Short Story Saturday: The Conclusion

Aren’t you all glad Bethany didn’t REALLY meet her end in Part Four!?

We really had you going too… clever… clever “read more” tab…

Without further ado, we give you-

 

“Legendary”

THE CONCLUSION

Bethany’s friend who had turned so serious earlier came rushing out of the jail. He held his gun at the ready. Bethany had just realized that the moment had arrived when someone grabbed her by the neck. “Dirty rat.” The teen hissed.

Beth scraped her glass-studded boots down his leg and stomped on his foot. He screeched and Beth pulled her gun.

One would have thought that the town had been abandoned as soon as the gunfire started. Not one other person was in sight, not a single window had open shutters. Everyone knew what was about to happen. It had been a long time in the coming.

“Look who’s talkin’.” She growled.

To her surprise, he drew a handgun. “Watch. Your. Words.”

Then another figure flew out of the building. It was the sheriff. The outlaw tried to whip around and meet him, but skidded in the dust and landed hard on his side. The sound that rang through the air as the sheriff cocked the trigger on his gun was as loud as an atomic bomb. He stopped and noticed the youth. “My son-” His arm fell to his side, gun and all. “You’re not… dead.”

“Can’t you see I have some business to finish up?” His son screamed, thrusting his gun into Bethany’s side.

The outlaw’s expression clouded over as Beth gasped. The sheriff glowered first at her, then at the outlaw. “I thought you murdered him on the train.”

“As you can plainly see,” the outlaw grumbled. “I didn’t.”

Said sheriff planted a kick in his back, causing the bandit to howl. Bethany now felt she had made a horrible mistake.

They were in a very bad situation.

As the sheriff gazed upon his soon-to-be-demolished-enemy, the outlaw dared to speak again. “Remember that bet I made with you long ago?”

Bethany’s lungs burned. She hardly dared to breathe for the pistol in her ribs.

“The one about who could raise up the better fill-in?” The bandit continued.

The sheriff stepped on his stomach and the outlaw had to struggle to keep breathing. “Of course. You must be blind if you can’t already tell I’ve won this.”

“You haven’t.”

Both pistols fired. The teen’s backfired and burned his hand and the sheriff’s shot the outlaw. The bullet went through his back. He spoke neither a word, nor did he scream, but clawed great chasms into the earth, groaning as he began to die.

Bethany threw herself beside him and screamed in his face. “WAKE UP! WAKE UP! DON’T DIE ON ME!” She held his face in her hands and her tears rained down on him.

Then, from the west, a whole band of outlaws appeared and fired at random; busting windows, attracting attention and ruining a whole lot of good land with their wild horses. “Quick!” The sheriff bellowed to his son. “Get inside!”

“But DA-A-A-D-

NO!” He grabbed his teenager by the scruff of his neck and threw him indoors. “And by jingo, if you set one foot outside this jailhouse-” He thundered. “I’LL PERSONALLY LOCK YOU IN A CELL AND SEE HOW YOU LIKE IT!”

He saddled up a stranger’s horse and fired at the band. They whooped and hollered and flew around, destroying as much property as they could. Bethany shook the bandit and rubbed his hands, pleading with him not to leave her. “I-I-I still have-have too much to learn!” She exclaimed, trying to draw him up.

The band of rowdy cowboys took their leave with the sheriff in hot pursuit. They appeared to melt into the setting sun as they left the scene.

The outlaw groaned again, arching his back. “Let me die.”

“No! I won’t-I can’t!” She screamed.

Bethany dug her nails into his skin as she wrapped her arms around him, beginning to stand. She was barely on her feet when he tried and failed to say something to her. Racking coughs shook his body and Beth hastened to pull him onto his horse. The faithful steed hadn’t even flinched the entire time the gunfight had taken place. Bethany struggled, howled and screamed at the sky as she set the outlaw on his horse. She saw him reach for the reigns and hurriedly flung herself on the animal, just in front of him. “Where is your safe place?” She urged him.

He slowly raised an arm and with his cracked voice said, “To the east… there is… a cavern… in the…”

“Earth.” Bethany slammed her shiny boots into the silky steed and it leaped into action.

They left the jailhouse and the town in the dust. Bethany never rode so hard. Her head pounded and the wind wasn’t the only reason there were tears in her eyes. As she saw the historical spot from her childhood, (she had found it one day on a walk alone, and always wondered what was held inside it,) she spoke as much encouragement to the man as she could muster. “You’re going to make it! I have faith in you!”

The outlaw, his eyes pained but full of pride, answered, “Just like your mother…”
And that was when Bethany knew he was her father.

 

*EPILOGUE*

No one ever complained of such a fierce outlaw after him. And no one ever saw him again either. But there was another who came after him, and they say that this one is as cunning as the wind itself. Sly, secretive, and scarcely seen, she will tell you she had much training in her early years. She also claims that the greatest, most awful bandit who ever lived was her father, but the sheriff will claim that he himself killed the great and that the outlaw bore no children. When questioned at a certain place at a certain time, she answered with this: “I’ve seen him living. I walked with him and we have had conversations. I’ve been with him most of my life now and he hasn’t died yet.”

As for that fated town that he used to plague, it has a new virus.

And it goes by the sweet, simple name of Bethany.

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