06 May 2011
COWBOYS AND ALIENS
By Curtis C. Chen
"Thisss isss an exsssellent weap-pon," Halley said.
Eugene had been dealing with Varmits for as long as they'd been in California, and it still gave him pause to hear English words coming out of those tall purple sausages with tentacles. He pushed the Colt revolver back across the wooden counter and hoped his hands weren't shaking too much.
"I'm looking for something more unusual," he said.
"What-t do you mean?"
"Listen, I know you Varmits—"
"Varna'ut," the alien corrected.
"I know you folks make some interesting weapons," Eugene said. "I'm in the market for a repeater. I can pay."
Halley remained still for a few more seconds, then said, "Your name isss Eugene C-Creason."
Eugene blinked. "Yes."
"You p-play with children at-t ssstables."
Eugene felt his palms sweating. "Sometimes. It's just cards. No gambling."
The alien finally moved, twitching its upper tentacles. "My offssspring enjoy p-playing Go Fish." It paused for a second. "P-please wait-t here."
Halley disappeared into the back room of the small store. Eugene glanced out the window. Still no sign of Claud or Samuel. Maybe they'd changed their minds.
No, I wouldn't be that lucky.
Something landed on the counter with a heavy thud. Eugene turned back and saw a hunk of gray metal slightly longer than his forearm. There was a small lever that might be a trigger, and the pipe protruding from one end looked like a gun barrel, but all the other shapes attached to the frame were unfamiliar.
"P-P90," the Varmit said.
Eugene frowned. "Looks like something out of a rail yard."
The Varmit tapped the metal shape. "Barrel here. Sssight here. T-trigger here." It pulled out the long translucent box below the sight. The material looked like resin. "Ammunition here."
"The bullets don't go inside?"
"Met-tal c-coil in magazine ap-plies p-presssure. Ssspiral feed-d ramp-p loads ammunition int-to chamber."
Eugene had never seen alien machinery up close, and for a moment he forgot why he was there. The sound of Claud and Samuel crashing into the store reminded him.
"Down on the ground!" Claud shouted.
"Put your hands up!" Samuel yelled. "Eugene, where's the safe?"
"In the back," Eugene said.
Halley turned splotches that could have been eyes toward Eugene. "Why d-do you d-do thisss?"
"I'm sorry," Eugene said, his voice shaking.
"I found it!" Claud called from the back room. "But I don't see no weapons!"
Samuel waved his revolver. "Get back there."
Eugene followed Halley into the back room. Floating in midair between stacks of wooden crates was a glowing rectangle which framed a vision of another storeroom.
"You see?" Claud gestured at the glowing image. "Just a bunch of boxes."
"Inside the boxes." Eugene pointed. "There. The one marked 'P90.'"
Samuel was mesmerized by the view, swaying back and forth to see different angles on it. "It's like a window to another place."
"Another t-time," Eugene heard Halley say just before it shoved the three humans through the portal.
Photo: Colt Second Model Dragoon Revolver 1848-1860 by Michael Carøe Andersen, June, 2010