The legend of demons is considered nonsense to the human world
However, for a few individuals, it’s a lifetime dedication.
There is a tale of a doctor who witnessed a demon during the war
Who was able to gather together with other demon believers.
Together, they went into the mountains to seek out these demons.
In the end, they died along the way, and then their bodies were found
They were covered in blood and all types of very strange wounds.
The wounds could not have been made by man or animal.
Sophie Anderson leads Eloise down the streets. Eloise is carrying many bags in her arms and struggling to keep them from dropping to the ground.
“Eloise, dear?” says Sophie as she continues to look for more stuff to buy, “Asking you to accompany me on my shopping trip wasn’t merely so that I could boss you around. If I wanted that, I could have brought any of my servants. Though I’m sure your little family can’t possibly understand such things.”
They’ve stopped walking as Sophie continues, “I’m just trying to determine if you’ll make a good wife for my son or if you’ll just make him suffer from your ineptitude. When a mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law are out in public, it’s the daughter-in-law’s responsibility to take care of the mother. It shows manners and culture. So, chin up and put a smile on that pretty face of yours. I’m doing this for your own good, and we’re just getting started.”
Eloise buckles up, gathering all of the bags and packages she’s being told to carry, and smiles, though the smile may not be very genuine. “I understand. I’ll do my best.”
Sophie stops to admire a dress in the window and thinks to herself, “She’s doing better than I expected. I’m rather impressed. Impressed, but don’t think this is the end. It’s only the beginning.”
Sophie walks into the general store and finds a young girl behind the counter, “Did those powders I ask for come in?”
The clerk smiles at Sophie and reaches under the counter, and produces four tins of powdered make-up. Sophie removes the lid from each tin, “Let me make sure they’re of good quality.” She turns to Eloise, “Hold out your hands, will you?”
Eloise starts to place the bags down onto the ground.
“What do you think you’re doing?” asks Sophie. “My dresses will get dirty if you set them on the ground.”
Eloise is confused, “But I only have two hands….”
“I’m sure you’ll find a way. Hold out your hands.”
Eloise trying to keep the bags on her arms, extends her hands out, palms up. Sophie places two tins on each hand. She reaches for a mirror, gently dabs a finger in one of the tins, and applies it to her cheek. Meanwhile, Eloise is struggling to keep all the bags and these tins. She finds herself squirming about just to keep balance.
“Can’t you hold still for just a few moments?” asked Sophie. Eloise doesn’t respond but continues to wiggle around, trying to keep everything in place.
Walking by the store, Sansibar pauses when he notices Eloise in the store, surprised to see her because he thought she was dead. He storms into the store, grabs Eloise by the elbow, and drags her out of the store, causing the powders to fly out of her hands and all over Sophie.
Sophie gasps and looks down at the powder on her dress, “Who was that?” she screams out. “Where is she going?” She tries to brushes some of the stuff off her dress and growls out in frustration.
Sansibar drags Eloise down the street and into an alley.
“Why are you pulling me? Let me go!” demands Eloise.
Sansibar finally stops and turns to face her, clutching each of her shoulders, “You are not dead! You have no idea how relieved I am! Please, come with me. Let’s go away from this place.”
Confused, Eloise looks at him, “What are you talking about?”
“Didn’t you tell me that everyone has something they pursue in life?” he asks her. “That thing for me is you, Eloise Pike.”
Eloise is a little taken aback by the abruptness of this conversation.
Sansibar continues, “I want to be with you. I don’t ever want to be apart from you.”
Eloise finally shakes free of him and takes a step back. “I’m sorry, I can’t do that.”
Sansibar can’t seem to believe her words. “Why?”
“I already have someone I care about,” she tells him.
This doesn’t seem to make any sense to Sansibar, “Surely, he’s not as able as I am.”
“This doesn’t have anything to do with abilities.”
“Impossible!” he tells her. “Everyone makes the choice that is best for them in this life, correct?” He turns to face the mountains, “See that land over there?”
Eloise turns to look.
“That land belongs to me. All of it.” He turns back to her, “I am extremely wealthy. You would not want for anything.”
“Sansibar. What you’re describing to me isn’t love.”
A look of confusion spreads across his face, “Then tell me what love is.” Angrily he walks over to a giant boulder and strikes his hand down on it, splitting it in two down the center, which startles Eloise. He explains, “I have the strength of ten humans. I can protect you. You would never be treated poorly ever again.”
Frustrated, Eloise shakes her head, “You still don’t understand.”
He walks to her, “Then make me understand. What must I be able to do to win you?”
“I’m not a prize to be won, Sansibar. It’s all about feelings,” she explains to him.
Sansibar’s agitation is starting to get out of control, “Woman! Why are you so hard to please?” Then in a calmer tone, “You should know that in this world, there isn’t anything I can’t have. As long as I want it,” he says as his golden talons emerge from his fingertips, “You are mine!”
Suddenly, his black wings spread out behind him as Eloise looks out in astonishment, fear. Her dark eyes look into his red ones.
“Are you scared?” he asks.
Suddenly, she realizes, “No. I’m not. You’re my friend. We have endured hardships together. Nearly died together. No matter what you may be, I know you’ll not force me to go with you. I am sorry, but my feelings are for him.”
Sansibar’s demeanor softens, “But why?”
Eloise has to think about it before she can answer, “The best way I can say this is that when we are together, we are happy. That’s enough for me.”
Happiness isn’t necessarily something that Sansibar has ever concerned himself with. “What is happy?” he asks as his wings and talons return. He steps closer to her.
“Happiness is…” she starts to explain, then realizes she has no real way of explaining it to someone who doesn’t already understand. “One day, you’ll understand. I really do need to go. We’ll talk later!” As she turns to go, she comes face to face with Sophie Anderson, who followed the powder trail to find Eloise.
“So, this is what I find?” Sophie says as she looks at the two of them. “I wondered why you disappeared, and now I know. Secret rendezvous with another man?”
“It’s not what you think….”
“Why do you deny what I see with my own eyes?” Sophie exclaims. “I caught you red-handed. I’m going to tell Robert once and for all.”
Eloise tries to explain, but Sophie starts to run off. Suddenly, Sansibar is in front of her, and he grabs her by the wrist. “What is this nonsense you’re spewing?”
Sophie tries to pull her wrist free, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“You’re despicable,” he tells the older woman as she struggles to free herself from the demon’s grip. “I’ll tell you this, wicked woman. If you continue to bully Eloise, I’ll never leave you in peace.” He finally releases her hand and takes a step back now that his warning has been spoken, but when he does, his talons extend once more, his wings pop out, and his eyes glow red.
Sophie brings her hand up to her mouth and gasps.
Then promptly faints.
Luckily, Eloise was right there to catch her and gently lower her to the ground.
“Eloise, I will not force you to come with me, but I will tell you I will not give up on you,” Sansibar says as he turns back to a more human form. “I will seek out the meaning of love, and I will be back.” He suddenly turns and walks off as Eloise tries to wake up Sophie.
Back at Sophie’s house, Eloise pulls a cover over the woman and tucks her in. She reflects on the form that Sansibar was able to turn into.
“What is he?” she asks herself. “Why does he sprout wings? There’s something familiar about him.”
Suddenly, she recalled saving her sister and sprouting those same wings, though they weren’t black.
“They are similar to mine. Could it be that I am like him?” she ponders. “Or perhaps everyone, when faced with a crisis, also displays some unnatural abilities?”
Her thoughts are interrupted by Sophie sitting up suddenly and screaming, “Demon!”
Eloise spins around, “What’s wrong?”
“Eloise! That man who spoke to you,” she motions with her hands, “He sprouted wings! We must report this to the police so they can catch him before he terrorizes someone else!”
“If I divulge Sansibar’s true nature, I could also be endangering myself,” Eloise thinks to herself.
When Eloise pauses, Sophie yells at her, “Why are you waiting? Hurry!”
Quickly thinking, Eloise tells her, “You must have had a nightmare. There was no demon.”
Sophie shakes her head, “That’s impossible! How could it be a dream? You saw it too, right?” she looks at Eloise with pleading eyes.
Eloise shakes her head, “I didn’t see anything.”
Sophie places a hand on her head, “What?” She is surely losing her mind. “Was it really just a dream?”
“Mother,” Eloise says to her, “You must have had a rightful awful dream. You must have worn yourself completely out with all that shopping. When you fell asleep as soon as we got home, you must have had the dream.”
Sophie is having a hard time coming to grip with this “dream” she had. “You’re probably right. Demons don’t really exist. But it was so real!”
Eloise rises from the bed, “Let me get you some water. That’ll help.”
As Eloise walks off, Sophie clutches at her chest, “Where did such an odd dream come from? Perhaps I should see a doctor.”
Speaking of doctors, Sable Banner snaps a ledger closed as she sits at a desk and looks up at Sebastian Crane. “All the funds for the clinic are gone. The banker is going to want their money. Do you know anything about this?”
Sebastian shakes his head, “Your father took the money. He didn’t say what it was for.”
This annoys Sable even further. “My father?” She ponders this revelation. “We were doing so well, and now this. I wonder what he needs that money for?”
“I’m sorry, he wouldn’t tell me anything.”
She sits up in her chair, “We’re going to have to be more strict on charging patients. The bank isn’t going to take chickens, eggs, or wood for payment. If we can’t pay this loan, we’ll have to shut down the clinic.”
Sebastian nods his head, “I’m aware. That’s why I wanted to bring it to your attention as quickly as possible.” Not to mention, he wants to get in Sable’s good graces.
Sable leaps to her feet, “This is bullshit. I can’t just allow him to do what he wants anymore. This community needs this clinic.” She heads for the door, “I’m going to find out what he needs the money for. Watch the clinic.”
Sable heads to the back of the clinic and walks through the door that leads to the converted cave. “Father!” She calls for him and looks around. “Father! Father!”
A voice comes from behind one of the doors, “I’m in here.”
Sable turns and heads to the door, and as she opens it and steps inside, Doc Banner tells her, “Don’t move.”
He quickly spins around and aims some sort of contraption at her. It’s like a crossbow, but the attachment is no mere arrow. He fires it at his daughter, and the device flies through the air and lands right on her head, securing itself.
Sable screams out, “What are you doing?” as she tries to pull the thing off her head.
Surprised that it works, the doctor begins to cackle like a mad man and rushes over to her.
“Father, get this thing off of me! Hurry up!”
Instead of complying, he checks out how it is secured on her head as he continues to laugh.
She doesn’t find this amusing at all as she tries to pull it straight off her head. “I said to get this off of me!”
Doc Banner finally complies as he pulls out a key and unlocks the device, allowing her to remove it from her head. She shoves it at him, “What sort of nonsense is this?” she asks him.
He takes it from her, “It’s a little secret for the moment. Once it’s completely finished, you’ll recognize my genius.”
Skeptical, Sable shakes her head, “You say that every time you come up with your lame experiments. Not one of them has ever done what you wanted them to.”
Doc Banner furrows his brow at her, “Are you mocking me again?”
Growing impatient, Sable concedes, “Fine. I’ll stop making fun of you. But what in the world are you using all of our money on? We need that money to fund the clinic, not your crazy experiments! If we don’t pay the bank loan, we’ll lose the clinic.”
“This marvel here cost me 1,000 dollars to put together,” he says, holding up the gadget.
“What?” Sable cries out. She snatches the helmet-type gadget from him and waves it around, “You paid $1,000 to make this crap? What is wrong with you?”
Doc Banner tries to shush her, “You leave all that to me. Soon, we’ll have all the money we need.” He taps the side of his head, “I have plans.” He sets the gadget on the table and begins to tinker with it. “If this is successful, everything we’re doing will be successful. The clinic will never have to worry about finances ever again. I will be the most famous doctor in all of the world.”
The sound of a bird cawing is heard, and Doc Banner rushes in the other room, just as Yuer, his hawk, lands on its perch.
Sable just shakes her head in disbelief at the conversation she’s just had with her father.
“Have you found it, my friend?” Doc Banner looks up at the perched hawk. The bird chirps at him, and unhappily the doctor shakes his head, “What do you mean, you couldn’t find it?”
Banner walks over and opens a bottle with some dark liquid in it, and pours it into a small glass before drinking it down. “How could you lose its scent?”
“Why are you talking to that bird? And what are you looking for?” Sable finally asks.
He’s not quite ready to explain it to her without his evidence, so he laughs it off. “Nothing for you to be concerned about. You’ll know soon enough.”
Sable just rolls her eyes and heads back to the clinic.
Sophie Anderson is being escorted from that same clinic, “What is going on here? I’m a patient.”
Sebastian steps out, hearing Sophie complaining very loudly. “I’m sorry, ma’am. But you must wait your turn.” Seems Sophie tried to get preferential treatment by stepping through the line.
Sophie places her hands on her hips, “How dare you treat me this way. Do you know who I am?”
Sebastian lets out a puff of air.
“If my own personal physician was able to accompany me here, I wouldn’t be here in the first place.”
Sebastian can’t seem to get a word in edgewise when Doc and Sable Banner walk by.
“Is this how you treat your patients?” Sophie asks Sebastian.
Doc hears her voice and turns around to look at her curiously.
She notices and asks, “What are you looking at?”
“Sophie? Sophie Anderson?” he asks.
That gets her attention. She turns and looks at him with a curious eye.
Doc holds up a finger and removes his hat from his head, and smiles at her.
Sophie’s eyes grow wide, “Jarod Banner?”
Doc lets out a cackle, “Bingo! Sophie Anderson, why in the world at you in Durango?” He moves towards her, and the two embrace.
“Why are you here?” Sophie asks him.
“I asked you first,” he tells her.
Sebastian and Sable step to the side, looking at each other with confused expressions.
Sophie nods, “I moved here to be closer to my son. And you?”
Doc Banner motions towards the building behind him, “This is my clinic.” And then, as an afterthought, pulls Sable into the mix, “And this is my daughter, Sable. She’s also a doctor.” To his daughter, he explains, “This is Sophie Anderson. We went to school together.”
“Hello!” Sophie says, her brain is already spinning, “Your daughter is so grown up, Jarod.”
Sable smiles at the compliment, “You look too young to be a classmate of my father’s.”
“You have a very bright daughter here, Jarod,” Sophie says. “I can tell she was brought upright. I like her very much.”
Getting back to business, Doc asks, “Why are you here? Are you unwell?”
Sophie scoffs, “Don’t even mention that. I can’t even sleep. I have dark circles under my eyes.” She dabs under her eyes to emphasize her words.
Doc waves her off, “You still look amazing. Come inside, and let’s find out what’s going on.” He says, motioning for her to go on inside the clinic.
“You’re so kind,” she tells him, pausing to look back at Sebastian, “Unlike some people here.”
Sebastian offers a weak smile as Doc Banner leads Sophie inside.
“Not only can I not sleep, but I have nightmares. It’s so bothersome,” Sophie explains to Banner as she presses a finger to her temple.
Doc nods his head, “They say that dreams are a product of life experiences. Don’t be afraid of them. Go ahead and tell me.”
“Why wouldn’t I be afraid? It was terrifying!” she explains. “This man in my dreams had red eyes and black wings.” This gets Doc’s attention. “I’m scared to death just thinking about it,” she continues.
“Did you say ‘red eyes” and ‘black wings’?” he asks her.
She nods her head, “Hm.”
He suddenly swoops in real close to her, “Are you certain?”
His sudden movements startle her, and she kind of scoots away from him, “What are you doing?”
Realizing he sounds crazy, he laughs it off. “Nothing. Really.” He clears his throat and gives her some room, “I’m just trying to understand your dream correctly. This way, I can find a way to cure your condition. Please continue.”
Sophie relaxes some and then begins to explain her day, “I was out shopping with Eloise when a man suddenly appeared and dragged her away from me. When I ran after them, I saw this man had red eyes and black wings. I got so scared that I fainted.” She shivers. “But when I woke up, Eloise told me that it was all just a dream. I mean, it must have been a dream, right? There’s no way a person can sprout wings.”
Doc Banner stopped listening at the mention of Eloise. “Eloise? Eloise? Wait, Eloise Pike?” he asks.
Sophie groans, “I don’t even want to talk about that girl. She’s trying to get her grubby little hands on my son’s wealth. But my son is blind to all of her charms. I dislike her entire being with all of my heart. I’ll never accept her.”
“Can this be true?” Doc Banner thinks to himself. He turns back to her, “That demon? Did Eloise Pike seem familiar with him?”
“Familiar?” Sophie scoffs. “More like they are lovers in hiding if you ask me.” And then, as something comes to mind, she asks the doctor, “Do you think I had that dream because of my strong dislike for the Pike girl?” Without even waiting for an answer, she nods her head. “It must be.” But then she reconsiders, “Maybe I’m hallucinating….”
Doc Banner’s brain has long since shut off to Sophie’s problem. All that’s on his mind right now is that demon. Now he’s in a hurry to get rid of Sophie, so he turns to her, “Let me prescribe you a sleeping powder.” He hurries up and rushes out of the room.
Eloise is loading some hay into the back of a wagon when Sheriff Anderson rides up on his horse. She turns around as he approaches and slides down from his horse, “Seems as if you’re working hard.”
Eloise reaches up and wipes some sweat from her brow on the back of her arm, “This is nothing compared to what I went through earlier with your ma,” she says, remembering that fiasco.
“Damn. What did she do?” he asks.
Eloise shakes her head, “It’s nothing,” as she really doesn’t want to get into it with him. Sansibar’s presence caused far too many issues. Bobby reaches into his pack and pulls out a bouquet of flowers, and hands them to her.
“Well, hopefully, this will make up for it.”
Eloise blushes a little as she accepts the flowers, and she gives them a smell.
“You up for dinner?” he asks.
Eloise is about to answer when she suddenly grabs her chest, “What is happening?”
Surprised, Sheriff Anderson moves closer to her just in time to catch her as she falls feint into his arms.
Doc Banner is seen off in the distance. He steers his horse back towards town and hurries.
Doc Banner has made it to the clinic and gotten inside just as Sheriff bursts through the door, carrying Eloise in his arms. “Please help her, Doc,” he cries out as Doc Banner leaps to his feet and leads the way to the examination room.
“Lay her down here.”
Eloise is completely out as Anderson places her on the bed and steps to the side so Banner can start looking her over.
Hobbling into the clinic, Wilfred Pike, on crutches, yells out, “Where’s my daughter?”
Sheriff Anderson hurries to lead him back, with Sarah in tow. “She fainted. She was working hard, so perhaps she fainted from exhaustion.”
That doesn’t seem right to Wilfred as he moves over to a chair using his crutches, “That doesn’t sound right to me. What do you think, Doc?”
The doc takes a couple more looks at her before announcing, “She was poisoned.
Of course, she was, Doc Banner thinks to himself. I needed the Pike girl here to find out what she knows about the demon. This was the best way to get her here, so he sprinkled some poison in the sheriff’s flowers earlier.
“It’ll take me some time to determine what she was poisoned with to come up with an antidote. She’ll need to stay here for a few days,” Banner continues. “But…”
Anderson asks, “But? If it’s about money, I’ll pay for her treatment.” He pulls a gold coin from his pocket.
Doc Banner waves off the coin, “It’s not money. One of the key ingredients for an antidote is a small purple flower. Unfortunately, I have none in the clinic. I’ll need to send for more, but it might be too late by the time it arrives.”
Bobby puts the coin back in his pocket, “Listen, Doc. You tell me where I gotta go to get this flower you need, and I’ll ride there as quickly as possible.”
Doc Banner nods his head, “The closest place I know to get it is just along the banks of the Animas River. You could try the pharmacy in Animas City, but I feel that there’ll be no one there by the time you get there. Your best bet is to get it directly from the riverbanks. It’s risky because the riverbanks are slippery, and if you fall into the Animas River, the likelihood of survival is almost none.”
Sarah’s eyes widen, “What happens if she doesn’t get the medicine?”
“Hmm.” Doc Banner contemplates, but it’s all for show. He was certain not to give her anything fatal. “She’ll remain asleep like this until she’s given the medicine.”
Wilfred starts to get to his feet, “I’ll get the damn flower,” but he’s cut off by Sheriff Anderson.
“You’re in no shape to go. I’ll go. I’ll make sure she wakes up,” he tells Eloise’s father. “You have my solemn word.”
Wilfred hates being helpful more than almost anything in the world. The one thing he would hate more than that is if something happened to his daughters. He nods to the sheriff, “Please hurry. Save my daughter.”
“I’m leaving now,” he says, but as he does, Sophie Anderson steps in front of him.
“I heard everything. Did you not hear how dangerous this would be? There’s no reason for you to exchange your life for her life,” she scolds her son.
“I won’t leave her like this,” Sheriff Anderson. “I’m far too old for you to be telling me what to do, ma.”
He rushes out of the room with his mother following. Doc Banner looks over at the sleeping Eloise, “I have you now. I’ll find out what you know about the demon, one way or another,” he thinks to himself.
Sansibar, on the other hand, is determined to figure out what Sheriff Anderson has that he doesn’t have. He’s going to find out what love is once and for all. So, of course, he hits up the local brothel. He has enough money to rent the entire building, and for this venture, he’s done just that.
All the women in the brothel are gathered. Some of them giggle as he paces back and forth, looking them over. They whisper among themselves as to whom he might pick.
The demon finally stops pacing and asks, “What is love?”
The girls murmur at the question, wondering what is going on.
He holds up a bag of gold coins, “If I get a suitable answer, this bag of gold will be the reward.” He places the bag on the table behind him.
The murmuring turns into loud gasping and chatting at how much money that is.
Sansibar takes a seat next to the table as every woman in the group begins to raise their hands, yelling out that they know the answer.
He points to one of the females, “You. Come here.”
She knew she’d be picked, so she looks at the others with a shit-eating grin and steps forward, walking to him and settling herself in his lap, “Hello, handsome. You want to hear about love?”
This isn’t what he wanted as he turns his head away from her, and as he does, she leans in and places a long kiss on his cheek. “Do you feel it now?”
“You obviously misunderstood the question,” he tells her as he turns to face her again.
Greedy, she tries to reach for the bag of coins, but he blocks her.
The others giggle at her failure.
Embarrassed now, she slowly rises up from his lap and walks back to the group, no longer the confident young woman she was a few moments ago.
Another woman steps up to him, and he doesn’t even bother to look at her. She simply states, “How about this? You give me money. I’ll give you love.” She even flashes him a little cleavage. “How about that?”
He looks her in the eyes, “Money has nothing to do with love,” he tells her. “Get away from me.”
The woman hmphs and walks back to the group. The others encourage another of the females to move forward, and she does. She takes a seat on the other side of the table, “What kind of love are you referring to? The love between a mother and child?”
While the group laughs, Sansibar is unamused. “Go.”
The demon picks up the bag of coins and walks to the front of the group, “Not one of you has the answer I am looking for. I made a mistake coming here.” He pushes his way through the group.
They beg him to stay, but another sound causes him to pause. A woman walks into the room with another, and they are having a conversation.
“I told you not to mess with that man. He is married.”
“I realize that now. My love for him was never returned, but I’m okay. Love is when you give your all and expect nothing in return.” The woman finally scoffs, “Why am I talking about love with you when you don’t even understand it.”
Sansibar steps towards them, “Is that right? I think I understand now. Love is when you give your all.” He takes the bag of coins and offers it to the woman. She looks at it for a moment, confused about what’s going on but smiles and accepts the bag.
The moment she takes it, Sansibar turns and leaves the brothel, much to the dismay of the women who beg him to stay.
Sansibar hurries down the road when he passes a couple walking on the road.
“Did you hear about Eloise? Someone poisoned her.”
“I heard she needs a special flower for the antidote, and the closest place to get it is the Animas River.”
Suddenly, Sansibar picks up the pace.
Darkness has come, and Sansibar flies towards the hospital, landing on the ground right outside. He peers through Eloise’s hospital room window and sees her sound asleep. He slips through the window and walks over, taking a seat on the bed next to her.
“Whatever it takes, I’ll make sure you wake up,” he says as he gently holds her hand. He sets it down and rises up before leaning down and placing a gentle kiss on her cheek.
Determined, he leaves the way he came. As soon as he’s outside, he spreads his wings and soars into the air.
With only the moon’s light to guide him, Sansibar soars through the night air towards Animas to find the flower. As he gets near the river, he lands on the ground. He strips off his jacket and shirt then dives into the dark water.
The river is flowing rapidly, and he struggles to maintain his course underneath the tide. He also knows that despite being a demon, he can only hold his breath for so long. Longer than a human, of course, but he still has limitations.
He swims along the bottom of the river until he sees the bright purple flower. He plucks a few from the growth and places them in his pocket when suddenly something shoots towards him and attaches to his head.
Surprised, Sansibar struggles to free himself from the contraption, but it’s secured on his head. It’s the same gizmo that Doc Banner shot onto Sable’s head. A line attached to the device pulls Sansibar up to the surface.
“I’ve caught you once and for all,” Doc Banner exclaims in his makeshift laboratory.
Sansibar is secured to a table with that device still attached to his head. His arms and legs are secured to the table. “You couldn’t escape this, even if you were as strong as an elephant!” the doctor boasts.
Sansibar struggles in his binding, but the doctor is correct. As strong as the demon is, he’s no match for the metal shackles that have bound him to the table.
Doc Banner leans over him, “You can try and escape. Please do. Try with all your might. By this time tomorrow, the world will know of the existence of demons!”
He laughs and laughs as he injects something into the arm of the demon, who slowly falls asleep.
A few hours later, Sansibar awakens, and he realizes he’s been placed into a cage of some sort. He begins to try and break free, but the steel is too strong for him to escape. Suddenly, he hears a female voice, “Father?”
Sable walks into the lab and looks around for her father.
Sansibar begins to pound on the cage.
Surprised to hear something coming from the direction, Sable walks over and lifts the cloth cover from over the cage and is surprised to see a man in there.
Sansibar keeps pounding on the cage as she asks, “Who are you? Why are you trapped in this cage?”
The demon doesn’t answer but keeps pounding on the metal frame.
Sable finally gets it, “I see. You’re a thief, and you got caught, hm? Pity. You seem to be very handsome. Why would you go around stealing? My father is famous for holding grudges, so I doubt he’ll be letting you out any time soon.”
Sansibar keeps hitting.
“You should stop that. You could die.”
This gives Sansibar an idea. He pretends to grow weak, and he causes blood to drip from his mouth before pretending to pass out.
“Oh, hey!” exclaims Sable. “If he dies, my father will be a murderer.” She immediately reaches for the cage latch and slides open the lock, lowering the cage door. She leans in and tries to wake the demon, “Wake up!”
Suddenly, Sansibar’s eyes open wide, and he reaches out, hitting Sable in the neck, causing her to faint. Sansibar slips out of the cage and looks down at the woman before walking out of the lab.
Moments later, he walks into Eloise’s room. He’s beaten and bloody, but he can only think of her at this moment. Sansibar reaches into his pocket and pulls out the purple plant.
She’s still fast asleep, so he’s unsure of just how to give her this plant, so he does the only thing he can think of, and he takes the plant and puts it in his own mouth, and begins to chew it.
Once the flower is sufficiently chewed, he reaches over and parts her lips. He leans over her and presses their mouths together for a short time, and then he pulls back.
Then he waits.
Some time passes, and then slowly, her fingers begin to twitch. Her eyes flutter open.
“Eloise,” he says as he helps her to sit up.
The first thing she sees is the blood on his clothes. “You’re injured.”
The demon shakes his head, “You don’t need to worry about me. These are superficial. I’m just happy that you’re awake. How do you feel?”
She starts to speak, but he quickly places his hand over her mouth. He can hear someone walking down the hall towards the room. He whispers to her, “I can’t let them find me here.”
Someone in the hallway yells, “There’s a thief in the hospital!”
Two nurses barge into the room and find Eloise sitting up, “Oh! You’re awake.”
Eloise nods her head. “Yes. Is everything alright?” Sansibar is nowhere to be seen.
“A thief is running around the hospital. Have you seen anyone strange?” one of the nurses asks.
Shaking her head, Eloise replies, “I haven’t. No.”
“Stay here and let us know if you see anyone, okay?”
Eloise nods her head. “I will.”
As soon as the two nurses leave, Sansibar slips out from underneath Eloise’s bed. She turns to him, “Why are they calling you a thief?”
The demon doesn’t often find himself tired, but tonight he’s exceptionally tired. “Do you trust me?” he asks her wearily.
She nods her head.
“I was captured. They wanted to do experiments on me.”
Eloise gasps. “You need to be careful.”
Sansibar offers her a weak smile, “Don’t worry about me. I will look after myself and after you.” He removes a chain from around his neck and places it in her hand. On the chain is a whistle of some sort. “This is for you. If you ever need me, use this whistle.”
He rises up from the bed and walks towards the window.
He pauses and turns to her, “It’s fine. I won’t appear before you unless you call for me from now on. As long as you are happy, then I’ll be happy for you. You see, I finally know what love means.”
Suddenly, Sansibar hears more footsteps, and soon he’s out the window.
Eloise barely has time to digest all of this when Sheriff Anderson bursts into the room. “You’re awake!”
Fearing the worst, the sheriff went to look for the flower but was led on an empty quest, so he returned back as soon as he could and just in time to find out that Eloise had awoken. He asks, “Are you okay?”
Eloise nods her head, “Was I asleep long?”
He places a hand on her cheek, “Three days. I was scared to death, I won’t lie.”
Eloise nods her head, “I promise, I’ll be more careful in the future. I don’t want to worry you anymore.”
Bobby Anderson shakes his head and pulls her into a hug.
The following morning, many reporters storm out of the clinic a little more than upset that they’d been duped.
Doc Banner rushes out after them, “I promise you, there was a demon!”
One of the reporters turns back, “There have been rumors that you were delusional. At least we have that story.”
Sable Banner walks past the reports and up to her father, “What is going on?”
“My demon was in my lab! He’s gone!” Doc is nearly inconsolable.
Sable seems confused, “If you’re talking about the thief that was capture, he tricked me and got away.”
Doc throws up his hands in anguish and storms back into the lab.
It didn’t long for word to spread not only throughout Durango but the region about Doc Banner’s delusional rants about demons and his empty cage. Patients refused to see him, and as he walked through town, he could hear his name being whispered. It was taking a mental toll on the town’s doctor.
The whiskey started to flow frequently in the doc, and one could almost find him every day seated at the bar in the saloon or staggering down the street with a bottle in his hand. There were no drunken and disorderly laws then, so there wasn’t much the sheriff could do unless things got violent.
In the evenings, Doc would be seen staggering around town “preaching” about his discovery of demons. Sable and Sebastian would have to come out and ease him back to the hospital, where he would eventually pass out and sleep until morning, when it would all start again.
And then, one evening, in a drunken stupor, he proclaimed his life an excess one. After dousing himself in kerosene, he lit himself on fire in front of his daughter, and she sobbed as she watched him die before her very eyes engulfed in flames.
Very few attended the funeral of the crazy doctor as if in death he’d pass on his delusional disorder. One person in attendance was Sophie Anderson. After paying her respects to the modest gravesite, she approached the stoic Sable Banner.
“If you find you need anything at all, please ask. If it’s within my ability, I’ll do what I can,” she tells the young woman.
Sable nods her head, afraid that any attempt to speak will cause her to break down once again.
As Sophie walks off, Sebastian approaches Sable. “There’s something I feel I should discuss with you,” he tells her.
“What is it?” she manages to respond.
It’s a little awkward talking about this at her father’s funeral, but they are running out of time. “The bank sent another reminder.”
Sable takes a deep breath, nodding. “How much is left in the account?”
Sebastian shakes his head, “May as well be nothing. A few dollars.”
“And our income this month? I’ve been spending less in hopes of bringing in a few more dollars to help. It should be enough, right?”
“Ever since the newspapers printed the story about your father, people have stopped coming to the clinic except in desperation. Most of them couldn’t pay. People are traveling as far as Animas City to get help. I feel the only option we have is to shut down the clinic.”
Sable spins around to him, “Don’t ever suggest that. As long as I live and breathe, this hospital will not fail.” She starts to walk away from the gravesite, “Ask the bank to extend us for one more month. If they refuse, I’ll mortgage the clinic.”
Sebastian catches up to her, “I’ll go ask right now.”
As Sebastian rushes off to the bank, Sable turns once more towards the grave. “Where you failed, I promise that I will succeed. I will not let our clinic fall, father,” she thinks to herself.
Word spread around town about the clinic’s new leadership. However, Sable’s youth still kept many away. She lowered treatment prices to get the clinic back on its feet, and soon, word spread through the city that she was a capable doctor and level-headed, unlike her father.
It didn’t take long for the clinic to slowly make a profit, and patients were lined up outside to be seen.
With things going much better at the clinic, Sable Banner found the time to finally mourn her father. She walked into the saloon and sat down at the bar. Shot after shot was poured for her, and soon, she was far beyond inebriated.
As she walked outside, she immediately leaned over in the street and emptied her stomach onto the dirt road. She staggered towards the clinic with several men on horses saw her.
They rode towards her and circled around her, “Hey, lovely lady. How about we go continue your party?” They dismounted their horses and slowly moved towards her.
“Drinking alone is boring. How about you come along with my brothers and me?”
Unamused, she looks at the eldest of the four brothers and tells him to, “Scram.” She starts to walk off, but one of them gets in her way.
“We gave you a heartfelt invitation.” One of her hands is grabbed, and she pulls it free angrily.
“I said get lost,” she slurs as she tries to go around them.
The brothers laugh, “I think she’s getting angry.”
“I like them best when they’re angry. It makes them feisty!”
Suddenly another male voice is heard, “What are you dirtbags doing? Don’t know how to treat a lady?”
Walking by, Sheriff Anderson stops to confront the quartet.
“What’s wrong, Sheriff? We’re just inviting her to do some drinking. She just started without us.”
Sheriff Anderson doesn’t answer. Instead, he grabs Sable by the wrist and pulls her away from the group, but one of the brothers runs around to step in his path. A second brother reaches for Sable’s shoulder from behind, but she quickly slaps him across the face. She hits him hard enough. He staggers back and holds his cheek. “She sure has some fire in her,” he laughs as he rubs his reddened cheek.
The brothers move in on them. Sheriff Anderson punches one in the face, knocking him down. Another grabs him from behind but finds himself flipped onto the ground on his back and a boot to the face. A third one goes for Sable, but she knees him right in the crotch, stopping him immediately.
With everyone down, Anderson walks over to Sable, “Are you alright?”
The four brothers slowly get to their feet and are soon riding out of town on their horses.
“I’m alright. Thanks for stepping in. Care to join me for a drink?” she asks.
Bobby looks up at the sky, “It’s getting kinda late, and I think drinking may be what got you into this mess in the first place.”
“But I didn’t have a rugged sheriff to keep an eye on me then,” Sable responds, still a little tipsy.
Soon the pair are sitting on a bridge, feet dangling over the side. They each have a bottle in their hands.
“You put up a good fight back there,” Bobby tells her.
Sable finishes her swallow and smirks, “If I hadn’t been a little drunk, they wouldn’t have gotten as far as they had. I can handle myself. I’ve had to handle a man now and again when he got out of line.”
The sheriff laughs.
“Outside strength is fine, but inner strength is better,” she says.
Bobby nods his head, “I think you’re a pretty strong gal, Sable Banner. Your father passed, and you’ve turned that clinic business around in a hurry. That takes inner strength.”
“Do you want to know the truth?” she asks him.
He nods his head, “If you’re dishing it out.”
“I know my father wasn’t delusional. When he was young, he swore he encountered a demon, and his life’s quest was to prove they were real. But in the end, it killed him. For the reputation of the hospital, I had to say he was delusional or no one would ever come to the clinic.” She takes another drink from her bottle. “The truth is, he cared more about proving demons were real than he did for me.”
Sable turns and eyes the sheriff, “Why aren’t you drinking? Do you look down on me too?”
Bobby holds up his bottle, “I’ll drink. But you must make me a promise.”
Now she’s skeptical, “What?”
“When we finish these bottles, I’ll escort you home, and you get some sleep,” he tells her. “Tomorrow, forget about tonight and get yourself together. This community needs you.”
Sable considers his request and drunkenly nods her head, “Deal.” She offers her bottle, and Bobby clinks his against hers, and they take another drink. “You’re a good guy, Sheriff Anderson. Thanks.”
“Cheers,” he says, and they continue to drink.
A few days later, Sable Banner is dressed in her very best dress and waiting at a restaurant.
When Sheriff Anderson walks in, she gets to her feet. “Thanks for coming.”
“Not a problem at all. You said you wanted to see me?” the sheriff asks.
Sable nods, “I just wanted to thank you for the other night. I wasn’t in a good place, but things are much better. If you hadn’t stepped in, who knows where I would be today.”
He brushes it off, “Honestly, I was stepping in as the sheriff, but by the time the night was over, I feel like we kinda became friends. I’m just glad to see the town is turning around on you and that clinic. Everyone’s chatting you up real good. You’re doing great. It almost feels like you’re a little sister to me, so I’ll keep my eye out for you. Don’t you worry?”
The moment the sheriff mentions “little sister,” Sable’s smile falls to a frown. They sit at the table, “I don’t you don’t mind,” he tells her. “I was supposed to have lunch with someone when you invited me for lunch, so I hope you don’t mind if she joins us for lunch. She should be along shortly.”
She’s a little taken aback, but she forces a smile and nods her head, “It’s fine.”
“Oh, here she comes,” Bobby says as he gets to his feet. Sable turns back to see Eloise walking towards them, and she stands as well. “This is Eloise Pike. My girlfriend. Eloise, this is Sable Banner.”
This was not at all how Sable planned for this day to go. Not at all. She continues to force her smile when Eloise says, “Oh, the new doctor. The town is really talking good things about you at the clinic.” Eloise cants her head a little, “I think we may have met before when I was admitted to the hospital.”
“Oh, I remember now. That unfortunate poisoning incident,” Sable says. She now wishes that poison had done its trick. “Well, with the sheriff at your side, you’ll no doubt be very protected from now on, I’m sure.”
Sable becomes agitated when the two begin to discuss what to order to eat for lunch.
Ever since the funeral, Sophie Anderson has had some plans of her own, and it involves her old friend’s daughter, so when Sable Banner arrives at the Anderson residence, the two women sit down over coffee.
“Sable, I have a question for you.”
Sable isn’t sure why she was summoned to visit Sophie. Her lunch with Sheriff Anderson and Eloise has already left a bad taste in her mouth. However, she decided to indulge the older woman out of respect for her friendship with her father. “What is it?”
Sophie stirs her coffee with a spoon, “What do you think about my Robert?”
This gets Sable’s attention as she wonders where this conversation is going. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, what do you think of him?”
Sable is starting to get the picture. It does make sense that Sophie probably wouldn’t approve of Eloise, the daughter of a farmer. “I mean, he is rather handsome.”
Sophie scoffs, “Don’t just tell me what you think I want to hear, child. I want to hear the honest truth.”
Sable seems to be at a loss for what the woman wants to hear.
After a bit of silence, Sophie just sighs, “Listen, if you tell me that you’re interested in Robert, I’ll help you two pair up. If you’re not interested, just forget we ever had this conversation.”
Sable laughs, “Now you’re teasing me. I know the sheriff has a girlfriend.”
Sophie holds a hand over her heart, “Please, don’t bring that girl up to me. She’s not right for him at all. I would never approve of her for a daughter-in-law.”
“But, he seems to be very fond of her.”
Sophie waves that off, “She’s cute, but attraction fades. Robert needs someone more of his status. It doesn’t matter what I put that farmer child through. She doesn’t take the hint. I’m going to find a way to break them up. My question is, who would be her replacement.” She looks at Sable slyly. “I just need to know if you’re interested in him. You’d be a daughter-in-law I could be proud of.”
“I mean, I’m interested, but I wouldn’t want to be responsible for breaking them up,” Sable says. She cannot believe this conversation is even happening.
“You leave that to me, do you hear? Sophie reaches over and cups Sable’s hand, “My dear, I think this is going to end up just the way I imagined it. I cannot wait to make you my daughter-in-law.”
Sansibar has been keeping a low profile since being captured by Doc Banner. His death brought him some glee, he would have to admit.
His servant walks in as Sansibar is buttoning his jacket. “Sir, winter is almost here. You must hibernate.”
“I received my demon powers when I was 10 years old. I have always been prepared for winter. You needn’t worry about me,” he tells him. “Do not disturb me again.” The servant bows and leaves the room as Sansibar sits on the floor in the center of the room, crossing his legs in front of him. He closes his eyes, and then slowly, a frost appears over his body as his hibernation begins.
Suddenly images flash through his brain. Scenes involving Eloise Pike. When they were trapped in the mine. The day she told him she loved someone else. The day he saved her life.
The frost lifts quickly, and his eyes snap open! “Saint!”
The servant rushes in, “What is it?”
Sansibar gets to his feet. “What if I miss her? What if I can’t control myself?”
Saint shakes his head, “The Pike girl again?”
The demon turns to him, “You don’t understand.” He rushes out of the cave and into the cool air and screams to the sky with a loud voice.
Suddenly, an elderly man steps into view, “What is wrong?”
“I miss a girl, but I cannot see her.”
Curious, the old man turns to him, “Why can’t you see her?”
“Because she loves another.”
The old man nods his head understandingly. “Do you see that boat?” The old man points to it out in the bay as Sansibar turns his head to look. “I spent my whole life on that boat. I have many feelings wrapped in that boat because she provided me with so much. As I got older, the boat owner fired me, thinking I was too old to work it. I was sad at first. But as time went by, I just kept an eye on it from a distance. To make sure it was still afloat.”
Sansibar listens to the story, and as the story begins to relate to his own story, his eyes lighten, and he comes to understand the old man’s parable. “I see there is still much for me to learn.”
The old man waves him off, “I’m glad I could help.” As soon as the man arrived, he disappeared just as quickly.
“She doesn’t want to see me, but I can still see her,” he thinks to himself. “I’ve lived for so long, and yet, this may be the very first time I’ve felt happiness.”
Eloise is walking through town when suddenly rain begins to downpour. She hurries to get under an awning when suddenly an umbrella floats down from the sky and lands in front of her.
She’s confused at first, but she reaches down and grabs the umbrella by the handle, and walks back out into the street.
We see Sansibar on the rooftop, looking down at her.
“Eloise, I’m going into town for some firewood. I told the Pringles that I’d bring some hay to trade,” Wilfred says to his daughter.
“I can go for you, pa. What about your foot?”
“I’ve been doing fine with it. Doc Sable says it’s all better and that I need to start getting back to work.” To prove his point, he walks over to the door and opens it wide. When he does, there’s a stack of wood waiting there. “Eloise, come here.”
She rushes over, “What is it, pa?” but she stops speaking when she sees the wood.
They begin to pick up the wood and bring it inside as from a distance, Sansibar is watching on.
“Where is my son?” asks Sophie as she sets a couple of plates on the table. “Breakfast is almost ready.”
As if on cue, Sheriff Anderson walks into the home with a yawn and starts to remove his jacket.
“Were you up all night again?” Sophie asks.
With a grunt, Bobby nods. “Cattle rustlers. Tracked them nearly to Wyoming before we caught them. Almost got away with the Pundit’s entire herd.”
“Breakfast is ready. You should eat,” Sophie tells him.
Shaking his head, Bobby lets out a big sigh, “I’m exhausted, ma. I’m gonna get a couple hours of sleep.”
Sophie nods, “Of course.”
He starts to walk off and pauses, “I have some paperwork in the spare room. It’s all arranged a certain way, so if you could just leave it for today. I’ll get to it when I get up. I need to organize it myself.”
“Of course,” she says again.
As soon as Bobby disappears to his room, there’s a knock on the door.
“Come in,” cries out Sophie, and she’s a little surprised to see Eloise walk through the door. “You’re early today.”
“Good morning, ma’am,” Eloise says.
Sophie’s eyes drift towards that spare room, then she looks down the hall to see the sheriff’s door is closed. She turns back to Eloise, “I have a favor to ask of you.”
A little while later, Eloise is out dropping paperwork into a burn barrel when she hears Sheriff Anderson yelling inside, “What in the sam hell happened here?!”
Curious, she heads into the house.
Sophie’s voice is heard, “I’m coming! Hold on!” When she arrives in the room, Bobby asks her, “Didn’t I ask you not to mess with my papers?”
Sophie blinks her eyes innocently, “I don’t know what happened to your papers, son.”
Eloise peeks her head into the room, “What’s all the ruckus?”
Sophie looks at her, “Did you move the papers from this room?”
“You asked me to clean up the mess….” Eloise starts to say.
“I told you specifically not to come into this room!” yells Sophie.
Eloise is confused, “Ma’am, you told me to clean this room.”
Sophie is about to respond when Bobby intervenes. “Look, it’s fine. Where are the papers now?”
Eloise points outside.
“What?” The sheriff runs outside to see all his paperwork going up in smoke from the burn barrel. Eloise runs after him. He places his hands on his head in frustration.
Meanwhile, Sophie watches on with a sly grin on her face. She’s just getting started.