This is the 99th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
Peace Maker, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 10th March 2013
Word count: 782
“What would you know about it?” the Sheriff O’Halligan said dismissively to the reporter.
“My father was sheriff, the first sheriff of this colony. Back then there was only him, so I’d help out. In my experience a bolt gun wouldn’t do something like that, it’d need something with higher output. You need to look at military spec,” the reporter, James Williams pointed out.
The Sheriff mulled it over, “You could be right. I’ll need to get the coroners verdict.”
“When’s the doctor due?” the reporter asked.
“Next Tuesday,” the Sheriff said.
“In my opinion that won’t be quick enough,” the reporter said.
“We work with what we have, Mister Williams. We don’t just go round shooting suspects these days,” O’Halligan started snotitly, “Now if you’ll excuse me, my deputies and I have a body to store.”
“That man is horrendous, pompous, and an idiot,” James said walking into the pokey offices of the station news channel. “There’s gang warfare about to break out, and the big guns arts coming with them, and he wants to wait on a coroner before acting.”
“Coroners not here until next week,” the only other reporter on the station, Louise Parker said, alarmed, “Are you sure it was one of the gangs?”
“Who else could it be? The guy was shot with what looked like a proton gun, it wasn’t a standard bolt gun that’s for sure.”
“What are we going to do?” Louise asked.
“I think I’m going to go pay Finn a visit,” James said flatly, “Maybe we can head this thing off before it escalates. Over a third of the population are in one of the gangs, a war would be devastating.”
“Well good luck with that,” Louise said backing off, afraid of the very name of the station’s King Pin.
Finn Gillespie wasn’t pleased to see James, and he made sure he knew it by making him wait. Finally after two hours he let him in.
“What is it you want?” Finn asked, not bothering with pleasantries.
“I’m sure you can guess,” James said, but continued anyway, “One of Freddie’s boys bought it yesterday, I want to make sure things aren’t about to escalate.”
“It weren’t nothing to do with me, and if that arsehole is trying to blame me, there will be trouble,” Finn said menacingly.
“He was shot with a military spec rifle, I know you keep a stock of them.”
“As does Freddie,” Finn pointed out.
“Yes, but why would he waste one on his own men?”
“Beats me, but maybe you could beat it out of him,” Finn said. James was just about to leave when the sounds of combat broke from out in the corridor.
“Here’s your chance,” Finn said grabbing a couple of pistols, he threw one to the reporter, “You still as good a shot as when we were kids?”
“Let’s find out,” they gathered by the door, Finn pressed the switch to open it, and then stood back. Bright blue bolts shot past.
“I came here to stop the war,” James shouted to Finn.
“Bit late,” Finn leaned round the corner and fired indiscriminately. “Okay, there’s two on the left, one on the right, my guys are dead or fled.”
“I’ll take the two on the left,” James said definitely, “And it doesn’t have to escalate beyond this.”
“On my mark,” Finn said, “And you know it does, I didn’t start this war, but I’ll finish it.”
More blue bolts whizzed through the open door.
“Mark!” Finn shouted.
Both men leaned round the door, as low as they could, and waited for the attackers to expose themselves. They did, two of them went down instantly, the third managed to duck back into cover.
“You can run home now,” James shouted down the corridor as Finn crept forward into less protected cover and waited. “No one would blame you, two to one aren’t good odds.”
The attacker came out of cover and fired, James barely avoided being hit.
“Clear,” Finn shouted.
James stepped out again, “If you didn’t start this war, you don’t have to find it. You can find a better path.”
“That’s not how this works,” Finn said holstering his weapon, “What’s done is done, I can’t back down.”
Suddenly he was thrown backwards by the force of a bolt gun blast hitting him in the chest.
“Sorry,” James said as he closed his friends eyes, “There are too many good people on this station who would get hurt or killed in this war.”
James heard the Sheriff approaching, so he dumped his bolt gun in the nearest trash shoot and waited to tell a careful story to explain all of what happened.