Part V - Chapter 22 - The Other Western Themed Science Fiction Story Ended Too Soon

On the Road

Brisco and Doc left all too early in the morning the following day. Determined to get to Hard Rock as quickly as possible, Doc was heavy footed on the gas pedal of Brisco’s new car while Brisco slept off his hangover. The drinks and reminiscing of old missions ended up going on a bit longer than Brisco had originally intended which meant that Brisco barely stumbled out of bed and into the car before slumping back to sleep. Brisco only slightly remembered saying goodbye to Michael and his family before the car started moving away from the cabin and Brisco passed out.

Brisco woke up to the sun shining in his face before groggily looking over at Doc driving the car. It seemed unfair that the person to drive his car first was Doc so Brisco called gruffly over the engine, “I’m awake so you can pull over now.”

“Gladly,” smiled Doc. He pulled off the highway and walked around the car as Brisco slid across the seats. He had to adjust the seat but as he admired the car, he had to admit that Michael did a great job with restoring the car.

Doc had barely sat down in the passenger side before sighing, “Thank God, that’s over.”

“What? Driving?”

“That… and spying… It’ll be nice to go home soon.”

“I never thought to ask but do people drive in the future?” Brisco asked as he put the car into gear and began driving down the highway.

Doc hesitated as if worried that he might destroy all of time by replying but he finally stated, “Most people stay inside but I found a way as I was always fascinated by this era.”

“And now that you have had the chance to actually live in this era?”

Doc paused before responding, “Everything feels, smells, and tastes different than I imagined.”

Brisco took a moment to stop staring at the road to give a sideways glance to the scientist. “How so?”

“It’s hotter than I expected, the roads are bumpier than expected, and it’s not the non-stop adventure like I had assumed it would be.” The man out of time laughed to himself as though he remembered a private joke.

“In my experience when I worked for the president and when I was a bounty hunter, life was 90% riding your horse from town to town and trying to keep from being bored. Only 10% was actually filled with excitement and terror,” observed Brisco. After a few moments he turned to Doc and asked, “Who said that life was a non-stop adventure anyway?”

The question had meant to be rhetorical but Doc grinned from ear to ear before he replied, “Hollywood, of course!”

The response caught Brisco off guard and he laughed harder than he had in years. “I’m in Hollywood, Doc. You should know to never believe us!”

“Hollywood Doc, has a nice ring to it,” commented Doc.

“Or Doc Hollywood,” agreed Brisco. “If we ever make this into a movie, how about your character is named ‘Doc Hollywood’ instead of just ‘Doc?’”

“I should say, ‘keep me out of anything recorded like journals or movies,’ but I kinda like the sound of ‘Doc Hollywood.’” Brisco had to laugh at the grin that was now ear to ear on the scientist. After a few moments of thought, Doc changed the subject with, “So now that you have a car, what will you name it? The Comet II?”

Brisco thought for a moment before responding, “Nah. Comet was a one-of-a-kind horse and I can’t insult his memory by naming a car after him.”

“I look at this car and think Herbie.”

“As in Herbie rides again? No thank you. That sounds like something you call a pet.”

“Or a love bug,” agreed Doc.

“Well, since we are ‘zeroing in’ on the end of a mission, I think that I should call it Focus.”

“A Ford Focus. Kinda has a ring to it.”

“Well, now that you say it, I’ve decided that I’m not a fan,” continued the banter. After a couple minutes silence while driving, Brisco began, “Actually, I think I have it – Charger.”

“The Charger of Dodge City from Michael Weston, Could work I guess…” mused Doc.

“You still prefer Herbie don’t you?” asked Brisco with mild amusement. And when Doc began to ardently nod his head, Brisco had to laugh.

The two continued down the road as Brisco shared the various games that he would play on the road with Bowler to keep the boredom at bay. Questions like “Who was the ugliest cowboy in history?” “Who was the most intelligent?” “What’s the first thing that they’ll eat at the next town?” Despite coming from a different point in time, Doc was able to chime in with various Marshalls, Bounty Hunters, and Cowboys that he had studied. While not all of the information was accurate, Brisco didn’t have the heart to correct the scientist. It was the most enjoyment that Brisco had experienced in years and being on the road felt like old times.

After a few hours of not passing through any towns, Brisco asked Doc to locate a town on the map that Michael had left in the car. The scientist took several minutes attempting to read it which baffled Brisco. How could a man of science have issues reading a simple map? After several minutes, Doc pointed to their location on the map. Unsure if he was correct, Brisco momentarily took his eyes off the road to look at where Doc was pointing. Despite the time that it had taken, Doc had accurately determined their location.

Brisco nodded and then turned his attention back to the road. “So, what’s the next town?” he called over to Doc.

“Looks like it’s a town called Serenity.”

“About how far away is it?”

“We should be coming up on it shortly,” replied Doc.

“That’ll give us a chance to fill up on gasoline.”

“Actually, I had an idea. If they have a telegraph or telephone, maybe we can try contact Lenore again and I can help them remove the-“

“Shhh!” Brisco interrupted before pulling the car to a stop. In front of them, a wagon was set motionless in the middle of the road. Brisco slowly got out of the car and motioned to Doc to keep the engine running. Brisco approached the wagon with his gun at the ready in case of trouble. As he neared the wagon, he noticed a man with a giant hat and a large woman wearing a dress and matching bonnet, both of their hats were positioned low and obscured their faces.

“Good afternoon. Is there a problem here?” called Brisco, suspiciously.

“Well isn’t that kind of you, young man,” the man grunted in a deep and low voice. “I think the horses are plum tired and we need help getting to the nearest town.”

“Well, we would be happy to help y’all. Maybe we can give you a lift in our car,” called an enthusiastic and all too trusting Doc.

“Gettin’ into a car with strangers for a lift to a nearby town, that just sounds crazy,” the man replied, still not looking up at Brisco or Doc.

“Well, we’ve got canteens of water if you’re thirsty and I’d be happy to keep you company with friendly conversation on the ride over,” Doc called over.

“Well, all my stars, that does sound mighty kind,” came the man’s voice, “But I’d hate to leave our belongings all alone.”

The scene, while oddly humorous to Brisco for some reason, was starting to put him on edge. Something about the woman’s build, silence, and the need for both individuals to hide their faces made Brisco wary that this might be a trap.

“The map says we’re not too far from a town. I’d be happy to help your lovely wife down and any additional family that you have in order to take them into town and come back for you with help from the town. Get your wife and family out of this scorching heat,” offered Brisco as he slowly approached the wagon. Brisco gave his most charming smile while surreptitiously and slowly cocking his gun behind his back.

“Well, I think you might want to reconsider that last part. See, I married me a powerfully ugly creature.”

“How can you say that?” huffed the woman in a voice that sounded more like a man’s than a woman’s. “How can you shame me in front of these kind folk?”

“If I could make you prettier I would,” snorted the man to his wife.

“You are not the same man that I met a year ago,” she-he responded indignantly.

In the confusing argument before him, Brisco had not heard someone sneak up behind him until he heard the click of the gun cocking behind him.

“Drop your gun and its belt to the ground,” came a female voice behind Brisco.

Brisco held his hands in the air but did not surrender his weapon. He stole a quick look at his female captor, a tall black woman with long curly hair tied in the back. She held the gun as though she had been trained by the military rather than an inexperienced novice. As Brisco turned back to look at the couple, both of them were holding rifles. The woman had indeed been a man. His “husband” was jumping off the rig and moving towards Doc who sat quietly with his hands up in surrender.

“Now we ain’t got use for troublemakers like y’all coming into our town to take advantage of our people anymore,” the dress wearing man said as he stood up and displayed his sheriff’s badge.

“Clearly, you’ve got the wrong guys,” Brisco said in an attempt to defend himself and Doc.

“You have two options as I see it,” began the oddly dressed sheriff. “You can either luxuriate in a nice jail cell or you can attempt to flee or fight. If you choose the latter, I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I’ll end you.”

Brisco studied the determination in the sheriff’s face, noted that he were outnumbered, and calculated that he would have a better shot of arguing his case in the nearest town with a judge than in the middle of the highway baking under the hot sun. Compelled by this logic, Brisco finally relinquished his gun. The woman motioned for Brisco to move toward the wagon and sheriff, which Brisco obeyed. The man moved Doc to the driver’s side and pointed his gun at Doc the whole drive to town.

As Brisco was loaded into the wagon and the woman handcuffed Brisco’s hands together, Brisco couldn’t help but ask, “And why wasn’t the woman in the dress?”

“Tactics,” replied the sheriff, “I needed Zoe behind you to catch you off guard. She’s my best shot. Besides, there’s a better breeze in a dress than in pants.”

It was not long before the small party arrived in town. While the buildings looked quite dilapidated, the land itself was beautiful. Brisco had never seen such a perfect landscape of hills overlooking a lake. It was every bit as beautiful as the phrase “Heaven on Earth.” As they moved towards the town square, the city hall had a giant banner spread across its antiquated balcony, saying “Welcome to Serenity – Home of Fireflies.” The whole scene felt ironic to Brisco as he looked down at the cuffs that the woman had placed on Brisco’s hands Brisco felt anything but serenity.

As Brisco and Doc were pushed into a cell, the man named Jayne called over his shoulder, “Sheriff Mal, if these folks get too nosey, can we shoot them?”

“Shoot them?” responded Mal.

“You know, politely?”

“As in, politely shoot me in the head?” asked Doc in genuine shock.

When no one responded, Brisco whistled as he sat down on the edge of a bed in the cell. “Looks like we’ve run into the one person in the universe more trigger happy than Fiona.”

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