The sun broke through the darkness like a spear through flesh as the Sheriff lead a posse of hired guns from Crypt hole to Crypt hole, every publicly known entrance was checked and even some who's location was known to only the Sheriff himself. This was the last of the Crypt holes that had been discovered, each one leading to a disused mine, or building cellar, each one that in turn lead to the Crypts themselves and the foul darkness that crept below New Fairbank including it's insidious beasts.
Everyone had their own name for them; monsters, demons, others. He was always amused by the reaction of Doctor Loxley. The Doctor had spent the most time out of everyone down the Crypts, second to himself of course. Unlike himself the Doctor had been driven mad by it, would see creatures in the corner of his eye or in the shadows of a room even claiming his newly recruited peer might be among their number. Despite all of this the Doctor had somehow managed to retain a positive disposition and even referred to these creatures as 'beasties' like they were little more than an annoyance.
The Sheriff hoped that they would find one such 'beasty' this morning. A full two days had passed since the attack at the East's place and with each attack a new body, always the same, sliced open with almost surgical precision. The two latest bodies had been working girls, one on her way home the other in the comfort of her own bed.
There was a growing unrest in New Fairbank, the Sheriff could feel it. He kept crime out of the town, controlled the flow of stone and currency and ensured that the people were safe while outside the Crypts, assuming that they didn't decide they were too big for their boots, and then the occasional demonstration was often called for. He minded not, it worked in his favour, maintain control and no one asks awkward questions or starts looking where they shouldn't.
This was why he needed to find something. Something or someone to pin the recent murders on. A crazed local, driven mad by the eternal dark maybe, or a fully grown Imp trying to prove it's dominance over it's pack-mates, they would be the perfect scapegoat.
Sadly however the Sheriff was out of luck, each and every barricade was in place, if the killer was a Beasty, it had not come from the Crypts.
Doctor Colt stood over the unconscious body, he stared at the naked woman intensely, marvelled at her skin, how with each breath her chest would rise and fall, how at his touch the nerves in her neck still responded. He shook his head violently. "No!" Colt told himself "I have a job to do" and clutching his scalpel in his gloved hands began to cut a small incision into her abdomen.
It didn't take long for the woman to recover from the sedative, and now fully dressed, sutured and a bottle in hand of Doctor Colt's own brew of painkiller she was ready to leave his practice.
"You know, you should have come to me sooner" Colt insisted "An inflamed appendix can be quite lethal if not dealt with urgently"
"I'm sorry Doctor" replied the woman, "I just didn't want to worry my husband".
"The love for those close to you is quite admirable young lady" stated Colt "but it is all for naught if you are not among the living to share it".
With that, the young woman left Colt's surgery leaving him alone, only his medical mannequins and diagrams for company.
The day drew on, and as the sun began to set a loud bell began to ring across the town. One by one every home and store began to close up and the residents of New Fairbank slowly walked the long journey up Chapel Hill just outside the town's boarders.
Chapel Hill had stood for years, when the Sheriff took control of New Fairbank it was little more than an old cemetery crawling with undead, now it stood as a beacon of strength, showcasing exactly what Man was capable in the face of adversity. That was the exact reason why the Sheriff had called a town meeting that night at the Chapel itself.
Perched high at the very pinnacle of Chapel Hill, the New Fairbank Chapel shone like the very sun itself, it's white washed walls reflecting the light from the towns people 's torches. The Sheriff nodded to himself as the townsfolk slowly milled inside until all that remained was himself alone outside before the Sheriff too entered the sacred building.
Inside was the deafening sound of every New Fairbank citizen, each one trying to talk over the other. As always it would be down to the Sheriff to take control.
"If I can have your attention please!" Called out the Sheriff, the room grew silent. "Thank you".
The Sheriff paused for a moment, he wanted to say this just right.
"Many of you want to know why this meeting has been called tonight, now if I may..." The Sheriff snapped his fingers and two burley men stood from seats in the chapel and walked towards the door.
"I am sure you are all familiar with my associates" continued the Sheriff, he was of course talking about the two men, his latest enforcers. This couple was called Chuckles and Brian, but the Sheriff hadn't bothered in learning their names, his enforcers normally didn't live long enough to make that task worth the time.
With heavy footfall Chuckles and Brian proceeded to lock the doors to the chapel trapping everyone inside. Every citizen knew, if they wanted to leave the chapel they would need to get past the enforcers, and that would mean crossing the Sheriff. For now they were trapped.
"This is insane!" Came a cry from the crowd, it was Doctor Loxley he was on his feet and pacing towards the chapel's rear room "I'm getting a drink! If I have to sit through this nonsense I am not going to do so sober!"
Behind Loxley was quickly followed by Doctor Colt "I agree with my colleague". And the two shuffled off into a rear room.
No one else moved from their seats. They didn't know why, but they knew that the Sheriff allowed Loxley a certain amount of freedom in New Fairbank, a lot more than the average citizen was allowed. In fact they all knew, if it was any of them to make that out burst their night would have ended sharply with a bullet between their eyes. Some thought the reason was because Loxley had been there the night the Sheriff lead a posse into the Crypts and retook the town, others would talk behind closed doors that Loxley knew something about the Sheriff, something to make the Sheriff fear crossing the Doctor, much like how the people feared crossing the Sheriff.
The chapel's rear room was nearly as we'll stocked as the Last Light, shelves packed full of ranges of whiskey covered the walls, broken up intermittently by images depicting holy characters facing off against evil creatures. Loxley was slumped in a chair, a bottle in his hands already drunk half way through, leaning against a wall, still nursing his first glass, completely untouched was Colt.
"You're an arse!" Loxley flung his words at Colt without a worry for the consequences "a hairy, smelly arse! And I want you out of my town!"
"Is that your way of challenging me?" Asked Colt. He placed his glass of whiskey on a nearby table and slowly walked over to the half unconscious Loxley. "Do you even know why you hate me? It's because you know. You know what it is I have been doing".
"Nope!" Exclaimed Loxley, "it's because you're an arse!" He waved the bottle in the direction of Colt "look at you! Your perfect moustache! Your pressed suit! And those gloves! Who wears gloves all the time?"
Colt leaned over Loxley, and whispered into his ear "you really want to know why I wear these gloves?" With one hand he began to tug on the glove on the other, and with relative ease the glove slid from it's place. Underneath was a gnarled hand, wrinkled and dried like fruit left in the sun, across the top of the hand was a large cut that had been stitched closed.
Loxley balked at the image "You! You're the one who's been killing everyone! You attacked the East home! Their girl did that to you! You're Jabberwock!"
Colt smiled to himself and began to laugh "And he finally gets it!" With his exposed hand he reached forward and grabbed Loxley by his collar "as you can see, I need to feed, but don't worry, the others of the town won't suspect a thing, not when you've made your dislike of me so obvious" Colt paused and raised his eyebrows in an almost pantomime fashion "maybe I'll say you attacked me in a drunken rage, I had no choice but to..." reaching into his jacket pocket he pulled out a scalpel "slit your throat".
Loxley stared at his assailant in horror, he had known that something was wrong about Doctor Colt, but never had he expected this, he began to quiver in fear as Colt began to lean closer, blade in hand.
In a panic Loxley shut his eyes and scratched at Colt's face, desperately trying to defend himself causing Colt to scream and release Loxley. For a moment all was quiet, Loxley awaited another attack before opening his eyes, his fingers were covered in something thick, gooey and bristly where he had scratched at Colt. He wanted to scream but nothing would escape his lips, tattered and matted around his fingers was what appeared to be the remains of Colt's face itself!
Looking up from the grizzly mess, Loxley saw Colt, he stood clutching at his head, a massive tear where his face should be, behind covered in thick dead blood a mass of writhing tentacles, claws and insect like limbs.
The nightmarish creature lifted its head in the direction of Loxley. He knew not if it could see him, amid the mass of horror the one thing he couldn't make out were eyes. The creature stepped towards Loxley, the scalpel still gripped firmly in hand.
Suddenly the air was ripped apart by the sound of gunfire, a single loud shot that Loxley struggled to discern it's origin. Colt's body fell lifeless to the floor, a single large hole the size of a fist was viable in the centre mass of what should have been Colt's head.
Loxley looked across the room and to his surprise he saw the Sheriff standing in the doorway, his pistol in hand and still smoking.
"Filthy skin walkers" spat the Sheriff "still, I knew if I kept everyone locked cooped up here tonight it would eventually show it's face" the Sheriff turned away from the mess and the shocked Doctor Loxley, pulled his hat low over his face before speaking again "oh and Doctor?" He asked "that's four you owe me now".
- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley