by Joseph H. Ficor
Shouhei turned to see the muzzle of Stotter’s pistol only a few centimeters away from his face.
“Sir,” Shouhei fought to keep a professional composure, “why are you threatening me with your firearm?”
Stotter tilted his head to the right in mild surprise and smiled. “Are you so naïve? I thought that your short time with us would have wizened you up to real life.”
Shouhei maintained his composure despite the fear that flooded his mind like a tsunami torrent. “No sir, I’m not naïve anymore. I guess the Governor is tired of his prize puppy?”
Stotter nodded his head in acknowledgment. “You got it. Not bad for a piece of dust.” His smiled broadened. “You see, here’s how life works on Carlston’s Cove: Your life span is equal to your usefulness. Your’s just hasn’t been very long.”
“How are you going to explain my death to my family?”
“Any spacing way that we want,” Stotter shouted. Then he relaxed and calmly resumed. “I guess we can just say you died in the gunfight. You’ll get a nice medal—posthumously, of course. And maybe a nice funeral. Maybe your parents will get a nice… What are you doing?”
Stotter stopped as Shouhei eyes widened. The young enforcer raised the pistol in his hand and aimed it at Stotter.
Stotter grinned at the sudden turn of events. “If you intend to shoot me…”
Shouhei cut him off. “I don’t intend to.” And fired.