A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters 10 - Page 13

the stables ? The one that the beast attacked ?"
It was no time to mention that he had addressed me incorrectly , for he was correct ! I recognized the old woman , and my heart sank . " Attacked ?" Thunderboy asked , darkly . " I ' m afraid the beast may have killed her ,"
Percy said , sadly . Thunderboy stood silently for a long while , thinking . " So , it has come to this ," he said at last . " The old woman ," I began . " Mrs . Frew ? Mrs .
Littlewolf ?" " Yes ," he said , " She asked to meet us earlier this evening . She said she had a secret that she dared not speak this morning . But before we could meet her , a werewolf attacked her !"
" Yes ," Thunderboy said , perhaps irritated (?), taking the photo off the mantle . " That is my aunt . She stands with my cousin , Aaron . His father , a white man named Frew , managed construction on the railroad when it was being built . But he is long dead now ."
An odd thought struck me : There was much talk of the railroad during our investigation . Maybe a little too much to be a coincidence . When we got back to town I knew that I needed to start inquiring about anyone who might have a grudge against the railroad !
" The spirit will not want to come here , to my home ." Thunderboy said . " But perhaps it is time he did . Come , let me show you something ."
The young man led us out through the back of the yard . I was worried the wolves might reappear , but the boy was undeterred . He led us towards some gigantic white hills . I have never seen such stark hills set off from the landscape . They glowed in the moonlight … and as we approached , I understood why . They were not hills of white earth , but piles of bones . And as we
got closer , to my great horror , I discovered that they were piles of all the same bone , the skull . For what must have been a mile , buffalo skulls stood stacked into the sky .
" What is this ?" I asked , appalled . Percy looked on , the gears in his mind grinding .
" This is the legacy of the railroad ," Thunderboy said , leading us through the halls of animal remains towards a small group of people around a fire in the distance . " Once my people hunted the buffalo . It gave its life so that we could live ."
I had heard that the American Indians drove buffalo off cliffs , killing hundreds and leaving them to rot in the sun . But compared to that , the waste before me seemed unfathomable . But then I stood corrected as he continued , " We used the hide of the buffalo for shelter and warmth , but the railroad made people want it for show . Train cars packed with people would lean out the windows and shoot the buffalo as the train passed . They abandoned the dead animals to rot in the sun , hundreds to a pile . We used the bones of the buffalo for tools , but the trains brought men who gathered the bones in piles as great as these to grind into bone meal . Our source of life was taken away by the railroad . Now , the Indians fight for survival . Now they starve ."
Is this what hunting has become ? When I set out on this tour I was prepared to encounter death , but here in this hall of wasted life I could not comprehend what purpose it served . And this poor boy saying that this destruction had deprived his people . Percy looked quite sickened by the waste .
" This is why the beast haunts these people ," Thunderboy said . " It is the most cursed creature of all . It is a corrupt man who steals the skin of an animal and devours the flesh of humans . He believes he avenges his people ."