A bullet ricocheted, screaming through the air as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday crouched behind hard cover near the stable.
“I ah reckon I better take care of him.” Doc muttered as he stood quickly, bringing his laser rifle up to his shoulder as his gloved finger tightened on the trigger, squeezing.
The waspish looking silvered weapon hissed angrily as it spat a lurid red beam, thick as a 10-penny nail, clear and straight across the holding pen. The laser beam struck a pile of thick stacked wood siding, charring the lumber pile and setting it ablaze before passing through it completely. Frank McLaury, who had been hiding behind the wood and using it for cover, never even had time to scream. The laser beam instantly burned a sizzling hole two fingers wide, from front to back, clean through the center of McLaury’s chest. With a surprised look on his deeply pained face, the mortally wounded man made a deep sighing sound and slumped to the ground in a smoldering heap. A thin wisp of black smoke began to slowly rise from his crumpled form.
“Did you get him?” Wyatt asked, stepping up next to Holiday.
“Yeah. I got him. He’s roasted through for sure.” Doc Holiday replied.
Right then Wyatt Earp spied Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton running and ducking for better cover inside the stable and he was sure that they were rabbiting like they were because they had both got a good and plenty eyeful of how Tom’s brother Frank had just met his Maker. The two running men fired their revolvers in Wyatt and Holiday’s general direction but their shots were wild to begin with and had little hope of hitting true. Earp stood unflinching in their fire, held his silvered waspish laser pistol steady, put it across his left arm to steady it and drew a bead on Billy Clanton. Billy and Tom each fired another pair of shots, again in quick succession and again with about as much luck as their first shots had had of finding their targets.
Wyatt squeezed the delicate feeling trigger of the laser pistol, expecting for there to be the kick of recoil in the palm of his hand but remembering too late that there would be none. The red laser beam hissed across the space between them but Earp’s aim was short and the red beam just barely missed Billy Clanton, passing between him and Tom McLaury as they ran. Both men startled visibly as the red beam made the air sizzle between them but other than that the laser fire had little more effect on them than to double their speed as well as their efforts at finding better cover. Earp cursed his slowness and his still as yet unfamiliarity with the lightweight but all too powerful alien weapon. Frustrated, he took aim again, concentrating this time but what bead he could draw was on the slim shape of Tom McLaury passing from the light of day into the darkness of the stable and thus completely out of Wyatt’s sight.
“Spit and bricks! I swear I’ll never get used to this shiny new gun! It kicks in your hand about as hard as a butterfly! How are you supposed to aim something that don’t have any kick.” he muttered as he took a step back, looking at his smoking laser pistol and still trying to make up his mind whether he preferred it over his regular Colt.
“You’ll appreciate that fact in your old age when your rheumatism comes home to stay.”
“No kick and no bang, just that sizzle … like bacon frying on the pan.”
“Smells like lightning up close when it’s done talking, too.” Doc added. “You should have brought your new rifle with you …”
Wyatt shook his head.
“The shape of that thing you’re holding is all wrong, won’t fit in my saddle. Guess I’ll have to get Johnson to sew me up a new scabbard for my new rifle.”
“Make it a pretty one, with some tassels and some of them silver conchos on it …”
“That’ll never happen. Tisn’t my style. You’re the one for flair, Doc.”
Movement caught Doc Holiday’s eye and he squinted to get a better look.
“See something?” Wyatt asked.
“I did indeed. Over there, near the hay loft. Someone’s up there getting all comfortable like.” Doc Holiday said, motioning just slightly with the slender tapered end of his laser rifle’s barrel.
“Who do you think it is? Tom or Billy?”
“Don’t likely reckon it matters, now does it?” Wyatt asked.
“Well, Tom is a better shot. It would probably be better if he wasn’t in such a good position to plug you.”
“I reckon that’s right as rain.” Wyatt said.
Wyatt Earp took another step back towards Doc Holiday and it was a good thing that he did. Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton evidently had found not only cover which afforded them some better view of their situation but also they apparently had found a steadier calm and still had some fight left in them.
Two shots rang out from the hay loft of the stable. Earp heard the angry whine of two more bullets that came looking for him, passing through the space of air that he had just vacated and he joined Doc in squatting behind some hard cover.
“So, who was it in the loft? Tom or Billy.” Doc Holiday asked.
“Billy.” Wyatt said. “Tom shoots better than that. Those shots were way off, even if I hadn’t ducked back down here.”
Doc Holiday nodded seemingly in agreement then asked his friend a question.
“If Billy’s such a bad shot, why did you squat back down here?”
“Cause I gotta think, that’s why. It’s an interesting bit of an impasse that those two have us in now.”
Wyatt rubbed his chin with his gloved left hand while letting his laser pistol hang limp dangling in front of him in his gloved right hand.
“Damnation!” Wyatt Earp said at last. “With Tom and Billy in the stable holed up and with them having that clean line of fire if we try to rush them ...” Wyatt said, looking at his laser pistol and then flinching involuntarily as two more bullets came looking for him … this time impacting the other side of their cover.
Wyatt rubbed his chin with his gloved hand; his eyes told Holiday that he was lost in thought. After a few seconds, Wyatt took the slender blade of his knife and started to draw in the dirt in front of him. Doc watched as Wyatt quickly sketched out the lay of the land around them. From every angle, it didn’t look a bit of good.
A look came over Wyatt’s face.
“What is it?” Doc Holiday asked.
Wyatt Earp rubbed his chin again, seconds more he spent in thought then he seemed to dismiss the drawing on the ground in front of him.
“I think it’s time that we tried one of those fow-ton things, you know, the one with the red button on top.” Wyatt said flatly.
“You mean the round thing that the spacemen gave us a case of?” Doc asked.
Wyatt nodded quickly.
“You intend to flush them out?” Doc asked.
“I rightly intend to do just that, sir. Now have you got one of those fow-ton things or not?”
“I believe that I do indeed.” Doc Holiday said, smiling, as he confidently reached into his duster.
His confident smile turned quickly to a dubious frown as with some notable effort and consternation he continued his search of his pockets. While beside him Doc’s search grew ever more frantic, Wyatt peeked out from cover to get another look at the stable. A quick trio of pistol shots made him pull back, cursing softly to himself.
Doc Holiday continued to search the pockets of his duster.
“Doc, I’m a busy man and I haven’t got all day to be sitting around here letting the likes of those two cow pies shoot at me.”
“Hold your horses. I’m looking.” Doc grumbled, huffing and digging deeper in the pockets of his duster.
The frown broke and then a smile came to Doc’s face as he started to draw his hand out of his pocket and Wyatt turned to look at his friend. There, in Doc’s gloved hand he held a silvery white colored egg with a darker colored collar on top and a red recessed button set inside the collar. Wyatt rubbed his chin again in thought as he stared at the alien device there in Doc Holiday’s gloved hand. Strange markings were etched into the surface of the silvery egg all around, gibberish looking scribbles and more, smaller scribbles were etched around the thick ring-shaped collar on top. The button itself was set into the collar ring and had only one symbol on it, an angry, even mean looking symbol. Both Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday could each understand that the symbol meant that you didn’t want to press that button unless you really meant it.
“Is this what you wanted?” He asked Wyatt.
“Yes, sir. It is. It is indeed.” Wyatt Earp said as he smiled, taking the photon grenade from Doc and hefting it to get a good grip on it for throwing.
“You know you have to turn that collar there before …” Doc began.
“Yeah, yeah. Turn the collar, press the button and then throw it good and hard.”
“And far …” Doc added. “Don’t forget that part because I recollect those spacemen being right sternly adamant about that point.”
“Yeah, yeah. Throw it good and hard and far.” Wyatt muttered as he played with the collar around the button on top of the photon grenade.
Click. Click. Click.
The look on Wyatt’s face was one of pride in a job well done. Doc Holiday started to point at the photon grenade and say something else but Wyatt cut him short.
“You better ought to plug your pretty little ears, Doc. I heard told from that spaceman that this thing makes a pretty big noise.”
Doc Holiday rested his laser rifle in his lap as he jammed his gloved fingers into his ears. Wyatt twisted the collar around the top of the photon grenade, pressed the button on top and broke cover just long enough to throw the photon grenade as hard as he could towards the stable. It was a good throw, landing just short of the stable door and what distance it lacked from landing where Wyatt had wanted it to the photon grenade made up for when it hit the dusty ground and rolled wobble-like on into the stable. Wyatt ducked back down, jammed his gloved fingers into his own ears and shut his eyes tight.
Wyatt opened his eyes and looked around, not daring to take his fingers out of his ears.
Silence and a whole lot of nothing.
He turned to Doc Holiday who had a curious look on his face.
“How long?” Doc asked, fingers still in his ears and looking over now at Wyatt.
“What?” Wyatt shouted back, still not understanding.
Doc decided to raise his voice and use individual words for emphasis.
“I. Said. How. Long?”
Wyatt just stared at Doc, uncomprehending.
Doc nodded, more to himself in frustration, then took his fingers out of his ears, quickly made a pantomime of an explosion in the air in front of him for Wyatt’s benefit to see and then just as quickly if not quicker stuck his fingers back in his ears ramming them as tight as he could. Wyatt suddenly nodded in complete understanding then frowned again as his brow creased in thought and remembrance.
“Tarnation, Doc! A minute? An hour? A day? You know good and well that I don’t read a lick of that spaceman gibberish that passes for writing in their part of the night sky!” Wyatt shouted back.
Doc let his chin drop and sighed heavily.
“So you just twisted the collar, pushed the button there on top then threw it and hoped for the best?” Doc asked incredulously in a voice that was little less than a shout.
“Seems about right to me. After all I just did what that spaceman told me to do. At least I think I did.” Wyatt replied, halfway smiling.
And before Doc could answer Wyatt with a scathing, well deserved reply there came upon them a flash and a sound like that straight out of the Book of Revelations. A light brighter than that of the sun at high noon, heat hotter than a July summer’s day and a pressure wave that kicked both men like a branded bull through a whore’s mattress. If they could have hunkered down any more into the earth than they already had they would have because even as low as they were squatting both Wyatt’s and Doc Holiday’s hats were blown clean off their heads by the report and shockwave of the detonation of the photon grenade inside the stable. A harsh wind ripped at them, slamming at them and screaming as it stirred up dust and debris in a scouring fury. Doc Holiday howled in delight, kicking his spurred heels against the ground, first one then the other, laughing and shouting as he and Wyatt rode out a tempest that lasted for only a few heartbeats but seemed to go on for eternity.
Silence … and the smell of … stale thunder … old candles … chained lightning … and flowers thrown into a campfire.
Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp stood up slowly as the dust began to settle, slapping their clothes and looking around for their lost hats which right then were nowhere to be seen. The stable, likewise, was gone. Doc was the first to notice that fact and he tapped Wyatt on the shoulder with the barrel of his laser rifle, motioning with the same rifle barrel towards where the stable had been.
Rays of sunlight began to cut through the dust in the air, giving a strange glow to everything around as Wyatt and Doc walked slowly towards the place where the photon grenade had gone off. Doc held his laser rifle at the ready and Wyatt slowly fanning the area in front of them with his laser pistol drawn. Nothing moved and except for the ringing in their ears they couldn’t hear anything either.
The stable was gone.
Where the stable had once stood now there was only a huge crater, say maybe waist deep and about as wide as a good-sized barn and the air around the crater had the strangest shimmer to it, a pale blue dancing haze that started to dissipate even as they noticed it. Wyatt and Doc stood at the lip of the crater, taking in all the damage, each just as surprised and amazed as the other.
“Lord Almighty.” Doc Holiday whispered. “Did you mean to do that, Wyatt?”
“Not especially and not entirely, no. Regardless … I seem to have solved our problem.” Wyatt said as he shook his head.
Townspeople were starting to arrive now at the surrounding streets and Wyatt Earp moved around to the far edge of the crater, his image distorted slightly in the haze and residual smoke from the explosion.
“Whooee! Will you look at that!” Wyatt shouted from the far side of the crater as more and more townspeople began to gather and talk.
“Yeah, I’d say that those spacemen sure got themselves some kind of mighty formidable nigh on holy dynamite where they come from.” Doc Holiday said to himself, chuckling softly and whistling at the scene of destruction in front of him.
… and with that the Laser Gunfight at the OK Corral was over.