An Ode to the Dearly Departed VIII

The door closes with a loud slam. The Sheriff walks towards the center of town a bit, when Maggie cuts him off.
“Maggie, a big thanks to you, though I find your aid a bit out of the ordinary.”
“Too many crazy things been happening today, and I saw him sneakin ’round back; wanna feel safe in my own town, y’know? Plus, I should be gettin some of that bounty. How’s Gloria?”
“Hurm, um, well, that’ll be- I’m not sure how she is. I was about to head there now, see if they need help, I think Ma Perkins brought one of her some food. You just enjoy the fireworks, tend to your bar. Season’s probably bored dealing with the George and the few drunks who don’t enjoy the spectacle and dancing.” Maggie goes into the crowd watching fireworks, but keeps an eye on where Thron goes.

“Hello?” Sheriff Thron bellows into the Pastor’s house. Food all over the floor, but no-one’s in. He walks next door to the chapel, inside, there’s the gunsmith’s apprentice sitting in the pews.
“Eric, how are ya boy?”
“Oh, hey, Sheriff Hal, I’m alright, though I reckon I should be a bit more disturbed. Mrs. Astaire, I’ve never seen anyone like that. She nearly ate everything in the house before Mr. Astaire got back. Ravenous, a frightening crazy in her eyes, but don’t tell Mr. Astaire or Mr. Broming I said that.”
“Sure thing, kid, they in the back?”
“Yup, can I go now?”
“Yeah, go on and enjoy yourself.” He runs out the door. Thron heads to the back. The two men are sitting on either side of a bed in a small back room of the church.
“Howdy, fellers. I see she finally fell asleep?”
“Yup, musta needed a whole mess of food to help fight the infection.”
“The good lord will get us through this.”
“And Ma Perkins?”
“Brought some stew for her, nice and hearty. Took care of her for a bit, but Gloria wasn’t acting herself, Ma just had to go. Asked her to close up the shop instead to help me and the boy out.”
“Merle, ya mind if I grab you away for a sec? Somethin I gotta talk to you about, about the shop.”
“Couldn’t you have asked the boy?”
“‘Fraid it was a little big of a decision for him, but it’ll only be a moment.”
“I’m stayin right by my sister till she’s well. Darn peeved I wasn’t told until I went looking for my apprentice. If you gotta say somethin, say it here or go, the preacher’s about to do an exorcism.”
“Ah, nevermind it then, I’d reckon it can wait. Good luck.” The Sheriff leaves the two desperate men to allow them to try all they want. Life and death aren’t meant to be interfered with.

Outside, he stops on the front steps of the church, and sits with Eric, the gunsmith’s apprentice. They watch the fireworks for a bit and contemplate the day’s events.
“I’m gonna need a big favor of you Eric, but I also want you to check up on the Pipers first, bring em in to town. I think they’re still in the graveyard, mourning the loss of their boy.”
“Yeah, they are, I knew him; death is a weird thing, Mr. Thron. What’s this big favor?”
“I’m still mullin it over, run off now.”

Inside the saloon, Season stops tending the bar, hearing an odd shuffling noise upstairs between the explosions in the sky. She pours herself a shot of whiskey quickly for courage, and begins to go upstairs to inspect it.

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