Not Again! Times Seven.
Disclaimer: See Chapter One
Beta: Queen Sereya
AN: Thanks goes to Kat, whose response to a plot bunny offered to the imaginings list nibbled at me until I added it to the story. Its short, but it’s there. Also, thanks goes to Jaderose, also from the list, who pointed me in the right direction for Mag 7 info.
Chapter 3: Not Again! Times Seven.
A lone motorcycle stopped at the edge of the dusty town. Getting off, Xander took off his helmet before placing it on his seat. It had taken him well over a week to get there and already his uncle has called to complain about him getting into trouble.
Not like he could explain what had happened in that little town. He had only wanted to sleep for the night. He hadn’t meant to stumble on that drug deal. He hadn’t meant to be kidnapped by that dirty drug dealer. And he certainly hadn’t meant for that drug dealer to let him go so that he could go crying to the police for being a bad man and plead to be arrested. . . . Well, he had meant to make the guy let him go. But the crying thing, that was the dealer’s doing, not him. Speed had called him, after the police had phoned asking for character reference on him, demanding to know what he had done. His ‘just talked’ had not gone over well. His uncle had finished the conversation by admonishing him to leave the criminals to the professionals.
So, it may have taken a little longer than he had anticipated, but Xander was finally at Four Corners. He looked over the one road town and sighed. “I still think this is a bad idea, no matter what Uncle Speed said.”
“Oh come on, Xander,” Speed encouraged. “How many ‘ghost towns’ actually have ghosts?”
“Well. ...” Xander said reluctantly.
“Look,” Speed said as he put his arm around his nephew, “You still wanted to go on that road trip, right?”
“Well, you could ride your bike there. I’d love to know what the place is like, but I don’t have enough leave time to go. And, besides, you could always tell me about it.”
Xander looked at him, glancing at his nearly healed arm in worry. He wasn’t sure he should leave his uncle while still healing.
Speed shrugged off his concern. “Don’t worry ‘bout that. I’m almost fully healed. I’ll be starting back at work soon.”
Xander frowned. “I don’t know.”
“Come on, Xander,” Speed encouraged his reluctant nephew, “It’s a win-win situation. You get to see the country and then you get to see where our ancestor lived his life.”
Xander smiled. “I guess.”
Xander thought back. He had been excited to go. But now that he was here, he wasn’t so sure. “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Xander sighed. “Well now that I’m here, I might as well look around. Let’s see,” Xander said as he turned in a half circle so that he could take in the entire town. “Tanner lived here for years. Where would he have hung out?”
Xander caught sight of a building with bars in the window off to the side. “Maybe the jail? Vin Tanner was one of the town’s protectors, right?”
As he made his way to the jail, Xander felt as if someone was standing behind him. He whirled around. Nothing and no one was there. “Oooookay.”
He stepped into the jail. There wasn’t much to it. Just the cell and the rest of the room. There was an old style desk in the center. On it, there was a display case. Xander slowly approached the case to see what it held. Two pistols with ivory grips were displayed at opposite angles, their barrels pointed toward an old-fashioned sheriff’s badge. The six-pointed star shaped badge glimmered brightly in the sun and Xander stared at it, thinking about how an actual lawman from the old west had worn it.
Stepping closer to have a better look, his hand brushed against a hard edge of something in his pocket. Blinking, he remembered the camera in his pocket. He had promised his uncle he would get some pictures. He was sure Uncle Speed would love pictures of what was in this display case. He quickly snapped a few pictures. As he snapped the photos, he noticed there was something below the badge within the case.
In the case, framed by the two pistols was a photograph. It was one of those old one that was colored in yellowish beige tones. In it, there was a man, probably in his early 30s, standing proudly outside the jailhouse. He was wearing the sheriff star. As Xander looked closer he realized, the man in the photograph was wearing the guns that were on display as well. He was also wearing a funny hat. It didn’t look like one Xander would have thought a sheriff from the old west would have worn. It was a short round bowler hat.
“This must be the sheriff. Funny hat though.” Xander mused. Xander froze. He swore that someone was staring at him. Well, glaring at him if you wanted to be more precise. He turned around slowly. No one was there. He glanced out the open door. Bright and sunny. No way for a vampire to be out and yet, his senses were telling him that not everything was normal. Getting an itchy feeling on the back of his neck, Xander decided staying in the jail was not a good idea.
Xander ran out into the middle of the dusty road and whirled around, looking for whoever or whatever was spying on him. Nothing. He was positive something was there. Maybe he should leave.
As he cautiously approached his motorcycle, one building caught his gaze. It was in the middle of the town, not touching any other building. Its doors were the type that he had seen in old western movies. The ones that only seemed to cover the good guys’ torso and would swing back in forth when someone went through them. They were not swinging now. But he swore that those doors had just swung closed, even if now they were standing perfectly still. “What was that?”
Veering his path, he headed for the swing style doors. “A saloon?”
Xander walked to the center of the room. Turning around in a circle, he took in the entire room. It seemed less dusty than the rest of the town. Oh, sure, the whole town was a little dusty and faded looking, but this room was different. It was spotlessly clean and the colors, while faded, only seemed a few years old, not hundreds of years old, like the rest of the town. It was strange.
Xander blinked as his vision blurred suddenly. “What the?”
He blinked again. The room seemed to be spinning. This was not good. He had to get out. Now! He whirled around to face the door and swayed as his vision darkened to a dark grey. He took one step before his legs collapsed beneath him. Staring at the floor, he wondered what had just happened for a few seconds before his vision darkened to complete black.
Xander became aware in stages. At first, he was only aware of the darkness. Then he could hear voices from far off. In a few moments, the voices became more distinct. It was still dark, possibly because his eyes were still closed. The black had faded to a dark pink which he realized was the back of his eyelids.
Concentrating on the voices, Xander was only partially able to make out what they were saying. They seemed to be arguing about something. He wished they could be a little quieter or at least argue somewhere else, he really wanted to go back to sleep.
“Is he gonna be okay, Nate?”
“I don’t know JD. He took quite a shock. And he still hasn’t come to yet. He’s in good health from what I can tell. We just have to wait and see.”
Nate must be some sort of doctor, Xander mused.
“Leave Nate alone, kid. He’s done what he can with the boy. Quit pestering him.”
“But, Buck! He’d been talking ‘bout Vin. What’d he want with Vin?”
“Don’t know. But we can’t ask him now, can we?”
The voice who had been called JD snorted. “Not like he’d hear us if he was awake.”
“Can hear you fine,” Xander grumbled. Opening his eyes, he blinked at the orange light. “Would you please shut up so I can get some sleep?”
Xander looked around to find no one there. He seemed to be in some sort of clinic. He was lying on an iron bed, though the bedding was newer. Off to the side were a couple chairs by a wooden table. On the far wall, there was a big window. He could just see the buildings from Four Corners. So he was still in the ghost town.
Getting up, he slowly made his way to the window for a better view. The sun was just setting. It had been near noon when he had gotten there. He must have lost four or five hours.
“Buck! He can hear us!”
Xander whirled around, only to sway when his head continued spinning.
“Whoa there, son. Take it easy there,” a gravelly voice said. “Maybe you should sit back down.”
Xander’s eyes were wide as he scanned the room for the speakers. “Who said that?”
“Now don’t go getting all antsy, kid. Just sit down like ‘ole Josiah told ya to. You ain’t that steady. An’ we don’t want ya falling down an’ hurting yerself,” One of the voices, Buck, Xander thought, said.
Xander frowned, making his way to the chair to steady himself; he stood with one hand leaning on the chair. “No! I want to know who you are? And where are you hiding?”
“Kid,” A new voice, this one gruffer than the others, demanded, “Sit. Down.”
Xander sat down. That was a voice you didn’t disobey. Finally giving up on finding the speakers in the room, Xander tried to calm his mind down so he could think.
“Now, kid. Don’t be getting scared or nothin’. There’s a good explanation for what’s going on,” Buck said.
“How ya gonna ‘splain us, Buck? People don’t believe in us. They come to see the town. My badge and guns. That sort a thing. But they don’t notice us.”
“He did though.” A new voice spoke up, this one quieter. “The boy knew we were watching him. Couldn’t see or hear us. But he knew.”
“Oh, damn. Not again.” Xander complained. He had finally realized what had happened. He could only blame the fact that he had passed out, possibly hitting his head on the saloon floor, for his slow uptake on the situation. There had been six distinct voices that were all silent now, but Xander was sure that would change shortly.
“Again?” The quiet voice, one of the ones yet to be named. “Something like this has happened to ya before?”
Xander sighed. “Yeah. Something like that. Hold on.”
Getting up, he made his way unsteadily to the center of the room. Sitting down, he crossed his legs and closed his eyes.
“What’s he doing Buck?”
“Don’t know. Why don’t you ask him yerself?”
“If you’d be quiet. I could tell you,” Xander said. “I had to do this after the zoo incident. I kept having these hunting dreams and had to find a way to communicate with her spirit. Which was kinda hard as she was inside me at the time.”
Opening his eyes, he found himself in his mindscape, the hyena sitting calmly in her normal space, beside him. “And focusing inward or meditation worked.”
He looked around the grey landscape to see the seven, not six, men who had possessed him surrounding him.
Next time: There’s Family,