To a homeless
man, as indeed most carnival men are, there is a momentary
feeling of something like independence and territorial
consequence, when, after a weary day’s travel,
he kicks off his boots, throws off his leathered jacket,
and stretches himself before an inn fire. How John
Blaze came to this small fire upon his burning quest
for a fire as much more deadly as the bear is to the
possum, is the tale I myself heard by an inn’s
fireside and share with you now.
All men, but most especially the wanderers, have
their demons. John Blaze had met his demon, had felt
him burn within him and knew his faceless countenance
as if it were his own. Of late the demon had escaped
young master Blaze, but peradventure word was had
of a ghostly rider in the upstate New York burgh of
Tarry Town. The descriptions, even discounting the
inevitable hyperbole of the small town gossip, bore
uncanny similarities to the demon Blaze pursued. The
news of this baneful rogue, so burthened the mind
of Blaze that he set at once north along Hendrick
Hudson’s river, though he had never before distanced
further than Greymalkin Lane in the West of Chester.
As John Blaze came unto the portion of the town called
Sleepy Hollow, few were those without a tale to tell
of the spectral rider. They were to a man much given
to the marvellous. Some claimed he was a goblin hurling
pumpkins as bombs aflame at riders in the night. This
hellfire mounted spectre was called by some DareDevil
but by most simply the Ghost Rider. This plurality
suggested DareDevil was the name not of the spectre,
but his demonic conveyance. A great chopper made of
flame bore the faceless rider faster than fifteen
score horses’ power. It issued forth as a knight
errant so doused in forbidden lore as to be able to
soar past all men, beast or bike. The ghoul was seen
only by dark, most oft on the road by the graveyard.
The last ray of sunshine departed – the bats
began to flit by in the twilight – and Blaze
went out to meet his demon. The road grew dimmer and
dimmer to view; and nothing appeared stirring in it.
Then he heard the roar of the hellfire bike. A mad
cackle like Macbeth’s crones, followed soon
after. Any lesser man’s knees would smite together
and these sounds would precipitate his retreat. What
John Blaze thought then I can not tell, for I do not
know, but it is no mere guess that he was chilled
to the quick.
The moon had poured her downward light upon the rich
forrest and soon the Ghost Rider rode into view like
some ancient knight errant. His leggings and jacket
both leatheren and rusty black. The jacket was bedecked
with a perplexity of stupendous brass buttons. But
atop the jacket was no head, rather the fires of hell
and a grinning gleaming skull. No eyes shewn in the
sockets, no tongue shewn in the craw, but some manner
of metempsychosis animated the the skull and body
The bike wheeled its broad front disc to a sudden
stop, just inches from bold John Blaze. The heat of
the fiery cycle stuck in the nose and throat like
cotton. Brave master Blaze began to wish he was confronted
by some mean goblin or like easily conquered adversary.
“Zarathos” Blaze invoked the demon’s
The fiery skull reared back and let loose laughter
purchased by the torment of weak mortals foolish enough
to believe they might elude the spirit of vengeance.
The Ghost Rider pointed his gloved hand at Blaze and
poured forth soul searing hell fire. Blaze did not
falter, he knew his sins and was fain to endure them.
If this appalling act of vengeance could claim him
he would not endeavor to avoid it. The blast of hellfire
approached him, an insuperable wall of flame. But
being no fool, he raised up his own weapon, a mere
earthly shotgun of rusted iron and worm eaten wood.
The flames poured into the barrel of his fire lock,
and were swallowed up in it. To tell the precise truth
the hellfire had bewitched the weapon.
Blaze recoiled from the blast but triggered his gun
and found it shot forth that verysame hell fire. The
demon rider could not endure the soul searing flames
he had doled out upon countless mortals. He wheeled
his demon bike away and Blaze gave chace. It is meet
I should mention that Blaze himself was a rider of
no small skill. But borne on his earthly mount Blaze
could scarce hope to overtake the demon. The Ghost
Rider disappeared into the night.
And so the story ends but not for Blaze who would
continue his quest for the demon all of his days.