A bit rushed again this week. Not sure about it. Thought it sucked as I wrote it. Liked it on the reread and then hated it on editing it. Hope you enjoy – remember you’re free to comment.
The New Arrival
By Neil Beynon
“’Morning,” said the stranger.
The guard grunted.
“’Spect you ain’t used to much in the way of strangers out here.”
The guard mumbled something about the end of the line whilst his eyes flicked round for help.
“’Spect you noticed the gun by now, you seem frightened as a mouse.”
The guard said nothing.
“I ain’t gonna shoot you boy. I just wanna know how to get to the Vermouth Club.”
“Speak up now boy,” said the stranger, his hand resting on his gun.
“You head straight down the high street; Vermouth is down on the last lane on the left. You can’t miss it,” said the guard.
“Thank you kindly, said the stranger. “Sal still dancing?”
“Oh yes sir,” said the guard forgetting his fear for a moment. “Every Friday.”
“Sweet,” said the stranger. He lit a small brown cigar and then moved off.
When he was gone the guard pulled a phone from his jacket.
“Zebediah – Yeah a stranger just rocked up. Asking about Sal,” said the guard. He paused. “Sure he was armed.”
The stranger entered Vermouth’s without a beat, the bar was nearly empty save for a few men sprawled across the small amount of seating.
Across the left wall a bar, scuffed and battered, ran from one end to the other. The right wall contained a small stage with a pole set on it.
“Whisky,” said the stranger hands resting on the bar. The bar tender rolled to the optic and poured a triple shot. It trundled back placing it on the bar.
“Five credits,” it said.
“Manners…” sighed the stranger feeding the credits into the bar as he fanned himself with his hat.
One of the men unfolded from the seat where he was resting. He was tall, damned tall and heavy set with it. As he stood he palmed a large handgun, holding it pressed barrel down against his behind as he approached the stranger.
The stranger sipped his whisky unfazed.
“You’re new around here,” said the tall man.
“I am,” answered the stranger. “But I know who you are Zebidiah.”
“Then you have me at a disadvantage sir.”
“Name’s Jared Jones. You can call me JJ,” said the stranger offering his hand. Zebidiah took it but did not smile.
“What’s your business?” asked Zebidiah.
“My business?” answered JJ. “Why I’m here to kill you Zebidiah.” Chairs squealed in protest as the rest of the occupants of the bar got to their feet, an assortment of weapons trained on JJ.
JJ smiled. His teeth were pearly white and shone from the centre of his beard.
“Now why would you want to do that?” asked Zebidiah pulling his gun round.
“You took something I want,” said JJ eyeing the poster of Slave girl Sal.
“Sal?” laughed Zebidiah. “That old whore. Why I…”
JJ pulled his gun so fast Zebidiah never had a chance to blink let alone fire. The bolt from the gun lifted him clean across the room, throwing Zebidiah unceremoniously through a table.
The bar erupted in gunfire. It rained energy, the bolts flared orange as they struck JJ’s force field and rebounded across the bar. It thundered pain.
JJ smirked as the dust settled on the writhing bodies of Zebidiah’s henchmen.
“Zeb..?” came a voice down the stairs. “What in hell’s name is…going on?” The owner of the voice finished as she reached the bottom of the stairs into the main bar.
The woman was dressed in PVC so tight her cheeks should have been red but they were in fact as pale as snow, her profession was hardly in doubt even without the poster that confirmed her identity.
She didn’t scream. She was more contained than that. Her eyes drank in the scene. Her gaze crawled over the bodies, avoided JJ and then found her objective: Zebidiah.
Sal flew across to where Zebidiah lay, leg twisted at the wrong angle. Her hands went to the wound – a pool of red in the centre of his belly – then to his neck. Her hand paused for a moment then fell to her side, her head bowed.
“That one isn’t worth your tears Sal,” said JJ. He was behind her now, looking down on the scene, his gun still in his hand.
“What do you know?” asked Sal, her voice cracked like the dirt street outside.
“He’s scum,” said JJ. “You’re fine now.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Sal said turning.
JJ looked uncertain.
“Who are you?” asked Sal.
“A friend,” said JJ. “I’ve followed you across the system to find you.”
“I do know you,” she said. “You’re little Jared Jones but you’re just a kid?”
“Sal it’s been fifteen years,” he said his free hand touching her wet cheek. “But why tears for your kidnapper?”
“Kidnapper?” she asked. “Zeb is my husband, was my husband.”
JJ took a step back. Blinked. His stomach flipped over.
“Your husband? But…I was to rescue you. I’ve spent years tracking you to here. I crossed the nebulae. I killed men on five planets to get here. To free you.”
“I never asked you to,” she said.
“But your uncle said…”
“My uncle was a lying, raping scumbag who I ran away from as soon as I could.”
JJ stared at his gun. Sal mused that he looked fourteen once more, his beard a ridiculous add on, heart at his feet as broken and bloodied as her own.
“Poor baby,” she said stepping in close to him running one hand languidly down his gun arm. She closed her fingers round his wrist.
“I’m sorry,” he said, his own eyes wet now. “So sorry.”
“I know,” she said pushing the knife into his ribs, his eyes closed.
The gun dropped from his hand and she turned from him as he fell to the floor. She bent over to close Zebidiah’s eyes then she took JJ’s gun. He did not move to stop her. Then she walked away.
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