Here was the brief for the latest short story comp over on the 2000AD forums:
Your topic for a story of no more than 500 words is… (drumroll)…
TALES FROM THE DOGHOUSE
Remember those quirky little stronty dog stories we got when they killed Johnny Alpha off (It’ll never last)?
EVERYONE knows Johnny Alpha, but what about all those other Stronts?
Where’s THEIR stories?
Right here, my friends, in 500 words or less
The votes were counted, the three winners were announced, and they’ve all been good enough to allow us to reprint their entries here. So next up, in 2nd place, our very own star reviewer Eamonn
The bar was empty and Billings relaxed as he walked through the door. No need to watch his back in here.
“What can I get you?” asked the barmaid.
“Saturn ale and a shot of Black. Quiet night?”
“Won’t get busy until the off-world transport gets here tomorrow.”
A transport that was likely to be carrying bounty hunters. He would need to be gone by the time they arrived. Still, no reason why he couldn’t have a little fun tonight.
“Anyone ever tell you that you have lovely eyes?” he asked.
“Yeah, but not usually guys on their first drink of the night,” she replied with a smile.
Pretty nice smile too, thought Billings. “Have a drink with me?”
“Well as it’s quiet I’ll have a small Janx spirit. Thank you.”
As she poured her drink the bar door opened and a man wearing a wide brimmed hat and dark glasses walked in.
“Beer” he said as he took a seat in a booth.
Billings watched closely in the bar mirror as the barmaid served the newcomer a beer and walked back to the bar.
“I’m Anansi. Thanks for the drink.” She held out her hand.
“Name’s Kelso. Nice to meet you.” Her hand felt cool to the touch. This was looking very promising, if he could just keep an eye on that guy in the booth.
“So what brings you to Zamora, Kelso?”
“I’m on … ”
What was his cover story again? The man in the booth had removed his hat but still wore the glasses. What was he hiding?
“I’m on business. I sell skimmer parts.” Time for a bit more of that legendary Billings charm,
“That’s a very pretty broach you’re wearing.”
“Thank you, Kelso. And when you’re not selling? What do you do for fun?”
Billings wiped sweat from his forehead. Why couldn’t he think clearly?
“Fun? I don’t know. Err… do you get many mutants in here?”
“Mutants? Not many. They bother you?”
“No bother at all. Not when they’re dead. That’s what I call fun. Robbing and killing those weird looking scum. That’s why they call me Kelso ‘the killing’ Billings.”
Why was he telling her this?
“Mutant killer. I guess that must make you a wanted man?”
“I’m wanted for multiple counts of murder. I’m guilty as hell and there’s a 100,000 credit bounty on my head.”
He couldn’t stop himself, the words were just tumbling out.
“I think that should be enough,” Anansi smiled and touched a button on her broach. The letters SD swam before Billings’ eyes as she clicked the cuffs onto his wrists.
“You’ve been messing with my mind. You’re one of them, but you look so … so normal?”
Her eyes flashed red, “That’s right, creep. Some of us are just different on the inside. And that means it’s last orders for you.”