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Take a break from the hectic news of Hollywood with our weekly look into the world of "what if". Fresh fan fiction happens weekly here at Cinema Blend on Short Story Saturday. This is our latest short story entry... "A Hero Never Blasts First”. It's written by Rich B. Kight whose first book The Darkness of the Womb is now for sale on Amazon.
Did he, or did he not shoot Mergungus the bounty hunter first? That was the question on everybody’s lips and the reason that Harold Winzer sat in a courtroom today.
Harold sat next to his lawyer, Jango McClean, and turned to look around at the crowded courtroom. He mostly saw aliens. Among them, he spotted the Hareeshes, which were a race covered entirely in mangy, black fur. Harold’s partner, Caleese, was a member of the Hareeshes, but Harold couldn’t find him in the crowd. Perhaps he was too ashamed to come. Then, he saw the Magleecans. Their green skin and foot long heads stood out. Harold had dealt with them in his old smuggling days. They chattered to each other with wiggling, tentacle mouths. And finally amongst the aliens, Harold picked out his own kind, the humans. But even though he was one of them, he couldn’t look them in the eyes. Above all else, they saw him as a hero, and lately, Harold didn’t feel very heroic.
He turned back in his seat and scratched his stubble. Nothing felt right anymore, not even his own fingernails. Even this courtroom felt “off”. Deep down, he knew his whole world had changed dramatically, but he couldn’t place how. It was like he lived a past life, but at the same time, was living a current life that was almost exactly the same as the past life. But there was one key difference this time—He didn’t shoot Mergungus first.
His attorney whispered in his ear.
“Everybody knows you blasted first, and they love you for it. Especially me. I’ll make sure that you get off. Just tell them the truth that you shot first.”
Harold looked his lawyer square in the face and saw fanaticism. The man wanted to believe.
And so did Harold.
In fact, all Harold wanted to do was proclaim that he blasted first. But he couldn’t, and it was all because of a voice he heard in his head. The voice had been with him for as long as he remembered. But it had grown louder and more insistent over the years. As of late, the voice kept telling him that he didn’t blast first, even though he was almost certain he did.
No! the voice boomed in his head. You didn’t blast first. You only shot back out of self-defense. You’re the hero, Harold, and kids look up to you.
But something didn’t feel right. From what Harold remembers, it was kill or be killed, and his instincts reacted. What’s wrong with that?
What’s wrong with that is that it would tarnish your soul if you blasted first, the voice said. Everything else you remember about your adventures is the same. However, this one, single belief is incorrect.
“Will Mr. Winzar please come to the stand?”
Harold did so. His mind reeled.
The judge’s yellow head was sloped back with ridges that looked like sand dunes. Four arms poked out of his robe and one of them held the gavel. The crowd murmured as Harold took the stand.
The judge banged his gavel. “Order in the court!”
Harold sat in the box just below and to the right of the judge’s bench. He sighed inwardly. He wished that everybody’s beliefs in him didn’t hinge on the fact that he had to blast first to be considered a badass. He had done a lot of other noteworthy stuff, too. Did they all just forget about that?
I blew up a space station! Harold thought.
Yes, you did, Harold. But only after you found out that your wife had been kidnapped by the Rajins.
Wait, what? Harold thought. I don’t remember that. Carol was taken much later.
Well, I’ll just have to change that in the next updated release.
The next what?
The attorney strode up to Harold.
“Mr. Winzar,” the attorney said, and Harold looked past his lawyer and stared at the three Rajin men who acted as the prosecution. Harold’s hair bristled at their blue gill skin. He felt no remorse for killing so many of their kind.
No, you do feel guilt, but you did it because you had to, the voice returned.
“Wait, no,” Harold said. “That’s not right at all.
“Excuse me?” the attorney said, and Harold rubbed his eyes. Behind his hand in the darkness he saw events in his life shifting like puzzle pieces. His very motives for why he went on adventures in the first place started to change until he saw a feebler version of himself.
It’s not feeble, the voice said. It’s just more humane.
But I don’t want to be more humane.
You must and you WILL be more humane! No exceptions I created you.
“Are you okay?” the attorney asked, and when Harold raised his face from his hand, tears streamed down his cheeks.
Harold nodded. He thought he had known himself, but knowing that it was all a lie, he asked himself, Who am I?
At that moment, Harold imagined that outside the courtroom was nothing but whiteness. It was like this whole building—his whole life—was an illusion.
“Yes.” Harold raised his teary eyes.
“Did you or did you not shoot Mergungas the Rajin at the train depot?”
“No!” Harold wailed, and he brought his forehead down upon his arms. “I didn’t do it.”
A gasp filled the courtroom. Harold wept.
It’s all for the best, the voice said. A hero never blasts first. Especially not after I change them from being a thirty-five year old smuggler to a fourteen year old street urchin in the prequels.
When Harold picked his head up, he wasn’t a thirty-five year old smuggler anymore, but rather, he had transformed into a fourteen year old street urchin with a dirty face and a troubled past.
A teensy part of himself questioned this new identity, but an even larger part of himself accepted this new truth.
After all, the voice in his head told him to.