Heart of Gold

The following short story was presented at the Jersey City Writers’ monthly genre event–Whiskey Saloon. Please enjoy.

Deep in the heart of gangland territory, in a brothel and the homebase of Lordstown’s misfits, our heroine Val had an extraordinarily difficult time chewing on cooked desert lizard. Meanwhile Baines studied her from across the table.

Her short hair was sun bleached, her skin bronze, and her open leather duster revealed not only her more comely assets but also her military grade dragon skin armor. Besides that, he had the strangest thought that she was actually enjoying her meal.

“Care for a drink?” he asked.

“Sure, nothing like some ozonated swill to wash down barbecued skink.” Val said picking the meat from her teeth.

Baines poured her a glass of something that smelled of train stations and antiseptic. She picked up the glass and gave it a swirl like a connoisseur of the foulest post-apocalyptic spirits, then came to her senses to put the poison down. Baines threw his glass back smoothly.

“So I heard you killed one of my men.” His beady eyes continued to probe her.

Before his men took her into town, they surrounded her in the desert, and so she did the only thing a hired killer could do — throw a taunt into the air to see where it would land. She questioned the manhood behind the grit and pockmarks in their windswept faces. Poor Willie stepped up to the plate, revealed his ugly mug behind his bandana, spat some words, and promptly brandished his manhood from beneath his trousers, like he was ready for a swordfight. Someone should have told him never to bring a penis to a gunfight. Sadly, it was a lesson he’d take to his grave.

“I did give him a fair warning…” she shrugged.

“You didn’t say a word, you just gone and blew him to bits! You crazy bitch!” Avery squeaked. He looked more rodent than man, and Val still pondered why he was second in command.

“Ah well… Guess I just gone and got ahead of myself,” she smiled.

Avery walked over to the table and placed down the gun that did the deed. Baines picked up the dark steeled handcannon and tested its weight.

“Impressive,” He remarked, noting the words inscribed on the side.

“What does it say, Boss?” Avery squeaked. “I don’t read none too good.”

Baines pointed the gun at her. “It says, ‘Do what you love.’”

“It’s all about job satisfaction,” she said coolly.

He put the gun back on the table.

“That is something we both can agree on.”

“She had these in her bag also,” said Avery.

He placed several luminous green plant bulbs atop the table. Baines picked one up, dumping Val’s unfinished glass to the floor and squeezed its juice into both their glasses.

“Go on,” He handed her the glass. “Give it a try.”

Now if you never had a glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice or even six percent “real” juice drank, you’d have to imagine the pure awesome taste delighting her taste buds then. It was pure un-ozonated water with a subtle touch of a sweet nectar.

Last time she looked, water was the best reason for war and genocide. Now that oil was not so hard to come by with less people around to drive vehicles after the Solar Event.

Downing his glass, he signaled his men to take aim, as a dozen laser lights flashed across her heart.

“Well howdy do… If you told me there’d be a light show I would’ve dropped another tab,” she laughed.

“Shutup!” He slammed his fist on the table. “Now, I am going to ask you a few questions. I really don’t want to mess up that pretty face of yours, because it’s an awful thing to waste. So just tell me who sent you?”

“I really just came here to pick up a thing or two at the general store.”

Baines grew livid. Before he had a chance to burst into a machismo diatribe, the orchestral music of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries boomed through the town.

“Where is that coming from?!”

“Boss! There’s someone riding toward the town!”

“Then put a bullet in him!” he barked.

An explosion boomed outside, and the echo of a crashing bell. Baines’s eye let out a nervous twitch, as screaming and gunfire sounded upstairs.

“What in the hell is going on here!” he leered at Val accusingly.

“Don’t look at me. I’ve been sitting here the whole time.”

“Avery!” He growled. “Guard her. You six come with me!

“What in the hell is that sound?” Avery squeaked.

“Ah! Tis’ the sound of ensuing pandemonium.”

“No that damn song! Where the hell is it coming from? Wait a minute… So you did plan this!”

“Well first off, if you’d like to call it a plan, killing you is just another item on my list of agendas, and secondly,” she paused, appreciating the sound of cymbals crashing mingled with gunfire. “That’s the sound of my rabbit come to pick me up.” She stood up from the table and stared expectantly at the wall.

Avery laughed sheepishly. “Honey, you ain’t–”

A porcelain white hoverjet roared through the wall, instantly cutting him down. She quickly ran up to his lifeless corpse. After prying her gun from his hand, she shot new face holes into the disoriented guards.

Then she hopped onto her hoverbike, and flew into the streets, mowing down henchmen and taking pride in hearing them squeal. One shot from her handcannon blew off a marksmen’s head like a melon. Another man was sent flying off the roof and into an empty water trough.

Now looking at the commotion upstairs, Queenie the Madam of Lordstown’s local brothel, barreled her way through a hallway bathed in blood, carrying a fire axe, and a pistol in the other hand, with her gun toting temptresses in tow. She was incredibly bodacious yet remarkably spry for a woman with so much…well…bodaciousness. And when she got the memo that their hired gun was in town, she rung the old church bell with a few well placed explosives. Signaling every streetwalker of Lordstown to interrupt Baines’s posse, in the midst of their afternoon delight, with a well hidden knife.

So when Queenie roared from the roof of the brothel, for the guns, Val dipped back inside to take cover.

The windows flapped open and Gatling guns rolled out, on each side of the brothel, turning that house of decadence into a starfort of death.

The carnage ensued, someone got shot in the boob, and Baines’s crew was scattered into the dusts. In the midst of all that insanity, only one armadillo got killed and an untumbled tumbleweed began to be set into motion.

And in the dead silence, Baines’s lone hoverjet dashed in an escape.

“Dammit! Baines’s getting away!” Queenie yelled.

“Did you do it?” Val asked.

“Do what?! Didn’t you hear me? He’s getting away! He’ll bring back his outriders.”

“No need to get off with your head, mum.” Val joked. “The castle’s yours. Now did you rig his jet, like I told you too?”

Suddenly remembering, an affirming grin appeared on Queenie’s face.

“Well then it’s about time we see the show.”

Stepping onto the overlooking town square, Val gave the honor of detonating the remote to Queenie. With a single button press, Baines’s jet let out a high frequency sound. Sending several nearby ravenous sand-swimmers into a frenzy. So let’s just say there ain’t much of Baines to be found, but a large red stain in a barren field of white.

“Serves the bastard right, turning our respectable workplace into a den for cutthroats.” Queenie spat.

“I believe it’s time for my due, mum,” Val said indifferent to the respectability of workplaces, yet her mouth watering in anticipation.

Queenie threw down her axe angrily, and beckoned her girls to bring the cooler over. Opening it, a deep golden hue of light poured out, and she handed it over to Val.

“I hope you choke on it.”  Queenie said walking away.

It was a glimmering heart of gold, and she peeled off the wrapper. Dropping the deliciously decadent chocolate into her mouth, and the next best reason for war and genocide in the post-apocalyptic era.

 

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