Papers and Machines

a story
2021-02-20 11:08:44
show more info

"Hero Department Chief fights back against the filth of the Istoki!" plastered the front page. There, just below it, a drawing of a depiction of the new Sherriff Sandoval.

The article beside it  followed:

"No sooner has the Honorable Judge Adrian Sandoval of Gearford taken over as Department Chief of Sorditudo and the surrounding Wild Lands of Antiford than he has already an impressive record under his gunbelt! With the new initiative put forward by our very own House of Commons; Judge Sandoval slams the gavel of justice upon the neer-do-wells of the desert. As one by one, he brings in outlaws and crooks to face the justice system."

"What about those who won't come quietly? Never fear, folks. Judge Sandoval and his men have proven themselves capable in a fight and have brought the most violent and dangerous of these criminals to the justice of the grave as well. It just goes to show, resistance against the forces of good are-"

There was a crash and a bang, followed by a hiss and a scream. Arnett lowered his paper and peered to the entryway into the engine room.

"Hey," he shouted, "Don't do that!"

"I didn't do anything!" Shouted Gwen.

"You tightened the rattling one," said Arnett, "Untighten it and fix the break before you blow a pipe."

"It's not supposed to rattle!" Shouted Gwen.

"You don't know that!" shouted Arnett back, "If it doesn't rattle, the pressure backs up and bursts. Hence your current predicament!"

"Who built this thing?" said Gwen.

"Me and someone smarter then both of us," said Arnett, returning to the paper, "You break it, you bought it."

"It would be easier with help," Gwen shouted.

"Tell me about it," mumbled Arnett, "This is why you are learning."

"Feels like I'm breaking everything," grumbled Gwen.

Arnett returned his attention to the paper, skipping to an interior page where the story continued instead of just gratifying Sandoval.

"Prominante Most Wanted Criminals who are now buried include: Hairy Harry, Bernard Williomson, Margareet Sand, Till Rexerson, Maxamillion Wesgaard, and Leonna Stikov."

Arnett re read the section, his brow furrowed and he frowned.

"Max Wesgaard?" Arnett mumbled.

"Who's that?" asked Gwen, her head appearing in the doorway.

"An old... somebody. I knew him from way back when I first started all this nonsense," said Arnett, closing the paper again, "He was a nobody. Like me. Not a Simo to our name, a ship most would confuse for a scrap pile, and a pea shooter we borrowed from someone. He did whatever he could for a coin. Scavenger. Shipped goods. Some mechanic work...  I haven't heard his name in years."

Gwen raised an eyebrow, "So he made it to the paper? Doesn't sound like a nobody."

"He's dead now," said Arnett, stroking his chin, "Supposedly a legendary outlaw. The paper insinuates he died in a gun fight with the law."

Gwen squinted, "And... how do we feel about that?"

"I... don't buy it," said Arnett, "Max was a few too many things; but a leader, a killer, or an outlaw he was not. Stupid enough to get himself into trouble, but if a lawman flashed a badge, his hands would touch sky faster than a bullet."

Gwen shook her head, "I meant gunfights with the law. Where do we stand on that? I... I still can't get a bead on what exactly it is you do..."

Arnett shook his head, "We're an honest business of shipping, odd jobs, and fighting pirates. If a lawman comes knocking we have nothing to hide."

"Good," Gwen nodded, "I'm not about the whole... robbing and murdering thing."

Arnett allowed his face to melt into an unamused stare and judged Gwen from over the paper.

"Not when I'm not on a mission of revenge!" said Gwen, "Now, if you have a moment, I think learning time is over! I need intervention!"

"If I keep doing everything for you we'll-"

Arnett noticed the room beginning to tilt, slightly. He became acutely aware of the sound of moaning.

Gwen's face went white, "Steam leak is coming from somewhe-"

"The legs!" shouted Arnett, leaping from his seat, "What are you DOING in here?"

Arnett pushed her aside and rushed into the engine room. Gwen followed closely behind, ignoring the paper which scattered along the floor.