From the Story Arc: The Bearer of Strashnyjj, Strashnyjj News

Previous Story in the Arc: Cash by Commie Cowgirl (Wednesday, February 15, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Geraldo by Commie Cowgirl (Thursday, February 16, 2006)

(posted Wednesday, February 15, 2006)

The sky darkened with clouds, and Oksana’s quiet, respectful day of mourning ended with the sound of squealing tires.

The first camera crew arrived, led by a pushy blonde reporter whose career had been extended by a decade through plastic surgery. Her already tight skin stretched taut as Mr. Stein shooed her away from the front door. She and her crew settled for crouching at the gate, filming the stables and yard, and relating facts from the police report.

A second camera crew pulled up ten minutes later, banging on the door as though they were delivering pizza. The black look in Oksana’s eyes galvanized Mr. Stein to declare to the press that “Ms. Fedin has no comment at this time about Mr. Taylor’s unfortunate passing or the disbursement of his estate.” At the word “estate,” the reporter’s eyes lit up, and the lawyer knew he’d accelerated a soon-to-be unpleasant process. One satellite internet connection later, and the growing mob of journalists all had the facts on Kurt’s fortune, and even more speculation about its new owner: the beautiful, colorful Commie Cowgirl.

Within an hour, over a hundred reporters, writers, bloggers, police, sheriffs, and gawkers pressed against a brand new police line – this one for Oksana’s own privacy. She drew all the curtains over the windows, closed the shutters, and went into her bedroom. Stein gave her five minutes before he knocked on the door.

“Oksana? Are you okay?”

The only response he got was the distinct ratcheting of a rifle stock.

Stein burst through the door. “Oksana, no!” he cried. He should have brought a grief counselor with him.

But Oksana wasn’t planning to join Kurt in the great roundup in the sky just yet. She sat on her bed, loading shells into a slender rifle. She’d donned her patrol outfit: a leather vest, white cowboy shirt, red hat, skirt and thigh-high leather boots. Her bandanna hung around her neck, not yet hiding the grim look of resolution on her face.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m a-fixin’ to scare some varmints off my land,” she said, pocketing the rest of her ammo.

“As your attorney, I can’t recommend – hey!” He stumbled as she marched past him, rifle in one hand.

“Oksana, wait!”

Stein kneaded his hands as she parted the curtains a hair to scan the mob. “You can’t just shoot people because they’re bothering you.”

“I ain’t shootin’ at folk,” she muttered. She jabbed her rifle barrel through the glass so precisely that she punched a small in the glass without shattering the pane. Stein peered past her to note that the crowd hadn’t responded.

Lowering her shoulders, Oksana took a breath and squeezed off six shots in rapid succession, taking almost no time to aim. Across the yard, six expensive television cameras exploded as a .22 gauge bullet smashed their electronics. The cameramen yelped and dropped their broken cameras, reporters ducked, and chaos erupted. The police knelt and pointed their weapons at the house. One reporter, sporting a thick mustache, did the same.

“Oh God.” Stein grabbed Oksana’s shoulder. “Are you insane?”

“Crazy like fox, pardner. Fetch me my Buffalo Rifle.” She pointed at a sinister looking rifle propped up against the fireplace. “Shake a leg.” She began to reload the .22.

Shaking, Stein crossed the room and retrieved the Buffalo Rifle. It was a curious mix of old fashioned gunmaking and strange experimental technology. Cyrillic lettering adorned the stock.

“Please, Oksana. Violence never solved anything.”

She snatched the gun from his hands. “Ain’t that a load of hooey. You might want to duck.”

“Don’t –“ The deafening report of the Buffalo Rifle drove him back as she opened fire at the crowd, three shots, aimed with deadly accuracy. She spun away from the window to take cover behind the wall. Stein stood in the middle of the living room, unsure what to do.

“Lie down, pardner.” The tone in her voice brooked no argument.

Police bullets exploded the window. Stein dove to the floor, his heart in his throat. By the window, Commie Cowgirl looked distinctly bored. “They’ll tucker out in minute. Just stay low, there.”

Bullets chewed the opposite wall, moving towards a rare bronze sculpture by Alexander Phimister Proctor on a pedestal. Oksana kicked a plush chair at it, knocking it over and into the cushion just as the police barrage tore through the space it had occupied.

“Collectible,” she hollered to Stein. He stifled a sob.

The bullets stopped, leaving an eerie silence. Cowgirl leaned over to the window. “I ain’t shootin’ at you, ya ignoramuses! Take a look behind you.”

Stein peeked out to see the police directing their guns at black-clad figures under the lush alder trees that lined the road to Kurt’s gate. Three of the figures stanched bleeding from shoulder or arm wounds.

“Are those…no, they can’t be.”

“Ayup. Them dang ninjas must’ve gotten wind of my new status. Word travels fast on the prairie.”

“Tsoo ninjas.” Stein had never seen one in person. From afar, they looked like college students in a fraternity prank. “How did you see them?”

“Cowgirls know a whole passle of tricks. Now, be a good lawyer and make nice with the lawmen, da?” She set the rifle against the fireplace and moseyed back to her bedroom.