Meanwhile, in another time and another world...

The Box

The desert sun is low in the sky. She tilts back her head and its red rays stab past the brim of her cap. She squints. The two of them sit facing the distant cluster of rusting, dust-caked buildings that make up the town.

“Five dollars,” Raoul says. “The cork, without breaking the bottle.”

“Nah,” she says. “Not possible.”

He raises a six shooter, sights down the barrel, squeezes the trigger. Twenty paces away, on a haphazard stone wall, a green bottle loses its cork.

“Five bucks,” she says. “Green stuff, right? None of your funny robot money.”

“Green as a twelve day corpse.”

She takes the six shooter and draws back the hammer, takes careful aim at the next green bottle in the row.

“...can feel it on me...!”

She thumps the large wooden trunk she sits upon. “Shuddup in there!”

Back to sighting down the barrel. She pulls the trigger. A bottle explodes. “Shit.”

“...let me out...!”

He holds out a tanned, calloused hand. “Pay up.”

She presses the revolver into his palm. “I'm no good with six guns. I need way more bullets than that.”

He holsters the weapon with a twirl. “Money, not excuses.”

“Elias owes me. Get it from him.”


“...on my face...!”

He reaches across and thumps on the trunk. “There's no scorpion in there. We lied. It's all in your head. So relax, amigo. It's almost sunset. Then we let you out.”

“...on my gods-damned face...!”

She stares straight ahead. “No scorpions in the scorpion box? Wow. That's pretty clever. I guess.”

He looks at her with eagle-sharp eyes. “You should know, you put him in- Oh Fiona, no, you didn't!”

She bites her lip. “What? I didn't what? Put scorpions in the scorpion box? I mean, it's only called 'the scorpion box', obviously I'd know not to be put scorpions in there!”

“Scorpions! More than one! Get off the poor bastardo!”

She stands up while Raoul rummages in his pockets for the key, wipes her nose on her sleeve. “He's gone awful quiet, don't you think?”

He slowly lifts the lid of the trunk.

They both stare inside.

She puts her hands on her hips. “Huh. I thought the ones with small pincers were supposed to be harmless.”

He lets the lid fall closed and sighs. “No, they have deadly stings, hermana, that's why they don't need big pincers.”

“Yeah, actually, that makes sense. I shoulda asked you before.”

“I'd have told you we don't want scorpions in there however big the pincers are!”

She pulls down her cap. “You know, maybe that's what Mute was on about. Maybe I should pay more attention when he's waving his hands around. Anyhow, we gotta bury this sucker before he finds out.”

Raoul takes a step backwards. “We? I like that. That's cute. I never seen you act na├»ve before.”

She kicks open the trunk. A lone scorpion scuttles out, scanning its surroundings with tiny microwave dishes. “So two of the old posse are there when a petty criminal dies in a grotesque execution. And one of 'em's like, Hey Mute, it weren't me, she twisted my arm!”

“It's always something with you, isn't it?” he snarls, before switching to a perfect mimicry of her harsh drawl: “'My new turret has a mind of its own!' 'Elias stole my soap!' 'Gertrude stopped speaking to me!' 'I don't know how I got that bounty on my head!'”

“Shuddup and find a spade.”

He jabs a finger at his broad chest. “You dig. I keep look out.”


The desert sun touches the horizon, an orange halo around her bobbing head as she steadily descends into the barren soil. He squats nearby, watching.

“Raoul, there's scorpions in my grave. If they sting me, you gotta suck the poison out.”

“Five dollars,” he says. “Your hat, without blowing out your brains”


Zhoen said...

A friend will help you move. A real friend will help you move a body.

George said...

does this mean we'll see the Stories of Gun Mute in 2010?

Tinker said...

And I thought I already had insomnia...How am I supposed to sleep now, after reading about scorpion boxes?

Geosomin said...

I have a UV flashlight - apparently you can use them to see scorpions.
I just think it's cool to make things glow...

gnome said...

How lovely. More from the world of Gun Mute.

Pacian said...

@Z: And an extra-real friend will help you make the body in the first place...

@George: There is a story in the same universe I might write, but I'm aware that some of the appeal of Gun Mute is that things don't really get spelled out too much. I've just had this little vignette in mind for a while now, and I like the idea of catching up with these two.

@Tinker: I'd suggest not sleeping in a scorpion box.

@Geo: I think these scorpions might have UV flashlights to make you glow...

@Gnome: I aim to please. :-)

Geosomin said...

Yes more Gun Mute please...:)