I had seen the flash of red hair through the window before I entered, and my senses were on high alert. The high seats here obstructed my view, making it impossible to see where Danni had gone, but I knew that she had to be here somewhere. My instincts were screaming at me, warning me to be ready.
Beneath my feet, I could feel the rhythmic rattle of the train as it rolled over the tracks, the whole car shaking slightly side to side. I had to be aware of that motion, of how it could potentially throw off my aim. I needed to sense it, to let the motion into me so that I could compensate for it when I took the shot.
I slowly moved up the aisle, my eyes darting back and forth between the slowly revealed seating areas on either side of me. I made sure that the gun in my hand was hidden inside my open jacket. I didn’t want to cause any more chaos than was necessary.
My eyes rolled over the people sitting in these seats. The luxury car was sparsely populated, but there were a few wealthy guests on board, most of them gazing blankly out the windows or down at newspapers. Few of them spared even a glimpse up at the man skulking past their seating areas.
And then, as I advanced to the next compartment, I saw her.
I first saw the flash of red, nothing else. It was enough to set me off, however, and I started to bring the gun up, pointing it into the compartment. Both my hands clamped down on the grips of my gun, and I clicked the hammer back on the revolver.
Danni glanced up at me, her eyes flashing with amusement. “Hello, Priest,” she said, her voice absent of any concern. “Put the gun away for now, would you? Take a seat.”
And so I did.
The man in black paused his story, leaning back in his seat and surveying the faces of his audience. Old Hillpaw’s wrinkled, grizzled face didn’t reveal any of his thoughts, but Jenny’s mouth was hanging open in an O of surprise.
“Wait a minute – I thought you were going to shoot her!” the young waitress exclaimed. “You had your gun out and everything!”
The man in black nodded. “I thought that I was going to, as well,” he said, glancing down at his lap for a moment. “But when she saw me, when her eyes met mine, I just felt myself go, well, blank. She gave me a command, and I couldn’t even think. I just did it because I didn’t know what other choice to make.”
The young waitress was still shaking her head, clearly not understanding. In Old Hillpaw’s eyes, however, the man in black saw a look of understanding. The older man didn’t speak, but it was clear that he knew exactly how the man in black had felt.
“I still had my gun,” the man in black said to Jenny, trying to justify his mystifying actions. “I could have shot her at any time. I knew that here, on the train, she couldn’t get away.
“So why not wait and see what she had to say?”