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November 31, 1881

Helm had watched the marshal ride in with his boys, there weren’t very many volunteers understandably. Whether it was a trick of the light or someone’s vivid imagine, rumors had immediately began flowing after the murder of Davion Murphy last month. The gunman had fled on a black steed with a white face they said. Rusty had kept this information to himself when telling Henry about the demise of the Montana lawman, had witnessed Henry’s surprise and was convinced it hadn’t been him. Given he and Mary’s history many had doubted the rumors of him killing off the woman’s husband, it simply didn’t seem like something he would do, to intentionally hurt a woman he had and still did care very much about. Given the stories and the still very fresh memory of the death of the marshal it had been difficult rounding up anyone willing to go after Henry Scarborough and his gang of thieves. They had followed Helm’s instruction and ridden round the barn and followed the tracks through the snow out into the back pasture where they disappeared, he hadn’t seen them since and could only assume they were either still running the Scarborough gang across the territory or they were lying dead somewhere out there on the lonely prairie. It had been four days after all.

“I remember when he rode with me and Marshal Faraday to go after those stage coach robbers back in seventy, seems kind of ironic.” Munroe pointed out as they returned to the barn that evening, ready to bed down and call it a night after being on edge for the past several days. Bobby had been mostly talking to himself during that time, his boss was not exactly in the mood, eyes constantly scanning the horizon and a pit of cold steel in his belly matching the gleam of the colt at his hip. But the younger man seemed perfectly willing to just talk to himself, “He was a real good shot.” he added absently and watched Danny’s eyes suddenly scour the surrounding hills. Perhaps not the best thing to bring up.

Rusty rode up with three other heavily armed ranch hands and a young rider astride a dark bay mare. Young Danny lifted the brim of his hat, revealing his dejected expression but his caretaker only smiled fondly,

“It’ll be alright, son. Tomorrow you can go back home and be a normal kid, okay?” the glare he shot him could have been his father’s and for a moment Danny felt uneasy. Just another teenager that was mad at the whole world. His attitude had been nothing short of difficult over these past few days as he demanded to go back to his father and called his mother a bitch and accused Danny of betraying his father. No matter what he said he couldn’t convince the boy his father was a liar, even tried to read him his mother’s letters but he was stubborn, brainwashed. It suddenly seemed the rancher was quite possibly too late to save the boy after all.

A voice rushed into the barn all of a sudden, a bark of urgency from a man silhouetted in the fading light of the setting sun. Someone was rustling the cattle from the back pasture and immediately Daniel Helm felt the hair stand on the back of his neck. There was no time to gather anyone else and Rusty refused to leave the boy with his wife and children lest he put them in danger, they all rode out at break neck speed for the fields, lanterns in hand to light the way in the failing light. A crosswind pushed the clouds away from the full moon and the riders all stopped very suddenly when Helm halted his mount, his breath clouding before him he turned and counted the men,

“Who was that?!” he demanded and watched the confused looks pass among the men, “Who was it that said the cattle were being taken? He ain’t here now, did anybody recognize him?” an uneasy silence settled among them followed by Bobby cursing under his breath and reining his mount around to face another direction but it was too late,

“Guns on the ground, gents . . . unless of course you wanna die then I’ll be happy to oblige.” the cold and harsh voice drifted to them from the shadows just beyond the range of their lanterns and they were suddenly joined by seven other riders, one of which approached them as his men surrounded the outnumbered cowboys, a glowing cigarette illuminating his face. A smile crossed the youngest rider’s face at the sight of his father, the sound of revolvers and rifles hitting the dirt was music to his ears he was sure, “Dismount.” he commanded next and for those who did not move fast enough were pushed from their saddles and lined up along the ridge in the moonlight, kneeling on their knees with their hands on their heads, “You like that horse, Danny?” Henry asked as the men were being frisked for any remaining weapons and the boy nodded,

“Yes, sir I sure do!” he exclaimed and Henry laughed from the saddle of his own horse,

“Well, consider it an early Christmas present.” he slurred from around his cigarette and dismounted, handing the reins to another member of his outfit,

“It’s your horse, dumbass.” Helm suddenly piped in with a scowl and Henry turned on his heel to properly inspect the mare in the moonlight,

“Well I’ll be damned! It is!” he recalled, the daughter of his own stud standing right here before him, “Then you won’t mind me taking her back.” he laughed and flicked his rollup to the ground where it fizzled out in the snow, “Danny, Danny, Danny . . . always making things difficult.” Scarborough seethed reproachfully as he circled the man knelt on the ground, apart from where the others were and Rusty watched his cousin with a wary eye in the cerulean moonlight.

“I’m gonna kill you, Henry, I swear to God!” he growled and was quickly grasped by the hair and felt the cold blade of a Bowie knife pressed against his Adam’s apple but only had eyes for the boy he had tried so desperately to keep away from his lunatic of a father. He saw fear in his eyes, was worried for a moment Henry would actually follow through with his actions as he slowly lowered himself to speak into Helm’s ear,

“Don’t tempt me . . . you tell me you’re gonna follow me I’ll kill you right here and watch you bleed out into the snow.” a metallic whisper emanated from the stubble on Helm’s face as the blade traced his jawline very carefully and he tilted his head slightly, pulling away. He heard the sadistic laughter in his ear and wanted badly to just snap this man’s neck but looking up at the heavyset fella with the gun trained on him he thought better and leaned away from Henry again when he started running his fingers through his hair,

“You’re a sick man.”

“Oh, Danny . . . don’t be so nasty.” he scolded sultrily,

“No . . . you’re sick, I can smell it on you . . . you’re dying.” that and the knowing look that passed between them seemed to end the antics of the outlaw and he didn’t say another word to him, sheathed his knife and mounted his horse, “You all can find your horses a quarter mile from here tied to the fence, hope you don’t mind if we hold onto your guns though.” Scarborough scoffed and reined his mount around, tipping his hat to his cousin as the horsemen rode off. Bella showed up at the train station in Buffalo Creek the next morning, only to be told the bad news. Faraday also rode into town, short one man after a shootout with the gang in the foothills just south of Cheyenne, making it the fourteenth man taken by Henry or his gang which headed south afterward where it would be warmer come winter and no one in Buffalo Creek saw them for a while.

The outlaw returns for what it is his and there is an unexpected twist in the tale!

Submitted for a contest! All characters belong to their respective creators!
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Submitted on
January 10, 2014
Mature Content