Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Hot Time in the Old Town...

“Ty Oleson stepped out onto his porch, enjoying the bite of a desert winter. He searched his pants for a pipe, smiling just for the sheer hell of it. It sure was a glorious sunset: brilliant orange just on the horizon, shading to pink, then purple up into the higher sky. Nights like this, he reckoned it was easy to see why so many artsy folks came to Arizona. It was the light, they said – and most days he never could understand what was so special about it. But nights like this…

The flash was unexpected. Like summer lightning, but silent and a hell of a lot brighter. It came from towards the horizon – for a moment washing out all the other colours, leaving Ty blinking away a purple after-image. He lit his pipe, filling the cold evening air with deep fragrant smoke, giving himself time to think.

He hadn’t seen anything like that since the Great War: when the Krauts would waste days shelling the Allies’ trenches; turning the nights into endless, deafening, lurid flashes of high explosive. And even then, he’d seen nothing to compare; nothing so bright…

He stepped off the porch, favouring his left leg – a souvenir of the war. There were no more flashes; the night darkened as the orange slowly dimmed. Gradually the stars came out.

Ty waited a half hour or so, until it was full night and the thin scrape of moon didn’t offer up enough light to see as far as the first fence. Eventually he shrugged. Whatever it was, clearly it wasn’t going to happen again; and it was getting too cold to just sand around. He turned and began limping back to his shack.”

From “There’ll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight”. Read more in the Kindle edition of Mike Chinn’s Paladin Mandates.

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