She had never felt so good, so alive. The air smelt sweeter, the sky looked bluer, the songs birds sang sounded as though they were angels serenading some random God, and everything about her felt positively vibrant.
Nottingham in the 1920’s was an absolute feast for her. Blood had flowed as gaily as world she found herself in. Automobiles, trams, and trains, things she had never experienced were everywhere she looked, with an all familiar smattering of horse traffic adding to the mix. A magnificent spring evening had allowed her the positive delight in slaughtering a pair of honeymooners as the sun was cresting the horizon to the west. For her, the golden sunlight on the defiled bodies made for a scene to be embraced by poet and painter alike. Black Annis laughed and danced away from the corpses over the neatly mowed lawns, beneath the most beautiful leafy green trees she had ever seen.
The sky now darkened, she finally reaching a moderately busy cobbled road, a leaflet attached to a wooden pole caught her eye. It had a picture of a place named ‘Blackpool’ hand painted on to it above a train. Black Annis had never experienced such a thing beyond ‘wanted’ posters, and asking a terrified passerby, her cloak still dripping with the life blood of newly weds, she was pointed in the direction of the Carrington Street, home of a train station. Not long after, she boarded a train at the red brick and terracotta, Edwardian baroque styled, building. The privately owned train zipped away at speeds she had never before believed anyone or thing could travel at.
How she laughed when an unwitting conductor asked her to produce a ticket she was unaware she required. Rolling his body off the fast-moving train to the tracks between carriages half an hour later, she thought to herself ‘My what a deliciously grand adventure’.
Unnoticed by her, the train passed a car built forty-seven years after the year Black Annis was currently in. Parked at a level crossing, the vehicle turned to follow the train along the service road running beside the tracks.
Crunching through gears with the force of, coincidentally, an angered Goddess, Kali in this case, the car bumped and spluttered along the dirt and grass path. Bouncing through puddles and ditches, the 1967 model VW Beetle chased the train at its top most speed down the recently upgraded 1920 track. Two women in the front seats of the little battered car stared intently at the train they were slowly gaining on. A third, busy in the back seat putting together two hammered, twelve gauge, double-barreled Mossberg shotguns.
A black and white house cat sat beside her, intently watching Bast complete her assembly of the matched set. Job complete, she loaded the pair, placing a ‘solid’ loaded cartridge into one barrel, and a cartridge loaded with heavy shot into the neighbouring barrel. Next on the agenda were two Webley .457 revolvers, all chambers filled. After that, she extracted two Colt M1911 semi-automatic pistols from a carpet-bag beside her, filling the magazines of both, with two spare magazines each for good luck. Lastly, a pair of sheathed Kukri, the famed inwardly curved Nepalese knife, the very same as used by Her Majesty’s Gurkha’s, were removed from their scabbards, inspected, and run on a lengthy butchers steel.
“Death is going to go spare if the train wipes out her car you know.” stated Maude. “But then again, the old bitch is just about due an upgrade in vehicles. What the hell was Jean d’Arc doing with that lot anyway.”
“Hopefully the train will pull up before then, and I have absolutely no idea what the hell he was doing with this lot.” replied Bast looking at the shotguns beside her. “I sure as hell won’t be asking him though, I shudder to think what he gets up to half of the time. Now, theoretically, if we park the car far enough away on the tracks, lights on high beam, it ought to stop. By that time, we should be far enough back up the track to board it before it stops. Maude will board from the rear, you should be able to get there well before I would be able. I’ll enter from the front, and Cat, if you remain on the ground in your ‘Cat Sidhe’ pants, you should be able to move along on the ground, tackling her if she jumps from the locomotive whilst we are sweeping the carriages. I’ll take Sardine as a runner for me if I need to communicate in a hurry, and can’t take to wing.”
“Now Maude, I know you are a big scary Goddess and all, but take the shotgun and pistols, plus a kukri. Please. We will be in confined spaces, and with the power that horrid cape gives Black Annis, I still think that until we get her out onto open ground, you use them first. Please Maude.” continued Bast.
“Oh, alright.” grumbled Maude noncommittal. “I don’t see why I have to take a gun when Cat doesn’t have to.”
“Maude, I’m a bloody big cat, you’ve seen me, and bloody big cats don’t have thumbs or pockets. I couldn’t carry, let alone fire one even if I wanted to!” Cat said in strained and tired tones. “We’ve talked about this. You know why, so just give it a rest and get on with it.”
“Plus, the guns will make you look ‘really scary’.” sniggered Bast from the back seat.
“Oh, get fucked the pair of you.” grunted Maude, a slight smile playing around the corners of her lips.
The car overtook the train. Five kilometres further on, Maude, broaching another level crossing, pulled the VW onto the tracks, facing it toward the distant oncoming train. Turning the vehicle off, she opened the door, got out, and stretched her legs, leaving the cars headlights on ‘high’. Cat got out of the passenger side, folding the seatback forward, allowing Bast to alight from the car.
Handing half of the weapons to Maude, Bast said, “well we might as well get on with it.” Cat stripped naked, transforming into the huge black cat of terror and mythology, Maude picked up and put the discarded dress, plus Cats boots and socks onto the front seat. Folding the green shapeless garment as she did so.
Two women, plus an immense Cat Sidhe, and a comparatively, ridiculously, small Sardine all strode beside the track. The sound of the train just coming into ear shot through the clear night sky, from a far bend ahead of them.
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