Authors: Edward M. Erdelac
Tags: #Merkabah Rider, #Weird West, #Cthulhu, #Supernatural, #demons, #Damnation Books, #Yuma, #shoggoth, #gunslinger, #Arizona, #Horror, #Volcanic pistol, #Mythos, #Adventure, #Apache, #angels, #rider, #Lovecraft, #Judaism, #Xaphan, #Nyarlathotep, #Geronimo, #dark fantasy, #Zombies, #succubus, #Native American, #Merkabah, #Ed Erdelac, #Lilith, #Paranormal, #weird western, #Have Glyphs Will Travel, #pulp, #Edward M. Erdelac
The Merkabah Rider
Have Glyphs Will Travel
Episodes 9 - 13
Edward M. Erdelac
Adonai and my family, and to the fan club.
thanks to the boundlessly imaginative and talented Jeff Carter, who is always
ready with a bucket of creative turpentine whenever I paint myself into a
pride myself on adhering to a timeline, but in this volume I have necessarily
taken some liberties in history both real and imagined. It’s likely that
Josephine Marcus had already left Tombstone well before May 26, 1882, but I
thought she and the Rider ought to get to say their goodbyes.
Table of Contents:
For Episodes one through four, see
Rider: Tales of a High Planes Drifter
by Edward M. Erdelac; for Episodes
five through eight, see
Merkabah Rider: The Mensch With No Name
from Damnation Books.
Episode Nine -
The Rider and Kabede had been
pursued for four days across barren sand and blasted rock. In all that time,
they dared to stop for more than a few minutes, and then only when the animals
On the second day, Kabede’s donkey
refused to budge and they left it behind. Kabede hung his goods on either end
of the Rod of Aaron, and put it across his shoulders. The Rider’s onager,
however, proceeded with commendable resolve, more than the Rider himself could
It seemed foolish not to take turns
riding the animal, particularly because the Rider was still in a greatly
weakened state, but he obstinately adhered to his Essenic vow against burdening
the beast until he collapsed on the morning of the third day. Kabede lifted him
bodily onto the onager’s back. From then on, the Rider sagged on the hard,
rolling shoulders of the animal, and Kabede led them on foot.
The Rider wasn’t quite as bad off
physically as he had been after their first meeting. The scant two days of
oblivious rest beneath the protection of the Staff of Aaron, free of Lilith’s
nightmares and nursed on hot broth and clean water had helped him some. His
triumph over her gibbering minions at the torreón had in turn succored his
spirit. Yet, he was only human, and even Kabede, who was in perfect health, was
showing the strain of their flight.
At first they had gone with some
speed, and the Rider estimated the horde of walking dead had fallen a day
behind them. They did not increase their pace, though the three men on
horseback who drove them could have easily left the mob behind and overtaken
them at any time. Instead the traitorous riders maintained their easy lope at
the rear of the mob, like sleepless nighthawks, never changing speed.
On the third day, Kabede, looking
through the telescoping spyglass, swore to the Rider that the number of their
pursuers had doubled.
Later that day The Rider and Kabede
passed a tiny ranchero on the edge of the desert, nestled at the foot of a
narrow mountain pass.
That was when they saw why.
They had steered towards it,
thinking to mount a defense there, but DeKorte split from the group on
horseback and went ahead, skirting them by a few miles and then cutting in. He
rode in like a bolt of lightning and they watched helplessly from afar as he slaughtered
the Mexican family there, his gun cracking clearly across the distance, cutting
down a woman on the porch, a skinny boy at the well, and a man who came running
out of the stable. Through the spyglass they watched him swing down from the
saddle of his white horse and disappear into the house. His pistol snapped a
few more times. They could not tell what he did to the bodies, but he spent a
few minutes over each of the corpses in the yard, and then mounted and rode
back to the ‘herd.’ In a matter of moments three adults and a brood of four
teetering children slowly, mechanically rose and followed him, joining the
animated dead of Escopeta and the Lord only knew what others they had gathered
Jeroen DeKorte was formerly of the
Amsterdam enclave of the Sons of the Essenes. The Rider had known him by
reputation as Het Bot, the name the man had chosen, as all Merkabah Riders did,
to confound hostile spirits. It meant ‘The Bone,’ and was a reference to the
one indestructible bone all men were said to have in their bodies, the
, from which it was said that HaShem
will resurrect the body for its new life in the world to come, like a tree from
a lowly acorn.
The French rider, Alain Gans, was
called Le Bouclier, ‘The Buckler.’ Neither the Rider nor Kabede knew much about
him other than his name and that he was once of the Owernah enclave in Alsaice.
The last renegade the Rider knew
personally, or had known him prior to his betrayal. Upon the Rider’s return to
San Francisco after the War Between the States, he had been one of the two
German riders who had confronted and attacked him, believing him responsible
for the destruction of the American enclave. He was known in German as Das
Schwert, or ‘The Sword.’ Kabede, who as the secret keeper of the Order’s Book
of Life knew all their true names, called him Pinchas Jacobi, late of the
Jacobi had nearly killed the Rider
that time. He was fast, and not prone to discourse. Jacobi had dealt him a
wicked wound with a mystical iron short sword that had nearly dislodged the
Rider’s soul from his body, and had rendered him delirious almost the entire
journey from San Francisco to Ein Gedi. That encounter had given the Rider the
idea of weaponizing his own talismans in the golden Volcanic pistol he now
Only the intervention of Jacobi’s
brother rider, a soft voiced man called The Dove had saved him. The Dove had
nursed him on the journey, and stayed Jacobi from killing him. The Dove was
dead now, probably at the hands of Adon, maybe even Jacobi himself.
Adon’s crime begat more crimes.
Murder upon murder. Heaps of bodies. But it was the Rider who shouldered the
guilt. Everywhere he went the killing hands of Adon’s plot sought him, and
crushed the guilty and the innocent alike.
This multitude of dead shuffling
along behind them, driving them into the deepest part of the desert, forcing
them to keep from all human contact, was like the embodied shades of all the
deaths the Rider had caused by his own failures-his failure to recognize Adon’s
treacherous nature, his failure in leading Adon to the secret enclaves of the
Order, and his chief failure in not being able to find his former teacher and
put an end to him.
In the early morning light of this,
their fourth day, they had come to the far edge of the desert valley, and
reached an old rutted road that wound up another pass through the mountains—the
only other gap they had seen in the impenetrable ring of sky-besieging stone
that encircled the hellish Valle del Torreón.
Having no other recourse, Kabede led
them onto the road and up the incline as the Rider dozed on the onager’s back.
The Rider daydreamed, or rather, he
reminisced, his mind wandering back through the years to the war, something he
had not given much thought to in a long time. Maybe it was the rhythm of the
riding, something he had not felt beneath him in the years since he had renewed
his Essenic vows.
He recalled his stuffy woolen sack
coat and Gideon, the palomino that had carried him through the thunder and the
gun smoke at Glorieta Pass, Westport, and Mine Creek. He daydreamed of clinking
tack and creaking saddle leather, the snapping of Gideon’s creamy mane on his
knuckles as he bent low to use his twitching ears as a sight for his Remington,
the heaving of the horse’s golden flanks against the insides of his knees and
the final buck in his gun hand as a ballyhooing rebel fell off the back of his
onrushing sorrel and tumbled behind, one boot tangled in the taut stirrup.
To ride had been a glorious thing
then, and though he was ashamed to think of it now, the rapidity with which he
had learned to kill from the saddle had emboldened him in his youth. He had
taken to it quite well. His aptitude had increased his sense of self-worth,
turning him from a strange, nebbish pariah among his hard and mainly Christian
comrades to a respected soldier. Belden had called him a natural born yellow
He found himself smiling, not for
the soldier he had been, but in thinking of the friend he’d had. Corporal Dick
Belden, of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, who had taught him to ride and pitch a
stone with equal mastery.
He realized the familiar piping that
wended in his ears was not a dream.
He sat bolt upright when he heard
the brisk rattle of a military drum accompanying it, and rubbed his eyes and
strained to focus on the music.
The words came into his mind:
old soldier, poor old soldier.
ever I ‘list for a soldier again,
devil shall be my sergeant.
It was the Rogue’s March, the tune
played as a disgraced soldier was drummed out of the service.
They were halfway up the
mountainside now, where the incline leveled to a series of wide, flat shelves
and a ridge overlooking the valley. They were passing a small cemetery ringed
with stacked stones when he abandoned his memories. He could see adobe
buildings further up the trail, and sod houses with thatch roofs. All were
arranged around an area swept bare of stone and construct, but for one
weathered pole that stood twenty feet against the sky. A faded red white and
blue banner hung there, limp as a rag put out haphazardly to dry.
It was a military outpost. Small,
and probably not even a full-fledged fort, but definitely manned.
Kabede looked back at him, his dark
“We’ve got to turn back,” the Rider
croaked, for they had not spoken much in the past week.
“The animal must rest,” Kabede said.
The Rider’s shoulders sagged with
fatigue and the burden of knowing they must involve whoever they met in the
death struggle they were about to enact. But these were soldiers. Surely if
they must stand beside someone, this was better than holing up in some poor
family’s house. Fighting was their occupation, after all.
This was what he told himself as
Kabede turned back to the road and pulled the shuffling onager along. But of
course, fighters or not, this was no fight of theirs, and who knew what they
were up against for that matter. The Rider had faced reanimated corpses before,
but he had no idea what the capabilities of Adon’s riders were. What dark magic
did they now command? With what boon had Adon enticed them away from the Sons
of the Essenes?
He catalogued his own abilities,
knowing they shared his and Kabede’s training. They could attack them in the
at the very least. They
could forcibly possess the physical form of anyone they chose. Further, the
undead army could disrupt his and Kabede’s countermeasures in the astral realm
simply by occupying their physical attention in this one.
His heart sank in his chest. Already
he regretted having taken Kabede with him. How many of these soldiers would die
for their visit?
As they reached the landing and the
outskirts of the post, they saw the lines of men in blue wool lined up on the
dismal parade ground. There weren’t many. Maybe a hundred, hundred and fifty.
Not even a full battalion.