structure behind the cabin.
Both men drew their knives, the silver as bright as moonglow on dark water.
Morris reached the front step.
Borland’s snarl hardened into a dead man’s grimace. The wood just outside his door gave a wretched squeak, telling him that someone was there. His finger tightened on the trigger.
And the shotgun spoke.
Part of the door exploded in a punch of splinters, blasting Morris flat on his back and freezing Kirk in his tracks. The door flew open and rattled on its hinges as Borland, dressed in winter clothing, appeared with a roar of fury. He spotted Kirk, paralyzed like a startled deer, and swung the sawed-off cannon in his direction. Kirk blurred to one side as the shot shredded only air.
Morris groaned and rolled over, revealing a bloody print in the snow the size of a hubcap. One fist held his silver knife. He looked up as Borland leveled the shotgun, pumped it, and fired—destroying the left set of ribs of the hit man and driving him skidding five feet away. Morris gasped in pain and dropped his blade, fingers quivering.
“Hey!” Borland shouted, training the shotgun’s barrel at the corner of his house, where the other one had fled. “Come ‘ere y’little prick .”
Borland then fixed his gun on the shaking fingers of his first victim. He walked up to the wincing figure, inspecting how the pellets had shredded a grisly hole of meat and bone in the torso. There wasn’t anything on the face of the planet that could shrug off such a wound. Losing interest, he pumped the weapon and crushed the wrist with his boot heel, trapping the hand.
Borland aimed. “Else I get mad.”
He squeezed the trigger and destroyed the man’s appendage in one blast. Fingers jumped and disappeared in drifts. The black-bearded biker sort flopped about as if he’d been zapped by an over-charged defibrillator. Borland kicked him in the face, flipping him onto his back. His handless wrist hosed the ground in bright scarlet.
“Hey!” Borland shouted again, a gust of wind buffeting him. He racked the shotgun again, sending a blue shell casing flying into the wind. “Get out here ye little shit! And as a man ‘afore I truly fuck up yer partner.”
Borland pointed the warm muzzle of the weapon into his victim’s face. The crippled man’s eyes were open, but glazed with shock. Borland waited a few seconds more.
“Fuck it,” the old man growled. He pulled his knife from his belt. Time was a’ wastin’. Borland eyed both corners of the cabin before dropping to one knee.
Kirk burst out from around the corner, drawing Borland’s attention. The Newfoundlander whirled, fired and missed. Kirk charged in, lunging when he got close enough. Borland dropped the shotgun in favor of the blade just as Kirk tackled him. Both men flew backwards and landed hard in a drift, away from the mess of Morris. For fleeting seconds, they flailed at each other, attempting to grab the other’s silver.
Kirk gripped Borland’s knife hand while Borland frantically grabbed Kirk’s. Kirk overpowered his foe, pushing him down. He stabbed and his blade surfed the swell of the old man’s forearm before catching on a sleeve with a rip. The tip stabbed deep into snow to the left of Borland’s weathered face, drawing a look of fear and fury. Kirk pulled the weapon back, keeping his adversary’s blade at bay. The old man hadn’t the strength to stop him, managing only to hold on and slow the action.
Kirk took aim, placing his weight behind his knife arm. The silver tip slowly descended once more, like a lengthening icicle, straight for Borland’s left eye. Kirk focused on that dark slit, determined to finish his target. The Newfoundlander squirmed to no avail.
Then the unexpected happened.
Borland smiled , exposing a mouth of canine fangs. The old man’s eyes flickered entirely black and he wheezed out a chuckle as foul as crypt gas. The startling transformation seized all the energy out of Kirk’s attack and,
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