So this week I'm approaching my one word project a little differently. I did go to oneword.com this Monday, and I did get a word. But because I've been dedicating this entire week to the "How the West Was Weird" book recently released by Pulpwork Press, I decided to scrap my word for this week and write a script based on the image above instead. This was another of Jim Rugg's ideas for the cover of the book, and although it didn't make the final cut, the comic-style art is what gave me the idea to turn it into a one word installment. I'll be going back to the regular one word format beginning next week, but I think this is a nice way for me to contribute to "How the West Was Weird" beyond just talking up the stories the other writers came up with, and it might serve to help me finally close the chapter on my guilt for not having contributed a story of my own. That's the hope, anyway.
Panel 1. We’re looking down at a barren stretch of desert. Far off in the distance, the peaks of mountains can be seen stretching towards the sky. The vegetation, if there is any at all, is sparse and withering. There is a faint set of footprints on the hardpacked ground, leading across the panel. On the far right of the panel, we can see the shadow of a man. The man is not visible in the panel, but his shadow is.
Panel 2. The man, a gunslinger, is trudging through the desert. Each step is agony. His angular features are haggard, victimized by the harsh rays of the sun. His clothes are sweat-stained and filthy. He’s dressed as a cowboy, with a wide-brimmed hat, duster, simple button-up shirt and tight-fitting, sturdy pants. A gun belt is strapped around his waist with a six-shooter in the lone holster.
Panel 3. Zoom in on the face of the gunslinger. His face is sunburned and his lips are cracked and faintly bleeding. His face is dotted with stubble from neglect of the razor. His squinted eyes are sunken in his face, as though retreating from the light of the sun.
Panel 1. The gunslinger is looking over to the left (right of the page) at something we can’t see.
Panel 2. Vultures are sitting on a withered, dilapidated tree that’s holding on for dear life. The vultures are eyeing the gunslinger as he walks past them with carnivorous desire.
Panel 3. The gunslinger continues to trudge inexorably forward. The tree the vultures were perched on is behind him now, and the vultures are hopping off of the tree to give chase.
Panel 4. The gunslinger still walks through the desert, but now the vultures are walking behind him in an almost comical fashion. It almost seems like he’s leading them, but they’re only waiting for him to collapse from the heat so they can feed.
Panel 1. The gunslinger trudges onward, but he’s laboring even more now. His shoulders are drastically slumped, his chin heavily dropped against his chest. He’s a living zombie.
Panel 2. The gunslinger loses his footing and pitches forward, falling onto the dusty ground.
Panel 3. The vultures scramble forward, their necks and sharp beaks outstretched, their wings spread wide in excitement.
Panel 4. The lead vulture has reached the gunslinger, and is tearing at the meaty calf of his leg with its sharp beak. The pant leg and flesh of the gunslinger is ripping away as the vulture claims its prize. The gunslinger is barking in pain.
Panel 5. The gunslinger has drawn his weapon, an 1875 Remington revolver, and is separating the head of the vulture from its neck. The other vultures are taking to the sky in panic as the gun roars.
Panel 1. The gunslinger is walking again, in a mirror image of Page 2, Panel 4, and the vultures are still following his lead. But this time they’re keeping a cautious distance from him. There is a rag tied tightly around the leg injury of the gunslinger.
Panel 2. Zoom close in on the rag or handkerchief tied around the gunslinger’s leg wound. The rag is stained with blood, and more of it is seeping through the cloth.
Panel 3. The gunslinger has stopped in his tracks, a small plume of dust rising around his boots. He has noticed something that we cannot see.
Panel 4. We’re behind the gunslinger, looking around him at a spaceship settled in the midst of this barren landscape. It is as large as a small house, its cold metal reflecting the blazing sun. There is no sign of life from the spaceship, but its appearance is in stark contrast to its surroundings. The gunslinger is around fifty yards from the spaceship. Between the gunslinger and the spaceship the ground is littered with the bodies of other dead gunslingers. Most of them are little more than bits of rotting flesh on scattered bones framed by tattered clothing.
Panel 1. The vultures take flight from behind the gunslinger, lumbering into the air, and he has turned to watch them depart.
Panel 2. The gunslinger has turned back to face the spaceship, and there is an alien standing between it and the gunslinger now. The skin of the alien is a deep green, its flesh mottled and coarse. Its limbs and digits are unnaturally long, and its face is more reptilian than human. It is dressed in a dark flight suit, and is looking at the gunslinger with emotionless, alien eyes. The alien has a gun belt strapped low on its thin waist just like the gunslinger, but the weapon in the holster has the flair and ridges and curves of an alien ray gun.
Panel 3. The alien is standing in a defensive posture. Its hand with the long fingers and sharp claws is hovering over the weapon in its holster, challenging the gunslinger.
Panel 4. The gunslinger and the alien face one another down over the distance between them. The duster of the gunslinger is tucked back behind his thin frame to provide easier access to his iron.
Panel 5. The gunslinger and the alien both draw their weapons and fire. The gunslinger’s iron spits a small plume of fire as a bullet roars from its barrel. The alien’s weapon sends a thin beam of energy slicing at and past the gunslinger. We are looking at the action from enough of a distance that we can’t tell who is being hit.
Panel 1. The gunslinger has been sliced by the energy beam the alien fired. The beam punched through his ribcage and cut upward, cleaving his flesh all the way through and cutting a path from his ribcage up and out of his left shoulder. The gunslinger is still holding his weapon, and he is still miraculously alive for the moment. His face registers shock, but little pain. He is in his death throes.
Panel 2. The gunslinger falls in a heap to the dusty ground. He is very much dead now.
Panel 3. The alien has crossed the distance and approaches the body of the gunslinger. The alien has holstered its weapon. There’s no need for it now.
Panel 4. The alien holds the wrist of the gunslinger in one hand as it pries the gunslinger’s gun from his lifeless death grip with the other.
Panel 5. The alien walks away from the body of the gunslinger with his gun in its hand. In the background, the vultures are landing to feed.
Panel 1. The alien enters its ship, still holding the gunslinger’s gun in its hand. The ship is highly advanced with large viewscreens, a single misshapen chair, banks and panels of advanced circuitry and technology.
Panel 2. The alien approaches an ancient-looking display case that is as out of place in the advanced spaceship as the spaceship itself is in the barren wasteland outside. The display case is filled with western era guns of various kinds. Colt peacemakers, Schofield and Remington revolvers, various lever action rifles like the Yellowboy.
Panel 3. The alien reverently places the gun of the gunslinger into the case with all the others.
Panel 4. The alien has left the gun case in the background, and is operating one of the viewscreens by manipulating the advanced technology around it.
Panel 5. The alien watches the viewscreen as another gunslinger is shown trudging through the desert on the monitor.