I crouch in the bushes at the side of the road with only a dead body at my feet for company. I nudge the corpse with the toe of my stolen boots. It rolls into the ditch behind me, hitting the frost-frozen earth with a hollow thump.
Good riddance, if you ask me.
The full moon gazes down at me, her open face full of reproach. I scowl at the judgmental satellite, and turn my attention back to the road. Horses hooves head this way. I count four horses – it must be a large coach. A large coach means wealthy occupants – perhaps even my foolish former master.
I straighten my frock coat and tricorn hat. The fool from whom I liberated the coat, a fool who incidentally now lies dead in a ditch, certainly knew how to dress well. Judging by the tooling on the pair of flintlock pistols I found stuffed in his belt, he did fairly well at this highwayman caper.
Well, until he met me. What can I tell you? Even in my more humble situations, I have always been prey to the attractions of the finer things in life.
I leap out of the bushes. The driver shouts an oath and hauls on the reins of his team of four. I yank free one of the pistols and fire. The force of the shot knocks him from his seat. The horses rear, pawing the cold night hair with their lethal hooves. The coach grinds to a halt mere inches away from me. I saunter along the side of the coach and open the door.
A young lady cowers on the back seat. An older gentleman in a powdered wig and pristine breeches sits opposite. He splutters with indignation, and stinks of money. This night gets better and better. I draw the other flintlock and draw patterns in the air with the muzzle. The lady watches it, hypnotised by the movements. Her chaperone ignores the pistol and glares at me.
“How dare you!” He sputters at me.
“I dare very easily, m’lord,” I reply.
I gesture for him to leave the coach. His driver sits staring into the distance, obviously unwilling to offer any assistance. A footman opens the door and tries to help the gentleman. The gentleman pushes away his offered hand and clambers out into the cool night air.
“You won’t get away with this!”
“I believe the phrase for an occasion such as this would be ‘Stand and deliver, your money or your life’,” I reply.
“You utter fiend. You scoundrel!” replies the gentleman.
“Indeed I am both of these things. Yet I repeat, your money or your life?” I ask.
“Then you shall have to take my money, for you shall never have my life,” says the gentleman.
Oh, silly, silly man. What’s that phrase, “Never dare a fool”? I swing the pistol in his direction and fire. A terrific explosion shatters the peace of the night. When the smoke clears, I see the gentleman slumped back against the wheel of the coach. His head lolls on his chest, a red flower blooming on the breast of his grey frock coat. What a waste of a good coat. The young lady sits and stares out of the window, her mouth hanging open as she tries to scream.
“And you, my lady?”
“Then I say you must take my life,” she says.
She sits up straight and looks me dead in the eye. I can see her logic, and I toss aside the pistol. It clatters on the stony road. She expects me to take her money now.
“Your life, you say?”
“Indeed, you vile rogue. My life!”
“If you insist.”
I reach into the coach and pull her out into my arms before she can blink. I tip back my head, letting the moonlight glint on my extended fangs, before I sink them into her pretty neck. Having gorged myself on the highwayman out to stop this very coach, I don’t drink much. I stumbled upon him by accident, but this delicate morsel was definitely on my agenda. She faints, and I sling her over my shoulder. I lope into the night, leaving the horrified driver and footman behind me, heading for my den.
I find highway robbery suits me very well, and I do believe I shall enjoy my midnight snack tonight.
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