A continuation of The Lone School Marm submitted for Icaras' Flight To Perfection
Of all nights that I had to trespass into the world of darkness it was this night. I had grown up in this frontier where the law was iffy at best. But Pa raised me to know right from wrong and we’d been able to hold our own against the various bands of criminals that passed through, sometimes enforcing the law ourselves.
But it had never been this serious, this personal. I returned to the school house to free my hostage students. I had the government money I had worked so hard to obtain and I was about to hand it over to a bunch of thugs to free them. I was prepared for a fight. I was prepared to kill. I was ready to die to save my kids, if I had to. I had also hedged my bets by asking Doc Shaw to form a posse to hang back in the woods to capture Dirty Dan and his gang of idiots as they made their escape. We had to protect the kids, especially the Hailey girls. Dirty Dan was very clear about his perverted plans for them.
When I opened the door to the school house, I was overwhelmed by the carnage I saw. Most of the children were left for dead and there was no sign of the Dirty Boys gang or the Hailey twins. I dropped the satchel and my gun and screamed for Doc Shaw. When I saw him and the rest of the posse tear out of the woods, I turned and ran into the school house to see if anyone was still alive.
Part of the posse went in pursuit of Dirty Dan and the Hailey Twins while the rest of us worked for hours tending the wounds of the injured and preparing the bodies for burial. The Preacher was among the posse, thank God, and was able to comfort the mothers who came for their children. It was well past suppertime by the time we had buried the dead and made sure the wounded got home.
I stood in the twilight and listened to the stillness. It was strange to stand in the empty school yard in this weird light. I felt tired, bereft, yet powerful. I knew that what had happened here made this school ground sacred and holy, the blood of children having been spilled here. I felt the cries of my students; the survivors and the perished propel me to act.
But, Doc’s parting words hung in my ears.
“Now, Suzanna,” he fathered, “Don’t you go gettin’ any crazy ideas about revenge. Your Pa didn’t raise you that way and we need you here.”
I remember nodding at him and seeing relief and a flash of skepticism cross his gray brows. I meant to follow his advice. I really did.
But once I was alone in between night and day, I knew what I had to do. It was written in blood on my apron, on my heart. I would find them with their guard down and kill them one by one. With the matter settled once and for all, I picked up my bag of cash, turned on my heel and headed home to prepare for war.