Now, there’s some background information I’d like you to know about this. It’s set in a world that I had been working on at the time. Whether or not it’s any good remains to be seen. I did kind of pull it together almost on top of the deadline for submissions. It was written as an experiment with time and tension, and though it never saw print, it was accepted for publication a couple of years ago.
Edward Sun stood still. The sharp featured man looked down the street at the gathering locals of Rachette. A faint breeze didn’t stir his straight, short hair. It looked an even lighter brown in the mid-day sun. He took a deep breath and waited expectantly. A bell sounded noon’s arrival, and everything in the area went dead silent. Finally, a feminine voice called out, “Back’s to each other!” People stopped on the paved stone streets. A crowd was gathering. This wasn’t an irregular occurrence, but people always wanted to see who went down. “One!” He took a step forward. Erin always did this for people. It was like a second job for her, as she usually got paid for it by the winner. He’d done this so many times now, that the routine was perfectly ingrained into his body.
“Two.” He took another step forward. He pictured Erin once more in his head. The barmaid wasn’t the most beautiful woman, tired brown eyes in her twenties, with chocolate curls hanging down to her shoulders. She was a little on the husky side from lots of hard work, but there was a simple charm to her that he had always admired in his friend. There was no time to thank her any other way than a memory if this was the end.
“Three.” He stepped forward once more. His heart was beating faster.
“Four.” He flexed his hands around the six-shooters in his belt holsters, knowing he had to draw at a moment’s notice.
“Five.” His muscles were tensing. Adrenaline started to rise. He had to force calmness on himself. He’d done this so many times before.
“Six.” This was when he always contemplated his life. No regrets, as usual, not that there was any time for them. He’d lived his life on the skies the way he wanted. He did what he was good at for money, and nothing stopped him from being happy. He stepped forward in time to each count subconsciously as he mentally prepared himself.
“Nine!” The count was drawn out and Edward was back from his thoughts. He stopped and readied himself.
The world was shut out from his senses. Only the other man and the nearby terrain were in his awareness. He dove to the side, turning in the process as he drew the revolvers. It was a quick escape from what he knew was coming. The first shots were fired at where he’d been moments before and they ricocheted off somewhere, or buried themselves in the stone. As he fell, he managed one shot that missed, and the impact with the ground sent the other off through something glass, most likely a window. Edward curled up and rolled as he landed; fluidly rising to his feet, and cocking back the pistols. Shaking off the impact was just another part of the job. His shoulder would hurt later if he won; otherwise it was nothing in the larger scheme. He continued to move as he fired again. This time, his shots were dead on. The first shot went through the arm, a stunning hit preventing next round of shots from coming. The second shot just barely hit the heart enough to kill. The man opposite Edward’s eyes widened and he fell over dead, or very soon to be as sticky redness pooled around him.
Cheers erupted from the street and Edward spun the pistols in a flashy victory move before holstering them as a cart, pulled up. The body was loaded in the back and that was the end of it. Edward smirked and looked at the Golden Gear Tavern. Then he looked at Erin, her smile bright with excitement. “Tell Sparks he has to clear my tab again.”
Erin nodded, certainly relieved. “He needs to stop betting against you.” She went inside to get Edward another drink.
“The day he does, is the day I die,” he called after her with a chuckle. Ed stepped into the tavern and was welcomed by another round of cheers and applause. He shook his head and laughed as he sat down at the bar.
The old mechanic, Sparks, looked at him and shook his head. “I don’t know if I should be happy or not that you keep cleaning out my wallet.”
Ed laughed. “Your contributions to my drinking habit are much appreciated by the town at least. One more bit of trash isn’t going to be bothering anyone,” he said with a smirk. Today’s win meant one more night of binge drinking, on Sparks’ tab of course, lay ahead of him. Clapping his hands together, and with some sleight of hand, he produced a rose that he handed to Erin, as a thank you for her work outside. “Erin. Get me some ale.”