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Train Ride

The room was cold and dim, like a lion’s cage at a carnival. The soft glow from the lantern light seemed to cast shadows in every direction. Jessica Maxwell sat quietly in her hard-backed chair and listened to all the dull sounds of the Bullet Train as it roared through the desert tundra at break-neck speeds. They had been traveling in the wilderness for what seemed like eternity. Each day that went by without action only seemed to make Jessica go crazier and crazier. All work and no play made Jessica feel anxious in a way that was almost unbearable; it felt like little army-ants where crawling under her skin. Like a nervous tick, she felt like she had to kill something to release the stress mounting in her head and tight muscles. She felt like she had to pass the time somehow; so she did it by practicing her draw over, and over, and over.

Jessica’s soft, slender fingers worked quickly as she pulled her guns in and out of her dark leather holsters. She spun the weapons gracefully in symmetric circles as she watched the flames in the lanterns dance like fire flies in an open field. Occasionally she would toss the spinning weapons behind her back and catch them in the opposite hands. Her movements were flawless and smooth for such a young outlaw as she was. She rarely made a mistake and when she did she just practiced harder.

Jessica was one of the fastest and smartest outlaws that Wichita City had ever seen. She was also one of the most beautiful and deadly that Wichita City had ever had the misfortune of attracting. Men and boys alike would travel for miles over the blistering hot Tarmac Desert just to take a small peek at her blond curls and navy blue eyes. She had been proposed to more time than she could count on one hand, some of them being by Governors and rich dignitaries. She had the whole world in her slender little hands, and all she wanted was, more, more, more! She wanted more men drooling over her foxy figure. She wanted more money to buy all the good things in life; from garters to the fancy perfume that were made up north in the Blue Mountains. She wanted more drugs to dull the pains of her terrible childhood… but what she wanted more than anything was to be feared!

“That’s what I want,” whispered Jessica to the darkness that enshrouded her mind. She holstered her weapon and stood up slowly. Her slender back was throbbing from all the practicing she had done. It was common for outlaws to practice for hours and hours without stopping; when outlaws minds got moving nothing could stop them. There was a reason why they were the most feared in the Tarmac. There was a reason why they were employed by self-righteous dignitaries, and there was a reason why they were near impossible to kill by normal men. Outlaws were all born with an ability to move faster than anyone.

Jessica was no exception to this special rule; she could move like there was no tomorrow. She had killed hundreds of love struck men before, but only three outlaws. Outlaws were hard to kill manly because time stopped just as quickly for them as it did for her. To kill an outlaw you had to be smart and insanely cunning.

Jessica grabbed her leather coat off the writing desk and put it on over her shoulders. She absolutely loved the long leather cowboy coats for a lot of reasons. One of reasons was they hid her dueling pistils and eight-inch military buck knifes very well. The other reason was they accentuated the delicate curves of her muscular body. She practically looked like a goddess from ancient mythology. To the unsuspecting world, Jessica was nothing more than an angel that had come down from her heavenly dwelling.

I am just too good for this blasted world, thought Jessica. I just want to get back to civilization and have a little fun before the next train ride. She picked up her worn leather hat and stuck it on her tight blond curls. She looked in the mirror at her well-developed features and smirked playfully. Her cheeks were rosy and full of life this particular evening.

“Who is it?” she called out after a minute or two.

The door to her dimly lit room opened up slowly. A man with a white cowboy hat and a handle bar mustache came in.

“How did you know it was me, Max?”

“I could hear you coming down the hall from a mile away. Your boots have a peculiar rhythm about them. You sound like a wounded heifer trying to crossing a cattle guard.” She didn’t turn to face the repugnant man like she usually did when he showed up. Her big blue eyes were still shifting over here smooth skin. She hadn’t seen a blemish on her soft features in four months. She was being pampered too much in the train; I don’t think I’ll ever see action again, thought Jessica with a frown.

“Do you have any good news for me, Sheriff Miller?”

“I didn’t even make a sound.” He looked down at his boots. “How could you–”

“You don’t need to make audible sound for me to hear you, Sheriff. Your rhythm and style is what makes you unique. The way you displace the air is enough for an outlaw to find you and kill you. It’s what makes my job so much fun. Oh, and the fact that you smell like salted pork strips helps a little too.” She turned and gave the man a seductive glare. She loved toying with fools like this. Common people from the cities would believe anything you told them, mainly because they read books about outlaws doing amazing things in the desert. “Now, do you have the report from Bill or is this about the engine room again?”

“You tell me miss smarty pants, you’re the one that can read minds,” protested the Sheriff sharply. He had heard about enough of this woman’s mouthing off to last him a whole life time. She hadn’t stopped talking herself up sense they had left the southern country and passed into the Tarmac.

“The only reason I agreed to maintain this train was so that I could have complete control over the crew and its faculties.” She raised a thin dark eyebrow pensively. Her face seemed to go into pout mode as she got closer. “That means I own you, Sheriff.”

Sheriff Miller got tenser as she got closer. He had never really been afraid of a woman before in his life, but this one scared the whiskers off of him. It was as if the bloody girl was in her own world half the time, thinking about who knows what. She was deluded to say the least and he couldn’t believe that Governor Whitecliff had left her in charge of his most valuable asset, namely the gold and the Bullet Train. “I am not you property, cupcake. I am only doing this because Governor Whitecliff wanted me too. If I had to make the decision I would have thrown you out on the Tarmac ages ago, but I don’t have it my way.”

“You seem tense, Sheriff” Her eyes were penetrating but soft. “Why so nervous?”

“Stay away from me devil; you outlaws aren’t the only ones capable of killing someone who gets too close to them, and believe me I won’t hesitate” He reached into his coat and pulled out a yellow piece of paper. He handed it to her with caution, being careful not to give her an advantage should worse come to worse. “This came in a few minutes ago from the communication room. It’s from that lousy spy of yours.”

Jessica smiled at the Sheriffs cute attempt to be tough. Men like him were always competing for the alpha male position; as if there wasn’t enough testosterone on the train to begin with. The whole bloody thing was man operated and controlled. It must really burn his biscuits knowing that I’m in his position right now, giving out the orders, thought Jessica amusingly. He must feel like a bull gone steer. She had been messing with his mind throughout the whole trip; she was looking for an opportunity to kill him. She wanted to push him to the point of no control; most men had a snapping point.

Jessica slender fingers ran over the Sheriff’s meaty hand as she retrieved the message from Bill. Her perfume wafted up from her glistening skin and attacked the Sheriff’s senses like a swarm of killer bees. A massive shiver ran down Sheriff Miller’s back and stopped at his toes with a tingle. It felt like he had become paralyzed. Jessica pulled away from him and looked down at the letter and started to read it.

“I think all you outlaw’s should be caged and shot. It’s not right having you inhuman creatures walking around the desert like you do; stealing things and taking lives. If it were up to me I would throw you in the coldest cell I could find and leave you there to rot!”

Jessica giggled. “You’re so romantic, Sheriff.”

“I’ll show you romantic,” barked the Sheriff as he reached for his side arm. “I caught you once before and threw you into a cell. I can do it again–”

Jessica spun around before the Sheriff could finish his sentence and released an eight inch carbon blade into the air. The deadly projectile whistled loudly as it tore through the Sheriff’s hat and stuck into the back wall with a thud. Sheriff Miller cried out in shock and tripped over his spurs simoltaniously. His back hit the hard ground and skid back a whole foot. His heart was pounding in his chest and his hands were trembling from the shock. A thin stream of blood rolled down his forehead and dripped off his broad nose. She had just lightly cut open the top of his scalp with the deadly projectile. His eyes glared up at Jessica in complete amazement. He had never seen something happen so fast before.

“You didn’t catch nothing, Sheriff!” Her face was flat and cold like steel. Her left hand moved across her slender body faster than lightening. The Sheriff didn’t have enough time to react before another steel blade screamed through the air and tore into his right ear. Blood splattered against the far wall and dripped onto the wooden floor. He cried out in pain; it felt like his eardrum had exploded inside his head.

“You didn’t catch nothing!”

Jessica screamed wildly and shot another blade into the air, this time she cork screwed it into the thick wooden floor between the Sheriff’s exposed legs. The long knife gave off a low vibration as it sank three inches into the ground. The Sheriff jumped back as the seam in his lower pants split open from the knife. He knew she had missed deliberately to prove a point to him. To show to him that he could easily be executed. Jessica pulled out her gun and pointed it at the Sheriff’s head. Her finger slid up and down the trigger rapidly.

“I let you catch me for the same reasons I took Governor Whitecliff’s offer, so that I could kill a desperate man that has been following me for well over five years of his mortal life. I want to be free of his vindictive obsession and soon I will be.” She watched as the man on the floor held his ear and squirmed backwards; everything that was in her wanted nothing more than to blow the front side of his skull into the back side of his skull. She refrained as she continued, “I made sure to play all my card right so that I could be the outlaw that got to take command over this Bullet Train when elections rolled around. Governors Whitecliff wouldn’t have let me otherwise. It’s a win-win situation for both of us, I get to kill Maenad and The Governor of Balballing get’s his gold for the campaign he is about to launch on the world.” She pointed at the Sheriff and growled, “I own you, you are my property and I can do with you however I please you hear me.” She darted up faster than lightning and kicked the Sheriff as hard as she could in the gut. The Sheriff groaned and cringed. “I have killed men far tougher than you will ever be.”

Two guards sprang into the room at that moment; Jessica gave them a cold, hard stare as then entered. They could both tell that she was in a bad mood this particular evening and didn’t want to be messed with.

“We heard someone call out?”

They both looked at the Sheriff lying on the ground. He was in pain.

“What happened here?”

“I am releasing Mr. Miller of his office as Sheriff on this Train.” Stated Jessica in the most sane voice she could muster. “I want you to tie him up and throw him off the train as soon as possible. Let the desert deal with his none-sense because I am getting tired of it.”

Both men looked a little apprehensive.

“You want us to throw him off the moving train?”

“Do it, and get me a new messenger boy, one that’s cuter than this old fool.” Jessica’s voice was cold like ice. “I have more important things to worry about right now than this dirt bag on the floor.” She turned and tucked her gun back in its holster in one smooth motion. “Shut the door on your way out; I do not want to be disturbed any more this night. If I am disturbed again I will kill you all so help me.” She looked down at the yellow parchment paper that the ex-Sheriff had given her moments ago. It appeared that the outlaw Maenad was with the crew that was going to attack the train in the morning. Only Governor Smash would be so daft as to hire a loose cannon like Maenad to do his dirty work just before elections, thought Jessica. His attempt will fail and I’ll get what I want.

I’ll finally be free of Maenad.

Jessica had been planning it this way from the beginning. She smiled devilishly at the thought; it had been a while since she had had a real gun fight with someone just as experienced as she was. Maenad had proven his effectiveness in the past when they had worked together on that IBC Bank robbery. The man was slightly faster than regular outlaws, but then again so was Jessica. I’ll see you in the morning Maenad sweetheart, she thought as the workers hauled the bloody Sheriff out of the room. I look forward to settling the score once and for all. She threw the paper into the air and fired all twelve of her rounds through it without even blinking an eye. Bullets dinted and jumped of the fixtures.

Shredded paper went everywhere.

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