~ a short story
The swordsman, the archer, and a gunman stand in silent resolve. Weapons raised and readied, gazes upon each other with uncanny realization. They stand at the improbable precipice beyond their own imaginations, facing down counterparts as alien as their midnight conjures. They dwell inside the implausibility of an absurd dream, but stand in the sunlight, the waft of the grass breezing through readied footwork. These men exist impossibly, three extant warriors living outside of what they would ever know. Moments tick between them, counting away the peace.
Sword, bow and gun gleam with potential animus.
Three silent images of resolve await fate. A confident one wields a blade firmly in his left; his right clutched together in steadying motions, fingers locking and unlocking at increasing pace. A marksman holds his bow aloft, marking the other two swiftly, eyeing them back and forth. A final man holds up two hand cannons, arms outstretched but steady, he is unblinking. Sweat trickles just unseen from the brim of his scalp. The gunman shifts his eyes back and forth, under his wide brim, sweeping for an opening, or a reason.
There are certainly advantages and disadvantages among them. This strife is not equivalent. As a manner of speaking, their stances belie the progressions made. Each holds a step above within their hands. Power is not accuracy however. The swordsman would need to be put down with one shot, because that’s all one’d get, given a skilled one. One of the two would be targeted immediately following the shot. It begs the question, would both the archer and gunman go for the swordsman? Why not aim for one another, sensing the superior threat of range in such a standoff? Of course, once a melee is engaged, such advantages are lost, so the swordsman’s threat is only a matter of time. To suffer him his approach is to court a dual-decapitating.
The gunman presents his own unique dilemma. Both the swordsman and archer may be disturbed to know such weaponry will exist, if they understand it at all. Perhaps their paranoia forces them to unite against this demon wielding cannons borne of nightmarish future. Perhaps they move on instinct, chaotically, no real rhyme or reason. Perhaps they strike with equal ferocity, leading to equally ferocious endings.
Who’s to say what lies within any warrior’s heart? Violence, reason, swift and decisive and irrevocable actions borne of some mix of self-preservative, self-glorifying honor.
Something’s gotta give.
“Who are you?” is eventually said in unison.
Their gazes are leveled out. Their eyes move to the full standing of opposition, scanning the circle’s inhabitants carefully, calculatingly. The weapons remain readied, the minds primed for certain violence.
“Where are we?” says the swordsman.
“Are we dreaming? Or in death’s realm now?” says the archer.
A wayward wind brushes betwixt them.
“Who are y’all?” says the gunman. An unknown drawl is present but they catch his meaning.
“I feel as though none of us should be here,” says the archer.
Briefly, they look away from each other’s death dealers and to their immediate surroundings. There’s nothing really to see. A wide blank space of featureless, mostly colorless space. Only the green grass at their feet gives a familiar sight. They stand amidst an equally unknown landscape. It’s rather staggering. Slowly but surely, they return to their standoff.
“A sword?” questions the gunman. “And a bow. Y’all come in from a faire.” He chuckled to himself. The others stared at him, their readied hands still tense and their eyes locked on his steel.
“Fairness your primary concern?” asks the swordsman, directing his comment at the gunman and the strange steel he holds in hand. “You honor us.” The swordsman speaks insincerely but no one can tell.
The archer lowers his nocked arrow on his bow, looking down pensively.
“What are we doing? Why are we so readied, as sworn enemies?”
The gunman and swordsman turn to him slowly.
“Can we only do this?”
“It seems logical under the circumstance, given the gifts already in our hands and the dangerous strangers in our sights,” says the gunman.
“Are you dangerous, demon?” asks the archer.
“Not a demon. Just a man.”
“I don’t know you. Or you. No cause to kill either of ye,” says the swordsman.
The archer returns, “Exactly. We don’t know anything.”
“No reason to mistrust…” says the gunman, “No reason to trust.”
“But … I am compelled to hold my blade until you both give me cause to sheathe it.” The swordsman tightens his grip.
Sweat pours from all three profusely. The swordsman’s long black hair blows in another wind. The archer’s head gleams from an overhead sun none of them can glimpse. The gunman’s eyes are shaded under his brim, calculating.
The bowman’s arrow remains nocked, aimed slightly at the swordsman by way of his familiarity to the danger. But he continues to eye the other.
“By what manner have we come to be at odds, already aimed, equivalently still in our strife?” he asks quizzically.
“A bit odd.”
“More than a bit.”
“Is this a bit?” asks the gunman at the last. He almost chuckles again but stops himself.
“At any rate, regardless of ultimate intentions, why don’t we converse a while,” the swordsman says with quiet demand. “We aren’t going anywhere. And while this may inevitably turn to blood … maybe it won’t.”
“Maybe we can find cause to lower our hands at some future point, near or far,” says the archer, hints of optimism creeping into his tenor.
“Maybe,” says the gunman in resolution. He rests his indexes just to the side of the trigger of each revolver.
“Any way you slice it … eventually, something’s gotta give.”
The three warriors stood in their circle, in a continuance, aiming and conversing in space, unto the give. ~