Chuck Wendig created a flash fiction challenge that asked participants to use a randomly-generated military operation name as the story title. The stories did not have to be related to the military, thankfully. I was given five titles to choose from and to be honest, I only remember the one I picked: Cowboy Gecko. It reminded me of the movie Rango, which served as my primary inspiration. Take a gander:
He saw The Devil’s face in the black barrel of Snake’s .45. It smiled at him, resting on his enemy’s hip, contorting itself into a face-long grin. It taunted him until the moment it burst out of Snake’s revolver; a firework had just gone off in his pocket.
The Devil saddled up his golden steed and galloped southbound, the rush of black powder on his back.
Gecko felt his thumb manipulating the hammer of his side-arm, which had somehow come to light on its own. Leaning back, he pulled hard on the trigger and summoned Samael from the bowels of his silver barrel. Gecko glanced back at The Devil, now inches from his face. He had time enough to blink.
Out of the darkness came The Devil’s grin. It began speaking in tongues, wrapping itself around every thought Gecko had ever had. The Devil had slowed his stallion’s pace to a slow trot. He drifted aimlessly through Gecko’s mind, fracturing bones and shattering memories like glass.
The intruder spoke again, this time more clearly, “You agreed to these terms, lizard.”
“I agreed to a duel, demon,” Gecko countered, “and your speech ain’t welcome here.”
The Devil paused for a moment to admire the breadth of Gecko’s consciousness, the reddening expanse where he and his golden companion stood. With no regard for Gecko’s warning, he spoke again, “Snake is quite a good shot isn’t he?”
“Quite.” answered Gecko, their conversation becoming less and less cognizant.
“Trained him myself, actually. Serpents are excellent learners.” The Devil bragged in a muffled tone, the world around him began filling with fog.
“You must be a damn good teacher, then.” Gecko stated, his stomach advancing into his chest, colliding with his lungs. Vertigo overtook his failing mind.
“Thank you, lizard; your praise is refreshing.” smiled The Devil. He proceeded to take a bow in the thickening haze.
“Certainly, demon, but this ain’t no place for you. I am a creature of God. Look upon Snake and see if my bullet ain’t found the shadow of his skullcap, too.” Gecko ordered, the taste of blood on his lips.
The Devil’s last words were unintelligible. He tipped his ten-gallon to Gecko and found his way out of the lizard’s mind through a makeshift back door, erupting into the sunlight.
Gecko opened his eyes; the last of his thoughts escaping him. His body came to rest upon the old dirt road, memories running red out the back of his skull. The sky was a brilliant shade of blue.