He had hoped the list would come sooner. Tyler Coleridge had been Pastor of Cottonwood for almost fifteen years by the time his father spoke to him again. Coleridge figured it was because of what happened in Chicago. He had spent the summer tracking down and giving his father, Hades, the list of names that had been demanded.
They tracked him to the church less than an hour after he abducted Taylor with the poisonous drink. He had only tied Taylor to the altar and had just about started hacking through Taylor's limbs when two constables entered. They were armed with revolvers. Since the Civil War had still been blazing at the time, the constables consisted of older men - some forty or fifty years of age. Both the men after him had white beards. Coleridge was aging less and less each day, though his white hair made him look just the same as the constables.
Coleridge felt two bullets enter and exit his body, yet there was no pain. The constables shouted their curses and told him to lay on the ground. They told him to drop the knife. But Coleridge had a job to do. He hacked into Taylor's right arm, and heard the familiar crack of metal on bone. He hacked again to go all the way through. Two more bullets entered and exited his body. He felt no pain.
Coleridge walked back to the constables, feeling the remaining constable's bullets fire and go through him as he approached them. Their eyes became wider and wider with each shot and each step he took towards them. He grabbed the left constable's pistol, and snatched it out of the man's hand. The one on the right was holding the knife in his chest, who looked like he was having a hard time decided whether to pull it out or leave it.
Coleridge shot the constable on the left in the head with the final bullet loaded in the six-shooter. He dropped the gun, turned to the man with the knife in his chest, pulled it out with a little effort, and chopped into the right constable's head. The constables fell. Coleridge took his knife and walked back to Taylor to finish. During the remaining task, Coleridge felt the holes slowly heal themselves, like invisible sticthes tying the loose ends of his midsection together.
Taylor cried like a woman in childbirth. Coleridge reveled in the sounds. But when he finished and buried the cremated remains, more constables were arriving on the scene. Coleridge ran, and found himself in Cottonwood during a great fall storm in 1863. He hadn't heard from his father... until that morning, almost fifteen years later.
His father didn't speak - didn't command. Coleridge simply woke with a list in his hands. The first name on the list was the new butcher, Johan. Johan was an immigrant from Sweden who was getting away from economic turmoil, or so the man claimed. But Coleridge smelled something strange about the butcher.
Two months after Johan arrived in town, Coleridge, having not seen the man in church, went for a visit.
"Not a church going man, are you?" asked Coleridge as he watched Johan hack through meat. The knife the man was using looked like polished silver, though it had a rainbow luster gleaming in the metal as well.
"My church is work, good pastor," said the Swede in his thick accent. "My father was a butcher in life, and taught me well to mind my task." Johan's voice had the swinging sound of the Scandinavian dialect.
"Was your father an immigrant?"
"No - he died in the war with Bavaria. I came here to escape it all." Johan chopped with such power and precision. Coleridge saw the knife the man used and longed for one that appeared as sharp.
"Not much for war, then?"
"Nope." The fleshy slapping and hacking thuds kept them company while they spoke.
"Why come out to Indian territory? Surely you know there is war between the native people and our own."
"They are your people, Pastor - not mine."
"But are you not living in America?"
"Yes, but I still do not belong to these people. When I have wife and child, I will be part of these people. Until then, I am my own."
"What about your brothers and sisters in Christ?"
"I do not believe that Christ existed - and I am free to believe so, yes?"
"You're not a Christian?"
"Is there something wrong with that?"
"I'm just surprised."
|Johan, the Butcher|
"I find they contradict my views." Johan put the knife down and walked his chunks of meat to the cold locker. Coleridge saw the knife left behind. He took it as soon as Johan's back was turned. Coleridge could feel the ichor vibrating through it.
"What was your father's name?" asked Coleridge once Johan returned. Johan began looking for his knife. He must not have assumed Coleridge had taken it.
"Why do you ask?"
"Freyr." Johan kept searching. "You have not seen my knife, have you?" Coleridge took that moment to hack into Johan's shoulder. The cut was so pure and solid that Coleridge had a hard time taking it out of the shoulder. Johan cried in pain. Coleridge soaked in the pleasure. It took him half an hour to perform the rituals, and Johan was taken so off guard that the man failed to put up any fight. Coleridge reveled in the sound of the man's pain.
One down, eleven more names to go...