I wish I could tell you that I simply strode into the next town over, found the bastard Darryl Farnsworth, and brought him, kicking and screaming, to justice. But that would be a lie. A good lie, but a lie nonetheless.
Instead I walked into town to find that Darryl had run again. It also seemed that he didn’t much care for the company of that assassin’s partner. They found him about a mile outside of town, floating in a river with his throat slit. I told a bad lie then. Said I was the man’s kin and that I’d take care of the body. I pretty much just buried him where I found him, but not before taking a locket I’d found in his pocket. I had plans for that.
I wish I could lie and say I found him in the town after that. Or on the train I’d heard he’d boarded a week later. Or in that west coast city I stopped in a month after that. Or that I’d finally sniffed him out in any one of a dozen camps, shacks, villages, or pits I found myself in over the next year and a half.
I wish I could tell you that I found him at all. That my eagle-like senses were sharp twenty-four hours a day, that I missed no detail, left no stone....you get the picture. I wish I didn’t have to tell you that it was him who found me. I wish I could say I sensed him hiding in the bushes on the side of that trail, that I leapt at him, that I...did a damn thing besides go whistling past him like a rube.
And I really wish he hadn’t shot me in the back as I went past. .
He used a shotgun again, peppering my back and leaving a pattern that eerily matched the one he’d put in my front almost two years prior. I hit the ground, shocked again by how my undead body could still feel pain so intensely, and drooled into the dirt for a while. I still wasn’t sure what had happened when I felt that hot barrel start singeing the back of my head where Darryl had it pointed.
“Finally. Fucking finally,” he said to me, all breathless and excited. “Do you know how many people I had to kill to keep you from finding me? Legions. It gets old, you know? I mean, I don’t mind killing whores for whore-killings sake, but to sacrifice people so that my tracks get covered by the dark gods, well, that’s just boring.”
I rolled over quick so I could look at the bastard, fumbling for my gun while I did it. It wasn’t the smoothest of actions and Darryl took my left hand off with his shotgun for my efforts. It was strange. Looking at my hand one second, with its weird bent pinky and odd lumps, and then next to see it obliterated in a blast of smoke and fire. I howled as I looked at the stump, ripping the stitches out of my mouth in the process.
I noticed that instead of blood a thin greyish-blue smoke rolled lazily out where my wrist used to be. The same smoke rolled out of my mouth and, I assume, out of the holes in my back. It was my essence, my soul, leaking out of the shell Clive had sewn it into.
“Well, that just looks weird,” Darryl said. “I wonder how long it will take to bleed out. And you didn’t think you were the only one who made mystical deals did you? Did Clive show you a few tricks? Like he did me?”
That surprised me. I kept howling though, even though the pain was already fading. Everything was fading actually, but I felt it best to let him think I was still mad with agony.
“Oh, yeah. I don’t know what he told you, but Clive was as evil as evil gets. Way worse than me. The only reason he was so bent out of shape at me was that I sacrificed his daughter before he could. Then the bastard had to sic her spirit on me. Arrogant prick just couldn’t let it go.”
Something that’s way worse than dying is hearing someone gloat while you do it. I rolled back and forth in the dirt, reaching down to my boot while I did it.
“And so then he sends you after me. He couldn’t just let you die and come after me himself. So what did he tell you about me? That I was a mad killer? That I was insane?”
“No...,” I stammered up at him. “He....told...”
“What?” Darryl leaned over me, grinning at me with brown teeth. “Speak up, I can’t hear you over the sound of you dying.”
“He said...,” I opened my eyes and looked at his squirrely-bastard face. “That you were a dead man.”
I sunk the knife that I kept in my boot right up to the hilt in his crotch. I wish I could say I didn’t laugh like a loon when I saw the look, a delightful mixture of pain and shock, on his face. He hit the ground and I was on him quick as a snake, my intact right hand repeatedly slamming him in the face as fast as I could lift it.
I wish I could tell you that it ended then. That I finished him off on the trail and moved on to my great reward or damnation. That I showed mercy to the merciless.
Instead, I should probably tell you what I did next.
To be concluded....