Chapter 3: The Cowskull Cult

As Oatley and her newfound friend Soft Thunder approached the oasis, Oatley heard a voice in her head, it sounded like the voice

of the apparition saying in a soft tone:

"Sometimes in order to save the future, changes must be made to the past," Oatley pondered on this, wondering what it meant,

as Soft Thunder began pacing back and forth and reciting some ancient sacred words. Suddenly, a nine year old boy rode by

on a baby horse, spiraling out of control creating circles of dust around the two girls who started coughing.

When they saw the culprit they couldn't believe it. Soft Thunder was angry, but Oatley just started laughing.

"You are one hilarious feller!" said Oatley.

"Ah man, I'm sorry. I thought you two were the monster wolves. They've been out and about lately, and I didn't wanna take any chances.

From far away you two looked different" said the boy.

"What's your name?" asked Oatley, who seemed mildly enchanted, though she would instantly deny it if accused.

"Hank Cutler" replied the boy.

"If I liked boys I'd call you cuter than a birds nest, hremph, too bad I don't" said Oatley, who looked genuinely upset that she didn't like boys.

"This can't go on. We need to do the ritual" said Soft Thunder, frustrated.

"Why don't ya'll join us?" asked Oatley.

"You had to make this difficult, eh?" said Soft Thunder.

"What are ya'll doing?" asked Hank.

"We're becoming adults by laying down in this puddle!" replied Oatley.

"Ya'll are crazier than a stagewagon tire married to a tumbleweed" said Hank.

"We are not married" replied Soft Thunder.

"Well, I'm going now" said Hank. But Oatley popped a cap in the young boys hat, before putting it back in her holster, hands on hips, blowing smoke off of it.

"Get the message now? You ain't going nowhere, I feel like I know you, you reckless untamed rascal!" said Oatley.

"I've never seen a girl with such gumption. Alright I'll join you two" said Hank Cutler as he lay in the puddle with the other two kids.

Hours later...

Annie Oatley woke up. She looked at her palms. She couldn't believe it. All the signs were there.

Hank and Thunder then pulled Oatley into the oasis

and they both fell asleep.

An hour later...

"Thunder? Hank?" shouted Oately. She looked every direction she could but could not see either of them, except a moving barrel.

This barrel began hopping around then it fell, and out came a fully grown Hank.

"Aw, shucks, I'm just thanking the good lord I'm still above snakes, but wouldn't you know I'd be stuck with a funny feller like you again" said Oatley.

"Who said you was stuck with me?" said Hank, as he mounted a full grown horse and galloped away, whilst Annie reached out her hand for help getting up

but to no avail.

"Covered in mud that won't acknowledge the corn. Well dog gone I'll be as torn up as a tabernackle in a taco shop. I don't plumb mind it though,

I mean at least I'm an adult now" said Annie. But it was then that the harsh grim reality set in. This was all symbolic. Adults fend for themselves,

children are given sympathy. Annie wanted to absquatulate home but she barely remembered where she was. She began wandering around the Nevada

deserts sweating and distraught.

"At least I'm taller ya know. Hourglass figure, perky as a pack of pickled pumpkins but I need to nourish mah soul" said Annie.

"You will find help with an old man and his wife, Annie" said a faint ghostly female voice in the distance. Or perhaps it was in Annie's mind.

"I'll be as pickled and exhausted as an alfafa desperado begging on his knees for rain. I gotta find a place to drink" said Annie.

No sooner had she said this she saw a series of stables next to an old but beautiful building fully furnished with high-class ebony wood.

The sign on the front of the old wooden store read:

Sarsperella Sally's Old Caboodle Cantina

Annie blew the smoke off of her hands after shooting down a duck that was overhead and walked in bringing in the goods.

"How much for a duck, Sarsperella?" asked Annie.

"Annie Oakley! I thought you were dead" said Sarsparella.

"Ain't her. I'm that little sprout you knew back when my hat was too big for my britches and it covered my entire body" said

Annie, lowering her hat.

"Well now, what should I call you then?" asked Sarsperella. Annie flipped around the chair she was sitting in and stroked her chin for a few seconds.

"Call me-Abbie Oatley. Helps diffrentiate things more. Ya'll look shocked" said Abbie.

"No, just a bit tuckered from dealing with the horses, they've been moody lately" said Sarsperella.

"Yeah. Back to our original conversation-how much for a duck?" asked Abbie.

"Well there ain't much demand for ducks down in these parts. Ya'll might try the butcher shop next door" said Sarsperella.

"Alright, guess I'll just have a drink then, while this duck stinks to high heaven" said Abbie.

"Good point, say-my husband Dale knows about meat. He sells it for a living he'd probly give you some money for it.

DALE! Get yer pickles in a row, we've got a duck to sell" said Sarsperella.

"You called?" asked a tall old man in a gray hat with a long white beard.

"Abbigail here got us a duck. She's that little girl who used to pet the pooch all those years ago.

The pooch is all grown up and still here if you wanna see him, he's the talk of the town. Dave, his name is" said Sarsperella.

A small white dog who still looked like a puppy despite being full grown came and lovingly pounced Abbie with licks of goodwill.

"Awww, still as cute as a cucumber and sweet as a calf slobber" said Abbie.

"Ya'll look catawampous as ever you know that? I don't suppose anybody taught you how to fire a gun" said Dale.

"No, actually. Just always kind of had a knack for being on target" replied Abbie.

"Good, I hope you can get me more ducks then. I'm going out of business and the doctors say I don't have long to live" said Dale.

"Ya'll are gonna be fine," said Abbie, as she heartily shook Dale's hand.

"Ya'll can let go now," said Sarsperella, eyeing Abbie.

"Right, so-Sally. What do ya'll think of memories?" asked Abbie.

"Memories?" asked Sarsperella.

"Yeah, memories of things you think you did but you forgot them. You still remember that you did them but not

the exact details. Like I feel like all of time and space just went by in a snap of a fritter's finger" said Abbie.

"Nah-nuh uh. Ya'll want ginger ale? This stuff will cap the climax and bring home the bacon for a hefty price" said Sarsperella.

"Way ahead of yaz," said Abbie, depositing a large bundle of golden coins on the desk. Sally swiftly swooshed over a beautiful

Ginger Ale drink on the rocks for Abbie, who began sipping it surreptitiously.

"Mmm-ya'll know that's good right? So good it would make the gods of moonshine blush like a biscuit" said Abbie.

"People do like my drinks, you know," said Sarsperella.

"With good reason. But now that I've gifted the gullet with the golden goose I reckon I need something to pumpkin up and

pick up the goodness" said Abbie.

"Ya'll mean energy?" asked Sarsperella.

"Ya'll know that seein' those green eyes of yours sparkle like silver gives me hope in humanity but it ain't enough

to quell the chitlins of despair. I'm fixin' to get out and about. Saw in the paper outside about a gang of cattle hustlers,

and I'm bored as a bumblebee with no flowers" said Abbie.

"Oh, I see. I see-ya'll want some fixins that will fix you up good to go take on the universe. Well, we do have

some water from Girth Brookes, some lakes up north that some say is holy and blessed. Here ya'll go, should give ya some girth" said

Sarsperella, giving Abbie a full glass of water. Abbie's eyes lit up like a cantina under a full moon.

"Thank you kindly Sally, here's your tip" said Abbie, as she gave Sarsperella more money.

"Anything else?" asked Sarsperella.

"Some skullcap I found growing outside should help your husband well. Beyond that? I'm outta here,

that girth water had a baby girl and called it GUMPTION!" said Abbie, as she left.

Abbie sat outside for hours.

Later that evening, she saw Dale standing by a white horse with silky black hair.

"This here is Buck," said Dale.

"Yeah, what about him?" asked Abbie.

"You like him?" asked Dale. Abbie looked into the eyes of the horse and felt a spiritual connection, a bond unlike anything ever before.

"Reckon I love him like a sister" said Abbie.

"What?" asked Dale.

"Nuttin, I'll take him" said Abbie.

"Now hold on there, Abbie. I'm only giving you this because that skullcap made me feel healthy.

God bless you young woman" said Dale.

"Aww thank you, yer a sweet old feller" said Abbie.

"Now hold on there, ya'll spoiled our spurs and helped us win the scuds, so I want you to have this as well" said

Dale, depositing a golden coin with his face on it.

"What's theeyis?" asked Abbie.

"This-this is an exclusive membership. As long as you have that coin in your hand-dear girl-everything

in our shop is free. As far as I am concerned-you are a saint!" said Dale.

"Right, well this saint's gotta go and sin so let me tie the cinch here and get on my buckaroo" said Abbie.

Dale wiped tears from his eyes.

"Good luck Abbie, I hate to say this but-I don't think you'll make it" said Dale.

But Abbie heard none of this. She was already halfway to Salty Savannah.

Meanwhile, in a forgotten corner of town:

"I feel tuckered out. Long day of cow wrangling it was" said Henderson.

"Hopefully we got enough to satisfy Jack" replied Pete.

Suddenly, the sound of thunder could be heard within the dark confines of all the great criminal minds in the room.

"That's Jake," said a tall dark and sinister man entering the room, spinning his guns, firing them and then returning

them to their holsters as if they were dragons being put back in their cage. He slowly came stomping into the musty old

cobweb ridden room with his snakeskin boots.

"Of course, Jake, how could I forget?" said Henderson. Jake pulled out his gun and shot Henderson directly in the head.

Henderson fell down dead.

"One down, all twenty of yaz to go if one more of yaz gets my name wrong" said Jake, flipping a quarter in the air.

"Right," said all the party members in unison.

"I'm not just Jake, I'm Jake the Snake according to the wanted posters. Ha. Flattering really, I mean I do dress

like a snake and spit like one" said Jake, spitting some tobacco on the floor.

"What was that?" asked Derick.

"That? That was venom. Haha. Anyway, enough comedy. Told the missy she's gonna get her wishy as long as

we get her the goods. Do we have enough beef or do I have to have all of it be with you guys?" asked Jake.

"Excuse me," said Lilith Maxwell, the lone female of the group.

"Shucks I'd never forget you Lilly. You pour your heart and soul into every mission don't ya?

Ya hear that fellers? I expect more out of you, you're being outdone by a girl. Look at how much

beef she got!" said Jake, observing her collection of cattle.

"We won't fail!" said the group of men.

"Right, and you didn't. You got enough to satisfy the missy. She says she got one of them Quija boards

and that any day now the good folks from Grezlar are gonna beam us up to paradise in their flying stagecoach.

Tonight is the night we're gonna make it happen. That's what she told me-confidentially. There is one obstacle!" said

Jake, as he deposited a photo of Abbie Oatley on the table.

"That girl sure grew up fast" said Lillith.

"It was magic, a spell. It had to be. Mah missy's a witch she oughta know. And now we gotta stop Abbie before

she stops us. Ya'll remember the trouble she gave Mr. Pete Henderson in the past. But Henderson no longer has the power

to help run this group. I don't need any help anymore. From now on this is the Cowskull Cult-yes-we're a cult.

I'm not afraid to admit it. What's wrong with a cult anyway? And this cult is gonna be run by me no ifs ands or buts

about it. I got the gonads to run this cuz I've got the most beautiful missy and she's gonna get her wishy" said Jake.

"What are we gonna do?" asked Lillith.

"Well we're gonna pitch the pooch to get the brooch so to speak. That little town doggy and the stupid old man

and his wife? They've all gotta go-it would break my heart to say it-that is if I had one!" said Jake, laughing

in a sinister tone. The entire group laughed with evil girth.

Check out Chapter 4 when it comes out!