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"Ha! The flu. You should see ‘em: pale and black-eyed as serpents, just lying there in the Rio Grande like zombies.” She leaned toward him over the bar again and he caught a whiff of her fragrance, and there was a stirring in his groin he hadn’t felt since, well, since he couldn’t remember. “What do you mean, like zombies?” “I mean like zombies, like men who are dead but still walking, or lying there staring at the ceiling. See, something attacked us only a few weeks after the Flashback … something … new. At first everyone just assumed it was a rogue raptor, because it didn’t have a pack—that was the first thing. But then it started talking, like a parrot, I suppose, saying things like ‘Pig’ and ‘Eggsucker,’” She laughed her contagious laugh. “Can you imagine? A raptor calling you names as it attacked you? Deputies Creebald and Teller put up one hell of a fight, you can be sure, and they did eventually kill it, with Rimshaw’s help, but all of them were wounded in the fight, and the deputies worst of all. After that, things started changing around here. At first it was just Creebald and Teller acting strangely, abusing their power, you might say, telling me not to forget to paint on my mole, or insisting Doc Allen wear that ridiculous little vest. But then Marshal Rimshaw started getting into the act, as well, and before any of us knew it we were living in a kind of police state. Decker was the only one who didn’t pile on, which is funny, because he was the only one not wounded in the fight with the raptor. It all came to a head when Deputy Teller had his way with one of the saloon girls—Molly, was her name—after which there was a full-blown shootout between the Marshal and his deputies—not Decker, he tried to maintain the peace—and the rest of the town.” She unscrewed the cap from a bottle of beer and took a swig, then concealed it behind the bar. “You didn’t see that. Anyway, the town didn’t fair so well, and now there’s a row of graves out by Serpent’s Butte.” She paused, locking her beautiful brown eyes up in his own. “They were good men, Williams. The best I’ve ever known. And now they’re just as dead as that raptor.” She snapped the bar towel in her hands and then wiped the counter. “And that’s why we all talk and dress this way.” She indicated his empty glass. “You want another?” “Sure,” he said. She pulled one from the wall and unscrewed its cap, sat it down in front of him. At last she said, “So what about you? What’s your story? And how did you come to be travelling with an armored dinosaur?”
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“The Ank Williams Story”
Wayne Kyle Spitzer
Tales from the Flashback: "The Ank Williams Story"
Copyright © 2018 Wayne Kyle Spitzer. All Rights Reserved. Published by Hobb’s End Books, a division of ACME Sprockets & Visions. Cover design Copyright © 2018 Wayne Kyle Spitzer. Please direct all inquiries to: HobbsEndBooks@yahoo.com
Based upon “Flashback,” first published by Books in Motion/Classic Ventures, 1993. Reprinted by Hobb’s End Books, 2017.
Parts of this story originally appeared in “X-Ray Rider: Mileposts on the Road to Childhood’s End,” published by Hobb’s End Books, 2018.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this book is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
They were in bad shape, and Williams knew it. The quill raptors had struck just when they were most vulnerable—when they were still waking up—and while they were able to fend them off (Ank did most the fending, because Williams had taken a quill early in the attack), the melee had left them cut up and exhausted. Worse, it had left Williams delirious—no matter that he’d managed to pull out the quill before it could deliver much of its poison. Enough remained that walking was difficult even on the smooth, level highway, plus he’d begun to see things—like the huge, Googie-style sign which read: WELCOME TO DEVIL’S GORGE: LIKE THE OLD WEST, ONLY BETTER.
To say its oversized gunslinger and buxom saloon girl statues were incongruous with the bleak, rain-drenched landscape would have been an understatement, but there they were, bidding them welcome to a town “forgotten by time, alone against its hills, where adventure and thrills await!”
“You seeing what I’m seeing, Ank?”
The big ankylosaur didn’t respond, not so much as a mew. His gait, however, had slowed—enough to convince Williams that the sign was real and he was seeing it too. Sure enough, after they had taken the indicated exit, a town appeared—a town straight out of Gunsmoke, only this one was surrounded by a tall cyclone fence, its upper edge crudely festooned with concertina wire and its base reinforced with sandbags. Moreover, it was inhabited,
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