By Leonard Pigg III
I had been spending some quality time with Calamity Jane on a ranch in Wyoming in the late 1800s. My garb, which consisted of a red poet shirt, black slacks, green tennis shoes and a green crushed velvet waistcoat, would probably have had the locals thinking I’m a circus performer. I always kept my white hair relatively short, but sometimes the curls would stick up and I’d have the look of a modern, mad scientist. Given my skin color, they’d probably think me a former slave, even though I’m not actually from this planet. Fortunately, being out here in the wilderness, neither my color nor my clothing would be an issue. The privacy her ranch offered gave me ample time for quiet contemplation.
I enjoyed the silence of sitting in the middle of nature for a time. It sometimes reminded me of the vacuum of space. It also gave my ship, the Excelsior (disguised as an old blue shed), some time to recharge, as I’d converted it to absorb solar energy. Sitting in the middle of the plains provided it an ample opportunity to soak up some rays for the next trip to wherever or whenever. I also had the ship set to continuously scan for anomalies in the region, giving me a heads up if anything strange happened. If something did, it would sound an alarm that would resonate across the ranch with the sound of a didgeridoo. It was nice that, for the past few weeks, the ship had remained completely silent. I almost began to forget about my life as a casual adventurer. What had once been my crew had moved on to different aspects of their lives, leaving me to travel alone once more until I happened to land on Calamity Jane’s land to make repairs to my ship. When I first met her, I saw an honesty in her eyes that was undeniable. Her pretty green eyes, dark hair, tomboyish charm and high cheekbones drew me in. She also wore her fringe jacket quite well. Instead of giving some sort of cover story, I gave her full disclosure on what I do. Instead of telling her outright, I did it telepathically and it seemed to invigorate her from whatever funk she had been in. She helped me fix the ship and we started traveling together. I showed her the wonders of the universe. Along the way, of course, we happened to rescue a few civilizations from intergalactic tyranny. Par for the course, traveling with one such as myself. After a few adventures, Jane wanted to come back to her ranch and relax for a bit, get back in touch with her earthly roots and I’d come to appreciate the rustic charm of this planet. There was no internet, no cars, no chemical trails in the sky, nor an overly inquisitive government to snoop around as I committed good deeds from the shadows. I was simply a man taking in the great outdoors with a great lady by my side. This was truly the quiet life and, with both of us having lived through intergalactic wars, it was indeed a welcome change of pace to rest on the plains of Earth.
That silence was broken soon after Jane started target practice. She had acquired a laser pistol from one of the Space Nazis we battled on the moon. Apparently, there was a group of Nazis from this timeline that had reached out to another version of themselves from a parallel dimension. The plan was for the alternate dimensional Nazis to set up shop on the moon, creating a doomsday weapon for their fascist brethren. Their secret colony had been developing sinister weapons to begin conquering outer space but they were thwarted by us. We stopped the Nazi cell on the moon and humankind handled the faction on the planet (sometime after my time on Jane’s ranch. I’ve never been a fan of doomsday weapons so I always find myself destroying them. The laser pistol went off again. Jane was playing with her souvenir, it seems. The occasional booming sound of her shooting a tree in the woods and hearing it crash brought me back from my contemplative state. As she had been my companion through a few of my adventures in time and space, she would adapt to things quite quickly. She “borrowed” an anti-gravity belt and a force field generating bracelet (to protect her from the vacuum of space) from a group of cyborg mercenaries after they had been sent to destroy all the satellites in Earth’s orbit in the year 2025. We stopped them successfully. I didn’t mind her having exotic weapons with her. She had a way about her that really drew me in. I had great difficulty in refusing her anything so when she would find some weird artifact, I’d tell her to put it in her satchel and that we’d sort it out later. Later would never come and these random items would become part of her repertoire. She was my chaotic little “space cowgirl” who had an itchy trigger finger and a heart of gold. To have her at my back was an honor and a thrill. I tried to avoid taking lives so it was good to have a woman like her around. Granted, I can’t say that I’ve never done anyone in, but she seemed to have a knack for destruction and I gave her the right things to destroy. I also knew that at some point in her history, she was going to end up with Wild Bill Hickok and have further adventures of her own on Earth without me. Despite my greatest desires, she would eventually go back to her life without me. I decided to enjoy every moment I had with her in the meantime. For this period of time, “Calamity Jane, the heroine of the plains,” was all mine and I felt a better man for it. Perhaps I just wasn’t lonely anymore? But history has its inevitable demands and I caught myself staving it off for as long as I can.
“What the hell you doin’ standing around, staring off at the woods? Missin’ outer space again, Doc?” Jane said as she somehow had managed to sneak upon me and place an assuring hand on my back. “Am I not keeping your bed warm and your belly full to your heart’s content?”
I turned and said nothing to her, simply taking her in my arms and giving her a passionate kiss. In the back of my mind, I felt as if my weeks away from the world would have repercussions, but I was truly enjoying her company. She had the faintest scent of cigarettes and roses around her and I kept getting lost in her eyes. I wondered to myself if this is truly what had been missing from my life. Had these few weeks of earthly bliss become the beginning of my retirement? Could I spend the rest of my days living among humanity (Wild Bill notwithstanding)? The universe seemed to have another answer as the sky changed colors, the Excelsior began to emit the sound of a didgeridoo and a smoldering streak from the sky crashed at the edge of the property. I felt a distortion ripple through the air itself, which indicated that whatever had crashed here, it wasn’t from this time period at all. Neither was I, but hiding out on a ranch wasn’t likely going to cause too many distortions in the space-time continuum. However, I knew Jane’s original future and I wasn’t a part of it.
“Come along, Jane. It seems that the fates have something interesting in store for the likes of us!” I exclaimed as I started to run toward the crash site. She followed alongside me, holding my hand.
“Maybe this is the kind of action ya been missin’, honey!” she said with a grin. The two of us ran toward the crash site with caution.
As we arrived, we saw a huge crater and cradled inside it was a rusty metal pod, the size of a large coffin. The pod opened and a man dressed in a space suit exited, leaping forward with inhuman strength and landing in front of us. He stood upright, towering a foot over Jane and myself.
I stood in front of Jane and said, “This is planet Earth and I would hope that you’re not here to do it harm. I am Doctor Omega, one of its protectors. Under the Quantum Accords of Saturn, I request you identify yourself and your intentions on this planet.”
The spaceman took off his helmet, revealing a clean-shaven man with a blonde crew cut. He gives a friendly smile, then gets a worried look in his eyes and replies, “I am Captain Swastika, the last of the Space Nazis of the Moon. You foiled our mission on the Moon. All of my compatriots are gone. I followed you through time using a tractor beam projecting my escape pod behind your ship.”
Calamity Jane says, “I reckon if you come looking for revenge, you best give that dream up!” She whips out a pair of Colt Army revolvers and points them at the Captain.
“I actually came to warn you about them! I had an entire space ship and they ate it! All I had left was to ride the remaining energy of the tractor beam using my escape pod!” he says, pointing up as a trio of neon blue worm creatures in the sky begin to coil around in the air. These giant worms were each the size of an an airplane and were twice as long. They then latched onto a mountain and began consuming it.
I lower Jane’s arm down and say “I’ve been here for almost a month and you’ve just now arrived! Tractor beams aren’t designed for time travel, hence your ship being as damaged as it is, emitting fuel and energy, must have drawn out Time Worms. The spatial distortion between your ship and mine created a cascade effect, which sounded like a dinner bell to them. Truth be told, you don’t even belong in this dimension to begin with, which makes you an even more exotic meal to them!”
The Captain says “I wanted revenge but, since they’ve been on my trail, I just want to survive! ”
I walk over to the escape pod and pull off the control panel and begin rewiring it. “Bloody Time Worms. They’re parasitic dimensional omnivores. No matter where they go, they will feed on whatever matter is available. Normally, they feed off of the flotsam and jetsam of the time stream, but occasionally end up escaping.” I explain.
“I don’t think those things would go for the Quantum Accord speech?” Jane asks.
Continuing to work on the wiring, I say, “No. They’re like wild animals in a feeding frenzy. There aren’t many of those things left so we’ll be doing the universe a favor stopping them. I’ll need you two to distract those things while I rework this pod as a bomb. Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow to the power core will take time. Captain, I assume we’ve a truce, now?” Captain Swastika nods and grabs a nearby boulder, tossing it at one of the giant worms as Calamity Jane begins opening fire with her Colt pistols.
The worm pauses, glaring at Jane and the Captain as they take cover around a nearby cluster of trees. The other two worms continue munching on the mountain as it begins to lose mass. The worm starts to crawl towards Jane and Swastika while opening its massive maw. Jane tosses a couple grenades into the worm’s mouth and yells, “Fire in the hole!”
The creature chomps down as Jane and the Captain dive out of the way. The grenades explode, causing the creature to writhe in agony as smoke and flame billow from its mouth; it gives an unearthly roar. Swastika fires his pistols until they are empty as the creature writhes around. When Jane runs out of ammo with her Colts, she whips out her laser pistol and zaps the creatures. Swastika picks up random boulders and throws them at the worms, who chomp them in mid-air like a snack. The captain leaps over to an area where there are fallen trees, picks up one and throws it towards one of the worms. Jane holsters her laser pistol, reloading her twin Colt pistols, then takes the time to line up her sights and hits the creature in the eyes. It wails in agony, drawing the attention of the others. The others start to wiggle toward Jane and Swastika. The Captain grabs Jane by the back of her gun belt, lifting her easily into the air and he jumps out of the way.
“Yee-hah!” Jane yells as she’s carried into the air. She fires both guns while she’s in motion. The two converging Time Worms miss them and then butt heads, growling at each other.
The two continue to draw the attention away from the remains of the dwindling mountain until I finally look to them and shout. “Done here!” From my pocket, I take out a small wand-like device and hold it in the air. It emits a strange buzzing sound, which seems to catch the attention of the trio of creatures. “Fall back! This hyper-sonic frequency will attract them.” I keep shouting at my Jane and Captain Swastika as they both begin running from the worms.
“Head towards the Excelsior!” Jane runs toward it with the Captain in tow. The Captain leaps ahead of her but can’t get into the Excelsior. It is locked.
“I got the key, damn it!” Jane yells as she catches up. She unlocks the door and rushes in with the Space Nazi behind her. She presses a button on her wristband, activating her force field. She wasn’t exactly comfortable being alone with Captain Swastika, even for a brief amount of time. He seemed surprised by the move, but looked on as if he were studying her. As the three hungry beasts close in on the pod, I disable the signal, then point the wand behind me as I run. The grass and the dirt in my wake are agitated. A dust cloud begins to form. A green field appears around the pod, just as the trio of creatures start to latch onto it. They begin to squeal and energy cascades around them. I continue charging towards the Excelsior just as a massive flash of light emits from the pod and it explodes. Everything goes white and the ground quakes. For what seems like an eternity, everything is silent except for the column of smoke billowing up into the sky from the crater.
Jane and the Captain exit the Excelsior, which is unharmed by the explosion. She deactivates her force field as she walks around the area, searching for me. The two of them look around.
“Look!” the Captain says, as he sees a hand reaching from out of a huge dirt mound. Reaching out, the Captain pulls me, quite dazed, from the mound and looks at me with a quizzical look.
“I used my wand to loosen the ground particles so when the explosion went off, I had natural cover. It was the best I could do on such short notice.” I explain as I dust the earthen prairie from my legs.
“Holy mackerel! You made it!” Jane says grabbing me in a huge hug. As we embrace, the Captain strikes Jane from behind. She falls to the ground.
“Our truce is now ended. It is time for you to pay, Omega.” Swastika says with a sadistic smile as he begins to move towards us.
“Only a coward would strike a woman. Even worse, you do it from behind! If you wish to sate your thirst for vengeance, I’m afraid you will not be quenched.” I back away and whip the wand back out from my sleeve, like a wizard. “I assume that space suit enhances your movements and your strength— a shame if it were deactivated!” I zap the suit, stopping Swastika dead in his tracks. Unable to move, the angry Space Nazi begins to scream in German, cursing me. He goes to check on Jane, who gets up and looks at him before slapping him.
“Are you alright?” I ask Jane with a concerned look.
“I been hit by worse, Doc.” Jane says with a smile. “Wait a minute, do you hear that rumbling sound?” She looks toward the horizon and sees a group of Native Americans on horseback in the distance. As they get closer, their war cries are heard. “We got a war party of Comanches comin’ this way, Doc! Sometimes they scalp folks.”
I grab her by the hand and rush toward the door of the Excelsior. As we are about to close the door to the ship (which is still disguised as a shed), Captain Swastika yells. “Wait! What about me?! Doctor Omega!”
I look at Jane, then angrily at the Space Nazi, and go inside. Calamity Jame pauses a moment and says, “I reckon you’re about to be hit by something much worse than me, Nazi.” She shuts the door as the war party approaches and the shed begins to fade away.
Inside the safety of the Excelsior, I operate the controls and look at the view screen. It shows outer space in all its glory.
“Where we headin’ next?” Jane asks me. “I imagine it’ll be safe to come back to my ranch in a couple hours.” She kicks off her cowboy boots and sits back on a comfy chair.
“As the old saying goes, my dear, we’re heading anywhere but here. We’ve got all the time in the world together, until you’re ready to go back.” I give her a slight smile.
“Then I suppose you’re stuck with me for now, honey!”
And so Calamity Jane and I, Doctor Omega, continued to adventure further on to the boundaries of reality until one day she chose to head back to the homestead and live out her days on Earth. With my knowledge of her history, I at least wanted her to be able to handle anything the world threw at her. I cherished every moment with her, knowing nothing lasts forever, but knowing enjoying time with someone special can seem like the right kind of forever. She took great solace in knowing that the world was bigger than she ever imagined and that she had the companionship of a man like her very own Doctor Omega.