Sarah rode out on Lightning back to the scene of the crime. Thankfully there wasn’t much crime in Essex so this could be properly investigated. Of course, there had never been a sword and animal murder before either at least as far as the Redcrosses had been in town. She tried to visualize the outcropping that the bloody mess had been at. She started to see a few things she remembered. There was the cactus with three arms and there was the rock that kind of looked like a middle finger. Around the back of the next rock should have been the site.
It was gone. There wasn’t a drop of blood anywhere in the dirt. She jumped down off Lightning and gave him a stern look so he would stay put. He snorted which probably didn’t mean anything but he had never run away so he was probably fine. She knelt in the dirt and trailed fingers through the dirty and there was still no blood. It had completely vanished. She stood and looked over the spot she knew the body had been found. There were no rocks, twigs or any other debris there so maybe somebody had raked the blood away. It hadn’t been anyone acting on Sarah’s orders.
There was the sound of an explosion in the distance and Lightning didn’t run away. To his credit he moved closer to Sarah and she grabbed his saddle and swung up into it. She kicked her feet and pulled the reins and they were off toward the source of the explosion. She hadn’t guessed it immediately but as she got closer she was pretty sure it was the abandoned mine. According to locals the mine had been shut down for a long time, longer than anybody could remember. It had been a heavy blow that the town had survived but things had gotten a lot more peaceful since. Now there had been a horrible murder and an explosion in one day.
Sarah had Lightning creep up behind an outcropping and she hopped down and patted his shoulder. Lightning was the calmest horse she had ever met and the name would have been a funny joke except for the horse’s exceptional speed. Sometimes Sarah thought the horse might be deaf. There were hushed voices on the other side of the rocks at the mouth of the mine. There was smoke drifting everywhere from whatever exploded. Sarah left the horse and slowly walked around the corner.
“Now boys, I’m the sheriff. The mine is closed so please explain what you’re doing.” She said, pulling out her revolver just in case. The three men were thoroughly wrapped in cloth and that threw Sarah for a moment. None of them spoke. They all simply drew their firearms and started to shoot at Sarah. She pivoted and ran hard in the opposite direction and dove behind a boulder. She had no idea how she had avoided getting shot. They continued to shoot in her direction and she could hear their bullets ricocheting off the boulder.
There was the crack of a rifle somewhat in the difference and a grunt from the other side of the boulder. Sarah didn’t hesitate. She looked out from the other side of the boulder and opened fire. One of them was already holding his shoulder from the mystery shot and she saw another one drop from a bullet to the head. She buried another shot into the third man’s stomach and she heard the rifle cracking away again. The two men left standing ran and Sarah chased after them but when she turned another corner they were gone. There was all sorts of rags littered across the ground.
“Sheriff! Are you alright?” A voice cried out and Sarah was sure it was Roy Simmons. She was proven correct when Roy came around a corner holding his rifle high up in the air.
“It’s a miracle but I’m fine. How did you know it was me?” Sarah answered.
“Who else would run toward an explosion like that?” Roy said with a grin, slipping his rifle into a sling on his back. He pulled his hat low to shield his eyes from the sun.
“You did. What are you doing here?” She asked as they headed back to the mouth of the mine.
Simmons looked away, back in the direction of town. Sarah sensed that this meant he was going to lie which was unbecoming for a pastor. “I was out for a ride and I wasn’t about to let our Sheriff die out here by herself.”
“Well, thank you.” Sarah said and she meant it. What Roy Simmons was really about could wait until later. Afterall, he did help her out. Though she did think back to his odd behavior outside of Warren’s. She was curious but grateful.
“Should we get that one back to Mr. Chilton?” Simmons asked. He nudged the dead, rag-covered man with his foot. He looked pretty big and smelled awful and Sarah knew that Warren would be interested.
“Not yet. I’m curious about what they did to the mine. Stay put for a bit. It could be dangerous.” Sarah said as she headed toward the mouth of the mine. She took her hat off and started to fan the smoke away as she walked, she felt her hair going everywhere but vanity was a sin. She would survive after all.
“Alright. You’re the sheriff, Ms. Redcross.” Simmons said and sat down on a rock and eyed the dead man carefully.