It was a strange night.
While this version of my Father did not have all the same memories as my own Father, he had a great many of them. What’s more, his affection for me was genuine.
We shared coffee and tobacco, a bit of jerky he’d been carrying with him, and an undisguised hatred of my mother.
“She wasn’t like this when we were married,” he informed me as the night waned. “Nor was she like this when your siblings were born. It was only after your birth that she began to change. I learned how she spent more time in the Hollow, and then, on your tenth birthday, she tried to gut you.”
“Much the same occurred in my when,” I told him.
Neither of us slept much, and when the sun rose, we decided to go into town through the east. There was a large general store where we could gather supplies, get a feel for the place, and decide how best to move forward with our hunt for my mother and the Woman’s husband.
When we reached the store, we found a good deal of traffic, with a trio of wagons parked out front, the horses snorting in the cold air.
We climbed the steps, entered the building, and saw how out of place we were.
Everyone stopped to look at us. The shoppers and the keepers knew we didn’t belong, and in a heartbeat, guns were drawn. They appeared out of coats and petticoats, behind the counters and from below them.
But they were all too slow.
Neither my father nor I drew pistols.
He used his knife, and I my hatchet.
I split open the head of a large woman who tried to bring a derringer into play. As I shoved her body back and into a man scrambling around the counter, my father gutted another man sitting by a stove. Blood from the dying man struck the hot metal, and the room was filled with the stench of burning blood.
A man tried to take aim with his revolver, and I took his hand off with the hatchet.
In minutes, the fight was over.
The bodies lay strewn around the store, and as we stood there, cleaning the blood and flesh from our weapons, my father nodded.
“You’re better than my son,” he smiled. “Rarely were his strikes so clean.”
My heart swelled with pride.
It felt good to fight beside my father once more.