The Corsican

Sometimes revenge just doesn't happen....a weird west tale.

“For your sake, I do hope that you know what you are doing,” purred a voice in the darkness. “From this perspective it is clear that you do not have the faintest inclination as to how deep you’ve placed yourself, but even I occasionally find myself surprised.”

Denton glowered into the shadows, his sour face twisting in bitter fury. He gestured toward the voice with his hammer. “I’ll knock yer brains out through yer ears if ya keep jawin’ at me,” he spat. He felt he sounded menacing enough, but his response elicited laughter from his captive.

“I believe you’ve addressed my concerns on your behalf with that educated retort,” chuckled the voice. The menace and delight that crackled in the tone reminded Denton of a hawk bearing down on a wounded hare.

Denton tossed the hammer on the table. The sound of it clattering echoed in the empty space. He took a bottle of amber liquid from above the fireplace. He thought about the past two weeks and swallowed a lengthy pull of the whiskey.

“I wouldn’t recommend that,” hissed the voice. “If your wits are your ammunition, you’re already running dangerously low.”

I said be quiet, damn you!” Denton roared; his revolver glimmered in the light as he raised it from his hip. He stalked toward the shadows, drawing nearer to the voice. “What you done to mine…I’m not gonna just let that go. I’m gonna make sure you hang.”

“Not your wisest choice of action, I’m afraid,” came the response. “You’d be much smarter just to take care of me yourself, while the chance is ripe. To do otherwise is frightfully bad for any prospects you hold for the future.”

“Bad for me?” Denton snorted. He snatched a lantern from the table and stepped into the darkness, spilling light into the shadows. A nondescript man wearing a vest over a silk shirt and a pair of slightly stained slacks was bound to a table. His age eluded his features; a lack of a beard and no trace of gray signaled youth, but his haunting green eyes revealed years of experience. His soft yet malevolent voice bore an accent Denton couldn’t place.  “Mister, you are the one facin’ the hangman. I’d say you got no place judgin’ my future prospects.”

“Pride. Such a typical malaise.” He clicked his tongue and glance around the room. Boredom etched his features. “Tell me, I beg: why such fire to see me punished?”

Denton swallowed back a lump of bile that accumulated the moment he’d actually gotten the drop on his prisoner. “You are the one they call ‘the Corsican,’ right?”

“That among other things.”

“Yeah, well, my boy ran afoul of someone that ambushed him. This coward burned him alive. Did the same to his boys. Wasn’t nothing left but ash and bone. What’s more, whoever did this to ‘em also took the time to bite a few big chunks outta the little’uns.” Denton’s voice trembled.

The Corsican’s eyes gleamed.

“Way I figure is they knocked my boy upside the head and cooked ‘im. The tots prob’ly wasn’t much of a fight. They wasn’t no more than six and eight.” Tears pooled in the old man’s eyes. “Terrible thing to discover. My whole fambly wiped out.”

The Corsican said nothing.

“Did a lil’ askin’ around. Found out my boy got tangled up with some landowners back East. Found out he made some enemies when he stole some money. An’ I found out that sometimes these rich folk hire a specific someone to sort out their messes.”

“It pays well, I must admit,” the Corsican answered.

“Yeah, I hope so. Ain’t no one so blackhearted as the likes of you. You like burnin’ folk do you? You like eatin’ on kids? You’ll see that what you owe the law can’t hold a candle to whatever them bastards paid you, you monster.”

Deep, rich laughter echoed in the room, full of pure amusement. The Corsican shook in his bonds from this sudden fit, and it only served to darken Denton’s mood.

You gonna laugh about what you done?”

“I am afraid so,” the Corsican struggled to say, and the merriment slowly subsided. “You deign to assume what I owe the law comes close to the recompense my employer offers. You also foolishly cast yourself in as another target. Mr. Arcineaux was explicit in his terms, wanting the entire family dead. Whatever your son managed to accomplish was quite an affront, it would seem.”

“Yeah, well, this target is gonna enjoy watchin’ you kick and choke from the noose,” Denton spat.

“Hardly,” the Corsican answered. His green eyes flared. “You spoke of some belief that I ambushed your son and struck him in the head before setting him ablaze. Your hypothesis, I am afraid, is terribly flawed.”

He smiled, baring teeth that were aligned a bit too perfectly. “I have no need for cowardice. You see, an ambush isn’t necessary in the least when one is capable of this.”

His mouth opened wide, and a spray of flame erupted from the back of his throat, spreading along the old man’s head and chest. Denton’s screams died before they reached his rapidly charring throat.

The Corsican twisted, and his body rippled into a reptilian form, sliding free from the bonds. His face stretched into a snout, and horns burst from the crown of his head. A pair of leathery wings flapped against the heated air surrounding Denton. Green eyes glowed with a horrible intelligence.

“As for the eating, I offer assurance…you will be safe from that,” the beast said in a chilling human tone. “The older you people get, the less tender the meat.”

 

 

The End

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