The stench of rotting flesh is in the air!
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Genre: Horror, Zombies
Publisher: Besser Books
Publication Date: December 8, 2013
When a zombie bounty hunter is sent to a small western town after bank robbers, things get complicated…and deadly for the local sheriff and his men.
They must fight the battle for moral good against a powerful, corrupt politician and the zombies he controls.
Chapter 4 Excerpt
Jeffery rode through the storm confidently; he didn’t even have his eyes open and trusted his horse to take the best course.
He continued on his journey through the night – the storm had finally abated sometime during the night, but he didn’t know exactly when – and on into the next morning. By noon he was riding into Vickstown, and he headed right to the capitol building without even stopping to eat or drink.
He stopped his trusty mare outside the large, white pillared building and stared up at it for a few minutes before he dismounted and tied his horse’s reins to the railing for that purpose.
After pulling Sheriff Bob’s note from his pocket, he advanced toward the building and knocked on the door. No one answered, but while he was standing there waiting, another man walked up to the door and went inside without knocking.
Assuming he should do the same, Jeffery walked in.
His eyes grew huge as he stepped inside and saw the grand decorations of the lobby. Crystal sparkled in the chandelier as the gas lamps in the ornate fixture burned bright. Crushed velvet covered the fashionable chairs along the walls for seating. Large, grand paintings adorned every wall and made Jeffery feel small. He was painfully aware of his filthy clothes in the pristinely clean environment. He knew he was out of place. His first instinct was to go back outside, but he was determined to do his duty for Sheriff Bob. He was a good friend – one of Jeffery’s only friends. Most of the settlers judged him, and he knew it. Sheriff Bob accepted him and appreciated him. He was the first white man Jeffery had ever known that he truly respected.
“Can I help you?” asked a man who came through a doorway reading from a stack of papers; he didn’t look up but knew someone was there from the sound of door opening and closing.
“Yes’sa, I’s here with dis letter from Sheriff Bob, for da Governor,” Jeffery said, holding out the letter.
“Sheriff Bob?” the man asked, sitting down behind a small desk, finally looking at Jeffery; his eyes held contempt and his expression showed disgust. “I’m not familiar with Sheriff Bob. What town is he from?”
“Bristleton, sa,” Jeffery said. “Them men who broke out of da prison done robbed our bank and Sheriff Bob sent me wit’ dis here letter for da Governor.”
The man’s countenance changed at the news. No longer was he judging Jeffery by his appearance and supposed ignorance. The man had news of something that was relevant to his boss. Personal feelings were no longer possible when business took precedent.
“Right this way,” he said, standing swiftly and darting out of the room in the direction he’d just come from.
Jeffery followed more slowly, and by the time he made it to the Governor’s office, the man from the lobby was standing at the door holding it open impatiently.
“Right this way,” he said, motioning for Jeffery to enter the room and following him inside. “This is the man, sir, the one who has a letter from the Sheriff where the fugitives were seen.”
The Governor – a man of average height with snow white hair – stood behind his desk; his expression was hopeful, yet serious at the same time.
“I’m Governor Ishmael Cooper. Who might you be, and what news do you have?” he asked eagerly.
“I’s Jeffery, sa, Jeffery Wright. I has dis here letter from Sheriff Bob,” Jeffery said, handing it to the Governor, who opened it with swift fingers.
The man’s eyes danced over the page as he took in the information written there.
“Hmm. . . Robbed the bank and killed some folks,” Cooper said, sitting back down with a frown. “I think I have just the man to track down this band of rough necks.”
Jeffery nodded, and turned slightly to look at the man still hovering in the doorway.
“Yes, sir,” the man said, coming forward slightly.
“Would you bring Houndtooth to me, please?” Cooper asked.
Jacobs paled and nodded, stepping back and disappearing out the door.
Cooper turned his attention back to Jeffery.
“Mr....Wright, was it?”
“May I send my man and a correspondence back with you?” Cooper asked. “It’s imperative that they both arrive swiftly.”
“Yes’sa,” Jeffery said, “I can takes ‘em back wit’ me.”
“Good,” Cooper said, and set to writing a letter for Sheriff Bob and completely ignored his guest.
Jeffery looked around the Governor’s office and enjoyed himself at first, seeing all the new and shiny objects. He’d finally relaxed after the initial culture shock of stepping inside the capitol building. But, eventually his eyes found things he was familiar with – very familiar with. Trinkets from his homeland, from his past, graced nooks and crannies around the room. Voodoo was evident here and that made him uneasy. He’d seen many disturbing things in his youth, from some of the older slaves who could still remember their homeland and culture. They’d put hexes on some of their white masters, and one had even brought a dead man back to life and had extensive control of him. The man had soon been killed again, and there was nothing anyone could do about it, but it had been a great amusement to the witch doctor that’d had control for a few days; he’d enjoyed scaring the people who’d still been living. The memories were making Jeffery’s blood run cold and he fidgeted with his clothes nervously; he couldn’t wait to get out of this strange man’s office.
The door opened behind him and Jeffery jumped, spinning to see Jacobs and the other man the Governor had sent for. His unease grew at the sight of the newcomer.
“Come in,” Cooper said, still writing. “I’m almost done.”
Houndtooth walked into the room looking straight ahead; his movements were methodical and seemed to be exaggerated, almost controlled.
Jeffery stepped aside to put more distance between himself and the strange man.
“Mr. Wright, this is Jebediah Houndtooth – my esteemed bounty hunter,” Cooper said, standing and reading over his letter.
Jeffery looked at Houndtooth and studied him. The man’s eyes were very light and he couldn’t tell if they were an extremely pale blue or if they were white. His skin was a grayish color and seemed to be overly dry, and a strong pungent odor emanated from him, making Jeffery want to gag.
“Here you go,” Cooper said, coming around the desk to hand Jeffery a folded piece of paper and to speak to Houndtooth. “You’ll go with Mr. Wright and track down the fugitives.”
Houndtooth nodded and repeated what Cooper said in a hoarse voice that wasn’t much more than a whisper.
Jeffery’s flesh broke out in goosebumps at the sound and he was quaking inside at the thought of traveling with this strange man – that he didn’t even think was a man any longer – alone.
“Do you need anything else before you set out?” Cooper asked, turning to Jeffery. “A fresh horse? Rest? Food?”
“No, sa,” Jeffery answered.
If Cooper would have asked him the same questions before Houndtooth had arrived, he’d have probably taken up the offer of rest and food, but now he was too unnerved for either.
“Great! Off you go then,” Cooper said, and ushered them both out the door.
Jeffery stood in the hall with Houndtooth behind him. He couldn’t hear the man breathing and glanced over his shoulder to make sure he was still there and real. Sure enough, he was standing in the hall staring straight ahead.
With a deep sigh, Jeffery stepped forward and stopped again.
Houndtooth did the same; it was eerie.
Closing his eyes briefly, Jeffery started to walk down the hall and proceeded through the lobby and out of the building with the bounty hunter right behind him. He was shocked to see that there was another horse tied next to his, and when he mounted his own, Houndtooth did the same with the provided horse.
He be a zombie controlled by Cooper, Jeffery kept thinking over and over again as they rode out of town, heading back toward Bristleton.
About the Author
Rebecca Besser resides in Ohio with her wonderful husband and amazing son. They've come to accept her quirks as normal while she writes anything and everything that makes her inner demons squeal with delight. She's best known for her work in adult horror, but has been published in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for a variety of age groups and genres. She's entirely too cute to be scary in person, so she turns to the page to instill fear into the hearts of the masses. She's currently seeking an agent with her first novel, Nurse Blood, with hopes to expand her reach of dread through a mass market publication in the future. Meanwhile, you can join her dark minions by learning more about her on her blog, Facebook page, or Twitter!