Archive for April, 2009

The Guns of Santa Sangre Part 2!

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009


Eric Red: For a little something different I give you, “THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE”… This is a werewolf western, a tale told in three parts, with a new chapter appearing on the site every two weeks. This isn’t a movie, isn’t a comic, it’s a serial, like the old pulp novels used to be. It’s kind of an experiment, but hopefully a fun one.

The story is 100 proof action western with some pretty twisted and nasty spins of lycanthrope lore. Hell, even Fallon said he was disturbed, so we must be doing something right, eh folks? It’s not for kids. Each chapter will feature a vivid dime novel cover graphic by ace production illustrator and concept designer John Gallagher who provides the startling visual accompaniment to our horror horse opera.

So saddle up and ride hard for the full moon, gang!

Story: Eric Red Art: John Gallagher

PART 2 of 3

The jefe grinned, spurred his horse and the gunfighters rode with the bandits up the paved hill to the pueblo church of Santa Sangre.

They tethered their horses on the rail in the shade behind the cathedral and dismounted.  About twenty other horses, saddles and bridles were tied to the same rail.  Tucker saw the early afternoon sun moving down the sky in the direction the distant Durango Mountains and by instinct gauged they had five hours until nightfall and the rise of the full moon.  The stark sunlight was blinding and bleached the outside of the church blank white, but inside the open oaken doors the interior of the cathedral was pitch black.  The bandits stood back to allow their guests enter the doorway.

When the three gunfighters set foot inside, the smell nearly pitched them backwards.  It was the disgusting, gorge-rising stench of one-month worth of dead meat, rot and death in stifling enclosed quarters. Tucker, Bodie and Fix stepped into the church with revulsion.  Their spurs jingled, ringing the catacombs of the Santa Sangre.  Diffused light filtered through the broken stained glass windows into an area more an animal cave than a mission.  The silhouettes of more than a dozen bandits hunkered and sprawled in the pews.  Some chewed on bones.  Others played cards.  Still others slept curled up like dogs, snoring loudly.  Sunlight glinted on the dull metal of guns and blades of knives and machetes.  Decayed and fresh chunks of human meat and flesh were piled everywhere on the tiles.  Bones and skulls, gnawed clean, were piled waist high. The blood pooling on the floor was shiny and wet or and black as dried paint.  Flies swarmed in a steady maddening drone.  Blood dripped.  In one corner of the defiled abattoir of the church once known as Santa Thomas, several naked young women sat cowering in the darkness, hugging their knees.  They shivered bruised and limp, eyes dead, too broken to care as they waited to be used at the whim of the bandits.

In the murky darkness, shiny things gleamed.  The shimmering came from gleaming metal objects placed all around the room.  It was silver.  Statues.  Candlesticks.  Plates.  The precious metal shined regal and bright in the church, and the reflections flashed in the eyes of the three gunfighters.

It was what they had come for.

But nothing prepared them what they faced and had to get past to get it.

The blasting light from the sun through the doorway behind them silhouetted the three cowboys and cast their shadows thirty feet ahead down the aisle as they walked tall through the grisly pews.  The gunslingers’ eyes were riveted on the silver treasures before them.  Their lips opened and drew breath at the riches they beheld.  The silver beams danced on their faces and they forgot the unspeakable horror all around them as they approached the altar, hypnotized by the glory of the silver, more than they could have dreamed.  Then the silver was suddenly swallowed in shadow when a wall of blackness descended as the big oaken doors were slammed shut behind them.

The gunfighters turned, hands by their guns.

The jefe and the bandits stood at the other end of the pew by the closed doors with their arms crossed.  On both sides, the other bandits, acting drunk or sleepy, were rising from their spoor to regard their new visitors.  It seemed they were salivating.  Mosca grinned, flashing rows of gold teeth, and spread his arms wide in generosity and welcome.  “Mi casa su casa.”

“You’re a real nice bunch of guys.”  Tucker spat.

“Stay and party with us.  Have a drink.  You want a woman?”

“We’ll pass.”  Bodie winced at the sight of the brutalized females.  Some of the bandits standing nearby were sniffing the scent of the gunslingers.  Fix shot one of them a look that made them retreat fast.

The jefe spoke softly.  “I ask you again, amigos, what have you come here for?”

Tucker looked at Bodie and Fix, then looked at the bandit leader and came right out and said it.  “Silver.”

The bandit leader walked down the aisle between the pews, nodding, eyeing the treasures of the tabernacle.  “Si.  Entiendo.  Much silver.  Mucho dinero.  You want this, si?”


“Then take it,” Mosca shrugged affably.  “It is yours.”

Tucker kept his hands near his pistols.  They were outnumbered ten to one.  “Just like that?”

“Si, just like that. Take it and go.”

The gunslingers exchanged glances.  “Thanks.”

“With our regards.”   With a wave of his arm, Mosca gestured for his men to open the front doors of the church.  “Hombres, fetch the saddlebags of the caballeros so they may take the silver.”  A group of bandits lifted the beam and the oaken doors swung wide, blasting daylight into the church, as they went outside.  The jefe just stood with his arms crossed presiding over the slaughterhouse of a defiled cathedral scattered with piles of human remains, bones and drying blood that festooned the walls, floors and pews.

“What’s the catch?”  Asked Tucker.

Mosca shrugged.  “We have no use of silver.”

“So we heard,” Fix quipped.

The jefe chuckled.  “Or gold.  Or dinero.  Men like us, we take what we want.  Nobody stops us.  What need have we of dinero?”   The bandito walked up to Tucker, seeming to sniff him.  His breath was foul and canine, but his eyes were powerful and primal as a wild coyote and owned the gunslinger’s gaze with the respect of the strong.  “You have killed many men, si?”


“And you.  And you.”  The jefe nodded at Bodie, and then at Fix.  “I see this. You are cruel men, yes, and strong.  Muy gusta.  So I make you this proposition.  Ride with us.”  The gunfighters exchanged laconic glances.  “Join us.”

“Thanks, but we ride alone.”

“Lone wolves, eh?”

“Something like that.”

The bandit leader threw his head back and laughed.  His men laughed.  It was contagious.  Even the gunslingers laughed.  “Lone wolves,” smiled Mosca.  “We know about wolves, amigos, and because of this I tell you it is true what they say.  Lone wolves are easy targets.”

“We’ll take our chances.”

“Join us, amigos!  You will never be alone.  And you will live forever.  Be free.  But the choice is yours.”  Three bandits came back through the open doors of Santa Sangre carrying the gunfighters’ saddlebags, and dropped them at the floor of their owners’ feet.  “Your silver,” said Mosca, gesturing to the tabernacle.  “Take it all.”

Warily and incredulous, Tucker, Bodie and Fix eyed one another and the bandits.  The offer seemed good.  With one hand near a gun, each one of the gunfighters began using the other hand to grab the candlesticks and stuff them in their saddlebags.  When they taken all of the candlesticks, they greedily grabbed the shining silver platters, their adrenaline beginning to pump.  Nobody stood in their way.  Their saddlebags were nearly full and brimming with silver before the cowboys went to the back of the alter and lifted the two silver statues of the Virgin Mary.

Then they heard the sobbing.

There were many voices weeping.

Tucker looked at Fix who looked at Bodie and they put down the precious statues and walked to the small room in back of the tabernacle.  There was a door and that door had a small slot and when they opened the panel through the hole they saw the fifteen surviving villagers of the town locked in the room.  The people were still alive, just barely, but badly beaten, held captive and imprisoned in the back of the church.

“Damn,” whispered Tucker.

“Damn, gasped Bodie.

“Those sons of bitches.  They’re gonna eat those people,” choked Fix.

Crammed in the small room like human cattle in a stockade, the peasants saw the hard sympathetic faces of the shaken gunmen through the slot in the door.  They fell to their knees begging and pleading pathetically for help in their native tongue.  The unfortunates’ eyes were horror holes.  “Please…please….please..,” the gunfighters heard the words over and over, unable to tear their gaze from the miserable wretches and the three forgot about silver.

A voice behind them broke the spell.  “Forget about them.  Those are not men. They are sheep.  They are the weak.  We are the strong.  The strong eat the weak, as wolves eat sheep.”  Mosca shut the slot on the door.  “You three are strong.  You must join us.  Here you belong amigos.  With us.”

The gunfighters turned to face the jefe.  “What’s going to happen to them?”  Tucker asked.

“What happens to all sheep, amigos…the slaughter.”

“Those aren’t sheep.  They’re people.  You have everything they own.  That’s enough.  Let ‘em go.”

“Join us or take the silver and go, amigos, before I change my mind.”   A malignant threat entered the tone of the pitiless bandit leader’s voice as his grin became strained and tense, disgusted by the cowboys’ sympathy he took as a sign of weakness.

The gunfighters regarded one another.  They had seen all manner of human cruelty wherever they rode but had never come across the raw savagery that lay before them in Santa Sangre.  It stirred a buried humanity in their hardened hearts.  In their minds were etched the faces of the captive villagers behind the door and the gruesome evidence of their imminent fate was splattered all around the church.  It was the worst thing they had ever seen.  They wanted to do something.  They wanted to draw their pistols and murder all the bandits.  But the silver statues were in their hands and more money than they had ever seen was stuffed their saddlebags.  A terrible choice tore their consciences.  But they were just three.  The jefe studied them closely, his feral, animal eyes sizing them up, testing them and taking their measure, seeing what they were made of.

Bodie looked at Fix.

Fix looked at Tucker.

Tucker eyed both of them.  “There’s too many of ‘em.  We can’t help these people.  Let’s go.”

Decision made.

Walking to their saddlebags on the floor with the empty clink of the spurs on their boots in the silent mission, they crammed the statues of the Blessed Virgin in the treasure filled pouches and tied them tight.  Ready to leave, they were about to heave the saddlebags over their shoulders when they looked up and saw Mosca standing blocking the open doorway, silhouetted against the lowering sun.  “Just one thing you must do for me before you go, amigos.”

Tucker lowered the saddlebag and stood upright, facing the jefe.

“Give me a gunfight.”

“You and me?”

“Si.  If you are faster then me, then you may go with the silver.”

Lowering his hands to his sides, fingers hovering by the stock of his pistol in his holster, Tucker shot a glance for Bodie and Fix to back off as he stood in the center aisle between the pews and faced Mosca standing with his arms crossed in front of the door.  The other two gunslingers braced for the battle they were ready for when they first stepped into Santa Sangre.  Each turned to face the army of bandits on either side of the church who were slowly stepping near their rifles and pistols, watching them like a pack of wolves and the gunfighters’ hands hovered by their holsters.  Mosca spoke softly, facing off for the showdown with Tucker, but yet his arms remained calmly crossed.  “Your move.”

The gunfighters figured they were dead.

Tucker drew first, firing a shot right between Mosca’s eyes.  The bullet put a neat red hole in the jefe’s forehead, spritzing a spray of matter behind his head.  The bandit remained standing with his arms crossed.  The air was taut with tension with Bodie and Fix ready to draw on all the other bandits but none of them made a move.  Mosca just stood there, shot in the head and Tucker watched him, the barrel of his raised pistol drifting smoke from the barrel.  Suddenly, shockingly, Mosca’s eyes popped open, daylight glinting off the rows of gold teeth as his mouth spread in a crazy grin.  “You got me, amigo.”  With that, the jefe drew his pistol and Tucker shot him five times, fanning and firing his pistol until it clicked empty, the bullets slamming home into Mosca’s chest in a tight pattern that tore cloth and spurted blood.  The jefe was laughing all the time, unharmed.  “I let you win again, amigo.  Mira.  As you can see, bullets do not hurt us.  We live forever.  We are the strong.  You can be like us.  Impossible to kill.  Men like you should ride with us.  Join us.”

The gunfighters were struck speechless faced with men who bullets did not faze.  They knew at that moment that every word the peasant spoke about the fiends was true.  Tucker looked at his companions.  “Grab the silver.  We’re getting out of here.”

Mosca stood aside to give them wide berth, giving them his gold grin the whole time.  As the gunfighters walked out the doors of Santa Sangre with their saddlebags laden with untold riches, the bandit leader said four final words in parting.  “You will be back.”

And the three gunfighters fled the church of the men that walked like wolves without looking back, shaken to their spurs as they tied their saddlebags to their horses, swung into their stirrups and rode out of the hellish place.  Their three horses left trails of dust in their wake as they galloped down the hill through the town away from Santa Sangre, hard charging up the ravine and hurtling out into the desert wastes of Durango.  It seemed to them that even over the thundering sounds of their hooves they could hear the ringing laughter of the bandits on the wind after they were miles away.

Tucker suddenly reined his horse.  “No.”

The others stopped and faced him their saddles.  “What are you doing?”  Fix demanded, gasping and sweating.

“We gotta go back.”  Tucker stated it like a simple fact.

“You nuts?  We got the silver! We got all!  We’re rich!”  Bodie yelled.

“I’m done doing the wrong thing.”

“We can’t kill whatever those are.”  Fix’s voice was full of dread.

“Silver bullets can.”

“Give me one damn reason.”

“Those people. We owe ‘em.  Gave ‘em our word.  We can’t let those sons of bitches murder them people like that.  If we ride away now with their silver, we’ll never live it down and we’ll be nothing ever again.  I’m sick of things I’ve done, boys.  It’s time to stand up.  I want to make a difference for a change.”

Bodie looked wildly at Fix.  “You ain’t with Tucker on this are you, Fix?”

“Tucker’s right about one thing,” said Fix, his eyes hardening with resolve.  “Them son of a bitches back there got to go.”

The peasant had been waiting patiently for hours for the gunfighters by the blacksmith’s shop on the other side of the ridge, where they were to regroup if the men had lived to get the silver.  The Mexican had heard the gunshots and knew the hour was nigh, but when he saw the three riders gallop away from the church on the horizon and keep riding south, his heart sank.  They were leaving.  Sunlight glinted off silver in their saddlebags and he knew the men had the silver and were taking it.  They had stolen his people’s only protection and salvation and he and his family were doomed.  So this is how it ends, thought the peasant.  What had he expected with such men?  They were no account gunfighters and killers no different than the evil ones who had taken his people and his church.  The peasant dropped to his knees and gripped his crucifix and prayed.  He prayed for his people.  He prayed for their passage from this world to Heaven.  He felt himself of dust and nothingness and in his wretchedness he huddled in the utter emptiness of the desert where all was weakness and brutality and ugliness and death, but he was a simple man and under the hot sun in the dark hour of his abandonment and despair, his faith filled him.  His prayer was simple.

Deliver Us From Evil.

Then as he opened his eyes and cast a hopeless glance into the horizon, the Mexican rose to his feet, unable to believe his eyes.

The figures of the three riders were riding towards him.

“I knew you would not forsake us, senors.”

“Aw, shut up.  We’re all gonna get killed but we’re gonna take some of those sons of bitches with us.”

The sun was sinking low.

Tucker tossed the saddlebags to the ground and the silver spilled out.  “If we’re gonna melt this into bullets we better get busy, we got two hours at best.”

And they worked.  They melted the silver.  They poured it in the molds for the bullets. They dropped the molds hissing and steaming into cold water buckets.  Dumping the rounds out, they used pliers to extract the copper bullet heads from their cartridges and used the bullet press to insert the new slugs.  The hours passed swiftly.  The pile of bullets grew.  By twilight, when they had melted down all the silver and turned it into bullets they had exactly 237 rounds and daylight was a memory.

The sun dropped below the bloody horizon by the time The Guns Of Santa Sangre rode to the doors of the church.  They were draped with ammunition belts loaded with silver bullets, and each of them carried a rifle slung over their shoulder and had two pistols stuck in their holsters.

Mosca sat on the step waiting for them, his eyes like destiny.  “I said you would be back.”

“Let them people go.”

“And if we don’t?”

“We’ll kill all you son of a bitches.”

The jefe smiled ironically to himself, tossed a pebble, then rose to his feet, brushing off the seat of his pants.  “You should not have brought my mother into it, gringo.  My mother is not a bitch.  She heard how you insulted her and she is very angry. She is here now.  With us.  Look.”  Mosca pointed to the sky and the full moon on the rise, an omnipresent white orb looming like a hallucination in the feverish nocturnal desert atmosphere.  The gunslingers saw the moon but looked quickly back to the bandit leader, whose voice had disturbingly changed, becoming guttural and coarse.  “Mi madre ve y oye todos, she sees and hears all.  My mother, the mother of my men and I, is the moon and we are her children, comprende?  The children of the night.  Los ninos de la noche.  She is full.  I love her.  Amor a mi madre.  Tonight she shall enjoy watching as you die very very badly, gringos.”

Bodie, Fix and Tucker looked around and realized that while Mosca was talking, fifteen bandits had quietly surrounded them like prowling coyotes, closing off the road up the hill.  Tall, hulking shadows lurked in the pale moonlight and their eyes seemed to be glowing red.

Mosca grinned, flashing his rows of gold teeth.  He closed his mouth, smiling, working his jaw, his tongue moving inside his cheeks.  Then he put his hand on his mouth and spat something into it.  Reaching out his fist, he opened that hand and in his palm were a pile of gold teeth.  The gunfighters looked at the bandit leader who looked back at them, his mouth opening as his lips pulled back in his fat face revealing rows of toothless gums. Then, before their eyes, new teeth pushed through the gums, sharp and white and canine.

To be continued…

100 FEET on DVD & Blue Ray!

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Eric Red: “I’m excited to announce that we’ve just completed the state of the art Blu-Ray and standard DVD release of “100 FEET” that presents the full immersive experience of the film for maximum scary impact for audiences. It is unrated and uncut. The film has never looked or sounded better. It is presented in widescreen 2:35 and 5.1 Surround Sound and the DVD will blow you out of your seat. The disk is fully director approved.

The official wide release of the “100 FEET” DVD will have its street date in the next few months once we’ve completed the extensive Special Features section. The SE will include a director and cast commentary, deleted scenes, storyboards, and a behind the scenes making of documentary, and the extras will kick serious ass. In the meantime, this Tuesday 04/28, the Blu-Ray and standard DVD will be available exclusively at Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery.”

NOTE: 100 FEET will also premiere this Sunday on the Sci-Fi Channel.

The Guns of Santa Sangre Part 1!

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Eric Red: For a little something different I give you, “THE GUNS OF SANTA SANGRE”… This is a werewolf western, a tale told in three parts, with a new chapter appearing on the site every two weeks. This isn’t a movie, isn’t a comic, it’s a serial, like the old pulp novels used to be.  It’s kind of an experiment, but hopefully a fun one.

The story is 100 proof action western with some pretty twisted and nasty spins of lycanthrope lore.  Hell, even Fallon said he was disturbed, so we must be doing something right, eh folks?  It’s not for kids. Each chapter will feature a vivid dime novel cover graphic by ace production illustrator and concept designer John Gallagher who provides the startling visual accompaniment to our horror horse opera.

So saddle up and ride hard for the full moon, gang!

Story: Eric Red
Art: John Gallagher


“We are poor,” the Mexican peasant said, “we have no money to pay.”  He stood humbly, sunburnt head bowed, feet bare, holding his straw hat contritely.  “They have killed our women and children.  This is not the worst of it, senors.  They have taken over the church.  In our village, our church was Santa Tomas, but now the people call it Santa Sangre.  Saint Blood.  These who have come, they drink our blood, eat our flesh, they are men that walk like wolves.  Will you help us, please?”

The gunfighter looked at the other two gunslingers.  He spit tobacco juice in the dust and spun the cylinder of his revolver.  “What’s in it for us?”


“Thought you said you didn’t have no money.”

“It is the silver in the church.  Plates.  Statues.  A fortune, senor.”

“It belongs to the church.”

“The church of Santa Sangre now belongs to them, senor.”

“So we kill them for you, we take the silver, that it?”

“You will need the silver.  You will need it to kill them, senor.  You must melt it down into bullets that you shoot through their hearts.  It is the only way to destroy the werewolf.  What silver is left after you kill them, you may keep.”

“How many?”


“We’ll think about it.”

“But you must leave now.  Tonight is the full moon.”

The gunslinger they called Tucker studied his spurs, then looked laconically sideways at the gunman known as Fix and the other gunfighter Bodie.  Bodie shrugged.  Tucker rose to his feet and grinned down at the peasant.  “Hell, we got nothing better to do today.”

The four riders rode out.

It was a three-hour ride to Santa Sangre.

It was mid morning

They had ten hours till sundown.

None of the three gunfighters bought the Mexican’s story.

Except the part that there was a church and it had silver.

If it was there, it was there for the taking.

Sangre was the Mexican word for blood.  The superstitious peasant had said the name of their church had been changed to Santa Sangre because of something terrible that had happened there and the gunslingers demanded to know what they were going up against.  They were told it was the werewolves that had changed the name of the church.  It was they who called it Santa Sangre, in honor of their God.

On the long hot ride, the peasant told the gunmen his tale.  His village was in a small valley in Durango, below the church of Santa Tomas.  They were farmers and the crops had been meager this year.  It had been exactly one month ago on night of the full moon when the town first heard the baying howls out on the mesas they knew were not coyotes.  Coyotes yipped, but these wolves bayed, an unholy sound that curdled the blood and seemed to come from everywhere.  The people huddled fearfully in their huts.  The dogs in the town barked feverishly until the howls grew ever louder and the strongest dog cowed.  The moon hung like a great silver platter, more omnipresent than before.  Out in the mesas, the howling surrounded them.  So the men of the village gathered their rifles and stood outside their houses, protecting their wives and young from what was to come.

The Priest had prolonged their lives by bringing them into the church. That the pastor made all of the men leave their guns and machetes outside the church quickened their deaths, but those weapons would not have saved them in the end.  He gathered his flock and against the protests of the more macho farmers had cajoled and begged and led his congregation into the chapel, where he had bolted the doors with a heavy wood beam.  They gathered in the pews and he took the altar and led his town in prayer.  From outside the stone and wood church, the roars of the wolves shook the night. The people lit candles that flickered gleaming on the rows of silver candlesticks and silver plates and silver statues of the Blessed Virgin that adorned the nave.  They were a devout congregation and all extra money went into manufacturing these offerings to their Lord.  The people knelt and prayed, huddling together for safety as they heard the muffled howls and roars outside the walls growing ever louder until the stained glass windows rattled.

Then all at once the windows exploded inwards and surging wind from the outside snuffed out the candles.  In the sudden darkness came the man-sized, hairy shapes leaping through the shattering glass, moonlight gleaming on their furry talons, rows of white fangs and red eyes.  The werewolves were too many to count as they fell on the praying villagers in the pews, ripping them limb from limb.  The Priest was the first to die, his head shorn from his shoulders rolling over and over down the aisle spraying blood on the pews as a wolfman sunk its powerful jaws into the pastor’s decapitated but still thrashing body, dug into his ribcage, and chewed out his beating heart.  It was pandemonium.  Through the broken windows the ghastly glow from the full moon poured onto the nightmare tableau like stage lighting of a play by Satan.  Fangs snapped strung with blood and meat.  Red eyes glinted in the darkness.  Huge muscled and tailed hairy figures dragged the villagers to the ground and fed.  The women were stripped of their clothes by claws that raked over their nakedness as the werewolves violently ravished them before eating them.  The massive canine haunches of the beasts pounded themselves between the women’s thighs and pulverized their womanhood even as they tore out their throats.  Children were swallowed whole.  The church was bathed in blood and guts during the unspeakable savagery.  Screams and roars and rending flesh and bone became a deafening symphony of death echoing in the recesses of the rural church.

A handful of peasant men, cowarded by the carnage, abandoned their dying wives and children and pried loose the wooden beam that blocked the door, fleeing into the night.  The unlucky few that grabbed their rifles and machetes and rushed back into the church to shoot or hack the werewolves soon discovered the uselessness of such weaponry against creatures such as these, and those unfortunates swiftly joined the dead, dying and devoured.  As the others ran for their lives away from the church and back to the village for their horses, they did not look back but could hear the awful roars and the screams and the ripping of meat and that was enough.

When the cowards reached the stables they found their horses disemboweled, the dead animals submerged in a lake of blackish blood filling the corral.  The men knew they would only be able to flee the werewolves on foot.  But when they looked back up the hill to the defiled church, they saw the big four legged shapes up on their haunches watching them, red eyes warning them to stay put.

They stayed put.

Just before dawn the werewolves retreated into Santa Sangre and the church doors were closed.  Such was their fear, the surviving townsmen had remained frozen in place in the stables, some soiling themselves, too afraid to budge.

The full moon waned and a pale sun rose.

As it did, the men heard strange and frightening new sounds come from inside Santa Sangre.  Howls of wolves became cries of men, as flesh and bones tore and cracked amidst violent thrashing and thumping noises.  The villagers had wondered with desperate hope if the werewolves were dying or dead.  By then the sun was full up and all sounds within Santa Sangre ceased as the men stood below in the village watching the too quiet church.  Then a creak as the doors opened.

The bandits stepped out into broad daylight.

The big men were bearded, longhaired, swarthy, scarred, and filthy.  Their faces and hands were smeared with dried blood and all were naked.  The bandits commanded two of the village men to walk one mile southwest and bring them the horses with their clothes that were tethered there.  The men of the town debated in urgent whispers whether to find more rifles and shoot these fiends who now were of human shape.  Naked, unarmed and perhaps vulnerable.  As if in reply to their question, they heard the anguished sobs of women that the villagers grimly recognized as the cries of their daughters.  The bandits dragged out five naked young women through the doors of Santa Sangre, their bosoms and buttocks nude and bleeding from scratches, blood streaming down to their feet from between their legs from unimaginable violations.  The wolves who now were men clenched the women in front of themselves like body shields, the animalistic fiends grinning sadistically in the hot daylight.  The bandits rubbed themselves obscenely against the hindquarters of the girls, becoming aroused, and lapped their tongues in their victim’s ears.  The girls’ eyes begged their fathers to save and not abandon them, tears flowing down their bloody cheeks and the villagers below knew that they would do the werewolves bidding now and forever. Whatever that may be.

For the next four weeks after the bandits had taken and occupied the church now called Santa Sangre, the villagers had done the werewolves bidding and become their slaves.  They had brought the bandits food, clothes, and drink.  When the food ran out, one brave but foolish peasant had offered his life for his daughter and walked up the long hill like a condemned man to the gallows through the front doors of the church and was never seen again.  At night the villagers lay awake and wept and listened to the sobbing of their wives and children from the chapel below the shadowed steeple of Santa Sangre.

And they watched the moon grow fuller night by night, until the peasant left to find a few brave gunfighters who would help them rout this scourge.

They would be The Guns Of Santa Sangre.

These were bad men themselves.

Tucker, Bodie and Fix were fugitives who had been run out of the United States where all three had murder warrants on their heads.  For years they had ridden out west with the cattle rustling syndicate known as The Cowboys, American’s first example of organized crime.  They had made many runs across the Tex/Mex border, stealing cows from the Mexican ranchers and herding them across the border into New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona where the beef was sold on the cheap to the cattlemen and businesses of frontier towns like Tombstone.  The three gunslingers had shot many men during the illegal cattle raids including several Federales who had recently dogged the Cowboys.  The U.S. had started clamping down on the lawlessness, and when a Government posse intercepted the gang of Cowboys and told them to surrender the herd, several of the Cowboys had opened fire on the lawmen.  Tucker, Bodie and Fix had not hesitated drawing their pistols and shooting down the members of their own gang to stop them from killing the Marshalls.  They had taken the wounded Government men to a town and seen they got medical attention, but the hard eyes of the wounded Marshalls had the gunfighters’ faces etched in memory and the law would be coming after them.  A Cowboy was a Cowboy.  So Tucker, Fix and Bodie rode that night for the border, not stopping until their horses’ hooves had splashed through the waters of the Rio Grande and they crossed safely over into Mexico.  They vowed they would ride no more with the gang of killers and thieves called The Cowboys, or do that kind of work.

Even bad men had their good points.

But they meant to steal the silver, not waste it on bullets.

Bad men were also bad.

The gunfighters rode together with the peasant across the dusty desert of Durango under the burning sun on the road to Santa Sangre.  The full moon hung faint as a ghost in the cloudless sky on the horizon, like a portent.

In the late morning, the riders stopped to rest their horses in a shady mesquite ravine by a burbling creek.  Tucker, Bodie and Fix wetted down their animals.  Passing a flask of whisky, they took pulls and watched the peasant in rags who sat on a rock praying desperately to a cross on a string of beads in his hands.  “The Mexican’s a fool, either ignorant or crazy,” said Fix.

“It’s easy money, boys,” said Bodie.

“We don’t even know there is any silver,” Tucker pointed out.

They looked at each other.  Bodie shook his head.  “That town has come up against something that’s for sure.  That man is scared shitless, no lie.  I say he’s telling us the truth, or what he thinks he is.  Likely, it’s just bandits.  Bad ones.”

“I got no problem killing bandits.  But we’re keeping the silver.  Our regular rounds should do them vermin right nicely.”

“Then we keep all the silver.  Ignorant peasants won’t know the difference.”

The bad men drank to that.

They reached Santa Sangre by noon.

The four men rode over the ridge overlooking the village.  Tucker, Bodie and Fix told the Mexican to stay put, drew their guns and dropped from their saddles onto the dirt into a low crouch and moved swiftly to the edge of the embankment to survey the scene and get the lay of the land.  Peering over the edge, the gunfighters scoped out the town in the valley below.  It was a impoverished settlement of adobe huts with thatch roofs, a well, a corral, and barns.  A poor, humble town like countless others in Durango.  Tumbleweed and dust blew.  On the other side of the basin was a hill upon which sat the church that had come to be known as Santa Sangre.  It was a wood and white pueblo construction with a steeple and iron mission bell.  The large oaken doors were wide open.

Down on the desolate streets of the town, a few figures on horseback trotted and milled amidst a few scraggy chickens.  The gunfighters squinted in the sun to make the interlopers out.  The riders were clearly men, not wolves, although they were hairy and feral, with beards and long hair.  Their clothes were baggy and loose fitting and they carried many guns with rifles slung over their shoulders and pistols hanging out of holsters on leather belts.  Some wore sombreros, some didn’t.  None wore boots and all were barefoot in their stirrups.  No villagers were in sight.  Tucker looked at his fellow gunmen.  “Those look like ordinary men to me.”

Bodie surveyed the area, fingering his Sharps rifle.  “I make out about twenty horses tied to the back of that church.  The rest of those son of a bitches must be in the mission.  We’re gonna need to get past them to get the silver out of there.”

“What our move?” Fix looked to Tucker as they usually did.

“Let’s ride down and take out the bandits in the town,” Tucker said. “The other bandits will have to come through the church door to get us, n’ if we dig in we can pick ‘em off as they come out.”

“This’ll be a good kill.”

They gunfighters got back in their horses, but the peasant wanted them to ride with him first a short ways down an arroyo on the near side of the ridge.  The trail led to a small brick building of the local blacksmith’s shop.  Sledgehammers, anvils, kilns, and chains littered the dirt floor of the shed.  “When you get the silver, senors, you must bring it here and we will melt it down to make the bullets,” the Mexican said as he showed them a bullet making press beside the big cast iron pot heating over the wooden fire.

“Yeah, sure, right.”  The gunfighters threw one another bemused glances, humoring the peasant, because none of the three gunmen believed the story about wolfmen or the silver bullets that were required to kill them.  They told the peasant to wait for them here and when they got the silver they would return.

“Good luck,” said the Mexican.  Good luck was right, because none of the gunfighters had any intention of coming back.

If or when they got any silver, they would be long gone.

The sun was high and brutally hot.  The gunfighters rode fearlessly into the town and through the adobe huts and corrals of the village that was quiet as a cemetery.  Five bandits rode their horses around the area eyeballing them.  The big hairy men in the loose fitting clothes and cut off vests were armed to the teeth in their dusty weathered saddles, their shirts open showing the black hair on their unwashed chests.  Swarming flies buzzed around them.  Their horses seemed cowed and fearful of their owners, eyes wide with fear.  Tucker, Bodie and Fix just kept riding, like nothing was happening.  More bandits appeared as if out of nowhere.  Now there were ten.  The gunfighters rode on through the town, hands near their pistols, waiting for the bandits to make a move, but the slimy banditos just watched them curiously, and assembled.

“Wolves who walk like men my ass,” chuckled Bodie.  “These are just plain old banditos boys.  But I can see how the villagers might’ve gotten that impression bein’ as these varmints are mangier than coyotes.”

“We don’t need to waste the silver on bullets, that’d be too good for ‘em.”

“There’s sure a lot of  ‘em,” said Tucker.

Then all of a sudden the jefe was right in front of them, straddling his horse and blocking their way.  Mosca was a huge, fat Mexican man with long hair and ammunition belts crisscrossing his chest who looked very strong, despite his girth.  “What are you doing, here, senors?”  He said in a gravely sing song voice, grinning wide to reveal a full mouthful of gold teeth glinting in the sun.

“Just riding through,” said Tucker, holding Mosca’s visceral gaze.

“You can ride lots of places, yet you are here.”

“It’s a place as good as any.”

Another bandito rode up.  This one held himself to his saddle with just his powerful knees, because his hands were occupied gripping the naked ass of a nude village girl facing him in the saddle, his hands pumping her buttocks slowly and deeply up and down on his hips.  His was not wearing pants.  The unclad girl submitted passively to her rape, her body lacerated with bleeding cuts, sore and bruises from being scratched and chewed.  Her bare breasts hung against his chest, arms draped to her sides, head limp on his shoulder, eyes wide and glazed, brutalized past caring.  Tucker, Bodie and Fix watched the spectacle in disgust, the true horror of the situation sinking in.  The bandit eyeballed them with a drooling grin as he finished with the girl, holding fistfuls of her butt, slapping her hips onto his harder and harder as he started to grunt and his thighs tightened and veins in his neck bulged as he roared with release.  The gunfighters stared on in utter mortification, fingers tickling the stocks of their holstered pistols.  Holding their gaze, the bandit slowly smiled, getting hard again inside the girl, and holding her limp thighs, starting humping her in the saddle slowly and lustfully all over again.

The three gunslingers regarded one another with cold murder.

Mosca grinned at them with a wide mouth of gold teeth.  “Come with us, amigos. Drink.  Be friendly.”  He smelled like a dog.

Tucker kept his eyes on the bandits who now surrounded them on all sides, tightening his horse up next to Fix and Bodie’s saddles.  Leaning in, he scratched his nose and whispered.  “I savvy we get inside that church see if that silver is there at all and this ain’t no big goose chase.”  His companions nodded slowly.

Tucker looked at Mosca and tipped his hat.  “Lead the way.”

To be continued…