The wind blows through the deserted streets fiercely, pushing, shaking, and tearing at anything that gets in its way, Joel peers out of the window and wonders how everything has managed to fall to pieces in the last twenty-four hours, wondering if anything will be left once the storm dies down. He turns back from the window, looking over the small group, until he locks eyes with her, for as long as he can remember there has been two things he could be sure of in life, the first was one day he was going to die and the second was his love for his wife, tonight though only one stands true, and sadly in all likely hood it will be the cold embrace of deaths arms he will find his comfort in. Nancy looks away and continues her conversation with Pete Welker, the owner of the bar, and Joel’s best friend, to be honest Joel wouldn’t say Pete was his best friend, he’d say he was his oldest, but not his best, not after what has transpired tonight anyway. Joel has known Pete since forever, their mothers went to the same birthing class and quickly became close friends and as fate would have it, they ended up going into labour the same day, its more than likely why something has always been between them, a connection, something unspoken, something Joel felt in the bottom of his very being and, he hated it.
The door to the bar bursts open and two men crash inside, bloody and bruised. Pete is to the door quickly and forces it closed as Nancy and Bill Dalton help the two men to their feet, while Joel watches on in the shadows.
“T-T-Thank you, we were beginning to think we wouldn’t come across anyone out here,” one of the men says.
“It’s quite a storm that’s brewed up out there, can I get you both a hot cup of Joe?” Pete asks.
“That would be marvellous, something warm in this cold tummy would be just what the doctor ordered.”
“I’m Pete by the way, this is Nancy, that’s Bill the local sheriff and the shy one over in the corner is Joel.”
“Pleased to meet you all, I am William and my mute friend here is Samuel.”
“What the hell were and your friend doing out in this weather? Neither of you boys are from around here because I’ve never seen you before, so you’d have to be mad or desperate to be traveling in this storm.” Bill says.
“Can’t we be both?” William says as he looks around the room. “We’re looking for someone, an old friend you might call them, we parted ways badly the last time we all saw each other and I was hoping to get a chance to make things right.”
“Must be a pretty good friend to risk death.”
William looks Bill up and down and then over to Joel, “I wouldn’t say that, you see, it was almost thirty years ago, to this very day, in weather, similar to this, that we last saw each other, before Barnaby betrayed my trust, betrayed the deal we had made, and I have been searching for him ever since, scouring this pathetic little planet for him, to take back what is rightfully mine.”
“What in the sam hill are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about eternal damnation in the pit of one’s own sins Sheriff, I’m talking about paying the piper, accepting fate, fate which has drawn us all to this miserable little shit hole tonight,” William says as he throws a wicked eyed glance at Nancy.
Bill places an uneasy hand on his holster and gets to his feet, “What in the fuck is wrong with you? The storm fuck with your head? Just what the hell are you doing here?”
“I’ve come for Barnaby and his soul, which was promised to me so long ago dear William, what are you doing here? Are you preparing to take poor Nancy out of this mess and treat her with the compassion you treaded the other women in your life? Do you intend to bury her out in the woods, facing the sun like the rest?”
“What the fuck?” Bill says as he draws his revolver, suddenly, like a blur, Samuel is on top of him and smashes him to the ground, relentlessly punching, kicking and ripping at him until he is still and lifeless, he then tears a handful of flesh and muscle from his body and stuffs it into his mouth and chews, staring at the bewildered Pete, Nancy and Joel.
“He was going to kill you all and take the woman for himself, he was waiting, buying time, normally I would’ve allowed it to play out, to darken his soul more, but I have been searching for you for so long Barnaby that nothing will compare to how you taste,” William says as he places a deck of cards on the table in front of him. “Are you ready to play?” he says as he looks up towards them.
“What the fuck? Are you senile old man, there is no Barnaby here, you said what, Thirty years you’ve been searching for him, well take a look around, the only one who was even close to being old enough your fucking mute sidekick just ate,” Pete says.
“You don’t know do you, you don’t remember?”
“The game Barnaby, the game, take your seat and let us play the final hand.”
“You think I’m Barnaby?”
“I don’t think, I know, I can smell you inside there, hiding, but you still don’t believe me, you need a reminder, something from our past, then let me show you,” the room shimmers away and they find themselves standing in a darkly lit room, a storm howls outside, hammering at the side of the building, William sits at one end of the table as he deals the hand, and at the other end sits a man who is almost identical to Pete, his mouth drops open and then everything shifts back to the bar.
“Do you see now Barnaby, do you see how time has come full circle? You will not escape me this time, this time we play for keeps, so either sit down or my beast will feast on your bitch next, or maybe the coward, I can tell both mean something to you,” William says with an evil grin.
“Fuck you, I don’t know what you want and I don’t know why I look like this Barnaby or how you made all that shit happen, but if all you want to do is play a game of cards then deal the fucking hand and get it over with.”
William laughs, “You still play the hand of innocence, I commend you Barnaby, I really do, it wafts from you, but so does the stench of your soul, your dirty, dark, wonderful, sweet, homicidal soul that will lead my army of the damned to heaven’s door and crack it open. Your soul is my key to heaven Barnaby, so hear me when I say this, and understand, this is not a game, this is the beginning of the apocalypse.”
“I know I am often referred to as a liar, but I don’t, as you should know, so sit, let us play.”
Pete looks at Joel and then back at William, “Deal your hand devil,” Pete says as he sits across the table and stares at the old man, who only smiles as he begins to shuffle the deck.
“This time, there will be no running, this time, you will not escape, this time I will…..”
“This time I’ll win so why don’t you just shut up and deal old man,” Joel interrupts as he sits down besides Pete.
“The coward finally talks, I was wondering when you would, if you would let his soul be damned with the rest of him, you thought you were clever hiding yourself so well, between two vessels, but my day…..”
“Just deal the fucking hand,” Pete and Joel interrupt him in unison.