The Good, The Bad, and The Scaly

A Sci-Fi Short Story written by Nikki Blakely

The Good, The Bad, and The Scaly

by Nikki Blakely

Nikki Blakely enjoys writing fiction of all shapes, sizes and genres from her home in the San Francisco Bay Area. By day she is a mild-mannered commercial loan underwriter, but by night (and on weekends) she is the creator of worlds, crafting stories that evoke smiles, tears, laughter, the occasional eye roll, and sometimes even a scream. Her work has appeared in Sundial Magazine, Bright Flash Literary Review,  Luna Station Quarterly, and in the following anthologies: Between the Covers, 72 Hours of Insanity V9 and Dim and Flaring Lamps. You can find her on Twitter – @nblakely99.

 

Carson woke to the sound of Teddy yowling and scratching at the canvas door of the tent.
“What’s got yer dander up so early?” he asked, first pulling on his pants, then dropping his Stetson onto his head as the cat continued to yowl and pace frantically back and forth. As soon as Carson untied the front flap, the gray tabby bolted through the trees in a furry flash, and Carson, barefoot, stepped out after him..
“I hope you’re at least catching some breakfast for yourself,” Carson called out. “Don’t come back here hungry!”
He unzipped his fly, relieved himself on a tree, then started walking towards the river to fetch some fresh water. After only a few steps, he stopped abruptly, then went back to the tent to retrieve his gun belt. Something had spooked Teddy, and it wouldn’t do to be caught unawares.
On his walk back from the river carrying two heavy jugs of water, his bare foot landed with a wet squelch in something hot, green, and sticky. Carson looked down. There was no mistaking it. Reptilian dung.
He reached up, and pulled the brim of the Stetson down tight above his brow taking a moment to superstitiously rub the hard Glocerite lining. It was the only thing that would prevent a Reptilian from controlling his mind, if one was lurking nearby. He hoped the others at base camp were wearing theirs, as was mandatory, but he knew many of the men had grown lax since there hadn’t been any sign of their enemy in months. Until now.
There had been little contact with the other members of the mining team since they’d built the dam two months earlier to divert the flow of the Awallil river so they could extract the precious Glocerite from the bottom of the riverbeds. Once mined, it would then be sent back to Earth for processing, where it would be melted down and pounded into thin strands, then woven into hats and helmets.
Glocerite was the one thing that had enabled the humans to get the upper hand in the intergalactic war, as it was the only thing that blocked the Reptilian brain waves from entering and controlling their minds. Dam duty had been deemed a one-man job, as it consisted of little more than managing minor repairs, and Carson had been deemed the one man for it. He didn’t mind the solitude, and he had Teddy for company, but now out here by himself, he felt like a lone lizard snack.
Three days remained before Carson’s six month shift at the mining camp ended and he could return home to his beloved Carabelle. He only had to make it three more days. He reached into his trouser pocket and pulled out a tarnished gold pocket watch, flipped it open and gazed longingly at the sepia-toned photograph tucked inside.
“Don’t you worry, Carabelle,” he said to the photo as his finger traced the shape of her face. “I’m coming home in three days. I promise.”
Just then a large shadow crossed over him, as if one of the suns had gone behind a cirrostratus, but Carson knew there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. He closed the pocket watch with a sharp click, stuffed it back into his pocket, and slowly looked up.
A Reptilian, at least eight foot tall, towered over Carson. Its dry, leathery skin, which changed color and texture to match its surroundings, was currently a shade of dusty brown, and blended perfectly with the dry brush that surrounded the campsite. Its thick, heavy tail thumped the ground and a poof of dust flared up behind it.
That‘s when Carson noticed the jagged scar just above the right bulging yellow eyeball. This wasn’t just any Reptilian. This was his old nemesis, Tortucci.
“Listen here, Tucci, I don’t want no trouble.” Carson stood bow-legged, arms held loosely at his sides should he need to make a quick draw. He knew the cyber-bullets wouldn’t penetrate the hard Reptilian skin, but he hoped they might at least stun Tortucci enough to allow a few seconds head start. The Lizard’s brain waves pulsated throughout the air, and Carson’s hat twitched in response.
Tortucci hissed, its long tongue flicked in and out of its sharp, pointed mouth as it tasted Carson’s words. It let out a series of clicking noises that reverberated into the translator box clipped to Carson’s hip, and a second later a robotic voice emanated from it.
Hoo-man Car-son. Tor-Tucci kill.
“Sorry, lizard lips. I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.” In a fell swoop, Carson reached down, pulled the cyber-revolver from its holster, and aimed for the Reptilians single nipple, its only known weak spot, and filled the air with the red glowing cyber-bullets.
Carson didn’t stick around long enough to see if he hit his target. His legs moved of their own accord, and he bolted into the brush even faster than Teddy had done earlier that morning. His feet still bare, he ran, oblivious to the sharp rocks and debris he was stepping on, his hand clamping his hat tightly to his head.
He tore through the trees and brush, sprinting towards base camp. The Reptilian was fast on his trail, its heavy steps and the occasional thumping of its tail shaking the ground beneath them.
Carson turned and fired, hoping that somehow with blind luck he might hit his target, slow him down. Then abruptly he lost his footing, and was falling, rolling down a steep ravine, his hands reaching outward, grasping at everything and anything in his path in an attempt to stop himself, until he finally landed with a loud thud at the base of a hollowed out tree stump.
The Reptilian slithered down the ravine after him at breaking speed, its tongue flicking in and out, making clicking noises, the robotic voice from the translator box repeating the same two words over and over. Car-son. Kill. Car-son. Kill. Car-son. Kill.
Carson grabbed a long stick from the ground and pulled it through his loosly clenched fist, stripping it of its leaves. He knew he’d have one chance and one chance only. The giant lizard was advancing at an alarming pace, and Carson waited. And waited. And waited. Then, just when Tortucci was nearly on top of him, he pulled up the stick, and as the Lizard fell upon him he reached up and  plunged the stick directly into its nipple. Tortucci screeched as he rose up and clawed at the stick protruding from his chest, then shuddered with a last breath, and finally collapsed.
It took the last of Carsons strength to heave the dead carcass off of himself and onto the ground, just as Teddy strolled out from under the brush. The cat sniffed the lizard, then yowled, before turning and kicking up dust with his back legs, as if trying to bury him.
Carson hoisted himself into a sitting position, resting his back against the stump, and once again took out the gold pocket watch and flipped it open.
“I told you Carabelle, and a promise is a promise. I’m coming home.”
Teddy yowled again, and Carson reached over to scratch his head.
“And I’m bringing someone with me.”

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