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Bill Dickinson

     "Draw if you must, Corbin muttered, but it will be your last." The Timeless Stranger stared back at him, frowning, face full of contempt. He stared into Corbin's eyes and saw truth and a cold confidence that he didn't like. The Timeless Stranger flicked back his dusty coat revealing a pair of worn revolvers, their grips worn down by the years of use. Each barrel shone and reflected the sunlight in bright and cheery glimmers of light. Bright and cheery were not the guns way though. They had been built with one purpose, and that was to kill. They had done their job faithfully, and over the years the Timeless Stranger came to be one of the most feared men in Half land. Tales of his cruelty had spread far beyond Half land, spilling their tales of death to the ends of the earth. However, the majority of those men and women that heard the tales could afford to discount them. It was better that way. Better to believe that there was no such man. No man of this earth could have lived so long, and killed so many. Those on the street that day knew the truth. Why, they could see it in the both of their eyes. Death hung in a cloud over main street. Corbin knew the truth. He was staring at the unholy truth not twenty feet from where he was standing. The Timeless Stranger let the coat tails settle behind his holster, and again brought his hands to his side.

      The fool had made no movement as of yet, good Gods, he hadn't even pushed his coat aside. The man gave Corbin a cracked smile and waited.

     Corbin kept his cool as the Timeless Stranger threw back his coat. He noticed the fabled guns, and the way they reflected the sun. He did not fear them, because they were not guns of nobility. They were in fact dirty guns, used by dirty hands. Hands that had brought so much fear to Half land. Corbin noticed the smile on the man's face. The smile said that he was sure of his situation, no doubt believing that he had the upper hand. Corbin noticed all of this, and did nothing.

     The two of them had met before. Corbin was not sure if the dark man knew this, for it had been long ago. He had been much younger, the Timeless Stranger, as the name invoked, was seemingly ancient. Corbin was but a young buck, still green behind the ears they would say, but already heading down the path. The path that his father had taken, his fathers father, and so on. At the end of the path was the Gunslinger.

     A Gunslinger lived by his own rules, and his rules were strict. They were a dying breed of men, the worlds last outlaws if you will. They were destined to greatness at birth, trained at childhood, and tested only once. The honor was theirs, for wherever they went the people cheered in their presence. The Gunslingers were the last vestige of true honor left in this cold decaying world.

      Corbin had been in town when his path was crossed for the first time by the wicked man. He was standing on the corner, black coat hiding a blacker face. A trail of smoke rose above his head, as he watched Corbin come. Corbin could remember shivering, and noticing the way some potted plants near to him had seemingly withered up and had taken on a mask of death. The Timeless Stranger smiled at Corbin, and evil smile, revealing hideous yellow teeth. Corbin had ducked his head and hurried on after his mother. Months later, he heard the news that set him upon his course. A group had ridden into town, and held up the market bank. A group of Gunslingers were in passing, led by Corbin's father, and were drawn into the fray. The battle had been quick and when the gun smoke had cleared the three Gunslingers surveyed their gruesome work. Of the ten men that had just robbed the bank, eight of them lay dead in the street, the other two taking rounds to the belly.

     The three of them went around to each of the bodies, looking for some sign of life. Corbin's father happened upon the supposed corpse of the Timeless Stranger. He laid there in the dust, his long black coat gathered around his fallen body. Corbin's father noticed, too late, the glint from the worn revolvers, slightly hidden beneath the body of the Timeless Stranger. He had seen revolvers of this kind before, and fast as lightning his hand reached down to his own, trying to bear them upon the corpse. Before he could, Timeless Stranger drew his weapons, and fired directly into the Gunslingers face. The slug from the evil weapon entered his face shattering his nose, and exploding his sinus with a spray of blood. It then proceeded to exit through the back of his head in a bloody explosion of brain and bone. The seemingly unhuman stranger was up and on the run before the shot had registered in the other Gunslingers ears, and he was fully ten feet away by the time Corbin's father hit the ground. That night the news of his fathers death reached Corbin. He could not come to terms with his fathers death. People from town came up, trying to comfort, but their condolences sounded empty in Corbin's ears. The Stranger was no where to be found, and there was little to do but plan for revenge.

     As Corbin grew up the stories of the man in black's murderous endeavors came to him. He knew that the two of them would meet again, a final time, and he intended to be ready. Oh yes, he would be ready.

     The smile on the face of the Timeless Stranger faded to a line of pure hatred. He did remember this man, then a child, and the alien sense of fright, the boy had invoked. This little boy, no bigger than a hand cart had instilled fear into a man incapable of emotions. For doing this to him, the boy, now a man, would pay with his life.

     "Corbin, son of Arthur the time has come for you to meet your father at the end of the road."

"You will die with the look of amazement on your face, just as your father did," the dark one muttered.

"I am your master, and your master decrees that is time for you to draw, for I bring to you the one thing constant in our world, and that is death."

With that the Timeless Stranger went for his guns, meaning for them to do their terrible work once more. His hands were a blur, shots rang out breaking the cries of the vultures circling overhead.

     As fast as the Stranger was, Corbin was quicker. He had dedicated his life to the ways of the Gunslinger. In a blur of movement, the Gunslinger crossed his arms, closing his hands around his fathers guns. Then they were out of their holsters, their hammers pulled back to the stops. The Timeless Stranger looked into the cool blue eyes of the worlds last Gunslinger, and knew he had been beat. Both hammers let go with a righteous cry.

     Those watching that day, all swore that the Gunslinger never moved. The hands, knowing the work they had to do, and had done so many times, were a blur. The blur that had never registered on the eyes of the towns people brought down the supposed Timeless Stranger. The man lay face down in the dusty street, dead before he hit the ground.

     In Corbin's heart, a weight let go. He could feel his father looking down on him, with his bright blue eyes. Watching out for him all his life, this one and the one he had moved on into. He could see that face surveying his work. He couldn't be sure, but he felt his father's smile. Corbin replaced his fathers revolvers, turned and walked away.


I would like to thank Steven King most of all for this story. I borrowed the actions and much of his writing style to create this story. I hope that it has done something to credit the stories that he has created. I think he is one of the best writers of our time. I would also like to thanks everybody that helped me make this story the finished copy it is.

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Fantasticoe 1998 Contents