Monday, August 18, 2014


by Ryan Hunter

You feel Sally’s chains dig into your shoulders as your true self begins to emerge. You’re shocked to discover how much you don’t want that to happen. It’s been too long since you were Rachorin, you want to continue thinking he no longer exists. You want to be Doc.

                “Sally,” you whisper, one last chance. “I know you think you know what you’re doing here, but…”

                “Oh, I know exactly what I’m doing,” Sally whispers into your ear, licking your earlobe as she does.

                You don’t have to hear the popping of the chains to know that you are well and more beyond the point of return.

                Sally jumps as a broken link careens off of her cheek, leaving a small cut just below her eye. “What… what are…?”

                You stare down at her through Rachorin’s eyes, as you grow she seems to shrink. Your brow grows, expanding out and around, large green tentacles slither over your shoulders as your feet grow to a point. When the transformation is complete you look every inch a green cowboy with ten-gallon hat and green flowing duster made of tentacles.
                “I don’t… I didn’t…” Sally stammers.

                “Daddy never showed you his true form,” you say, already wondering why you’d been so concerned for this ridiculous, mousy thing only a moment ago. Of course you’re still going to be having your way with her shortly, but worrying about her seems quite a waste of time.

                “You can’t… he’s, he’s coming for you.”

                “So you said. Reckon we’d best be leaving then, huh?” A tentacle flashes and wraps around Sally’s waist. You pull her to you and tuck her under your massive arm before walking out of your office.

                “Hells bells,” a voice grumbles to your left.

                “Howdy Sheriff,” you mutter.

                “Doc,” the sheriff says.

                You turn slowly to face him. “Ain’t Doc no more.”
                “So I see.”

                “You planning on giving me trouble?”

                The Sheriff opens his mouth but before he can speak an explosion erupts to his right. Acting on its own, your tentacle flies out and bats at the bullet fired back Slack Harry sending it back the way it came. Slack Harry screams and drops to the ground.

                “That didn’t need to happen,” you say to the sheriff.  

                Without comment the sherrif turns toward his fallen friend and you take the opportunity to make your escape.

                Still carrying Sally under your arm you enter the saloon. Instantly the dancing and card playing stop and all eyes fall on you. “Out,” you say softly but you do not have to repeat yourself. The place empties.

                You drop Sally to the floor and walk behind the bar and smile at the setup. No one had ever heard of taps until good Ole’ Doc came to town and built them up a fine new saloon why, dang near over night. In fact, it had only taken him the press of a single button to extend the bridge of your space craft up out of the ground where you’d buried it and then convert it into the rootinest, tootinest saloon in five counties.

                Now you spin the taps 180 degrees, once again turning them into levers needed to run your ship. You reach behind yourself, knocking the bottles of whiskey to the floor until your hand falls on the dustiest gin bottle on the shelf, forgotten by all, just like it was supposed to be. You pull that and the entire saloon descends into the ground and your awaiting ship.

                “Will you please tell me what is happening?” Sally begs.

                “You say ‘HE’ is coming for me. Do you know who he is?”

                “What? I don’t know… he’s… he’s a lawman… from space.”

                “Close, he’s Garlock, he’s a bounty hunter. He’s been looking for me for a long while.”

                “Why would he be chasing an innocent man?”

                “I’m not a man, Darlin’. And I’m a country mile from innocent. Something you should keep in mind, Sheriff.”

                Sally gasps and turns her head. Unlike you, she hadn’t heard the sheriff enter just before you pulled the bridge into the ship although how she missed his clomping you have no idea. Already you’re forgetting the limitations of human ears.

                “Well, I do reckon that’s something worth tucking away in the old hat, Doc.”

                “Doc’s not here, there never was no Doc.”

                “You see, that’s just the thing, I believe there was.”

                “You are mistaken.”

                “I might just be. Seein’ as I’m in this situation with you though, mayhap you’ll clue me in on yer plan. I’m guessin’ you’d like to be puttin’ our fair town behind ya but seeing as your crew’s upp up to the ole’ mine I’m not sure how you’re planning on doing that.”

                “Ship doesn’t need a crew. All they were good for was cleaning up and the occasional cannon fodder. I’ve half a mind to just level the ole’ mine before I go so none of them will tell any tales.”

                “You’d do that to your own people?”

                “Do they look like my people? They’re a slave race from one of the moons of my planet. You’ve seen them, they’re not much good for anything other than target practice. Kind of like humans. Maybe I’ll take a few of your good town’s folk with me in exchange for my former slaves.”

                “Or maybe you stay and fight.”

                “Excuse me?”

                The sheriff takes a step toward you. “You say you ain’t Doc, that no part of him is still in you. I don’t believe that. What I do believe is that this bounty hunter you say’s coming for you ain’t gonna believe you took off right before he got here. I believe he’s going to level my town looking for you.”

                “You’ll be lucky if he’s satisfied with just the town.”

                “That’s what I figured. We’re gonna need some help on this.”

                You sigh and stare down at the sheriff. He’s sharp this one he connects dots all on his own. You hate to admit it but you have some respect for the insect.

                “Look, the only other Malarian on this dustball is laying dead in my office. If Miss Sally could have kept her shoes on her feet instead of jamming one into her old man’s eye, together we might, MIGHT, have stood a fighting chance. As it is, you’re welcome to join us, but that’s all the help I can offer you.”

                “I really hate to have to do this. I can’t tell you how much I do,” the sheriff says, pulling his piece.

                “Put that away, Sheriff,” you say.

                The sheriff fires and again your tentacle flashed, bating the slug back at him. He drops the revolver and backs away two steps, clutching at his shoulder. “That was what I thought,” he said through clenched teeth. “Right in the shoulder just like Slack Harry. You coulda just killed me there but yeh didn’t. You may say Doc ain’t in there no place, but I think he’s more a part o’ ya then you know.”

                You stare at the wounded man for a long time, wondering about your next move.


  1. This is awesome, Ryan. Simply great work.

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