Harlan laughed hard. What a pleasure it had been, kicking Nevada off his perch high aloft the shaft and into the black pit below. Now he could be with his poor, beloved horse all he wanted, provided that he survived the fall, which was unlikely, considering the distance.
He looked at the parchment in his hand. Now he had the map and the wonderful realization he didn’t have to share its treasure with anyone. But something was happening. He felt a jolt somewhere within the cavern, then heard the tick! tick! tick! of a mechanism moving, and he quickly took up the position Reno had vacated, leaning over the edge, peering into the darkness.
“Reno!” he shouted.
He waited for an answer but none came.
Gears were turning in the dark and then his body jumped at the sound of a rapid succession of gunshots reverberating in his ears, and just as he realized what the gunshots were, the sluice gate above him slammed shut in a gunshot of its own, and before he could jump clear, the gate had turned into a guillotine.
It severed his extended arm clean off at the elbow.
He cried out in pain, grabbing the bloody stump where his hand had been – the hand clutching the map – and blood gushed through his fingers. In a panic, he ripped the bandana off his neck and wrapped it around the wound as tears of sweat and pain filled his eyes.
Heaving in great gulps of air and fighting off a wave of nausea and shock, he rested his great hulking mass against the cubby hole wall.
Getting out of here wouldn’t be easy and he knew he had to make his way to a doctor before he bled to death. The only comfort was the knowledge of where the map had fallen. He could picture it now, in his mind’s eye, lying in the pit alongside Reno’s broken body and the dead gargantuan stallion.Wrapped tightly in the fingers of his own severed hand.