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Three Fingers nodded and coughed his guts up. It wouldn't be long now. He didn't know what had hold of him, but he'd seen it in others. First the fever, then the chills, then the coughing fits that drew blood.

A few days and there was nothing left of you to cough up. His stash of dope was keeping him on his feet so far but he was getting low. He didn't want to go out alone. When his name got called he wanted company.
He'd gone berserk at the camp, killing everything that moved, waiting for someone to take him out. He hadn't even been touched. Three Fingers figured this one was a little smarter. Neither one of them wanted to survive but both wanted to make it worth the effort to take them out of the game.
He swung up into the abandoned stairwell, careful to keep close to the wall. His breathing was the worst thing. He sounded like a freight train, not like in the old days. The maze of hotel rooms slowly gave way. He was up near where they'd spotted the shooter. Three Fingers waited, catching his breath, his fingers tightening and releasing their stranglehold grip on the .45 automatic.
Smoke shivered up from below. Cans of gasoline blew like cannon, and Three Fingers made his move. "Burn baby!" Heaven was laughing, dancing naked before the blaze.

His eyes sharp for any hint of the Shooter's body, Three Fingers slid forward, using the noise of the explosion to mask his heavy breathing. There he was. Both hands steady now. Raised above the head and lowered into position like any cop movie had taught you. Feet braced and let out half a breath.

"Too Easy..."

He turned, shooting too soon. Finger tightening on the trigger as he zeroed in. Feeling the tightening in his chest. Fingers losing strength as he stared at the rod dribbling blood down his stomach. Eyes glazing in silent farewell. 

Neddy trained his rifle on the woman who had just saved his life. "Why?"

"Why not?" She leaned down and pulled the rod out, watching the gush of blood pump up from the dead man's heart. "He would have taken you. You're losing your edge." She slid the rod back into the quiver that went with her cross bow. Better than bullets, she thought. Quiet and you can re-use the arrows. 

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Shades of Fantasy

Revised: March 6, 1999
Copyright ©1999. All rights reserved