There he was. The Leper. His face still fully covered in wrapped bandages, old, dusty, and splattered with new blood. Eyes hidden beneath dark glasses, and that thick coat of his was buttoned all the way up to his neck and fell just below his knees. And now he was wearing Bannet’s blood on his right hand. Bein this close ta him now, and having just watched him punch a hole through a man’s chest, I could tell he wasn’t exactly human. Least not anymore.
“Now’d be a good time ta find a way ta get these irons from my wrists, Raek.”
“I will not free you demon. Your help will not be required in such a matter anyway. The prophet has placed me here so that I would be of use.”
“Your prophet didn’a have the foresight to see he’d get left behind in a train car. So listen to me, you need my help.”
“You have already been warned of your ill words, dark one. When I am through with this murderer, you will answer for your sins.”
“Didn’a you just see what he done?! That feller there just punched a hole through Bannet’s chest! He’s gonna do the same ta you.”
“He will not.”
“How ya figure, ya idiot?”
“Because my prophet has put me alone here, to stop him. And to have us go back for him.”
The leper just stood there stock still while we was havin this whole exchange. I kept glancing over, expectin to see him comin for us, but he just waited. For what, I wasn’t sure yet. Maybe Raek’s size really worried the feller that could punch holes through people.
“You a damned fool, Raek! Get these irons off me, and you may just live to go back and get your prophet.”
“Watch intently demon, for his fate will soon be your own.”
At that Raek pulled out that butcherin knife of his, shone it to the Leper, and then lurched for him. The leper was about two heads shorter than Raek and about three times as small. If’n he were a normal feller, he wouldn’a had a chance, but I done already sniffed him out, and I knew Raek was a gonner.
Raek stabbed forward with his knife straight for the Leper’s chest. It never made it in, the Leper swiftly moved to the side, lookin more like a dance partner than a fighter as he waited for Raek to regain himself and make another attempt. The big guy raised his arms high and came down this time, looking to stab down at the leper, but again he moved, twisting himself to fall in behind Raek once again. I could see that ill temper of Raek’s rising, but for all his mass there wasn’t a spot in his head that could see the littler leper was just playing with him.
Raek wouldn’t last long, that was for certain, so I decided that I needed to do something. I looked around, the people were still cowering, from me or the leper I couldn’t say. There weren’t nothing around, but then it hit me, and I reached for the closest lady. She screamed and slapped at me something fierce. The kid she was holding just screamed his head off, but I couldn’t let it stop me.
“You will stop Demon!” Raek yelled taking a break from his fight. “Unhand the lady you unholy filth!”
But this time the leper made a move on him, kicking him behind his knees which bent and slammed to the ground. I was running out of time. I told her to hold still, but she wouldn’t do it, and even a couple of gents started fussing and trying to get in the action. But I got what I wanted, a bobby pin from her done up hair, and so I eyed the gents trying to come up on me with my stare, and they done backed off easy enough.
“Now why don’t ya’ll get going to the next car.”
They didn’t move. I stuck the pin in my cuffs and began fiddling.
“Go goddammit! Or I’ll hex the whole lot of ya! BOOGAH!” I said as I unlatched the first iron and raised my hands over my head.
They scattered, began climbin over one another like rats in a flood. I turned around to see Raek try and twist around with his knife and slash at the leper that was behind him now, but the leper caught his hand, that massive arm, and then came down on it with his elbow shattering the entire thing. I could hear it, and yeah, I sorta felt for the big guy.
His knife fell to the ground, his fingers no longer able to keep it, and he fell just the same, yellin out his hurt. The leper stepped over him and reached down grabbing his head. That’s when I snapped the other iron from my wrist and slung the thing toward him. I knew it wouldn’t get him, not him, and sure enough he reached up from his prey and grabbed the irons just before they could hit him. I was already runnin towards him, but he seen it comin and twirled the irons around his hand, slamming it in my face. This is the part of the story I was happy to be soulless, as I was somewhat gifted in this situation.
It hurt. Probably cracked a bit of my skull here and there, but I’d heal eventually if’n he didn’a hit me like that again. But you see, I’d counted on that too, I knew he was fast, and I knew where that knife was and luckily landed right next to it. He had dropped his chain and was goin for Raek again, so I shot up quick as I could with the knife aimed for his heart, but just as with Raek, he moved to come in behind me. Sucker was fast.
He swung for my head, but I ducked, it’s the smart thing to do whenever anyone’s behind ya. He missed, so’s I pushed off the ground with everything I had, and lodged the blade straight in his chest. I kicked him away from me and watched him finally fall to the ground. He spluttered blood out his mouth, dark, thick stuff. It soaked up in his bandages quick, and his body slumped.
I took the still moment to catch my breath. My face ached bad, and I’m sure it was swelling something fierce. Being soulless didn’t count as pain free. But I’d heal soon enough. I’d had worse after all.
“What do you want?” I asked the slumped figure after my breathin calmed a bit.
No response came.
“I asked you a question. What are you doing on this train?”
“You’re the hunter,” it said in a thin whispy voice “isn’t it your job to know?”
“How you come to reckon I’m a hunter?”
“How else would this blade be in my chest?”
He reached up, and with a quick tug, pulled the blade from where a normal fella’s heart would be. It gave him a coughing fit, but I could see he was already clotting, healing. I looked back at Raek, but he wasn’t going to be any help to me, he’d done passed out from the pain of his arm.
“Why did you save him?” he asked.
“What’s that? You askin questions now? That’s sweet. Why don’t ya just sit while I get another knife to cut your head clean off?”
“The human. He despises you, would kill you if it were up to him. Would you not have reveled in dancing in his flowing blood? He would you.”
“No, I don’t reckon I would. I ain’t like you.”
He laughed, spittin dark blood out his mouth and sounding gravelly like he had a parched desert in his throat. “We are far more alike than you think. Both creatures of darkness, of insatiable desires. You simply deny your primal lusts. The ones I see behind those dark eyes of yours.”
“Yeah, I won’t lie to ya, I got desires. Like I could use a bottle a’whiskey about now, specially after that crack ya gave my face. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a mummy move like you did.”
“I am no mummy…”
“I know what ya are,” I chime in cutting him off, “Vampire. Hell of a way to make yourself up to get around in the daytime though.”
“It was necessary.”
“And again I ask, for what? What was so damned important about getting on this train of all trains, during daytime no less?”
He laughed again, that grating dirty laugh as he rose to his feet looking ready to begin the fight again. “It was for you. I have come here for you, Abacus Jones.”