secret_history: (Beyond the Pale)
[personal profile] secret_history
Hola, faithful and long-suffering readers!

Thank you for bearing with me here as I try to catch up on three days' worth of delay. I am going to try my very best to be all caught up by the end of the week, but I can sadly make no promises.

In any event, here is the next instalment!

*****


Emily Smith was not a woman accustomed to being intimidated by ruffians, or indeed, by anyone at all. Her heart was hammering in her chest, and her hands were clammy, and the the shotgun barrel pointing directly at her head seemed several times larger than it ought, but she was damned if she was going to let herself be ordered around like some fainting flower. Surreptitiously she moved her hand in her purse, adjusting her grip on her small revolver so that her finger rested alongside the trigger. The robber, apparently deciding that she was no threat to him, moved toward a window to look outside. She could hear gunfire from outside, and the sound of people shouting and running. This was her chance. While the robber’s back was turned she yanked the revolver from her purse and pointed it at his head.

“Get out of my coach!” she cried, hoping she sounded less shrill than she did to her own ears.

The man jumped, startled, and turned with a disbelieving look on his face. Slowly, the look turned into a smug, knowing smile, as though he knew everything that was going through her mind.

“Well, the little lady’s got some spark to her,” he drawled, casually flipping his shotgun around to point back at her chest. “Just what do you think you’re going to do with that little pea shooter, now?”

The insufferable man! “I’ll shoot you if you don’t leave.”

The man seemed amused now. “Oh, will you now? I don’t think you will. You nice lady-types, you ain’t got the nerve to do something like that. You been brought up all genteel-like. You ain’t got it in you to shoot a man. That takes nerves o’ steel, and it ain’t civilized. No, Missy. You just sit yourself back down in that plush seat and drop that little toy gun that makes you feel all fierce, or I’ll plug a big old hole in your spine with my real gun, hear me?”

Emily felt her resolve beging to waver. This wasn’t how she’d envisioned this happening at all. She’d somehow thought that the very fact that she was resisting would convince this man that she wasn’t worth terrorizing, except that he didn’t seem all that convinced. Should she shoot him? There would be no going back once she’d pulled the trigger. She had to be sure that she was ready to kill him, and she wasn’t sure. She bit her lip, and saw a look of triumph come over her antagonist’s features.

“That’s right, Missy. You drop it now, and maybe I won’t kill you.”

There was a huge commotion just outside the door to her car at that moment: a terrible roaring and shouting and cursing, and the door splintered open with a mighty crash, revealing a huge, incredibly filthy Mexican man wielding a shotgun. He’d emptied both barrels into the door before kicking it open, and Emily sat down hard in her seat out of sheer astonishment. The man was covered in filth and what looked like it might be blood, and he reloaded his shotgun with a deceptively easy-looking gesture before pointing it directly at the hapless robber’s chest. The robber simply stood, mouth agape, his face the very picture of disbelief. Emily, who spoke a little bit of Spanish, barely caught the words that roared from the great Mexican’s mouth:

“You will remember me as La Muerte!”

With that, he emptied both barrels directly into the robber’s midsection. Emily caught sight of the glint of white bone as the flesh disintegrated under the impact of the pellets. She dropped the gun and the purse, clamping both hands over her mouth in an attempt both not to scream and not to be violently sick to her stomach. To her horror, the big Mexican man then pulled out a rusty serrated knife and began systematically sawing at the dead man’s neck, sending blood spurting in all directions as he did so. She felt her gorge rise, and tasted bile on her tongue, all her thoughts turning in one direction: to get as far away from the vile creature as possible. She darted past him, keeping her eyes averted, and bolted from the train as fast as she could, jumping to the platform and scrambling in the direction she thought safety might lie.

The platform was almost deserted, its occupants having long since fled to the safety of the buildings. She stopped after a moment, realizing that no one was coming after her, and looked around. A man was sprawled face down on the platform, and by his uniform she recognized him as the conductor. By the looks of him, he was quite dead, and she felt a pang of pity for him: he’d seemed like a nice man. The sound of gunfire from the other end of the train drew her attention. Looking over, she saw a lone figure making its way along the train, hugging the cars, a pistol in one hand. She couldn’t tell who it was, nor what they were trying to do, but it didn’t seem to be one of the robbers. If anything, the people in the caboose were shooting at the lone figure, who continued implacably, unflustered by the gunfire. On an impulse, Emily decided that she ought to help. Someone had abandoned an umbrella on the platform, and she snatched it up and ran after the figure.

She stopped short as she caught sight of another silhouette making its way stealthily along, coming up behind the first with a pistol raised. The nerve! Emily was furious. First they shot at the train, then they invaded her private coach and filled it full of bullets, and now they were going to ambush the only person who was trying to help. Brandishing her umbrella, she sprinted forward and with a yell that was perhaps closer to a scream she brought the umbrella down over the man’s head with all her strength. Stunned, the man she’d hit staggered and went to one knee, his pistol clattering to the ground.

“What the hell?”

The first figure whipped around, pistol raised, and to Emily’s surprise she saw for the first time that it was a young woman about her age, dressed in men’s clothes, her long black hair pulled back in a tight braid. Emily froze in her tracks, broken umbrella still clutched in her hands.

“Don’t shoot me!”

The young woman raised her pistol, holding it by the barrel, and brought the butt down with all her strength on the head of the unfortunate sap that Emily had just clubbed with the umbrella. He crumpled to the ground, completely unconscious. “Who the hell are you? And thank you,” she added, almost as an afterthought.

“You’re welcome. I’m helping,” Emily pointed out unnecessarily.

The other woman gave her a disbelieving look. “You know how to fire a gun?” When Emily nodded, she pointed at the pistol the man had dropped. “You’re going to need more than a broken umbrella. Stay behind me, and watch my back.”

Another shot rang out from the caboose, and Emily bit her tongue hard in order not to shriek as she held the pistol in both hands and tried to keep watch for unseen enemies. The woman she’d just saved kept moving forward, ignoring the bullets that seemed to be coming from everywhere. Finally she stopped, what seemed only yards away from the source of all the gunfire, and fired several shots directly into the window of the caboose. There was a yell of pain, and the sound of something heavy falling to the floor, followed by muffled cursing. Then a male voice rose above the rest.

“Stop shooting at the damned caboose! There are prisoners in here!”

The woman snorted quietly to herself. “Oh, you have got to be kidding me,” she muttered, although Emily was left in the dark as to what she might have meant by that.

“What’s going on?” Emily asked in a stage whisper.

“I got at least one of them,” the woman confirmed. “That means we’ve got at least two more left to deal with. I heard at least three different guns going off.”

“How can you tell?”

“I just can. Stay here, and keep your head down. I’m going around the back.”

Obediently Emily crouched down and made herself as small as possible, watching as the woman hurried along the side of the train to the back of the caboose. A moment later, just as she rounded the corner, Emily saw a shaft of light illuminate the tracks, as though someone had opened the back door of the caboose, letting the light spill out into the dark night. The woman cursed and tried to duck back just as a male voice said authoritatively:

“Freeze!”

At almost the same time, another shot rang out, and the woman flinched and clapped a hand to her shoulder. She spun around, levelled her pistol at the assailant that Emily couldn’t see, and fairly snarled at him.

“Drop your weapon, or I won’t leave enough of your brain to scoop up with a spoon.”

Emily shivered at her tone, which apparently had the desired effect, because a moment later she heard the sound of a pistol clattering to the ground.

“Hey, what’s your name?” the woman called back to her.

“Emily.”

“Emily, I need you to come and watch this guy. Keep your gun pointed at his head, and if he so much as twitches, shoot him.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I’m going after the last guy.”

*****

Date: 2009-02-02 04:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-exclamation.livejournal.com
Welcome back!

t!

Date: 2009-02-02 06:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] secret-history.livejournal.com
Thank you! I am clambering back on the bandwagon this week. Never say die, never surrender, etc.

Date: 2009-02-05 12:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elanya.livejournal.com
cool, I knew i was getting behind again, and your post about not being able to post reminded me to catch up :V

I like Emily ^-^

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