John Runnels

Episode 24: On Fair Authority | Scryer's Gulch

"Well, now, Runnels, out on a night like this!" said Mayor Prake, rising from his chair. "Is there cause for alarm? Amelia, fill the kettle please, perhaps the Sheriff might like some tea. Perhaps a wee bit of bourbon in the cup?" he added in an undertone.

Amelia lugged the kettle in, put it on the stove, and took her reluctant leave. "I'm not sleepy!" she insisted as her mother shooed her up the stairs.

Once they were alone, John settled back in his chair, a comfortable shot of bourbon in his tea. "No cause for immediate alarm, Anatole, though things are stranger than usual in this town. To begin with, I believe Georgie is innocent. You should let him go back to school."

"Innocent!" exclaimed Prake. "Why, his own brother believes he did it! You amaze me. What did Miss Duniway say to convince you?"

Episode 22: Sapheads | Scryer's Gulch

John held open the jailhouse door for her, and laughed in spite of himself. "That ghost knows what's good for him. Coffee, Miss Duniway?"

"I wouldn't," said Aloysius.

"Put a cork in it, spook."

"I think I shall follow his advice, Sheriff. Too much coffee is overly stimulating to the nerves," said Annabelle.

John offered her a seat and started to take his own, then changed his mind, pulled it out from behind his desk, and sat down. "I shouldn't think you have much in the way of nerves no matter how much coffee you drink, ma'am."

Annabelle sat up straighter. Her eyes flicked up to his own, and held him in a piercing cornflower glare; he met it, with outward calm and an inward shiver. "I do wish you'd say what you mean, sir," she said. "You have been suspicious of me almost from the day I arrived. You wonder about my income, you wonder about my character, you hint at this and that. It is past time I took offense. What is it about me you find so dubious?"

Episode 20: Ethergrams and Homilies | Scryer's Gulch

As it came to pass, Simon did not get over to the Runnels house that night. He stood outside for a fair piece looking up at the door, but couldn't bring himself to walk up the steps, knock, and hand over Miss Duniway's ethergram; revealing someone's private correspondence went against everything he believed in as an ethergraph engineer.

Episode 16: Culling the Herd | Scryer's Gulch

The full moon crept over the town, slipping silver through the bars of the jail where John held Rabbit through his transformation; it glinted faint on Georgie Prake's tears as he sat in the darkened window he'd occupied almost continually since his disgrace; and it shone white on a woman's bare skin. The moon lit the woman only briefly. Her coloring dappled, and she blended into the surrounding shadows. Mamzelle prided herself on her camouflaging, especially chained as she was to the form of a human woman.

Episode 14: Waste Not the Hour | Scryer's Gulch

From the front window of the Hotel LeFay, Anthony Bonham watched Miss Duniway and John Runnels exchange pleasantries. He knew the look on the man's face; Miss Duniway had fallen afoul of the Sheriff's crime-fighting instincts. What could he suspect the schoolteacher of, besides being beautiful, and that was no suspicion. Outwardly, Tony eyed her dispassionately. But within him, he formulated plans. A young woman, all alone in a town like this--she was bound to be lonely. He could use that.

Episode 13: Messages | Scryer's Gulch

The wretched Rabbit woke up at dawn inside the wire cage, naked and shivering. "John?" he called weakly.

"Sheriff's asleepin," said Aloysius. "Hey! Runnels! Wake up! Yer brother's lost his fur!"

John scrambled up from his cot, instantly awake. "Sorry, Rab, sorry! I'm coming." He opened the latch on the cage and helped Rabbit to stand; he wrapped his brother in the still-warm blanket from the cot. "Are you all right?"

"Did I scratch or bite?" said Rabbit. "I'm so afraid I'm going to bite you some day, Johnny--if I ever brought this on you, I'd throw myself in the river!"

Episode 12: Creature of the Night, Pistol on the Right | Scryer's Gulch

John rushed to his brother's side, whipping off the bandanna around his neck. To Annabelle's astonishment, he stuffed it in the deputy's mouth and guided the gagged and sobbing man gently to the floor. "It hurts, Miss Duniway, and he screams a lot," said John. "I'm here, Rab, I won't let go, I promise!"

"'M srry!" whimpered Rabbit around the bandanna.

"Not your fault!" said John.

"What's happening, Sheriff Runnels?" demanded Annabelle. "Should I be going for the doctor?"

Episode 11: Moonrise | Scryer's Gulch

In Mamzelle's boudoir, the madam and the cat were still embroiled in their murderous heart-to-heart. "But I do not understand, chéri," she said. "Why would you not wish me to keel your master?"

"Two reasons," Misi answered loftily. "For one, I can't reciprocate. You'd have to maneuver your master into a situation where he became a direct threat to my master."

Mamzelle laughed. "You underestimate me."

"Oh, I doubt that. But for me the more important reason is the second. If anyone kills my master, it's going to be me," he growled. "I've been plotting it for eight years, and no one is going to deny me that pleasure."

Episode 9: Rabbit's Time of the Month | Scryer's Gulch

Misi had almost fallen asleep in Mamzelle’s lap, when she said, “Well?”

“Well what?” yawned the demon cat.

“‘Ow are we going to keel our masters?”

“Ah. That. Yes.” Think fast, old boy. “Yes. There’s a problem with that.”

“Eh?”

“I’m under orders...general orders...not to kill humans.” It’s even true! he thought, though it hurt his pride to confess to such a weakness. It’s so humilitating, being owned!

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