The first signs of civilisation are the wrecks. They’re stripped, burnt out, abandoned by the side of the road; the ghosts of a time gone before. Fields rides past them cautiously, wary eyes looking for movement amongst the twisted metal. The apocalypse reversed values. People left their major possessions to rust by the side of the road. Conversely, things that people would once have thrown away they’d now kill each other for.

The town resolves itself out of the haze as she comes closer: a cluster of buildings whipped by the dust and desert winds. The road becomes the main street of the town; the buildings on either side staring sightlessly at each other from empty windows. The only movement on the street is a piece of cloth flapping desultorily from an upstairs balcony, as if even it can’t summon the motivation for movement.

Fields pulls in the clutch and the bike rolls to a halt on the side of the street. The engine reverberates against the concrete walls, a steady beat caroming back and forth. She hits the switch to kill the engine and once more the wind finds a voice through the awnings and railings. She gets off the bike and adjusts the holster on her leg, feeling the weight of the revolver against her hip. Up ahead, there’s a building with wooden shutters and a sign that proclaims it to be a “Hotel”. She looks around and starts walking down the street in it’s direction.

In front of her, a dog trots out from between two buildings, carrying something between its teeth. As it reaches the middle of the road, it pauses for a moment to look in her direction. With the turn of its head, Fields makes out the shape in its jaws. There’s a moment of stillness, just the Fields, the dog and the hand it carries in its mouth. The moment is broken; the dog continues across the street, slipping between two houses on the other side of and out of sight.

There’s a noise from across the street behind her and she turns to see a man scurrying out of a glass-fronted door. He’s wearing some sort of faded grey suit, complimented by a bowler hat whose original colour is uncertain. He’s got a curious gait: bent low, one hand holding the battered hat to his head against the wind.

As he crosses he calls out, “Hey! Stranger! Looking for work?” Upon reaching Fields he comes to a halt and stands there in confusion, gazing at her with surprise from small eyes. “Oh. I didn’t realise you were a woman. I mean, I thought…” He trails off, uncertain.

Fields looks him up and down coolly. He’s small, thin and slick, like a mutated rat that found a cheap suit. “You thought what?”

“Well, that is, I thought you were a gunslinger, in town looking for work.”

“You get them often?”

The little man looks uncomfortable for a moment before his eyes fall on the holster hanging by Fields’ leg and the chequered grip that emerges from within. “Oh, you are a gunslinger.” He relaxes, obviously on more comfortable ground. “You looking for work? I can set you up with either side, for twenty dollars.”

Fields doesn’t reply, and he continues regardless.

He points back down the street at a weathered two-story building behind him, “Crobus’s got more men, but he’s played out, old.” He turns and points back up the street at the hotel. “Baxter’s going to win this, smart money says to sign up with him.”

Fields still doesn’t reply, staring at each building through the swirls of dust. She turns away from the cheap little man and continues walking towards the hotel.

“Remember, twenty dollars! Tell them Simmons sent you!” he calls out after her and scurries back across the street, mission accomplished.

~ by Electro-mechanical Man on April 4, 2011.

2 Responses to “Fields”

  1. I am really loving fields. I can’t wait for your next installment 🙂

  2. I think the next one will probably cement whether they’re actually as cool an idea on paper as in my head. Many things fail that test.

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