Doctor Loxley clung to the drink in hand and rested his head against his table. He knew it tasted of swill, but he wasn't about to pay for Frank's good stuff, not on a night like this.
It was nights like this that the Doctor was glad everyone kept to themselves in the Last Light, he feared what he would do to someone who crossed him tonight.
"Bad night Doc?" Asked a friendly voice.
"Don't ask" Replied the Doctor not even looking up at the visitor recognising the voice as belonging to Frank the owner of Last Light Tavern.
"Aww go on Doc, tell me what's up? I'll even put the next drink on the house?" Frank joked.
Moments later the double doors to the Last Light flung open, a young boy stood covered in dust, he was doubled over grasping for what little breath he could muster. "A coach" he spluttered, "a stage coach, from Capital City!"
Doctor Loxley struggled to hide his disgust "Hold that drink Frank, I've been expecting this".
Standing up abruptly Doctor Loxley slung his duster over his shoulders and almost marched out of the tavern.
The night clung to the sky like a sheet of black velvet as Doctor Loxley left the tavern and paced towards the front gate of New Fairbank, ahead he saw a stage coach waiting to be received, it bore the fancy embroidery of Capital City, the type you rarely saw around New Fairbank. As he approached the coach there was a whirr of gears and a door opened allowing a soft golden glow from inside the coach to spill out into the night air.
Standing in the coach's doorway there stood the shadow of a man, it was apparent to Doctor Loxley that this man was wealthy and well attired, what the Doctor was not sure of was if this stranger would be of any use.
A few seconds passed before the stranger stepped down from the coach, his appearance being fully revealed in the night air.
He was no taller than Doctor Loxley, the Doctor guessed about five foot eight, maybe ten inches, he wore a black suit complete with black overcoat and held in one hand a cane made apparently of the finest in rare metals. His face was thin, his skin almost dried with a brush of a moustache stuck to his top lip, as the man approached Doctor Loxley he held out a hand gloved in pure white cloth.
"Doctor... Loxley I presume?" The stranger asked.
Doctor Loxley took the hand and firmly gripped it with his most dominant shake "Doctor Colt, it is a... Pleasure... to have you here" Loxley replied.
Colt didn't look convinced by Loxley's pretend pleasantries but decided it was time to play along "So, Loxley, care to show me where an old man can quench his thirst in a backwater town like this?" Colt asked.
Without so much as a word Loxley beckoned Colt to follow and walked briskly to the Last Light.
Standing at the door to the tavern was Frank, his hand out stretched to greet the two Doctors.
"Frank Hodges! Good to meet you, any friend of the Doc is a friend of mine!" Bellowed Frank as Colt approached the Tavern.
"Of course" replied Colt, "You may call me Doctor Colt, Doctor Sebastian Colt" he paused for a moment "no relation" he added with a sigh.
As the night progressed one by one all the lights in New Fairbank were extinguished until true to it's name only the Last Light remained until it too closed for the night and it's patrons were forced into the street, whether they went home or started a brawl in the street Frank cared little, what mattered to him was it was time to close and he had yet to eat, it was for that reason when the last of his drunks refused to leave in a timely manner he had no choice but to threaten force.
"I'm sorry Isaac, but the bar's closed and you have to get home" asserted Frank "you wouldn't want me to wake the Sheriff now would you?"
"P...p...please don't tell the Sheriff!" Cried Isaac the drunk "I just don't want ta be out at night, I seen it you know!" Isaac paused, trying to get his words to match his thoughts "I seen it down th' Crypts! It got into my 'ead told me it was commin' and now it's here!"
"Of course Isaac" sighed Frank, "Look you just walk home, I'll keep an eye on you and if anything comes out of the shadows I'll alert a posse".
Isaac seemed comforted by the suggestion and so agreed to leave and began his meander home unaware of Frank who had returned to his duties closing Last Light, locked the doors and extinguished it's own lighting.
As Isaac staggered down the dusty path that wound throughout New Fairbank, he saw something move ahead covered in the darkness.
"F...Frank? That you?" Called out Isaac "Serg? Dog?"
Before he could make a sound more, there was a movement from out of the corner of Isaac's eye as 'something' darted out of the darkness just inches away across his path.
Isaac felt a sudden twang of pain across his chest and a wet warmth began to soak into his shirt. Looking down he grasped at his chest and tried his hardest not to be afraid.
As his lifeblood spilled from his open wound Isaac stared directly at his killer and was reminded of a poem he had read a number of years ago, not all of the poem, just enough to be relevant.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!"
- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley