So this morning I managed to complete my short story about the cowboy who ended up on a planet. I was at 1,999 words (not including the title). Then as I edited it and made it better, the final word count was 2,060. Yes, 60 over the initial maximum but I felt that was okay since this wasn’t for an official contest. Could I have deleted 60 words? You bet! However, I think the story would have felt rushed and I feel myself rushing through scenes in my other stories because I feel that they are taking too long when in fact they make not be long enough.
Below then is my Sci-fi story of a cowboy who ends up on another planet…
(comments are appreciated and encouraged)
The Yellow Rose of Venus
The sun was just going down over the hills as Tyler “Slim” Jackson opened the screen door and strode out onto his back porch. His dog, Dallas, was laying down near his master’s rocking chair as Slim sat down and picked up his guitar. He strummed a few chords looking at his corral of horses and smiled as few stars appeared in the night sky.
“Any requests Dallas?” he asked his dog. The dog lifted his head a moment as if to respond but then sat up. A moment later he was on all fours, his tail a-waggin’.
“What is it boy?” asked Slim. Dallas was fixated on something that appeared to be coming down the lone dirt road towards his house. His girlfriend, Betty, had gone out with some girlfriends from the church and wasn’t due back until late.
The dog suddenly tore off down the road barking like mad. Slim stepped back into house, grabbing his rifle and then climbed down the steps and walked briskly out toward the road. He wasn’t sure what was coming this way but if it got Dallas upset that meant bad news.
As he reached the road he couldn’t see his dog, or anything else for that matter. Whatever it was that was heading his way might have either turned around or perhaps it was just his imagination. But what was it that spooked Dallas? He whistled for the dog.
“Here Boy! C’mon now, where did ya get to?”
The dog’s bark was heard again but it seemed more distant and as if it were inside something. He took a couple more strides forward and then heard a nearby humming sound. It wasn’t hornets or bees but something more like a machine. He felt the presence of something but couldn’t see anything. He dropped the gun, turned and ran back for the house. Before he got back into the yard he was overtaken by something and found himself inside a craft of some kind. It was definitely not Earth made.
“Boy howdy! I must be in one of those spaceships that H.G. Wells used to write about,” Slim exclaimed. Barking was heard and as he turned around he was knocked over by Dallas.
“There you are, boy! How did you get in here? More to the point is how did I get in here?”
“You were brought on board because we needed your help, Tyler Jackson,” came a disembodied voice from everywhere.
Slim looked around for the person attached to the voice and found no one.
“My help?” he asked. “I’m just a cowhand, what can I do?”
“Tyler Jackson, you were personally selected to help us,” said the voice. “We did not choose the wrong person. We do not make mistakes. Please! You’re our only chance of survival.”
“Well I’ll try and please call me Slim, never like the name Tyler. Where we are going anyway?”
“To our home planet,” replied the voice.
“Planet? Which one?”
“Why Venus of course, Slim Jackson!”
“Venus? Well, okay, I guess. It appears I have no choice. May I inquire as to whom I am speaking to?”
“My name is Venera, princess of the Venusian People,” replied the voice. “Our queen has been captured by the evil, Vandor and we want you to rescue her.”
Slim thought for a moment on everything he heard and then smiled.
“Am I on Candid Camera? Where’s Allen Funt? Is the camera in one of these panels?” He walked over to a panel of buttons and looked for something that resembled a camera. He waved at everything.
“Please believe me Slim Jackson!” said Venera. “You’ll be on the surface of our planet in just an hour.”
“Well all right if you say so,” said Slim. Are you on board as well?”
“No, I am on Venus already. I sent this ship to your planet to retrieve you,” said Venera.
“Wouldn’t you have had had better luck with the military than some long drink of water such as myself?” asked Slim.
“Slim Jackson, your courage and bravery has been cataloged by my people for the last five years. Your chivalrous acts in regards to the female you call ‘girlfriend’ is most notable. We were not wrong in our decision. We do not make mistakes.”
“Spying on me for five years? I don’t feel comfortable about that,” said Slim.
“We meant no harm,” aid Venera. “When your task is done you will be returned and your knowledge of us will be erased.”
“Oh, well that’s relief, I guess” he said.
“Just sit back, Slim Jackson and we’ll meet in person very soon.”
As if the ship read his thoughts about where to sit, a chair slid up out of the floor. He went over and sat. Dallas joined him at his feet and lay down. Slim replayed all of the events that just took place within the last several minutes and finally decided to quick drinking once and for all.
Slim had just started to doze off when a small bell went off and some words appeared on a screen. Entering Atmosphere. Beginning Descent.
“Looks like we’re here,” he said to Dallas. Minutes later the ship touched down and a door slid open. It revealed a metal hallway.
“Please walk down the hallway, Slim Jackson I will meet you there,” said Venera’s voice.
“All right.” Slim strode down the hall thrusting his hands in his pockets. Since he dropped his gun he searched for anything that would serve as a weapon. In his left pocket he felt as handful of change and his handkerchief but in his right pocket he found his penknife.
The door at the other end of the hallway slid open and found an empty room.
“Venera?” he called.
“I’m right here,” she replied.
He looked all over the room which contained a few chairs and a table but not a person or being in sight.
“I can’t see you. Are you invisible?” he then chuckled thinking she was shy.
“Oh, that’s right! I am sorry Slim Jackson.” A sound was heard and then he saw seated in one of the chairs near the table a tall blueish female adorned in a pale lavender gown.
“Please excuse the rudeness, Slim Jackson, my race is almost always invisible,” she explained. The dog trotted right over to her and put his head in her lap.
“Hello Dallas! I feel as if I’ve known you since you were a puppy.” Venera scratched the dog behind the ears.
“Wait a minute! Now I recognize you. You’re Ethel Fielding, the church organist!” said Slim.
“I suppose in a way I am,” said Venera. “I came to your planet five years ago to look for a suitable hero to rescue our queen. I took on the disguise of the church organist as I knew the best man for the mission would be found in a house of worship. When I saw you, I knew you were the one for the quest. We do not make mistakes in our choices.”
“You say you’ve been on Earth for five years? How long has your queen been held prisoner?”
“Just for a few of your Earth months Slim Jackson,” replied Venera.
“Hold on! How can you be on Earth for five years looking for a hero and only have your queen missing for just a few months?” asked Slim.
“We have the capability to travel through time using wormholes. I was sent back five years ago to assure that I would have enough time to find the right person,” Venera explained.
“And you left the church just a month ago to what? Report back to your superiors that you found the right person,” asked Slim.
“Yes! As I stated, Slim Jackson—”
“Yeah, I know,” He interrupted, “You found the right person, you do not make mistakes. Okay, let’s just say I buy into all of this. Where is your queen being held and why can’t your people rescue her?”
“The males of our planet have gone to Saturn to gather precious minerals. They will return in ten Earth Years. The females of our race just aren’t strong enough or have the bravery of our males. But time is running out, Slim Jackson, will you go?”
“Yes, I will go,” said Slim.
“Wonderful,” said Venera. “I will inform the council and return with instructions and provisions. Please remain here.” She stood while Slim sat down and noticed that a plate of food was placed before him on the table.
“Yes, Slim Jackson, we do have telepathic capability,” she said then left through a doorway on the other side.
Slim grabbed a ham and cheese sandwich and found it rather tasty.
“Just like Mom used to make,” he said as he chewed thoughtfully.
About thirty minutes later as he started to doze off again, the door opened and Venera reappeared with a space suit, oxygen tank and a small backpack.
“Slim Jackson, you have three hours of air in the tanks with is more than enough to get to the Fortress of Vandor and back. There is sufficient air inside the building just as there is here. Inside the backpack are essentials like a med kit, food, water, and tools.”
“What about a weapon?” asked Slim as he climbed into the suit.
“There is a small laser gun in the back pocket but only use it in the most extreme emergency,” said Venera. “But Slim Jackson, you mustn’t draw attention to yourself when you’re in the fortress.”
“Kind of difficult not to,” said Slim. “I ain’t exactly blue in color like you.”
Venera handed her two pills.
“Take this just as you get inside the fortress,” she explained. “They will change your skin color blue so you blend in with the rest. It only lasts for an hour so you’ll have to be quick.” She then handed him a map. “Here’s how to get to the fortress and where the queen is being held prisoner.”
“Will you take of Dallas for me?” asked Slim.
“Of course Slim Jackson!” said Venera. She held out her hand and the dog obedient walked over to her and sat down wagging his tail.
Once Slim got into the suit and adjusted the oxygen tank, he sorted through the backpack of stuff becoming familiar with all of the items.
“Good luck, Slim Jackson,” said Venera. “The future of Venus rests in your hands.”
“I shall do my best to rescue your queen,” he said. He put the helmet on, turned the oxygen flow on and stepped out onto the surface of the planet.
For the first time since sitting on his back porch, Slim had time to be alone with his thoughts. Never in his whole life did he ever imagine that he would be walking on another planet! Treading where no Earthling had ever tread before. He felt exhilarated and nervous at the same time. Then a fear of dread washed over him realizing that he was putting his life in mortal danger for someone who looked like a friend. There was no guarantee that what she told him was true as far as being Ethel Fielding. He took it all in faith.
He stopped short with an uneasy feeling that he was being followed. He turned around and saw no one.
“No time to panic now,” said Slim aloud. “Just get yourself to the fortress and rescue that queen.” Those became his last words as a laser beam ripped through his body. Slim fell to his knees and managed to look back seeing two blue creatures standing between him and the bunker he had just left. Was he tricked? Or was it just bad luck? Either way it didn’t matter as Slim’s life-force left his body and collapsed onto the planet.
Back inside the bunker Venera watched in horror of the scene that just took place on a monitor. She immediately informed the council of the results.
“Very well,” said the commander. “We will send you back five years in the past again to find another suitable hero. This will be the fifth and final time that we will allow you to go. Do not fail the Venusian Empire!”
“I won’t,” said Venera. “I know that this time I will choose the right one. I will not make a mistake again!”