Thursday, November 29, 2012

".45 Caliber Kingdom" by Anonymous

.45 Caliber Kingdom

Roger Metcalfe, captive rookie of the Jungle Police, tugged at his bonds in the prisoner hut of the blue-skinned natives as Schiller, the jungle outlaw, smiled at him.

"So you thought you would track me to my hide-out here in the jungle and bring back the white ruler of the Blue Men, eh?"

His voice was sneering as he planted his skinny, long legs apart triumphantly, and placed his fists on his hips.

"I never knew you resorted to murder," young Metcalfe said, "until I found Inspector Turner shot through the brain at the head waters of the Snake River."

Schiller threw back his close-cropped head and emitted a wild, maniacal laugh. At the same time he patted the .45 pistol resting in the hip holster.

"You fell into my trap when you went snooping for Inspector Turner!" he gloated. "And you learned the hard way that I have won mastery over the Blue Men through two powers—my pistol and my control of the lighted match."

Roger Metcalfe's eyes narrowed.

"I've seen you hypnotize those poor beggars with that cigarette lighter of yours. And I've seen you make them cower by firing that pistol at defenseless targets like Inspector Turner!" he said grimly. "But don't forget that a sword has two edges, Schiller!"

Once again Schiller laughed.

"Spoken like a high school idiot! Too bad you have to be the target in my demonstration tomorrow night. I'm calling all Blue Men tribes in the region to my coronation. By way of making myself king I'll prove I'm still the master with an exhibition of marksmanship."

Roger Metcalfe met his evil gaze unflinchingly.

"You'll never make it, Schiller! Somehow, I've got a feeling you're going to be the biggest flop the Blue Men ever saw!"

It was past midnight.

Roger Metcalfe craned his head toward the blue-skinned guards.

They were supposed to be guarding him, but now they were sound asleep. Earlier, his taunting had wheedled them into trying the white powder inside the small envelope he carried. That was the powder tht had helped him to sleep at night when the jungle had been too pestiferous with insects. And their curiosity about the sleeping powder had dealt them a knockout blow. Now he was ready for action.

Slipping out of the bonds, as he had learned from Jungle patrol training, he evaded the other sentries and glided toward Schiller's hut.

It would have been so easy to finish the snoring outlaw at that moment. But Metcalfe, the rookie, bided his time.

Instead of trussing up the jungle outlaw, he pulled out the .45 pistol from Schiller's holster and emptied the cartridges from the cylinders. Slipping the gun back into place, he glided out of the hut. Schiller was a tempting target, but Metcalfe had bigger plans for the man who had turned murderer.

Underneath the porch of Schiller's hut the rookie found a tin of gasoline. And with his precious container he stole down the path toward the Snake River.

He travelled all that night, until exhaustion overtook him. A nap refreshed him. When he opened his eyes, it was nearly sundown... nearly time for Schiller to proclaim his new, bloody domination over the jungle.

Metcalfe knew just where the dugout canoe was hidden because he had planted it there forty-eight hours earlier. In the stern of the canoe he stowed the tin of gasoline and a few other props. He had planned a showdown for Schiller, and it would be do or die!

As he paddled down the river in the gathering dusk he could hear the beat of the tom-toms and the weird chant of the Blue Men who had been his captors.

Schiller was about to assume his throne as the outlaw king of the jungle. He intended to use the Blue Men to kill every white intruder who dared challenge his power. And to all intents and purposes, nothing on earth could halt this egocentric fiend.

As he closed to within a half-mile of his goal, Metcalfe stopped poling, and reached for another tin in the forward section of the dugout. This can contained luminous paint. Stripping down to his shorts, Metcalfe covered his entire body with bold slashes of the phosphorescent stuff. Roger Metcalfe would either destroy the jungle dictator... or he would die in the attempt.

He had just finished adding the last luminous touches on his body when he paused to admire himself. What he had painted was the framework of a human skeleton.

And as he drifted closer to his objective, where Schiller had appeared on his front porch before the clamoring natives, he could already see the hated dictator standing proudly at the railing.

The chanting became louder as he approached, and he hadn't so much as a pocketknife for a weapon—only the can of gasoline behind him...

Peering through the haze, Metcalfe could see Schiller lifting his arm dramatically for attention. Now he would be giving his own coronation speech as self-appointed ruler of Snake River country.

However, as the outlaw opened his mouth to speak, an awesome sight presented itself out on the river. Hundreds of Blue Men craned their heads at the sound of a strange roar. A flame leaped out in several directions on the river. For the long, slim dugout canoe had suddenly became a dragon belching flames. The bow of the dugout, where Metcalfe had planted strips of bark to resemble a flaming tongue, resembled a dragon's mouth!

In the stern, there seemed to be a wagging dragon's tail. It was, indeed, as though some supernatural monster was coming upriver to devour them all. In an instant the assembled Blue Men were in panic.

Only Schiller, glaring from the front porch, knew what was taking place. Somehow, he acknowledged, grudgingly, that Jungle Patrol vermin Metcalfe must have slipped his bonds and dreamed up some mischief.

Now it was time to take steps!

Reaching slowly for his shoulder holster, where his deadly .45 pistol hung, he grasped the feared "fire-stick," as the Blue Men called it. Now they would see what he could do to such supernatural intruders. They eagerly looked forward to this show down of the magic-makers.

In his phosphorescent disguise, Roger Metcalfe was only a few feet from shore as his flaming dragon advanced. On every side, the natives were fleeing for their lives.

Slowly Schiller raised his .45. As the natives held their breaths he pressed the trigger. There were a series of sharp clicks. No explosions! Schiller's eyes started from their sockets. The natives halted in their tracks and stared. Roger Metcalfe climbed out of his flaming dugout and advanced on the cursing Schiller.

Ten feet away, the would-be jungle dictator made a frantic break for liberty.

But he wasn't fast enough. As he wheeled, the phosphorescent specter brought him down with a flying tackle. A bit of judo sent the pistol flying from Schiller's grasp.

A moment later, Metcalfe's fists were beating him into unconsciousness.

Now it was the natives' turn to close in on the fallen leader. But with a blast of fire from the tongue of his dragon-dugout, Metcalfe held them off. And then, as the natives backed away, he tossed the limp outlaw into the bottom of the boat and headed toward the middle of the stream.

The Blue Men may have been without a new leader... but the Jungle Patrol had the ruthless outlaw who would now pay the full penalty for the murders he had committed.

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