Author : Chris Capps
She’s a shrewd old lady. She knows things. When she gave the Parch brothers the treasure map, she said the journey would be dangerous. She even asked them if they had twelve shooters and – more importantly – knew how to use them. When they assured her they had killed before, she nodded and handed it over.
The treasure itself was a relic of our planet’s past, back when the interstellar mining syndicate owned the rights to the massive thorium deposits wedged deep in the canyons. It had been this simple isotope that had justified years of terraforming and careful city building. And when it dried up, so did the supply runs. When that went, so did most of the decent people and a great many roughnecks like the Parch brothers had landed in what was left hoping to gain some windfall from the planet’s past.
And then there were the urban areas. Even folk fixing to end it all didn’t go to the cities.
Unfortunately for the Parch brothers, the treasure map led them directly to an abandoned greenhouse complex in a little town called Good Night Sunshine, named in its heyday because of the massive ore drilling complex one town over that stretched up nearly a half mile into the sky. The sun rarely peeked over into the town proper. Needless to say, the greenhouses had been retrofitted with indoor lights.
They set up camp in the artificial wilderness of one of the buildings.
They had already run into their share of bandits, so when the doors to the greenhouse opened and the Parch brothers saw a trio of rough looking thugs springing to get in at them, pistols in hand, it was a simple enough flash of lights before the victor was declared. The Parch brothers had added three more to their kill count.
The older of the two, Buck, walked over to the bodies to see if they had anything on them – no doubt stolen off of the decent folk. Buck hollered at his brother holding a closed fist around ninety-eight dollars in gold bullion. Not a bad claim, but pocket change compared to the wealth that awaited them if they found the treasure. While Buck was searching the bodies, the younger brother Ed said he wasn’t interested – said he had only “the big one” on his mind.
When Ed awoke, he found himself alone with the sound of rain pelting the glass windows all around him in the perpetual artificial sunlight of the greenhouse. When he went outside he found Buck’s footprints imprinted in the mud filling up with water leading back the way they came.
When he found Buck, he was outside the old lady’s house, gun in hand and murder in his eyes. He said he had found a familiar looking map on the bandits leading dangerously close to the trail they were on. He had a few questions for the old lady.
Ed, being the younger, smelled the rank of lies on his brother’s breath, and the two carried on from there yelling and spitting until someone -we don’t know who- raised a gun and they shot each other stone dead. I’d say that’s the closest anyone ever came to figuring the whole thing out.
The Parch brothers had ended each other, but I’ve got to hand it to them. Buck suspected something was amiss when he found that map. I can’t say I feel too bad, though. It takes a cold-hearted man to shoot his own brother.
She says she didn’t hear the gunshots. With the thunder carrying on that night the way it did I’m not surprised. She never even knew they’d come back for her until she found them both lying outside her front door. Maybe one of these days we’ll figure out what to do about the cities, but you know it’s a lot easier to walk around at night these days with all the rough and tumble folk out of the picture.
You see in this town we don’t hand out death warrants. We hand out treasure maps.
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