Currently reading: Flash Fiction Short-Story: The Stranger – Chapter 2
Flash Fiction Short-Story: The Stranger – Chapter 2
Posted on 28th March, 2017 - By Jonathan Hezzlewood
Who will be left standing; in the conflict between The Stranger and The Kid?
Continue the story of The Stranger, and read what happens next…
The Stranger: Chapter 2
The wind was picking up, blowing dust and dirt into the air. Folks going about their day, some queuing outside the bank, others coming in and out of the general store. Two men loading up a cart with goods just bought, probably worked at one of the ranches he’d passed on the way into town.
A carriage had stopped further up the main street, outside BELLE’S PEARL – another parlour house, that no doubt must have had stiff competition from THE PAINTED ANGEL, up until recent events.
The charred remains of THE PAINTED ANGEL lay to the South of the town, to the back of where the stranger stood.
The Kid stepped out, looking to his right, up the dusty street, then turned to his left, to where his next kill stood and grinned a grin that shone of arrogance.
Next out of the saloon doors were his men, his posse. Ace, Gabe and Big Jack.
Ace, or Gabe – still not certain which was which – lent against the first of the three hitchin’ posts outside the Western side of the saloon, whilst the other man continued past to the middle post, loosening the reigns and mounting his quarter horse – moving to the south-east of where the stranger stood. Out of sight now, but the stranger knew he was still there, waiting.
The Kid slowly stepped down each of the steps leading off the boardwalk that flanked the main street.
The stranger stood patiently, watching the folks further up the street go about their business, most unaware of what was about to happen. Some of those who had noticed started walking down the boardwalks on either side in the direction of the FIREWATER SALOON. Others made sure to be off to the side of the street, keen to watch but still keeping a safe distance from the trouble.
The Kid was stood directly in front of him now, about thirty-feet ahead. Big Jack blocked his view for a second as he slowly walked between both of them, stopping and turning on the steps underneath a weathered wash blue sign that read BARBER SHOP, stating underneath BATH AND SHAVE 25¢.
Everyone from the saloon was now stood outside, crowding the boardwalk, watching.
One of the old-time miners shouted out from the small crowd that had gathered “You’ve still time to flunk out, son.”
The stranger had always tried to avoid any confrontation in the past, and in most cases successfully too. Sure he’d been called-out before, more often than not he was challenged over the gambling table more than anything else. He was good at reading people, which resulted in him winning more-often-than-not, which ended with some of his opponents accusing him of cheating and taking it out into the street.
The Kid went for his gun, but before he’d even cleared his holster the stranger had drawn his revolver hip-height and fired. Without looking to see if he’d struck the target he kicked his right boot into the ground and sent dirt flying up into Big Jack’s face – Big Jack brought his hands up to shield his eyes, but not quick enough.
The stranger turned to his right, spinning swiftly on his feet he stooped down, as a shot rang out, barely missing him and fired at the one stood directly in-front of the hitching post, hitting him square in the face, his head snapped back in a mist of blood, brain matter and skull fragments.
The man on horseback cried out “Gabe!” followed by “You son’o bitch!” So that leaves Ace thought the stranger.
He was already twisting in the direction of Ace, about to put him down; when an explosion of pain fired across his shoulder blades and up his neck, as Big Jack struck him from behind.
He fell to the ground, going light-headed as he fought to take a full breath from the winding blow Big Jack had just delivered.
Gun still in hand and coughing for breath he heard the clumsy foot falls of Big Jack coming up from behind. He slowed his breathing, listening for the sound of the footsteps closing in. Now! He rolled over his left-side onto his back, lifted his revolver and fired once, hitting Big Jack square in the throat.
As Big Jack fell to his knees – clawing at his throat, dark red flowing through his fingers – the stranger got to his feet. He turned to face Ace, but he was no longer there.
The stranger looked across the buildings to the south of the street, the black powder smoke now clearing from the air. No sign of the one remaining trouble maker.
The Kid lay in the dirt, a few steps back from where he’d stood not ten seconds previous. Holding his gut, his once blue shirt now a deep colour of crimson, crying out to himself, to anyone “Oh god, no. God no, no.” he looked around at the folks spectating from the safety of the boardwalks; “Help me, please god someone help. Shit, oh shit.”
Nobody moved to help.
Although it must have been agonising, The Kid screamed at the crowd “Get me a goddamn doctor! y’hear me! God damn…”
His eyes moved from the crowd to the stranger, his look changed from pleading to full-blown hatred. “You bastard! God damn son of a bitch!” He looked around, saw his gun a few feet away and started toward it, albeit slowly. Digging the heels of his boots into the dirt, using his left elbow and forearm to pull himself along, his right hand holding his wound, he dragged himself – on his backside – toward the stray revolver.
The stranger watched, holstered his Colt 1851, and calmly walked toward the stray revolver. The Kid, closer now, lunged at the gun – gasping aloud in pain as he did so. He got his hand on the butt just in time to have the stranger push the heel of his boot down on his fingers. He cried out in anguish, “I-I-I’ll kill you, you son of a whore!”
The stranger lent over, prising the revolver from The Kid’s weakening grip, and said “Not likely.”
He looked at the six-shooter in his hand, a SMITH & WESSON service revolver. He flipped it over his palm and placed the revolver in his coat pocket, meeting The Kid’s gaze – a gaze full of the knowledge that death was on the horizon.
A forceful snort of a horse behind drew his attention. As he looked back over his shoulder he heard the girl – Lenora – from the saloon cry out from the crowd “Watch out!”
As he turned around he twisted, trying to get out of the way, but wasn’t quick enough. The rope had gone over his head and around his shoulders. But before Ace could pull it tight the stranger managed to get his left-forearm up to help shield his throat.
The rope slipped up his shoulders, pulling tight around his neck and forearm, jolting his hand upward knocking the hat from his head.
“Time to run you outta town!” Ace shouted as he pulled on the rope, bringing the stranger to his knees. Ace dug his heels into the mare’s sides and set off, dragging the stranger along the main street, through the dirt at full-gallop.
Pain shot through his thighs, knees and abdomen, instantly feel the heat from the friction caused as he was dragged along. The rope had most definitely broke the skin at the back of his neck. He could hardly catch a breath – the rope pulled tight around his neck and arm, plus having to eat dust and dirt thrown up from the hooves of the horse pulling him along.
Ace looked back at the body being dragged along the dusty road and called-out “Havin’ fun back there Mister?” laughing.
The stranger managed to get a grip on the rope – just ahead of his face – with his left hand, although it wasn’t a strong grip given the awkward angle.
The horse veered left sharply, turning back on itself. The stranger tensed best he could rolling right-side over left, his body skimmed across the rough surface – his long-coat softening some of the impact – he bounced and slammed back first into the wooden fencing outside the general store. For what must have been no longer than the tick-of-a-clock he lay stationary on the ground, just before the rope pulled tight again and dragged him back down the main street, back toward the saloon.
He let go of the rope with his right hand – the left still trapped, shielding his throat – and reached down to his hip, his hand brushing against the dirt, his wrist snagged on something sharp, sending a searing pain shooting up his forearm. He fumbled, feeling for his revolver. His hand touched the holster, moving up he grabbed the gun, tightened his grip and brought his arm forward – chest burning as if someone had stuck him with a hot-iron, thumbed back the hammer and pulled the trigger, once.
There was a flash of flame.
Ace felt his horse shudder, grunted slightly as the legs gave-out from under her, still running at full-gallop, her front legs buckled and she fell on her side, instantly crushing Ace’s right leg as he hit the ground. He squealed a high pitch cry, the horse flipped over onto its back – Ace still in the saddle – his eardrum piercing cry silenced suddenly with a crunch and loud snap. The horse, and its rider slid to a stop, just outside the flame-wrecked remains of THE PAINTED ANGEL.
The stranger, now still, rolled onto his back. He looked up at the dark grey clouds above, and pulled the rope back over his head, scuffing his ears as he did.
He sat up, and got to his feet, using his hand to steady himself, wincing in pain as he slowly straightened.
The mare lay on its side, legs kicking, trying to get up, as the last seconds of life drained away. The horse stilled.
Ace trapped underneath, one leg protruding from under the dead horse, his foot twitching. Blood pooled around them.
The stranger turned back toward the saloon and looked at the crowd of people stood staring at him, awe-struck. Some turned back looking directly in-front of them. Following their line of sight his eyes rested on The Kid, still holding on I see he thought to himself.
The Kid lay there, still propped up on one arm, his other still holding his gut, as he watched the stranger calmly walk towards him, gun still in his right hand. The stranger stopped to his left, stooped over and picked up his hat, dusted the rim against his right coat sleeve and placed it back on his head, pulling it down over eyes once more.
Lightning flashed across the grey clouds above, the thunder – close on its heels – boomed across the town and up into the mountains.
Hail began to fall, the little balls of ice bouncing off the rim of his hat and onto the ground. He looked down at The Kid, who was now squinting, his pale face scrunched up trying to protect his eyes from the falling hailstone, but still unable to take his hand away from his wounded gut.
“I’m a man of my word son.” He thumbed back the hammer of his revolver, raising his arm, and pointed it directly at The Kid’s head.
Another lightning flash, accompanied by thunder immediately this time.
“Here’s the second one.” He squeezed the trigger.
THE END… For Now.