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Western horror stories aren't unknown, but they're rare in either books or films, even today, though with some traditional horror elements like vampires and zombies turning mainstream, we're likely to see more soon. Guy floated the idea of a zombie western novel back in his Caerlaverock days, a 50,000 word novel called Zombie Apache. It was presumably never written but the synopsis survives and here it is.
Shannon, a notorious killer and gunman, is being pursued into the Arizona desert by Marshal Chris Brennon and his posse. Finally, the killer is run down in an arroyo, and after a lengthy gun battle he falls, his body riddled with bullets. Brennon leaves the body for the vultures, so great is the hatred for this man.
As the posse rides away, a lone Apache emerges from some rocks above where he has been watching. This is Satanna, the last of the 'free' Apaches. The Apache wars are over, and the tribes are peaceably installed on a reservation. Satanna has failed in his bed to rally them once more in an effort to drive the white eyes back into the sea. Even his magic, for he is the son of Cubillo, the greatest of all Medicine Men, fails to inspire them to follow him into war. With a grim smile of satisfaction on his face, he rides down and ties the dead body of Shannon on to his mount. It is a long ride, taking him until sundown on the following day, before he reaches his destination, a cave deep in the heart of the desert. Here Satanna has learned to survive, practising his black arts which he believes will eventually bring victory for his people.
Placing the corpse on a slab of rock, he begins a series of long rites and incantations. These go on for several hours, and every so often he feels hopefully for the fait heartbeat that will mean he has succeeded. At last, when he has almost given up hope, the corpse begins to pulsate with new life. An hour later it sits up. Shannon is alive once more, only this is the living-death. He can walk, hear and talk. He obeys instructions implicitly, but he is no more than a shell of humanity...a zombie!
"I need men who will fight for me", Satanna tells him with a maniacal gleam in his eyes. "Red men and white. You will go out and bring these men to me...dead. Then I will make them live again..and fight for me!"
Shannon sets forth on his quest, his .45 once more nestling in its well-greased holster. To all intents and purposes he is the same man - a born killer. But now he has a new motive. Dead bodies for Satanna!
The small township of Rock Springs is resting easy now that the Apache wars are over. Too easy. In the shadows of the main street lurks Shannon, watching and waiting for one man in particular. Joe Mangus was the best indian scout the U.S. Army ever had. One time a fierce Apache warrior, he changed sides when he saw that the redmen's plight was hopeless. Satanna has decreed that now he shall fight with the men he betrayed, and Shannon must bring him in. Mangus emerges from the saloon eventually, drunk and reeling. One bullet between the eyes is sufficient. Men come running at the sound of the shot, and are just in time to see the gunman riding away with the corpse across his saddle. Fear spreads through Rock Springs.
"Shannon lives. He has returned from the dead!"
Indian villages on the Reservation begin to live in dread of a black clad figure on horseback who rides the trails, killing their warriors and transporting the bodies to some place where they are never seen again. Braves are disappearing nightly.
Chris Brennon cannot understand how Shannon can be alive, yet the reports come flooding in of murders, both red and white. He finds tracks but they only lead into the desert where they become obscured.
Satanna now considers that he has the necessary numbers with which to begin his campaign. Two dozen zombie Apaches at his command, he rides with Shannon at their head on the first raid - Dawn Creek, a small settlement on the edge of the Reservation. The settlers are sleeping, but they are awoken to a horrific scene. Fierce Apaches with sightless eyes who kill ruthlessly, mutilating the bodies. One settler fires point blank at a brave with a sawn-off 10-gauge shotgun. Flesh is ripped away, bone splinters, but the warrior scarcely falters in his task, beheading the man with a super-human blow from a tomahawk. Dawn Creek is wiped out, every man and woman horribly mutilated, the buildings set on fire, and then the warriors of the living dead ride back into the desert.
Major Jenkinson is a hater of all redmen. It was his greatest disappointment when the Apaches surrender. Far rather would he have pursued them to the bitter end, and slaughtered every last brave. He cannot hide his delight at the fact that the Apaches are on the warpath again. His wife and daughter, Mary, have come out to join him at Fort Brant with the coming of peace. Mary begs him to investigate before making a counter-attack on the Reservation Indians but the Major is filled with blood-lust. Whole villages of indians are massacred, and warriors tortured in an effort to extract information about the raiders.
Two nights later the zombie warriors attack Fort Brant. A terrible nocturnal battle ensues. Even the hardened Indian Scouts cannot understand it. Normally, redskins never attack at night for fear that the spirits of the dead will wander off and become lost, thus never finding their way to the Happy Hunting Grounds. Everything is un-natural. The attacks seem immune to rifle-fire. The deadly gun of Shannon wreaks havoc amongst the soldiers on the battlements. Then, with the coming of dawn the attackers retreat. Major Jenkinson is left in no doubt that they will be back.
Satanna is well pleased with the way things are going. HE has struck fear into the hearts of the white eyes as well as killing many of them. Now he desires something else. A white woman, not only for his pleasures but as a means of furthering his ends against the enemy. Mary Jenkinson! Shannon is commanded to bring her in alive. The following night, he sneaks into Fort Brant, and successfully kidnaps her, knocking her unconscious.
When Mary regains consciousness, she is a prisoner in the cave of the redskin zombies. Satanna forces her to submit to him, and boasts of his army of living dead. He tells her that she will be his squaw, and that together they will rule once the whites have been defeated.
The occupants of Rock Springs move into the safety of Fort Brant now that the indian danger has flared up again. Chris Brennon descides to make another foray in the hope of finding either Shannon, Satanna or Mary Jenkinson. He decides to start at the point where he last saw the gunman - lying dead in that arroyo.
He comes across signs of many horses in the desert, but frequent sandstorms have wiped out any definite trail that he can follow. That night he makes camp in the desert, but his horse warns him during the nocturnal hours that someone or something is abroad. From the cover of some bushes he witnesses the war-party of zombies on their way to attack the fort. Satanna rides at their head, the Major's daughter sitting in front of him. At his side rides Shannon and Joe Mangus.
"The living dead", Brennon breathes, "Zombie Apaches. Somehow Satanna has raised all these people from the dead!"
The marshal follows at a discreet distance. The war-party halts before the fort. The initial burst of firing ceases when the white-faced Major recognises his daughter. Satanna calls on him for an unconditional surrender.
From the cover of some nearby rocks Brennon suddenly realises that Satanna holds the key to this fearsome band of murderers. Without him they would be rotting in their graves. He raises his rifle, and then lowers it again. In the darkness his shot might hit Mary Jenkinson.
The gates of Fort Brant open. Jenkinson and a group of soldiers emerge bearing a white flag. With terrible cries the zombies ride down on them, hacking their bodies to pieces with knives and tomahawks. Then, with the Major's head impaled upon a spear, Joe Mangus heads the attack on the Fort. The gates are open, and the soldiers are at the mercy of the Undead.
Chris Brennon makes his way to where Satanna stands watching, Mary Jenkinson at his side. However the Apache's uncanny senses warn him at the last second, and the bullet intended for his head barely grazes his skull. He leaps at the Marshal, and they roill over in hand to hand combat. Meanwhile inside the Fort, soldiers and civilians are being horribly slaughtered by the zombies.
Brennon is no match for Satanna who has spent a lifetime in the wild. The Apache pins him to the ground, and gloats over him.
"You shall die slowly, white eyes", he threatens, "I shall let my warriors of the dead deal with you when they return!"
Mary Jenkinson had fallen in a faint, and lay forgotten. She stirs, and sees the Marshal's plight. Close by lies Brennon's .45. Slowly she reaches out, grasps it, and using two hands she takes careful aim, and fires. The slug smashes into Satanna's brain, killing him instantly.
The attack inside Fort Brant comes to a sudden halt. Zombie warriors in the act of dealing death blows, sink to the ground, and lie motionless.
Satanna's death has halted his army of horrors for good. The dead are dead once more...this time for good.
Last update: 4th June, 2019