The zombies clawed over each other until they finally poured out of the hole that Zeke had torn through the box car roof. A few cars back, they were emerging through the holes that Miles had torn as well.
Slade laid down the heat and put bullets into brains. He quickly ran out of ammo and with no time to reload, he drew Gunther’s knife and stabbed furiously at the zombies that surrounded him, all the while struggling to maintain balance as the train cars rattled due to the increased speed.
A zombified Mr. O’Brien, once Highwater’s friendly photographer, was decapitated by Miles’ claws while Slade plunged his blade into the brain of what had once been Leo, the town’s preeminent drunk.
As soon as they cleared out the zombies in their way, the lawman and the young werewolf ran, with more zombies in hot pursuit.
Slade reloaded, fumbling to fill his pistols with silver-tipped bullets and maintain his footing at the same time.
It was day now. The sun shined brightly and warmed Slade’s face as he blasted a zombie that was grabbing his arm.
The zombies stopped. Slade was puzzled by this until Miles pointed up ahead.
The vampire was using his covered up hostage as a human shield, one arm locked around her neck while his free hand pointed his revolver at Slade.
“Stand down, zombies,” Blythe said. “Mr. Slade and I need to have a little chat.”
Slade and the vampire locked eyes.
“Drop your steel,” Blythe ordered.
Reluctantly, Slade set his pistols down on the boxcar roof.
“And you,” the vampire said as he looked to Miles. “Lose the fur.”
Miles morphed into his boy form.
“Bonnie!” Slade shouted. “Are you all right?”
“Mmmphh!” was the hostage’s muffled reply.
Blythe shook his head and pulled the sheet from his captive’s head.
Sarah. Her mouth was gagged but the fear in her eyes was palpable.
The vampire guffawed. Slade, for the first time since he’d become a U.S. Marshall, displayed a moment of weakness and dropped to his knees.
“Oh,” Blythe said. “Look at you, Slade. You’re too easy.”
“But you said…”
“What?” Blythe asked. “That I took the woman you love the most with me? I lied! That’s what vampire lawyers do!”
Slade stood up.
“The tiny fragments of whatever was left of your heart just snapped, didn’t they?” Blythe asked. “Ms. Lassiter is gone. I’d tell you that she’s dead but that’d be too easy. She’ll wish she was I guarantee you.”
The vein in Slade’s forehead pulsated to a boiling point.
“You’ll hate yourself forever for failing her,” Blythe said.
The vampire nudged his head toward Sarah. “You’ll hate this one for not being your beloved Bonnie…and you’ll hate yourself for hating her.”
Blythe pressed the revolver up against Sarah’s head. “Do I have to splatter her brains to get you to make a deal? Or will you realize once and for all that all a soul does is tear a man up inside and keep him from being his best possible self?”
Miles tapped Slade on the shoulder. The lawman ignored it.
“I’ll draw up a new contract later,” Blythe said. “But for now, a verbal accord will do. Agree to sell your soul to the Chairman or your say goodbye to your second best squeeze.”
“Slade,” Miles said as he continued to tug on the lawman’s arm.
“Not now,” Slade replied.
The vampire cocked the hammer of his revolver with his thumb. “What’s it going to be, Slade?”
Slade stammered. “I…I…”
“Slade!” Miles shouted.
“What?!” Slade shouted back.
“It sure is a nice day, isn’t it?” the boy asked.
Slade squinted his eyes as he looked toward the sun, then back at Miles.
It was time for Slade to hope.
The lawman dove for one of his pistols. The boy wolfed out to his massive furry form, then picked up Slade and through him off the side of the car.
Slade hurtled through to the air in a leftward arc. He took one shot at the vampire before being caught in by Miles’ left paw.
The young werewolf had dug the claws of his right paw into the side of the box car. With all his might, he held on.
Slade looked down. The ground below quickly turned into water. The train was now over the Sturtevant Bridge, darting across the Mississippi River.
Blythe, still holding onto Sarah, peaked over the side and scoffed. “You missed!”
Slade sneered. “Did I?”
Blythe looked himself over, wondering what he’d missed until he saw it. Slade’s crack shot had pierced the chain holding his golden medallion, the gift from the Chairman bestowing upon him the right to be one of few vampires allowed to bask in the sun.
The vampire, for once in his long existence, was afraid. He dropped his revolver and fumbled to catch his talisman but it was too late.
It slipped off his neck and fell through the air into the water below.
Blythe hyperventilated. His face turned purple.
The vampire let go of Sarah and clutched his neck and struggled to breathe.
“Do you think…”
Blythe could barely get the words out.
“… this changes anything?”
The vampire’s eyes bugged out of his head. The veins in his face turned black. “We are legion…for we are many!”
Blythe pushed Sarah off the side of the box car. He then exploded in a burst of sticky, black blood. What had once been the Legion Corporation’s most cunning strategist now painted the roof and side of the box car.
There was no time to celebrate. Sarah screamed through her gag as she fell through the air. Slade reached for her but missed.
Miles roared. He let go of the box car, pulled Slade closer to his body, then caught Sarah.
As the trio fell, a few words from a familiar, overused voice carried through the wind into Miles’ highly sensitive werewolf ears.
“…the open minded masses of the future will no doubt look upon him with great reverence as the man who destroyed the Sturtevant Bridge…”
The young werewolf recognized Doc’s voice and realized no good could come out of this third person tirade. He hugged the two humans tight then maneuvered himself to take the impact of the water landing with his back.
The trio plunged deep into the river as they struggled to reach the surface, the sounds of a tremendous explosion filled their ears.