Twelve Bullets

Episode 1: "The Stranger"

"What the? Look!" Nick shouted, pointing at a figure approaching the small encampment.

"Who is that?" Jonathon asked.

"Get me my rifle," Nick ordered.

At this command, the entire encampment was thrown into a panic. Women and children rushed inside as the men prepared their weapons. Nick cocked his rifle and took aim. His men followed his example. To their surprise, however, the man was about as unthreatening as they come. Although he appeared to be a gunslinger, his clothes were tattered, he was drenched in blood and sweat, and the sun had burned him badly.

Even in his condition, when he arrived at the camp and saw a dozen rifles trained on him, he reached for his pistol. Just then, a gunshot sounded, and the stranger fell.

"Damn it!" Nick mumbled. "Get him some help!" he ordered, designating the fallen stranger.

As two men moved to carry him inside, Nick turned to face his men. "Who shot?" he asked. No answer. "Who shot?" he demanded. Still, no one answered. "Fine. Hand me your rifles."

Nick quickly checked each rifle. They were all fully loaded and still cocked and primed to fire. Dumbfounded, Nick scanned the surroundings with his eyes. Nothing.

"Jon, take some guys and look over the area."

Jonathon nodded, relinquished his rifle, mounted a horse, and then signaled four other men to do the same. When they were prepared, the five men set out.

After seeing them off, Nick went in search of the stranger. He found him in the care of three ladies. Two of which were bustling about, while the other one prepared to operate. She rubbed her hands together and proceeded to cut his shirt off. The stranger had a small revolver holstered around his chest. The bullet had hit the pistol, glanced off of it, shattered through his rib, and stopped only about an inch deep. She pulled the shirt open farther and saw that he had been shot four times in his right shoulder.

"Can't wait to hear his story," Nick said, addressing the makeshift surgeon

"You and me both," she replied. "He got pretty torn up. Look over here." She pointed at several cuts along the side of his right arm.

"Knife?"

"Bullets. Grazed him."

Nick nodded.

The surgeon, Penelope, rubbed her hands together. "I better get started," she said.

"Right," Nick said. "Tell me if he wakes up."

"If?" Penelope responded, Putting her hands on her hips.

"I meant to say 'when,'" Nick said grinning and leaving the room.


Penelope left the house after four long hours. She was pouring sweat and she was covered in blood.

"How'd it go?" Nick asked, lighting up a cigarette.

She frowned. "I've done all I can. All we can do now is pray."

"There's just so many questions," Nick said. "I must be a horrible person, I only really want to satisfy my curiosity."

"You're not a horrible person, You're only curious because you care about us," she replied. "This will only raise more questions, but here, I found this in his pocket." Penelope handed him a small piece of paper.

It read:

We will uphold our end of the bargain if you uphold yours. Tonight, at the graveyard, we will give you ten thousand American dollars for the item you have acquired for us.

--X

"Is that all he was carrying?" Nick asked when he finished the note.

"No," Penelope said. "He also held this." She handed him a eight-inch-long bullet.

"What in hell?" Nick said, taking the bullet. "What kind of gun would take a bullet this big?"

"I also found four pistols on him. Two long revolvers and two snub-nosed ones. The funny thing is, he only had one bullet."

"He must've been using his weapons then. No one sets out with four guns and one bullet."

"Exactly what I was thinking."

"Anything else?"

"Just a pack of cigarettes and a bunch of matches."

"Typical," Nick said.

"Yeah."

"I wonder what happened to this guy. He must've went through Hell."