A large metal gate, aged mercilessly with rust beckoned in the distance, it’s red coloring the only solace from the brown and blonde tones that seemed to never end.
Approaching it was a large man with a matching cloak and hat, billowing in the wind and sending the smoke from his cigar flying upwards. He approached the door next to the gate where a skinny, frail, bespectacled man sat.
“Open the gate.” He said, tipping his hat.
“Twenty,” He said, with a thick accent.
“Twenty what? Twenty dollars? To get into the fucking city?” He asked.
“Yes,” The man said whilst grinning.
The man pulled a large pistol out and shot the old man in the head, the bang echoing across the wastelands ground into the far off distance. The old man slumped in his chair, lifeless gray eyes peering into the horizon.
He reached into the small cubicle and pressed a button causing the gate to slowly rising with an ear bleeding creak.
He walked into the empty main street of the town and stopped, his large boots making an imprint in the wet sand. A sign hung across two tall buildings showing the name of the town.
“Well ain’t that the least suspicious title,” He said with a twinge of humor.
He continued down the street to the only place with noise; the tavern and bar.
The doors to the tavern swung open, halting the music that was previously carrying itself out into the dustless streets. All eyes flicked to the man who had entered, careful not to turn their gaze too much.
He walked up to the bartender, a huge man that towered above the already large man.
“What’ll you be having?” The bartender asked.
“Teroh, neat” He replied.
The bartender let out a boisterous laugh that shot through the silence and started up the music and talking again.
“Shit, I haven’t had anyone ask for that drink since I traveled to North Inco in my youth. Where are ye from?” He said, polishing a glass.
The bartender retrieved a dusty and large old bottle filled with golden liquid out from under the bar and poured it.
“Here you are.” He said, sliding the drink towards the man.
In the instance, the glass hit his finger five barrels of five pistols pressed against the back of his head.
“I reckon you better answer the question there, friend.” The bartender said, lighting a cigarette.
“What question is that?” He asked, a smile eating up his face.
“You trying to get a bullet in your back?” One of the men behind him said, cocking his gun.
The man swung back his drink and tapped the bar.
“One more, for the road.” He said.
“And’ where the fuck do you think you’re going?” Another man behind him said.
In a flash, the man was on the ground clutching his chest.
Another one’s head was now painting the wall.
Bang, bang, bang.
They all went down before they even fired a shot off.
The bar went silent, the rest of the patrons looking at the lone man standing in the middle of five dead bodies.
“Not where they were going, I’ll tell you that much.” He said.
The man adjusted his hat and sat back down.
“I got a few questions, mind answering them?” He said.
“Sure thing Mister… Uh..” He tampered off.
“I’m looking for a man.” He said, swinging back another drink.
Blood dripped down the table, splashing into a pool of crimson. The man sat, surrounded by corpses of everyone who was unfortunate enough to be in the bar. The barkeeps lifeless head was covering a piece of parchment with writing on it, which the man took and folded carefully into his pocket. He finished his last drink and got up halfway when he heard footsteps and a scream from the doorway.
“What.. W-what the fuck. Everyone is… dead?” A younger girl said, her voice dripping with confusion and fear.
“They’re dead, yeah. They’re pretty dead.” He said, putting a cigar in his mouth that seemed to light itself.
“Why… Who… I’ll kill you, I’ll kill you!” She screamed.
“You have some fire in you huh? Come have a drink, help yourself even. It’s in the house.” He replied.
She collapsed on started to sob on the floor.
“Crying only makes you dehydrated, you know.” He said, still nursing his drink.
“You aren’t from around here. Who are you? Why did you kill all my friends?” She said, asking each question between sobs.
“How did you know I’m not from around here?” He asked. He put down his drink and walked up to her, lifting her by the collar of her shirt up to his face.
He looked into her eyes, expecting fear, but he was taken aback for a moment. There was only fire and misery.
“The way you talk is too proper.” She gasped.
“What about you, you talk like me.” He countered.
“Who said I was from around here?” She asked, then spit in his face.
He laughed again, dropping her to her knees.
“I like you. I’ll make you a deal, you come with me and I’ll tell you why I killed all your friends.” He said, leaving her desolate and covered in dust. She paused for ages, looking around every once in a while. “Where are we going?” She said. She got up and dusted off her pants, grabbed a bottle and backpack from behind the bar, and took the cigar out from his mouth. He pulled out another one.
“We’re looking for a man.” He replied.
The stars and moon lit up the cloudless desert, the only unnatural light for miles was the glow of the fire.
Amelia and the man were both peering into the fire, her eyes tearing up every once in a while.
“Still crying?” He asked.
“No, the smoke is just getting in my eyes.” She said, her voice humdrum and defeated.
“The winds going the other way.” He replied. He blew smoke from his cigar up into the sky, watching it slowly being ripped apart by the wind.
“You should get some sle–”
“Which way are we going?” She asked.
“Heading North.” He answered.
“Is that where the man is?” She shot back.
“What’s so important about this guy anyway? Why do we have to find him?” She asked.
He looked at her and shook his head.
“You should get some sleep, ” He said. He turned his attention back to the fire.
“My names Amelia.” She said.
She rolled over and closed her eyes, tears still forming every once in a while just to be wiped away or fall to the sand.
She woke up to being shaken rapidly by the man.
“What the hell are you doing!?” She yelled.
He reached out to touch her again, only for her to recoil.
“You were having night terrors.” He answered.
“Yeah. I wonder why.” She said, rolling her eyes.
She paused and looked down.
“Why did you do it…” She asked.
“Ever heard of the L.L. Gang?” He said.
She shook her head.
“They have a habit of kidnapping baby girls and… Using them when they get a little older than you are now.” He said while looking down, a solemn look in his eyes.
Her eyes grew wide.
“No, my parents are dead, they died when I was just a bab–” She stopped talking. The truth set in.
“Then?” She quivered.
“Sorry, kid.” He said.
She looked up to the sky, tears now streaming down her face.
The sun blazed down on their backs, burning through their heavy wooled brownish coloured clothes. The Seck river beside them; a mockery. It’s water was boiling despite flowing constantly from a distant glacier land. It was always drinkable and free from sickness due to the heat but impossible to cool off in.
“How much longer?” She asked.
“As long as it takes.” He replied.
Back to silence. They had been walking for what seemed like hours with nothing but the sand shifting to great them at every aching step.
“How old are you?” She asked. She was craving attention of some sort.
“What?” He replied.
“You know, what’s your age?” She pried.
“Why?” He said. His eyes fixated on the distance, unwavering.
“You look old.” She said.
“Thanks.” He said. A sly smile faintly appearing on his lips.
“I didn’t mean it like that; I meant it more like you look young, but when I look in your eyes they don’t match what I see. They have so much in them.” She explained.
He simply sighed and stopped walking.
“Hot?” He asked.
“Of course I am.” She replied.
“Stand over there.” He said, pointing to a shrub.
“Why?” She asked.
He just pointed again. She crouched down by the shrub and stared at him.
“Close your eyes.” He said.
A cool feeling washed over her; like being soaked in ice water without the pain or getting wet.
“What the fuck!?” She said.
Opening her eyes all she saw was the man walking away in the direction they had before. She was cool, she touched the burning sand with her palm and it felt like a refreshing stream.
“How did you do that!?” She yelled at him.
He was slowly disappearing behind the cloud of heat.
“How did you do that?” She said. Catching up with him.
“You’re just going to not talk this whole time?” She asked.
He didn’t reply; simply staring at her until she turned her head to the distance.
They continued walking for hours and hours through the sand, the sun mercilessly crisping their skin. She thought about what had happened, how he could possibly have done such an odd thing, it was almost magic.
In the distance a faint shape grew, looming. A tower. Unbelievably tall.
“What’s that?” She asked, her voice warbling at the sheer ferocity of size.
“That’s where that man that we’re looking for lives.” He replied.
“We’re going there?” She asked.
“Yep.” He said.
They continued walking.