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Afterlife is a sci fi/western action serial published every other week. Join us in a post-apocalyptic journey through a future where life has become little more than a struggle for survival. However, where there’s life, there’s always hope.
Read the previous chapter here:
Abby has a dream about her father and Pastor Earl and decides to change her ways.
Bobby has a heart to heart with Nat Bigum.
Anna Ballin visits Nat and they agree to meet at the Crosshairs Saloon.
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Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 37
John Bernard was dressed in a dark blue suit with a blue tie as he walked next to Juanita. It was the outfit Alex Harris, now going by the name Karl Bergson, had provided while the two of them, along with Sergeant Mark Gonzalez and Ayman Ali, were masquerading as his security guards. John looked great in his new suit, with his neatly trimmed goatee, his black-rimmed glasses, and his dark brown skin. Juanita was dressed in a sleeveless black dress, and her laser pistol was hidden in the small purse dangling from her right shoulder. Her hair was done up in a high ponytail, and with the diamond earrings Alex had provided her with to help her fit in while traversing the wealthy city, she felt more elegant than she ever had in her life.
They were walking through one of the many tubeways in Las Colinas. The tube was several hundred feet above the ground, with everything glass except the metal floor, allowing for the best possible views at all times while people walked. Hanging flowering plants hung from the ceiling well above everyone’s heads, filling the tubeway with green and other wonderful colors. Juanita noticed a lot of yellow, orange, and red. Several other well-dressed people passed by Juanita and John and there were others in front of them and behind them, but it still didn’t seem particularly crowded. They were making their way to a large glass dome up ahead which was the size of a small stadium. The dome housed Ramirez Gardens, the most famous garden in the city, named after Hector Ramirez, the revolutionary who’d founded the Mexican Territory and became its first communist leader after he’d defeated the capitalists who’d ruled the country hundreds of years ago.
The city was very beautiful, but Juanita couldn’t help but see it as a kijŏngdong, a cardboard city. Las Colinas seemed fake on some level, like the communist regime was trying to show people outside that communism was so great and prosperous. The commerce bureau was supposed to be using the money generated by trade with foreign nations to help the people of the Mexican Territory, but they ultimately used it for themselves, shielding their greed with bureaucracy, while other arms of the government were flat-out incompetent or unmotivated. It was always the people who suffered. People like Juanita’s family. While the wealthy leaders and bureaucrats got fat off their hard work. Juanita always figured that communism and capitalism each had the same fundamental problem, as did every other idealized system of government: human beings are flawed. Some were greedy and corrupt, others lusted for power, and others were just flat out lazy. With communism, there was no promise of wealth to motivate people to do the best they could do. The government was mainly reliant on propaganda to motivate the people, and when things got really bad, people started to see through the propaganda.
“What are you thinking about?” John asked as they walked.
“Oh,” Juanita said, “nothing.”
“Have you been able to contact your family yet? The ones who were in Primrose.”
She frowned. “No.”
“I haven’t, either,” John said. “I hate to say it, Juanita, but I think it’s safe to assume they’re all dead at this point.”
“Don’t you think I know that?” She almost shouted. She took a deep breath and composed herself as she walked.
“I lost family, too,” John said. “My brother, his wife, my two nieces. All thanks to Devin Hellier and his war crimes. From what I hear, they killed everyone who was left behind. And we saw them kill refugees who were trying to leave as we left. It’s no secret what was happening there.”
“My father taught my three older brothers to shoot,” Juanita said. “He didn’t teach me, though. I watched and learned, and I became better than all of them. They resented me for it on some level.” She grinned. “But I loved them, and my mother, and they loved me.” The grin quickly became a frown once again. “I should have been there. I should have been there to protect them.”
“If you stayed,” John said, “they would have killed you, too. And you know it. I’ll tell you one thing, though. I hope someone captures Devin Hellier and makes him hang for what he did in Primrose.”
“Can we talk about something else?” Juanita asked. But when she was finished saying that, they were walking through the domed garden, and neither of them was saying anything. They were surrounded by trees and flowers. The flowers were planted in lines of different colors, like a big living rainbow, and the trees grew over and around them, forming a green canopy above their heads. There were fishponds and waterfalls, footbridges and park benches. Juanita tried her best to ignore the statues of Hector Ramirez that were scattered throughout, all picturing the handsome man in his military uniform, including the towering one in the center of the dome. John reached over and held her hand as they walked and Juanita smiled. He hadn’t seemed interested in other women since they’d gotten to town. It was partially because they’d spent most of their time in Alex’s mansion, but now Alex was working on selling his business along with his mansion and Mark was guarding him. Ayman Ali was back in Alex’s mansion with armed guards, though Alex had called him a guest. Alex wasn’t ready to let the newcomer wander his mansion or the city at will, though. Until recently he’d been working with Muslim extremists, after all. That left John and Juanita to sightsee or do whatever they wanted, and Juanita was happy that John had chosen to spend the day with her. She was really looking forward to spending more time with him. Maybe he’d finally given up his cheating ways. She noticed him checking out a girl’s backside as she walked by and Juanita hit his arm.
“What?” he asked.
“Watch where you’re going,” she said with a frown.
“Sorry,” John said and he squeezed her hand as they walked. “Not as pretty as you, anyway.” He looked down at her and smiled and she smiled back.
“Maybe we can try one of the restaurants this evening,” she said. “They’re expensive, but we have the money Abby gave us, and the stipend Alex gave us.”
“It’s nice working for all these rich people,” John said with a grin. “We can really do this town right. You and me.”
Juanita squeezed his hand affectionately. “Yeah.” They walked through the garden and Juanita forgot the fakeness of the city and her previous struggles for a while. She just took in the natural beauty, and enjoyed John’s company as an artificial mist filled the dome, watering all of the beautiful plants and cooling things off a little as the sun shined through the glass.
The sun was just starting to lower in the sky as Bobby waited at Maybelle Sampson’s Inn, in the restaurant on the first floor. It was a quaint, quiet place with white tablecloths and prints of Victorian era paintings on the walls. Bobby noticed there were very few windows, but the atmosphere was cozy rather than claustrophobic. Grace Owens, the woman Bobby and the others had picked up in Carpenter City, was serving him. He’d politely asked her not to take his food order until Shelly showed up, but he was having a drink. He took a swig from his pale ale as he remembered the chili he and Nat had for lunch. They’d both finally broken down and ordered Madge’s famous five alarm ghost pepper chili Basil Simmons was always trying to push down their throats, and it was as good as advertised. Super spicy, but some of the tastiest food of any kind Bobby had ever tried. Nat had felt the same way. Bobby laughed and shook his head, realizing that this dinner would probably pale in comparison. Either way, once Shelly arrived, the company would overshadow any food they ate. Hopefully Bobby and Shelly would make up and things would be like they were before, or even better. Bobby had purchased a ring from the jewelry store in town and was hoping to propose to her, but he was going to make sure he waited for the right time. The past several days had showed him that he didn’t want to face the prospect of a life without Shelly in it ever again.
The front door opened and Bobby looked up to see who it was. His heart skipped a beat and he swallowed as he watched Shelly enter the restaurant. She was as stunning as ever, dressed in a black dress that accentuated her curves. Her olive skin shone in the dim light, and her sandy blonde hair was shiny and full of body. She’d freshly shaved her sidecut, and her face was as beautiful as Bobby remembered, even with the scars Warrick Baines had left her with and the new white bandage that covered her right eye socket. Her left eye was a stunning shade of blue as she looked at him and smiled, making her way to his table. Bobby smiled back, noticing once again the dragon and tiger tattoos that were on her muscular arms. And there was a new one: a snake that wrapped around her neck once, having wound its way up her body. Its head was just under her right ear. Shelly sat across from Bobby, still smiling. “Hi, Bobby.”
“I’m sorry,” Bobby said, leaning forward to grasp her right hand, which was resting on the table. “I figure I need to get that out of the way right off the bat. I shouldn’t have stopped you from working for Nat, if that’s what you really want. I just want you to know I support you.”
Shelly nodded. “Thanks, Bobby. And I’m sorry, too. I should have come back sooner.”
“So we’re good now?” Bobby asked.
“Maybe,” she said.
“I promise I’ll never stand in your way again,” Bobby said. “I know you feel like your brother used to do that, and I never should have tried to stop you from doing what you really wanted to do. I know it’s dangerous being a deputy, but I need to let you make your own decisions. I realize that now.”
“It’s all right,” Shelly said. “Bobby, there’s something I need to talk to you about.”
Just then, Grace approached their table to take their orders. Her long brown hair was tied in a ponytail and there was happiness in her blue eyes. She was dressed in a long, blue gown she wore in a manner that fit her name. She looked so different from how she’d looked when Bobby had first met her, when her eyes had been red from crying about her son. “Are you all ready to order?”
“It’s nice to see you, Grace,” Shelly said with a smile. “It’s been a while.”
Grace nodded. “It has. It’s nice to see you, too.”
“How’s James?” Shelly asked.
Grace’s smile widened. “Oh he’s great. Never been better. The school here’s been real good for him. He’s got plenty of friends, and he’s been getting into lightball.”
Shelly nodded. “That’s awesome. Anyway, I’ll have a steak, some western fries, and a spring water.”
“I’ll have the chicken and a side of mixed vegetables,” Bobby said. He handed Grace his menu and she walked away. Bobby turned his full attention back to Shelly. “What were you going to tell me just before she showed up?”
“Well,” Shelly began, “I’ve been feeling a little sick the past few days. Nausea, and I threw up a few times.”
“Are you all right?” Bobby asked.
Shelly nodded. “So when Doctor Dayton was fixing up my face, he noticed some things about me and did some scans and… Well I’ll just come out and say it. I’m pregnant, Bobby.”
Bobby’s jaw dropped. Then he swallowed hard. “Really?” She nodded again. “That’s um,” Bobby mumbled. “Well, wow. I mean, that’s cool, I guess. I mean, that’s amazing!” He smiled, then frowned. “Do you think I’m the father?”
“I’m sure you are,” she said with a grin, “you idiot. I haven’t been with anyone else but you recently. And according to Doctor Dayton, judging from the gestational age, the baby was conceived around the time we were in Primrose.”
Bobby nodded. “Well that’s really cool.” All he could think about was the fact that this would probably make his marriage proposal way easier. He also started thinking about Alicia, though. He’d been planning on telling Shelly about what had happened, but on the other hand, he didn’t want to upset her.
“Yeah, so here we are,” Shelly said with a smile.
“Yeah,” Bobby said. “So we’re gonna be parents.”
Shelly nodded. “How’s Sherry, by the way?”
“She’s fine,” Bobby said. “She’s definitely missed you, though. She would go to the door and bark sometimes like she was expecting to see you. I’ve been taking good care of her, though.” He paused. “Shelly, have you ever considered getting married?”
She opened her mouth to speak, then swallowed, then opened her mouth again. “Not really. At least not until now.”
“Well,” Bobby said, “I know the timing might be weird and all, but what would you think about it?”
“Now?” Shelly asked. “Is this a proposal?”
Bobby felt in his pocket. The ring was there, but the timing seemed off for some reason. He didn’t want to seem like he was trying to force anything. “I’m just asking if it’s something you’ve thought about. That’s all.”
“Well,” Shelly said, “now with the baby and all, I’d say yeah, it is.”
“So you definitely don’t want to get an abortion, then?”
Shelly shook her head. “No. I mean, I’m still young. I’m twenty-six. But I don’t want to wait until I’m an old lady to start thinking about kids. I’ve lived a wild and crazy life, but maybe this is the next step, you know? Maybe it’s time for me to try my hand at parenting. I’ve always loved kids. I’ve always wanted one someday. Maybe this is someday.”
“And you’re cool having a kid with me?” Bobby asked.
Shelly smiled. “I am. You’re a good person, Bobby. You’ll be a great dad, I’m sure. And as far as timing goes, Nat’s got this town under control. I feel like we’re as safe here now as we’d ever be anywhere else.”
“But what sort of life would this kid have if we’re both deputies?” Bobby asked. “I mean, there’s a chance we could both be killed.”
Grace placed their plates on the table in front of them, along with Shelly’s water. “Enjoy,” she said before walking away.
Shelly started cutting into her steak. “I only wanted to be a deputy to help with the IAO. We may not be needed here anymore, assuming Nat has things under control. He has those new people, too, and he’s been talking about finding more. We can quit and start a farm or something. Live quietly somewhere.”
Bobby laughed. “Is that really what you’d want?” He put a piece of chicken in his mouth and chewed as he waited for Shelly’s answer.
“Sure,” she said. “I’m ready to try it. Let’s try the family life on for size. I’ve had enough violence for one lifetime.”
Bobby nodded. “And what about Abby? What about her mission? You don’t ever want to join back up with her?”
“They’ll be fine without us,” Shelly said. “Abby has Della and the Bloody Six, at least all of them except Sera, and also Big Ed to keep her safe. She’ll be fine.”
Bobby had always thought he’d see Abby again someday, but the idea of settling down with Shelly made him very happy. “Imagine us waking up together every morning. Playing with the kids. Doing whatever farmers do.”
Shelly laughed. “Neither one of us has any idea how to be a farmer.”
“We have money, though,” Bobby said. “Abby paid us a lot, and Nat’s been paying us a little too, out of the treasury.”
“And I have my millions, remember,” Shelly said. “I have more money than I’ll ever know what to do with. I’ve donated a lot to charity over the years, but I’ve saved a lot, too. Three blockbuster films and two number one albums. That’s a lot of dough.”
“Would you ever consider going back to singing or acting?” Bobby asked.
“You’re joking, right? Have you ever heard of a one-eyed actress?”
“You can sing, too. I mean, I know how much you love performing.”
Shelly frowned. “That part of my life is over, Bobby. I’m ready to move on. Parents. Farmers. Sounds good to me.” She chewed another piece of steak.
Bobby nodded. “I think I need to tell you something. Before we get too deep into this conversation.”
Shelly stopped eating and looked at him. “What is it, Bobby?”
“I…” Bobby frowned. “I cheated on you, Shelly. I’m sorry. It was with Alicia. I regretted it almost immediately. I mean, I love you, not her.”
Shelly shrugged. “I mean, we weren’t together at the time, so…”
“What?” Bobby asked. He was almost disturbed at how nonchalant her reaction was. There wasn’t any anger or sadness in her expression, only understanding.
“Would you ever do it again?” she asked. Bobby shook his head and Shelly smiled at him. “Bobby,” she said, “it’s all right. I mean, I’d even be up for an open relationship if that’s what you want.”
Bobby’s jaw dropped. He’d known Shelly was a free spirit, but this reaction seemed a little crazy to him. “No, I mean, it was a mistake. I love you. I want to be with you. I don’t want anyone else in the picture. It was a mistake and I’m sorry for it.”
“So you were with someone else, but you wouldn’t let me be with someone else?” Shelly asked. “Is that what you’re trying to say?”
“I don’t mean it like that,” Bobby said. “I meant it was a mistake. Were you with someone else? Since we’ve been together, I mean?”
Shelly shook her head, but she seemed a little annoyed. “I spent the whole time training with Sera. I stayed with her.”
Bobby frowned. “I’m sorry. What I’m trying to say is, it was a mistake and I regretted it as soon as it happened. I want to be with you and only you, and I messed up, and I’m sorry.”
“Well I appreciate you telling, me,” Shelly said. “It’s all right, Bobby. I’d say I forgive you, but I don’t think there’s anything to forgive.” She took a swig from her water.
“Okay,” Bobby said, a little confused. “There’s something else, though.” He frowned. “I haven’t told anyone about this and it’s been eating me alive. Her husband, Chuck. I feel like I sent him to his death.”
Shelly nodded, still looking at him with understanding. “Bobby, you had to send someone to check out that pass, right? Why guilt trip yourself over your choice of who to send? You didn’t kill Chuck. The IAO guys killed Chuck.”
“But I knew it was an ambush,” Bobby said. “And I didn’t say anything to him.”
“I’m sure Chuck knew it was an ambush, too,” Shelly said. “Rest in peace, but he should have been more careful. If you’d sent me, all those IAO guys would be dead. Ambush or not. Bobby, don’t guilt yourself over things that you didn’t even do. It’s all right. We’ve all done stuff we’re not proud of. And I’ve slept with guys and girls, lots of them. Maybe not since we’ve met, but still. Let’s make this our new start, okay? We start over here and now. For us and for the baby. Let’s not do anything that would hurt each other from here on out.”
“I mean,” Bobby said, “that’s impossible. People hurt each other.”
“Well let’s not do it intentionally,” Shelly said.
“When you hurt someone you love,” Bobby said, “it’s almost never intentional. But I feel like I understand what you’re trying to say.” He frowned. “Are you sure you’re not jealous at all? I mean, you aren’t the least bit mad at all about Alicia?”
“Do I have a reason to be?”
Bobby nodded. “Mad, yes. Jealous, no. She’s nothing to me.”
“You have every right to be with who you want,” Shelly said, “and you’re here with me now, right?” Bobby nodded. “And if you wanted Alicia, you’d be with her,” Shelly said.
“I guess so,” Bobby said.
“You guess so?” Shelly asked.
“No, I know so,” Bobby said. “I want you. I love you.” He realized that Shelly had never actually told him that she loved him. In Bobby’s mind, actions spoke louder than words, though.
“Well let’s put all this behind us, then,” Shelly said. “Would you like that?”
“Sure,” Bobby said.
“New beginning?” Shelly asked, reaching across the table.
Bobby held her hand and smiled. “New beginning.” But something still seemed off to him. He was bothered by how quick she’d been to forgive him. He wasn’t sure why. He felt guilty about what he’d done with Alicia and what he’d done to Chuck, and on some level he felt like he deserved some form of punishment for it. Shelly had let him off the hook easily, and while he was grateful on some level, something just rubbed him the wrong way. He felt in his pocket for the ring and continued eating. They ate and talked for another hour or so, and when they were done, they left the restaurant through the common room and went up to the room they’d been sharing before Shelly left. Sherry was asleep on the floor when they quietly entered the room. As they kissed and caressed, Bobby tried his best to think of positive things. He thought about their future together, and about how beautiful Shelly looked in the low light as the two of them kissed and fell back onto the bed.
Abby crawled through the tight crawlspace as Madam Beauvoir opened a trap door above her head. “Good luck to you all,” she said.
“Thanks,” Ace said as he climbed the ladder that led to the back of Madam Beauvoir’s brothel, where the new hover car Ace had stolen was parked.
The crawlspace had been used in the past when men’s wives or girlfriends came to the brothel looking for them and they wanted to make a discreet exit. It had also been used by prostitutes and the madam herself to escape the law, back when there were actually lawmen in El Paraiso, before the seedier types had taken over the town completely. Annabelle was next after Ace, then Digits climbed the ladder. Next was Della, and finally Abby. “Good luck,” Madam Beauvoir said with a smile as Abby climbed the ladder. The madam closed the trap door behind her.
It was three thirty in the morning and the sun had yet to rise. The dunes behind the whorehouse spread to the horizon like a rumpled gray blanket, and Abby could see the five dark shapes of the Remingtons’ hover cars in the distance. They’d probably know what was happening. The darkness would help, but Abby and her companions were sure to be seen as they left El Paraiso. The Remingtons were definitely checking every car that left town. There was no way they were letting Abby and the others slip past them. The hover car Ace had stolen was a silver luxury sedan this time. One with a very powerful engine, he’d said, and good fuel mileage. Still, Abby knew there’d be no outrunning these guys. Abby and the other four bank robbers were huddled behind some trash cans in the rear of the building, and the car was about twenty feet away. They’d have to make a break for it. “I can use my camouflage projector,” Abby suggested. “I could get the car and drive it closer.”
“It’s only twenty feet away,” Della said.
“Besides,” Ace said, “it’s my experience that people like these Remingtons have ways of detecting camouflaged individuals and vehicles. The second you go out there, they’ll pick you off.” Ace and Annabelle had both donned jeans and t-shirts in lieu of their disguises, which would be of little use during the escape.
“So we have to make a break for it,” Annabelle said, holding a laser rifle that had been strapped over her back. “Della and I can cover the rest of you. We’re the best shots. Then we’ll join you and we can speed off in the opposite direction from where those hover cars are.”
“As good a plan as any,” Ace said. “I know when to hold, when to fold, and when to go all in, and this is the time to go all in.” Ace looked handsome in the pale moonlight with his intelligent green eyes, high cheekbones, and rugged masculine features. Abby wasn’t really into the bald head and goatee look, but it suited him somehow. Abby could see what Annabelle saw in him. She had been starting to find herself strangely attracted to him over the past few days. She shook off the thoughts, trying her best to ignore any distractions.
“I still think we should just fight them,” Annabelle said.
“No way,” Abby said. She didn’t have a gun on her, since she refused to carry one after what had happened with the sheriff’s son, and everything else leading up to that. She’d also dyed her short hair black once again, and she was back to wearing her usual white sleeveless jacket and the white cowboy hat Pete Ahmad had given her. “We counted ten guys out there. And these are world famous detectives. Every one of them could be a better shot than any one of us.”
“Speak for yourself, honey,” Della said with a grin. He was dressed in his plain black clothes, which would be harder to see in the darkness than a shiny silver dress.
“It’s not too late to turn back,” Digits said. “We can wait it out in El Paraiso.”
“No way,” Abby said once again. She remembered what had happened in Primrose, and she didn’t want Rennock’s army to show up and destroy another town because of her, even if it was a den of evil. “If we try to wait it out, Rennock will just bring more people down here. It’s now or never.”
“Abby’s right,” Einstein said from her wrist. “Though Annabelle’s plan only has a one in twelve chance of being successful without any casualties, it is the best option.”
“The computer likes it,” Digits said with a grin. “So I guess that’s what we’re doing.”
“Well, then,” Ace said. “Let’s do this.” Della and Annabelle nodded, and they both aimed their laser rifles at the five hover cars, using the trashcans as cover. They started firing, and Ace, Digits, and Abby ran out towards the car. A laser shot blasted into the wall right in front of Abby’s face and she watched a laser hit Ace in his right arm. The doors of the car popped open and Abby followed Ace into the back as Digits got into the driver’s seat and started the engine. “Duck!” Ace shouted. Abby did as he said as a laser blasted through the window next to her, searing a hole through the glass. Annabelle ran past Abby and got into the driver’s seat as a laser blasted her in her right side, and Della got into the back seat next to Abby, slamming the door shut behind him. Lasers hit the outside of the car as Digits sped out away from the brothel and the town. Abby glanced out the rear windshield after the lasers had stopped and noticed the five cars following them, along with the dark silhouettes of the two vultures high in the sky.
Nat sat at the bar in the Crosshairs Saloon as Basil poured him another drink. “Happy Trails” by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans was playing on the sound system. Nat had requested it since he’d always loved country music from the old world, and that particular song had been a favorite of both his and Anna’s. He looked at the dozen roses he’d laid on the bar and smiled. He’d gotten flowers and he’d worn a brand new black vest and his fanciest white shirt. He wasn’t much on getting dressed up, but he still wanted to look his best. He looked in the mirror behind Basil and adjusted his hat.
The saloon was practically empty. Maybe Nat’s choice of music had scared people off, or maybe people were still nervous about the IAO. The guards Nat had posted in the street outside apparently weren’t reassuring enough. Whatever the reason for the bar’s emptiness, Nat preferred it that way. It would give him and Anna a little privacy. Nat watched the last couple who’d been seated at a table walk out into the evening. Basil had been serving them since it was Alicia’s night off. The sun hadn’t yet begun to set, and Nat could see wind blowing up dust in the sandy street outside.
Nat had been daydreaming about what life with Anna would be like while he waited, and he was even considering throwing down his guns and his badge and settling down with her. He wasn’t quite sure if he was ready for that yet, especially after the conversation he and Bobby had with the mayor, but he was daydreaming about it all the same. Nat was getting old, but it still wasn’t too late. Anna was still young enough to have kids, after all, if they decided to go that route, and there was always adoption. Nat had always imagined what it would have been like to have a son. Bobby was the closest thing he had to a son these days, but he knew it was nothing like the real thing. And Nat had always thought that one day he’d see Anna again. He’d dreamt of it, and now it had actually happened, opening up a future of new horizons for Nat as he sat in his thoughts. Anna was late, though, and Nat was starting to get a little antsy. “I’m sure she’ll be here,” Basil said. “Stop worryin’, Nat. Make sure you don’t get yourself too drunk, though. You want to be able to talk to her, right?” He placed the whiskey on the bar in front of Nat as the final notes of “Happy Trails” faded. The opening guitar part of a song Nat knew all too well started playing. “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones.
Nat frowned as he swigged his whiskey. “Can you skip this song? It ain’t one of my favorites.”
“I don’t even remember puttin’ it on my playlist,” Basil said as a laser blasted through his head, splattering blood, brains, and skull on the mirror behind him. His body smashed into several bottles on its way to the floor.
Nat quickly spun, drew his revolver, and fired it through the only open window across the street, where the laser had come from. Part of the big glass front window of the Crosshairs Saloon broke as the bullet shot through it and somebody shouted, tumbled out through the window of the inn, and fell to the street below. Nat knew the laser had been meant for him. Basil had been standing right behind him and the shooter had missed Nat’s head by an inch. Another laser blast came at Nat, hitting him in his metallic right arm as he knocked over a table for cover and fired another shot, hitting another man who’d been standing on the porch across the street. Two men with laser rifles were standing in the alley on the left side of the inn, aiming at Nat as he hid behind the table, and he leaned out quickly and fired two more shots, hitting them both in the chest.
Things were quiet for a few seconds as Nat knelt behind the table, peeking around it to see if anyone else showed up. Apparently these scumbags had killed the guards Nat had posted, or paid them more than Nat was paying them. Whatever the case, Nat knew that Anna Ballin had set him up, and he was full of both anger and sadness. His dreams had quickly disappeared and been replaced with fury. Two more men ran out from the alley on the other side of the inn and Nat fired at them, killing them both. He could barely think. Sorrow and anger had overtaken him. The one person he’d cared the most about in his life wanted him dead. He was out of ammo, so he turned and ran towards the bar, ready to leap over it as he heard a humming sound behind him and felt dozens of lasers cut through his left leg.
Nat fell into the bar as more lasers blasted through his back and he shouted in pain, still trying to climb over the bar as lasers blasted the flowers he’d brought to pieces. His blood had splattered all over the bar and across the shattered mirror behind it as laser blasts fired, dozens at once, ripping the saloon to shreds and splintering tables and chairs. Nat spun to see there were six men in leather and metal armor in the street with RLR’s, all firing at him at the same time. Red lasers were coming at him in droves, filling the saloon with light. Dozens of lasers cut through his legs, chest, and arms, and he started coughing up blood as more lasers ripped into his neck and his face. His white shirt was now tattered and red as lasers continued to tear through his stomach and his chest. He shouted in pain one last time as more lasers blasted through his forehead and his vision was blurred with blood and all he could feel was immense pain as the hum of lasers continued, ripping through what was left of his body as he collapsed into several bar stools, crashing through them and onto the floor as he splashed in his own blood.
Continue on to the next chapter:
Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 38
Sera Knight has some unexpected visitors.
Bobby and Shelly receive some heartbreaking news.
Paul Jacobs flies another mission with Tom Rivers.
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