"Those who do not forgive deserve it not themselves," the priest spoke aloud. The light from the setting sun reflected off her blade, playing over his face. With a smooth pull, she drew and cut. The old priest's scream came out as a reedy whine.
"Suits me just fine."
The sun was set, and the first stars of evening were faint against the deepening purple sky. Her revolver spat fire once, twice. The last two women fell, their brains painted the wall behind them, their swords clattered on the floor.
"He'll kill you," the madam slumped against the floor. The silk dress hung tight against her sagging tits, which heaved with every labored breath. "Stupid bitch. I've survived worse than you."
"No ma'am," she emptied the spent cartridges from the old Navy Colt. "You haven't." The single round slid home. The chambers spun with a gameshow whiz.
Gorillas don't cry. But they whine and scream when they're in pain. Wordless huffs and mewls interspersed with howls and sharp squeals as it moved. As the moon rose over the trees, she emptied the last of her bullets in its skull, and didn't count them wasted.
She holstered the gun and drew her Bowie. The little man's mustache twitched, the risen moon reflected in his glasses, and but the syringe in his left hand was already empty, his eyes vacant, glassy, irises huge but unseeing.
The blade flashed in the moonlight, its work still to be done.
Three bloody scalps hung from her belt, a red ruin trailed on the pants leg beneath them. Boots crunched on gravel in measured pace with the chimes as he walked the cemetery road between angels of granite and marble, past stones sharp and new to those that cracked and crumbled, and around the detritus has sprung tall grasses and wild flowers, to the low domed mounds where were built portals to private mausoleums; a sepulchral Shire where hobbits and elf-kings might have been laid to rest, ancient kings and vikings. Mothers and fathers.
He sniffed the darkness, and smelled blood. Teeth flashed in the moonlight.
"Well met," he spoke to the darkness. She leaned against the door to the mausoleum, her Bowie knife already brandished, but the sword was still strapped to her side.
"Your familiars are done for." His smile would have caused a wolf to roll over and show its belly, but she stood firm.
"And you ain't getting back into this crypt come sunup."
"You will stop me? With your little knife?"
"I seem to recall a Bowie did for one of you once."
"Yes. He was a Texan too, of course."
With a deliberate calm, he undid his cravat, removed his coat and hat, laying the black silk garments upon a nearby bench. She watched him undress, but never moved from the doorway.
"I must say, I'm surprised. Usually it's gasoline and gunpowder. Fire and silver. Holy water and crucifixes."
"Too much bother. You ain't worth more than steel and sunlight." She drew her sword. Old Toledo steel, brought over from Mexico. "An' I wanted you to know. I could have had you when you was sleepin'. I could have hauled your carcass into the bonfire, staked you out on the prairie to see the dawn. I could have buried pieces of you at every crossroad from here to Oklahoma. But it ain't just about the deed. I want you to know you been beat."
Naked, he faced her again. A sharp thumbnail dug at the skin of his sternum, finding a bloodless seam there. She watched him shuck the thin skin of humanity, and kick it away from him with one gore-slick paw, to land crumpled at the foot of the bench with his other clothes.
Twelve chimes rang out over house and field from the old church bell.