Shadow's Grasp - Parts 1 to 5

Author: MMW

Disclaimer: See index


As dawn arrived at the town
And folks began to move around
The leader and his right hand man
Waited for their merry band

Chris leaned back and scanned the road
Vin settled into watchful mode
Each man ready should the need
Arise and require skill and speed

Before too long Buck arrived
A smile on his face, a bounce in his stride
And Josiah came from the church’s way
Met with Nathan who had much to say

JD came next with a cheerful smile
And the teasing began to pass the while
As the men set off to make their way
To breakfast and to start the day

Ezra showed when the rest were done
At his expense they had some fun
And waited ‘til the gambler ate
Then Chris the schedule did state

Vin would take the first patrol
With Buck the two would up and go
Then Ezra and Nathan would ride next
Which made the two seem a little vexed

Judge Travis wanted to meet with Chris
And discuss the town and the risks
Then the seven would meet at six
The next few day’s schedule to fix

And share with all what Chris was told
About cases coming up and villains bold
Who might attempt to assault their town
Because they knew not the Seven’s renown

So off they went to complete their tasks
With JD filled with questions to ask
And Nathan off to catch some sleep,
Josiah had an appointment to keep

And Buck and Vin went to horses saddle
With Buck’s mount peaceful and Vin’s a battle
Chris watched all his friends depart
And felt dark foreboding in his heart

A slight breeze crept, a wind of change
Bringing with a sense most strange
Of something dark on the horizon
Something Chris should keep his eyes on

But before he narrowed down the thought
Billy raced up to show what he had bought
Chris kneeled down so see what the boy got
And smiled at Billy’s first sling shot

Agreeing to show the boy to use it
He admonished Billy not to lose it
And watched the blond run away
With other kids to laugh and play

A smile graced his handsome face
As Mary came up in cotton and lace
And greeted the man who was her friend
Wishing toward her his heart would bend

Judge Travis a moment later came
Limping somewhat as if lame
He explained that he had been kicked
When his dodge was not too quick

Chris suggested sitting down
At the restaurant here in town
So they could drink some coffee brew
While the judge shared what he knew

Meanwhile out on the trail
Far from town there came a wail
Causing Buck and Vin to race
When a shot rang out, they increased their pace


JD stood on the walk
Waiting for someone with whom to talk
Soon he found his reward
When he saw Josiah coming toward

But just as he opened up his mouth
The stagecoach came in from the south
And all his questions went away
Surprised as he realized it was past midday

That meant Buck and Vin were late
He asked Josiah to go get Nate
For now JD knew something was wrong
And he felt worry build it’s gnawing song

He ran off to go get Chris
Certain now that much was amiss
He caught Ezra on his way
And told the gambler not to stay

Chris came out as JD called
Mouth frowning and fists balled
Looking at JD, his eyes were glaring
Wondering at the young man’s daring.

"Buck and Vin haven’t returned,"
JD gasped as his cheeks burned.
He watched as Chris’ brow furrowed
As to his heart JD’s words burrowed.

It was then the hand of fear
Looked at Chris and drew near
And without a doubt Larabee knew
Something was wrong as the fear grew

It was then Josiah and Nathan came
Read Chris’ face and felt the same
They needed to find their missing brothers
And rescue them from vicious others.

For something around just wasn’t right
But Travis cautioned to wait the night
For someone might have needed help
A family or even some young whelp

And knowing Buck and Vin would aid
The others listened and in town stayed
But all were restless, as night dragged on
And met at the livery come the dawn

Even Travis met them there
And wished them luck, ignoring the glare
That Larabee shot Travis’ way
There was nothing left for him to say

And so the five, they headed out
Riding in line with JD as scout
Tracing Vin and Buck’s day old trail
Until JD stopped them with a hail

As tracking their horses he had done
Until he saw the hoof-prints run
JD’s eyes grew wide with fear
Sensing something dark was near

Chris demanded an answer now
JD offered up with furrowed brow
"Something’s wrong they began to run."
Chris’s hand went to his gun

His oldest friend and brother new
Had run off and his fear grew
For there were no tracks coming back
He needed to go and find some facts.

The five headed off once more
Fearing what fate held in store
For their two missing friends
Each one prayed it wasn’t an end.

But with each stride uncertainty grew
Until into a clearing all five drew
And witnessed the evidence of a fight
And blood pooled in a gruesome sight.


The first gentle rays of dawn
Found an entrance and crept along
Making way ‘cross the hard-pack floor
Caressing the figures on the floor they did adore

Bound and gagged were Buck and Vin
Unconscious still as they had been
Since early on the day before
Coming to once or twice, not more

But now the morning light did tease
Almost as if it was saying please
Arise and meet the day to come
Rest no more you valiant ones

Then slowly did the duo stir
And wondered in what state they were
As they discovered they were bound
And gags prevented coherent sound

Cautiously they both did blink
And forced their sluggish minds to think
Each one trying to remember
If they did fight or did surrender

Though every inch of Vin did ache
He used his strength to turn and face
His friend who always had his back
Wishing his bonds had more slack

Buck was already facing Tanner
And was frustrated by the manner
In which they both had been bound
Since neither man could make a sound

Blue eyes locked with blue eyes too
Agreeing what they had to do
Though both were hurt and both were bruised
From nothing else could they choose

With pain-filled moans and aches galore
Buck and Vin moved on the floor
Until they lay there back to back
And used their hands the knots to track

Vin untied Buck’s hands first
Both men grunted and mentally cursed
More pain neither man did need
But soon enough they were both freed

Then taking stock of their aches
Neither man met the other’s face
Their current wounds would not allow
Escape, at least, not for now.

Taking rest the two did think
And as they remembered hearts did sink
From their prison would be no escape
To the other five they’d trust their fate

But as for their here and now
Each man made a solemn vow
To do what ever they did need
To stay alive ‘til they were freed

Clearing his throat Vin did ask
What injuries Buck’s face did mask
Buck returned he’d ask the same
But their wounds neither man would name

Until they agreed they had no choice
And as to their wounds they each gave voice
Bruises to their ribs each had
The sprained ankle and sprained wrist were bad.

One eye each was swollen shut
Swollen lips, and sore guts
Every inch was bruised or cut
Both men felt they’d had enough

But nothing threatened life and limb
A little rest and they’d begin
And they’d explore their erstwhile prison
With the knowledge their minds had given


Chris slid from Pony to the ground
His eyes focused only down
Upon the viscous pools of crimson
As if they had his answers within

The others froze but did not dismount
For each was filled with fear and doubt
What had been their brothers’ fate
And what if they were now too late

A shudder ran down Ezra’s spine
As he felt the urgency of time
They needed to find their wayward brothers
And to do that they would need each other

"Come, let’s seek what we can find,"
Ezra choked out as tears did blind
For as he spoke he saw something that
Could only be Vin’s calvary hat

Dismounting he then wandered over
To verify what he’d discovered
The others each watched with dread
Fearing to see it stained in red

But Ezra let out sighs of relief
And turned his brothers’ eyes to meet
A smile played across his face
As he prayed Buck and Vin were safe

Snapping out of indecision
Chris ordered the work divisions
That all the clearing might be searched
And clues to events would be unearthed

JD went to follow tracks
Ezra and Chris searched round the hat
Nathan and Josiah sought
Until their search yielded more than nought

"Chris come here! See what I found!"
JD called, crouched by the ground
Chris moved swiftly ‘cross the way
To see and hear what JD had to say

"This was left here by the trail,"
JD began ‘fore his voice did fail.
Chris bent down lifted up
A piece of paper sitting in a grass tuft

Slowly he unwound the piece
His heart fearing the hand of grief
But the message writ upon the note
Was a symbol not unlike a goat.

"No! It can’t be!" Josiah gasped.
"It’s a nightmare symbol from my past."
Four sets of eyes bored deeply in
Demanding knowledge of Josiah’s sin

"What does it mean?" Chris demanded,
As to Josiah the note he reluctantly handed
Josiah paled, wishing the message untrue
But looking up he knew what to do

"We have to ride," Josiah commanded
Knowing the danger in which his friends had landed
And knowing too what must be done
He surreptitiously checked his gun

He would not be caught unawares
Despite the puzzled baffled stares
Of each of his dear close friends
He knew he must this nightmare end

For if he failed the darkness would reign
And once more would his soul carry the stain
Of innocent lives removed
Because his worth he’d failed to prove

"Come on, mount up. We have to ride."
Josiah commanded out of need not pride
"JD find and follow the trail.
Let’s pray to God it’s not gone stale."


Outside the small enclosed prison
Stood a form as if from Hell risen
Twisted, scarred and sneering too
This ghoulish form was more what than who

Lingering shadows did he employ
As his evil soul did writhe with joy
Knowing that his enemy came
And the two would meet once more again

This creature who is hardly man
Had spent years perfecting his deadly plan
The lives he’d take had honed his skill
‘Til now he could incite terror at will

The scent of blood would excite
The need within to shut the light
For from darkness’ well he drew
A power few if any knew

The victims from the day before
Had whet his apatite for more
Their screams still echoed in his ears
And he licked his lips to still taste their fear

Long and slow their deaths had been
At least ‘til shots their lives did end
One of the weak had been unable
To stand the screams and turned the tables

But that henchman would be dealt
A fair punishment that would be felt
Until his fast approaching end
Did to the plan its use lend

A trail of blood and tortured souls
Would more than let Josiah know
The power this twisted thing had bought
The power that they both had sought

One for evil, one for good
One would succeed, one never would
But shadow had it’s power too
Though from the face of light it flew

No more would dark’s disciple hide
From light’s minion’s fearsome ride
Almost as if sensing Josiah’s approach,
The inhuman thing did clear its throat

"Prepare the horses and wagon both,"
Came the whispered command from the goat.
"We will take these pretty two.
Go on now! Move! You know what to do."

Then turning once more to the room
He looked upon those who were doomed
With their lives he would have his way
With his toys on them would play

And listen to their agonized screams
Until they cried their souls redeemed
Then he would tie them face to face
And one would kill the other lace

With just enough poisoned drug
To carry through his dwindling blood
Leaving him alive just so much
That he would feel Death’s cold touch

And pass along a message true
Of what Josiah would have to do
To stop the slaughter of the lambs
With his very own two hands.

Of Vin and Buck he cared not at all
They were just a nice windfall
A lure, a hook to bait the trap
Then be tossed aside , just like that.

Back to Index | Forward to parts 6 to 10

Email: MMW