Strange as it seems . . .

by Twyla Jane

The disclaimer is and always will be I don’t own ‘em and never made a plug nickel off ‘em. Wish I did. This story ain’t beta-ed. The mistakes are mine and mine alone. This is Bernadette’s November challenge for you.

It comes from a dream. I have started the story for you and all you have to do is finish it. It can be OW or ATF, dramatic, funny, or scary. Hope you enjoy and have fun doing the challenge.

Ezra Standish pressed the gun harder against the suspect's left temple. An evil smile crossed his features as he pulled the trigger. He knew the chamber was empty, he had checked it himself.
The sound of a gunshot exploded around the room. Blood splattered across Ezra's face. He stood in shock, staring down at the man he had just killed.

"Ezra!" Vin yelled at him, "What in the hell have you done?"

How about just plain weird? Okay Bern here is my ending to your challenge. 11/2/01

Ezra Standish pressed the gun harder against the suspect's left temple. An evil smile crossed his features as he pulled the trigger. He knew the chamber was empty, he had checked it himself.
The sound of a gunshot exploded around the room. Blood splattered across Ezra's face. He stood in shock, staring down at the man he had just killed.

"Ezra!" Vin yelled at him, "What in the hell have you done?"

What the hell had he done… Ezra stared down at his blood-saturated clothing. What the hell had he been thinking? The gun slipped from his numb fingers and dully clattered onto the wooden floor of the jail. A growing dark red pool had formed around his expensive leather boots as he looked down at the dead man as life’s blood drained out. Standish knew that Vin was talking to him but he couldn’t break his eyes away from increasing pool of blood. Suddenly a blinding pain exploded in his head, the room shifted and strangely he found himself staring up wordlessly at Vin who was saying something he could neither hear nor understand as the world disappeared.

A quick intake of air woke Nathan who had been lightly dozing by Ezra’s side. The gambler was awake, the healer knew this even though the man hadn’t opened his eyes and took the opportunity to give the man tea laced with herbs. The former slave settled the southerner back onto sweat soaked sheets before grabbing the wet cloth from the bowl on the bed stand and began to diligently wipe the sheen of sweat from Standish’s fevered body. Tired muscles trembled under the tender touch. Ezra what have you done to yourself? Nate checked carefully unwrapped the bindings around Ezra’s head to check for signs of infection in the head wound. It was healing nicely now if the fever would break he might have a chance.

Josiah came in the clinic to relieve Jackson so that the healer could take a much-needed break.

“How is he?”

“The same…”

“You go eat Brother.”

“Let me know if anything changes…”

The large man nodded and Nate stepped out of the room under darkening skies that promised rain leaving the clinic behind for the first time in days. He slowly descended the stairs and made his way to the saloon.

Soft words spoken in a deep rumbling voice floated through the room, Ezra was confused Josiah wasn’t there. He blinked twice before realizing he was in the jail with a gun held to… the hammer clicked back as the trigger was pulled. The sound of the shot reverberated through the sheriff’s office as Vin ran in yelling. “Ezra… What have you done?” The pain sliced through his head unable to stop as he slumped to the floor an audible groan slipped through his lips.

Son? Ezra, are you with me? The gambler didn’t understand as his body was gently rolled over where the preacher’s voice was coming from when the only person in the jail other than Vin was the dead man. He couldn’t hold onto the thought as encroaching darkness took hold.

Sanchez sat on the edge of the bed watching Ezra’s pale face for any signs of waking for a moment it almost seemed that he would but the younger man slipped back into the fevered limbo where he had been for the past two days. Josiah began to softly pray.

The chair the former preacher occupied had been taken over by the normally boisterous Wilmington, he sadly watched Ezra occasionally twitch and mumble unintelligible words. His flamboyant friend was no closer to waking. The worry was evident in Buck’s voice as he encouraged the gambler rouse with the promise of a round of poker. Nathan had told them earlier that longer the southerner stayed like this the less likely he was to recover.

“Come on Hoss I know yer in there… You know yer cramping my style with the ladies… Hell ya wake up now and I’ll play cards with ya after every payday for the next three months… Ez …”

Come on Ez talk to me… He could hear someone talking close by perplexing as it was, the voice sounded like Buck but he was in the jail holding on to man with his gun pressed tightly against … the man’s head swiveled up... he had no face… Ezra’s stunned reflexes caused the gun to fire. The sound still rang in his ears as Vin slid in through the door yelling. “Ezra… What have you done?” The white-hot agony seared through his skull and for a moment he blinked his eyes open to see a shadowy form hover over him before he gave in to the pain.

A pair of confused green eyes stared back at him for a brief moment before they fluttered closed.

Hours had passed by since Chris relieved Buck. Nathan was asleep in Larabee’s room since the dark gunslinger was taking the night shift watching over Ezra with Vin. The tracker was out patrolling the town but was due back at the clinic soon. It was unnerving to see the southerner so still.

“Get your lazy ass outta bed Standish.” The words half-heartedly snarled fell on deaf ears. “Come on…” Chris whispered it Ezra’s ear then continued to wipe the sweat from the unconscious man’s face with a damp cloth. The man just lay unmoving in the bed his quiet breaths were the only sound in the room. “Don’t do this…”

Don’t do this…Some was near by begging him and… Chris? Ezra stood in the jail with a tight grip on the suspect the gun’s chambers were empty he was sure. The man he held the gun on looked up and was wearing his own face… startled the whole chain events began again with the gunshot and Vin running into the jail. “Ezra… What have you done?” Ezra stood there staring as the blood ran across the floor not paying attention when Tanner touched him on the shoulder and slowly lowered him to the floor. The floor had turned into a pine box. Ezra lay dressed in his favorite red jacket within its confines unable to move as the cover was lowered into place leaving him in the darkness alone.

The chair that held Larabee was tipped against the wall as he slept. The quiet Texan sat on the bed wondering what the hell had gone wrong three days earlier when Vin went to the gambler’s room to wake him for patrol but found him on the floor of his room with a raging fever and a pool of blood drying under his head. Nate was worried he had been unable to get a lot of water into injured man and the longer he was unconscious the worse it would be. The bright dawn hues light the sky as the sun rose over the horizon. Vin pulled out his harmonica and began to play a mournful tune.

The dark mop of hair hung in his eyes as leaned in close and whispered his plea. “Ezra… wake up…please… been three days already ya gotta wake up.” JD was afraid he’d lose his friend as he sat and gripped a pale unresponsive hand. For the past three days the man had lain still as death, he had weakly stirred an occasion the first two days but today he only quietly breathed nothing more so the young sheriff sat at his side trying to coax a response he was reward with a slight flexing the hand he held. “Ez?”

It was dark, cold and lonely as he stood in the abyss wondering how… when he heard his young friend’s sad voice. Looking for the source of the sound a light pierced the black shroud and he moved towards its warmth. Realizing someone held onto him and he gripped tighter as he found he way out. A blurry form leant closely over him as his eyes fluttered open. Warm wet drops fell onto his face from above while he blinked several times trying to clear his vision. The effort hadn’t helped the world remained fuzzy and distorted. His voice failed when he tried to speak and was quickly lifted into a sitting position where a cool mug of water was pressed to his lips. Ezra drank what was offered, first swallowing the water and after sputtered slightly at the taste the warm medicinal tea, then he was settled back into the bedding. Other than the monumental ache in his head and feeling terribly feeble Ezra wasn’t sure of anything. He couldn’t even remember what he had wanted to say and was pondering that thought when sleep stole him away.

“Didn’t happen… It was a dream Ezra… you did nothing wrong…”

The warm sun light filtered into the clinic as Chris was trying to reassure Ezra who sat propped up in clinic’s bed still covered under a multitude of blankets was finally coherent enough to hold a conversation. He asked the same question every time he woke and Larabee was having a difficult time convincing the gambler.


“Never happened Ez… hell don’t know why yer thinkin’ that you never even left yer room…”

The gambler slowly turned his head in Vin’s direction. Although the pain had lessened it was still there and he couldn’t turn his head too without waves of nausea washing over him. The tracker smiled at him openly concerned for his well-being. Indeed Ezra had been informed on numerous occasions since waking that the shooting hadn’t happened, that five days earlier he had fallen to a dangerously high fever and passed out hitting his head on the bed stand. The concussion combined with the illness caused the disconcerting dreams. He smiled because he did have comforting flashes of his friends being near and that had been enough to hold onto as he settled back onto the pillows. Strange as it seemed it was more than enough.