Game Notes: This story was from the One Sheet Adventure House Call from Pinnacle Entertainment Group. The link will take you straight to that Adventure ifna you want to run it fer yer posse. The adventure ain’t tied to Colorado so feel free to play it where you want.
The following Dime Novella written by Annabel Hardin
Mr. Cotchry – A ex-town Nebraska marshal who lost his entire town to a brutal gang. Now his only wish is to hunt the villains down and make them pay.
Russ Brown – A backwoods tinkerer who suddenly began to get dreams of strange inventions. He is seeking Dr. Gash of Salt Lake City to replace his fat, ugly, boil-covered body with that of beautiful steel.
Max “Doc” Cunningham – A dwarf sawbones who has seemed to be given the power of healing by laying on hands. He wanders westward guided by divine providence to find what purpose God may have for him.
Samuel Mars – A Gunslinger with scruples, a rare thing these days. He heads west hoping his gun can help others to make up for the pain it has caused.
PURITY, CO—It was sunset when the four riders moseyed into the small town of Purity. The posse daydreamed about a nice shot of whiskey and a real bed after a days on the trail. However, something was amiss in this normally sleepy frontier town.
The former law dog, Cotchry noticed it first. The wasn’t anyone on the streets or in front of the businesses. Not particularly odd for Sunday, but the Posse came to the agreement that it was Wednesday. The men slowed their horses to a trot, their hands involuntarily reached for their guns. The windows of Purity were dark or curtained. It was Calvera all over again as the hairs on the back of their necks stood up.
As the Posse continued, they couldn’t help but notice the mansion up on the hill. It stood like a giant tombstone. It stood dark and oppressive even with the sunset pushing its long shadow away from Purity. The place was beginning to show signs of disrepair, and it was obvious that no one had tended the grounds for over a month.
Though the tension was thick enough to cut with a bowie knife, the Posse reached the Clean Ore Saloon without provocation. The men stepped through the double swinging doors to the small empty establishment. A door behind the bar creaked open only a crack. The Posse paused readying themselves to grab cover and slap leather.
“You from the trail?” a voice cracked with fear cried out. The Posse nodded in affirmative. Slowly the door opened and out stepped a man with salt and pepper hair, a face drawn pale and covered in sweat dressed in a common suit with a bartender’s apron. The bartender’s eyes were bloodshot and his hands trembled as set out some glasses and poured whiskey for the Posse and himself.
“What’s got the whole town so spooked?” spoke Cotchry before he scooped up and downed his shot of whiskey. The other members of the Posse waited for the bartender as they finished their drinks save Doc Cunningham.
“Well last night their was a scream straight outta Hell itself from up at Doc Sawyer’s place. Well, ol’ Sheriff McLean and his two deputies Dunk Burrell and Eli Alton went up there to see what the scream was all about and if Doc Sawyer was still kickin’. Only a minute or so after I saw them enter the mansion, I heard a couple of gun shots and some shouting. Before I could even turn away and run, I see Eli burst threw the front door. Somethin’ must have had hold of him because he tripped. And before he could get back to his feet, that somethin’ dragged him back in screaming in terror.” The bartender explained.
“God almighty, I ain’t never goin’ to forget that.” The bartender’s whole body was shaking. He then looked each of the other men in the eye and clasped his hands together in a plead. “You fellows look pretty tough, maybe you could head up their and find those men or their bodies. Maybe even take care of the thing that’s hidin’ up there. I could go around town and rustle up some money for ya. I can’t promise it be much, but were in desperate need.”
Mr. Cotchry finished another one of his whiskeys before standing up, “It ain’t happenin’ tonight, too dangerous. The beds up that way?” The ex-lawman pointed up to the hotel bedrooms. The barkeep was stepped back and nodded.
In the morning the Posse met back down in the saloon. Each checked their weapons and began to walk up the small hill the mansion sat upon. They stood shoulder to shoulder just outside the inky shadow cast in the morning light of the giant house. A cold wind picked up for a brief moment as the Posse steeled themselves for what they might find.
On the landing, Cotchry noticed and bit of blood and some scratch marks in the wood of the landing just in front of the large double doors of the mansion. Cotchry took one side of the doors while Mars took the other. With a countdown with his fingers and nod of their heads the two men burst through the doors followed up by the fat mad scientist and small blessed sawbones. Sam quickly ran to the center of the large entrance hall while Mr. Cotchry pushed open the heavy curtains to get some light into the dark cavernous chamber. Mr. Brown held his strange pistol with both hands as the weapon’s chamber glowed demonically orange of its own light. Behind the blubberous backwoods Brown was the dwarf doc.
The Posse were in the main entrance hall, a large room that made up much of the inside of the mansion. The floor was a checker board of white and black tiles. On the walls hung mostly uninspired landscapes and one of a older man with white hair and beard with a stern look wearing a white coat carrying a black doctor’s satchel. On the floor just in front of the door was some more blood and signs of a struggle. However, it was simply too dark to follow where the sheriff and his duties went.
“Let’s get some more light in here.” Cotchry said as he spied a couple of kerosene lamps built into the wall. Sam kept the ex-law dog covered while Brown and Cunningham pushed open the curtains to get a little more light in the entrance hall. It wasn’t until Cotchry was but a mere couple of paces when he saw a rat-sized tarantula pounce at him from one of behind one of the lamp holders on the wall. Despite the thing’s speed and agility, Cotchry was able to quickly dodge the nasty thing. That’s when he saw it wasn’t a tarantula at all. The truth was far more horrifying than that.
The thing was too big to be tarantula. It also didn’t have enough legs though it was nearly as hairy as the arachnid. No, this was a thing that shouldn’t be, it was possible. Yet here it stood scurrying around full of life. It was a severed yet animated hand!
The old lawman drew back in terror for a brief moment while trying to take a shot at it with his revolver. Unfortunately, the meaty hand was both too small and too fast to be hit in the dim light. Sam drew a bead with this pistol at the hand not yet able to make out what it was. He waited for a clear shot. From above another animated hand fell upon Rus managing to sieve the thick neck of the ugly tinkerer. The hand was strong and began to strangle the mad scientist to instinctively stumbled back into the light of the window and clawed at the horror with his free hand. Passing through the narrow light of the windows the Posse saw two more of these animated hands scuttle toward them before returning to the shadows.
Fear gripped Doc Cunningham as his mind flashed back to all the amputations he performed. He remembered back to grisly pile of severed limbs he once saw in a medical tent after a gruesome battle between the North and South. However, he quickly steeled himself to push the fear out of the way.
For Sam it wasn’t so easy. The fear had shaken him. He froze up for a moment. When feeling returned to his hands, the gunslinger fanned the hammer causing volcano to erupt in an explosion of lead at one of the animated hands moving toward the Posse. The hand was struck twice in the hail of gunfire and skidded to a stop twitching.
Russ Brown continued to struggle with the hairy severed hand around his throat, its meaty fingers trying to crush the life out of him. The fat man finally managed to break the grip of the thing throwing it to the ground. He used his colossal weight to crush the thing by stomping on it.
Mr. Cotchry continued to shoot at the animated hand that attacked managing to shoot off a couple of the thing’s fingers to slow it down enough to get the killing blow in. The thing limped and twitched around in its death throws like a beaten rat with a broken leg.
The forth and final hand quickly turned back and scurried back. Russ Brown was fired his strange pistol firing a weirdly green glowing projectile. The bolt went high and struck the far wall of the entrance hall leaving a phosphorescent glow slightly weaker than candle light. Bathed in the sickening green glow the Posse watched as the last hand escaping under a door. Mr. Cotchry and Mr. Brown looked at each other as spoke, “We should have shotguns for this.”
The Posse left the mansion to make their way to Purity’s general store and gunsmith. The owner never even asked them what the men needed the weapons for. He knew it was best not to know what evils could draw the color out of harden men like these faces. Cotchry picked himself up a double-barrel and Brown a Winchester lever-action shotgun. Armed with these weapons and a couple boxes of shells the Posse returned to deal the other horrors.
The Posse searched the rest of the mansion room by room. The place had been torn up, furniture knocked over and broke, books and other items tossed about. In their investigations the Posse found but two clues. One was a strange sort of text book from the dark ages detailing how to revive the dead to some semblance of life and the other was Doctor Sawyer’s journal. The journal spoke a patient turned assistant named Maxwell. The doctor’s journal never detailed how Maxwell came to be patient only that he required much in the way of stitches and over all ugliness that would likely cause womenfolk to faint at the sight of him. Never the less, the doctor mentioned that Maxwell was an extremely loyal assistant, and Sawyer could find no one more dedicated to his research.
The rest of mansion turned up little until the Posse discovered the basement. The basement was a packed earth and stone series of rooms. As the Posse made their way down the stairs by the light of Russ Brown’s improvised Lantern they discovered Doctor’s Sawyers assistant, greatest discovery, and more frightening thing they ever saw.
Laid out on the floor out the basement was a man with white hair and beard, his body spread eagle with chest cavity ripped open. In the corner of the stony chamber they learned the fate of the sheriff and his deputies. The deputies had been brutally beaten and had their hands chopped off at the wrist. Sheriff Mclean on the other hand was been dissected by a hulking man. The hulking brute turned at the posse had left out a horrifying yalp before charging at them with his might fists.
The Posse’s blood turned to ice as the the hulk stomped toward them. He was a patch work a body parts sewn together with thick cord stitches. Much of behemoth body was covered in patches of gray-green skin that varied from quilted nature of the body parts that made him. The abomination had to slump to keep his head from touching the wooden rafter of the basement ceiling.
With his mighty arms the patchwork man Maxwell brought down his fists like hammers on Mr. Cotchry in a furry of blows. The attacks caused the ex-lawman to stumble back but he managed to hold on to his shotgun opening up both barrels into the patchwork man. The blast of shot pushed the brute back and peppered his dead flesh but didn’t seem to stop slow Maxwell much. The rest of the Posse opened fire into the the monster. At first it didn’t appear as if the thing was harmed after enough lead to kill 10 men, but the Posse kept their attack up severing stitches and the tendons to the hulks limbs. At first the Maxwell’s arms gave out on him, then his legs as the patchwork man collapsed to the ground no yet conceding. It was the lever-action shotgun of Rus that exploded the brute’s head like a melon. The rest of Maxwell massive form slumping to the packed earth ground as a dark ichor seeped out.
The posse discovered notes detailing Doctor Sawyer’s obsession with staving off death. Doc Cunningham determined while Maxwell was likely the murderer of Sheriff McLean and his deputies. It was more likely that natural causes killed the old doctor. Rus Brown couldn’t but help himself to a choice selection of chemicals and research notes that even Max Cunningham could make out more than gibberish.
The Posse returned to the Clean Ore Saloon. Mr. Cotchry told the tale of what they had see and how they stopped it. It was a strange thing the each of the men of the Posse noticed. The shadows of Purity became less ominous. There was no longer an air of tension and fear. Even the townsfolk noticed it as they came out of hiding. It was like the fear that covered Purity like a heavy duster simply vanished.
Each of the men experience some disturbing dreams that night, though none of them could remember exactly what they were. They didn’t speak about with others in morning as they evaporated with the morning sun and hot cup of coffee. The next day the Posse was back on the trail heading toward Denver. Purity managed to collect $38 in sliver for their troubles. Something told the men this would only be the first of much weirder things to come in their adventures west. . .