Tuesday, March 01, 2005

:::Canyon Blues:::

They rode down into the gulley in a thundering cloud of dust, the sound of their horses rumbling like an earthquake. The sun was low on the horizon behind them and in the eyes of their quarry, just as they had planned. A lone figure in a long blue dress and bonnet leapt up, but it was too late to run.
All in all they thought the ambush went well...

At the opposite end of the canyon, hidden behind a weathered spire of red rock, Henrick Bjornson was not at all happy. Here he was, hoping to catch a few winks in what was supposed to be pristine, uninhabited desert so that he would be ready to fly the Devil's Pass tomorrow, and now he had to put up with loud bandits and a lady in need of rescuing. He peered at them, trying to make out details, but it was hard with the sun in his eyes. Oh well, there couldn't be more than five or six of them, could there? Their weapons were probably little more than salvaged relics from the last war. They probably got by more on intimidation than any real skill.

In fact, there were fifteen of them, highly trained and well armed. They surrounded their quarry, pistols drawn, faces ranging from cold to sneering. Their leader, a short but well muscled man with at least a decade on everybody else there, nudged his horse a few steps forward and pointed at a small bundle nestled atop a backpack on the ground.
Give us the pup," he said.
Henrick couldn't see what was in the bundle from his new, closer hiding place on the eastern lip of the gulley (he assumed it was the woman's baby), but he did see the blue-clad arm that silently hoisted a one-finger gesture into the air. Good for her, he thought.
The gang leader raised his gun, pointed at the woman's head, and cocked back the hammer. Time's up, thought Henrick, and he leapt into the gulley, sliding feet first down the sandy wall and fanning the hammer on his revolver. Six shots that boomed like cannon fire, echoed in the canyon, and four men fell from their saddles. The woman in the blue dress dropped to the ground and came up with a short-barrel shot gun, and then all hell broke loose...

When it was over, Henrick first checked his body for any suspicious wet spots, then headed over to help the attractive and very grateful woman in the blue dress to stand up. At least that was the plan. What he actually did, was help the wrinkled, bald, and very grateful old man in the blue dress to stand up. The man bowed deeply to Henrick, then rushed to check the bundle, from which a loud snoring noise was now emanating. He pushed back the cloth to reveal a black and white puppy with a snub nose and large, bat-like ears. It raised its head and blinked at the light.
"Safe!" said the old man.
"A dog?" Henrick asked. "We almost got killed for a dog?"
"Not just any dog!" said the old man.
"Let me guess," said Henrick. "This dog is special. It's the key to an ancient prophesy or something, right?"
"Prophecy? I hope not," said the old man, shuddering slightly and wrinkling his already wrinkled nose.
"Come on, we just killed fifteen people who wanted to kill you for this puppy. What's going on?"
"I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to explain," said the old man. "State secrets..."
The old man rubbed the puppy's head gently, then folded the cloth back over it. After a moment the snoring began again.
"Oh come on! I just saved your life. I'd say a few state secrets are a reasonable trade."
"You did save my life." The old man frowned and fingered the ties of his bonnet. "Oh alright, it's not as if anyone would believe you anyway." He paused for effect. "He's an experimental weapon."
"An experimental weapon."
"The dog?"
"You mean it's a fake dog?"
"Oh no, he's real."
"But he's an experimental weapon?"
"That's right."
"What does he do? Eat people?"
"He releases an airborne sleep-inducing chemical - but only after he eats the trigger biscuit."
Henrick stared in disbelief.
"You mean you feed the dog a treat, and its gas knocks people unconscious?"
Henrick looked at the bundled puppy, then at the old man, then at the fifteen bodies lying nearby, then back at the old man.
"Well...um...good luck with that...I guess."
Then he turned and began walking back the way he had come.
"There's a billion noble causes out there," he said to himself as he trudged uphill, "but I get to be the hero that saves a cross-dressing old nut with a dog that farts. Great, just great."

posted by D @ 12:30 AM |

I love stories - especially speculative fiction, and I named this blog Brief Glimpses of Somewhere Else because I think of each story as a window into another world.

If this is your first time here, I recommend "Legacies" and "The Great Puzzle", both of which were nominated for a 2006 Parsec Award. You can also find "Timmy, Jimmy, and the Beast of Tagmart" as well as "Late Shift at the Souleater" in the podcast anthology Voices: New Media Fiction available at podiobooks.com.

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