16
Sep
12

It Is Said (MBKS1): High Noon in Fears Corner

high noon

It is said that every frightening moment that ever existed has taken some physical form and walked the dusty streets of Fears Corner.  The people who conceive these anxieties in the flesh, men and women, young and old, the anonymous and the anointed have all at some time or another also trod its boards.

They bring themselves here to face whatever they fear most. They arrive here hoping and praying that faith in themselves will see them through. Those that have already passed this way would tell you that if you’re going through hell, you just keep going.

When the worlds were created, no one ever expected that such a lonely and desolate place would ever come to be. Other than the players in each nightmare, there are never any people here. The businesses are all shuttered, the stables are all empty, the wind howls incessantly, and the time is always high noon. 

Once, with the help of a vicious prairie fire, the entire frontier town burned down to the ground.

It was rebuilt.

No one knows how. 

Fears Corner still smells of scorched earth. 

Recently a black blizzard had blown through town and buried everything in the dust and debris of the massive sandstorm.

A cyclone came along afterwards and unearthed it.

Fears Corner, some say, is indestructible.

On this day there was rain, a light, steady, annoying rain. Far off in the distance, explosions of lightning began reflecting off the surfaces of the dark, flat clouds that clawed at the horizon. Soft booms of thunder were heralding the impending arrival of another event.

Music is never heard here which is why it was odd to hear a slightly out of tune piano straining to play its last tune. You could almost hear the hushed voices of settlers that never ventured here singing…

 

Buffalo gals, won’t you come out tonight,

Come out tonight, Come out tonight,

Buffalo gals, won’t you come out tonight,

And dance by the light of the moon.

 

It was coming from the only place in town that it would if it could, and the last place in town where anybody should be – the Abandon All Hope Saloon. 

Most frontier towns would build their most moving and meaningful structures at the heart of their communities. A steeple would reach up to the heavens for those of faith. A town hall would stand for those who believed in governance above all. A grand train station would be waiting for those who welcomed visitors from all points of the compass. 

In Fears Corner, it was the Abandon All Hope Saloon that stood at the center of town. There was nothing remarkable about this two-story wooden building with its once fancy facade now faded away. Those that entered here weren’t looking for fancy facades, or welcoming embraces. They were looking for trouble and trouble was the rule of law.

The saloon’s large windows, now covered with filth, allowed anyone inside a full and direct view of the street. Those that dared to sit in this place liked to see danger coming. A wise gunslinger always sat with his back to the wall and a sharp eye on Main Street. 

Alice sensed this as she stood watch at her post.

She had taken the sleeve of her blouse, put it around her hand, and rubbed a clear spot in the window. She didn’t know how long she had been peering through that spot.

It was best not to think of those things.

It was best to concentrate. 

But as long as that old clock on the wall kept tocking, as long as its weight kept swinging, Alice couldn’t help but think of time, and pressure, and fear. She had hoped the piano would drown out her overwhelming thoughts. She could hear the piano just fine, but between the notes, she could still hear that tocking, she could feel the heavy weight swinging. 

Daniel sat at the piano banging away at that tune.

His fingers were tired, but he was determined to be done with this particular problem and if he had to sit at that piano for a whole day in order to lure that monster in here, then that’s just what he was going to do.

Besides, he had faith in Alexander.

Alexander had the idea. Alexander planned the plan. He believed in Alexander. As long as he was strong, Daniel knew he could be strong too. 

Alexander stood tall at the center of the room.

He stood there looking tough and stern-lipped.

He was never more afraid in his life.

Alexander was the leader of this little gang of outlaws, and when he first stepped onto the saloon battlefield, he knew this endeavor wasn’t going to be easy, but he believed it was possible. 

A dozen or so tables with their accompanying chairs were scattered about the main room. Billiard and gaming tables didn’t provide much cover. Most of them had been demolished in the numerous bar brawls that had happened here.

Alexander chose to make his stand with his back to the large bar that ran across the back of the room. A balcony with once carpeted staircases on either side loomed above the bar. Behind it was a huge mirror. The mirror was housed in an ornately carved wooden frame and stretched across the full length of the bar.

Alexander wanted that mirror behind him so that the monster that was coming could see itself as he it faced it down. 

The dreaded Bully Bob had to be shown a thing or two.

Through the rain, the sun, the haze and the filth on the windows, Alice had kept watch. Knowing that her friends were relying on her keen eyesight to spot the approach of this villain was an honor.

She pushed her glasses back up and onto her nose and squinched her eyes to focus, but the thumbprint she had left behind on the lens made that impossible. Alice took off her glasses and used the edge of her blouse to clean the lenses.

Her little hands were shaking.

Alice had put her favorite lucky rabbit’s foot on the chain that hung around her neck. The chain also held a gold four-leaf clover. The clover had been a gift from her grammy, and as long as she had it, she would be safe.

At least that’s what Alice kept telling herself.

Satisfied that the lenses were as clean as they were going to get, Alice put the glasses back on and returned to gazing through her spot.  As soon as her eyes focused through the rain, the sun, the haze, and the filth on the windows, she saw him.

Just on the outskirts of town.

Riding slowly towards Main Street.

Bully Bob had arrived at last.

Alice had seen him a thousand times at school picking on some poor defenseless kid. She knew it was Bully Bob, the terror of the Theodore Roosevelt Grammar School and Kindergarten, but here in Fears Corner, sitting tall in the saddle, looking like the devil himself, she could only think – that’s the Man in Black, and this whole thing was a really bad idea.

“He’s here!” she half whispered, half screamed. 

Daniel froze.

He couldn’t remember the next note.

He couldn’t even remember his name. 

“Keep playing,” Alexander quietly ordered, never taking his eyes off the saloon doors. 

Alexander remembered this scene from every western he had ever read. The villain would soon be at those swinging doors, and the showdown would begin.

“Keep playing Daniel.”

The old clock on the wall began to strike noon.

“I want him to know we’re here and waiting for him.”

Daniel just sat at the piano too afraid to move.

Alexander and Alice could only stand there staring at his back. They both knew that if this part of the plan didn’t work, the rest of it wouldn’t either. They both found themselves breathing to the rhythms of the chimes.

The last one sounded.

Then there was nothing but silence.

Not a single tock from that old clock.

The weight had stopped.

Time was up. 

Daniel took a deep breath, reached deep down inside himself, found his courage, and began to play. Hoping that the Man in Black was gone, Alice quickly returned to her spot.

He wasn’t gone.

He had only paused.

Just at the end of Main Street.

Alice could see his coal black horse was restless. She could see its hideous yellow eyes darting back and forth as the horse shifted its weight from side to side.

Alice watched as the Man in Black pulled back on the reins to control the beast but it wasn’t enough. He then wrapped his black leather covered fist around the horse’s mane and pulled at all that long black hair.

That was enough.

With the animal back in his control, the Man in Black started down Main Street straight towards the saloon.

The rain began to pour. 

“He’s coming!” she said – but no one heard her. 

Only her lips had moved. Her voice was caught somewhere in her throat. She tried to turn around to say something, but she couldn’t move. She couldn’t take her eyes away from the Man in Black, not for a single moment.

Alice jumped when Alexander’s hand touched her shoulder. 

“Don’t worry. I see him,” he said. 

She looked up at him as he finished clearing away his own spot on the window.

“We never should have come here Alex.”

He looked at her, and smiled.

“It’ll be okay. Your turn is next. Just remember, wait for the signal.” 

With that Alexander turned and walked back to the center of the room to wait for the Man in Black.

“That’s enough Daniel,” he said as he took his place. “He knows where we are now.”

Daniel was relieved.

He had done his part, and he was proud of himself, but for now, he would continue to sit at the piano with his back to the saloon doors. The less he saw of this bully, the better he would be at his next task. 

Alexander’s focus, however, was completely on those saloon doors. He couldn’t see the Man in Black, but he knew he was there tying his coal black horse to the hitching post. He couldn’t see him, but he could hear his black boots splashing in the muddy street. He could hear the creaking of the boards as the Man in Black stepped up to the doors of the Abandon All Hope Saloon. 

This day was Alexander’s thirteenth birthday.

His friends Daniel and Alice were younger than he was, but not by much. They were his best friends and that was all that mattered. A boy begins to become a man when he turns thirteen and a man takes care of himself, his family, and his friends.

The Man in Black was standing tall and dark against the harsh haze and the sheets of rain. The brim of his black hat cast a shadow over his face, but his eyes were clearly fixed, focused and glaring at Alexander. Only the saloon doors and a bit of distance stood between them. 

Things were changing for Alexander.

This was his last day playing in this particular sandbox. Alexander would soon be moving on to the world of men, and his friends needed to learn that they would be all right without him. They needed to know that they could be brave and take care of themselves.

The Man in Black took one step forward.

“Before you come in here,” Alexander calmly explained, “we want you to know, we don’t want any trouble.”

The Man in Black put his hands on the saloon doors.

“If you ride on, right now, you’ll suffer no consequences for all your past actions.”

They could all hear his black gloves stretch as his fingers clenched the rotting wood and his knuckles bulged up against the tight leather.

“But if you come through those doors,” he continued, “well, I can’t be responsible for what fate has in store for you.”

The Man in Black stood stone still.

He had one foot over the threshold by just the sharp point of his black steel tipped boot.

“Ride on,” Alexander said sternly.

The Man in Black turned his head, lowered it slightly and spit on the ground. He chuckled a little, mostly to himself, as he pushed open the saloon doors and took one step inside. Alexander took two steps towards the imposing form they all chose for the thing they feared most. 

“We don’t want to fight. But you won’t stop picking on us and that’s not fair.”

The Man in Black surveyed the room, looking down at each child with indifference as he sized them up.

He turned his attention back to the tall thin boy.

“I’m not afraid of you, mister. You and I both know you’re just a coward, a yellow coward.” 

The Man in Black spoke for the first time.

“I know you are,” he growled. “But what am I?”

It was Alexander’s turn to chuckle, mostly to himself, and then he quietly said, “Now.”

The spitball that hit the Man in Black surprised him.

He turned to his right and eyed the little blonde girl by the window. She was crouched low behind a table. The straw was still at her lips. He wiped the spitball from his face and glared at her. She pulled the straw from her mouth and stuck her tongue out at him. 

A loud sound from behind the Man in Black caused him to spin on his heels. The quick turn to his left revealed that the chubby boy at the piano was up to no good. He had thrown open the top of the piano and was reaching inside. Recognizing his true target, the Man in Black advanced on the boy.

Daniel was standing on the piano bench, half inside the piano and half out. His prop, which he had cleverly hidden, was stuck. No matter how hard he pulled, it just wouldn’t come loose and the Man in Black was coming. He could feel his presence with each step. Daniel closed his eyes, grabbed the object with both of his little hands and pulled as hard as he could.

The Man in Black was almost on top of the boy when the child suddenly turned. At first, he didn’t recognize what the boy was holding. But he could see that the boy was not in control of the device, and he was fumbling with the trigger.   

When Daniel turned, and opened his eyes, he got his first full look at the Man in Black. This was not the Bully Bob he knew. But in that monster’s eyes, he could see the essence of every bully there had ever been. Daniel raised the seltzer bottle in his hand and pulled the trigger.

A blast of bubbly water hit the Man in Black square between the eyes propelling him away from Daniel. 

“Now!” Alexander shouted.

A dozen children stood up from their hiding places behind the bar.  Each one was different.  Boys, girls, tall, short, chubby, skinny, brave, and not so brave. They all held their seltzer bottles up, pointed at the Man in Black and fired. 

The overwhelming spray of water drove him towards the saloon doors. He stumbled backwards reaching for anything in his path that might stop him.

Nothing worked.

Then the streams stopped.

The Man in Black had managed to get a hold of the saloon doors, and he held on tight anticipating another blast. But none came. He turned slowly and surveyed the room again.

Same saloon.

Different odds.

He was grossly outnumbered.

In this situation, the Man in Black instinctively knew that the best tactic was to strike at the leader. He let out a scream so loud that the windows shook as he rushed the boy.   

Alexander stood his ground.

“Now!” he screamed.

Suddenly, there were children everywhere.

They popped up from behind the dilapidated billiard tables.

They came around from behind the broken gaming tables.

They appeared at the railing of the balcony and every single child held a water balloon in each hand.

The Man in Black never stood a chance.

Balloons filled with water flew in from all sides.

Burst after burst.

Splash after splash.

Wave after wave of water.

It was a clump of mud on the bottom of the Man in Black’s right boot that brought the final moment upon him.

All that water had dissolved that clump and let loose the tiny pieces of rock that slid under his heel.

Down he went.

Flat on his back. 

The Man in Black lay there quite still and quite wet.

Through the fog of defeat he could see a wrought iron chandelier hanging above his body.

This was not a good place to be.

He tried to roll to his left, but there was a child their standing over him. He tried to roll to his right but there were more children there, standing over him.

The Man in Black slowly sat up.

Alexander, Daniel and Alice pushed their way through the pack and looked down at their vanquished foe. 

“Say it!” Daniel ordered.

The Man in Black sneered at all of them until he noticed Daniel was holding a seltzer bottle.

 It was fully loaded. 

“Uncle,” was the last thing the Man in Black would say to them.

The children started cheering.

Their screams of happiness and shouts of victory filled the saloon. They had defeated their bully and better days were ahead. 

The Man in Black watched all of this with a stunned disbelief.

In one moment, the Man in Black thought of revenge. In the next moment those thoughts faded as all of the children, one by one, began to vanish until the Man in Black was left all alone.

Lightning struck close by and lit the windows with bright white light. The deafening roar of thunder followed, shaking the saloon through to its rafters. Taking its cue, the player less piano began a twisted little tune. The final note hung in the air as the piano disappeared.

The old clock on the wall began to chime.

It was high noon once more.

With each strike a little of his world was taken from him.

Bong.

Gone were the tables.

Bong.

Gone were the bar and its beautiful mirror.

Bong.

Gone were the balcony and its once carpeted stairs.

And so it went until there was nothing left but the old clock on the wall, and on the very last bong it vanished as well.

The Man in Black stood himself up and surveyed the room for the third time. There was nothing left except for a sound. A creaking. A groaning. A shrill, metal pulling on metal sound.

But there was nothing in the room.

Then he looked up.

The Man in Black dove towards the saloon doors just as the wrought iron chandelier hit the floor with a crash. The dust barely had time to settle before the chandelier, like everything else, was gone. 

The Man in Black had thrust himself with so much force through the saloon doors that he flew past his horse and landed in the middle of Main Street. He lay there in the mud and watched as the Abandon All Hope Saloon, the entire building, disappeared, leaving a giant gaping hole deep in the heart of Fears Corner. 

A bolt of lightning, a crash of thunder, and the rain just stopped. A cold stillness, a blast of wind, and the hail began to fall.  The ice balls, each a different size, from tiny to huge, pelted everything else left in town. They coldly tore through wood and window. The never ever used jail was obliterated when a giant hailstone dropped square on it. 

The Man in Black turned away from the blast of destruction. He tucked himself into a tight little ball right there in the middle of town and waited for the giant hail to fall on him. Then just like the rain, the hailstorm stopped.

The Man in Black dared not move. 

With his arms wrapped around his head, the Man in Black couldn’t hear a thing, but with his body so close to the ground, he could feel a low rumble. He opened his eyes and there it was, two or three miles away, the biggest twister he had ever seen. It was coming fast, and the wind that roared up was proof of it. 

His horse, once a fearless demon, was terrified and in a panic. The horse chomped at his bit and pulled at the reins. They were still tied to the hitching post. The frightened beast was tugging hard enough to almost pull the posts themselves right up and out of the ground. 

The Man in Black could see his only means of escape about to escape on its own. Against the brutal force of the wind, he dragged himself up and began to fight his way to the horse. The tornado was bearing down on the town and the wind was getting vindictive. In its relentlessness it picked up the Man in Black and threw him towards his own horse. 

He landed with a glancing blow under the hitching post. He reached up and grabbed the reins. Pulling them down, he used the slack to untie the horse. Free, the horse whinnied and reared up, pulling the Man in Black up into the air. As he flew over the horse, out of the corner of his eye, he could see his last hope of fleeing this place vanish. 

The wind violently deposited him several feet away. He rolled along Main Street never letting go of the reins of his once present companion. Miraculously, the Man in Black rolled up and onto his feet and in a defiant gesture he raised his fist into the air. He brandished the reins in his clutched hand to the sky like a trophy.

“You can take everything away,” he screamed at the massive windstorm. “But I will not forget!”

The reins disappeared along with his hat, guns, holsters, belt and boots. He was left standing in only his black pants, black shirt and bare feet.

“I will not forget!” he screamed again as the most devastating tornado ever seen in these parts arrived in Fears Corner.

Building after building was simply blown apart. Annihilated in the tornado’s wake. It was traveling down Main Street and heading right at the Man in Black. He could see the end of the street. If he could just make it to the edge of town.

He was running, but not fast enough.

The twister was on the heels of the Man in Black when a door appeared at the end of the street. He threw his full weight against it, forcing the door open. The Man in Black stumbled inside and it slammed shut behind him.

The door stood alone against the oncoming onslaught. Its frame cracked, but held together. Its hinges squealed, but did not give. The doorknob, in the shape of a silver cowboy hat, rattled but did not turn. 

The door wisely vanished before it could be destroyed.

NEW MBKS1

Amazon author Edward Medina is proud to introduce you to what was his bestselling debut, It Is Said (MBKS1), the first book in the Mathias Bootmaker and the Keepers of the Sandbox trilogy.

This dark fantasy adventure full of mysteries, riddles, and secrets is the story of Mathias Bootmaker, a young man searching for the better parts of himself. His search for what he’s lost begins an amazing journey through a world of extreme imagination. A world he helped to create, but a world he can’t remember anything about. It’s the story of his life, the birth of creativity, and the true power of the energy all around us.

The world of It Is Said (MBKS1) is a dream embedded within a nightmare. A maze inside a labyrinth. It reads like an adventure. It plays like a thriller. It’s designed to make you question every place you go and every character you meet. It’s designed to be a puzzle you must solve.

“It Is Said (MBKS1) is a book for readers who remember what stories can do when in the hands of author who knows a little magic.” – J. Fields Jr. author the Casino Shuffle series.

“If you haven’t tried It Is Said (MBKS1), boy, are you missing out. It’s exquisite. – Jamie DeBree author and blogger

It Is Said (MBKS1) debuted in the top ten on the Amazon bestseller lists for both Fantasy and Action Adventure. To date it has earned 22 Amazon and Goodreads ★★★★★ reviews from readers, reviewers, teachers, authors, and bloggers.

It Is Said (MBKS1) is available at amazon.com.

Alice Author Pic

Edward Medina is an Amazon KDP bestselling author of high fantasy, dark horror, and epic adventure books, short stories, and poems. To date his combined works have earned over one hundred and fifty Amazon and Goodreads five star reviews from readers, reviewers, bloggers, teachers and fellow authors.

He is a native New Yorker who over time has built a significant and multifaceted career. He has been a producer, director, and writer for both digital media and the New York Off and Off – Off Broadway stages. He also had the honor and the privilege to work for the late great Jim Henson creator of the Muppets.

Edward founded a successful independent production company dedicated to family entertainment and children’s causes. He also established a multimedia company in order to assist nonprofits achieve their own cause related goals. He went on to become a theme park designer. For fun he became a steam train engineer and has been since childhood a sometime magician.

Currently Edward is a critic and feature entertainment columnist covering Broadway, Off Broadway, Off-Off Broadway, Clubs and Cabarets for TheaterScene and The Fire Island Sun. He also maintains his love of theatrical production by continuing to create new works for both stage and screen. And his dream of building a fully realized world of fantasy on tropical shores is still very much alive and well.

If you’d like more detailed information on Edward’s work, visit his LinkedIn profile or his website. You can also explore his books, follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook, and subscribe to his blog on WordPress.

Edward Medina is proud to be a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Horror Writers Association.


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