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Naturally I have it,” said Dante. He sat with the gun on his lap on a splintered bench seat in the home team dugout. Peter was right about the field. The rain had turned it into a pond a half-inch deep. Shiny mud, sticky as clay, made up the rest of the area. If it weren’t for the gravel pathways between the fields and to the dugouts, the field would be inaccessible. The outfield had turned into a swamp of knee-high weeds and grass gone to seed. The homerun fences had long ago rotted out, transformed into a sodden tumble of bad wood and faded advertising, and the chain-link that separated the field from the bleachers whose seats were long gone, and that surrounded the dugouts had rusted. Big sections had been bent or pushed down. The old concession stand, a cinderblock building, had one wall that still stood. The rest were reduced to piles of broken cement.

Peter sat beside Dante, dumbfounded. He hadn’t even tried texting him about the gun. He’d trudged to the field, playing out how the conversation would go. Either Dante would think that Peter was holding out on him, or he’d blame him for not taking care of it.

Why would someone take the gun but not the translucent bricks? he’d thought. As soon as he saw Dante holding it, he knew.

Dante laughed. “You always hide stuff in that trunk. I ditched 8th period and went by your house to pick it up. I thought I’d get a head start on figuring out its capabilities.” He picked up his notebook. “I wrote down the symbol and what it does. We already know about the fire ray and the x-ray. So, try this.” He pulled the trigger, which brought the screen up. “Press that one.” The icon looked a little like “3lh” all squashed together.

Peter pressed the icon, and the gun clicked in the now familiar way. “What do I do?” he said. Pointing the gun felt like a suicidal act. Anything could happen.

“Aim at that bottle.”

A nearly submerged beer bottle poked its neck up near the pitcher’s mound. Peter took a deep breath before triggering the mechanism. A thin-lined red crosshair appeared. He centered the sight on the bottle and pressed the trigger a second time. For a second, the gun pulled slightly against his hand. At the same time, the bottle stirred free from the mud and flew toward him. Peter started in surprise. The bottle stopped in mid-air, a foot from the gun. A bit of mud zinged off it when it stopped and stuck to Peter’s knuckle. When Peter released the trigger, the bottle dropped to the mud at his feet.

Dante said, “It’s a tractor beam. I’ve already tried it on a bunch of stuff. You can’t grab anything too big, which makes sense. If you tried to attract a bus, you’d just lose the gun. It’s got to be something small, and it won’t work on something too far away.” He checked his notebook. “Now try this one.” He had copied the symbols that looked like a square made of mostly vertical lines and a broken letter “K.”

Peter put the gun in his lap. “Maybe we should turn it in to the police.”

“Are you crazy?”

“The police would know what to do with it. Just having it feels illegal to me. We’re being stupid.”

Dante frowned. “Not stupid. Smart. We found the gun in the dump. Clearly it was thrown away.”

Peter thought about how neatly the metal had covered the duffle bag. “Hidden” would be a much better description of what he’d found than “thrown away.”

“No, really. Try this button.” Dante pointed to the next icon in his notebook.

The gun felt solid in Peter’s lap. In Jurassic Park, the kids picked up a piece of equipment. Another character said, “Is it heavy? Then it’s expensive. Put it back.”

Reluctantly, Peter pressed the trigger, found the icon and touched it. The now familiar click within the gun tapped his hand.

“Now point it at the bottle again.”

Peter aimed. As before, a crosshair allowed him to pinpoint the bottle. He pulled the trigger, and the bottle flipped off the ground as if he’d kicked it, stopping a foot away, quivering in the air a few inches above the mud. He swung the gun from one side to the other and the bottle moved with it as steadily as if it were attached with a metal rod.

“Aim up and pull the trigger.”

Peter squeezed the gun. The handle pushed back into his hand while the bottle took off toward the clouds. It splashed down about where second base would be.

“That’s a repulsion ray, I guess. Like the tractor beam, it only works on small stuff, but it can shoot a rock pretty hard. Farther than a slingshot, anyways. I’m not sure what these three functions are. Dante pointed at the next icons on his list. “This one turned the screen black, but the gun didn’t do anything. These two gave me a fuzzy screen, like static. Maybe the gun needs a Wi-Fi signal for those to work.”

Peter doubted the gun needed anything as prosaic as Wi-Fi. “How many have you figured out?”

Dante counted. “Five that we know for sure. Three that I haven’t got yet. That leaves forty more possibilities. I’m hoping there’s one that turns lead into gold, or maybe an education ray. I could choose what I want to learn, point it at my head, and all the knowledge would be there. I wouldn’t have to take two more years of Spanish.” He laughed, which sounded like the Dante Peter remembered. The one who was goofy and fun. Not the one who told dirty jokes and swore a lot.

Peter pictured the burning tree. “I wouldn’t aim that at my head on a dare. Maybe it has a birthday cake setting. I could do with cake and ice cream right now.”

A cool breeze that felt more like winter than summer ruffled the water on the softball field. The low-hanging clouds looked like they were ready to soak them again.

“Or a hot chocolate mode. We’d just need a thermos to store it in.”

“Wait a minute. I know about the x-ray, the tractor, the repulsor, and the fire setting. That’s only four. What’s the fifth function we know about?”

Dante took the gun back. Peter buried his hands in his lap. It really was getting cold, and the chain-link fence that enclosed the dugout did nothing to stop the wind.

“Hmm. This may be a hard one to demonstrate.” Dante stood, stepped out of the dugout into the mud, and scanned the field carefully. “I need an animal.”

“You’re not going to kill something are you, like by melting it or blowing it up?”

“Nope, nothing like that.”

On the telephone lines that ran along the parking lot, three birds clung to the wire, side by side, a hundred yards away. “How about them?” Peter pointed.

“Good enough, I think. Let’s see.” He called up the screen, chose an icon, then pointed at the birds.

The gun hummed or whined. Other than the click, it was the first time Peter had heard it make a sound. The birds panicked into flight, fleeing as if for their lives.

“There was a dog when I got here. I aimed at him, hit this function, and he took off in the other direction, barking like I’d set his tail on fire. Whatever it does, animals don’t like it.”

A car pulled into the gravel parking lot at the edge of the field. The doors opened, releasing smoke from the inside. Four seniors Peter recognized stepped out. They hung around the convenience store near the school, smoking cigarettes and scaring middle school kids. One of them he knew from when they went to elementary school together, Travis Washington, but he’d been going by “T-Man” for a couple of years. He sat in the back of the room in Peter’s sophomore Geography class, smelling like a bad day in a bad bar. It wasn’t T-Man’s first time in the class. Between the four of them, they didn’t have enough credits for one of them to be on course for graduation. They were what the counselors called “super seniors,” the kids who wouldn’t graduate with their class, if they graduated at all.

Peter and Dante avoided them more from instinct than conscious decision.

“Uh, oh,” said Dante as the four boys strode up the path toward the dugouts. “I think we’re in trouble. We won’t be able to explain this.” He looked at the gun.

Peter, trying to act casual, checked around them. The mud would be over their ankles, and if they ran, then the boys would know they had something to hide.

T-Man spotted them, elbowing one of his buddies. His comment was muffled, but the other boys looked at Peter and Dante and grinned.

“Shit,” said Dante. “What are we going to do?”

“Bluff it out. Put the gun in the bag.” He held open the backpack. “Maybe they’ll leave us alone.”

“Not much chance of that,” said Dante. He pulled the trigger, calling the menu screen to view.

“You can’t,” said Peter. He imagined Dante turning the four boys into human reenactments of the flaming tree from yesterday. They were only twenty feet away.

Dante brought the gun up before Peter could stop him, aimed and fired.

T-Man and the other boys screamed in terror or pain. Peter couldn’t tell. They turned and ran straight for their car, which wasn’t at the end of the path but parked off to the side. They splashed through the mud. One of them fell with a huge splash. The others left him to struggle on his own, slipping down again before breaking free. He looked back at Peter and Dante, who kept the gun trained on him, the trigger compressed.

The car started. Gravel shot from the tires as it careened from the parking lot, clipping one of the gate posts on the way. The boy who fell ran after it, water and mud flying from his coat.

Dante put the gun down. “Well, that was effective. Chases off stray dogs and hoodlums. Who would have thought they would have an app for that?”

Peter closed his eyes in relief, letting his weight rest against the chain-link fence.

“I was afraid you were going to burn them.”

Dante put the gun in the backpack. “That was my next choice.” He met Peter’s eyes, and Peter knew that he looked horrified. “I’m kidding. Really.”

Peter zipped the bag tight. “I know,” he said, but he wondered if he meant it.

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