For Pete’s Sake

Think of the word “atrocity”. You probably don’t know what it means, but it is a good way to describe the contents of this story. Go back. Back to the old west days. You’re probably thinking of gunfights, and cowboys, all that stuff. Well, everything has a darker side. Even cowboys had things that go bump in the night!

Think of the word “atrocity”. You probably don’t know what it means, but it is a good way to describe the contents of this story. Go back. Back to the old west days. You’re probably thinking of gunfights, and cowboys, all that stuff. Well, everything has a darker side. Even cowboys had things that go bump in the night!

It was around the year 1750 that Pete Williams’s wife and son were stricken with a strange illness. Like any good husband and father would do, Pete did his best to make them better. But, after three months of this unknown disease, they died. Pete never recovered from their deaths. For years, he talked very little, and barely ever left his farm. The townspeople all felt sorry for him, but at the same time, felt spooked. One evening, some of the townspeople were gathered in Maria Santiago’s saloon. They were chatting away, drinking, having a good time, when the town drunk, Joe, burst through the doors screaming “Fire, Fire!” The town sheriff, Jeb Smith, sat him down and asked him “What’s on fire?” Some of the townsfolk crowded around him. “I sawed the glow of fire out near ol’ Pete Williams’s place!” the drunk raved. “I heard Pete yellin’ some stuff, too!” “Maybe his barn caught fire!” Jeb’s wife Margie chipped in. “You go see if he needs help, an’ I’ll look after Joe.” Maria told them.

When the townsfolk arrived at the Williams farm, all they saw was Pete kneeled in front of a dead cow. The animal was covered in lacerations, and most of the skin was torn away. “What’s goin’ on, Pete?” the blacksmith, Ed McDonald, asked him. “One of my cows… had an accident.” The man replied. “Don’t look like no accident, that thing’s practically inside-out!” the sheriff exclaimed. “And old Joe said there was a glow, like a fire.” “You mean Joe, the drunk, is where you’re getting this? The man once thought a stable door the front of the bank.” “Well, he was a little tipsy that time…” Jeb replied. “He was sober when he came in.” “Well, if you’ll excuse me, I have to clean up my cow, so good day to you sirs.” Jeb said, tipped his hat. “Hold on, I’ll help yah.” The blacksmith said. As he reached down, he accidentally knocked Pete back, and with that, his hat came off and they all saw strange and intricate markings on his forehead. “What the hell’s those on yer forehead, Pete?” the deputy asked him. “Uhhh… nothing, I just fell in some gravel.” He hastily replied “I don’t need any help, thanks anyway. I think you’d all better leave.” And with that, they all went back to the saloon.

“Those markin’s weren’t made by no gravel. They looked like drawings of some sort.” The local doctor, Nate Phillips, muttered. The pastor, Reverend Paul Johnson declared “That boy hasn’t been right since the passing of his kin. What happened to that cow wasn’t natural. It was hacked up, mutilated.” “And the way he was kneeling in front of it. I thought I heard him muttering something.” The deputy piped up. “He must have been doin’ something evil, what with the markin’s and dead cow. Satan’s work!” “My children, there’s but one place we have for devil worshippers! The gallows!” “Enough of this devil talk, sit down and have a drink, Reverend!” The Reverend banged his fist on the bar and yelled “Silence, woman! We must remove this danger to God’s children, now and forever! To that damned farm, men!” And with that, the men followed the pastor to their horses and rode off to the Williams farm.

When they arrived, they saw Pete Williams come out of his house and waved to them. “Hey, gents, what’s up?” he shouted to the oncoming horsemen. “Grab that devil loving demon!” the pastor yelled. “Only then will you and your kin be safe from his evil ways!” Pete was taken aback by all this and started to open his front door, but the posse ran up the porch stairs and grabbed him. Roughly, they tied his hands, laid him on a horse. Before Pete could start to struggle, a powerful hand clubbed him in the back of the head and everything went black.

The posse rode back into town with their unconscious captive and the entire town was gathered out in the street to see what was going on.
Pete Williams came to and found himself tied to a chair in front of a podium. The Reverend came out of a nearby building and stepped up to the podium, gavel in hand. “You stand before this court, accused of witchcraft! How do you plead?” the reverend boomed. “I don’ know what th’ hell yer all talking about…” Pete replied groggily. “Explain the markings on your forehead then, devil-spawn!” the reverend replied with a stony glare. Pete said nothing. “As I thought! To the gallows with this pit-dog!” and with this, Pete Williams was hauled out of the chair and up a small platform. The sheriff put the noose around his neck and the reverend asked the condemned man “Any last words?” The farmer replied “I’m comin’ back for you! For all of you!” He just started to say “Miserable sons of…” when the trap door was dropped on he made the short drop and a quick stop.

After the townsfolk cut him down, they rolled up Pete’s cold body in a burlap sheet and threw him into a quickly dug grave. With this, the reverend muttered “May the lord have mercy on his soul.”

That night, there was a fairly large storm, and many sat, huddled in Maria’s saloon, sipping their drinks quietly, some playing cards, trying to forget what had happened that afternoon. As the storm raged, so did the everlasting fury of Peter Williams. The sands around his shallow grave started to swirl, and erode. As the thunder and lightning crashed in the distance, a hand burst out of the freshly turned soil. Another hand followed the first, and with that, a torso and head. The lips slowly parted, and a growl emerged that would have turned the bravest man’s blood to ice. This walking horror lifted itself from the shallow pit and trudged off towards the town.

Once again, Joe Washington had too much to drink. ‘Why do I drink?’ he thought. ‘Is it to forget?’ ‘I don’t remember anymore’. As he lay in the stable, barely awake, there was a shuffling by the door. ‘Who would be walking around at this hour in a storm?’ A raspy, rattling voice whispered to him “Would you like a drink, Joe? You always did.” Joe was a little scared, but a free drink was a free drink. “Sure buddy…” The voice replied “Here then, you pickled old drunk!” And a pale hand shot out from the silhouette and rapped around the drunk’s throat. The other hand took a bottle and rammed it down the man’s throat until you couldn’t see the glass and the throat was twice it’s normal size. The alcoholic fell to his knees clawing at his neck. “Nosy old ass!” The raspy voice said, and the silhouette faded away.

The following morning, a stable boy found the cold corpse of old Joe Washington and the townsfolk buried him up on the hill. “Bad way to die, Maria. Damn awful.” The town doctor muttered to the barkeep over his evening beer.

That evening, the sheriff and the reverend were out for a stroll under the stars, chatting quietly, when suddenly a raspy, rattling voice called to them from a few feet back. “Excuse me gents, but do you have a light?” The sheriff nodded and stepped forward with a match. As the lawman lifted it up, a pale hand snatched the badge from his shirt and rammed it into the man’s forehead. “How’s that for a weird marking!” the silhouette sneered. The reverend started to back away and let out a gasp. “Told you I’d be back, Paul. God did have mercy on my soul.” Before the frightened priest could reply, a filthy boot caught him in the stomach and he was roughly carried into the night.

That morning, some the townsfolk were exiting their homes, a few going to work. By seven o’ clock, almost all were gathered outside of the church. Reverend Paul Johnson was crucified on the steeple. Needless to say, there was already a pile of regurgitated breakfast in every alleyway on the block. The doctor and the deputy went around to the back of the church where they kept the ladder. It’s also where they found the sheriff’s body on the gallows, badge still protruding from his crusty forehead.
They were lain beside Joe Washington on the hill.
“Damn strange thing. Ol’ Pete said he’d be back, and people start getting mangled. Spooky.” Deputy Phil said nervously over a shot of rye in the saloon.

Nate Phillips was good friends with Ed the blacksmith. That evening, he decided to pay his pal a visit. He strolled down the dusty street and knocked on the smithy door.
The door creaked open and he was roughly pulled in. “Hey Ed, what’s the problem?” he exclaimed. Only it was his friend. Ed McDonald was shackled to the wall with bent iron rods. The good doctor only had enough time to gasp before a pale hand punched into his chest and ripped open his rib cage.

The people of Hopeburg found the blacksmith stapled to his wall, very dead, and the doctor with his arm bones, not the skin, just bones, protruding from his stomach and his ribcage torn open. Most of the contents were stuffed down his throat.

The citizens of Hopeburg were truly shaken. Five gruesome murders in three days. Most believed it was the angry spirit of Pete Williams, others chose not to think of it, lest they lose their breakfast. Both men were lain on the hill. Many widows wept that night.

Tomorrow afternoon, people were milling about in the street. Some children were playing with a dog. Ladies were gossiping. As this cheerfulness went on, a pale man stumbled down the street with what seemed to be a large piece of meat. A piece the size of a grown man. The figure stopped and stood in the middle of the road as all stared in shock. He tossed the meat in front of him and yelled in a rattling voice, head slightly to the side. He raised a hand and was holding the decapitated head of Deputy Phil. The wind and sands started to swirl around him. The lone figure yelled in a voice no man could have matched for volume. “VENGANCE!” Windows shook and horses whinnied in terror. The swirling finally overtook the figure and with a loud ‘crack’ the winds died down and the pale man was gone. Pete Williams said he’d be back, and he always keeps his word.

The town of Hopeburg never forgot what happened. They can’t. It drove a few insane.