“Aw, c’mon Kid,” Cody whined. “We’ve been ridin’ all day! Can’t we stop somewhere and rest for a bit?”
Kid glanced back at the blond rider who was trailing behind him sulking. “Cody, if we stop now we’ll never make there before sunset.”
“That’s the point!”
Kid laughed. “But Cody, if you’ll remember, we passed the last way station almost two hours ago! There isn’t another one along the way.”
Kid nodded. “Yup.”
“Well, that’s okay because I remember seeing on Teaspoon’s map that there’s a little town not too far up ahead.” Cody smirked.
“Since when did you start lookin’ at maps?” Kid said with a trace of disbelief in his voice.
“Since we started doin’ long runs like this one!” laughed Cody.
Kid thought about it and realized that he was more tired than he thought. “I guess it couldn’t hurt to get something to eat and a good night’s sleep. What’s the name of this town?”
“Serenity, I think.” Cody answered.
Kid pulled out the map from his saddlebag and looked for the town of Serenity. You’re right, it looks like it’s not too far ahead. Maybe another half hour at the most.”
“Well then what are you waiting for?” whooped Cody as he suddenly raced forward with an apparent surge of energy and took off ahead of Kid. When there was something that Cody wanted, he didn’t waste any time.
The young girl paced the hardwood floor anxiously, wringing her hands and shaking. It had been almost a week since she had been in the company of other people and she thought that she was going to go crazy. What am I going to do? Where am I going to go? I have no money, no horse, no family! she thought to herself. At the thought of family she felt her chest tighten and the familiar sickness creep into her stomach. I’ve got to stop doing this to myself. It’s over, they’re gone and there’s nothing I can do about it except try to keep myself alive. The young girl suddenly shuddered violently and threw herself on the bed to weep gut-wrenching tears of pain and loneliness.
“Looks like this is it,” remarked Kid as the two riders rode into a little town with a sign that welcomed them to Serenity. As Kid surveyed the scene in front of him he got an immediate feeling that something wasn’t quite right there. For starters, there wasn’t a single person or horse out except for the two of them. Stores and offices were open for business, but as far as they could see, nobody was inside manning them.
“Where is everyone?” Cody asked as he secured his horse to a post outside the General Store. It was almost 6 o’clock and not even the saloon had anybody out front.
Kid climbed down off of Katy and tied her next to Cody’s horse. “I don’t know, but I gotta a feelin’ that we’re the only ones in this town.”
Cody followed started walking down the main street looking in the General Store, the Doc’s office, the Marshal’s office and finally the saloon before he realized something very peculiar. “Uh, Kid?”
“You wanna come here a minute?”
Kid walked over to where Cody was standing in the doorway of the saloon. “What is it?”
“Take a look inside and tell me what you see.”
Kid walked through the doors and looked into the saloon. There were drinks lined up on the bar, half eaten food and drinks on the tables, dirty dishes and glasses waiting to be washed by the sink, and cigars that had burned down to ashes just lying in ashtrays. What was really odd was that there were cards strewn out on another table, dealt out to four hands, and it was obvious that whomever was playing was in the middle of the game because there was money piled in the center of the table. It was as if everybody that had been there just suddenly up and left without stopping what they were doing first. What was even stranger was that it didn’t appear as if there was any struggle. Tables and chairs were in their upright position, there weren’t any broken bottles or dishes on the floor, and there didn’t seem to be any disarray at all.
“What the hell?” Kid remarked.
“It just don’t make any sense,” Cody replied. “Why would people just get up and leave?”
Kid nodded. “And by the looks of it, not just the saloon, but the whole town.”
“I don’t like this.” Cody admitted.
Kid took one last look inside of the saloon and sighed. “Me neither. I say we ride out right now and make it over to Fort Kearney tonight. Maybe they’ll know what to do.”
As the two riders walked back down main street towards their horses they didn’t see the young girl that was perched up on the widow’s walk of the general store watching them. They also didn’t see the rifle that she slowly lifted, aimed, and then fired at them.
“What the hell?!?” exclaimed Cody as a bullet whizzed past his head.
“Cody, look out!” Kid yelled as the second shot rang out, but his warning was too late. Cody didn’t see the second bullet in time as he felt it enter his body, a flash of searing pain.
“Cody!” Kid screamed again. Cody was laying on his stomach, his right arm underneath his body, his left arm flung out to the side. And he wasn’t moving. Oh God no, Kid thought. Please don’t let him be dead!
Cody lay motionless on the ground. He knew that he wasn’t hurt too seriously, he had felt the bullet enter and leave a shallow wound behind. But he knew that he was better off laying still and waiting for the reign of fire to stop before attempting to get up. He just wished that Kid would take cover and stop trying to reach him. Maybe I can give him a silent signal… some way for him to know that I was okay, he thought to himself. Suddenly he knew what he could do.
Kid noticed the slightest of movement coming from Cody’s left arm. His hand was forming a loose “OK” sign with his thumb and forefinger! Kid sighed a breath of relief and took cover behind one of the swinging doors leading into the saloon as the shots continued to be fired. From there he was able to observe the scene in front of him without causing himself to be in the line of fire. He tried to look around as discreetly as he could, and in a split second he thought he saw movement on the roof of the General Store. He lifted his gun, ready to shoot, but was stunned by the sight of their assailant.
It took him by surprise that their sharp shooter was a girl! As she quickly raised herself up from the roof and started to climb back through the window, Kid noticed that she had a sinewy, lithe frame. She couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, but was even thinner than Lou. Her hair was a flaxen blonde with deep gold streaks running through it in thick strands, which hung down to her waist in a tangled mass of ringlets. She can’t be more than seventeen years old! Kid thought. Her face was covered in dirt, so he couldn’t tell for sure, but he was pretty positive.
Kid was so entranced by the sight of this frantic, disheveled girl that it wasn’t until Cody came banging into the saloon that he realized she had disappeared.
“Kid? Kid? Did you see him? Did you get him? Where’d he go?” Cody rambled on anxiously as he held his left arms over his still bleeding right one.
Kid was still staring at the rooftop of the General Store in disbelief. Where did she go? Who is she and why was she shoo-
“Kid!” Cody snapped Kid out of his thoughts.
Kid turned to Cody with a concerned look on his face. “Cody! Are you okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. But what about that guy that was tryin’ to kill us? Did you get a good look at him?”
Kid looked thoughtful for a moment. “Ummm.. not quite…”
“Huh?” Cody raised his eyebrows in confusion.
Kid sighed. “That was no guy Cody. It was a girl.”
“A girl?!? You mean to tell me that a girl did this to me?” he exclaimed, indicating his arm.
Kid nodded. “Better not let Lou hear you say that. She’d do a lot worse to ya!”
Cody shook his head defeated. “So tell me about this girl…”
Kid proceeded to Tell Cody everything as he checked out his arm. They both made sure to have their guns drawn as they ran quickly across the street to the Doc’s office where they found the necessary supplies to clean and bandage the wound.
“So was she pretty?”
Cody rolled his eyes as he repeated himself. “I said, was she pretty?”
Kid threw him an amused look. “Is that all you ever think about?”
“Well, “ Cody shuffled his feet. “I don’t see no harm in askin’.”
“I already told you, I didn’t get a good look at her face. She was covered in dirt and it was hard to tell what she looked like.” But as Kid’s few short visions drifted back to him, he knew that he wasn’t telling Cody the whole truth. She was beautiful. From what I can remember, she was the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen, he thought to himself, all other thoughts of Lou completely gone for the moment.
Kid shook his head. “This is ridiculous.”
Cody turned to him. “What is?”
Kid hadn’t realized that he had spoken aloud. “Umm, this whole situation,” he quickly recovered and looked at Cody. “This deserted town, that girl shootin’ at us, everything.”
But what he really meant were the thoughts that were running through his head like wild horses. What was he doing thinking about another girl that way? He was madly in love with Lou, his Louise, the one woman he would lay his life down for. But there’s just something about that other girl--
“Huh?” Kid asked, once again embarrassed at being caught daydreaming.
Cody threw him a weird look. “Geez, what is it with you today? You feelin’ alright?”
Kid nodded impatiently. “I’m fine. What were you saying?”
“Oh.” Cody shrugged. “Well, what I was saying was, do you think it’s possible that our girl here is the cause of this town’s population decrease?”
Kid clenched his teeth. He didn’t like the sound of Cody calling her “our girl” and for some reason he felt like he had to defend her, even though he didn’t even know her – or why she was shooting at them. “No. I don’t think so.”
“Well, I can’t think of any other explanation. We come into this place, completely deserted except for some nut-job that tries to kill us, and when you add one and one together you get-“
“A guy that can’t add for his life!” Kid laughed, trying to relieve some of the tension building up inside of him.
“Hey!” Cody playfully smacked Kid with his good hand.
Kid looked thoughtful again. “Seriously though, I really don’t believe that this girl is responsible for what happened here.” he said honestly, remembering her frantic and nervous movements. “I think that whoever this girl is, she knows what happened – heck, maybe she even saw it happen, and is just frightened. She may have thought that we were here to harm her.”
Cody nodded. “I guess that makes sense. But what do we do now?”
Kid smiled at Cody. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to be up to much thinkin’ and plannin’ until I’ve had a good night’s sleep myself.”
Cody grinned his Cheshire Cat grin. “It’s about time we agree on something!”
“I say we go back across the street to the hotel, and find us two rooms with some good strong locks on the windows and doors.” Kid suggested.
“I agree.” Cody answered as they walked quickly across the street, their guns still drawn.
The town was eerily silent, but Kid knew that the girl was still there, and quite possibly watching them at that very moment. It made him nervous, but at the same time sent an electric shiver of anticipation through his body. He knew that he had no plans to sleep anytime soon. As soon as he knew that Cody was out cold, Kid planned to go out and find their beautiful assailant. What am I going to do when I find her? he thought to himself, for he hadn’t quite figured that out yet. But all he knew was that he had to find her. Even if it was the last thing he did.
On to Chapter Three
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