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Flash in a Puddle


October 2038

Phoenix, AZ



The arid desert breeze wove its way in among the towering steel monoliths of the downtown district, and brought rolling thunder with it. A violent burst of light in the thunderclouds briefly illuminated his black leather cowboy hat and long matching duster. The muscular stranger heaved himself off of his Harley and strode down the blind alley to meet his prey.

“You know why I’m here,” he said from behind an orange burning cigarette. His face was masked by the brim of his hat and three-day stubble.

“Y-You don’t understand,” the figure across the alley said. “This is all just a big misunderstanding.”

The assassin took a long drag off of his hand-rolled smoke, and blew a small cloud of white out into the strengthening wind.

“That’s not what the Cloud Court said,” the killer contested. “They pegged you as an embezzler. Fourteen million to be precise.”

The biker walked to within a few paces of his contract. He drew the right side of his duster back in a swift stroke revealing a pistol strapped to his outer thigh.

“I’m feeling philanthropic tonight,” the man said. “So, we’re going to do this like gentlemen.”

“But, I told you,” his target said holding up his hands, “I’m innocent. Somebody framed me.”

“I’m not the judge, or your jury,” the assassin said. A thin line of smoke snaked up around the brim of his headpiece.

The biker unstrapped the .45 on his thigh, and handed it over to the lean middle-aged gent.

“Put that on your hip,” he stated in a mellow tone. “We’re going to step off thirty paces, and do this.”

His contract did as he was instructed. His slender fingers fumbled with the worn silver clip at his belt.

“Come on,” the banker said, “I’ve got a wife and three little kids. You’ve got to reconsider.”

The cowboy was silent as he backed away from his prey. The rumble overhead radiated down into the earth beneath his boots.

“When I say draw, you go for your widow maker,” the emotionless man said.

“Don’t you have a boss, or someone that I can appeal this to?”

“You knew I was coming, and why.”

“That doesn’t make this whole judgeless law system right!”

“They’re your tax dollars, too.”

The killer’s steady hand hovered over the walnut grip of his favorite replica revolver. Rider could sense the fear in the worried man’s eyes. They were wide – begging for a recount.

Another clap of thunder was quickly followed by a deluge that soon gathered in the indentations in the battered alley.


The lanky banker didn’t have a prayer, and Rider knew it. Before Larkin could even manage to wrap his ghostly hand around the grip, the assassin had already plugged him with his sentence.

The loner strode over to his victim who now quaked upon weakening knees in the alley. A line of bright red fluid slithered down the bridge of Larkin’s nose and onto the street. Rider stood in front of his contract waiting to ensure that he was good and gone. The banking executive’s horrified face fell into a puddle with a cold plop. The distant wail of sirens told the seasoned assassin that it was time to depart.

“The path for you is decided,” he said as he reclaimed his weapon.  

Another bolt of fury cracked across the Arizona skies as the stranger mounted his Bad Boy, fired it to life and rode off away from the growing sirens.






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