Pocketwatch

By: Rip (Written Apr 24, 2015)


Some people have a knack for finding strange things. Strange things always seem to find Zane Legends. Even on his birthday. Especially on his birthday.

With how chaotic Zane's life tends to be, it's a surprise he'd even be able to remember his own birthday. Heck, he could barely remember which day of the week it was half the time. Luckily for Zane in this case he didn't have to do the remembering himself.

“What's that sound?”

“Huh?'

Zane looked up from his hand, having spent the last five minutes intently willing the symbols on the cards to change into something less hopeless. This was the last round he could afford, and he'd already lost his horse, boots, and hat.

“Don't play dumb with me, boy!” The fine figure of the bandit leader, Miss Scarlet, slammed her hand down on the table and stood up. “I know the sound of a pocket watch when I hear it.”

Zane paled as his ears finally registered the insistent chiming emanating from somewhere about his person.

“Oh, sausages...” He fumbled around his various pockets, and after a moment produced a small, silver disc. “Is it really that time again?”

No sooner than he'd quieted the alarm the watch was snatched from his hands.

“HEY!”

“Holding out on me, darlin'?” Miss Scarlet said in a sweet voice, turning the watch over in her hands.

“Give that back.” Zane growled, starting to stand. As soon as he did so, though, Miss Scarlet's men were on him, pushing him back into his seat and holding him down.

“I don't appreciate dishonesty, Mr. Legends. Especially when it gets in the way of my profits. You said this,” she gestured to the meager pile of coins in the center of the table between them, “Was all you could spare.”

“It is!” Zane protested, struggling against the goons' grasp. “That watch-”

“Will fetch quite the pretty penny. I believe our business here is concluded.” Miss Scarlet waved her hand dismissively, and Zane saw stars.

Zane awoke some time later, head pounding. He tried to sit up, and the room whirled around him.

“Woah there, buddy, easy now!” A voice cut through the painful fog in his head, and after everything stopped spinning Zane managed to focus on its source.

“Them goons sure did do a right number on ya, eh buddy?” A tiny, sunweathered old man in doctor's garb steadied him.

“Uhh...”

“Yeap, that's whatcha get, playin' around with Miss Scarlet like that. Yer right lucky though, buddy, usually when she bleeds folk dry it ain't figuratively!” The old doctor cackled heartily, doing nothing to help the throbbing in Zane's head.

“Ain't that the way o' things though, huh buddy?” The man continued, apparently content with this one-sided conversation. “Sure looks to me like yer double lucky, huh? That there scar, I bet this ain't the first time you done dealt with the likes o' Miss Scarlet, huh!” He poked at the Y-shaped mark on Zane's forehead.

Zane swatted the babbling man's hand away, frowning.

“No, actually. I got this scar a few years ago, when I-”

The sounds of yelling from outside the room cut him off, and the doctor jumped up, clapping his hands.

“Speak o' the devil, eh buddy? I'll come 'round to check on ya later, don'tchu worry none!” He exclaimed, then darted from the room.

Zane winced as the door slammed shut, and looked around. He had the feeling he'd rather not still be around when his new 'buddy' came back, and decided to slip out the window. For the best, he thought, since it wasn't like he would have been able to pay for the doctor's services anyway.

Zane hopped out the window and snuck around the back of the small shack that served as this town's hospital. There sure was a commotion going on in there...

He couldn't help but peek in, and what he saw both shocked and delighted him.

Miss Scarlet was there, doubled over with tears streaming down her face. The doctor passed her a jug, which she snatched and chugged desperately. After a moment she spat the contents out and flung the jug at the doctor's head, cursing and fanning her mouth.

Zane grinned, trying hard not to laugh out loud. He scanned the room and saw his pack lying there, confirming his suspicions. He squatted down and giggled in spite of himself. Seems like Miss Scarlet had helped herself to some of the Scorpion Pepper Truffles he'd picked up in the last town. Serves her right...

Another loud crash drew his attention, and he peeked into the room just in time to see Miss Scarlet stomp out, followed by the doctor and her gaggle of goons. Zane wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity, sliding the window open and climbing through.

He ran to his pack and gathered the scattered contents, then took his leave once more, pausing only long enough to toss a handful of coins on the bed, hoping the doctor would find them first.

After a quick sprint around the building and a bit of light horse-napping (It's okay, he thought to himself, he'd left his own horse behind so this was more of a trade than anything), Zane was galloping off towards his next adventure.

He hadn't forgotten what started this one, though, and searched through his pack as soon as he stopped to camp that evening. He was relieved to find the watch was still there, flipping it open to look inside.

It wasn't an ordinary pocket watch. It only had one hand, and 365 tiny markings around its face. The hand moved so slowly the casual observer would assume it was broken. Right now the hand was pointing straight up, and Zane smiled.

It was nice to be reminded of his birthday, Zane thought. Though he did wish it'd keep track of how old he actually was.


Genre: Western
Setting: Hospital
Character: Gambler