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First Man: Lonely Flash Fiction

“There’s only room for one sheriff in this town,” James Skelton said as he stepped through the doorway and clomped a heavy boot into the dusty red soil. He felt uneasy and hoped the sound of his own voice would make him feel better.

“I don’t understand,” Rosie said from behind him.

James ignored her flat but plaintive response and stepped out into the full-on midday sun.

But was it midday? James wasn’t really sure, even though he should have been. He had been working toward this moment for years. His whole life, really.

Still, things always looked different than you imagined they would. Smelled different. Tasted different. Sounded different.

And maybe that’s what was so disorienting — Carlton Dune was utterly silent. Shouldn’t there have been some sort of noise? A little wind would have gone a long way toward taking the edge off James’ nerves.

But the desert sand was as constant as solid rock, frozen in creases and mounds and valleys there on the Dune.

James turned his back to the blazing sun — if no breeze would comfort him, at least he could give himself the relief his hat was incapable of providing. The horizon stretched out in front of him now, ending in craggy relief against an improbably black sky.

“Rosie, show me what’s out there.”

“Yes, Captain,” the female voice answered in his ears. Mechanical whirring followed, and a large metal and glass saucer fitted itself over his helmet.

“Tera-magnify,” James ordered. His vision blurred and his head pounded, then a watery blue orb swam into focus in front of him. Smudges of brown and streaks of white taunted him with thoughts of home, and he wondered if anyone missed him.

Published inFlash Fiction

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