“Cries the buffalo…”
Silence now lays upon the plains.
Empty sockets glare.
Shaggy mountains stripped of thunder.
Silence now lays blame.
– Thomas Quinn Miller
DC stared at the track in consternation. Winter still held on against the coming of spring and the Kansas dirt was cold and hard, not the best conditions for a good print.
“You find anything?” Ted said , leading his horse by the reins as he walked over. “It’s getting darker by the minute. We should have just looked into this in the morning.”
DC closed his eyes and ran his gloved fingers over his thick mustache. He deliberated pointing out to Ted that he just walked his damnable horse through half the usable tracks then thought against it. Ted Thompson was a man of few words and too quick to anger. It was getting dark and getting into an argument with him wouldn’t get this done any sooner.
The grizzled old Indian, Broken Feather, had just reached the top of the small rise the locals called Horseshoe Hill. He still had his hand on the shoulder of the young Chinese boy for support. The boy had been the shaman’s shadow since they had found him.
A loud whirring noise erupted.
Jeremy Piston was adjusting knobs and turning gears on his large goggled helmet. The jittering helmet, steam seeping from its numerous tubes, covered most of his unkempt flame colored hair. He looked up, sensing the stares. “What? Did I miss something?”
Victor Norman, still sitting upon his black-spotted appaloosa, grinned wryly. “No my dear boy, point in fact, you are now the center of attention. Per chance, could you increase the volume of your metallic head gear? I do not believe the good citizens of Dodge City can enjoy its dulcet tones.”
Jeremy blinked for a moment, looking as if he almost understood the implied insult, then realized someone had actually questioned the capabilities of his latest invention. “That is quite impossible, Mr. Norman.”
Jeremy responded in a loud voice, trying to talk over the noise. “Dodge is at least an hour away due north of our current position. The feature I just enabled allows me to send forth a sound pulse which, if my theory is correct, identifies objects in the darkness I could not normally see. ”
DC shook his head, turning back to the scene, as his brother egged on the young scientist. The trail lead south, farther away from Dodge. It appeared that Big Bob Wilson had not lied. Something did attack his mule team and wagon. The cold remains of one of the mules laid sprawled across the grass, jagged bones jutting out through various parts of its bruised hide. The breast strap was all that remained of the mule’s harness. The rest was torn leather tatters. What could rip a mule out of its tack? Pieces of splintered wood and metal proved the wagon hadn’t fared any better than the mule. Based on the size of the track, this was one big buffalo. Near the destruction, the bodies of four buffalo Big Bob had obviously shot and then approached to claim lay in silence. DC wondered where the rest of Bob’s crew were? Most buffalo hunter’s traveled in groups for protection from Indians and other buffalo hunters. He would have to find out when they got back.
DC slid back into the saddle. “Tracks lead south.”
“So, we looking for a fifteen foot tall buffalo man like that crazy hunter said?” Ted said, climbing up into his saddle.
“Gawd, I hope not,” DC replied as he waited for Vo’Sun to help Broken Feather down from the hill. “You two see anything up there?”
Broken Feather shook his head. Vo’Sun, tapped his arm and then made a few quick gestures, moving his hands and fingers in the sign language the Chinese teen and the old shaman somehow used to communicate.
Broken Feather nodded and then added, “Vo’Sun reminds me of the buffalo to the south. There is a small herd there. But I do not think that is what you mean.”
“Not unless one of them is the size of a stagecoach, no.”
With that DC put heel to horse and headed south.