September 26, 2008
By Raymond Lantz, Henderson, NV

She lifted her leg up, placing the sleek curved heel of her red stiletto to clash with the well-worn ruggedness of a nearby travel case. Her short black dress swayed with the motion of the train as it rolled nosily over sand-covered tracks. She lifted the bottom of her dress over her thigh, letting her palms glide over her smooth skin. She was blessed; keeping the smooth skin that everyone is blessed with at the beginning of life is rare. The leather strap ran around her upper thigh conjoining on the side with a holster that housed a pistol with an elegant ivory handle. Sometimes more than soft skin was needed to deal with what life threw at you…or took from you. She swung her leg off the suitcase, letting her dress fall into place around her smooth legs. Her heels clicked as she crossed the hard wooden floor of the train car, heading toward the gold-trimmed mirror hidden in the corner of the cabin. She checked herself in the mirror, making sure her dark, Venezuelan skin held no blemishes, that her long black curls keep their form, that her fire red lipstick had no faults, that no creases clung upon her swaying black dress. Perfect. It was a good day to die.

He lay slouched on a suitcase, his back resting against the cabin wall, his hands diligently cleaning the components of a long sniper rifle that rested in his lap, his eyes diligently scanning the curves of the women in the mirror. Their eyes met through the reflection, she looked down, as if ashamed, before pulling away from the mirror, rummaging through her bag instead. He was nervous. As he ran a cloth over the components for a forth time his hands shook violently. His breathing was fast and irregular, sweat rolled down his cheeks, pooling on the neck of his shirt. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small glass bottle containing bright orange pills. He unscrewed the top and poured three into his hand, threw them in his mouth, and swallowed them dry. Beta-blockers are extremely useful when musicians are about to perform, it reduces stage fright by relaxing and calming nerves, they are also useful if you’re hoping to hit a target a few hundred feet away with a single sniper bullet. He tried to relax and allow the beta-blockers to kick in, staring out the window of the train, watching the dunes of orange sands pass under a stark blue sky, dreaming of the fields of Italy on a fall day, of bread baked by a smiling family. It was a good day to die.

He lay on a small pyramid of torn, dirty suitcases, level with the windows of the train, noise-canceling headphones wrapped around his neck, stretched out on his stomach, rifle an extension of his shoulder, one eye squinting, peering through the windows in the doors of each cabin, able to see right to the front of the train, he saw butlers pass by, along with other guests, bodyguards, and, even once, human filth.

She moved through the cabins, smiling to those who smiled, heavy purse swaying at her side, black silken hands trembling with excitement, leather strap brushing the inside of her thigh, her purse was gone, hidden among the many tables of the dining car, slowly ticking away, her hair flowing behind as she gracefully made her way to Charon’s boat upon the river Styx.

“Ha, is this the young flower I order?” said the greedy man-cow in a thick Russian accent.

“ You flatter me with your compliments, Sir,” She said, smiling while holding her breath lest she be forced to smell or taste the pestilence and decay the flowed forth from the creature’s maw. She heard its cry from under her dress, Ivory cried for revenge and blood. It yearned for his life.

“Come, sit here,” howled the jackal through its fanged beast head.

She sat next to the beast even though she feared the filth might overflow its already bursting container and consume her wholly in its murky tide.

“Now sweet, what is it that I be of service to you?” vomited Beelzebub, facetted eyes twitching, between mouthfuls of first-born meat and goblets of blood and tears.

“I work for a man who is searching for a certain girl from Venezuela, light-skinned with light brown hair. The daughter of an American,” she said through clenched teeth and loathing eyes, weakening to the demand for fulfillment of the Ivory’s hunger.

“Yes, I remember little treat.” Said the devil, prodding her with his fiery pitchfork, “Skin soft and colored caramel, makes me hungry to remember. I have her no more, she grew, fought back. I threw her in well.”

“Oh, my boss will be most displeased to hear that,” she said, eyes cold, heart hard. The abomination had only confirmed the fact of her angels’ watery death, first seen when they pull her broken body from that old well.

She stood, glad for the reprieve from the inhuman man-beast that filled her every sense with hatred and filth. The rooting biomass began to get up, trying to find legs to stand on, only to discover that his legs were nothing but ham shanks slowly being consumed by his own indulgence. And still he tried to rise from his cushion crater, but Newton screamed down upon him, summoning all that is physics to keep him locked in place. Instead of rising to see her off he settled with a smile and a few giggles at his own ineptness. The giggles were bubbles popping on the surface of a decaying swamp and his smile was Ragnarok itself, threatening the world with pain and loss.

“Show her to the door,” the decaying man-beast carcass ordered of one of the bodyguards.

She began to walk to the end of the cabin, bodyguard following close behind, her eyes staring at the panes of glass that led to him. Was his eye upon her now as she stopped to fix the strap of her setillo. Bending down, she revealed his target. One hand fondling with the strap, the other slowly reaching for the pulsating Ivory at her thigh. The guard watched the black dress slowly lift as she bent down, more and more and more, and finally a holster holding a crying gun.

The Hawk cried. The bullet rent the air. Glass shattered and was thrown into the cabin. It shattered the guard’s mind as it passed right through. It impaled itself into the wooden walls. She spun, Ivory screaming through the air, shattered glass that sailed through the air reflecting the Ivory madness. The Ivory struck like lightning, felling two more guards, hungry for more. As the glass clinked to the floor another cry rang, the rending bullet split the air, decommissioning yet another Russian manservant.

Fear and adrenaline hanged Newton in a noose of improbability as the man-jackal rose to its lamb shanks and wobbled to the door. Before the Ivory could scream again he had squeezed through the door and was wobbling past guards that rushed towards the Ivory. The hawk screamed out again passing through the hearts of two bodyguards, connecting them in death.

The train swayed as it pulled into a subtle turn. The connection was lost. The broken panes redirected. A new connection was needed. The hawk swooped down from it rugged tower. It flew among the walls of wood, the screams of almost innocent, the dark ticking handbags, over glass-covered floors. It reached the Ivory, screaming as it felled grunt after grunt. The hawk screamed again, so close that it tore through the air, exploding meat left in its wake.

Together Ivory and Hawk pushed forward, bodies left in mounds around them. Nothing could stop them as the went, judges among sinners, passing judgment with steel and nerve. The stench was so close, hidden among the tables of the next cabin, waiting for his verdict. They found the meat sack conquering in a corner, pleading for the life it was never had.


The Ivory screamed at its bullet tore through the creature’s dome of wasted thoughts. It was done.

But still the grunts came, rushing through the door, being paid by a dead man’s money. The hawk continued to cry out as its bullets pierced the sinners. The Ivory cried no more, its deed done. There was only a few seconds left, soon it would all be over.

“Mother?” said a voice for the bullet-ridden doorway behind them.

No. It was impossible. The Ivory saw the girl through glazed over eyes. Impossible. The girl with an angel’s face looked at her mother with fearful eyes.

“No, that’s not right,” the Ivory cried. The body in the wasn’t hers?

The ticking stopped. Too late for happy reunions. The train was consumed. A beast of flame exploded itself from the husk of metal and glass, screaming in the bright sunlight, scorching the orange sand, and twisting the metal tracks. All was lost, gained anew, only to be stolen yet again.

As Death rode to the metal carcass on the horizon, he smiled at the trails and tribulations of the humans.

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