Gunfight Over an 8-Bit Rhythm Two-Step Skank at the O.K. Corral

Copyright Ken Brady. No reproduction without express permission from the author.
(Originally published in DAILY CABAL, 2010)

Was all over in a fraction of a second, but then again ain’t everything?

You come here with your big city ways, all clean and shiny. Think we’re dumb radheads. Maybe. Don’t matter: our land, our rules. Truth is – if the truth matters – there’s rules when you can carry a gun. And there’s rules when you can dance – particularly when you can’t. Matters who shot first, who shot true, and who bit the dust.

Dangerous outlaws? They stole shit, raised some hell, but they wasn’t evil or nothing.

Another truth: they was all top of the line. Best defense bots in Arizona. After the bombs, after the meatbags died, after the rise of the New West, there was plenty of defenders and no entertainers. After hackabilly-modding some old 8-bit chips in for behavior units, ain’t no wonder we ended up with cowboys.

You want to know about Zi. I called him Robbie cuz it amused him. Big, crazy tank of a bot with one of them ridiculous clear brain pans, y’know? Not that you coulda saw his brain through the dust. Not that you woulda wanted to – robot of little brain don’t come close.

What started it? Robbie limped up to that stagecoach, opened the door, let out one hell of a high-pitched note. I thought the bots inside was gonna jump through the roof. He says, “I have 256 values to assign. That’s one.”

Then he danced. Just a quick rhythm two-step, then he was running. Did he know it was illegal for a bot to dance in town? Yep. Did he know the 8088 boys was in the stage, waiting for some action? Prolly.

No one says he was bright, but damn that bot could dance. Sometimes you just gotta share.

Not really into 8-bit myself. Fits with the “Now spin your partner till her servos groan” scene, that kinda junk. Me? Drop-d, grinding heavy metal. It’s all about the power chords. But this was special.

Course, the boys caught up to him. He was laying down a full track at 1000 beats per minute. Don’t think that speed woulda been allowed pre-war neither. And he danced, mixing all kinda styles – even some ska skankin’ – with three other Zi mods backing him up.

The boys watched, stunned, then fired. If one Zi had been a nanosecond faster draw, I guess they’d be on top now. Who knows what new styles they’d invented in the seconds that followed. In the eternity after. But 8088s, they can shoot.

In his last moments, Robbie mastered the Rhythm Two-Step Skank with one bad leg while running a Z80. Makes you wonder. Maybe us robots can do anything. Course, just because you can don’t mean you should.

One more truth: it happened right there off Fremont Street and took a fraction of a second.

Not that I expect the truth matters much.