This week's challenge, like #NaNoWriMo, was all about words. We were given a list and asked to use them in a story - any genre, limit of 900 words.
The list was: Gunshot, train, mime, balcony, monkey, rain.
I decided to do this for what is actually a scene for my current NaNoWriMo novel. I'm writing about my Fairy Tale Characters, who were made real by the magic of the stories, and are now looking for a new purpose to their lives. The Grimms' descendants have convinced them to use their powers to add life to some more stories – as books, screenplays, and movies. As they do their stories, they suspect a darker magic source is interested in their powers too – a source with black voodoo roots, trying to control them in their stories. Bruce, the Woodcutter, has taken on a role as an ageing Western sheriff. Agnes, his friend the Witch, has a bit part as a saloon keeper. The story is 798 words.
“Sheriff? Get your ass out here, you miserable bastard, and prove you’re a man.
Wyatt sighed. He’s just poured a fresh cup of coffee, lit a new cigar, and was settling down with a good book. It had been a quiet week so far, what with the cattle drives over for the year, and the miners all out finding more gold to spend in the saloon. The only excitement was likely to be at the church bake sale tomorrow. Mrs. McLaury was claiming her neighbour, Mrs. Clanton, had stolen her apple pie recipe. Both were threatening to get their husbands involved - Wyatt hoped it didn’t come to that. He was planning to attend anyway as one of the judges but would have to be careful which pie he picked.
“Sheriff, either you come out there or I’m coming in.” There was the sound of a gunshot.
He put down his cigar and slowly got to his feet. He rubbed his shoulder – his arthritis was bothering him again. He was getting too old for this, but it was hard to run from a reputation. Every few months some young kid would track him down, eager to show his speed against an old gunfighter. They didn’t realize that being fast against tin cans on a fence post was not the same as looking someone in the eye, someone ready to kill you. Not that Wyatt would shoot to kill, he tried to just wound. A shoulder shot was usually best, ensuring that the upstart’s quick draw days were over.
He checked his gun - even though he knew it was clean, oiled, and loaded - and stepped out onto the front step. His challenger stood in the middle of the dusty street, wearing shiny twin six-shooters, sitting in black leather holsters, all brand new looking. He wasn't local, must have come in on yesterday’s train, spending all his savings for his chance at fame. The guns were likely too new for him to get used to them, the action still stiff, without any parts carefully filed down to add a bit of speed. The holsters would be stiff and unyielding too, and looked slung a little too low for a smooth draw. Wyatt looked up at the sky. Last night’s rain had left the air smelling clean and fresh, it was a beautiful sunny fall day, a good day to be alive. Maybe he could get this young kid to see that.
He stepped down off the porch. “It’s too nice a day to die, boy. Why don’t you go over to the saloon, have a dinner and a beer, then catch tonight’s train back home? Tell Miss Kitty to put the meal on my tab.”
“Don't call me 'boy',” said the boy. “My name’s Billy. You can’t buy me off old man, you’re just chicken.” His hands hovered over his guns, “Come down off that porch and meet your match.”
Wyatt nodded. “OK. Back off a bit - lets say about 20 feet. Don’t want to make it too easy for us.” The kid looked really nervous, so might as well get this over with as cleanly as possible.
He glanced around the street. Miss Kitty was outside her saloon, wiping her hands on her apron. Doc was by the hardware store, ready to patch up the loser or measure him for a coffin. Both were old friends, and mimed their confidence in him with a little wave and smile. The girls at Belle's - the ones that were awake this early - perched on the balcony railing, enjoying a morning cigarette while they bared their legs to the sun. The streets were clear, so no danger of anyone getting hit by a wild shot.
Wyatt just stared at his challenger. As usual, he would wait until the kid drew first. His shot was sure to go wild, giving Wyatt time to carefully shoot to wound. A movement caught his eye in the window of George’s Barber Shop. George was supposedly closed today, but some dark shape, hairy, with gleaming eyes, was leaping about behind the window like a monkey. Wyatt refused to be distracted - he looked back and saw the kid had glanced that way for a moment too. Wyatt curled his fingers above his gun handle, and squinted at the kid. That usually was enough.
“Billy, you get back home.” The shout startled the lad, who looked over at Miss Kitty. She seemed as startled as him as she raised a hand to her mouth.
Wyatt felt a sudden push, and watched as he drew, faster than he ever had, and squeezed off one shot at the kid. A red patch blossomed in the middle of Billy's chest, as he stumbled backward then dropped.