remain, the same way it has been since time eternal.
He remains as well.
Halloween night will hit this little town of Chugwater in a few hours. This one will not be the same as those in the past. The status quo is about to get shoved on its ass. Patience . . . his patience is gone. He needs to reclaim what is his.
Children come out of their homes and trudge through the snow in search of their delectable goodies. The town is small and there are not many houses to visit, but for the most part, the townsfolk are generous with their candy, cookies, caramel apples and such.
The biggest drawing card is the Diamond Ranch at the edge of town, for many years a dude ranch with all the amenities, bringing a lot of business to the small town. It is no longer a dude ranch-merely a scaled down version of what it once was- and the town has suffered because of it. Many a business has gone under, the windows boarded up, and the owners going south to Cheyenne. People have to eat.
Still, the old ranch has a pretty good spread for the children and this is always the last stop on their festive tour of the town.
The children work their way from west to east, stopping at all the houses having their lights on, which in this little enclave means every place that's not abandoned. Their bags are filled to overflowing before they even reach Diamond Ranch, the trick-or treaters met with oohs and ahs as the assorted ghosts, goblins, ghouls and such bring looks of delight to the faces of the people handing out the goodies.
Not to worry: the ranch will supply other bags for them to load up their booty into. And there will be plenty of booty!
All the children, and their parents as well, are gathered at the ranch enjoying the huge party when . . .
He comes riding through town on a huge black stead with eyes as red as the brightest sunrise ever. He carries a lance, tipped with eagle feathers. His bronze body only sports a loin cloth in spite of the cold. And atop his neck is a huge void: he has no head!
Yes, the reason for his presence here tonight is to get his head back. Many years ago, the white man removed his head, and he has not been at peace since. How can he rest when his body has been defiled? He can't, but he knows his skull is at the ranch. It took him a long time to find this out, but he knows now, and it is calling to him, telling him where it is.
Reunion time. Now. No more waiting.
He pulls up to the ranch and motions for his trusty friend to wait for him. Lance in hand, he enters through the front door of the ranch house and all eyes lock in on him. At first, they think he is merely another costumed reveler. But there is a presence about him, a feeling of horror, that rips through the crowd. Blood pours from his neck as he raises his lance high into the air before tossing it through the chest of the host, cleanly piercing his heart and causing death almost instantly.
The crowd scatters in fear, doing whatever they can to get out of this room, away from this . . . this whatever or whoever it is. The Indian pulls his lance free and advances towards a display case set up in the middle of the room. Smashing his huge fist through it, he retrieves a skull, his skull, from out of it and attaches it to his neck. Almost instantly, the skull changes, forming into a face with flesh. Features form. A fully formed head molds itself to the rest of his body.
He is whole once more, but there is more to do: retribution for years of the white folk mocking his death, his decapitation and mutilation. The owners of the ranch must be killed. It is their ancestors who did the unspeakable to him.
One by one, he hunts them down, impaling them on his lance, ending their lives in seconds. Retribution is swift and sure. It is not his intent to make them suffer prolonged agony. He wants swift justice; he has suffered far too long.
The party revelers almost fall over each other in their attempts to escape, but for most of them, there need not be any concern. The long dead harbinger of justice is dispensing death only to those he feels have it coming. Member after member of the family is smitten down by his vicious, unworldly strength and the power of his lance.
His face, now complete with his majestic Arapaho features, smiles at the blood dripping from everywhere, the torn apart bodies, and the twisted looks etched on the faces of his victims caused by the horrors they saw coming just before it all ended for them.
He hears the children of the slain ones whimpering in the hallway closets. They are safe from his wrath. Tonight at least. He will not kill children. When they are no longer children, he will return for them.
Walking outside, he pats the head of his faithful horse, and they gallop away through town on their way back to the bluffs.
The wind pulling at his long hair feels good.
It is nice not being headless any longer.