In hundreds of years, the stories of demons never ceased.
No one seems to have met one, yet they can describe them as if they had.
They have always been described as ridiculously beautiful and evil.
They chased them to destroy them.
But they never once asked themselves what would happen if they were to come face to face with a demon.
The new saloon seems to be gaining popularity as the house is full, and the pianist is hitting the piano keys as Eloise Pike sings a blues song. There are several tables with poker games, folks are drinking and having a good time. One person who’s not having a good night and hasn’t since the new saloon opened up was Sophie Anderson.
She might have a few regulars but the days of a packed house due to being the only bar in Durango seems to be over. Seems that the owner of the new saloon keeps dropping his prices, and if Sophie drops her prices, his prices go even lower.
Any time she would go in to speak with the owner, she would get the runaround. She’s wealthy enough to weather this storm, but for how long?
There’s a commotion in the street, as the sound of a woman screaming is heard. Sable Banner is nearby when she hears, “Someone, please help him.”
Sable rushes over and nudges her way through the crowd, “I’m a doctor. Let me through,” she demands as she kneels near a man who is clearly having some sort of seizure.
“Everyone steps back and give him some space,” she demands as the circle around them widens. She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a vial of the cure-all medicine she was given by the traveling pharmacist. She places a drop onto the seizing man’s lips, and as it falls into his mouth, his seizing stops.
There’s murmuring in the crowd at the feat that was witnessed.
“Are you okay?” Sable asks the man as he blinks his eyes open. When he focuses on her, he allows her to help him sit up.
“I think you just saved my life,” he tells her. “What was that you gave me?”
Sable smiles, “It’s a new medicine we’re using at the clinic. It can cure just about anything. I’m glad I was here to help.”
She helps the man to his feet, and he thanks her as the crowd begins to disperse, everyone talking about the miracle drug they have at the clinic.
“I told you, I’d put on the performance of a lifetime, didn’t I?” the seizing man tells Sebastian, who hands him some cash. “You tell the doc, anytime she needs a repeat performance to give me a call.”
Sebastian isn’t sure this is the right way to do business, but he tells the man, “Just make sure you get on out of town. Don’t tell a soul what you’ve done for us today. We may have a few towns we can use you in. I’ll send you a telegraph.”
The man climbs up on his horse, “Don’t you worry about a thing, boss. I know where my bread is buttered. I’ll look forward to hearing from you soon.”
The man rides off out of Durango as Sebastian watches him go. Desperation is setting in for Sable, and Sebastian knows it. Ever since the wedding was called off, she’s more determined than ever to become the most successful woman in Colorado. The problem is that folks aren’t exactly swarming to see a woman doctor. She needed to do something to get business picked up.
As deceitful as it is to pay a man who fakes an illness, using an unproven medicine just might be worse. He hopes she knows what she’s doing.
As he walks into the clinic, Sable motions him to the side. “See if that pharmacist is still in town,” she tells Sebastian, “But all of his medicine. Everything he has.”
“But you were hesitant about using it without proper inspection,” Sebastian reminds her.
Sable appears annoyed, “All medicines come with some side effects, inspected or not. Just do as I say.”
She quickly moves towards the door as folks are starting to come into the clinic.
Word has spread quickly in Durango about the miracle medicine.
Stocked up on the special medicine, the townsfolk are praising Doctor Banner for her newfound healing powers. Whether it’s real or not, the medicine appears to be doing the healing work it claims.
People would stop Sable on the street just to thank her for her medicine.
It seems to treat everything from chronic cough, pneumonia, pain, and other illnesses.
In fact, the word is spreading far beyond Durango. Her name has made the papers all over Colorado. Business has never been better.
One morning, Sebastian rushes into Sable’s office, “There’s a problem.”
“What?” she asks.
Sebastian had a bad feeling about this since day one. “Some of the folks you’ve been treating with that so-called medicine are showing adverse reactions. Frothing, seizures, coughing blood. Someone has reported you to the sheriff.”
Shocked, Sable rises from her seat, “Are you certain? Find that pharmacist!”
“What are you going to do?”
Unsteadily, Sable walks to the window. “What do you think we should do?” She’s out of answers.
Sebastian shakes his head, “I don’t know what we can do. You should run before the sheriff gets here. If any of those patients die, you’ll be hung for murder.”
Sable agrees. As she starts for the door, Sheriff Anderson is standing on the other side when she opens it up.
“’Fraid I’m gonna have to place you under arrest, Sable. Whatever you’re feeding your patients is making them awful sick,” he tells her. “I’m gonna need you to hand over all the remaining medicine to Deputy Trawls,” Sheriff says to Sebastian as he leads Sable from the clinic, leaving Trawls to gather the evidence.
Seated in the town jail, Sable does not look as cool and calm as she normally looks.
“You wanna tell me again what happened, Sable?” Sheriff Anderson asks her.
She gets up off the bench and walks over to the bars, placing her hands on them, “This pharmacist came into the clinic with some medicine. He’s the one who should be behind bars.”
Something doesn’t smell right to Sheriff Anderson. “Did you have this medicine checked out? Anyone vouch for it?”
Damn. Sable just shakes her head.
“We got a hell of a problem then, don’t we?” Anderson tells her. “You gave untested medicine to the people of Durango, and it’s making them sick. It’s out of my hands, to be honest. The Rangers have sent a warrant, and they’re on their way to pick you up so you can stand trial.”
“Bobby…” Sable starts, then corrects herself, “Sheriff, this is all a misunderstanding.” She realizes how deep the shit she’s in right now flows. She’s allowed her overzealousness to overrule her common sense, and she’s in stupid serious trouble.
“You’re a smart girl, Sable. You wanna tell me just how you selling bad medicine to the people of Durango is a ‘misunderstanding?’ I’ve got a dozen or more very sick people in town and all related to this so-called medicine you’ve been handing out. They’re gonna wanna name of the person who gave you this medicine.”
Sable nods. She’s more than happy to cooperate if it’ll mean the possibility of staying out of jail. “His name is Gerald Ravant. He’s a traveling pharmacist, and he is the one who sold me the medicine. He swore that it was a miracle cure-all.”
The sheriff scribbles down the information onto a piece of paper. “Any idea where he might be right now?”
Sable just shakes her head.
Anderson knows that what Sable did was wrong, but their past makes it hard for him to see her behind bars, and the real culprit was the man who sold this medicine in the first place. If he can find that man, then perhaps the Marshalls will go a bit easier on Sable.
“You better instruct your assistant to find you a damn good lawyer, Sable. You’re gonna need it to get out of this mess. The Marshalls will be here in a couple of days, and until then, you’ve got to sit tight.”
The walls are starting to close in on Sable, but she knows there isn’t much she can do about it.
After instructing Deputy Trawls to keep an eye on Sable, Sheriff Anderson left Durango to try and ask around about this pharmacist. Chances are good there’s a gang behind him. This is more than a one-man operation.
All he must do is ask the right questions. But first, he has a stop to make as he pulls his horse onto the Pike farm.
Eloise is mucking the stables as she hears his horse and sets her rake aside to see who it is and is delighted when she sees Bobby. “Weren’t you supposed to be here a couple of hours ago?”
The sheriff slides from his horse, and the two embrace, “Work. Sable Banner is in some serious trouble.”
Eloise nods her head, “I had heard. How bad is it?”
“Bad. Really bad,” he tells her. “I’m going to go see if I can find the man who sold her the bad medicine. I may be gone for a few days. I didn’t want you to worry.”
Eloise smirks at him, “I’m always going to worry. My boyfriend is the sheriff. But I know you have a job to do, so there’s no need to feel sorry. We’ll see each other when you get back.”
Sansibar flies onto the scene, but when he sees the two together, he perches himself onto a tree, not wanting to be seen by the sheriff.
“I know tomorrow is your birthday, and I was going to do something special. It’ll have to wait until I get back,” Bobby tells her.
Eloise leans up and places a kiss on the lips of the sheriff. “My birthday isn’t going to wait for you, but we can definitely celebrate when you get back. Now, go find that criminal and help Sable. I’ll wish for your speedy and safe return.”
“Thank you,” the sheriff tells her. “I’m lucky to have you.”
“I’m just as lucky to have you,” she responds as he places an arm around her shoulder, and the two lean against each other.
An eavesdropping Sansibar thinks to himself as he watches the two, “Don’t worry, Eloise Pike. I’ll make sure your wish comes true.” The demon silently flies off.
The next morning, Sansibar is walking up the path to an elaborate castle when he’s stopped by a worker, “The queen isn’t expecting visitors today,” he tells the demon.
Sansibar just smirks at the worker and starts to move past him when the worker places a hand on his shoulder, “I said the queen isn’t….”
But in a matter of moments, the demon flips the worker onto his back. Two more workers rush out and attack. A kick to the sternum and a knee to the face puts the two others down as well.
Having dispatched the workers, Sansibar brushes off his jacket and walks into the castle.
As he walks in, the are fairies fluttering about tending to the gardens.
One of the fairies flies over to where Queen Ryar is resting and squeals, “Someone is coming! Someone is coming!”
The queen looks up as she sees Sansibar walking into the room. One of the workers rushes past him, “Queen! Queen! He insisted on coming inside. We tried to stop him, but we couldn’t.”
The queen looks at the worker with disdain, “Shut up. If you weren’t able to stop him, you wouldn’t be standing in front of me right now. Now get out.”
“Yes, you’re highness.” The worker scurries off.
Once the worker leaves, Queen Ryar turns her attention to Sansibar with a bemused expression on her face. “I never thought the great Sansibar would step foot back into the castle.”
Sansibar looks around at all the fairies and flowers. The castle’s decorations are very elaborate and expensive. “I see you’ve been remodeling since I was last here. You’ve done well, your highness.”
The queen shrugs off the compliment, “Creatures like us fear the cold the most. Hibernation is coming, and I don’t want to wake up any ugly old castle, you know. I’d also prefer not to wake up alone. Perhaps you’d like to join me?”
A curious expression crosses Sansibar’s face as the demon queen speaks, “This castle was really made for two, for just me? Very lonely.”
This isn’t the first time the queen has moved on Sansibar, but deep inside, he knew the match wasn’t meant to be, so he changes the topic of conversation, “I came to ask for your help.”
This intrigues the queen, “This doesn’t look like begging,” she taunts him.
“I know you have the best intelligence network in all of the state,” Sansibar says, ignoring her jab. “I need to track someone.”
Finally, the queen rises from her throne and begins down the steps towards Sansibar, “How could I refuse a request from such a handsome demon?” As she gets to his side, she leans up and whispers, “But I also have a request. If I do this for you, will you agree to mine?”
“What is it you request?” Sansibar already knows it’s going to be a difficult ask.
The queen’s red eyes glimmer in the candle lighting in the castle, “Do you remember what I said to you when we first met?”
Sansibar knows, “You told me that you’d never met anyone like me before in all of your life. You wanted me to be your mate.”
She finally turns to look at him, “And you told me that if I was able to defeat you, you’d take me as your mate.”
Sansibar smirks, “That’s true.”
The queen doesn’t look amused, “But then you would never fight me. If I attempted to goad you into a battle, you’d flee. It’s been years since you put yourself before me. I have missed you.”
“What is all this nonsense?” Sansibar asks. “Just tell me your request.”
The queen laughs, “Sansibar. Sansibar. You never change. Always impatient. Don’t worry, it isn’t something ridiculous. All I want is a competition—a fair fight. If I win, you’ll agree to be my King. If I lose, I’ll give up the notion of being with you forever. Do you agree?”
Sansibar turns his head to face her. “Agreed.”
“Perfect,” the queen says as a servant brings out two wine glasses. “It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other. Let’s have a little toast.”
Instead, Sansibar walks over and sets a slip of paper next to the wine, “When you find him, please let me know. Then I’ll honor our agreement.”
As he starts for the door, the queen looks concerned, “Sansibar….”
The demon stops walking.
“It’s getting cold. If you don’t hibernate soon, you’ll surely die,” she tells him.
He doesn’t turn to face her but continues to walk towards the exit, “Don’t worry. I have ten days left. I don’t anticipate any problems. I’ll be waiting for your news.”
As he disappears out of the castle, the queen stares at the door, “Sansibar. One day, you’ll be happy to know that you belong to me.”
Sable has found herself in Marshall custody. They’ve placed her in a small dark room with very little light, so when the door flies open, and one of the Marshalls enter, she’s blinded as she squints her eyes.
“Are you ready to talk?” she’s asked.
Sable has never in her life expected that she’d be in such a position. She’s tied to a chair. “I’ve told you everything,” she proclaims.
“Where is Ravant?!” she’s asked for the umpteenth time. “Where is the medicine?”
“I’m telling you; I don’t know!”
The Marshall walks up behind her and grabs her by the top of the head, and forces her head back, “There are a lot of people sick because of this medicine. If you don’t tell us what we want to know, we’ll have to force it out of you.” The Marshall nods to one of the others, “Bring it.”
Sable cannot move as she is forced to look up at the ceiling. She tries to get her head from his grasp, but he’s holding her tight. Another Marshall brings in a large pail of water and walks it over to them, lifting it up. Sable’s eyes can only go wide when she sees the water begins to pour from the pail onto her face.
She finds herself choking as the water goes into her mouth. When she tries to close her mouth, the water goes into her nose, and it feels as if she’s drowning as she opens her mouth again. She tries to spit it out, but whatever she’s able to spit is quickly replaced, and then she realizes she hasn’t been able to breathe. That’s when panic sets in.
Suddenly, the water stops, and her head is released. She brings her head up as water pours from her mouth onto the floor, and she gasps in the air.
“Will you tell us where he is now?”
As she starts to claim once more that she doesn’t know where he is, and her head is pulled back once more, it’s then that Sable Banner realizes just how fucked she truly is.”
Wet and cold, Sable Banner is tossed into a jail cell.
“If you decide you wanna talk, then let someone know. Otherwise, sit here until your trial,” the Marshall tells her. He’s annoyed he wasn’t able to get Ravant’s location from her, but they’ll find that rat bastard someway. “I’ll be happy to see you hung for what you’ve done,” he says before closing the metal door and locking her inside.
She looks around warily, and it’s now we realize she’s not alone in the cell. There are at least ten other women as well.
There’s one woman who appears to be in some sort of leadership ranking in the cell. As Sable tries to walk by, shivering from the cold, the woman looks at her, “Don’t have any manners, new girl?”
Confused, Sable stops to look at her, “What?”
The woman smirks, “I’m in charge around here. Since you’re new, you can start by washing my feet.”
Sable’s never been in any such position before. Her face hardens, even though her water-soaked clothing has her freezing. “I won’t.”
Everyone laughs. The leader chuckles, “She says she won’t. I guess every new person has to learn this lesson the hard way.” Suddenly, the other nine women rise and surround her.
One woman reaches for Sable’s shoulder, but Sable grabs her arm, twists it, and flips her onto her back. A second woman grabs her by the hair, but Sable also grabs her arm, trips her, and sends her to the ground.
This has the leader’s attention now as she finally stands onto her feet. “So, you’re stronger than you look. Make her pay.”
Instead of one at a time, they all just attack. Soon Sable is on the ground, being kicked and stomped. Before she passes out, her last thoughts are, “I’m going to die in here.”
When the queen has a goal, she moves quick. Sansibar arrives back at the castle to find Gerald Ravant tied to a chair with a cloth shoved into his mouth. He appears to be unconscious.
As the queen sits on her throne, Sansibar is impressed. “This is quicker than I imagined. I knew I was asking the right person.”
“When will you live up to your part of the bargain?” the queen asks him.
Sansibar turns to look at Queen Ryar, “You know you can’t beat me.”
Amused, Ryar shrugs at him, “How will I know unless I try?”
Giving a soft shrug, Sansibar nods. “Fine. I will compete with you.”
“Don’t worry,” she tells him. “I will be merciful.” She drops her royal cape, and her black wings expand as her golden claws extend.
Sansibar’s wings also spread out behind him as he prepares to fight her.
The queen leaps towards him, arm extended as she hits him in the chest, but he barely feels it as she flies backward. The two demons hover in the air, large black wings flapping. They fly at each other and begin to trade blows, each one being blocked by the other.
The queen sends a bolt of energy from her palm that Sansibar sidesteps, and she knocks over several flowerpots, and they crash onto the floor. She sends another, and again the male demon avoids the shot, and she loses more of her precious flowers.
She throws a couple more hands, and Sansibar flips over, landing on his feet before she nails him in the chest with a shot of energy. He manages to right himself in mid-air and land on top of her gazebo.
Ryar begins to spin around as the petals from all her damaged flowers begin to whirl around her, and she gathers them into her palms and sends a petal-infested strike towards Sansibar, who manages to wrap his wings around him to protect him from the flower blow.
As he unfurls his wings, he smirks at the queen, “You’ve been practicing since we last met.”
The proud queen nods her head and, with a flourish, responds, “Of course. Do you think I sat around these past several years?”
Sansibar nods his head, “It seems I’ve underestimated you.”
“So, do you surrender?” she asks him.
“It’s a bit early for that, don’t you think?”
Sansibar hovers in the air. The castle is a mess from all the broken flowerpots. “Hibernation is coming,” she warns him. “You’re already growing weak. Your attacks are weak. Your loss is just a formality at this point.”
“No. It’s not over yet.” Sansibar flies towards the exit.
Ryar’s wings unfurl once more, and she moves after him and sends another burst of energy at him, but Sansibar drops down and slides underneath her.
Confused, Ryar spins around just as Sansibar flies at her with a single leg kick that she blocks with her wings. She connects with an uppercut to his chin that stuns the male demon and another to the chest that sends him crashing to the floor below.
As Queen Ryar floats to the ground with a smug look on her face, the weakened Sansibar slowly rises to his feet. Then a grin crosses his face.
He lifts his arms at his sides, and the broken flowerpot pieces begin to float up in the air, and Ryar’s smug look slowly disappears.
With a flick of his wrists, the pieces fly towards her. She puts up her wings to protect her, but her castle isn’t spared as some of the vases crash through her windows, shattering them.
Angry now, she glares at him, “You’d wreck my home? Now it looks like I’ll have to hibernate this year without the shelter of my castle to keep me warm! Do you know how long it’s been since I had to hibernate? I guess I’ll be having company, though,” she says as she places a hand on his shoulder and tries to freeze him.
Sansibar summons enough energy to prevent the freezing as she staggers back.
“What are you trying to do? It’s time to hibernate!” she demands. “Are you trying to die?”
Sansibar’s confidence has returned, “There are still eight days until I have to hibernate.”
“What’s causing you to be so stubborn?” asks Ryar.
Confused, Queen Ryar asks, “What an Eloise Pike?”
“She’s a girl,” the male demon responds.
The queen’s laughter echoes through the damaged castle. “I never thought the day would come with the great Sansibar would fall in love.” She goes to throw an energy ball at him but stops as she suddenly enters hibernation, her entire body freezing on sight.
Sansibar knows he’s been spared, but then he heaves, and some yellow substance is spat from his mouth as he places a hand over his chest. Concerned, he wipes it from his lips, but he knows he has a job to do as he walks towards Gerald Ravant, who has been knocked out all this time.
Sheriff Anderson walks into the sheriff’s office, and Trawls gets to his feet, “The Marshalls came and took Sable Banner. It doesn’t look good.”
“Shit,” says the sheriff. “They say where they were taking her?”
Trawls shakes his head, “Probably Boulder to the big jail. It’s the only jail where they can put women. Probably where she’s gonna get hung, too, if she is found guilty in court. No luck finding Ravant?”
Bobby shakes his head, “The guys a ghost.”
There’s a commotion outside, and the two law officers rush out to find Gerald Ravant, still tied to a chair, hanging from the flagpole with a sign around his neck that reads, “Ravant.”
Sheriff Anderson looks around to see who could have put this man on a flagpole but doesn’t see anyone. He just looks up at the gagged man and says, “I guess you have the right to remain silent.”
From atop one of the buildings, Sansibar coughs up some more of the phlegm-like substance, “Eloise Pike, I’ve granted your birthday wish.”
A bruised, beaten Sable Banner is sitting by herself in the corner when the door to the cell opens, “Food!”
Famished, she rises to her feet and starts towards the door when she’s pushed back down. “The new girl eats last.”
Another woman laughs, “If there’s anything left.”
Each one is served a portion of potatoes and cabbage, and Sable finally gets a bowl. As she moves to eat, the leader nods to two of the other ladies who move in on Sable.
“Go ahead. Eat,” one of them says. Another snatches the bowl from her hands, brings it up to her face, and spits into it as a hungry Sable just watches on in disgust.
The bowl is shoved back in her face, “Eat it.”
“Why are you so cruel?” Sable screams out.
The woman throws the bowl to the ground, shattering the bowl and sending food flying across the floor. Another woman grabs Sable by the back of the head and forces her to the ground, “Eat, bitch.”
As the women surround her, chanting for her to eat the contaminated food, Sable slowly reaches for a clump of potatoes on the ground. Then slowly brings it to her mouth and is about to eat it when the door flies open and a Marshall walks in, causing the woman to scatter.
“What’s all the noise in here?” he asks as the woman all go back to eating. The Marshall looks at Sable, “You have a visitor.”
When Sable is thrown into a room, she is surprised to see Sebastian standing there. The moment he sees the bruises on her face, he rushes over to take a closer look. She refuses to look him in the face.
“You were tricked, Sable.”
She finally turns to look at him, “You’ve come to laugh at me?”
Sebastian shakes his head, placing his hands on her arms, “I came because I was worried.”
She pushes his hands off her, “There’s no need for you to worry about me.”
“Do you plan on staying in here forever? Or until they’ve decided to hang you?” he asks her.
“What other options do I have?”
Sebastian explains, “I never told you, but I come from a wealthy family. My father has connections. I can get you out of here.”
Suddenly, there’s a glimmer of hope in her eyes until she sees the look in his eyes.
“The question is, how will you repay me for such a favor,” he says to her.
She scoffs at him and turns to walk to the door to ask to be let out, but he slips in between her and the door.
“I know you think you’re too good for me, but I can get you out of here, Sable. I can save you!” he insists. She lifts her gaze to meets his. “I can give you freedom. Without freedom, there’s nothing.”
He leans down to kiss her, but she turns her head. Instead, he whispers into her ear, “I’m offering to take care of you. Stop being so arrogant.” He pulls back and looks at her, “If I leave, I won’t ever come back. This is your only lifeline. Right now.”
Sable can’t even look at this man who was her assistant for so long. A tear falls down her cheek because, in the end, what she’s done will get her killed. Hung.
Sebastian is growing impatient as he grabs her by the arm and drags her to the table in the center of the room. He lifts her up and sits her on it. “For three years, I’ve treated you well. I’ve taken care of you. I helped you even though you never once considered me your equal. Now, I can get you out of here, and all I want in return is for you to be my devoted wife and to never look down on me again.”
Tears are flowing freely down both cheeks now as Sable knows she really has no other choice. Her career as a doctor is over. Her life could very well be over.
She doesn’t stop him when he lowers her back onto the table. He whispers down to her, “I’ll love you forever, as I always have.” He moves over her, and she does nothing to stop him as the scene fades to black.
Sheriff Anderson and Deputy Trawls spent the last couple of days riding to Boulder with Ravant on the horse behind them. They ride up to the jail, and Anderson slides from his horse. He walks up to the guardhouse, “I have Gerald Ravant here. I’ve come for Sable Banner.”
“Sheriff,” Trawls says and points towards a catatonic Sable Banner who’s being escorted out of prison. Anderson rushes over to her, “Why are you out of jail? Why is your face bruised?”
She slowly looks up at him, “You’ve arrived a little late,” she tells him.
Trawls is getting Ravant down from the horse as Bobby speaks with Sable, “I’m sorry. He was hard to track. To be honest, he just sort of showed up.”
“It doesn’t really matter,” she says with no emotions, “The matter has already been resolved. If you’ll excuse me, my ride is waiting.”
Sable walks past them and towards the buggy. Sebastian places his jacket over her as she gets inside as the sheriff and the deputy watch with interest. As the door closes that the driver beckons the horses to ride, Sable Banner turns to look out the buggy window, reaching up to wipe a tear from her eye.
Eloise has finished her song, and everyone in the saloon cheers. “I’ll be back in a few moments,” she says as she sees an old friend. She steps down from the stage and over to Sansibar and takes a seat at his table, “I didn’t know you were in town,” she tells him.
“Just passing through,” he tells her. “I’ve got a long trip ahead of me, and I wanted to say hello before leaving.”
“Where are you going this time?” she asks him. “Why don’t you stick around. Winter is coming.”
Sansibar shakes his head, “I’m no longer needed here. I believe you are in good hands with the sheriff. I’m very happy for you,” he tells her.
Eloise seems curious, “You’re making it sound an awful lot like I’ll never see you again. Aren’t you coming back to Durango?”
“Never say never,” he tells her.
“What will I do without you?” Eloise asks him.
“Sheriff Anderson is more than capable,” Sansibar reassures her.
Eloise nods her head, “Maybe, but he’s my love. You are my friend. You seem to know when to show up, just as I need someone. Besides, who’s going to help me if I run across a demon? If I’m kidnapped by a demon, you’ll regret not being here,” she teases him. “You should stay.”
Sansibar knows he cannot stay. He’s already feeling the effects of the winter on his body. The sickness is coming. “Meeting a demon won’t be a problem. Let me show you something.” He glances around to make sure no one is paying attention to him as he slips off a glove and shows off his golden fingernail. “A demon’s power is in his nails. If the fingernails are gone, so is the power. If you are ever captured by a demon, find a way to remove the fingernails.”
This really isn’t what Eloise wanted to hear. “You’re really leaving then?”
“If I blow the whistle, will you still come?” she asks.
He nods his head again.
Eloise lets out a heavy sigh, “I know you have a life to live. I won’t push you to stay.”
Sansibar reaches for her hand, “I wish you the best life.”
She watches as he walks out of the saloon and out of her life.
Despite her stint in jail, Sable Banner was stuck with Sebastian Crane. Sophie Anderson’s party provided him the perfect opportunity to parade her around like an ornament, and she was not happy about it in the least.
“Why are we here?” she asks him as they walk into the home.
Sebastian smirks, “Because I’ve decided it’s time to flaunt my wealth. The only reason I worked for you in the first place was to be by your side, and now you’re stuck with me.”
“I’m not a prize to be paraded around, you know?” she tells him.
Sebastian smirks. He knows he has the upper hand. “It’s much better than being in a jail cell, don’t you think?”
That comment didn’t sit well with Sable as she takes a glass of wine and scans the room when her eyes fall on a soldier. An officer, to be exact. “Who’s that?” she asks Sebastian.
Sebastian shrugs, “The military has stopped in town for a few days. Why?”
She starts to walk towards the man who’s now looking right at her when Sebastian reaches out and grabs her by the wrist, “Stay away from the military guys. They’re nothing but trouble.”
Sable pulls her arm free of Sebastian’s hand. She’s tired of him being grabby all the time. She let him have his way back at the jail cell, but that doesn’t mean she’s gonna continue to be available to him. “You worry too much.” She walks over to the officer, “Care to dance with a lady?”
“I’d be delighted,” he says as he takes her hand, and they walk out onto the dance floor.
Sebastian watches with interest, wondering what her scheme is.
“You dance well,” the officer tells her.
Sable gives him a sly grin, “I have many skills,” she says. “But I can’t demonstrate them for you because I have a problem.”
The officer has been on the road with his men for days. It’s been a while since he’s been with a woman, so she’s definitely got his interest. “What problem?”
“See that man? With the beard?”
The officer glances in Sebastian’s direction. “Yes.”
“He’s made me his hostage, you could say,” she explains. “If he was somehow out of the picture, I’d be more than available for you, Captain.” Sebastian may have gotten her out of prison, but there’s no way that Sable is going to remain handcuffed to that man.
The officer glances once more at Sebastian, who’s keeping a curious eye on things, “A man should never keep someone as beautiful as you hostage. You should be free to do as you please. A man like that doesn’t deserve to live. Give me one moment,” he says touching her cheek.
She smiles up at him, but as he walks away, the smile disappears.
The officer motions for another soldier to come with him. As the soldier gets within range, the officer reaches for the soldier’s pistol. He walks right up to Sebastian and points the pistol at him.
A few women are screaming as they see what’s about to happen.
Sebastian turns to face the officer, unaware of his intent, but as soon as he does, the officer fires a shot at him, putting the man down.
The officer waves to some of his men, “Get him out of here.”
Sable watches with cold, dead eyes as the man who got her out of jail is carried out of the party.
Sable has slipped out of the party to avoid dealing with that awful military man when she spots Sansibar leaving the Saloon. She tries to recall where she’s seen him before when it hits her.
He was the one trapped in her father’s laboratory.
Eloise walks into the sheriff’s office to find Bobby passed out on his desk. She reaches for his denim jacket that’s on the hook and places it over his back as he slowly wakes up. “You’re here?”
“You’re still here. You’ve been up all night again?” she asks.
He rubs his tired eyes as she walks over and pours him a cup of coffee from the kettle on the stove, and walks over and places it in front of him. “Still working the animal case?”
The case from before where it seemed some strange animal was attacking folks in the township. “We have zero leads, but the good thing is there haven’t been any new animal attacks. Maybe whatever it was, has moved on.”
Eloise takes a glance at the crude drawing of the claw marks when it suddenly hits her. Those would be the type of claw marks made from Sansibar’s claws. Feeling anxious, she turns to the sheriff, “I just remembered that Sarah asked me to help her study for her test tomorrow….”
“Do you need me to give you a ride home?” Bobby asks.
“No need!” she cries out as she’s already out the door.
The sheriff just looks after her, confused.
Eloise is walking home, wondering to herself. “Was it Sansibar who killed those men? If so, why would he do that? I should ask him. Has he left already?”
She pulls the whistle from around her neck.
Sable has been following Sansibar for quite some time, but he really hasn’t done anything. Nothing suspicious. After what happened to him, why would he be here?
Unfortunately, she hasn’t been able to shake that stupid officer. And after watching him kill someone in cold blood, she hasn’t found the means to completely rid herself of him. But he has allowed her to use some of his soldiers to keep an eye on this guy.
Suddenly, Sansibar cocks his ear to the side and then rushes off.
“Quickly, follow him,” she tells the soldiers who move after him.
Eloise is standing in the forest, blowing the whistle when Sansibar enters the woods, “Eloise! I’m sorry, I was in a public place and had to run here. Is everything okay?”
Eloise has a serious expression on her face, which causes Sansibar to be confused.
“Did you kill those people?” she asks him straight out.
When Sansibar doesn’t answer her straight out, she knows. “I always thought of you as a good person. I never once thought you’d be a murderer.”
Sansibar can sense her disappointment. He cannot even bear to look at her face.
“Tell me it’s not true!” she begs him. “You’ve told me you aren’t the only demon, so tell me it wasn’t you!”
Sansibar knows he cannot lie to her, “You’re not wrong,” he finally tells her. “I killed them,” he says, turning away from her.
She quickly moves to be in front of him again, “Why? Don’t you know that all lives are precious? I’ve heard stories of demons, but when I met you, I knew you were different. But you’re not, aren’t you? I’m so disappointed!”
Sansibar’s eyes grow wide at those words. “I’m a disappointment to you?” he asks her. “You never once asked me what type of people they were, the ones I killed. You didn’t ask if they were good people or bad people. You didn’t ask me what my reason was for killing them.”
“It doesn’t matter what the reason is, Sansibar! Killing is wrong!” she exclaims. “If they are bad people, they belong in jail. It’s not your place to kill for no reason!”
Sansibar’s anger is starting to get the better of him. He opens his hands, and his talons spring out. His ears begin to grow. His eyes turn red, and his wings expand, and he rises into the air.
From above her, he tells her, “I kill innocents! I’m a demon! I kill for pleasure! Are you happy now?”
Eloise is crying now, “I treated you as my best friend. I don’t understand why you’re being like this! If you value our friendship, come with me to turn yourself in.”
Sansibar laughs down at her, “Turn myself in? Have you lost your mind? The great Eloise Pike, acting so self-righteous. You think so lowly of me now that you know that truth? Do you think I can’t live without you? Let me tell you something, Eloise Pike. I will kill whoever I want, whenever I want. I am the Demon Sansibar! If your doting boyfriend wants to arrest me, you let him come.”
Eloise is shaking her head, not believing the words she’s hearing. Sansibar takes flight, and she runs after him, “Sansibar! Listen to me!” But it’s too late. He’s too far to hear her.
“I asked you one simple thing,” scolds Sable when suddenly, Sansibar flies over their heads.
The soldiers and Sable all duck down and turn to watch the flying demon pass by. He drags his claws across the surface of a tree, leaving deep marks on it.
Sansibar turns around and looks at Sable, and Sable’s mouth drops open as she recognizes him again. The demon disappears from sight, and Sable walks in that direction. “My father was right all along. Demons exist. I will prove it to the world and redeem your work, father.”
The soldiers are still gawking and talking about the demon as Sable turns around just in time to see Eloise Pike walking away.
And Sable Banner grins.
Sheriff Anderson is still looking over the sketches made. “This doesn’t make sense. Not one book records such wounds made from any animal known to this earth.”
The door to the sheriff’s station opens, and Sable Banner walks in. “Because it’s not a creature. It’s a demon,” she tells him.
Sheriff Anderson looks at her, “Did you take one too many ass-whippings in that jail cell, Sable? Everyone knows that demons don’t exist. You’re starting to sound like your pa.”
“My father was right.” She grabs a piece of his paper and a pencil and begins to draw. When she’s finished, she slides it over to him. The sheriff looks at the paper and then up at Sable.
“This could make those markings. You’re telling me it’s from a demon?” The picture shows a hand with long talon nails.
“I personally saw a demon make these same marks on a tree,” she tells the sheriff.
The sheriff seems confused, “I didn’t think you believed in demons.”
“I didn’t until I saw one with my very own eyes,” she explains. “And you’ll believe it too when I catch it.”
“How will you catch it?”
Sable smirks, “I’ll need bait.”
Sable nods, “Guess who I saw walking away from the area that I saw the demon? Your lovely girlfriend, Eloise Pike. Apparently, this demon has taken a keen interest in your betrothed. I would like to have her brought in to be questioned.”
Sheriff Anderson shakes his head, “You’ve gone completely crazy, Sable Banner. You’re not bringing in Eloise for questioning. You’ve got no authority.”
Sable reaches into her pocket, “By order of the United States Army, you’re to bring in Eloise Pike for questioning about these murders.” She slaps a piece of paper onto the desk.
Anderson just stares at her for a moment as if waiting for the punchline, but when one doesn’t come, he reaches down and picks up the paper, unfolds, and reads it.
“I didn’t realize you were this angry at me for calling off our engagement.”
Sable laughs at him, “Don’t flatter yourself. This is strictly business. I intend to prove my father’s innocence. I intend to prove he wasn’t some sort of freak. And since it looks like you’re going to hinder my operation, consider yourself detained.”
“This is bullshit, Sable,” the sheriff says as he goes to the door, but two armed soldiers are standing guard when he opens it.
Eloise is at the saloon, preparing to perform when Sansibar’s servant walks in the throws an envelope angrily on her table. “He told me to bring you this.”
She’s confused, “Who did?” She opens the envelope to find a large stack of money. “Who did this come from?”
“Did you even think to consider why you met him? Every time you were in a bad spot, he was the one who brought you out,” the servant snaps at her. “You asked him to turn himself in, but did you even once consider the reason? The man at the mine wanted to kill you for coming for money for your father. Every time Sansibar killed a man, it was because the man deserved to die. Several times it was to protect you, Eloise Pike.”
“I didn’t know…” she stammers in response.
“I bet you also didn’t know that in three days if Sansibar doesn’t go into hibernation that he’s going to die?”
No. She didn’t know that. “The whistle!”
The servant is confused, “Whistle?”
“He gave me a whistle,” she pulls it from around her neck. “I’ll call him.”
She blows the whistle. When nothing happens, she rushes out of the saloon and into the street and blows it again.
The servant follows, “It’s no use. He’s not coming.”
Eloise begins to cry, “I didn’t know any of this. He didn’t tell me.”
“I need to find him before something bad happens,” the servant. “Your crying does no good. If something bad happens to him, my life is meaningless. Do you understand?”
As the servant rushes off, Eloise again blows the whistle hoping and praying that Sansibar will appear before her.
Eloise has spent the last twenty-four hours searching for Sansibar. As she pushes through town, she’s bumped, and as she turns around to apologize, she sees Sable Banner with some soldiers following her.
Eloise starts to run and seems to disappear.
“Find her!” snaps Sable to the soldiers before running off.
Eloise steps in front of Sable, “You’ve been following me for a day. What do you want?”
“I’m under orders to follow you,” Sable explains.
Curious, Eloise asks, “Am I a criminal?”
Sable shakes her head, “No. But you can lead us to one.”
She’s not sure how Sable knows of Sansibar, but Eloise will not lead her to him. “I don’t know what you’re going on about, Sable Banner.”
Sable smirks at her, “I saw you with the demon. He seems to have taken a keen interest in you.”
“I think you’ve lost your marbles, Sable,” Eloise tells her. “Are you catching your father’s madness? Perhaps you need to spend some time at the hospital. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”
Eloise starts to walk one way, but her path is blocked by a soldier. She tries to go a different way, but again, her path is blocked. Soon, she finds herself surrounded. She hears Sable chuckle.
“Don’t worry, we have no interest in harming you. We just want to use you to get our demon. You can go about your business, but we will be following you.”
The two women stare at each other for a moment before Eloise turns and pushes through the soldiers, and walks off.
One of the soldiers asks Sable, “Why tip her off that we’re following her?”
Sable watches Eloise go, “She’ll have to find a way to warn the demon not to return. This will be our chance.”
“What if she doesn’t?”
“Then we’ll give him a reason to return,” Sable tells the soldier.
Eloise has once again given Sable and her soldiers the slip. She again tries to summon Sansibar, and again, he doesn’t show.
Sable walks into the officer’s quarters, and he seems to be packing things up. “What’s going on here?”
“We have our orders. We are leaving Durango. There’s some trouble down near Boulder. We are leaving in the morning. You’ll come with me, right?”
“Dammit,” thinks Sable. She’s so close to getting her demon and proving all the naysayers wrong. Leaving now would ruin everything. She turns to him and puts on a fake smile, “Of course. Let me go pack my things at the clinic, and I’ll meet you at the train station in the morning.” There’s no way she’s getting on that train.
The captain nods his head, “Just remember, the train won’t wait. If you’re late, you’ll get left behind.”
Sable nods her head, giving him another smile before turning and walking out of the room. That’s exactly what she has in mind.
Sable walks into the sheriff’s office. There are no soldiers standing guard.
“Are you quite finished now, Sable?” The sheriff asks. “The soldiers are leaving tomorrow, so you’ll no longer have your boyfriend’s posse to boss around. If I didn’t think you were having some sort of episode, I’d put your ass back in this jail. Go home.”
Sable isn’t about to go home, “I think not. Look, do you want to solve this case or not? You’ve been looking for whatever it is that killed those men, and I’m going to hand him over to you on a silver platter. I’m telling you that Eloise is the key.”
Suddenly, the door swings open, and standing there is Eloise Pike. “What about me?”
She steps into the room, “I’m here, Sable. What do you want to know?”
“Where’s your friend, the demon?” Sable asks.
Eloise shrugs her shoulders as she looks over at the sheriff, then back to Sable. “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about, Sable Banner.”
Suddenly, Sable reaches into her satchel and pulls out a pistol. She raises it, aimed towards Eloise, and pulls back on the hammer. “How about now?”
The sheriff starts towards Sable, but she swings the gun towards him. “Stay back!” she snaps. “I want some goddamned answers.” She turns to Eloise, “I saw the demon out in the forest, and you were there too.”
Eloise just shrugs, “I didn’t see anything. I was just out there walking and looking for mushrooms for dinner.”
“Bull shit!” screams Sable. “Where is he?!”
As if there were invitations sent, the door to the sheriff’s office swings open once more, and standing in the doorway is Sansibar. “What scene is this we have going on?” he asks as he steps inside.
Eloise’s eyes go wide. This was exactly what she wanted not to happen. “Why are—?” she starts to say, but Sansibar holds up a hand before turning to Sable.
“I heard someone was suspecting me of murder, so I came to prove my innocence,” the demon tells her.
Sable lowers her gun, “Remove your gloves. We’ll find out whether or not you’re innocent.”
Sansibar appears to be amused, “Just revealing my hands will prove my guilt or innocence? Are you certain?”
Sable nods her head, that confident grin on her face.
Sansibar also nods, “Very well then.” Dramatically, he lifts a hand and slowly tugs at his glove, one finger at a time, until he reveals his hand. As he lifts the back of his hand towards Sable, her confident smile slowly begins to fade.
Even Eloise seems surprised, “How are his golden fingernails gone? He told me that his nails represented energy. Could it be that…?”
Sable moves towards him and takes his hand in hers, “How can this be?” Sansibar just gives her a smirk, and then slowly, Sable turns to Eloise and points at her, “It’s you! You found a way to warn him.” She grabs Eloise by the arm, which forces her arm up, and Eloise’s diamond-shaped birthmark is shown.
“That’s enough of this crap, Sable,” Sheriff Anderson has seen enough. “This is Mr. Sansibar. He’s a friend of Eloise’s. We’ve met. He’s human. He’s no demon.” He walks over, and he takes Sable by the arm and leads her towards the door. “Get out.” He gives her a shove, and she stumbles out the door and falls on her backside in the street.
As the door closes, Sable can be heard screaming, “He’s a goddamned demon! I saw it myself!”
Sheriff Anderson’s first instinct is to check on Eloise, but Sansibar speaks up first. “Seems my work here is done.”
The sheriff looks up at him and nods, “Thanks for coming in and clearing that up.”
The demon nods his head, “I’ll be off. I’ll head out the back way since the doctor is still out front.” As Sansibar disappears, Eloise turns to Bobby. “Let me go say thanks.” He nods, and she goes after him.
“Sansibar!” The demon pauses, turning towards her. “Why did you come?”
Sansibar smiles at her, “Because some won’t stop, and it would never end if I hadn’t. Perhaps now, things will calm down.”
“But your nails….”
“They will grow back. I’ll just need to be careful for now.”
Eloise begins to tear up again. “I’m so sorry.”
“You’ve nothing to be sorry for,” he explains. “I did it all of my own free will. I want you to live free and live happily.” He kisses the back of her hand and then starts to walk off, pausing to turn back to her. “Tell the sheriff that his case will soon be closed.”
As Sansibar walks off, his servant rushes to catch up to him, “Master, you must hibernate.”
“I’m almost ready. There’s just one more thing I have to do,” the demon says. His attention is diverted when he hears the sound of a female in pain. He walks around the corner to find a man kicking a woman on the ground.
Sansibar’s eyes turn red, and he walks up to the man, grabs him by the neck, and pushes him against the wall as the servant helps the woman out of the area. “You disgust me,” he tells the man before snapping his neck.
The man slumps to the ground, and Sansibar reaches into his pocket and pulls out his removed golden nails.
The next morning, Trawls rushes into the sheriff’s office. “You better come look at this, sheriff.”
Curious, Bobby gets up from his chair and heads outside to find a man tied up on the ground. “What’s this?”
“Take a gander at his fingernails,” says the deputy.
Sheriff Anderson kneels and finds the man has golden fingernails. “Who brought him here?”
Deputy Trawls shrugs his shoulders, “Seems we might have some sort of vigilante in town. Regardless, it seems the case has been solved.”
The sheriff is about to respond when he notices the snow beginning to fall.
Off in the distance, Sansibar and his servant are watching. “This sheriff, I’m not sure he can properly protect Eloise Pike,” the demon says.
“We don’t have time to worry about that now,” says the servant. “You have 12 hours before hibernation.”
Sansibar nods his head, “I hope things are the same when I return.” He turns to the servant, “Let’s go.”
A short while later, Sansibar sits on his perch, preparing to hibernate.
“I’ll see you next year, Master,” the servant says.
He walks off leaving, Sansibar alone. As the demon sits there, his body starts to cover itself in frost.
Outside of the train station, a soldier walks up to the officer. “The train is ready to leave, sir.”
The officer nods his head, coming to the realization that Sable isn’t coming. “I guess destiny has its own plans.” He takes one look back to make sure she’s not coming before he gets on the train. He walks in and takes a seat, and draws his windows shut.
The train’s whistle blows when we hear Sable, “Wait for me!” she cries out as she rushes towards the train that’s starting to move on the track. She rushes up to the train, “Commander! Commander!” but all the windows have been drawn shut.
Stunned that she just missed this train, she watches as her life gets derailed once again, and she watches the train move on down the track and out of her life.
Sable walks into her father’s laboratory. The clinic is all but dead. She can’t practice medicine. She’s lost everything. She throws up her hands, “I thought I was better than you, father. But we are the same, you and I. Completely unlucky. I have nothing. But I won’t accept it! I’ll find a way back. I’ll find a way back, father!” Tears stream down her face now as she cries out in anguish.
She walks over to the demon cage and runs her fingers along the metal. “I believe now there are demons as I saw one with my own eyes. I’ll surely catch him and prove to the world that you were right all along. I will catch this demon.”
She begins to laugh. But something catches her eye. She pushes a few of her father’s papers around, and she sees it. Something she hadn’t realized. Her father had documented a diamond birthmark.
It hits her hard as she recalls seeing it on Eloise Pike’s arm. “Eloise Pike is a demon!”
Sable stumbles backward until her back hits the wall, and she slides down to sit on the floor as she begins to laugh and cry at the same time, “She’s a demon too!”
“Are you sure this is for the best?” asks Wilfred to the sheriff.
The sheriff nods. “Word has spread that Eloise has some sort of connection to a demon. It’s complete bullshit, but folks will believe anything. I think it’s for the best to get her out of town for a while. I’ll bring her back when things settle down.”
If there’s anyone Wilfred trusts with Eloise, it’s Sheriff Anderson. Meanwhile, back in the bedroom, Sarah is weeping as Eloise packs some clothing into a bag. “Why do you have to go?” Sarah whines.
Eloise closes the bag and then turns to her sister, drawing her into a hug, “I’ll be back. It’s not forever. Just until things blow over. I promise I’ll send you letters.”
Sarah nods her head as Eloise wipes away her sister’s tears. “Stop crying. I need you to take care of pa, okay?”
Sarah just nods again. The women walk out as Bobby walks over and takes Eloise’s bag for her, and he walks outside to toss it into the back of the wagon. Eloise hugs her father, “Take care of Sarah,” she tells him.
Wilfred nods his head, “Be safe. I love you.”
“I love you too, pa,” Eloise says. They all walk outside, and Bobby helps Eloise up into the wagon before joining her.
“Wait,” asks Wilfred, “What’s the town going to do about a new sheriff?”
Bobby grabs the reins, “Someone should be arriving in a few days, but until then, Trawls can handle anything that comes up.” He turns to Eloise, “You ready?”
Eloise nods her head. “I’m ready.”
As Bobby sets the horses in motion, Eloise turns around and waves to her family as they wave back. Sarah runs after the wagon until it gets to the road, and she stands there waving as the scene fades to black.
Eloise Pike CHARLOTTE O’NEAL
Sheriff Anderson BRUCE McLEOD
Sansibar ANTON CROWLEY
Sable Banner KENZIE GARRETT
Deputy Trawls DANIEL DREAM
Sophie Anderson CANDI BRATTON
Sarah Pike KATELIN ARNETT
Queen Ryar CHRISTINA OLSON
A few days later, a stranger rides into town. He rides his horse up to the sheriff’s office and dismounts. Grabbing a pack from the horse, the figure walks up to the door and steps into the office.
Deputy Trawls gets to his feet, “Are you the new sheriff?”
“I sure am.”
“Welcome to Durango!” says the Deputy.
“Great,” the new sheriff says. “Where can I put my things.”
“Oh,” the question seems to catch the Deputy off guard. “There’s a room back here. The former sheriff never used it as he had his own place, but this is where the sheriff usually stays.”
“Great, I’ll get settled in if you want to head home.”
“I’m sure the missus will appreciate it,” he tells the new sheriff as he grabs his jacket and walks out of the office.
As the door closes, the sheriff walks over and drops the bag on the cot. He removes his cowboy hat, and then we see the long black hair flowing down around his shoulders. Only it’s then we realize that he is she.
She reaches into her pack and unfolds a piece of paper, and drops it on the bed. It’s a wanted poster with the image of a demon on it. “Finally. I’m gonna find that demon the killed my parents,” she says.
She walks towards the sink, and just as we’re about to see her face, the screen cuts to black, then reads: