Goldrun, Revisited: Part Two
The Sheriff’s office was a small building near the centre of the town, with a faded sign outside that swung in the breeze. It was hardly the grand jailhouse he had been expecting.
The insides were equally unimpressive. A small desk made up Ellie’s workspace, a few wanted posters tacked to the wall behind. Aside from that, two jail cells made up the rest of the building, nothing more than iron bars drilled into the wooden building.
A mutant Mynci regarded the visitors solemnly from within one of the cells.
“Look who’s back to keep ya company, Jacek!” Ellie commented as she unlocked the other cell and forced Jonas inside.
“Great,” the Mynci sighed.
“Clickerty-clack,” the Techo growled from inside.
Ellie locked the cell and dusted off her hands.
“Well now, Victor, how’s about I show ya around the place?” she asked.
“I’d love that,” Victor agreed.
The spotted Kau led Victor outside to the streets of Goldrun, and down one of the many wooden walkways that served as pavements. Her first stop was a building nearby, with dirty windows.
Though, as Victor looked around, he noticed that pretty much all of the windows in the town were dirty, presumably from the sand.
“Welcome to the Goldrun General Store,” Ellie announced as she opened the door. “It’s run by Flagrant Dohicky, as fine a citizen as ya can hope to find in this here town.”
A rather haggard looking blue Bruce stood behind the counter smiled as he heard the door’s chime and saw who had entered.
“Sheriff Ellie!” he called out. “Did you get Jonas?”
“I certainly did, and more besides,” Ellie answered. “This here is Victor Pettigrew, a newcomer to the town. I’m showing him the sights.”
“Welcome to Goldrun, Victor!” Flagrant greeted the Gelert. “Can I get either of you anything while you’re here?”
Victor looked around the shop. Whilst the store did seem to sell a little of everything, most of it was simple stuff... and he noticed an alarming amount of canned beans.
Behind him, the bell rang as someone else entered the shop. Victor barely had time to turn around before he heard the threatening voice.
“This is a stickup!” the Blumaroo shouted. “Give me all your money!”
He pointed a cork gun at the Bruce behind the counter.
Ellie coughed politely.
“This just ain’t your day, is it?” she said lightly.
“What?” the Blumaroo demanded, pointing the weapon at Ellie instead.
“See this here star?” Ellie asked, pointing to the Sheriff’s badge pinned to her shirt. “Know what it means?”
“I’ve got the gun!” the Blumaroo countered.
“No, you’ve got a gun,” Ellie corrected him, glancing down at her own holsters around her waist. “I can assure ya, I didn’t get to be Sheriff by having a slow trigger finger.”
The Blumaroo paused, considering Ellie’s statement. Finally, his face hardened as he dismissed her comment, and began to squeeze the trigger.
It happened faster than Victor could follow. Ellie’s hand was on her weapon before the Blumaroo had even finished his train of thought. The Kau shot from the hip, the cork from her gun hitting the Blumaroo squarely in the forehead and sending him toppling backwards. His own weapon fired madly into the air.
Ellie was on him in a flash, forcing the cork gun from his hands.
“You shot him!” Victor shouted.
“And?” Ellie asked, scooping the dazed Blumaroo up.
“That doesn’t seem very... law abiding,” Victor commented.
Ellie waved absent-mindedly towards Flagrant the Bruce as she led Victor outside.
“The law’s of secondary concern,” Ellie stated.
Behind her, Victor gasped.
“Don’t misunderstand me, Victor,” Ellie explained. “But a Sheriff’s role, the point of the office, is to keep the peace.”
She set the Blumaroo down against a pole supporting one of the Petpet water troughs.
“Laws are only there to see that it happens,” she continued. “Now that might work in places like Neovia where ya can call the Defenders of Neopia for backup, but I’m alone out here, this is a frontier. Things have to work differently. I keep the peace first, and the law second. Some rules have to be bent.”
Ellie very carefully tied the Blumaroo to the pole.
“Besides, he’s only stunned. I only allow cork guns in the town, and he won’t be robbing anyone for a while,” she said as she stood up.
“You’re going to leave him there?” Victor asked.
“Just for a while,” she answered. “I’ll take him to see Doc Brown later, don’t ya worry. Come on, I’ll show you the Makepeace Saloon.”
Ellie led Victor away from the dazed Blumaroo to a building across the street. Even from outside Victor could hear the sounds of a piano playing a lively tune inside. Ellie swung open the batwing doors and gestured Victor inside.
The place was a tavern of sorts, filled to the brim with locals. There was indeed a piano in the corner with a Wocky rattling out the tune Victor had heard outside. In the far distant corner, tables had been set up where Neopets appeared to be playing card games.
“Gambling?” Victor asked.
“It keeps people out of trouble,” Ellie admitted. “It means less of ‘em are on the streets shooting at each other.”
Ellie made her way over to the bar, where an elderly Aisha dressed in more ruffles than Victor had ever seen before was waiting to serve them.
“Good afternoon, Ellie, you catch Jonas?” she asked as she poured a drink and handed it to the Kau.
“Of course, Holly, he’s safely back behind bars,” Ellie answered, sipping her drink. “This here’s Victor Pettigrew. He’s visiting the town.”
“Pleasure, Mr. Pettigrew,” the Aisha said, pouring a drink before disappearing down to the other end of the bar to deal with more customers.
“That’s Holly Makepeace,” Ellie explained as Victor sat down. “She owns this place, and has done ever since her husband Horace passed away.”
Victor eyed the drink he had been given suspiciously.
“Don’t worry,” Ellie said, catching his look. “She only serves sarsaparilla, nothing stronger. Old Horace was an army man back in his youth, wouldn’t let anything be sold that didn’t meet his moral code. He always used to say, ‘If we start selling things like grog, we’re no better than pirates’.”
Victor took a gentle sip of the drink, but almost choked on it as a Korbat burst through the doors of the saloon and yelled, “Fire in the hole!”
Holly made a horrified face behind the bar, and several customers jumped over the counter. Together they grabbed hold of the bottles behind the bar, steadying them. Throughout the saloon, Neopets seemed to be grabbing on to tables or walls for support.
“Ya might want to hold on to something, Victor,” Ellie suggested as she grabbed the counter.
Before Victor could question her, the sounds of an enormous explosion seemed to erupt somewhere in the distance, and the bar began to shake violently. The few bottles behind the bar that had not been secured smashed to the floor, and Victor found himself falling off his bar stool.
Just as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped. As if nothing had happened, the people in the saloon returned to their business and the piano player started up another tune. Ellie was still calmly sipping her drink.
“What was that?” Victor asked as he climbed back onto his stool.
“The Farley Mine,” Ellie replied. “Remember the one I pointed out on our way into town? The vein runs right near the buildings, and when they blow deeper using dynamite things can get a little shaky up top.”
“It doesn’t seem very safe to have a mine so near the town,” Victor observed. “What if there’s a cave in?”
“None of the buildings are on top of the shafts, so there’s no real danger,” Ellie explained. “Of course, back in the day old Pete Farley wouldn’t have come near the town, just in case... but we’re living in a different age now.”
“How do you mean?” Victor asked, taking a sip of his drink.
“Pete disappeared a few years back, went walking into the desert one day and never came back,” Ellie told him. “Folks say he lost his mind, didn’t know what he was doing. We sent out search parties, but no one ever found him. His son, Jason Farley, is running the mining business now. He’s a lot more profit orientated, to say the least. He’s been pushing to extend the mine further under the town, but I’ve flatly refused.”
Ellie drained her drink.
“Well, I’d best go see to that Blumaroo, Doc Brown should be able to patch him up,” she said. “Are you staying in town for a while, Victor?”
“I thought I might, yes,” he answered.
“Well that’s good news and no mistake.” Ellie smiled. “Ya come see me at the Sheriff’s office if you like.”
“Do you know of anywhere good to stay?” Victor asked.
“We used to have a hotel on the outskirts, it’s been closed down for years now though,” Ellie explained. “Holly here takes on a few lodgers. Holly!”
The Aisha walked down from the other end of the bar.
“Victor here needs a place to stay; do ya have a room free?” Ellie asked.
“Of course!” Holly answered. “I’ll show you up now if you like?”
Ellie said her farewells as Holly led Victor up the stairs at the back of the saloon.
“Don’t you worry about the explosions from the mines, Mr. Pettigrew,” Holly instructed him. “They’re under strict instructions only to blow dynamite during the day – they shouldn’t keep you awake.”
“That’s reassuring,” Victor answered.
Holly pushed open the door to a modestly decorated bedroom.
“It’s nothing special, but it does for folks out here,” Holly told him.
“This will do just fine, thank you,” Victor answered.
“We’ll settle up payment in the morning, and if you need anything to eat just come down to the bar,” Holly said as she left. “You sleep well, Mr. Pettigrew!”
Left alone, Victor made his way to the window and stared down at the town below.
So this was Goldrun...
It certainly wasn’t what he had expected when he had set out, but there was something about the place, something that seemed to be running through every single person there... a sense of adventure and discovery beating in their hearts.
This was the frontier, a land of opportunity.
Victor lay down on his bed and listened to the sounds of the piano coming from below.
He was going to like it here, he could tell.
To be continued...