With a faint hum and static crack like the breaking of a mechanical bone, the alien death ray shot a blue colored beam across the field, narrowly missing his brother Ellis and setting a tree alight. Phil didn’t intend to miss the next shot.
“Phil, what’re you doin’?! Y’damn near hit me!” Ellis yelled.
“Yup,” Phil said.
“You put that thing down now, you hear! It ain’t safe!”
“No, I guess it ain’t,” he replied and lined his brother up in the sights along the barrel of the strange weapon they’d found in the crater up on the mountain while checking their grouse traps. Ellis hadn’t wanted to touch it, but Phil knew better. He recognized it immediately from the pulp novels he read in secret when mama was in town. She didn’t like him reading them, said they were the Devil’s work, so he had to be pretty sneaky about it.
“I’m gonna tell ma, you little shit! Put that there gun down!”
Phil kept Ellis in his sights as Ellis ran back and forth trying to get out of the way.
“Boom!” Phil yelled. Ellis screamed, threw himself onto the ground, and rolled up in a ball. Phil laughed and ran over to where his brother was cowering in fear. “It got you good, you chicken-shit son of a bitch! You thought I was gonna shoot yer ass?” He busted up laughing.
Ellis looked up at him, his face streaked with tears. “It’s ain’t funny! It ain’t funny!” he sobbed.
“Aw, shit, El, I was just playin’ with ya. I din’t mean to scare you so bad. Honest.” Phil tucked the pistol into his pant waist and reached his hand out to his brother.
Ellis looked up and spit in Phil’s face. “You go to hell, Phil! I’m gonna tell mom about your books! She’ll fix your right!”
“You’d better not, El,” he said pulling the pistol from his pants.
“You gonna kill me? Kill me. I don’t believe ya can,” Ellis said. He stood up and threw him arms wide, and it was then that Phil saw that he’d peed himself.
He laughed. “You pissed your pants, boy!”
“Ain’t nobody shooting alien spaceman guns at your ass, is there? Let’s see how’d you feel if there was!” Ellis lunged for the gun in Phil’s hand, but Phil was agile enough to see his brother’s attempt coming and pulled the gun out of Ellis’ reach. Not too difficult since Phil had a solid 6 or 7 inches on the younger boy. “Give it here! Give it here! Let’s see how you like it!” Phil laughed as Ellis yelled and they played a game of deadly keep-away.
Across the field, a man in coveralls drawn by the burning tree saw the boys fighting over the gun and ran over to them. “Hey you boys, what’re you doin?! Put that there gun down ‘fore someone gets shot up!” The man grabbed Phil’s wrist and jerked it away to make him loosen his grip and drop the pistol. Instead, Phil instinctively gripped tighter and accidentally pulled the trigger. A beam of blue light shot forth, went directly through the man’s chest, and dissipated int he sky. With a moment before death took him, the man looked down at the gaping, cauterized hole in his chest, still burning electric blue on the edges like the dying embers of a fire. He turned his head at the boys, both too frightened to move, looked them in the eyes. Then the same blue light glowed from behind his eyeballs, which blackened and crisped like coals in his head. He collapsed backward, smoke rising from his mouth.
Phil and Ellis stood, still locked in their game of keep-away, as the man’s body hit the ground with a puff of dust and ash. Slowly the released their pose and looked at each other.
“We’re in deep shit, Phil.”
“No. We ain’t gonna let nobody know about this.”
“How you s’pose we gonna do that?”
“We hide this here gun ‘s how. Ain’t nobody gonna believe this thing did this unless it get fired. We’ll bury it or something. Hide it in the barn. We go to keep real quiet ’bout this.”
“What’re we gonna do with the body?”
“Leave it fer the crows.”
“I’m scared, Phil. We gonna go to jail. They gonna put us on the chain gang for this, no doubt.”
“Ain’t no kids on the chain gang, Phil. And who’d believe we coulda did this to a body?”
“Right. Nobody. This ain’t no normal bullets kind of gun. Ain’t nothing like this nowhere. Nobody’ll know what the hell to make of it. We can’t say nothin’ to nobody. Ok?”
“Yeah, ok,” Ellis said, pantomiming the closing of a zipper on his lips.
“Now, let’s get out of here before somebody else comes by to see what’s goin’ on,” Phil said.