How strong is a demon?
This has never been documented.
However, based on anonymous records recently unearthed, they have strength many times more than a human.
If they use their core and concentrate, they could split a mountain in half.
They would take tremendous damage doing so, perhaps even die.
Generally speaking, a demon would be at its strongest when they use their core.
Whether or not this is the truth, that hasn’t been determined.
Scientists would scoff at the notion.
These records would contradict them and do so in great detail.
If you believe.
“Doctor, you recognize these marks?” asks Sheriff Anderson, but the eccentric Doc Banner shushes him.
“I need a moment,” he says with a raspy voice. He removes his glasses and lowers them towards the wound on Ethan’s neck. After a few moments, he lifts his glasses back to his face. He looks up at the Sheriff and the Deputy and shakes his head, “Animal attack,” the doctor says as he lifts the sheet over Ethan’s face.
Without another word, Doc Banner walks out of the room.
Once the doctor is gone, Anderson looks at Trawls, “That’s our good doctor? He seems a bit off his rocker, if you ask me. He looked at those markings for a long time before deciding. That was after he said he’d seen them before, and then he just shut up.”
Trawls nods his head, “He has some odd bedside manner, but he’s the best doctor outside of the big cities. Just showed up one day and set up shop. I won’t lie. He’s been a godsend to Durango, especially during last year’s cholera outbreak. He’s been a little off.”
Anderson reaches up to scratch his chin, “He’s very interesting. I’ll have to stop by and formerly introduce myself.”
There is already a line forming up outside of the Banner’s small hospital. Sable looks out the window and wonders aloud, “Where has my father gone?”
“He got called out by the sheriff this morning?” says Sebastian Crane as he walks into the waiting room.
“The sheriff?” asks Sable curiously.
“I guess Ethan Johnson mouthed off to one too many of the townfolks, and someone killed him,” Crane says. “Doc told me to wait until you got up to open the clinic.”
“Well, it couldn’t happen to a nicer person,” smirks Sable. “That man always had a thing or two to say to me when he came into the clinic.” She motions for him to go ahead and open the clinic, “Let me grab some coffee, and I’ll be ready to see patients.”
The door to the back of the clinic opens, and Doc Banner walks in, “Sorry I’m late. The sheriff needed my help.”
Sable marches up to him, “Next time, wake me up. These people have been waiting for a long time to see you, father.”
Banner chuckles, “You are just as capable as I am of running this clinic. Next time I’ll wake you before I get called out by the sheriff. Besides, I don’t have time to see these patients today. If they want to be seen, you can see them.”
“You’re turning away their money? That isn’t like you at all,” says Sable.
As Sebastion prepares to open the clinic, Doc motions Sable closer, “My daughter, the money we make seeing these patients is nothing. We are about to be rich as rich can be.”
Sable’s face falls as she hears this claim. It’s the same claim she’s heard for years now. One of the reasons she took up being a doctor was her father was finding less interest in doing it. His obsession was rearing its ugly head again.
“Father!” she says as he disappears through the door to his lab.
“What should we do?” asks Sebastian.
“Tell them that I’m the attending physician today. If they prefer not to be seen by me, then they can go home,” she says matter of factly, knowing some patients will only be seen by a male doctor.
As Sebastion steps out the front door to address the crowd, Sable looks towards the lab door with concern on her face. “It’s getting worse,” she says to herself.
Doc Banner rushes into his laboratory. He has hidden his laboratory inside a cave dug by the railroad when it decided to go around the mountain rather than through it. As he lights the lanterns that chase the darkness away, he walks up to a birdcage, removes the cover, and opens the door. This allowed his black crow to hop to the edge and then fly out into the cavern.
“Hello, Onyx,” the doc says as he walks over and begins to toss about papers as if looking for something in particular. “Where are you?” he asks himself or whatever it is he’s looking for.
He runs across the cave to another cabinet and pulls out some rolled up papers, scattering them about as well until he exclaims, “There you are!” he cackles as he rises to his feet and holds a small book in his hand. From his jacket pocket, he pulls out a magnifying glass and begins to read through his notes until he finds what he’s looking for.
“It’s her,” he says to himself. “After so many years, I get to see her again.” He continues to laugh as he reads, “Red eyes. Black wings. Red eyes. Black wings.”
He flashes back to the day of the attack, where he witnessed the demon slay the Confederate troops right before his eyes. The wounds on some of their necks, the same as Ethan Johnson. He hurries over to the body of the demon as she lays on the cold ground. He watches as her body begins to melt into a puddle of water. Astonished at this, he hurries over and looks at the wounds of the fallen soldiers and pulls out the notebook, and begins to take notes at what he’s witnessed.
“This is it!” he exclaims, though no one else is around to hear him. He hurries over to where the crow is perched, “My baby, you’ll be able to find her, won’t you?” He walks over and opens the door, “Go find the demon, my pet!” The bird flies out of the cave as Doc Banner raises his hands high in the air and cackles with the thought of finding his demon after so many years.
“This will be the biggest discovery in the world of science! The name of Doctor Andrew Banner will be known throughout the land. No! No! The world!”
“You really didn’t see anything that night?” asks Sheriff Anderson. “You didn’t hear anything?”
Bobby and Deputy Trawls are in the saloon talking to the barkeeper. “It was a typical night for Mr. Johnson. He got so drunk he could barely put one foot in front of the other and gambled away his earnings at the poker table. He had to get help to walk to his horse, but when I left last night, his horse was still tied up out there.”
The sound of a growl is heard, and around the corner of the saloon, a wild coyote steps into view. It seems to be not in its right mind as it snarls and growls at the Sherrif and the Deputy. The bartender disappears inside as the lawmen slowly reach for their weapons, but before they can, the coyote leaps at them, narrowly avoiding Deputy Trawls but tackling down Sheriff Anderson.
When Trawls hits the ground, his gun slides down the dirt road out of his reach. Bobby struggles underneath the coyote whose teeth get awful close to his face when suddenly a loud gunshot is heard, and the sheriff rolls the dead coyote off of him.
Trawls scrambles to his feet and hurries over to help the sheriff to his feet. Bobby looks down at himself, covered in the coyote’s blood. “What the hell was that?”
“I couldn’t even tell you,” Trawls says as he looks down at the coyote’s body before turning to go retrieve his pistol.
“Coyotes don’t venture into the city unless they have no other access to food, and there’s plenty of wildlife out there. I couldn’t even imagine what would have made it come into the city for lunch,” says the sheriff.
Trawls holsters his weapon and asks, “Could this explain what happened to Ethan, do you think?”
The sheriff doesn’t seem convinced. “Hard to say. I mean, it’s possible, but I’m almost sure those marks were made by some type of blade.” He turns to Trawls, “Get a crew together to get this carcass out of the city before it starts to stink. I mean, way out of the city. We don’t need to attract any more wildlife.”
Trawls rushes off as the sheriff kneels down to take another look at this critter, still baffled as to why it would come into the city in broad daylight.
Sansibar is sitting at his table when his servant walks in, “There is talk that the sheriff took down a coyote. But at the moment, it’s not entirely certain he will place the blame of Ethan Johnson’s death to it.”
The demon doesn’t seem too happy.
“You’re so close to hibernation. The snow will start falling soon,” the servant says.
Sansibar rises from his feet and places a hand on the servant’s shoulder, “I appreciate how you are concerned for my well being. But you needn’t worry. I will hibernate in time.”
The demon grabs his coat and heads for the door when his servant rushes over, “Where are you going, sir?”
Sansibar doesn’t even look back, “Time to look at the next case.”
“But you didn’t even touch your lunch.”
“You make the same dishes every time. I need a change,” Sansibar says and then disappears into the street. As he turns down the dirt road, we see Doc Banner’s crow is flying overhead.
“Sis! Sis!” cries Sarah as she rushes out of the house when she spots Eloise walking up the road.
“What’s got you so excited?” asks Eloise.
“Did you hear?” Sarah says excitedly.
Eloise looks curious, “Hear about what?”
“Mr. Champett from the bank is sponsoring a Durango Beauty contest!” Sarah holds out a flyer.
“You know I can’t hardly read that. Tell me what it says,” demands Eloise as she walks into the home and removes her jacket, hanging it on the hook by the door. She walks over and picks up a small log, and places it in the fireplace. “It’s getting so cold.”
Sarah sits down at the kitchen table and lays the flyer out on the table, “It says, Durango Beauty Contest. The winner will receive twenty dollars.”
“Wait, a whole twenty dollars?” asks Eloise. “Are you sure? That’s a lot of money!”
“It says it right here!” Sarah points to the spot on the flyer. “It says it’s a singing and dancing competition. You’re a sure thing to win!”
Eloise takes a seat at the table as well and looks down at the flyer. She does recognize a few things on the flyer, but she didn’t really get far in school. “Does it say anything else?”
Sarah nods, “It says that if you win, you’ll be hired as a greeter for the bank. It pays one dollar and twenty-five cents a week.”
Eloise looks from the paper to Sarah, “I only make twenty-five cents a week now at the saloon. We wouldn’t have to worry about pa losing his job if I get this job.” She sighs, “What if I don’t win?”
Sarah reaches for her hand, “There isn’t a girl in all of Durango as pretty as my sister. No one sings as good as you, and no one dances as good as you. It’s like they made this contest just for you. Besides, what could it hurt to try?”
“Maybe…” Eloise says. Her eyes dart outside, and she notices how dark it’s become. “Pa should be home by now.”
Sarah bites her lip nervously, and of course, Eloise notices, “What’s going on?”
“You know Mr. Keller, who is in charge of the mining company?” Sarah asks.
“That mean old bastard?” Eloise snorts.
“Ellie! Pa would whip you to hear you talk like that.”
“What were you saying?”
Sarah nods, “Pa took a job working for him. You had already left when he got the offer.”
Eloise doesn’t like that at all. She slides out from behind the table and walks over to start a fire for the stove so she can cook dinner.
Everyone in the Pike household had long since gone to bed and asleep except for Eloise, who had plenty on her mind. Long after the girls had gone to bed, Wilfred returned home from working, ate the plate of food Eloise left for him and went right to bed.
“Hm?” Sarah responds sleepily.
“I’m gonna do the beauty show.”
More awake now, Sarah turns over, “You are?”
Eloise nods, “If I can win, pa won’t have to work the mines.” Eloise rolls over on her side, though sleep is still not coming to her.
The following afternoon, Sarah comes running home, “Ellie! Ellie!”
Eloise comes out of the house, “What’s wrong?”
It takes Sarah a moment to catch her breath as she leans a hand against her sister, “It’s pa. You gotta go into town. I think he’s been hurt.”
Eloise rushes over to mount one of the horses and speeds off towards town. As she arrives in town, she can already see where her father is as there are people all gathered around. She brings the horse to a half and slides off onto the ground, and rushes over, pushing her way until she sees her father. There’s some blood on his face, but the most significant injury seems to be his leg, which is twisted in a way it shouldn’t be.
“Pa!” she cries out. They have Wilfred in the back of a wagon. He tries to sit up but cries out in pain and lies back. Eloise looks around, “Why hasn’t anyone taken him to the clinic?”
“You know Doc Banner’s rule. No payment, no treatment,” says someone from the crowd.
“Where’s Mr. Keller?” Eloise screams out, “He should pay for this treatment since it happened at the mine.”
“Old Man Keller is still out at the mine. Didn’t even stop the workers when this happened,” someone says. “Just sent a couple of guys to haul him back.”
Eloise looks frantic as she shakes her head, “I’m gonna go talk to that damn Keller, and he’s gonna pay for this. Can you please take my pa to the clinic? Tell Doc Banner that I’ll bring the money as soon as I get it from Mr. Keller.” With that, Eloise gets back on her horse and rides out towards the mine site.
Eloise pulls up to the fence with a single sign that reads “WARNING” hand-painted on a plank of wood. She slides down from her horse and strides through the gate.
Some of the workers stop what they’re doing as they notice her. “Where is Mr. Keller?” she asks loudly.
One of the men steps forward, “He went to check on the mine outside of Animas City. Probably won’t be back here for a couple of days.”
“Animas City?” she asks. She considers going home, but she can’t stop now when her father needs her help. She walks out of the fence and climbs up on Elmer. “I guess we’re going to Animas City.”
The moon is full as a man has a woman’s hand, practically dragging her through a field. “Let me go,” she says as she tries to pull away from him, but he’s larger and stronger than she.
“I said, shut your mouth, woman. If you’re gonna dump me, then I expect a little something for my time and trouble of courting you, and I aim to take it right here and now,” says the larger man as he pushes her to the ground and starts to pull down his pants when Sansibar lands behind him.
The man spins around, and immediately Sansibar grabs his arm and twists it, forcing him down onto the ground. He looks over at the woman, seeing her face down on the ground.
“What are you?” asks the man.
“I don’t see too many prey asking their predator for their name. But my intention is straightforward. I plan to rid Durango of simple-minded men like yourself who has chosen to do evil,” Sansibar responds however, he’s slightly distracted as the woman begins to stir.
The man is able to pull himself free and makes a run for it.
Sansibar unfurls his wings and soars into the air, and lands right on the shoulders of the man. With a palm strike, he drives his hand into the top of the man’s head, causing blood to begin to seep from his mouth as the man falls to the ground, dead.
A rifle peeks out from somewhere in the field, and as it fires, a dart shoots out and hits Sansibar in the back.
Doc Banner rises from the field and begins to laugh and laugh. “It’s taken twenty years, but I’ve finally found a demon! A real demon!”
Sansibar slowly turns around to face the doc, who points to him, “God has treated me well, you see. Everyone told me I was wasting my time searching for demons. That they didn’t exist on this earth.”
Sansibar tries to pull out his wings, but the Doc just laughs at him, “You can’t transform. The sedative on that dart will make sure you cannot. Once you pass out, I’ll bring you back to my lab so I can do some research on you.” The doc continues to laugh as Sansibar gets sleepy. “I am going to crack you open and see what’s inside of you.”
The demon starts to stagger when he suddenly waves his hand, and smoke begins to fill the field.
“What?” says the doc as he rushes into the smoke only to find that Sansibar has disappeared. Banner shakes his fist, “You won’t escape me forever, demon!” He whistles loudly, and the crow flies overhead. “Find him again! I must have him!”
Sansibar is running through Animas City to escape the mad doctor. The crow and the doctor are behind him, but they don’t see him as they turn the corner. The crow lands near a pile of trash, and as the doctor gets closer, he holds his nose. “Is he in here?” asks the doc to the crow, who responds with a caw.
Doc Banner begins to dig through the refuse heap until he’s sure the demon is not inside. The doc shoos the crow, “Go find him again!” and the crow takes flight as the doctor runs off after him.
A few moments later, Sansibar rises from behind the trash heap. “I’ll have to be careful. The bird can find me by how I smell.” He starts to walk away when he spots some old clothing lying next to the garbage. He reaches down and picks them up.
Eloise rides into the Animas City limits and begins to ask around about the mine’s location, but no one seems to be willing to help, or they aren’t sure where it’s located.
She misses Doc Banner as he continues to look for the demon, but Sansibar, dressed in the smelly old clothing, steps out. “I can take you to the mine,” he tells her, mostly just to use her as a way to get away from Banner.
“Really? Thank you!” Eloise says, “Do you have a horse?”
Sansibar shakes his head, “I don’t.”
“Hop on,” she tells him. With ease, Sansibar boosts himself up and settles behind her on the horse.
Doc Banner trails back the way he came, hoping to find his cherished demon. When he walks by the trash heap from earlier, he notices something different.
He notices Sansibar’s clothing left behind. He shakes the clothes and throws them back on the trash pile, “He got away,” he cries out in frustration.
Then, even more so when thunder sounds and rain begins to pour down on him.
Eloise squeals as the rain begins to pour down on them. She stops the horse, and they climb down and run into the hotel’s lobby and shake themselves off. “Goodness!” cries Eloise as she crosses her arms in front of her, “That came out of nowhere.”
The hotel manager walks over, “Can we get you a meal or a room for the night?”
Eloise asks, “How far from here is the mine?”
He thinks about it, “It’s not far at all, to be honest. It’s just a couple of miles outside of the city.”
Eloise turns to go back to her horse when Sansibar grabs her arm, “I would like to eat. I haven’t eaten all day.”
“Why haven’t you eaten all day?” she asks him.
“I’m broke,” he explains. He follows the manager to a table and takes a seat. Eloise watches him for a moment, then goes after him.
After getting settled in, Sansibar turns to her, “Why do you need to go to the mine?”
Eloise looks at him, “My pa was hurt in an accident at the mine near Durango. The boss, that’s Mr. Keller, he just had some men drop my pa off at town. We can’t afford the bill from Doc Banner’s clinic. I need him to pay so my pa can get better.”
Understanding her situation, Sansibar asks, “Do you think he’ll pay?”
Eloise shrugs softly, “I’m not really sure. I just have to try.”
Food arrives at their table, and they begin to eat. Sansibar was in desperate need of nourishment, so he is thankful for the meal.
Eloise watches him a moment, “After we eat, I’m going to the mine.”
“The rain is too much right now. You should wait for the morning. I don’t think it’s safe to be riding out there,” Sansibar explains.
Eloise starts to respond when she notices that the man is slowly fading as his eyes begin to close. After a few moments, he slowly lowers his head to the table and falls asleep. She watches him for a moment, “Seems as if he hasn’t slept for days.”
She rises from her seat and walks over to the manager, and places her last coin in his hand, “Can you just let that man sleep for a little while?”
The man looks over at the sleeping guest and gives a little laugh, “I can do that.”
“Which way is it to the mine?”
“You’re a long way from home, little girl,” Keller tells Eloise. “You walking here and making demands of me? How dare you.”
Eloise isn’t scared of Mr. Keller, “My pa was hurt while he was working for you. You need to take care of him. I’m sure the work he was doing for you made you some good money.”
Some of Keller’s workers have gathered around behind their boss, “And if I don’t pay, what you gonna do, girl?” he tells her with a laugh. “Girl, there’s nothing you can do to me. I ain’t paying you a nickel, child. Go home and tend to your crippled daddy.”
He starts to shoo everyone back to work when Eloise steps forward, “Please listen. You all get up every morning and work your tail to the bone for Mr. Keller. What if it was you who got hurt? Or you? What if what happened to my pa happens to you? How will you feed your families? If I know Mr. Keller, he’s probably paying you pennies a day for all this hard work.”
There’s some murmuring among the workers as she speaks.
“If you band together and demand better, he’ll have no choice but to do right by you. He can’t afford to fire everyone because that’ll take money out of his pocket.”
Suddenly, the workers see things in a new light. They begin to talk amongst each other as Keller looks on and not liking where this is going. He walks over to Eloise, “That’s very cute, little girl. Nice little speech just because you want some money out of me that you ain’t deserved.”
Keller turns and looks at his men, “I’ll make sure Mr. Pike gets all his doctor bills paid off. If you come with me to my little office, I’ll give you the money now,” he says after turning back to her, but making sure everyone else can hear.
Eloise is a little skeptical after all his words earlier, “For real?”
Keller mocks, looking hurt, “Why would I lie to you? Look around,” he motions to the workers, “They are all witness to my words. You made them see the light, I reckon so what’s a good honest man like myself supposed to do?”
Eloise nods her head, “I suppose. Okay, let’s go.”
Keller turns and tells the men to get back to work before leading Eloise away from the others.
After they’ve walked a bit, Eloise finally asks, “Where are you taking me?”
Keller turns around, “I told you. I keep my money locked up in my office. You want your money, or don’t you?”
“Why isn’t your office near the mine?” she asks.
Keller smirks at her, “You think you’re smart for a dumb little girl, don’t you? You ain’t as smart as you think with your fancy speeches and whatnot. Get her!” he demands.
Two men grab Eloise from behind, she spins around, “What are you gonna do now? Kill me? My pa will come for you!”
Keller laughs at her words, “You mean your dumb crippled pa? He’s gonna be lucky to walk straight since I know Doc Banner ain’t gonna treat him without paying.”
One of the men hits her on the back of the neck, and she falls into their arms, passed out. They carry her to one of the mine entrances. They walk her to the edge, and Keller gives her a hard push, sending her over. The cavern is nearly thirty feet down, but as she gets halfway, her tattoo begins to glow, and instead of falling, it’s more like she’s floating down, and she lands safely on the ground below.
Keller glances over the edge, but the depth makes it difficult to see to the bottom. “There’s no way she can fall that far and live. Let’s go.”
Sansibar lifts his head off the table, looking a bit confused at first. The manager walks over, “You’re awake. I was about to call a doctor. You slept so good.”
The demon looks up, “Where’s the girl I was with?”
“She left. She said not to wake you up. She wanted directions to the mine.”
“She went out there alone?” asks Sansibar.
“I tried to warn her not to go, but she was very insistent,” says the manager.
Sansibar feels something deep inside of him that doesn’t seem right. “Where is the mine?”
Keller and some men are playing poker during their lunch break when suddenly a kick to the back sends one of the workers through the table, scattering money and cards all over the ground.
“Where is the girl?” asks Sansibar.
Like a good boss, Keller tells them to “Get him!”
They come at him, but each kick is blocked, each punch deflected, and one by one, the men soar through the air and lands hard on the ground. With a quickness, Sansibar is standing in front of Keller, hand around his throat as the others groan on the ground.
Slowly, Sansibar lifts Keller off the ground by his neck. “I’ll ask again. Where is the girl?”
The words can barely escape Keller’s mouth, “I threw her into the mine,” he croaks out.
“You better pray that girl is alive. If she’s dead, I will come back here and torture you in the worst possible way.”
A few moments later, Keller is reluctantly leading Sansibar to the mine. When he pauses, Sansibar pushes him forward, “Keep walking.”
At the entrance of the mine, Keller opens the wooden door, “She’s inside.”
Keller goes in first. He motions to the deep cavern, “She’s down there.”
Sansibar leans over and yells, “Anyone down there?”
There’s no response.
He motions to the rope, “Go, make sure she’s alive.” Keller looks at him with wide eyes.
Sansibar clenches his fist, “You threw her down. Bring her back up.”
Keller reaches for the rope and slowly begins to slide down it. As he disappears from Sansibar’s sight, he begins to scream, and the rope goes slack. “Hello?” yells down the demon as he looks concerned.
When no answer comes, he gets on the rope and begins to lower himself into the cavern. He doesn’t notice Keller sitting off on the side behind a rock as he slides down the rope. Keller reaches over with a large knife and begins to saw through the rope, sending Sansibar spiraling down to the cavern floor with a thud. Keller smirks to himself as he grabs what’s left of the rope and climbs back up to safety.
Sansibar sits up, rubbing the back of his head, and then he notices Eloise still unconscious. He hurries over to her side and nudges her, “Are you okay?” he asks as her eyes flutter open, and he helps her sit up.
Confused, she looks around. “Where am I?”
“We were thrown into the mine,” he tells her.
Eloise thinks for a moment, then her eyes go wide, “I remember now! Mr. Keller pushed me in.”
Sansibar shakes his head, “You are a fortunate girl to have not died in the fall.”
Eloise looks at him, “Funny for you to say that to me. You also fell and didn’t die.”
Sansibar doesn’t tell her why. “That Keller also threw me down here when I came looking for you.”
Eloise gets a stern look on her face, “That Mr. Keller. When I get out of here, I’m going to clobber him good.”
Sansibar nods his head, “Well, we have to figure out a way out of here first,” he tells her. He rises to his feet, “It’s a long way to the surface, and the walls are fairly smooth, so I don’t think we’re climbing out of here.”
Eloise gets to her feet as well and begins to look for a way up, “I believe that God will find a way.” She walks over to the walls and begins to feel around for something to grip so she can climb up.
Sansibar takes a seat, “I don’t think there’s a way out.”
Eloise continues to look around, “We have to, or we’ll starve to death down here.”
The demon continues to watch her, “Probably,” he says to her.
Eloise turns to him, “I can’t let that happen!” She begins to yell up the cavern for help. “Anyone there?”
Sansibar gets quiet as he thinks to himself, “I could easily get us out of here, but it’ll take everything I have. It could end me.” He finally turns to her, “What are you doing?”
“I’m trying to find a way out. No matter what, we should keep looking,” she tells him. “Why aren’t you helping? Have you decided to die down here? What about your family?”
He picks up a rock from the ground, “I have no family.”
Eloise softens her look, “What happened to them?”
Sansibar bounces the rock in his hand, “My parents died when I was a child.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” she says. Her eyes light up, “How about this? When we get out of here, you can be a part of my family?”
The offer confuses him at first. He looks up at her, “I don’t really need a family.”
Eloise scoffs, “Everyone needs a family. Everyone needs someone who loves them.” She smiles, “A family is everything. They support you in your time of need. They comfort you in sadness and celebrate your joy. And when you need one, they are there with a hug and a smile.”
She leans down and wraps her arms around his neck, and hugs him to her. Sansibar’s eyes go wide as the feeling washing over him is not something he’s experienced before.
“Just like this,” she tells him before pulling away with a smile. “Did you feel how warm it is?”
Sansibar just stares at her, “I’ve never experienced that before.”
“Well, now you have. So, let’s not give up and die down here,” she tells him.
Sansibar nods at her, “You’re right. There’s still so much life to live.”
She pats his shoulders and stands back up, “Good. Let’s work together and find a way out. There has to be one. Help me.”
She looks up and begins to yell again, “Is there anyone there? Help us!”
Sansibar watches her with fascination and then begins to yell with her, though he continues to watch this amazing woman. As she turns her back, he strikes her in the back of the neck, and she falls back in his arms, knocked out.
He scoops her up in his arms. His eyes turn red, his ears begin to extend, and wings appear behind him. He lets out a primal cry as he rises towards the top of the cavern with her in his arms.
Sansibar bursts through the cave’s wooden door, sending wood everywhere, his black wings flapping as he slowly lowers her to the ground. He gently looks down at her and whispers, “Don’t worry. I will get revenge for you and your family,” he tells her. He leans down, places a gentle kiss on her forehead, and then lowers her to the ground.
Keller is asleep on his bed when Sansibar swoops into the tent, landing on the man with his knee across his throat. Keller struggling to get free but cannot seem to budge the demon.
“What do you want?” he asks.
Sansibar looks down at him, “Where is the wage money?”
Keller points, “All of my money is in that box.”
“Evil deeds will never be forgiven,” Sansibar tells him and then reaches down and snaps the man’s neck, killing him instantly.
He climbs from the bed and walks over, opens the box, and reaches for the money inside, shoving it into his pocket.
As he walks away from the camp, everything he set fire burns to the ground, including the dynamite shed that sets off an impressive display of explosions.
Eloise begins to stir as she lays on the ground. Sansibar has been sitting nearby, waiting for her to wake up, and rushes to her side.
She holds her head as he helps her sit up.
“Are you okay?” he asks her.
Eloise looks around, “Where are we?”
Sansibar helps her to her feet and escorts her over to a large rock where they can both sit down. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out the money he took from Keller and hands it to her, “Your father’s money for the doctor.”
She looks up at him as if asking how this happened.
“The Aminas City sheriff arrived and saved us. Then punished the mine keeper. You were right. There is still life to be lived.”
Eloise looks at the money, very excited that she can get her dad to Doc Banner’s now. She leaps up and spins around with her arms wide open, “Didn’t I tell you? God has a way. He will always find a way.” She then rushes over and throws her arms around his neck, “Thank you too!”
When she pulls back, she tells him, “I have to get back to pay this clinic, but if you’re ever in Durango, then please ask for me. My name is Eloise Pike.” She starts to run off to find her horse but pauses and looks back, “I’m rude. I didn’t even ask your name.”
“Sansibar,” says the demon.
Eloise grins a little, “That’s a very strange name, but I’ll never forget it. Sansibar,” she says again. “Don’t forget to come to look for me if you come to Durango!” She turns and hurries off.
Sansibar stares at her as she leaves, “Eloise Pike. I’ll definitely come to find you,” he says to himself. Suddenly, he gasps and chokes, spitting up pink blood.
Sansibar has made it back to Durango’s hotel room, lying in bed as his servant brings him some food. “How many times have I reminded you not to push yourself, sir? You never listen to me. At least…”
“Stop nagging,” snaps Sansibar. “I already told you I’ll stay in.”
“It’s not nagging!” insists the servant, “It’s for your own good. There’s a crazy man out there with a bird who can smell demons.”
Sansibar is visibly annoyed, he climbs out of bed, and the servant rushes over to help him walk over to the couch. “You should eat,” says the servant. “Get your strength back.”
As Sansibar reaches for the plate, he notices a flyer on the table. He reaches for that instead as he sees a picture of several ladies on it, but he only notices the one. On the face of the flyer for the beauty pageant is none other than Eloise Pike.
“What do you know about this pageant?” Sansibar asks his servant.
The servant shakes his head, “Nothing. Why are you suddenly interested in a pageant?”
Sansibar stares at the image of Eloise Pike, “There’s only one obvious winner. The others do not even stand a chance.”
“Which one are you talking about?”
Sansibar grins and looks up at his servant, “Go bring me some fruit, and I’ll tell you.”
When the servant returns a few minutes later, he stops.
Sansibar has left.
“You look so beautiful!” Sarah exclaims as she looks at her sister. They are getting ready for the pageant in a bay with several other contestants. Sarah leans in close, “I hear you are a for sure thing to win this contest.”
Even though she whispers, her statement is heard by the other contestants who don’t seem happy.
Eloise looks at her sister, “Stop. I’m so nervous, and you’re not helping. Bring my dress, okay?”
Sarah nods and walks over to the rack of dresses. She looks through them and finds one, “Is it this one?”
Eloise looks up but can’t really see, so she gets up from her seat and walks over. As she does, someone switches out her water cup with another water cup.
They pick out the dress and walk back to her seat. Eloise reaches down to pick up her cup and takes a drink, and immediately begins to choke.
“What’s wrong?” Sarah asks with concern.
“I think someone put some chili powder in my water,” coughs Eloise.
Sarah looks down into the mug, “How can that be? I just brought this water.” She looks around and raises her voice, “Someone must have switched out the mug.”
Eloise waves her off, “Just forget it.”
“Are you going to be able to sing?” asks Sarah.
Eloise clears her throat, “I’ll try.””
“I can’t believe someone would stoop to such dirty tricks,” Sarah growls. “Don’t worry. Even if you don’t win the singing part, you will win the dancing part.”
Eloise doesn’t seem so sure as she nods her head, “Let me go change.” She takes the dress behind the partition and is buttoning it up when someone reaches over the top and dumps a cup of mud all over her causing her to scream. She rushes out from behind and looks around, “Who did that?”
A little while later, Sarah is bringing a new dress and looks behind the partition, but Eloise isn’t there. “Sister?” she asks when she’s suddenly grabbed and dragged away.
Eloise walks back and tries to get the muck off her dress when she spots another dress just lying on the ground.
“Sarah?” she says. “Sarah?” Eloise reaches down to pick up the dress, and it falls apart in her hands as if it had just been shredded.