Once upon a Time...
May 2nd 1880
A large thunder and lightning storm began over the small town of Harmony, New Mexico at the stroke of midnight. The lighting flashed in strange colors. Blues, Purples and reds streaked across the sky, much to the amazement of the townsfolk. The moon turned dark red and as the clouds moved over it, the moon appeared as if it was dripping with blood.
While most townsfolk watched the spectacle from their windows, a few moved outside to watch the fireworks in the sky, not know what to make of it all. Within the hour a large dust storm hit the small western town. The entire town was covered in dust in a matter of minutes. The townsfolk hunkered down inside waiting for the storm to pass. Others, such as the cowpokes at the nearby Cooper Ranch moved through the fields gathering up the cattle to take them away from the dangerous storm.
After an hour the dust storm stopped and the rain began. Huge drops of rain, the size of a man’s fist dropped from the sky. Still the colored lightning leaped across the sky. Then the Earthquake hit the small scared town. The townsfolk prayed for the storm to be over and the earthquake only frightened them more. The rain continued throughout the night, the town tried its best to sleep, but it was not a restful sleep. They did not know that this storm was the first sign of impending doom for the small mining town in New Mexico. They did not realize that the Reckoners had turned their gaze on their small community.
May 3rd, 1880
Bryce Colton was awoken by the smell of burnt bacon. He knew that it was Carlos Ramirez‘s, the newest member of the ranch, turn to cook for the cowpokes. He did not want to get up, having spent most of the night moving the cattle out of the incredible storm. He could only imagine what Mr. Cooper dealt with last night with his sick wife. So reluctantly he got up and began to get dressed.
After scarfing down a burnt breakfast, Bryce headed out into the fields to survey the damage from the storm. As Top rail, it was his job to insure that the other cowpokes were taking care of business. His duties had increased more and more each year, since Mr. Cooper’s wife had come down with her illness. Mr. Cooper had become more distracted over the years, which left Bryceto pick up the slack. Brycedidn’t mind too much, he enjoyed his job, but a part of him could not wait for Mr. Cooper’s son to reach an age where he could take on Bryce’s duties. That day had not yet come, so Brycemoved around and supervised the care of the cattle, assisted with repairing fences, and other things that required his attention.
After a few hours of work, Brycenoticed Mr. Cooper up on the ridge past the largest barn on the ranch. He stood talking to a man Brycehad never seen before. The man wore a fancy suit and looked every bit of the greenhorn he probably was. Curiosity got the better of him and he rode up to see what they were talking about. As he rode up he looked at the strange contraption that stood, towering over the two gentlemen. It appeared to be a large metal wagon. The seating was fully enclosed and the back was shaped like a large covered wagon. It had four wheels like a wagon, but there did not seem to be a place to hitch up horses. Attached to the back of this strange vehicle was another metal wagon. It seemed to Brycethat it was large enough to carry a few cattle in each wagon. Like a strange locomotive without tracks a few of these wagons could be linked together to carry a large number of cattle.
As Brycerode up, Mr. Cooper shook the man’s hand and thanked him for showing him the strange machine. The fancy man opened up his contraption and climbed inside. With a great roar the machine began to hum. A deathly wail began to emanate from it as bluish grey smoke was blown from a few side pipes. The wail grew louder as the vehicle began to move away.
Whether it was the initial roar of the engine, the deathly wail, or the ghostly smoke that spouted from the vehicle did not matter, the result was the same. Bryce’s horse reared up startled beyond control. Losing his balance, Brycefell to the mud below as his horse ran off back toward the barn. With only his ego bruised Bryce noticed Mr. Cooper approach him and extend his hand.
“You’re starting to ride like my son.” Mr. Cooper said as Bryceaccepted his help getting up.
“Seems like it.” Brycecommented and began to clean off what mud he could. After a minute he gave up seeing that it was futile.
Brycegave Mr. Cooper his report, explaining the damage to the ranch and what duties he gave the other cowpokes. A few cattle were still missing and a number of fences around the ranch were broken. Even the large barn took some damage from the storm. It could have been worse though.
“After we get the cattle sorted and the temporary’s setup, Rosalina will need to go into town. We need some supplies and it would be good to get some materials for new fences.” Mr. Cooper said.
“Alright.” Brycesaid as he looked around at the damage to the ranch. “Strange storm last night.”
“Yup, pretty big and hella bright.” Cooper said as they began walking back to the large barn.
“You can get some money from the House. Just make sure you go through the mud room or else Abby’ll have a fit.”
Bryceturned and headed toward the house while Mr. Cooper entered the barn. Bryce glanced back and noticed Mr. Cooper bailing some hay in the barn. Bryceknew that it was work that was not needed, but he left Mr. Cooper to do whatever he wanted. Brycehad been with Mr. Cooper long enough to know that Cooper was a good rancher, but the illness of his wife often distracted him and made him repeat choirs.
After locating his horse, Brycecalled to Javier. Javier came over and wisely did not question his boss’ muddy state. Bryceasked Javier to go to the big house and let Rosa know that he was getting the wagon ready and that they could leave for town whenever she was ready. Bryce then spent the next half an hour hitching the horses up to the wagon and getting ready to leave.
Uriel Greaves woke up, groggy. After eating breakfast with his wife he left the house and walked to his Saloon. As he entered the Double Down Saloon, he greeted his bouncer Bill who was sitting at the bar drinking whiskey. For an hour Urielwent about his business getting the saloon ready to open. He assisted his dealer in setting up the faro and poker tables. He restocked the bar and washed the mud of the boardwalk in front of his saloon.
Around eight o’clock the whores arrived for work. Urielgreeted them and asked Leslie to cook some breakfast for them. The girls ate and then got ready for the day. Francis the Bartender arrived and worked with Uriel cleaning the floors and removing the mud that seeped into the Saloon. By nine o’clock, the saloon was open and the few customers waiting to drink, began filtering in. Uriel decided to take this time to do some personal choirs.
Telling Francis to hold down the fort, Urielheaded out into the town. The foot traffic this morning was a little heavier than usual. The townsfolk moved around in almost a daze. The storm had kept most of the people wake and now they were suffering from the lack of sleep. As Urielwalked down Main Street he noticed that most of the townsfolk were heading to and from Becker’s Hardware store. He noticed that while the storm did not do a large amount of damage, there were still a lot of repairs people needed to perform.
Urielarrived at Jim’s General Store and walked it. The tiny bell on the door jingled as he entered the store. Looking around he found Jim Mathias restocking the shelves while Jim’s employee Steve Hanson was repairing a small hole in the ceiling.
“Morning Jim. You got any of that hard candy?” Uriel said as he searched the jars on the front counter.
“Probably do. How much?” Jim put down his items and walked over to the counter.
“Not too much.”
“Good.” Urielcontinued to look around the store.
“I have some specialty bullets in stock.” Jimsaid. “Just five dollars a bullet. They explode when they hit the target. Just one of the new items from Smith and Robards.”
“Don’t think I need them at the moment. Interesting store though. I haven’t seen much like it since I was traveling when I was younger.” Urielsaid as he checked out the stranger items in the store. Most of the items reminded him of some of his wife’s inventions. “Anyways, thanks for the candy. You have a good day.”
Urielleft the store and continued his walk around town. He moved from store to store, looking in windows and looking for something for his wife. In the end he decided to purchase her flowers to go along with the hard candy he knew she enjoys. He then headed home to surprise her with the gifts. When he arrived home he found his wife in the backyard trying desperately to salvage her garden. She was excited to see her husband and was very grateful for the gifts.
Josiah “Jed” Bartlett sat in the Land Office reading the Tombstone Epitaph. The door to the office opened with a jingle. Deep in work, Jedat first didn’t respond to the man who entered his small office. The large man, wearing a tan duster and a large cowboy hat set low on his brow, hiding his face. Jedlooked up just as the man pulled a Peacemaker and pointed it at him.
“Give me all your money tinhorn!” The man growled.
Jedmore distracted then scared, slowly reached behind him and picked up his lockbox. Not sure what else to do, he handed the box to the strange man. The gruff man paused and looked at the box in his hands, then sighed and shook his head.
“You just hand your money over to anyone boy?”
“Well… when they are holding one of those… those… things. Pistols. Ya. Normally. I mean that’s how I normally run business. You know, how it is, dead before lead or something like that. What can I do for you, your honor?”
“You would be dead and that no good sheriff would have to find out who killed you. God help us all.”
“Right… right. What can the land office do for you, your honor?” Jedasked.
“I just got into town, though I’d see how you were doing.”
Jedstarched his head. “Well.. oh.. ok.”
The judgesuddenly stood up. “Of course I would love to have some breakfast!” He proclaimed, trying to give Jed a hint.
“Well.. Yes.. ok… sure.”
“Let’s go see if that no good Sheriff has eaten yet.” The judgesaid as he turned to leave the small cramped office.
“You know, I was reading in the Tombstone Epitaph, your honor, that a fella named uh… uh… Black Jack John Ketum was hung yesterday in Colorado. Apparently, he shot one of the Deputies. Sad story really, but apparently…”
“Simmons is a Judge up in Colorado.” The judgeinterjected.
“What? Aren’t you Simmons?”
“I’m Timmons.” The judgesaid with a scowl.
“Oh Yes! Timmons … Judge Timmons. So apparently, the whole thing could have been avoided if…”
“Bastard of a man! Came from down Georgia way.” Judge Timmons said still thinking about Judge Simmons.
“Well yes… Sure.. Anyways. So it could have all have been avoided… well apparently he was in a dance hall when it happened and he was purposely stomping on people’s feet.” Jedstopped for a second losing his train of thought. “Ya… I’m not sure why I mentioned that.” Jedshook his head and started walking again.
“Very fascinating Jed. Very fascinating.”
“Thank you Judge.” Jedsaid as they continued to the Jail house.