Around 1994 I began writing a series of ten books called: “Worlds Without End” and they were going to be just the thing to put me on the map. I had poured hours and months and years into a make-believe modified pinwheel galaxy eons from earth, far out in the stars. It was probably good that James Venters stole my car and my drugs and took all my notes with him for my epic space-opera… Because space was just as real as the stories I was writing. Good old James. God bless his sorry soul for stealing from me. If it wasn’t for him, I would have not started over; I would have continued down the calamity-ridden trail of writing space-opera, and wound up destroying my mind and free-time with nonsensical hokum. The Word said: “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” So of course astronauts don’t exist. The Word said so. No one can leave beyond the firmament without the permission of Elohim YHVH. It’s just that simple… Still… I like this story. It’s fun, it’s cute, and maybe since we all know that it’s all pretend anyhow, we can all just enjoy a fanciful story with a great plot twist. Well… I know I enjoyed writing it.
Supply and Remand
It was a two cigarette problem. He knew that. His mind told him that. The only problem was that there were no cigarettes. There hadn’t been cigarettes for three years now. That didn’t take away from the fact that it was still a two cigarette problem.
“Gold.” he sighed, and leaned back on his stool, staring at the ceiling. “Gold, gold, ev’ywhere and notta drop ta drink.”
“You would think that they would just suck the planet dry and be done with it.” the man behind the bar said, picking up the leftover drinks on the table.
“Leave ‘em.” the man said. “I still got some ice left.”
“Suit yerself Jaf.” the man behind the bar said. “You wanna refill?”
“Nah.” said the man on the stool. “I’m good.”
Pool balls sounded behind them with a wooden chok. You could hear the ball rolling down the chute and then into the return slot.
“That’s my game Smitty.” said the man who had just sunk the eight ball. “You owe me ten.”
“Bull-honkey!” the other man said, slamming his pool cue down. “It was five!”
Jaf leaned back, putting all legs of his stool on the ground and slowly stood. Everyone suddenly became quiet.
The man behind the bar paid him no attention as Jaf placed his hat on his head and slowly made towards the door. All eyes were on him. He was the man in charge.
“Be outside fer a bit. Prolly gonna be a minnit.” he said, and stepped onto the porch.
The view was what you would expect. A golden sunset over the vast desert. The saloon was the last building in town before the great expanse. Markova was a big place, and Jaf hated every square inch of it. This was probably why he had decided to blow the whole place up, once he got his crew back on the space-boat. If he got rid of the entire planet, the gold would be gone too, and then whatever they’d taken would be worth a whole heck of a lot more. He needed a cigarette though. Two of them.
The small cloud on the horizon that he hadn’t cared about moments ago was not getting any smaller. It could be riders from Markova. He went back inside. He hated cops.
“Cookie!” He called to the man behind the bar, “You expectin’ company?” He asked as he held open the door.
The man behind the bar furrowed his brow and slowly shook his head.
“Nope.” He said. “Prolly could be some o’ dem outlanders I seen up on Jewlit Ridge yesterday.”
“Or it could be One Time.” Smitty said from the pool table.
‘One Time’ referred to the Markova Marshalls. Smitty had a “hankerin for hatin on ‘em somethin fierce.” As he would say. He was from Old Earth and was a wanted man on four continents.
“Saddle up!” said the man at the door. “Get yer guns and make em on hot. I ain’t takin no chances.”
Five minutes later a Damram and five Self-Units came to a rest in front of the rusted out metal shed that bore the sign: “Cookie’s Cookies: A Five Star Joint, Best Beer In The Outer Ring.” It was a real shit-hole Commander Goraw noticed. Behind the building was a K49 Cruiser with a junket booster hanging off the side. Why would an atmosphere car need a scramjet? You never knew about the weird folk out here. But it was better here looking into things than with his old partner Yoq. She would just shoot everyone and ask questions later. He was glad that he had been moved out here in the boonies and left her on Old Earth.
“You three men around back. Bippy, you’re with me. I’m not taking any chances.” He motioned to the only other actual man that had come with him. The three ‘men’ were Syntho’s. They would follow orders without question. The Damram stayed where it had parked. He spoke to it.
“Active command Goraw H-4. Hold ground.” He barked.
“AFFIRMATIVE.” The hulking machine said and unfolded itself into something like a huge turret with eight guns.
Commander Goraw waited until the three men were in position. So far the building had shown no signs of life.
“We gonna give ‘em hell boss?” Bippy asked.
“Nah. I just want to get myself a beer,” he said as he wandered in.
Inside, nothing was moving. The pale dust still hung in the air from when he and his gang had come strolling up, but the tables were all overturned, facing him. Even an old pool table was tipped towards him.
After a long pause Goraw decided to break the ice. He took a long roll of his mouth, working up some saliva and spit on the ground. “Sure would be a shame to break that beautiful pool table.”
A muffled voice answered him. “We ain’t lookin’ for no trouble Sheriff! We aim to just drink our beer in peace and mosey on outta here.”
Goraw smiled. “Then why you acting all suspicious? I’m not here to serve warrants or dispense justice. I just need to… How do you say it here? ‘Wet my whistle.’” He slowly walked over to the vacant bar and leaned over. The man behind the bar was on the floor with his hands over his head.
“Excuse me? May I purchase a drink?” Goraw asked him.
Trembling, Cookie looked up and slowly stood. His dusty gray hair and pale blue eyes shimmered, he was shaking so badly.
“S-sure.” He grabbed a glass, spat on it, wiped it off and poured a fresh brew. The glass fogged up as the cold drink roiled and settled within.
He slowly placed it down and said: “Fifteen-fifty if you please.”
Goraw held out his wrist and the man behind the bar touched the reader to it. Beep. The man behind the bar took a step back and slowly went back down to the ground, hands again above his head.
Jaffy’s legs were cramping. “That dangnab cop just sittin at the bar doin nothin but slurpin on the brewski.” He thought. He called out to him.
“You got any idea who I is?” Jaf asked the cop.
“Nope,” the cop said.
“Then why is ya here?” Jaf asked.
“Well. I was told to come find some thieves. Are you a thief?” He said.
“Mebbe I am… What was stolen?” Jaf said.
“Just some planet-gold. Nothing much. But enough to hide on board of a K49. Juuust enough – actually.” Goraw smiled. He didn’t think he would have to shoot anybody today. This was going well.
The bullet that hit him in the back was a smaller caliber and it would have gone through regular armor. But it was a good thing that he was not wearing regular armor today. The next bullets went into bottles of Rum, Scotch and Mirror, in that order.
Yet even before the second, third, and fourth bullets had hit, Goraw was on the move. With a leap, he pushed off from the ground, knocking the stool over behind him. Half a flip to the ceiling and another half to the ground, he landed behind the back of the pool table.
A startled man, gun in hand blinked at him in surprise and seconds later was even more startled as Goraw’s stick-net threw him to the ground in a muffled whump.
Leaping again up and over to the front of the pool table, Goraw came down in a crouch, low enough to be out of sight.
“Boss is taking fire!” came from outside. “Prepare to engage the assaila-!”
“Stand down! Stand down!” Goraw shouted as loud as he could, although he didn’t need to. The heads up system allowed them all to talk to each other in whispers. “I want this one for myself!” he said and smiled to himself.
Bullets sailed over the pool table, and some into it. He was tracking the shots. Nothing big was being used. All small caliber, but they all had metal piercing jackets. At least these knuckle-heads didn’t use incendiary rounds. He very much disliked being on fire. He jumped up in a spinning backflip. He had judged correctly where to land and was able to envelop another man with the netting. Thwap went the man as he fell to the ground. According to sensors, there were two men left, excluding the man behind the bar. Maybe they would listen to reason now.
“Two of your men are down thief! Do you want to talk about this or what?” He asked.
A moment of silence. Too long of a moment. He thought if he could just get to-
The electric jolt that threw Goraw over was horrific. His helmet slammed shut and he wet himself inside his self-unit, cursed and rebooted. When a self-unit is shut down for whatever reason, the helmet always slams shut. He might as well be inside of a tank at this point, he was so well protected. The man who had hit him was quickly fashioning some sort of restraint. The second man jumped up to help him while he lay there helpless. His suit would reboot and pretty soon he would mop the floor with these guys.
“Boss?” Bippy called from outside. “You want some help now or what?”
Reboot complete. “No. This is mine. You boys stay put. I almost have them.”
But he couldn’t move. The Lectrowire restraint was bound around his ankles and his wrists and then joined together. It was causing his suit to brown out. It kept pulsing small charges through his suit. His systems were on, but didn’t have enough power to give him control over anything.
The two men drug him behind the pool table and looked at him.
“Reckon I stole that gold, do ya?” Jaf asked.
“Yes. And you are under arrest.” Goraw said through clenched teeth. The tiny loudspeaker on the outside of his helmet transmitted his consternation.
Jaf pointed to the other two. “Get ‘em outta those traps.” He told Smitty, “but bring me my case first.”
Smitty scrambled away and was back moments later with a silver case.
“Imma go get em unstuck boss.”
“Make it quick.”
Jaf opened it up and pressed in a sequence of numbers and hit a red button.
“I ain’t dyin here copper.” He said very slowly. “I aim to blow up this whole stinking asteroid.”
“It’s officially a planet now.” Goraw said. “And how are you going to blow it up? You can’t even win in a decent bar fight.”
Jaf laughed. “I got you didn’t I?” and spat again.
Just then Smitty came scrambling back with a knife. “Boss, they’s five more outside. One of them’s a big old stinkin robot!” Smitty had a wild look in his eye. He had never liked robots.
“No matter,” said Jaf, pointing with the gun, “Go free them other two and get back here.” A pause. “So… By the way…” He tapped Goraw on the helmet with his gun. “You got any cigarettes?”
Goraw said nothing. And Jaf didn’t pursue the question any further. They both waited while Smitty performed his task, then Goraw spoke.
“Listen. You’re surrounded. You’re stupid. And you can’t blow up a planet. That’s the craziest and dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of.” Goraw said.
Jaf eyed Goraw in a slow squint, as if trying to read his mind, glancing over now and again watching his comrades being freed. “Get to the windows! I’m gonna get us outta here one way or t’other!”
When they were up, Jaf leaned in. “You think I’m just some hick? Some hayseed out here doin a bit o’ rough-neckin and then off to another shit hole? No sir. I’m a Second Level Pyrotechnic Volcanologist. Studied on Old Earth too. I’ve been here mining now for the last eight years. Markova boys want to pull me out and send me packing. But not before I give em a little sumtin sumtin.” Jaf smiled and looked over at the case.
“We got three minutes and thirty two seconds left. Thirty one. Thirty.” Then: “Pull your boys away, or we all get the big number right up the ass. This ain’t suicide mister law-man, I just need a really big bargaining chip.”
Goraw was speechless. Who in their right mind would blow up an entire planet? There were women and children here. It was the most insane thing he had ever heard in his entire life. There was no way he had a button that would blow up the world. What tomfoolery. There was no way. Was there? He had been here a long time, and he must have been down to the core… Maybe… He swallowed before he spoke.
“Goraw Delta. Goraw Delta. Cut the cake.” he said. But he didn’t say it on the speaker. He said it to Bippy. There was a loud click, a chunt and a whir from outside. The hail of bullets that ripped into the building was something out of a dream. Like a chainsaw through willing wood, the building cut in half. Shutters of metal and shrapnel rang out everywhere as the bullets continued. Glass and wood became almost liquid and dust. The sheer power of the barrage was deafening. When the roof and the entire top half of the building caved in around them, it crushed everything.
He was in darkness then. The lectrowire shorted out and he was free again. He stood with a great effort, moving the roofing around him. A trembling hand, Jaf’s hand, rose shaking, raising itself out of the dust and grabbed his leg. Goraw slid the roof off and let it land on the pile. The hand spasmed and lay still.
His guess was that there was around one minute left to try to defuse the bomb.
Where was it! Where was it! SHIT! Whe-
There it was. He picked it up as he stood.
But he was wrong.
There were only three seconds left on the clock.
There wasn’t even any time to-
Pauly Hart is a public speaker, actor, painter, singer, poet, and story-teller. His main focus today is writing. His latest works have involved novellas in the vein of “Classical Horror” from the Christ-centered world-view. The Horror story is the story where the character has to survive until the end. What better chance for survival than in Christ? Pauly writes not for the churchy types, but for those who would pick up a Stephen King book, giving them an alternative to the spirits. Pauly writes so that the Holy Spirit will have room made for him in modern day literature. He runs several websites all bent on leaving the mind of the atheist awash with the glory of heaven. You can find him at PaulyHart.com