Justin Bardwell carefully touched the side of his head, finding a large knot. The bandits had left him for dead. That was their first mistake. No one stole from him and got away with it. It didn't take him long to find their trail and follow them to the abandoned homestead. They had stopped about two miles from were they had robbed him. All his years fighting in the militia were to his advantage now. He'd give them a night they would never forget!
His horse was tied in front of the cabin, along with the bony nags of the bandits. Riotous laughter spilled out through the broken windows. They were all getting drunk. "This might be easier than expected," he thought to himself as a malicious smile spread across his face.
He surveyed the layout of the abandoned farm during the hours that passed. Rummaging quietly through the old barn, he gathered a wolf pelt with the head still attached, two burlap bags, some rope, a small piece of charred wood, and an empty flour barrel. He stashed them carefully out of sight and returned to the shadows to wait. Finally, one of the bandits headed to the outhouse. Justin pounced on the unsuspecting man, throwing a burlap sack over his head and tying him up. He dragged him off into the thick underbrush, letting the helpless man scream in terror, before knocking him out cold.
The drunken bandits staggered out of the cabin with their guns drawn, only to find one boot, and nothing more. Mimicking the howl of a wolf, he could see the men all scramble for the cabin. It took all he had not to laugh out loud at the sight of their pitiful attempts to get inside. "One down, three more to go." Justin whispered softly.
Justin carried the unconscious man to a nearby cave he'd discovered. He dumped the man unceremoniously onto the floor just inside the entrance. With the cave's low opening he knew it would be perfect when dawn came.
He quietly returned to the cabin were the men were starting to bed down. Crouching low, he crept up to the hitching post and untied his horse. As he turned to leave, one of the men staggered from the house and headed to the barn. Silently he tied the reins to his horse's saddle and left him at the post.
Justin had crept up to the barn door just as the second man was coming out. Once again he seized his prey from behind, then threw a bag over the mans head and tied him up. He knocked the frightened man out with one punch, then dragged him off. This time he tossed the mans hat down in the dust after ripping it with his teeth. The whole attack was over in an instant.
After hearing their comrade scream, the last two men stumbled over one another as they rushed from the cabin. The moonlight revealed their pale faces when they found the tattered hat, just as Justin mimicked another wolf howl. "Two down, two to go!" he softly chuckled.
Justin returned to the cave with his second prisoner and noticed the first man starting to stir. So he dumped the man he carried, and reached over to give his first prisoner a sound knock in the head. He was confident both men would be out for hours now, so he cut their ropes. Dawn would break in just two hours, bringing thousands of bats home to the low opening of the cave. "That should give them quite a start to the day." he said softly as he took the charred wood and wrote "Thou shalt not steal!" on the cave wall right in front of where the two men laid.
Back at the cabin Justin took his horse and hid him nearby. The men inside didn't hear a thing as he led their horses off and turned them loose. Nor did they hear him placing the wolf pelt on top the flour barrel in front of the open doorway. He'd written the same message in the front of the barrel, right under the head of the wolf. It would be the first thing they saw when they woke up.
As dawn broke, faint shouts and gunfire could be heard in the distance. The bandits had definitely had a night they would never forget! A smile of pure satisfaction lit Justin's handsome face as he galloped away.
From the beginning the Lord let me know I was to share whatever He inspired me to write. Now, over a decade later, I'm still sharing what He's given.
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