Sarah Weatherby kicked her horse into a gallop amongst yells of “thief, thief.” She didn’t care. She was a thief. She was a thief on her way to somewhere else. When gunshouts sounded, she forced her horse to run faster. She needed to get out of town and out of sight preferably before dawn. She’d have to travel at night and sleep during the day. The hunting parties would be more apt to search during the day.
She’d head West. Missouri. Montana. Someplace where she could buy a lot of land, build a house and live unnoticed. After all, what did her husband think she’d do when he left her for that whore? That she’d sit by quietly? Not hardly. She just needed some cash first.
Sarah had woken, bathed, dressed and headed into town for a meal and to wait for dusk. She drank shots of whiskey and watched out the window. The bank was across the street. Dusk approached. Sarah paid her bill and exited the Tavern. She mounted her horse and trotted two buildings down to the bank. She dismounted her horse, not bothering to tie it to the post. As the bank manager walked to the door to lock it, Sarah burst through, revolver in hand. They deserved it for harboring her husband’s money. If she had had a choice, she would have just taken his, but she didn’t have time to be picky. She hit the manager over the side of the head and filled a bag with money.
She fled on horseback while the manager staggered to his knees.
There was an abandoned barn not far away. She’d hide there for the day and continue tomorrow night. The hunting party fell further and further behind her. She approached the barn slower, looking for anyone who might have followed her.
No one had.
Sarah dismounted her horse. She opened the barn door and slipped them both inside only to close the door again. Sarah pulled her blanket from the back of the horse and spread it along the far wall. The bag of money, she’d securely tied to the saddle. Sarah laid facing the door.
She closed her eyes. She slept briefly only to be woken by the sounds of a creaking door. Sarah opened her eyes. Someone was opening the barn door. She stood and reached for the pistol beneath her skirts.
A man appeared with his horse. He held his hands up. “Don’t shoot.”
Sarah looked him over. Typical cowboy except he was wearing all black. “Why shouldn’t I?”
“Because I don’t plan on shooting you.” He said.
“You’ll rape me.”
“Not in the mood.” He said.
Sarah holstered her gun. “Get in here and close the door then.” She watched as the man brought his horse in and closed the door.
“You own this barn?”
“Nope.” She said. “Just here for the night.”
The man led his horse to the opposite wall. “Then you won’t mind company.”
Actually, she did mind, but she didn’t want to yell and alert anyone nearby. “Fine. Stay. Sleep.” Sarah said. She rolled over and closed her eyes. It was one night. At least she didn’t hear any other horses.
The hunting party hadn’t followed him, or maybe they had. The sounds of hooves were unmistakable. Sarah opened her eyes. “They followed you.”
“Nope. No one behind me when I got here.”
Sarah sat up. “Who are you?”
The man smirked. “Jake Black.”
Sarah inhaled and cursed. “The killer.”
“Alleged.” He said. “They haven’t hung me yet.”
“Looks like they’re gonna succeed this time.” Sarah said as she stood.
The shotgun blast shattered the window just missing her left shoulder. Sarah ducked back down.
“I’d stay down.”
“Who’d you kill?” She asked.
“Nobody important. A whore and the innkeeper.” Jake said.
Sarah looked up at the shattered window. “More notches on your gun.”
“Couple more.” He said and contemplated. “Anyway. We can’t stay here. They’ll make you out to be an accomplice.”
“And just how do you think we’re going to escape?”
“It’s still dark.” Jake said.
“Only one way out.” She motioned to the door.
Jake drew his pistol and fired a random shot through the window. “Gotta make ‘˜em think we’re gonna fight.” He stood and grabbed his horse’s lead.
“Get on your horse. You’re gonna make a run for it.”
“Sounds like 1o men out there. I’ll never make it.”
“You won’t make it staying in here either.” He paused. “I’ll cover you. You didn’t kill those people. I’ll make sure you get out.”
Sarah pulled her horse back away from the window and mounted it. She wasn’t thrilled with this idea.
“I’ll go first. When you exit, head left.” Jake said. “Most of the men are on the right.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because we haven’t had any shots fired through the left window.”
“All right.” Sarah reluctantly agreed.
Jake mounted his horse and rode it straight for the barn doors, bursting them open with sheer speed and strength. Immediately gunshots sounded.
Sarah trotted behind him. Once she was free of the barn, she turned left and kicked her horse into a gallop. Behind her she heard more gunshots and a few screams. After half a mile, she slowed her horse and turned around. No one was following her. The sounds dissipated. Had they killed him or had Jake killed all of them? She didn’t think he could kill ten men.
Her curiosity got the better of her. She trotted back to the barn. Sarah saw nothing. There were no horses. No men, and no Jake. She dismounted her horse and opened the barn door. It was empty. She rode all the way around it. Nothing. It was as if nothing had happened.
She’d been fooled. Those men were part of his gang. At least, that’s what her mind told her. Sarah still couldn’t explain the screams. They weren’t of men getting shot. It sounded like men getting brutally attacked. Sarah shook her head and turned her horse down the path. Jake was gone. The men were gone. She was safe with her stolen cash, so she headed west and stopped at the next town.
Walking into the Inn for a meal, she heard someone yell ‘” Jake Black, and gunshots.