Heart thundering. Sweat dripping. Feet pounding the hot sand of the Badlands. Her hair was plastered to her dripping forehead as she sprinted from the burning settlement she had once called home. “He’s going to kill me. He’s going to kill me.” Her feet slipped through the burning sand. “Oh gods he’s going to kill me.”

She pulled her mask down over her face, as she clutched her pistol to her chest. Out here in the desert there was no cover, no place to hide, and the nearest town was at least fifty kilometers away. She skidded down a sand dune, lava desert pouring into her boots. Run. Hide. Her heart was going to blow a gasket.

The man inhaled deeply on the cigarette before tossing it into the sand. “Aw hell…” He ran a hand through his dark brown locks, swiping them to the side. “Just had to run.” He kicked the sand before heading after the girl.

Could have been a clean job. All the other Psychos had died screaming in their houses but this little Psycho bitch just had to run. No matter, he’d catch up to her. Not like there was anywhere to go. If he didn’t catch her, the Badlands would claim her. But better to not leave the job unfinished.  He flipped a revolver in his fingers and sneered. This planet. Its disgusting people. Its ashtray terrain. He just wanted off this crap hole. He shrugged; the girl couldn’t have gotten far.

She had mounted herself between three dunes. Maybe he went in the other direction. There were pretty much infinite ways he could have gone. It was the fricken desert after all. So what if he was a tracker, the sands would change in a second, her footprints were gone before he could spit.

She would just wait him out. He couldn’t look forever; probably thought the desert had already killed her or something. He’d just leave. He’d go report back to his big business boss that everyone had croaked in the flames. She tried to relax, crouched in the dunes, sand filling every pore of her body.

She breathed deep, eyes closed. There was a loud crack. Her eyes bugged open. A gunshot. Head spun like a top, she tried to find where the sound had come from. The girl should have stayed put, she should have buried herself in the sand. If she just stayed put he might have missed her. She stood.

The next shot missed, must have just grazed the Psycho. Just had to turn her head. He cursed under his breath. She had her gun on him now. “Aw for the love of…” He fired again, this time into her abdomen. She stared at the bleeding hole in her belly. A red fountain poured from the new orifice onto the sizzling sand.

Slowly the Psycho bitch slumped to the sand, pulling off that hideous mask she wore and dropping it to the ground. Gracefully, he slid down the dune to her. “Why do you Psycho scum even try? You know the hero’s gonna win.”

She seized forward, falling onto her hands, a glob of red and spit splattering onto the hot sand. He kicked her pistol away from her. “You… son… of… a…” The snarl was filled with blood.

“Aw come now.” The blood and sand were mixing into a sludgy crimson paste. “You people, can I even call you that? Slaughter innocents, hell don’t you eat babies or something? I mean, come-on, you’re the bad guys. You stinking Psychos. I come in and clean up this dumpster of a planet. That’s all I’m doing.” She flopped onto her back, the sand singeing the exposed skin.

God, this asshole liked the sound of his own voice.

The girl tried to gurgle something in response. The corners of his mouth turned up, “Now I’m monologuing. Sorry. I just don’t usually get a chance to talk to you murdering, child-killing scum.”

Just kill me, you shit, she internally pleaded.

He turned on his heel, spinning his gun in his hand. “Don’t worry, I won’t leave you to suffer. Even I’m not that much of a monster.”

He twisted back to her, crouching beside her as another gurgle of blood spilled over her lips. He ran a thumb over her cheek, smearing the red liquid. “Ya know, you’re not half ugly. For a Psycho.” The revolver’s barrel was cold against her head.

She gasped, red bubbles filling her mouth, “You’re a monster…”

He smirked, the revolver’s muzzle pressed flat against her forehead. “Naw babe. I’m a goddamn hero.” And pulled the trigger.