The Dark of the Moon carries the unfolding story of Diablo Canyon to the next level. While there is the supernatural in it, there are also very real physical dangers. Everything is escalating. What is behind that?
Myra needs a champion. She needs to find joy again in life. And just maybe she needs to again be joined with her family. Pace Emerson might just bring her all three.
Snippet here is phone conversation while Pace is out on the range as he reports to the man who had paid to have him sent to Billings:
It was almost noon before Pace finally found a place the cell phone had bars. He got off Joe to walk around a little and stretch his muscles, the forty head he’d been gathering would meander toward the ranch buildings. These older animals knew the drill.
“Morgan?” he asked when the voice said hello. “Emerson here.”
“Why the hell haven’t I heard from you before this?”
“And I hope your day has been a good one too,” Pace said grinning at the man’s irritated tone.
“Look I didn’t pay the big bucks to waste time with polite niceties or the run around. What are you doing? Where the hell are you?”
“On the Box Z and rounding up Myra Farrell’s cattle. We start branding and castrating tomorrow. Wanta come around for some fun.”
He heard Cole’s low growl. “Does this relate to my brothers and the Damons? Because if it doesn’t, you’re fired.”
Pace laughed. “You’re an impatient bastard.”
“So what have you learned? Dirk said you’re the best. He’s never steered me wrong before. I came on a little hard. Just I am feeling real pressure about this. I need answers.”
“If I’d had step-brothers try to kill me, I’d be feeling it too.”
There was a hesitation. “It’s not that. I don’t know what it is. But I am thinking of coming to Billings myself.”
“If I recall, your wife is pregnant and not that far off from the baby coming. Let me handle this.”
“What if it…” He sucked in a breath. “I need to come there. I’ll bring Jessica, keep her close. There are good doctors in Billings if it comes down to it. I shouldn’t have to stay long though. Hell, tell me what you know.”
“How familiar are you with the Box Z?”
“Only vaguely. Big spread, nice piece of land, thirty or so miles south of Billings, owned by a widow?”
Pace smiled. Didn’t know much. Right! “Yeah, that’s the one. There is something here the Damons want.”
“I can’t see there being a lot of money on that land, fiefdom though it is. No big mines around there—or not that I know of.”
“It doesn’t take a big mine to have it make a fortune for some minerals that are in short supply.”
“Whoa, you think that’s what this is about?”
“When I heard what was going on, before I came out, I did some research. There is a canyon to the south, a fairly long one, that looks like it could have mineral potential. I agree with your assessment. The Box Z is a nice ranch, but not worth what the Damons seem willing to do to get it. From what I can tell they are putting a lot into acquiring it. The question is why.”
“Lowlifes. Willing to scare a nice old lady off her place. Sounds about right for my brothers. I still don’t know why the Damons hired them other than Jackson and I’ve had a few run-ins where he came out the loser.”
Pace laughed as he lit a cigarette balancing the phone on his shoulder. “You ever see Myra Farrell?”
“No, why would I?”
“Well, she’s a beautiful woman-- not any little old widow women to take advantage of. It could even be old man Damon has his sights on her. He’s been divorced three times and currently not attached.”
“He’d do that much just to get a woman?”
“I don’t rule out anything in my business. I think he’d be out of luck if that was his idea.” He considered a moment as he smoked. “Still, she’s had a lot of losses, knocked her back. I’m not particularly experienced with women. I see her with a lot of character. There’s nothing immoral about finding a man who would offer her an easier life and to keep her ranch.” Even saying the words made him feel a surge of jealousy. He was no man for a woman like her but thinking of another having her already bothered him.
“Losses?” Again a silence. “I feel like I should know her, but no reason I would. All right, so you’re working cattle for four or five days. Then what?”
“There’s been a peculiar set of predator kills out here. I need to look into that. Did you know… that is are you familiar with? Ah never mind.”
“Listen here, cowboy,” Morgan said steel in his voice. “I already am being asked to trust that you going out there to work cattle will eventually get me what I want and what I am paying Dirk to get. So whatever you know, related or not, spit it out.”
Pace took a long drag on his cigarette, leaning against his saddle as he stared toward the distant mountains. “Whatever this thing is, it’s killing her cattle, full grown animals, not calves. I've only seen the picked over remains, but Myra said it seems to drain the blood from the animal… and only eats the soft parts.”
“All right. I agree that is weird.”
“More so even—no tracks left that can be identified. If I find a fresh kill, I’ll see if I can find more than they did.”
“Would this be dangerous to the ranch buildings… to Mrs. Farrell?”
Pace could hear the worry in Cole’s voice. Strange for a man who claimed he didn’t know her.
“So far it’s just been cattle. I will know more when if I can see a fresh kill.”
“If it’s a grizzly, you got a big enough gun to bring it down?”
“I have a 30.30. What made you think grizzly?” He knew it had been on his mind also.
“It’s big enough to take down a full sized animal. Any kind of predator can form unusual patterns of killing. Sometimes there’s been a reason for it. A physical one. The boars can be forced out of the mountains by other bears. I’ve seen it before. Watch yourself and get a bigger gun.”
Pace grinned as he smoked the last of his cigarette. “I’ll let you know when I can be in Billings unless you want to come out and help Toby and me.” He laughed.
“Toby?” Again a strange sound to Cole’s voice.
“He’s Mrs. Farrell’s hired man. A nice enough kid but needs someone calling the shots to get anything done. Right now he’s not thrilled it’s me.”
“Okay, call me when you’ll be there. I’ll meet you. And on the castrating. I have done it and don’t need more blood all over me at the moment.”
Good humor finally showed in his voice. “Actually I might have a gun you should use if you go after that predator. Just in case. You know you bringing the cattle in closer to the ranch likely will bring whatever has been killing them along with them. Watch yourself.”
Trailer at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwDx-76d8RQ
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