Author : Donovan Pruitt
So much blood. My blood.
The wind shouted for just a moment, throwing sand over the stone and down my back. My hat tumbled off lazily, dancing in the dirt, taunting me out of arms reach. I wouldn’t move for it. Move and I’m dead.
My duster stank of whiskey, the scorched edges giving it a nose of salted caramel. God, I wish I had a drink. Just one sip. Even Martian grain would taste like an angel’s lips.
Energy blasts chipped at the stone behind me, eroding my cover, shaping my tombstone. I flipped my revolver down, opening the chamber. Six holes, five were smoking, empty craters. One cartridge left: the Firebolt. It only sounds impressive.
“Draw, pig!” he shouted, not even halfway down the street, now. Bryonis Clayton, wanted for robbery and murder. Lots of murders. About to be one more.
Sheriff was his last, about ten minutes ago. He pushed his wet, red star into my hand, told me he smelled lilacs, and then choked on his own blood behind the bar while broken bottles of whiskey rained all over us. I took his gun, took his honor, and ran after Clayton.
“Is my bullet feeling good in you, boy?” he taunted me, shoving more cartridges in his gun. He had plenty. I had two: mine, and the one inside me. The second one wasn’t helping.
There was a deafening roar as a transport ship sped off overhead as fast as it could, carrying hundreds of souls to the heavens. Guess they left without me. That’s okay, though; I’ll find my own chariot and ride it around Clayton’s house in hell, shouting his name into forever like a damn gnat he can’t get rid of. That’ll show him.
I snapped the revolver back, drew the hammer with a strain until it clicked. Everything hurt. My eyes blurred, but I stood up, partially hunched over with a death grip on my gun. I stared at Clayton, gritting my teeth. He displayed his with a smile. He gave me an elaborate gesture, a mockery of aristocratic practices intending to show me he’d honor the showdown. He knew I was dead. He believed he already won. He was right.
“Tell the devil I’m fucking coming!” I spit at him, jerking my wrist up. I couldn’t even raise my arm or level my shot, but I fired anyway. Then I closed my eyes, accepting it for what it was.
The Firebolt hit him in his shooting arm, blowing it back to its drawing position with a lick of flame in the air no more brilliant than a firework. He screamed, but instinct had already overwhelmed his muscle memory, and the vision of fire blooming in the air must have made him think I shot a Dragon’s Breath judging by the fearful look in his widening eyes. He fired a round into the dirt without even feeling it. It was a Boomer. It went boom, then it tore him in half.
Gravity won me over. I smacked into the dirt, lips embracing my resting place. The bare, dusty feet of a barmaid ran toward me, kicking up a trail. She knelt down and squeezed a bladder into my mouth. Martian grain, piss of the red planet. It tasted like an angel’s lips.
Forcing my pale mouth into a toothy grin, my fingers twitched with the Sheriff’s star toward her. A crowd looked on, rubberneckers of three murders.
“Tell them…I smell steak,” I puffed out with my last breath. It sounded better than lilacs.