Monday, April 8, 2013

Gunfight Week Continues

And, as gunfight week continues, the following is an excerpt from "Forewarned Is," by C. J. Killmer, Science Fiction Trails 8.


McCready did not turn as Lefty approached, but he tossed his overcoat off, exposing a pair of metal arms and, he noticed, a quartet of holstered revolvers spaced along his belt. McCready's mechanical arms were attached to a metal box, which was in turn affixed somehow – despite there being no visible straps – to the center of McCready's back.

"Say, mister," Lefty said. "Those are interesting-looking?"

Lefty's statement was cut short when one of McCready's metal hands snaked toward him, lightning-quick, and punched him in the jaw. Lefty staggered back a step. He didn't fall down, but the room swayed around him for a split-second. How McCready had aimed the punch so precisely, Lefty had no idea. It was as if the metal arms could see for themselves.

Each of McCready's four arms reached for one of the revolvers on his belt.

"Aw, hell," Lefty muttered as he dove over the bar.

Bullets tore up the bar just as Lefty landed on the floor behind it. The impact ignited a nasty twinge of pain in Lefty's back. He was starting to get too old for these sorts of things.

The bartender fell on the ground next to Lefty. He'd been hit multiple times from McCready's bullets and was either dead, or soon would be. Shards of wood and glass rained on the back of Lefty's duster as he drew his Webley revolver.

Then the shooting stopped. McCready seemed to be out of ammo.

Lefty popped up to shoot, but instantly fell back below the bar as the four-armed man resumed shooting. McCready had only paused in order to deceive Lefty into thinking he was reloading, so that Lefty would expose himself while attempting to return fire.

He'd never been in a gunfight with a four-armed man before. He was discovering it wasn't much fun.

He should have seen this coming; he should have realized that this character would give him serious trouble. Ungentlemanly as it would have been, he really should have waited a block down the street with a rifle and shot McCready in the head when he walked out of the saloon. Instead, he'd followed the four-armed man into the saloon and had found himself outgunned. He'd allowed his curiosity about this man and his arms to get the better of him.

Though he was no scientist or inventor, it was obvious that McCready's robotic arms were very different from his own. Lefty's metal arm, in both appearance and function, resembled a human arm rendered in steel. McCready's, on the other hand, were sleek and serpentine in design, and moved more like tentacles than arms, though they had five-fingered hands on the ends.

Lefty had always thought that Whitaker Myers, who had built Lefty's right arm, was the most advanced maker of such things in the world, and yet here were a pair of robotic arms that looked much more refined.

Lefty looked in vain for rear exit. If he didn't change his immediate situation, he was doomed. McCready had all the advantages – twice as many arms, twice as many guns, and a cornered opponent.

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