ACT 2

I went with a mare to the Fedrel homestead almost as quick as the spirits themselves. When I found myself there it was by my guess about noon, which always was an irony with all of the high octane gunfights and duels set at the time. As I was to confront these men of two I imagined every shot happening throughout the frontier at that very moment. The sound of the hammer, the sharp piercing sound of a gunshot and the smell of tarnished sweat flickered back in the depths of my mind as if alluding to either the irony or the supposed justice that was about to be pressed.

I took a step on the dry, cracked earth and my eyes went around every corner of what I could see of the homestead and then it came to the fact either these two buffoons were hiding or they had fled. But I knew for a fact if I had left a stone unturned, it would have been a headache in the foreseeable future, but then that mental stink came back to me, although briefly as I ventured forward with my hand moving my pistol out of its firm holster. I walked forward to the homestead's centerpiece; a farmhouse stood defiantly in front as if declaring itself to me and it felt foreboding. I figured it was the place they were lurking about in and the spirits were being kind to my senses for once in a phantom moon.

"This is so damned eerie." I spoke outwardly, not really towards anyone in particular since there was nobody to speak of or so it seemed by my eyes and ears.

Usually if someone was waiting for whoever was hunting them to come they would of let out a warning shot; some sort of noise. But for the only sounds to be the wind hustling the lone tumbleweeds? This wasn't the expectations of a duo that had supposedly strapped down a man in his own home and then mutilated him to death. I approached the farmhouse despite the tumbleweeds and general signs that told me this was definitely not one of the best of my ideas, but then it hit me like a jagged rock to my face, this place didn't even look like it had seen any ounce of labor in months; no frontier animals, homestead workers or anybody and anything really. It struck a quick chill down my spine. That is one thing that truly could not have been helped.

"Like a damned gothic." I muttered underneath my breath.

The sound of an eagle's cry topped off the ambience as I pulled open the door of the aged farmhouse. The first room coupled itself with three doors; the one I just opened, one in front of me and one to my left. There was also an oak staircase in the left corner. If they were here it was time to focus my hearing on them. To my previous peculiar thoughts, this whole job went up in a smoke of lies or so I finally started to recognize when I came across no bodies, no noises, nothing as I searched the farmhouse's every corner, nook and shadow to find nothing but time wasted. I came again to the thought that the boys ran off, but the state of the farmstead bugged me like a drunk would bother a suit.

"If they fled, they sure kept this place in damnation, that's for sure." I once again muttered, the words leaving my breath as my ears finally recognized something. It was the sound of a mare or a stallion? Huh, perhaps the two brothers were out to lunch then? I moved toward a window to see a horse strapped across the stead, indeed. I did not see any human figure that it belonged to, then a familiar jolt hit me just then and I looked down to my stone amulet. I felt energy come from the old gypsy item and in the past it had saved my life. It was a warning beacon to my psyche. To me it was obvious when I fought Smith the previous week, he went to attempt to shoot me in my back and it went off then. Now was no different.

During the jolt I saw myself, engulfed in flame; if for a moment. So I did what any sane man would do with an open window in front of him in the same situation, I made my feet move as fast as they could. My back fell flat on the roof piece below me, but I made no waste of time by sitting there; moving as quickly away from the house that held nothing.

"Well, maybe this one time the stone was wr- " my snarky comment was cut short by the sound of a switch and as I had seen prematurely before, the house that probably would have been still holding me caught itself in flame and ash. The flame was violently explosive and seemed to come from nowhere. The devil's dime rung in my head, a nickname to a given explosive grenade-like tool used in demolitions and mining all over the frontier. The name wasn't an analogy; it was just a play on words upon the creators who made it some generations ago; Gerald Dime and Hartman Devil. But reminding myself of the history lesson only just told me, "Hey, you idiot you! You almost got exploded by dynamite!"

My psyche was not kind to me, then again neither were all sorts of pains I felt at that moment when I realized the momentum of the explosion made me tumble to the ground below and rather violently at that. Luckily, I wasn't too far from the ground when the farmhouse decided to combust. My eyes were squinted as the flame and debris rocked my senses so much that I heard and felt something fierce. The feeling was another jolt from my stone amulet, which my psyche decided to show me the sound of a gunshot as a figure loomed over me. My hand rocked to my second holster, as my main pistol had left my hands due to the force of the explosion and now was several paces away. The sound however was something I recognized and did not expect.

"You have got to be damn well kidding me." A familiar voice exited the figure I had seen in my psyche and I couldn't help but be surprised when I realized who was in front of me.

"I don't think they are home, Elaine." I chuckled, though in reality I was fuming at such underhandedness. The person who hired me almost made me well… explode. Either way it was pretty unpleasant and downright not nice. Though, her manners were pretty much bad when the sound of her pistol's hammer being pulled back was heard on my ears, right before she spoke again.

"I can't believe you escaped that… how did you know?"

"Well, me and the spirits play this guessing game and if I win, I live." I said as I crawled back a bit, maintaining some distance and made sure I wasn't well, faced down in the dirt. My brows were narrowed, even if my tone spat jokes, but really I had no reason to be amused internally.

"More jokes, even now?" she asked, aiming the pistol of hers; a simple obsidian six shooter with words engraved upon it. The pistol's words spoke a sentence of death in a different, but familiar language to me. It was then I felt like the most moronic gunslinger north of the providence line— no, all of the frontier. This woman wasn't who she claimed to be, she was one of those assassin women, one of the members of the black widow. There was no doubting it, because the memory of crossing paths with the group then suddenly came to me; though from what I recalled they usually were more extravagant. Then again, she did just try to explode me with dynamite which was pretty extravagant by itself.

"You widows really like the flash of something grand, don't you?" I spat, my pistol's hammer back as I gripped it in its holster.

"Damn it."

"Struck a nerve, huh? Well, you guys are pretty bad at your job."

"Your last job is this one, Phoenix, and it's to die."

"Sorry, that wasn't in the job description." My tone switched from wit to a serious one at this point. I knew why she didn't kill me in the tavern when she had the chance. She was setting up the farmhouse to be her extravagant way of taking me down. It was a stupid code, but I believe the widow's had their code and they stuck by it.

"Enough, we are finishing this now!"

The next few minutes went out like seconds; she fired her first bullet, I drew while dodging to the left; her bullet grazing my right shoulder as I fired outward. I wasn't so sloppy to get done in by rank amateurs, although it didn't help that I predicted where her bullet would be. The gypsy stone around my neck was like cheating in a way. I also predicted her movements as I fired my own firearm and it nailed her square in the head, like I was the assassin cultist and she was the stupid frontier gunslinger. When all was said and done, I looted her body for her contract, pocketed it, took her gun and retrieved my discarded pistol from the ground paces in front of me before looming back into the sun, like a true phoenix.

The END