This is an AU version of Red Dead Redemption, set in a "weird west", supernatural version of New Austin. I don't really consider this the beginning of the story, but more of a "random encounter" that can be interjected anywhere once I start the main story (roughly conforming to the plot of the game, but with a few interesting changes, of course). I may end up with a few OC's but I'm going to try to stick with alternate versions of actual game characters, where possible. Some won't be much different at all. I might also eventually go to a Mature rating, depending on how the story progresses. Anyways, my first fan fic!

So, consider this a short preview, if you will...hope you all like it.

Marston returned to Billy's cabin just after the sun slipped under the Western horizon. In the darkening twilight, the old timer could be seen halfheartedly sweeping the rickety porch of his weathered old cabin. He smiled as he noticed John walking up the path, a bouquet of feverfew and sage clutched in his hand.

"Here's your flowers, Billy."

"Well, thank you. Not many around these parts would help an old man with such a task" Billy replied, putting the broom aside and gladly taking the offered flowers. "Thanks again, stranger...come on in and have some tea with me and Annabelle. I'm sure she'd love the company."

"Alright, maybe just for a minute," John said, following Billy inside.

The interior was dimly lit by a single lantern. The air in the cabin was sour, carrying the gamey smell of old death. Instantly, John tensed up, his hand half reaching for his shotgun as he quickly scanned the room.

"This is my...other half, the lovely Annabelle," Billy proudly indicated the primary source of the foul odor. A semi-desiccated corpse of a woman, wearing a simple, blue dress, lay slumped in an old rocking chair in the corner. Its shriveled, empty sockets stared blankley upward from a sunken, gray face, and its mummified hands lay in its lap.

"Much obliged," Marston croaked out, looking over at Billy. Clearly, the glow he saw in Billy's eyes, the glow he mistook for love, was just madness...or perhaps love mixed with madness. Either way, the man's mind was clearly long gone.

"This is the man that helped me find these lovely flowers, Annabelle." Billy continued, holding up the bouquet.

Just then, John noticed something that sent a familiar chill down his spine...unmistakably, Annabelle's head moved. The cadaver's head swiveled down to look at the flowers Billy was holding, then it moved its hollow, dead gaze over to look right at John. Annabelle cocked her head to the side and gasped out a dry, rattling hiss. John took a step back as she slowly leaned forward, creaking audibly as she struggled to her feet. A cloud of flies, disturbed from their rest, buzzed around her as she stood.

"Not half as lovely as you!" poor Mad Billy chuckled, holding out his arm to his corpse-wife, as happy as any newlywed.

The shambling horror that was once Billy's wife pushed her husband aside with her right arm. Her other arm reached out towards Marston as she began lurching forward. Her fingers cracked as they clutched the empty air, and her jaw clacked her remaining teeth together. A few mice scurried out from under her skirt.

"I should have known...God damn zombies...again!" John muttered as he pulled out his sawed-off shotgun.

Anyone outside in the purple shadows would have heard two loud shotgun blasts, the windows of the cabin flashing brightly in time with each shot. A moment later, the door swung open and Marston walked out onto the porch, his shotgun across his shoulder and a few plundered dollars in his pocket. He paused for moment, then turned and looked back inside the cabin.

"I'm sorry for your loss...uh, I guess for both of your loses. My apologies...oh, and happy anniversary."

An orange glow lighted his path as he stepped off the porch. The dry wood of the cabin caught fire quickly, and John watched it crackle and burn for a few minutes before turning his back. By morning, only ashes would remain...ashes and dust. Whistling for his horse, John walked up the trail to the road. He was glad the clean night breeze blew away the stench of death and tang of gunpowder and smoke, even if just for the moment. Perhaps he would have to add feverfew and sage to the list of smells he'd rather avoid.