He shot me in the face.
I stepped into the barn to feed the horses, and the roar of a bird-gun greeted me.
As I fell back, blood pouring from my wounds and lead grinding against my bones, I heard the horses kicking their stalls. A moment later, through the haze in my head, I heard a deep, throaty laugh, and though my eyes were covered in blood, I saw him.
Father Christmas walked into the morning sun, opening the breach on his shotgun and plucking out the casings. He was speaking to me, but his words were nothing more than a jumble. The man paused as he removed a fresh pair of shells for the double-barrel shotgun, and he laughed again as I sank to my knees.
I don’t know why he was laughing. I don’t know what he thought was funny.
Perhaps it was the idea that I’d been laid low by an ambush, but I hadn’t been.
Oh, it hurt like hell, and I’d have a headache for days, but I’ve survived worse.
And I wasn’t going to use the Colts on the bastard.
As he went to close the shotgun, I drove myself forward, knocking the gun up and to the side, his thick finger catching in the trigger and firing off both barrels. He swore at me, tried to back away, and failed.
I’d caught hold of the weapon and pulled him closer. With my free hand, I punched him in the groin and then in the inner thigh, knocking him to the ground. He hit hard enough to shake the earth, and I broke his finger when I twisted the shotgun out of his hand and cast it aside.
The man tried to move, but I took hold of his beard, wrapped my hand in the hair and pulled as hard as I could. His shriek made the agony of my own wounds well worth the effort.
In a heartbeat, I was on top of him, slamming my fist into his face and feeling my fingers break as I shattered his cheeks and nose.
He tried to fight back, but I gouged out his eyes and bit off his nose, spitting it onto the ground. As he bled and screamed, I tore off both ears and stuffed them in his mouth, holding his broken jaw closed until he started to swallow them.
They didn’t fit.
It took a long time, but he choked to death on them.
In the end, though, he didn’t take long enough.