Jack Yeovil

Route 666

Dark Future 1

If in many of my productions terror has been the thesis, I maintain that terror is not of Germany, but of the soul.

Edgar A. Poe

Hold it fellas, that don't move me…let's get real, real gone for a change.

Elvis A. Presley

For Karen



Utah Territory, 1854

'Elder Shatner, look,' said Brother Carey, pointing to the high country, 'thou canst see a horseman, alone.'

Hendrik Shatner turned casually in the saddle. In the light of the coming dawn, the lines of the ancient and rugged table rocks were becoming visible. Young Carey saw true. A rider was picking a careful way, silhouetted against red-threaded sky.

Hendrik shivered with sudden insight. If he stopped and dismounted, he could draw a clear rifle bead before the horseman was out of sight. It would not be a certain kill at this range, but he had made more difficult shots.

His rifle hung from his saddle-horn in its soft leather sheath. Store-bought in the East, it had been his companion for a good few years.

In the desert stillness, the report of the shot would carry for miles, probably as far as New Canaan. He could not risk alerting the Gentiles. Still, his gut-twinge told him this bloody business would go better without the unknown stranger drifting through. He wished he had availed himself of the skills of the Brethren's Paiute allies and learned how to bring down a hawk with a silent arrow.

'Is't one of the Indians?' Brother Carey asked.

Hendrik shook his head. The horseman sat on a saddle and wore a hat His gaze was fixed on his rocky path. To him, the deep crack of the canyon would be a river of dark. The raiding party were bottom-crawling creatures of the shadow. Hendrik tried to believe the stranger was unaware of them.

'A Gentile,' Carey spat.

'Most like, Brother.'

Carey had been raised in the Brethren of Joseph. His parents, early converts, had died on the Path, run out of one town after another, pestered Westward. The young man had gathered up an unhealthy store of vengeance. He was not alone among the Brethren. Each man of this party had made his blood sacrifices.

'We'll see them Gentiles off, Elder,' Carey said.

'That's the general idea.'

The rider up in the high country would be some ragged mountain man, drifting West, never settling. Hendrik might have gone that route himself at one time or another, before his brother put on the mirrored spectacles and saw the future laid out like a map. The horseman would not be one of the Gentiles who had fixed on the played-out mining town of Spanish Fork. The pioneers had planted their grain and renamed the place New Canaan.

The grain shouldn't have taken, but neither should the crops planted at the Josephite settlement. The Lord made the desert flower for the Brethren of Joseph; now Gentiles picked around the edges of the territory, crowding the outcasts. Of course, it seemed passing strange that the Lord should have placed that deep-water well for Gentiles to find rather than the elect. Hendrik recalled that a similar situation had obtained in Old Canaan before Joshua rode up with his trumpets.

In the dawn quiet, Hendrik heard tiny sounds: hooves on sand and the occasional rock outcrop, the muted rattle of harnesses, the squeak of saddles, the breath of horses.

This was a necessary action. The Brethren had left too many settlements behind, been driven off good land by soldiers and bandits. Here, in deserts no one but an Indian could want, the Path of Joseph petered out. This was where the Shining City must rise to the glory of the Lord. It was either that or a communal grave.

'We'll send 'em runnin' back for the States,' Carey vowed, vehemently trying to convince himself. 'This be the Land of Joseph. Our land.'

'And theirs,' Hendrik indicated.

The Paiute rode silently. Hendrik had expected the party to separate into its constituent elements but everyone was mixed in. The Indians were blanketed huddles on scrawny mounts, interspersed with Josephites in broad- brimmed black hats and long, peg-fastened black coats. A sprinkling of Chiricahua was in with the Paiute, wanderers well off their usual trails.

The Brethren of Joseph were at peace with the Indian, if not with the United States. Among the elect was the Ute, who had been at the side of Brother Joseph from the first. He was taken, even by Indians, as one of their number, if rarely welcomed as a red brother.

The Ute had scouted this path and now rode near the head of the party. Even in the twilight, he wore his peculiar mirrored spectacles. It was hard for most to imagine his eyes, though suggestive glimpses troubled Hendrik's nights. The Ute had the coat and hat of a Josephite but his face was burned the colour of blood. Josephites abjured adornment, but the Ute wore a necklace of knuckle-bones.

'Gentiles whipped my pa, back in Kentucky,' Carey said, steeling himself. 'Tied him to a wagon wheel, opened his back to the bone, left him to die. And Gentiles hanged Elder Joseph. Thou knowest that better'n anyone.'

Joseph Shatner, founder of the Brethren of Joseph, had indeed been hanged. Hendrik had heard the verdict handed down against his brother, had tried to raise his voice amid the hurrahs of the crowd. The charge was sorcery, a capital crime in certain backward counties of the State of Massachusetts. The law had lain unused among the statutes since the Salem Witch Trials.

'It has to stop somewhere,' Carey continued. 'The whippings, the hangings, the bullets in the back. We've found the place where we ought to be, and we must take our stand.'

Hendrik had heard this speech before, in the war with Mexico and in the campaign against the Seminoles. Before fighting, each man convinced himself the cause was just, that he was doing the right thing. Trouble was, the Mexicans and the Seminoles must feel the same way, or else why would they bear arms.

A shaft of early light angled down into the canyon. The horseman was gone. Hendrik saw round black hats ahead, bobbing like mushrooms in a pot of water. There were about twenty Josephites, with maybe ten Indians mixed in. It was a fair-sized war party.

'Any rate,' Carey said, 'we're going to see them Gentiles off.'

'Like I said, that's the general idea.'

Вы читаете Route 666
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату