Magazine: Kzine #16

kzineKzine issue 16

I’m one of three gunfighters in a Mexican standoff, arranged in a triangle.  Our only spectator in this western ghost town is an unarmed flute player, watching from the roof of the saloon.  He plays his instrument.  Tootely toot … toot toot toot.

To my left is my nemesis, Talking Chicken.  She flexes the fingers of a robotic arm as it hovers above her holstered revolver.

Tootely toot … toot toot toot.

To my right is Ob-ob, Bobo’s twin brother.  The Four Apes have taken to calling him Bobo’s “evil twin”, although that’s probably not fair.

Tootely toot … toot toot toot.

I glance back and forth between my opponents.  Who will they shoot first?  Who will I shoot first?

Tootely toot … toot toot toot.

I talk to Ob-ob, keeping a careful watch on Talking Chicken.  “Listen, Bob–“

Ob-ob lets out a primordial jungle shriek.  He hates being called Bob.

“Sorry, Ob-ob.  I didn’t mean it.  Listen, Bobo says he’s willing to let go of the past.  He says there’s room in the truck for five apes.”

Ob-ob answers me with a series of “oooh, oooh” noises, but doesn’t dare take his hand away from his revolver to sign.

Tootely toot … toot toot toot.

Talking Chicken clears her throat.  “Gentlemen, I believe I have a solution which will not only allow all of us to survive, but–“

“Shut up!”  Rage makes spit fly from my lips along with my words.

Tootely toot … toot toot toot.

Every cell in my body wants to shoot Talking Chicken.  She cost me my job.  She cost me my dog.  I’ve wasted years of my life tracking her through inner-city ghettos and third-world hellholes, eating bad food, staying up all night, freezing my butt off, and getting sucked dry by mosquitoes.

But, shooting Talking Chicken could unleash Ob-ob to go rogue.  While Bobo was raised by the agency — trained to get in, get the mission done, and get out as quietly as possible, Ob-ob was raised by a black-ops military unit — trained for scorched-earth missions where the government wanted to leave a message.

I have to stop thinking.  Indecision will get me killed here.  I have to trust my sub-conscious, and let my gun hand decide where to shoot.

Tootely toot … toot toot toot.

The three of us draw and fire in the same instant.  Talking Chicken and Ob-ob fall dead, shot through the heart by each other’s bullets.

My shot?

The flute player crumples forward and falls from the roof.  I holster my revolver and walk towards the setting sun.

Short Stories

A Fire Beneath by Derrick Boden.  The aftermath of a first contact scenario.

The Neighborhood Angel by Charles Ebert.  The Russian and Italian mafias each have their own psychics with mind-reading and suggestion-planting abilities.

Nine Corpses, Three by Three by Meryl Stenhouse.  This urban-fantasy world has elite Roman Empire families, priestesses of pagan gods, and monsters living among us secretly.

Stranded by Thomas Canfield.  A story about time-traveling assassins which is marred by some fancy-pants writing and an unexplained defeat of the assassins.

Best Laid Plans by Joseph Benedict.  A murder story without any SFF element.

Speculum Crede by Tara Campbell.  Coworkers at a company picnic start imagining each other as animals, so they can explore their relationships.

Kane and Grable by Michael Best.  A virtual personality and some prosthetic legs.

Season’s Greetings by Edward Ahern.  Santa Claus is Satan.

I hope you enjoyed my spaghetti-western intro story.  There are 6-10 magazines to go (I’m still deciding on a cutoff point) before I announce the round 1 winners of the magazine quest, so if you’re willing to continue suffering through my intro stories, you might just find a magazine that interests you.


  1. I hope that you add StoryHack magazine to your pile. Just came out and issue 0 is free. It’s pretty great, not just because I have a story in it.

    1. I’ve downloaded issue zero, so I’ll be reading it, and will put up a review eventually. The original idea for the magazine quest was only to cover magazines with a significant amount of sci-fi content, but if I expand it to include primarily-fantasy magazines, then I’ll include StoryHack in the quest as well.

  2. […] The following intro story will confuse you if you haven’t read my spaghetti western intro story: […]

  3. […] I’m not alone.”  She motions with her left hand, and Ob-ob steps into view.  She motions with her other hand, and an enormous white-haired, white-skinned […]

  4. […] Kane and Grable by Michael Best.  I ran across this story before, in Kzine. […]

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