Dammit. Wendig pulled me in, again. So, I've been on writing sabbatical for a while and haven't taken part in Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenges over at Terribleminds. Last week I saw his latest: Must Love Guns. Now, I'm not a big fan of guns. I prefer blades as these are more personal and a less detached way of bringing harm to another person. But, I admit, that I'm a fan of the show Sons of Guns on the Discovery channel and have a vague interest in firearms. The jack-of-all-trades thing that writers tend to develop, I suppose.
Anyway, because I have very little actual knowledge of firearms, I wasn't going to participate in this challenge, but an idea struck and I had to put it down. Why the hell not, right? So, here it is. Me getting back into the saddle with a bit of flash fic about a gun. I give you "The Colt". Hope you like it.
by Jamie Wyman
Aric’s eyes glittered as he opened the door to his father’s sanctum. As the thick steel swung inward, the keypad cast an eerie green glow over the boys’ features. Aric wondered if it was a trick of the light or if his friend really did look as if he would throw up. But then, it isn’t every day one breaks into the personal vault of The Colt.
“We’re going to get caught,” Carter trembled, his voice a reedy whisper.
“Don’t be such a girl!” Aric snapped. “We’re not going to get caught.”
Whatever fears Carter had, they weren’t enough to stop him from clinging to Aric’s heels as he went deeper into the vault.
Carter shivered. “Wh-why is it so bloody cold in here?” he asked, his breath forming a tiny cloud in front of him.
“Temperature control,” Aric answered. “Some of Father’s treasures are quite old. Most of them pre-date the Consortium by two-hundred years. Back when they still had states and countries. Quaint, no?”
Carter blinked mutely.
“Anyway, if it’s too hot or too humid, father’s prizes could be ruined. So be careful not to piss yourself, alright? The alarms will go off.”
Carter’s eyes widened and his mouth worked like a suffocating fish. When Aric hit him on the shoulder, the boy jumped and let out a most undignified yelp.
“Hey, I’m kidding, alright?”
Carter straightened himself and ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah. I knew that.” Finally, he relaxed enough to look at the walls of the vault. “Shit, Aric! Is that a sword?”
Aric Grey’s father had amassed quite the trove. The Colt’s fondness for weaponry was at once understandable and odd, considering the blanket ban on such things. But, with family wealth and a healthy stipend from his position as Peacekeeper for the Consortium, the elder Mr. Grey could afford a few eccentricities.
“A saber, actually. Used by horsemen to fight restless natives or some such.”
Eventually, Carter thawed enough to explore the weapons himself. After a time, he said, “These are fantastic.” Putting something called a naginata back in its coveted place, his voice quivered with awe. “Like something out of a book.”
“These are nothing.” Aric moved toward the back of the vault. His fingers flew over another keypad.
With a soft hiss, the wall parted and revealed a new room. This one held just one item. On its plinth in the center of the chamber sat a simple wooden box. Aric slid his long fingers over its smooth surface.
“What is that?” Carter asked.
Aric’s lip curled in a leer. “Have you ever wondered why they call my father The Colt?”
Carter shrugged in response.
“Centuries ago, warriors stopped using crude things like swords and spears.”
“Firearms,” Carter said lazily, “yeah. But what about them?”
“Well, one of the finest makers of firearms was a man named Samuel Colt.” Aric’s grip around the box tightened. “His Peacemaker was a thing of both fierce power and stunning beauty.”
Aric opened the box. Nestled in a bed of luxurious blue felt was a gun, but it was like nothing Carter had ever seen in class. Small and delicate, the thing looked like it could hardly be dangerous at all. Smooth obsidian curved to form the grip while steel stretched out into the barrel. Silver filigree patterns swirled over the cylinder and gold flashed at the muzzle. And the trigger. Such a tiny, almost insignificant thing. An afterthought tag of metal dangling from the root of the gun.
“I thought all guns were destroyed,” Carter said.
Aric beamed with pride. “Most of them were. Father had to do a lot of searching for this one. It cost him, too. ‘A real Colt for The Colt’, he said.”
Carter chuckled. “It’s funny. All I’ve ever heard is how terrible these things were for civilization, how they nearly broke humanity apart, but it’s so little! I mean, what can this thing do?”
“Nothing without this.”
A crease formed between Carter’s eyes as he squinted at the ball. “What is that?”
“A bullet, obviously.” Aric gently slid his palm around the black grip and brought the weapon up, pointing the business end at his friend.
Carter took a step back. “What are you doing?”
Aric thumbed back the hammer and the chamber clicked into place.
“Well, I don’t like this game.”
“Do you honestly think a man like my father would keep a loaded weapon in his home?” Aric laughed. “You really are a little girl, aren’t you?”
Carter swatted at Aric’s wrist. “Not funny, you prat!”
Before either of them could blink, fire erupted from the barrel of the antique. The air became acrid, tinged with the smell of sulfur and singed dust. As Aric watched, a spot of red bloomed on the front of Carter’s tunic. His friend looked to him with wide eyes. All of the color was gone from the boy’s face as he looked down and saw the spreading darkness over his heart.
Seconds yawned. All Aric could hear was the echo of that massive blast and a ringing in his ears. His shoulder ached where the recoil had jerked at his joint. But he didn’t move. For a terrible minute, the scene held itself thus. One boy with a smoking gun, the other with a bleeding wound.
Carter crumpled to the ground in a lifeless heap.
Aric took great care in cleaning the old relic. As he laid it down in its velvet bed, he smiled. It wasn’t enough to just shoot a gun, he realized. No. The purpose of a weapon is to kill, to take a life. Aric knew from the first time he stole a look at the Colt, he would never be content to just look at it. Firing it left him wanting. Now, as Aric left the vault, his face spread into a smile. Now, he was satisfied.