Chapter 56

Growing up the daughter of a Rodeo show owner, tends to make an impression on a young girl. Particularly, when she would help out with the livestock. Before she was Lady Peacemaker, Becky Sue had thought she'd seen it all. Heck, she'd just about seen every bit and piece that God had made used in pretty much every way they were intended.

She hadn't of course.

That honor would come much later in her life, when she had first met the neighbor downstairs, a man with the unusual name of "Annie".

"Hi Pumpkin", Annie waved from behind the counter as the door jingled Becky Sue's entry. She smiled brightly in return and waved back, desperately trying not to look at the sort of things a lady doesn't really need to look at catalogs featuring bits and pieces that God had no part in making used in ways that they were never intended.

Becky Sue was far from a prude, mind you, it's just that even thinking about some of the gadgets and trusses that hung from every corner made her walk funny for weeks afterward. She tried to focus her peripheral vision on the things that were moderately recognizable, provided one had a rather unlimited selection of fauna to choose from and lumped the main focus on the large bald man with a Van Dyke that waved.

'Ooh. Ask him if that latex French Maid outfit comes in black in your size.' JB asked. Becky Sue kept smiling and waving while she envisioned a rather crisp Hangman's Tree with a fresh noose in JB's size and color.

"You're just in time." Annie said in an excited tone.

Becky Sue echoed back his exuberance. "So what's the big excitement."

"I've got something special for you." Annie said slyly as he leaned against the case. A sly grin curled on his face that would have sent anyone running. Well, anyone who didn't know that women had nothing to worry about in his company. "It's a little something that your boyfriend asked me to see about getting."

"Oh really?" Becky Sue gave no hint of the fact that there was now a branding fire burning beneath the gallows of her mind, or a freshly painted "Insert JB Here" sign dangling from the rope.

He raised up a medium size leather tote and dangled it from his hands. "You betcha sweetie, and might I say, they're spectacular. Let me say, that if I were still a girl, why I'd be a big creamy mess." The flames leaped higher. "But I can't show them to you here, come into the back room."

Becky Sue continued to smile as Three Times Jacob (the cowboy who always had to brand his steer more than once) started laughing in that delightfully creepy way he had. Granted, it had always given her nightmares growing up, but that would soon be JB's problem.
Annie hit the remote lock for the front door, lifted up part of the counter and opened the back door. "If I know you, I bet you can't wait to try these on too!"

Becky Sue kept smiling cheerfully as she walked into the more comfortable confines of the back room. It was full of all sorts of weaponry, armor, gadgetry and elements of costume. Most of it bearing the traces of use, and in some cases, previous owners. Annie scooted by and sauntered over to the main table. Still holding the satchel in front of himself. "Now, close your eyes."

Becky Sue smiled, but obviously questioned the wisdom of doing that.

"Oh come on, close your eyes so I can get it all ready for you. Trust me, you'll love it."

Becky Sue hesitated again, then decided that she hadn't anything to really lose. She closed here eyes.

"Are they really closed?" She heard Annie ask.

"Yes, Annie, they're really closed." She said with a hopeless note of anticipation.

Annie hummed to himself as he opened the satchel. Becky Sue heard something that sounded too much like leather. That's when she caught a whiff of leather and the sent of oiled metal. Outside she kept smiling, inside the very walls of her mind shook as she called out 'JB? What in Sam Hill is this?'

There was no response. JB was probably making a bee-line for Oklahoma. He could try to run...

"OK, pumpkin! You can open up your eyes!" Annie said in a sing-song voice.

Becky Sue didn't say a word at first. She simply stared, not entirely sure she was seeing what she thought she was seeing.

Annie stood with a huge grin across his face as he held them up. Hanging from his hands, was a perfectly restored leather belt featuring a subtle red, white and blue bead-work pattern that wove around in swirls. That was not what Becky Sue was looking at..

Her attention was focused on what was hanging from that belt. They were beautiful in a way that only a mother could ever really love. The blue metal finish had long since faded to a dull sheen. The checked hard rubber grips were crisp in some spots, but well worn around the center. They were a twin pair of Smith and Wesson, double action Frontiers 44/40s. They took rifle rounds and had a kick that could top a mule, but with an 7 ½ inch barrel, they could give a fly a haircut at 500 paces.

And they were hers.

"Whe.. where did y'all find..." Becky Sue stammered out. "Well, it wasn't easy, lemme tell you." Annie said. "It's not like they put these things up on ebay. Particularly ones with a history like these. Oh, go on, You know they don't bite. Try them on!" Annie pretty much threw the guns to Becky Sue.

Becky Sue caught them, awkwardly at first, still not sure sure she could believe what she saw.

"Fortunately, for you, the guy who held these is a big fan. Let's just say that I managed to get him something better and leave it at that." Annie smiled nervously. Fortunately, Becky Sue was too caught up in the moment to ask. "Oh, and by the way, you'll need to get the proper license for those in Idaho. I've already checked with USHA, and they're willing to provide you with a temp permit, under extenuating circumstances, but it's only going to be good for 90 days or so. I've got the paperwork in order, but I'll need you to blah, blah blah-blah-blah blah blah-blah rhubarb."

Becky Sue snapped back to reality. "I'm sorry, What did you say?"

"You'll need to check those with the sheriff. Here's the paperwork." Annie handed over a thick envelope. Becky Sue looked at it. "You know, darling, things would be a lot simpler if you just put those on."

Becky Sue laughed, "Sure thing." With the grace that only comes from years of experience, Becky Sue strapped the belt on in a graceful flowing motion. She tied down the barrels and felt the all comfortable weight.

"And obviously, I'm not allowed to provide you ammo. You'll have to get that somewhere else."

Becky took a test draw and laughed again, more confidently this time, and spun the guns around her fingers as she checked the balance,. "Already handled."

She holstered the pistols and looked toward Annie, "So... so how much do.. we owe you?" She said, afraid of finding out the answer.

"I'll send the bill, but it's not that much. Mostly all you'll have to cover is the filing fees and postage. The rest is on me. I figure I owe JB for San Francisco, and this just puts us even. Deal?"

"JB? Hun? I.. I think I might have scared him off." Becky Sue said, suddenly quite guilty about the horror show she had put on earlier.

Annie laughed. "Well, when you do see him again, tell him I won the bet."

The phone rang, Annie, still chortling picked up. "Annie's House of Bondage and Underwater Hentai", he held the phone to his shoulder and stage whispered to Becky Sue, "Well, after JB goes shopping." and then back into the phone, "We're a Dom/Sub better than the rest! This is Annie, how can I help you?"

"Chris! Hi Sweetie! Sure, I'll let you slip in my back door anytime! Yeah, yeah she's here. Is there a problem? Oh, there is?" Annie took out a hand basket and was suddenly all business. "What do you need, hun?"

He moved through the back store grabbing items for Chris, only asking questions when it came to quantities and bulk rates. For a big man, Annie could move quickly, expertly maneuvering through the chaos. "Sure, I'll have it ready by the time you come downstairs. This is an odd list. If you don't mind me asking, who are you going after?"

"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?"


One benefit of having a car modified with an alien drive rendering it capable of moving at literally the speed of lightning, is that trips that normally would take the better part of several days can happen in less than a few seconds. Unfortunately, the down side of having a vehicle capable of breaking the sound barrier several times over is the fact that a good many of the highly populated communities lying between you and you're desired destination tend to frown upon that sort of speeding. Particularly if they're not able to collect the speeding fines.

This, of course, leads to rather strange navigational choices when it comes down to plotting how to get from here to there without upsetting the neighbors, NORAD or any number of other individuals inclined to do something about the problem. Particularly, if it also allows them to fire off big boomy things.

Suffice to say, having a hydrogen collector is a benefit when the bulk of your transportation choice tends to be over open water. Suffice to also say that matters will become even more complicated the day that polar bears discover how to use fire interceptor missiles that can penetrate alien deflector field channels.

It also tends to do odd things to the conversations being had in the vehicle. They tend to be along the lines of:

"Everyone buckled in?" Chris asked politely as Karl, Becky Sue and Roger made themselves comfortable. "The section in the middle pulls down if you want an arm rest back there."

"Ah, thanks!" Roger said.

"You know, I don't think I ever really paid attention to how this works. What's that?" Karl asked as he pointed to a multi-segmented line that glowed on the center console screen.

"That?" Chris asked calmly as he rechecked several of the displays and flipped a few additional switches activating some of the inertial dampeners. "Oh, that's our course. We'll have to take this in a few jumps so as not to get folks to angry at us."

"Angry?" Roger asked uncomfortably, "Why would any.. Are we flying!" Roger asked more surprised than curious as the Maxima hovered up from it's location. The air infront of the car began to shimmer and form a sort of tunnel that lead away at an angle. An ominous whine started slowly building up from under the hood.

Chris remained calm, "Well, more hover than actually fly, that part comes when I hit this button here."

"SWEET HOLY STEAMING MOTHER PILE OF ADAM SMITH SQUIRREL POOP!"

The above combined exclamation came from two of the occupants of the vehicle who had not actually witnessed the thrill of travelling at 15 meters per microsecond.

Chris said nothing, simply noting the deflector bubble collapsing tighter around the free-falling vehicle before once again stretching out as the vehicle took the next leg of the journey, only to again be accompanied by various ranges of epithets and fear induced tourette like proclaimations that tended to fill the car.

Along the shores of Lake Barrett some residents reported hearing heat lightning, the random clap of thunder one hears on a cloudless summer day. Had one been closer to the exit point of the deceleration segment, one would have seen a silver streak to the shoreline parking lot and emerge in a cloud of rapidly dissipating frozen carbon dioxide and nitrogen gasses.

The newly arrived car would have come to a gentle stop at the end of the parking lot and stopped. Two men, one being rather large and well dressed, the other much smaller and in a collection of yellows and deep forest greens would have emerged to begin a potentially disturbing series of loving embraces of anything that did not move. Only ending when both suddenly realized that they were close enough to the public restroom so as not to actually soil themselves.

The remaining male and female occupants of the vehicle did not exit in such a manner. The driver, dressed in dark gray simply opened up his door, stepped to the rear of the car, opened up the passenger door and tapped the woman lightly on the shoulder. "You can open your eyes now Becky Sue. We're here."

The woman carefully opened one eye, which darted back and forth, making certain that no angels or pearly gates were within eyesight. She then carefully opened the other, and finally released her deathlike grip on the safety belt.

"Huh." Chris observed with a clam that managed to allude the rest of the group. He stood a few feet from the car and stretched out his muscles from the rigors of the nearly thirty second journey. "pretty nice place. Had I known it was going to be this pretty, I wouldn't have taken my time getting here."

Chris breathed in the fresh summer air, thankful that he was upwind of the latrines. He turned back toward the car, "Still, I suppose... *squeeky*" Chris looked down to see half a rubber ducky protruding from beneath his shoe.


... Karen Zerwith filed this report:

Residents of Fort Frances were eager to enjoy the annual charity race. Families and children had gathered for hours waiting for the start of the Eighth Annual Rubber Duckie Race. No one had any idea of the horror that awaited them.

"Great Saver's Ghost, there's thousands of these things!" Karl exclaimed as he landed one useless blow after another. The duckies would simply absorb the steel buckling punches with a series of loud squeaks before again returning for more.

"Just keep whackin' them!" Becky Sue called out between bursts of gunfire. "Roger, can't you talk to these critters?"

This year, in a budget saving move, the City Council decided not to purchase new rubber duckies as they had in previous years. Instead they purchased toys salvaged from a ten year trans-arctic voyage. Oceanologists say that the duckies first began their travels after a container ship bound for the west coast, sank in a violent storm. They had spent the next ten years slowly making their way eastward, pushed on by the unrelenting tide and winds.

"No!", Roger called back, "They don't speak any form of duck I know."

"Probably because they're a bunch of rubber toys, Roger, they're not alive." Karl yelled out.

"Well, y'all coulda fooled me! OW!"

The squeaky bath toys were numbered and made ready to start their latest journey. Workers reported nothing unusual regarding preparing them. However when they were released at the start of the race, they brutally turned upon the assembled crowd, viciously nibbling without mercy.

"Lady Peacemaker, are you alright?" Karl called out from the center of a growing squeaky yellow maelstrom.

"Yeah, Ah just got nibbled a'gin. Durn annoyin' little buggers. So why are they going all loco anyway?"

Channel 20 news placed a call with noted artificial avian intelligence expert, Dr. Nathan Sullivan, and asked why these once harmless bath-time companions would turn so aggressive.

"Well, it is my belief that these toys were exposed to an unusually harsh environment for far too long. They had to contend with brutal winters, attacks by sharks, walrus and penguins, plus the occasional polar bear. To survive that long in such an extreme environment, these aquatic nomads had to become extremely tough themselves. These are not normal duckies, these are survivor duckies. The act of placing them once again in such a mode, setting them again on such a travel, undoubtedly triggered this highly aggressive survival instinct. Their only response, unrelenting, vicious nibbling."

"Hey! Watch where you're shooting!" Roger yelped.

"Ah, Em if y'all don't keep jumpin' around like that!" Becky Sue was having reasonably good luck blasting duckies to their final resting place. These weren't living creatures, these were rubber duckies, evil rubber duckies. They deserved a good blastin'.

Still there were only so many duckies she could bullseye.

"Karl, Roger, whap some of them duckies out in the open so's I can get a draw on them! Oh, wait, there's a big ol' pile of the varmits there."

"WAIT!" Roger screamed in terror. "DON'T SHOOT THEM!"

"Why the heck not?"

"CHRIS IS UNDER THERE!"

The small mound of duckies convulsed as Chris tried to free himself. Karl suddenly realized where most of the duckies he had tried to clobber had wound up. He stopped beating up the toys and stared at the huge pile. "Oops."

We asked if there was any way we could rid ourselves of this yellow menace, Dr. Sullivan reported that he was not sure, but that the terrible toys might be controlled by means of bursts of energy.

"Yes, the duckies, although made of rubber and therefore non conductive, would still be subject to the various problems with any form of explosive energies. Possibly a large scale blast could neutralize them."

But wouldn't such a blast pose a threat to the community?

"Well, yes, but you win some, and you lose some."

"Chris? Chris can you hear me?" Karl yelled into the pile.

"Wait, I think I hear something. It sounds like something powering up. JB thinks it might be a flash or something." Roger said as he tried to pull duckies away, but each one he pulled off leaped back the instant he let go.
There was a muffled scream from the pile "Chris? Are you ok?" Becky Sue yelled again. She paused as she caught a whiff something odd, "What's that smell?"

"Ozone?" Roger asked, sniffing the air for himself.

Karl bent closer to the pile of squeaking pandemonium. "What? What did you say?" He called. A second later he looked to his companions, "Stand back."

JB exerted himself through Roger as he pieced together the puzzle pieces. "Forget that!" he said in near terror. "Run like Hell!" Roger spun around and tore away from the pile as fast as he could. Becky Sue and Karl wasted no time doing the same.

The mountain of duckies swayed violently as Chris leaped out of the pile. He screamed and with one arm held out, released a blinding blast of energy that engulfed the pile of ducks. In his other hand he held a black rod with two brass nubs. It was Zrng's alien cattle prod.

The collected members of the Justice Furlong squinted against the blast of light and energy. Chris' anger seeming to fuel the burst of power. Shadows of the duckies faded in the blast. Seconds that seemed to last an eternity passed, and Chris stood facing the path of smoldering rubber that lay before him.

Anger flashed over to a look of guilty horror. "Everyone?" Chris called out. "Back in the car. NOW!"

"By Peter Bauer's Ledger..." Captain Industry stood staring at what he had just seen.

Chris ran over to grab his arm, "Less Talkie, more getting in the car-ee" He said in a firm voice, as he shooed the other members of the group back in.

"Chris? Ow, hey, ok, quit pushing."

The car was already running by the time the last door closed and against the obvious signs of disapproval from three of the passengers, the car had swung around and disappeared into the same sort of vaguely shimmering tunnel they had arrived in.

Although there have been no further reports of the duckie attacks, residents are still urged to be careful confronting any strange rubber toys they may encounter and above all refrain from making them race.

Recapping our top story tonight, residents in nine eastern states and major portions of Canada were left in the dark for up to ten hours following a massive blackout. One considered to be the worst in history. Although officials are still investigating the cause, some officials have asked that further repairs made on the local substation located near the lake be halted. It is thought that the station may have been hit by some form of ball lighting as several resident reported hearing thunder mid-Thursday afternoon. Some have questioned that hypothesis considering that the weather conditions did not record any meteorological events until later that evening, however other officials point out that some lighting strikes travel several miles beyond the storm...


Ah.

So that's what happened.

 

(yeah, right, he didn't plan that one at all. Uh-huh.)

Next Time:

Bob and Weave
or
Knittin' to see Here

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