Antagonizing Shotgun

“It’s like you don’t understand how easy it would be.” The voice resounded through the room, taunting from every corner at once. Burning hot inside my mind, crawling all over my skin. The laughter in the tone of the words would have been enough to drive anybody toward madness, send the most sainted over the edge into violence.

If only there were a way to escape it, that voice. I’d tried everything I could think of. Turning up the music on my stereo past where the knob wanted to stop, noise cancelling headphones, noise cancelling headphones with music piped into them, stuffing cotton in my ears, filling the holes with molten wax. Recently, shoving the untwisted end of an old wire hanger in until blood spilled out. Still, I hear it. Still, it taunts me.

And it has, since I made the purchase of a Colt 1855 revolving shotgun. Quite the rare find, especially in the condition this one is in. As if it were manufactured yesterday, not even the smallest smudge or indication of rust. I’m a modest collector, I keep my shelves free for only the best finds. Not just anything catches my eye. But the more difficult it is to come by, the more I want it. The Colt, when I saw it, called to me. Not quite as literally as one might think given my previous statement. The walnut stock and its delicately intricate engraving pleased by eye, the scrolled trigger guard intrigued me. I was captivated by the .75 caliber rounds, the 33″ barrel, the fact that it was a revolver. So with no hesitation at the $5,500 price tag, I took it for my own.

There was nothing but silence until I got it to the car. I thought at first the whispers were from my broken radio. Then from the neighbor’s television – they did play it awfully loud sometimes. It got harder to ignore and reason away as the voice got louder, clearer. When I began to make out the words that it was saying, I had to finally admit that something was amiss. To be honest, it was kind of amusing at first. The Colt didn’t really want anything but to be fired. For us to get to know one another. I laughed it off, though weirded out. We went to the range, I figured out the spread and distance. We went out into the desert, I shot cans and rocks, and got better at aiming. It became a weekly trek. Me and the Colt, finding some new place to shoot. Everything was okay for a while.

The escalation was gentle. It took a while for us to get to twice weekly, then to daily. Then it wanted to go hunting, really hunting. That seemed okay. Our first rabbit was a little too enthusiastically killed, and I laughed that off, too, albeit a little more nervously than I’d laughed before. I thought that it was just excited to be used for its purpose, who wouldn’t be? Don’t football players get antsy when they’re benched? Don’t astronomers get bored when they can’t study their stars? For all I knew, the last time anybody had dared to take this gun out and fire it had been the year it was made.

“You just need enough ammo.” The voice isn’t as light now as it was in the beginning. It has grown hoarse and ragged. Desperate. I don’t know if it’s from all the urging, or if it’s from the sheer need.

We went hunting a few more times before things went really bad. From rabbit to boar to deer to elk. I felt like the gun had been made for me, so well it fit into my hand and how easy I was able to hit my mark with it. I think this might have encouraged it, amplified its efforts toward bigger game. It began to suggest that I shoot humans. At first, the guy who cut me off in traffic on the way home from a hunting trip, which was bad, but understandable. I was angry. Then the pushy solicitor at my front door, and again – angry. But then my neighbors. Strangers.

It stopped being funny, cute, and charmingly strange.

I tried staying away from the house, since I didn’t hear the Colt when we weren’t together, and soon learned that it was folly to think it wouldn’t be able to communicate with me. The voice came through even when I was at the grocery store, even if I was way on the other side of the city. Gentle prodding became insistence, then demanding. Demanding twisted into command, as if it could force my hand to curl around the metal and wood. This is when I tried to drown the voice out. When I realized that nothing would ever make me deaf to the Colt, I locked myself in the house. I have since gone so far as to board up the windows and nail shut the doors.

“Think of how the trigger feels under your finger…” the problem is, now it’s starting to sound like a good idea. Every prodding feels like it’s more acceptable than the last. I mean, it would be a very simple act to visit the people I know and show them the Colt. Go house by house, start with my work mates, work up to my family. I bet they’d be just as enchanted by the graceful flourishes in the wood as I am. I can almost see their smiles as I demonstrate how the action pulls like new, sense their wonder when I show them how clean the barrel is…

Flash fiction: Read me

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