“You’re not takin’ me in. You can’t.” Henson backed toward the rotting wooden wall, pistol shaking in his hand. “If you don’t got Ruby, you don’t got nothin’, Black!” His arm swiveled toward the girl, and he pulled the trigger.
Paladin leapt toward him. He couldn’t let her die. He wouldn’t. She was too important. To the case. Only to the case, he told himself.
Paladin felt the bullet impact his chest and weave between his ribs. Straight through the heart. The emissary of death finally skidded to a halt after ricocheting off the back of his ribcage and puncturing just a few more vital organs.
He fell to the ground, unmoving.
Henson’s face stretched into a morbid grin. “I killed him! I’m the man who finally got Paladin Black!” He stretched his arms over his head in a grisly victory salute. “I win!”
Ruby flung herself onto Paladin’s corpse. She wept over him, even as Henson bent to wrench her from his body. “He’s nothin’ to you now, toots. And you’re at my mercy, see? Nothin’s goin’ ta stop me now.”
Henson screeched as Paladin stood, stooping to flip his fedora back onto his head. He calmly took the gun from his holster and pointed it at the goon. “Now, you going to go calmly, or are you going to shoot me a few more times?”
The crook went without fighting, his face white. The police outside happily cuffed him and carted him away. After Ruby gave her statement, she found her way over to Paladin, who carefully sipped at a Styrofoam cup of water pretending to be coffee.
“Pal, what happened? I saw that bullet. You should be dead.”
The private eye shrugged. “It’s like this, Rue. When you’re bitten by a werewolf that’s being bitten by a zombie, strange arcane forces are released. Sometimes I get lucky. Tonight was a full moon.”
“Yeah. Paladin Black, part-time zombie, lives to solve another case.”