She fled into the desert, and the stranger followed. It was getting hot, the sun hot on the back of his neck. That pack mule dropped dead between the two towns who’s names were as faint as the horizon piercing the desert. He couldn’t help but think she had something to do with that. There were miles of brown sand caked on his cracking boots, and his holster strap, criss-crossed across his chest, was in need of generous oiling. He had come upon a shanty, her smell lingered in the stale air. Inside was a man hovering over an open fire, cooking something that smelled like fish.
“Are you she,” he said to the man.
“Missed her. Maybe two, three days ago. Perhaps longer.”
“Have you food and lodge?”
“Indeed. If you’ll spare my life.” He looked at the revolver tucked on the hip.
“Be spared if your words hold true.”
“Won’t know until it’s too late.”
This woman whom he chased was known to create elaborate illusions. The sun could have cooked his brain to irrationality. However, the grime on the walls, crawling from the top of the wooden ceiling to the bottom of the dry, dry ground felt too real to be a misdirection. So he took his chances with this man, in hopes of catching she who flees.
“Head North,” said the man. “She told me East but I seen her head North.”
The stranger would go West, then, and chase her until she stopped running.
His guns were ready.