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 The Devil's Due - Chapter 17

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Silverkelpie

Silverkelpie

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 58
Location : Over the rainbow

The Devil's Due - Chapter 17 Empty
PostSubject: The Devil's Due - Chapter 17   The Devil's Due - Chapter 17 EmptySat Feb 20, 2016 4:15 pm

The Devil’s Due Chapter 17


A hard fist hammered on the door, jolting the girls out of their uneasy slumber.  “Time to get up.  I want you packed and ready to ride in an hour and a half,” barked Heyes.


Charlotte pushed herself upright, rubbing her bleary eyes through the gloom of her blacked-out room.  “Ride?  Where?”


“You’ll find that out when you get there.  There’s a tray outside your door.  Eat while you pack.”


“But...”


“No ifs, buts, or excuses,” Heyes growled.  “You’ll be on horseback one way or another in exactly an hour and a half.  It’s up to you how you choose to dress for it.  It makes no difference to me if you’re still in your nightdresses, but if you’re sensible you’ll get out of bed and work fast.” 


oooOOOooo


“Hmph, what’s that lowdown, high-gradin’ corn-cracker got that I don’t got?”  Kyle pulled on his cinch strap savagely causing his small mare to pin her ears back at him and lift her left hind leg to cowkick the air dangerously close to his thigh.  “Sorry sweetheart, I didn’t mean to rile you.”  He loosened the leather a notch and turned to watch the newest member of the gang walk by leading his black horse. 


“Scarlet,” said Wheat succinctly.  He slipped the headstall over his gray’s ears and buckled it under the animal’s throat.  Ignoring the scowl on Kyle’s face, he lifted his saddle off the top rail of the corral and swung the heavy tack onto his horse’s back.


“What’s it she sees in him, anyways?”


“Let’s see.  To answer both your questions:  he’s smart, tall, easy on the eyes if’n you’re a lady, quick with a gun, and able to handle himself and that devil of a horse he rides.”


“Guess he’s got me on the tall part,” said Kyle wistfully.  “Still, I thought me and Scarlet had somethin’ goin’.  How come she never said nothing ‘bout no husband?”


Wheat snorted loudly.  “She’s said a whole helluva lot about a whole helluva lot of husbands such as they was all dead.  You oughta consider yourself lucky you ain’t her man.   Don’t sound like they last long.  Old Colin might be gone before you know it.”


“Think I oughta call ‘im out?”  Kyle stared daggers at the darkly attired man stepping up into his saddle.  The black shifted anxiously throwing his head impatiently eager to be off but his rider sat him quietly and firmly until he settled down.  “Wish I had me a firecracker right ‘bout now.”


“Are you crazy?!  Colin Flanagan, or whoever the hell he is, is a dead shot.  I’ve seen him face down men even the Kid would think twice about drawin’ on.”


“So why d’you think Heyes brought him on?  He’s already got the Kid to do the shootin’.”


“The Kid rode outta here full split last night.  I saw him go and he looked mad as a hornet and Heyes’ on the prod this mornin’.  My guess is they had themselves a difference of opinion and the Kid’s quit.”


“Quit?”  Kyle was stunned.  “But we’ve got a job to pull.”


“Guess that’s just another reason for you to lay off Colin.  We may need his guns if it comes down to it.”  Wheat untied his gelding and led him into the yard.


Kyle followed him thinking over what he’d just heard.  He guessed he could tolerate Scarlet’s erstwhile husband till the job was over.


The lady in question was climbing the steps to the leader’s cabin.  Odd noises echoed through the thick wooden door as she opened it and stepped inside.  Charlotte was dragging a heavy canvas bag into the kitchen as her sister leaned over a drawer and sifted through its contents, clattering utensils. 


“Where are the knives?  There aren’t any knives!”  Carlotta slammed the drawer and pulled open another before Scarlet’s hand reached over and seized her wrist.


“There ain’t no use in fussin’ over it.  Heyes ain’t stupid.  He wouldn’t leave nothing here you could use to harm yourself or anyone else.”


“Let go of me,” Carlotta twisted her arm out of Scarlet’s grip and glared at her.  “What do you care?!”


Calm, grey eyes met the defiant young girl’s.  “I do care.  It’s my job to see that you two are safe and sound and I aim to do it.”


An un-ladylike snort escaped parted lips.  “We didn’t hire you.  You’re free to go.  As a matter of fact, it seems like you’re already gone.  Ever since we got here, you’ve been spending all your days amongst that band of vipers and now it would appear you’re spending your nights with one of them, too.  You don’t care about us, you old whore.”


The flat of Scarlet’s hand loudly connected with Carlotta’s cheek.  Ignoring the shocked girl, she turned away to face Charlotte.  “That’s a fine thank you I get for stickin’ my neck out for you.  I’ve been workin’ my fingers to the bone tryin’ to keep these owlhoots busy so’s none of ‘em  thinkin’ about the pretty little pieces of fluff just waitin’ for ‘em a few steps away.  Are you so young and stupid that you think you’re safe here without me?”


Shamed, Carlotta went to stand next to Charlotte.  She slipped her arm around her sister’s waist and drew close to her, her eyes downcast.  She’d been wrong about so much and now she’d alienated the only friend they had.  “I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have said that, please forgive me.”  Tears spilled from her eyes but she couldn’t bring herself to look up.”


“You got fire, Carlotta, and that ain’t a bad thing.  It’ll see you through this mess you’ve gotten yourself into and so will I, but don’t you ever speak to me like that again or I’ll haul you off to the woodshed so fast…”


“I didn’t mean it.”  Carlotta wiped her eyes with the hem of her dress.  “I really am sorry.”


“I’ll allow how you might have gotten that impression, but that new fellow, Colin, is my husband and Gabe’s father.  I ain’t seen him for a long time and I reckon I didn’t think much before I acted neither.”  She stepped over to the sisters and spread her arms about both of them.   “Let’s kiss and make up ‘cause I’m here to tell you that Colin’s promised to keep an eye on you both as best he can. Heyes ain’t takin’ me with you, says he’s turnin’ me loose, but we’ll see if’n he does.  So we’ll be sayin’ our goodbyes now, but I want you to know word is Curry’s up and quit, and that makes Colin the fastest gun in the gang.  That outta count for somethin’.”


oooOOOooo


They didn’t know how long they had ridden after rushing around the room to throw their scattered belongings into bags, and present their apprehensive selves to be transported to who-knew-where.  They rode, ponied along in a blind fog of heat and horse sweat until they had even less idea where they were than they had at the Devil’s Hole.   Some hours later Charlotte had the hood dragged from her head she blinked into unfamiliar, acrid sunlight.  She raised her bound hands to flatten down the hair fluffed annoyingly against the grain by the rough fabric and scowled at her captor, but her cornflower-blue eyes and generous lips only served to give her an endearing pout.  She glanced around.  The thundering hooves she had heard must have been the rest of the gang riding away.  Only Heyes and the two men who stayed at the hotel in Sweatless remained with them.  Where was Scarlet?  Hannibal Heyes smiled at her and turned in the saddle to remove Carlotta’s hood.  Concern flickered across his face at her hollow eyes, set in a pale, wan face.


“You don’t look too great.  Are you ill?”


“Do you care?” she snapped.


He arched a brow and fixed her with a harsh glare.  “Not anymore.”   One sharp tug on the reins pulled his horse around in a cloud of choking dust and he trotted off ahead.


Charlotte frowned and kicked in her heels, guiding her gelding with her legs until she was level with the outlaw leader.  “I’ve kept quiet up until now, but I have to speak up.  You’re much too hard on Lottie.”


He turned, half-surprised, and half-admiring her unexpected riding abilities.  “I treat her exactly the same way I treat you.”


“No, you don’t.  I’ve watched you.  You’re really hard on her.  You’ll smile at me, reassure me, and even encourage me.  You’re gentle.”  She shook her curls.  “You bark at her.  There’s never so much as a hint of a kind word.”


“Maybe that’s got a little to do with the way she talks to people, Charlotte?”


She tutted in frustration.  “You’re said to be clever, Mr. Heyes.  I’ve yet to see it, but they say that you’re very smart.”


Heyes grinned.  “Now you’re sounding just like your sister.”


“I haven’t gotten to my point yet.  Didn’t anyone ever get fed up with you seeing right through them?”


“So, you’re saying that what she sees in me is so awful that she can’t bring herself to be civil?  I’ve got to say I’ve heard better testimonials.”  He paused, staring straight ahead.  “Your sister hasn’t been smart.  Far from it.”


“She is clever and you know it.  She’s out of her depth, that’s all.”  Charlotte pinned him with the nearest her sweet features could come to a glower.  “Why do you hate that?  Do you hate what she sees in you?”


Heyes eyes slid right to glance at her.  “What’s your point, Charlotte?  A few sharp words are the least you could have expected, given your recent activities.”


She paused, forming her words carefully.  “And so could you.  You’re a criminal.  Neither you nor Carlotta occupies the moral high ground here.  Can’t you at least try to be a little more pleasant to her?”


“You don’t seem to be devastated.  I’d say that what happens to her is pretty much the same as what happens to you.”                 
    
 
“I’m a different personality.  I try to see the best in people and situations.  It’s not as though home was very happy anyway, so change isn’t necessarily bad.   I know I’ll never marry a rich man now, but I’ll still find a good one and have a happy life.  At least I’ll get to choose now.”  She shrugged.  “If I get out of here, that is.  Carlotta thinks much more deeply.  It’s both a blessing and curse.”


“I think you need to have this conversation with your sister.”


“It’s easy for you as a man, isn’t it?  You have every choice in the world, where Carlotta has none.  Being a wealthy woman means being controlled every second of every day.  It means everyone you meet has to be approved of, everything you do has to be chaperoned, and your life is completely arranged by other people.  She takes that harder than I do.  She’s very independent and hates the restrictions and rules.”


“Sounds terrible,” Heyes shrugged, “but I guess you’re miserable in comfort.”


“I think you’d hate those restrictions too, Mr. Heyes, even though you’re being dismissive.  She tried to find a way out of it.  Can’t you understand that and try to be a little kind?”  She gestured with her head towards her sister.  “She’s taking this really hard.  Just look at her.  The bottom has dropped out of her whole world.  She’s not eating or sleeping.  You don’t have to like her but you could at least try to be a little sympathetic.”


“It strikes me that she got exactly what she wanted, in a backhanded kind of way.  She made life hard for us and embarrassed her sister.” 


Charlotte’s curls bounced as she shook her vehemently.  “I thought you were supposed to be smart.  She wanted to be able to live her own life and not be a possession.  All the women in our family are commodities to be bought and sold.  My mother’s marriage was arranged, just like my grandmother’s, and her’s before that.  Angelique was married off to a man as dumb as a post because it was good for the family and they were trying to do that to us.  Lottie doesn’t want that life.  Is that a crime?”


“Yeah,” muttered Heyes.  “Life’s tough for everyone, but that’s not why she’s here.”


“It is why she’s here,” Charlotte protested.  “It was the only way.  If someone claimed the reward money we’d be forced in to a marriage.  Now it’s even worse.  She’s damaged goods and will end up with some worthless man because she hasn’t a penny in the world.  She’s taking it hard.”


A muscle in Heyes’ jaw firmed.  “What’s your point, Charlotte?  She’s in the same position as you and you’re not sulking.”


“My point?  You’ve won.  She’s lost everything.  She’s awash with apathy and sees no point in living.  Stop kicking her when she’s down.  Only bullies do that.”  He turned to look into the china-blue eyes, noting that he had underestimated the courage and resilience of the younger girl as she continued.  “Just try to be kinder.  That’s all I ask.”


“Considering what she tried to do to me and my partner, I think I’ve been real kind.  She’s alive isn’t she?”  He flashed a joyless smile.  “I treat people the way they treat me.  Speak to her if you want that to change.”                     


“Maybe I will.”  Her slim brows gathered in curiosity.  “Incidentally, where is your partner?  I heard you arguing last night.”


I thought you might,” he frowned.  “He’s gone.  Put Kid Curry out of your mind.  I know I have.”  Heyes kicked his mount into a lope leaving the girl trailing in his wake.  “Wheat, Kyle!  Let’s pick up the pace.  That train will be gone before we even get there.”


oooOOOooo


Stepping out of the telegraph office onto the wooden sidewalk, Gabe squinted into the glare of the afternoon sun and walked across the dusty street to the hotel.  Inside, he found Rita and Beulah waiting patiently for him in the comfortable lobby, their packed bags by their feet.


“Where to now, Gabe?” asked Beulah tiredly.  The constant traveling had proven harder than she’d expected.  She was older now, and she wore down faster than she had in her youth.  Oh, to be fifteen again.  Twenty-two was a ripe old age in her profession.
 

“We’re goin’ to Butte.  That’s our last stop and you can catch a stage there goin’ anywhere.”  Gabe stooped to pick up his saddlebags and their luggage.  The stage was due in twenty minutes.  He was going to miss these gals.  They’d been nothing but nice to him.  They’d never even tried any funny stuff and he was grateful for that.  Miss Charlotte held his heart and, despite Rita’s and Buelah’s beauty, he’d felt no desire for their services.


“Butte!  That’s a long ways from Laramie,” said Rita with a surprisingly happy note to her voice.  She and Beulah followed Gabe outside and walked happily next to him towards the stage depot as they continued their conversation.


“Yes’m, it is, but I’ll see you home safely.  You have my word as a gentleman.”


“We don’t want to go home,” said Beulah softly. This job had given her and Rita time to think about what they wanted.  They’d both saved up some money and with what Heyes was paying them they could make a clean start anywhere; somewhere a long ways from Laramie.  “We want to see the ocean.”


“I hear it’s real pretty, Miss Beulah, and San Francisco’s a big city.  Two pretty little gals like you ought to have no problem finding some nice men to marry,” said Gabe, encouragingly.  He’d hoped they’d give up working the fancy houses.  Sweet women like these could make any man happy, not to mention teach him a thing or two.


“Marry?”  Amused laughter bubbled up from both of the girls.  “Why on earth would we want to get married?” asked Rita.


“Well, I…I guess I thought you’d want someone to look after you,” said Gabe.


“Rita and me have been looking after each other for a long time, Gabe.  We don’t need a man to take care of us.”  Beulah hugged her dearest friend and kissed her cheek.  “We don’t need a man at all.  All we want is to go somewhere far away from men.”


“But, won’t you get lonesome?” asked Gabe.


“Not for a man.  We’ve got each other and that’s all we need.  Don’t get me wrong, we like men well enough, we just like each other better,” said Rita giving Beulah a loving glance that told Gabe, in no uncertain terms, he’d been badly mistaken about why neither gal had tried to jump his bones.
 

Blushing beet red, Gabe didn’t know what to say to the giggling girls next to him.  Instead, he quickened his step as their trilling laughter followed him to the depot.


 oooOOOooo


The thunderous blast of black powder rang through the air.  Heyes turned in the saddle and raised an arm.  “It sounds like they already got the train stopped, darn it.”  He turned to Wheat and Kyle.  “Get over there.  Ladies, hang on tight.  You’re about to get real rattled.”


He pushed his mount, rising in the saddle and urging the animal into the triple beat percussion of the lope.  He turned to check how the women were handling the pace before pushing his animal towards a gallop.  Charlotte was gamely taking up the challenge, but she was taking a forward seat and hanging onto the horn.  Carlotta was struggling even more, wobbling dangerously from side to side.  He swore under his breath and sat further back to steady the gait, pulling on the reins to slow the gelding.  He couldn’t risk injuring them at this stage.  Another glance told him a brisk trot was all they could manage.  Charlotte might be a better natural horsewoman, but they were obviously more used to carriages.  Riding at speed like this was too much for them.


Heyes’ horse whinnied in frustration; he was not accustomed to being bridled when the rest were running free and he watched the Devil’s Hole herd gallop off into the trees in dismay.  This wasn’t fair.  He could outrun the big sorrel leading the way anytime, but his human was holding him back.  He tossed his head and flared his nostrils.  Maybe next time?  No definitely; there were no maybes about it.  He’d be at the head next race.


Another round of shots burst through the air, causing Charlotte to give a little cry of alarm. 


“You’ll be fine,” Heyes nodded.  “I’ll make sure nothing happens to you.”  He mused for a moment on his talk with the younger sister and smiled at Carlotta, “to either of you.”


It took them about ten minutes longer than the gang to reach the tree line, and the sounds of shouting and whooping over the hiss of the steam engine made it clear the Devil’s Hole Gang were already at the train concealed in the thicket on the side of the hill.


“You might have gathered we’re pulling a job on the way,” Heyes dismounted before tethering his horse to a tree.  He took the bridles of both women’s mounts and led them to the same branch and tied them off securely. 


He reached out and strapped Charlotte’s bound hands to the saddle horn with a lariat before repeating the operation with her sister.  Sorry about this, ladies, but I need you to stay here.  I’ve got some work to do.  You’ll be safe enough here, not to mention secure.”  He tugged hard on the tether, making sure it wasn’t going to budge.  The dark eyes gave a warning glint.  “I’ve got someone keeping an eye on you, so don’t try anything.  I won’t be long.”


He darted up the steep siding on bent knees and disappeared into the foliage.


Charlotte tugged at her bonds.  “Do you really think he’s got someone watching us?  Uurgh, this is really tight.” 


“Does it matter?” murmured Carlotta.  “We could never outrun them even if we were to get free.  Save your energy.”


“What’s wrong with you?  I’ve never seen you so defeatist.  This is our chance.  They’re all robbing the train.”


“He’d never leave us like this.  It’s a test and I’ve no intention of failing it.  Heaven knows what he’s got in mind, but it’s a trick.”


Charlotte frowned.  “What kind of trick?”


“I don’t know,” sighed Carlotta.  “I’m sure trying to ride away would be the worst thing we could do right now.  He’s trying to break us, to show us we’re trapped.”


“Why would he do that?”


“To punish me.  Let’s just do as he says.”  Carlotta dropped her weary head.  “I can’t fight him anymore.  I really can’t.”


“Maybe not, But I can,” a male voice drifted from the verdant shadows.  “In fact, I’ve decided to make it my business.”       


Two pairs of eyes turned to the nearby bushes, where a grinning Kid Curry stepped over to their horses.  He took a knife from his boot and sliced through their bonds.  “I warned him I wouldn’t let him ask for a ransom, but he was too biggity to listen.”  He stretched up a hand to help Carlotta down, but was met with a stare of naked suspicion.  “Come on.  I’m gonna help you get out of here.”


“You!?  You expect us to go with you?  You’re a killer.”


“I’ve killed only when I had to, but more to the point I’m on your side now.  Stealin’ is one thing, but holdin’ women for ransom is another thing entirely.  I told him what I’d do, and I’m doin’ it.  Come on.  We’ve got no time to waste.  There’s no point in waitin’ until he’s got the whole gang to back him up.  We’ve got to move.”


“But we can’t outrun the gang on horseback.  We couldn’t even keep up with them on the way here,” Charlotte exclaimed.  “We haven’t a hope.”


“Will you keep your voice down?” the Kid hissed.  “We’re surrounded.”  He put his hands around Charlotte’s waist and lowered her to the ground.  “And I ain’t got any intention of tryin’ to outrun them by horse,” the blue eyes gleamed, “not when I’ve got a train.”


“A train?”  A glimmer ignited in Carlotta at last.  “How can we possibly use the train?”


“Ike can drive one; he used to work on the railroad.  Heyes uses him to move trains while he cracks the safe in an area where the robbery can’t be seen too easily from a distance.  It reduces the risk of a posse.”  He cast out a hand to indicate the copse of trees.  “It strikes me that if Ike can steal a train to move it a ways, we can steal it and drive it to the next town.  A steam train goes a faster than a horse.  It sure doesn’t tire as easy either.”


“It might just work,” Charlotte bit into her lip.  “But will he drive for us?”


“With my gun in his ribs, he will,” nodded the Kid.  He held out an arm to help Carlotta down.  “I’ll get him to drive you to the next town where you’ll be free.  Now are you gonna let this chance run through your fingers or are you willin’ to give it a go?  They’re all too busy lookin’ at the freight to be interested in the driver.”


She paused, silently pondering her options before thrusting out a delicate hand.  “I suppose we have to try.”    


oooOOOOoo


They clambered up the steep hillside towards the train, edging sideways towards the front of the train.  The Kid kept to the forefront, lying low and peering through the branches to makes sure the way was clear.  They crept ever upwards, following the bursts of hissing steam, keeping the cackling, jawing outlaws to their left as they headed for their target.  Every cracking twig or swishing branch twanged at their already frayed nerves with every step.

The way suddenly got steeper, but they were almost opposite the spurting, fizzling engine.  Carlotta suddenly slipped, sliding down the slope on her belly with her arms stretched out above her head.  She swallowed back her involuntary cry, but continued to careen down the steep gradient, grasping desperately at roots and plants on her way down.


“Stay there!” Kid urgently warned Charlotte, who was hanging gamely onto a bush.


He flipped over onto his back and slid rapidly down, kicking his way through bushes and quickly overtaking the slithering, woman in a shower of loose earth and stones.  He reached out an arm and grabbed at the first anchor he could get hold of, and then turned to grasp at Carlotta.  She stopped breathing heavily in a mixture of relief and outrage, turning to glare at the hand encircling the top of her right thigh.  “Do you mind?” the sibilant indignation rang in her whisper.


The Kid arched his brows, injured innocence glittering in his smile.  “Sorry, ma’am.  I just wanted to stop you.”


She gave a reluctant nod of understanding and clutched at a firm handhold before turning to silently insist he release her. 


“I’ll go behind,” he murmured.  “We can’t afford for you to slip again.  Come on.  We have to get back up there.”


They crawled their way back to the top, regaining lost ground until they were at the side of the track.  The Kid gestured to the women to keep low as he inched to the top and peered out.  The gang were about a hundred yards off to the left, but Ike stood looking bored and neglected in the cabin, peering up and down the line.

The Kid turned to the women.  “When I say ‘go’, you two get up there beside the driver.  Leave the rest to me.  Got that?”


They nodded, watching the raised arm intently, the keen blue eyes scanning from side to side.  “Now ...”

  
They scrambled to their feet, Charlotte stumbling a little on her riding habit on the way.  The women rushed the engine, quickly climbing aboard despite the waving arms and protests of the man aboard.  Those arms quickly pointed to the sky when the Kid’s colt was added to the mix. 


“Kid?  What’s goin’ on?” Ike demanded. 


“Drive, Ike.  Get this thing started and take us to Bear’s Ridge.”


“Huh?  No way.  Heyes’ll skin me alive.”


“And what’d ya think I’ll do to you if you don’t?”  The Kid’s eyes glittered dangerously as he thrust his weapon into Ike’s belly.


The outlaw’s brow creased.   “Well, seein’ as ya put it that way....” He turned and tapped the boiler pressure gauge.  “I gotta adjust the damper.”


“I don’t need a lesson.  I need you to get this thing movin’,” barked the Kid.


“It’ll move.  I just got to build the pressure up first.”


“They’ll see us.  I know they will.  Charlotte bit into her knuckles.  “I don’t need any more pressure than this.  Please, get it moving!”


“Not you, missy.   The steam; it runs on steam and it’s gotta be at the right pressure first.”


“Do it,” snapped, the Kid.


“I’m doin’ it, I’m doin’ it,” Ike muttered, shovelling on more coal.  “It takes as long as it takes.”


“Hey!”  A call came from the track.  “What’re you doin’ there?  I thought you’d left the Hole?”


“Darn it!  I’ve been seen by the new fella.”  He gestured towards Ike, who was still shovelling on coal and thrust his colt into Carlotta’s hand.  “Keep holdin’ that gun on him and keep low.  I need to deal with this.  I don’t think he saw you or he’d be makin’ a lot more fuss.”  He jumped down and raised an arm in greeting as he walked towards the tall man clad all in black watching them suspiciously from the bushes.  “Colin?  I was lookin’ for Heyes.”


The man’s eyes narrowed, pushing back his long coat to prop his hands on his hips.  “At the engine?  That’s a real strange place to look for a man who cracks safes.”


“I was just askin’ Ike how Heyes was,” The Kid shrugged, uneasily, glancing at the exposed handles of the weapons at Bill’s hips.  “Me and Heyes had words and I’m not sure what kind of reception I was goin’ to get.”


“Cold as a witch’s kiss, if you ask me.”  Bill glanced over his opponent’s shoulder at a flash of movement in the cab of the engine.  “He’s about as ornery as a mama bear with a bad teat.”  One eyebrow flicked up.  “Can’t say as I blame him if’n you’ve just turned up for a share of the takin’s.”


“I didn’t,” the Kid replied.  “I ain’t interested in the money.  I came to speak to Heyes.”


“You ain’t wearin’ your gun.”


The fair head nodded holding the steely gaze.  “You noticed.  I left it with my horse to show good faith.  I’m here to talk, nothin’ else.”


“It’s one of the first things I notice about any man.  The middle of a job ain’t the best time for jawin’.  Why didn’t you go back to the hole?”      


“I knew he was leavin’.  I came where I’d catch him.”  He folded his arms, presenting the older man with a formidable wall of obstinacy.  “What’s with all the questions, Colin?  Take me to Heyes.”


Bill’s brow knotted beneath the brim of the bible-black hat.  “I ain’t no butler.  Git yourself over there if you want to see him.  I got a job to do at this end of the train, but I ain’t takin’ a smaller share for your sake.”  


A huge plume of steam blasted from the engine, briefly shrouding both men in a haze of vapors which dissipated into the air. 


“Ike!” Bill called over the Kid’s shoulder.  “That engine’s gettin’ a bit lively.  Damp it down a bit or she’ll blow.”  He hooked the Kid with a glare of suspicion.  “Ike?  You in there, Ike?”


Bill stepped forward, heading towards the cabin, but the Kid side-stepped to block his way.  “He’s busy.”


More puffs blasted out from the machine, this time more aggressively and urgent.


“I guess I’ll check that out for myself,” Bill reached out a huge calloused hand and pushed the younger man aside.  He took no more than three long strides until he caught sight of a flash of blue skirt on the platform.  His right hand instantly dropped down to his gun.  “What the...?”


The Kid was on him in an instant, the older man’s superior height being matched by the younger man’s strength.  One punch to the belly made Bill double over and his right arm was seized by the wrist.  The taller man wasn’t going to go down without a fight though.  He kicked out, knocking the Kid’s feet from under him.  The men fell in a tumble off blows into another roar of angry steam which made the wheels jolt into action and the coupling joints shudder with parallel power.   Bill rolled onto his back and pushed off his lunging opponent with his legs, throwing the Kid back towards the engine.  The cowboy went for his gun once more, but the long, black coat flapped around and got in the way; giving Curry the chance to jump at the newcomer once more.   


Charlotte thrust her head over the side and yelled frantically at the Kid.  “We’re moving!  Come quick.  Now...”


He turned his head at the mention of his name and the moment went to his assailant.  Bill finally managed to drag the gun from the holster, but not before his wrist was seized and forced above his head.


The engine chuffed and puffed into action, slowly at first, but gaining speed by the second.  Charlotte waved futilely from the engine.  “Please, there’s no time to lose.”


Another cloud enveloped the fighting men, obscuring them from view once more.  A shot rang out, slicing through air and dotting the sky with birds as they scattered in panic.  By the time the rags and shreds of mist dissipated all the dismayed Charlotte could see was both men lying motionless on the ground beside the railway tracks.  The train picked up speed, rounding the bend on the hill.  She turned back to her older sister who stood stiffly with her back against the bulkhead holding the gun on the driver with both hands.


“Kid!”  Hannibal Heyes’ yell rang in their ears as the locomotive finally seemed to have enough momentum to carry them away from their nightmare.  “The blood.  What the hell happened here?”

_________________
Na sir 's na seachainn an cath - Neither seek nor shun the fight      Old Scottish proverb
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Keays

Keays

Posts : 1447
Join date : 2013-08-24
Age : 62
Location : Camano Island Washington

The Devil's Due - Chapter 17 Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Devil's Due - Chapter 17   The Devil's Due - Chapter 17 EmptyTue Feb 23, 2016 9:47 am

Oh!  What a cliff-hanger, ladies!  Things are really beginning to heat up.

I liked the conversation between Heyes and Charlotte.  It gives a nice insight into all three of them.

But what is going to happen now, between Heyes and the Kid?  If the Kid is injured, that might just soften the anger Heyes is certainly feeling towards him, but there's still going to be issues to settled there.  And now the girls are on their way towards freedom.  There doesn't seem to be much love lost between them and the outlaw leader, and they could make things pretty hot.
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The Devil's Due - Chapter 17
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