Published on September 20th, 2012 | by John6
A sneak peak at… Jackson ‘Red’ Horne – the novel
Books are great, aren’t they. Total escapism. Some make you laugh, some bring a shiver to your spine while others have the power to make you ponder life and all its bits and pieces. Some even have pictures which you can colour in.
I like those ones best.
And DOOM has the privilege of presenting a sneak-peek of JK’s (writer and illustrator of Sam Legion) first published novel, Six Guns South Part One.
We have it. It’s here. I’m chuffed! So make a warm drink and nestle down. We’d like you to meet Jackson ‘Red’ Horne…
June 1946. A stolen Chinese freighter sails into the Port of Houston, on board are four soldiers, written off as dead following a covert mission into the forests of Siberia. They quietly accept a hero’s welcome but they never talk about what they’ve seen. They never mention the things they’ve done. The people back home would never believe them. After the fanfare dies down and the ticker tape falls to the ground, they slip back into live less than ordinary- a doctor, a lawyer, a business man, and a cop.
Nearly ten years pass…
Sheriff Benjamin Hoyle is dead, gruesomely murdered on his sister’s front lawn as the day broke on a summer Sunday. A pillar of society and beloved war hero, Hoyle was a man of unimpeachable character- a fair hand in dispensing law, tirelessly committed to keeping the peace and promoting his community.
No one in the sleepy west Texas cow town of Six Guns South could wrap their minds around his death. He had fought his way across Europe and the Pacific without a scratch. To be shot in the head while visiting his widowed sister before church was unimaginable.
But a man’s character is defined by what he does when he thinks no one is looking. And as the investigation digs deeper into the sheriff’s past, more questions are found than answers and the dead bodies begin to stack up like cord wood. What did Ben Hoyle and his men do on that last mission, deep into the Asian continent? Who is hunting down the survivors of that mission and killing them? Why does the military want the investigation stopped, swept away and forgotten?
To Captain Andrew Jackson ‘Red’ Horne, the task should be simple- hunt the killer down and bring him to justice.
But it’s never that easy.
A government agency that does not exist, a man long ago left for dead, and the skeletons in his own closet dog the Ranger’s every step as the murder investigation takes him to the ends of the earth… and beyond.
Six Guns South Book One, Part One: Dead Men Walking is released 2 October.
Thursday August 17, 1955
The Stylemaster chewed through the farm roads and highways with ease but Red couldn’t help but think he was going to be too late. The sky was turning red and the sun was slipping. He could see lights of the refineries on the edge of southeastern horizon fast becoming visible in the gloaming twilight. With the windows rolled down, he could smell the distinct odor of sulphur on the gulf breeze blowing in across Texas City and Pasadena.
He hated Houston.
The sedan slid to a stop in front of the Gulf Building on the corner of Capitol and Main Street. Red jumped from the car, hurrying inside. The offices had closed at five pm, but as the wheels of industry know no time clock, many people were still coming and going.
The directory in the lobby indicated Brown Coastal and Refining occupied the top four floors- a far cry from the warehouse Lucas Brown was working out of last time Red met the man, some three years ago. A doorman tried to stop him but the Ranger kept on moving into the elevators. He mashed the button for the top and waited for the car to ascend the 37 floors.
Red stepped into the BC&R lobby and immediately went into a crouch. He could see a pair of very fine looking legs laid out on the floor behind the reception desk. He crept to the woman and was relieved to find her only unconscious, a nasty bruise on her temple. Red lightly smacked the woman’s cheek, but the best he could get out her was a slight moan. She had apparently been in the process of leaving when her assailants came in- her purse was on the floor next to her crumpled coat and her keys were clutched loosely in her hand. Red folded the coat around the purse and put the bundle under the woman’s head. It was the best he could do for her at the moment.
He found a set of stairs and sprinted to the top floor. Lucas Brown’s office should be up there, if Red’s intuition was right. He carefully opened the stairwell door an inch or two and listened for a moment. Down the hall, on the west side of the building, he could hear shouts and random gunfire. It sounded like a standoff.
In the back of his mind, he wondered why he couldn’t hear the fighting before exiting the stairs…
Red drew his 1911 from its holster and checked the magazine and the chamber. With the two extra mags in his back pocket, he had twenty two rounds. Should be more than enough, he thought to himself as he stalked towards the firefight.
Lucas Brown’s office occupied the southwest corner of the thirty-seventh floor. There was one door in, one door out. In his personal secretary’s office, three men, Section Eleven goons, were trying to shoot their way in to Brown. They were barricaded behind a heavy mahogany desk, taking pot shots with revolvers. Every time one of them tried to make a move, a shotgun blast would erupt from the office, sending sprays of buckshot and mahogany flying. Two bodies already lie motionless between the upturned desk and the corner office. Red could hear the oilman shouting from the darkened office.
“You bastards seriously think you’re going to take me down? ‘Disappear’ me? I’m Lucas Mother Fucking Brown! I turned down the CMH for killing bastards more worthy of dying than you! You should have brought more than five guys to take me down, you secret squirrel motherfuckers! I’ll kill every Goddamned last one on of you!” Three more rounds of 00-Buck tore through the room punctuating Brown’s last epithet, but in the deafening silence that followed the barrage, everyone could hear the audible click of the twelve gauge dry-firing.
Luke Brown was empty.
As the three surviving attackers jumped up, Red came around the corner, gun raised, ready to put the men down. But then Lucas Brown stepped out of the shadows, carrying a Browning Automatic Rifle. The Ranger dove for cover just as the oilman opened up. The spooks were blown to pieces by a hail of .30-06 slugs. Blood and gore splattered the room, covering everything. Lucas Brown was red from head to toe, smiling like a madman, a fat cigar clamped between his teeth, its aromatic smoke mingling with the stench of gunpowder and death that swirled in the air.
“Anybody else want some?”
Red slowly stepped out from around the corner, both hands raised. Luke’s finger tightened on the trigger, but he relaxed when he recognized the Texas Ranger.
“’Bout goddamn time you got here, Captain Jack. I thought you were coming by on Monday.”
Red put his hands down, hooking his thumbs in his belt, surveying the carnage. “Something came up.”
The oilman slung the BAR over his shoulder and took the cigar out of his mouth. He was about to speak when the lights went out, plunging the interior office into darkness. Red instinctively drew his weapon.
“We need to get out of here. Now.”
“No arguments there, Captain.”
Before the men could move for the stairs, all the windows looking out of Luke Brown’s corner office exploded inward, raining glass across the desk and chairs. Luke spun around, bringing his BAR to bear. Red assumed a fighting stance just outside the room but he couldn’t get a clear line of fire past the oilman into the office- the setting sun was shining right through into the Rangers eyes. All he could make out was a figure in black standing on the giant oak desk in the center of the room.
“You…” Luke whispered to the figure standing as if in judgment, Red could smell the fear rolling off the man- the burly ex-soldier had soiled himself.
The figure in black spread his arms out in front of him, fingers outstretched like the talons of some great bird of prey. Blue flames licked from the man’s fingertips, coalescing in his palms before shooting forth like lightning, exploding all the sprinkler heads in the ceiling. A sheet of water cascaded down over everything in the office.
Luke Brown, soaked in blood and water and his own filth, begin to visibly tremble and shake. The BAR slipped from his hands as his arms pulled in towards his chest, his fists balled so tight, Red swore he saw blood streaming from between the fingers. Incredibly, unbelievably, the man assumed a fetal position, floating in midair, faintly glowing with a purple sheen as the water continued to rain down from the ceiling. Luke Brown made a thin keening through his clenched teeth that crescendoed into a howling wail as the shaking became more violent.
And suddenly, with an audible pop, the man was gone.
Red only waited half a second before his jaw snapped shut and he emptied eight rounds of forty-five auto into the figure standing on the desk. But the man just laughed, leaping backwards out the window as the hot slugs punched through his chest. The Ranger reloaded as he ran through the broken glass, emptying another seven rounds into the man as he fell to street, nearly four hundred feet below.
When he hit the pavement, the man got up, nonchalantly dusting himself off as he walked into the shadows and disappeared from sight- his laughter hanging in the air like the sulphur stink of the refineries to the south.
Red hated coming to Houston.
Six Guns South Book One, Part One: Dead Men Walking
Released 2 October.
Exclusive release on Amazon Kindle (other formats will become available before the end of the year) 99¢ American. Stay tuned for details.