Sometimes the greatest mysteries and horrors lie right before our eyes
Four odd hand-picked individuals, by President Lincoln, for the Bureau of Indian Affairs are sent into Indian Territory in 1865 to ‘cleanse’ it and enforce the Indian Act of 1835. The experience is seen through the eyes of the leader John Malcolm, a former bounty-hunter, who leads an ex-Confederate soldier, a Madam and a Creek shaman. This was not a routine job from the beginning, and gradually they discover why the region they explore is called No Man’s Land, and its dark and hidden secrets that sleep within. Their world will never be the same again after this journey…
One place is now cleansed as Lincoln wanted but there was a hint of more. We must now track down the family that left a month ago east across the rolling plains. They were heading to some town or settlement called Toolay. Indian Joe did not know what the word meant, he told me it was not from any language of the tribes he knew of and so we are left with another mystery.
The high prairie grass around us now seemed ominous, even in broad daylight after last night’s frightful encounter. No one tried to explain those man-like things that attacked us from the high wheat and I guess that it is for the best. The enormity of what President Lincoln hired us for appears to be growing before our eyes.
‘There is no way that we four could find and stop every Sooner settlement that we find! If there is one there must be many more. We should have an army with us!’ Ledbetter gripes.
‘No. That would bring attention to our mission here and the war is keeping any from aiding us anyway. We just need to follow whatever tracks fall our way until we are done, or as done as we can be here.’ I answer.
Ledbetter grunts in frustration. But he shouldn’t be too bitter, he had taken it upon himself to lay claim to the residents’ supply of fire-water and loaded his horse down with bottles.
Liz is quiet and so is Joe, but for what reasons I can only guess. She pruned herself at sunrise and even had taken a blue-white parasol from the widow Miss Ander before we torched their home and sent them packing. The sun is not high enough yet to be too hot but she is prepared and has it on her lap in the saddle, folded and ready.
Ledbetter tries to reason his way out of this mission again, ‘Mister Malcolm, we were sent here to be forgotten. There is no way that we can send word back to the White House or to anyone if we uncover more. I mean look at us, I am a deserter, Liz is a murderer pending trial, Joe is…well Joe and you, what are you?’
I sigh and turn to my left to speak to him, ‘I am a bounty hunter but my job changed over time and became a risk for the Union. I began doing jobs that made me commit murder instead of returning fugitives, the political word is assassinations, and my targets lead me to high ranking officials in D.C. Certain powerful people were paying me to hunt and take down other powerful people. To make a long story short Mister Ledbetter…’
‘…that’s Lt. Ledbetter remember?’ he interrupts.
‘Yes whatever you say. To make that story short, I was caught in the capital with a gun in my hand and an option. Redeem my ways by taking on this mission for the President or…be arrested and tried like a traitor to the Union. He did not send us out here blindly; we can get help if we ever need it.’ I answer back.