Thiefs deception a short.., p.3
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       Thief's Deception: A Short Story, p.3
 

           T. B. Wright
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the gap.

  Briggs' scattergun erupted and the first man doubled backwards, collapsing onto his companion. Shouts filled the air. Taking advantage of the confusion, Jameson jumped to the next car and ran along it to the end. The last man in the line was directly opposite him, staring forward singularly. Jameson slung the rifle over his shoulder and withdrew the revolver. He took a deep breath and steadied himself on the running board.

  Quickly he stepped out over the break, bridging the cars. The victim noticed him only too late, his features changing from astonishment and amusement to terror in an instant. Jameson squeezed the trigger. The guard's head blossomed, a fine red mist puffing up, brain and skull exploding backwards. The body toppled to the dirt.

  Without a moment's hesitation, Jameson swung to the next car and hopped just high enough for his hands to grasp the lip of the roof. With an agility that betrayed his age he swung his body up, hooking a leg and pulling. He came to stand on the roof, holstering the revolver and bringing up the rifle. He edged forward, first seeing the corpse and then the next man in line, swinging wildly this way and that like a cornered deer.

  Jameson found found him and fired, felling just as his companion, drawing the attention of the three remaining men. One spun around and instantly spotted Jameson above, drawing a scattergun up and firing from his hip. Jameson had ducked back not a moment too soon; he felt the breeze of the pellets past his hat.

  Another shot was fired, this time from Briggs' direction; they were trapped, realization setting like a sledgehammer. In unison they darted away from the train, trying to take the trees before being gunned down. That, however, did not happen. Jameson quickly dropped the magazine and snapped in a fresh one, found their backs and fired thrice in succession, each men and falling into the grass.

  A moment of silence passed before a much more spine-tingling shot went off. It sounded like a rocket exploding in a tin can. Jameson immediately knew that the last heavy had been done away with. And he was next on the agenda, now that all other opposition was gone. The suspicion was confirmed just as he thought it.

  “C'mere, old man. I have your portion of the loot,” Briggs yelled. He was outside the train now, doubtlessly pacing rearward, attempting to find the ‘hapless’ forty year old merc. Jameson removed his hat, wiped his brow with the back of his hand.

  “Shit,” he mumbled, looking at the wide-brimmed hat for the first time. Three neat holes now frayed the old hide. And, he realized, he had lost his cigar somewhere in the firefight. “Shit.”

  “Jameson! Don't you want your money?”

  Jameson sighed hard and shook his head, infinitely tired of the incredulous voice. It was now time to shut it up.

  He waited, perfectly motionless, crouching down to the steel roof. His hearing heightened as he searched for the slightest noise.

  And then it came. Elegantly, Jameson came to his feet, the rifle pressed firmly to his shoulder. He pushed himself to the very edge of the roof, leaned precariously far out. It didn't take any more effort than that; Briggs came perfectly into his view beneath him. Their eyes met. Jameson pulled the trigger just as he had countless times before. The bullet contacted with the center of his head; the result was profusely messy. The headless corpse collapsed to the grass.

  Jameson ejected the shell and pushed in the last from the magazine. He sighed, retrieved a backup cigar from a breast pocket. He inhaled deeply before getting back to business.

  Jameson traced the length of the train with the barrel, searching for Damon on either side. Seeing him nowhere he continued forward, neatly jumping the gap.

  A minute later he was atop the vault-car. Jameson sat on the edge, well clear of the open threshold, dropped to the dirt, the rifle never leaving his shoulder. He moved to the door and listened.

  Nothing.

  Jameson exchanged the rifle for the revolver, took a deep breath. A thought entered his head and he sighed. 'Shit.'

  He removed the hat and threw it into the doorway, expecting to hear a shot, or in the very least some betrayal of movement. But there was none. He peeked through the doorway into the dark of the vault. It was empty, save for the mess of remains, the bag full of money and the still-warm body of the heavy. He jumped up into the car and retrieved his hat, returning it to his balding head. He felt naked without it.

  Jameson grabbed at the burlap sack and dragged it from the vault, still on the lookout for Damon. He had not let down his guard, but every indication was that Damon had run off when he had gunned down Briggs. He stood and stretched his neck, swearing again at the humidity and heat. Every bit of him was wet and sticky with sweat. The leather holster was swollen with moisture and his hat felt twice as heavy on his head.

  'Turn around. Slowly.'

  Jameson froze. 'Shit.'

  'Turn around!'

  Jameson did so, raising his hands. Damon was outside the train, rifle in hand, smothered in dirt. He had been underneath the train. Jameson swore at himself for not checking there first.

  'Throw me the bag.'

  'You know,' Jameson began, 'With your friends dead, there really is no reason to fight. You take the money and we both leave, no harm done.'

  'Shut up, old man. Just throw me the bag.'

  Jameson grimaced. He was not old. Forty? Forty was old now? Damn kids.

  And then another, much more relevant thought crossed his mind. Why didn't Damon simply shoot him and be done with it?

  'Okay, kid. I'll throw you the bag.'

  Slowly so as not to alarm, he holstered the revolver and reached down, grabbing the bag from the mouth of the car. He picked it up and tossed it to Damon, who caught it awkwardly, the rifle falling from his shoulder. Jameson then saw the reason he did not fire: the bolt mechanism was quite obviously jammed.

  Jameson smirked and again drew the revolver. Damon simply stared ahead, his eyes as large as saucers. 'I said don't move,' he managed, but his heart wasn't in it.

  Jameson shrugged and squeezed the trigger; Damon pulled the bag up to act as a shield.

  A tremendous explosion erupted all around him. Jameson was ejected bodily from the train and soared through the thick jungle air, landing in a heap ten paces away in the grass. From the corner of his vision he could see a colossal fireball rise into the air, engulfing the vault-car before fizzling away. Jameson's ears were ringing loudly and his eyes were watering. His skin felt burnt and he was fairly certain his eyebrows were gone.

  The veteran dragged himself to his feet with much moaning and complaining and staggered back to the abused train. Leaning up against the opening, he stared at the place where Damon had been. All that remained was a sizeable crater; not even his boots were left behind in the blast. Jameson curled his lips. 'Damn.'

  Then he figured it all out. Sitting in the middle of the car, just outside the door to the vault proper, the money bag sat innocently. He eyed it and then the crater, moving back and forth. Jameson fought back a chuckle at the revelation. He had thrown Damon the bag full of dynamite on accident. The blast had been the remainder of the explosives going off in perfect fashion. He clambered into the smoky interior and opened the remaining rucksack, flicking his eyes over the immense amount of banknotes.

  A smile curled onto his lips.

  ###

  Thank you for reading. More stories by T.B. Wright at

  The McClure Papers

  Follow the author on Twitter @McClurePapers

 
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