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Widow Maker

Part 2 of 2

Published: Bewildering Stories issue #161

Pulling back the twin hammers as one, she held the shotgun at her waist and pointed the barrels at the woman who fell to the floor as she tried to get up and leave the room.

“Get the hell out of my house, or so help me God I’ll pump you so full of buckshot that even the likes of my husband will never want to touch you again.”

When the woman’s wide brown eyes turned at the unmistakable click of cocked hammers, she managed to hold up a shaking hand in the belief that it would shelter her from the blast.

“Please... can’t you see I need help?” Her voice wobbled in newfound fear as she took in the steely-eyed woman with the shotgun.

“You found your way in here, now find your way the hell out and hurry before I decide you’d drag better dead than alive.”

With pained reluctance, the woman began to crawl across the room and out into the hall; using a side table to pull herself to her feet before leaning against the wall for support as she moved toward the stairs upon shaking legs.

“Keep moving; I want you out of here before I count to ten, or I’ll get you out myself. Know your place as cheap entertainment and not as mistress of my house.”

The threat seemed to work as the woman began to move faster down the wall. “And don’t you go leaving any marks that I’ll have to fix or I’ll shoot you dead now and get it over with, you hear me?”

The woman reached out for the railing and tried to pull herself down without falling as Lurrain began to call out her count.

Fortunately, by the time the woman managed to get the front door open and pulled her worthless carcass out the door, Lurrain hadn’t yet reached the half count yet; but smiled none the less at her success of dealing with another mess her husband had left for her to clean up.

“Este!” She yelled, waiting patiently for the maid who’d appeared at the foot of the stairs. “Get your things and clean up the game room; and be quick about it!”

Turning, she walked to her bedroom and shut the door, leaning back against the smooth wood with the shotgun gripped tightly to her chest and resting the barrels against the soft skin of her cheek.

The scent of the gun oil was somehow comforting to her in ways she’d never imagined.

Tonight, she would have a talk with her husband; clearing up his understanding of what the rules would be that they lived under within their home.

Realizing the cocked hammers were still at the ready, she carefully set them to safe while considering if she’d need the gun to make her argument later; coming to the conclusion that it would be better to be armed than not.

One way or another, things were going to change.

She would be damned if she wouldn’t see to it herself — musing at the thought with a wicked smile and newfound glint of determination in her eyes.

Oddly enough, the headache that had unerringly plagued her all morning seemed to have completely evaporated once she’d picked up the gun.

* * *

Daniela Blue fought back her stomach’s painful attempts to empty what just wasn’t there to empty into the weeds in front of her. On hands and knees at the edge of the road, she tried to stop her uncontrolled sobbing — relief from finally being away from that horrible room simply too overwhelming for numbed senses and her abused body to bear.

The bastard had chained her in that room for days, having his way with her before leaving without any way to release herself until the stupid bitch with the shotgun had threatened her. Couldn’t she see that it was plain as day that it wasn’t exactly her fault that she’d even been there in the first place?

When Phoebe found out what he’d done to her, there would be hell to pay; she was certain of it.

For the moment, she had to convince her battered body that it needed to reach town before she lost her way and found herself stuck in the damned woods.

The thick branch her fingers had discovered lying in the grass where she’d fallen served as a walking stick that would support her while she made her way; limping barefoot down the winding dirt road.

At least she still had her robe, she mused trying to bolster her battered spirits.

Intent as she was on her goal, she almost ran into a thin young Negro woman who’d been standing quietly while watching her approach.

Black Negro hair lay neatly braided to each shoulder, while dark chocolate brown eyes seemed to devour her.

Dressed in a light brown long coat as she was, Daniela figured she was just another addition to the stable sent to check up on her... finally; damned Phoebe and his inability to remember who was where and for how long.

Pulling herself up from her stooped crouch, Daniela stared at the woman as unblinking eyes looked back and the woman continued to smile pleasantly, looking her up and down with clear appraisal.

“What do you want?” Daniela growled, annoyed that the Negro was still blocking her path and had not offered to help her. Couldn’t she see by Daniela’s state of near undress that she was not interested in stopping to chat? Didn’t her wounds indicate she needed help? Were all Negro’s this damned stupid?

The woman just continued to smile as one of her dark hands came up to gently caress the edges of Daniela’s robe which had come open revealing what little it had covered.

“I said... what the hell do you want?” Daniela repeated, batting the woman’s hand away as she tugged the robe closed and tried to push her way past. When the Negro still hadn’t moved, she dropped the branch and tried to shove the obstinate woman out of the way using both hands with little success.

By the time Daniela realized she’d been lifted effortlessly from her feet by a dark hand to hang in the air above the woman; she’d become frightened enough to kick at the woman when her smile revealed fangs and her eyes turned dark red.

She felt her robe fall from her shoulders as she struggled against the woman’s iron grip.

“I’ve been hungry and waiting for someone like you all day,” the Negro replied; voice soft and filled with mirth.

* * *

Luscious Scaggs snapped the rains as he directed the buggy toward his home, thoughts weighing heavily upon his mind of how wrong the simple plan to remove the sheriff had gone.

His hair was dark, with early signs of gray; his tie remained askew and his suit coat wrinkled from watching the inept men he’d hired fall in disgrace. He had left town shortly afterwards in a mood dark and filled with angered disappointment at their failure.

Not only was the Sheriff still alive, he’d managed to take out the men set to kill him along with Crochets — his trusted head of security. Had Crochets been smart and not pulled his derringer, he’d probably still be alive.

Apparently, no one had thought to keep an eye on either the pet Indian squaw that the Sheriff kept, or the Negro who worked steel in the forge.

The very thought of the Negro or the dark skin bringing a gun against him was intolerable and fraught with danger of future insolence; the likes of which he’d refuse to suffer or tolerate.

Both had proven to be quite good at using rifle and shotgun alike. The Indian also demonstrating her native skills with bow and arrow by shanking poor Willie from the water tower. That had been impressive once he’d realized what she’d done and why Willie hadn’t taken his shot when the opportunity had presented itself.

He’d had his share of Indian women during the war, and his disgust with their unclean ways was almost overwhelming. Perhaps once he got rid of the sheriff, he’d teach this Indian some real manners like those that he’d shared with the whores from Phoebe’s.

Swearing as he realized he’d left the last one chained up, he figured to have a mess for the maid to clean up once he got back. Damned if he wasn’t going to have to come up with some way to remind himself to let them loose before he left. Perhaps his wife had taken that chore upon herself while he’d been away. Such thoughts bringing amusement of her learned servitude — such as they were.

The sight of the young Negro woman standing by the side of the road as if waiting for him was a most welcome sight on a day such as this. Dark chocolate brown eyes studied him from beneath neatly braided Negro hair covering soft dark skin the color of the Negro in the forge. As he pulled up next to her, he tried to recall the last Negro woman he’d seen in these parts, let alone walking the roads.

“I’m in search of employment; would you be in need of a maid?” She asked pleasantly, full lips curved in a smile as she stepped up to his carriage.

Luscious breathed in her enchantingly sweet scent as he held out his hand and helped her up to sit beside him. “Always looking for good help. Perhaps we can discuss a contract at your new home.”

Wrapping her arm through his, she leaned against him as the buggy moved forward again. “Thank you kind sir,” she replied with the soft purr of contentment echoing in her voice.

Luscious mused of his change in luck as the woman took in their home as they approached. Perhaps things weren’t going as bad as he’d thought they were.

* * *

Lying back against the rough bark of the log she’d landed against, Daniela Blue relaxed as if she were lying against the soft cushions of a couch with her broken left arm resting along the top of the log. She brought her other hand up from the end of the branch that had impaled her; trying to focus on the blood that covered it after having grasped the end which jutted from her breast. Her vision blurring as it faltered, she looked at blood mixed with bits of other things she didn’t want to know about smeared across her palm.

Oh goddess...” she moaned softly in despair.

It was odd how she couldn’t feel pain from the branch as she thought she should have — meaning that it was bad and would only get worse.

When the coach had appeared carrying her savior sent by prayer through the powers of the goddess herself, the Negro woman had simply tossed her down the hill with little effort, where she’d tumbled and fallen hard against the log.

There was an intense sharp pain through her back and then nothing, as she lay there sprawled against the log. She wasn’t even upset about having lost her robe along the way leaving her without a stitch of clothing. It wasn’t as if it would keep her warm anyway, she mused tragically.

She knew beyond doubt that she was dying. She’d begun to feel cold; shivering on what was otherwise a warm and beautiful day — blood-loss from the branch slowly draining her body of its sustenance and energy.

The sky was blue, dark but clear and birds sounded in the trees nearby. Their songs had brought such joy when she was young.

She caught herself remembering her childhood. Such were bad signs of the pending end the goddess had chosen for her, perhaps in retribution for selling herself as she had.

Her breath caught and became short making her cough up blood that dribbled down her chin — telling her that the branch had taken a lung on its way through.

Sorrow filled her as she realized she’d never see her parents or sister Clementine again; however glad she was that they wouldn’t know what had become of her since she’d left them in search of her destiny.

Curiosity of which animal would find her first flirted through her thoughts, making her think it would be a wolf or fox most likely going for the soft meat while others would fight for the rest.

A flicker of light caught her eye as something fluttered like a small bird down the hill toward her, settling almost in her lap as it sparkled in the sunlight.

She realized it was a seeker sent by her sister to find her. They’d appeared more and more often as Clementine had begun to look for her. If Clementine had sent a seeker, she’d undoubtedly soon follow, and that was not something Daniela could allow.

Holding her bloody hand beneath the flickering seeker, she focused the last of her energies to send a message that would not make her sister want to follow.

Not quite the adept student of spellcraft as Clementine had proven to be, she could still remember the one spell her mother had managed to teach her in the event of an emergency.

Corporal transference was a spell most often used in battle, passing injuries to the enemy that they had inflicted themselves.

It would be Daniela’s final gift to her sister if she could make her stop trying to look for her, as painful as it would be to convince her that she didn’t want to be found.

The seeker floated as her bloody hand relaxed and fell from beneath it, suddenly blinking out of existence itself as the message had made its way back through the link.

Dying eyes watching ants flitter across the dirt, her mouth dropping open as her body twitched and sat still; one knee brought up by cramped muscles while her other lay stretched out and useless. Wounds across her back were no longer visible, and her cheeks were smooth again as Daniela’s spirit rose and moved on leaving her body relaxed against the tree. Greeting her with open arms, her goddess comforted her and led her away.

* * *

The End


Copyright © 2004, 2005 by Robert L. Sellers Jr. All rights reserved.
Please do not use without permission of the author.

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