a little experiment
Justin yawned with extreme boredom.
Like Shades, he had been digging around the general store for nearly two hours, and the clerk was starting to watch them with growing suspicion. Yet not enough to convince him this guy had been held at gunpoint just the other day. A fact he liked less than he thought he would, especially as it dawned on him that this guy might ruin their little party before it could even begin.
For his part, Shades wished he knew what time they came in on their previous visit. Of course, they sent Max in first to purchase supplies, while Justin watched from the alley across the street, and he refueled the ship. Now Max and Bandit guarded the Maximum, as he was becoming increasingly certain they would need to make a hasty departure when they finally left.
Turned out Sheriff Boggs stopped by again while he was refueling the ship. Asking the same questions he asked Max last time. And now, here as well, the store clerk showed no sign of having seen any of them before, nor of having been through anything so traumatic as an armed robbery any time lately. It was hard to imagine either a cop or a businessman being that forgetful with faces.
Thus both of them shifted back and forth between bored and anxious as the scenario only half played into their theory.
“Shades,” this was driving Justin nuts, trying to keep his guard up against something his rational mind told him shouldn’t even be able to happen, “maybe you were wrong a—”
“Don’t let your guard down,” Shades admonished, a tense look of concentration written all over his face. “I’m getting that weird feeling, just like be—”
—fore… he finished in his head as three very familiar-looking masked, gun-toting figures barged in through the door.
“Hit the deck!” the robber taking point shouted as the other two moved toward the front counter. “This is—”
Was all the farther he got before Justin and Shades fired several rounds of stun shots into their midst, cutting down all three of them before they even knew what hit them.
“Damn…” Justin felt an icy chill as he beheld the scene before him. This is exactly what happened the last time we came here…
Little realizing his thoughts and Shades’ matched perfectly.
“Looks like I was right…” Shades muttered, struggling against that sense of reality trying to recede from him, for he was now certain what would come next.
Before Shades could remind his friend to stay focused, Sheriff Boggs burst into the store, shotgun aimed right at them.
Justin’s little nightmare began again.
“Don’t worry, officer, they’re only stunned.” Shades somehow managed to sound reassuring despite the fact that he was reliving events from two days ago.
“They tried to rob the place,” Justin added, trying to focus.
Shades knew this point was critical, that he couldn’t let the shock of their discovery throw him off for this next part.
“Drop your weapons!” Boggs ordered, gesturing with his shotgun, concluding that the would need backup to deal with this mess.
They dropped their weapons, both nodding to each other.
“Looks like it’s a good thing I was in the neighborhood,” Boggs remarked as Justin put his hands up, and Shades put his out. “I don’t know what’s going on, but we’ll sort it out at the—”
As Boggs whipped out his handcuffs, wanting to bind this shifty-looking fellow first, Shades quickly flicked his hand over, snatching the cuffs and jerking the sheriff around. With a quick motion, he twisted Boggs’ arm, wrenching the shotgun out of his hand, shoving the startled lawman against the door he just came in. Shades stepped away a moment later, leaving Boggs handcuffed to the door handle.
“How’d you…” Boggs trailed off, simply staring back and forth between his cuffed hand and the door in total confusion.
“Sorry about that,” Shades told him, grinning with a newfound appreciation for the disarming techniques Master Al taught him. Kicking the shotgun out of reach, he finished, “but I’m afraid we can’t stick around this time, either.”
“Hope we didn’t scare the shit outta you,” Justin said to the petrified clerk as he retrieved his guns.
“Too late,” he replied, stumping away woodenly.
Shades couldn’t help laughing in spite of himself as he picked up his power pistol. As they breezed past a flabbergasted Sheriff Boggs, hoping to leave his awkward sense of unreality behind him in this general store, he remarked, “Well, you know what they say…”
“Shit happens,” Justin finished as they left.
Leaving the sheriff and the clerk staring after them, then back at each other in confounded silence.