The Dark Path 

“Souls don’t become lost. They grow deaf” Sam looks down at the mess that was Audrey.  “It is not who could do a thing like this…. But rather, what they allowed to rule them.  I would pray for their soul. However, it appears they have none left.”

Sam pulls down his black homemade stetson hat. His right hand reaches into a saddle bag.   It finds a book of curled pages.  It’s silver flaked cross peeled from a charcoal cover announces what it is.   

He walks a few feet to the remains.   His head nods to Jacob to remove his hat as well.  The ritual is becoming daily.   There’s darkness falling from the skies here.   Like rain, it causes weeds to take root.

Silently Sam prays over the body.   His eyes shed a solitary tear.  His hands skim the well worn pages.  His face moves to accent the wear and tear of the years.  Deep set eyes have long sunk.  His mustache lost most of it color and form.   Age didn’t creep up on him, it ambushed him. 

 He wishes he had learned to read.  Long lost shreads of time tie him to a respectable past.  His title changed from miner to Marshall, to scoundrel to pastor. Heaven holds no lure for him.  Neither did a fast trip to Hell.  He fooled enough people and respected them into returning the favor.

His heart still drops when it’s a good person that falls.  He knows each day has brought another body.  Each of these bodies have been less connected to itself.  Tomorrow there will be another one.

“Audrey was one of the few bright spots here.  Chauncy Miller, he’ll need to know what…” Sam’s voice goes rough. “Damn it! Just don’t say how she looked when we got here.  It’ll be enough to kill him knowing she’s gone.”

His eyes find the horizon.  Mountains cut this place fron the rest of the world. It equally keeps demons on both sides of the ridge.  The few here are harder to find.