Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Shape of Things to Come

Excerpts from the journal of one Nathan Bedford, travelling salesman:

(Editor's Note: These events are not in chronological order. As the original journal has been lost and the only typed version did not include years, scholars can only guess at when these events took place. Although we do know the order of some events, they've been ordered by calendar date for convenience.)

February 17
Ran across that Sally Sixgun character again to-day. This time she had a gang with her though. Called themselves The Posse. They were a weird bunch. Besides here [sic], there was some kinda machine that looked like a man, and a huge monkey, some sorta monster looking thing, an injun, and some guy with weird looking clothes and a gun like I never seen. I hope I never see them again.

March 3
Heard about Mel's Hole so I went to check it out. I saw someone throw a dead animal in there, and then a little while later, it just showed up. Alive as it ever was. I got the heck outta there. I'm a Christian man, I do n't need to be in any place doing some of that hoo-doo malarky.

April 24
Met a character called Chin Tiger or something like that. One of those chink names. They all sound the same. He was a railroad worker, like they all are, but he told me that he has magical powers or he's a wizard or something. I don't recall the exact way he said it, but it do n't matter no way, because I think he's just pulling my leg.

June 9
Had some time to-day before I supposed to open up shop, so I went on over to a Carnival of Oddities that was passin [sic] through town. Some of the things in there were fake for sure, but then some others. . . I do n't know. There were strange creatures like giants and fairies, but there were also weird books and maps and what-have-you. Some of that stuff just looked like it had to be real.

June 19
A group that called themselves the Masked Marauders robbed my train at gunpoint to-day. They got away, and only one fellow got hurt. Tried to be a hero and failed. Mostly I'm just upset at the fact that they took all my wares, so this trip is for naught.

June 27
Heard from a fellow salesman about a town in Nevada where a train coming in gets all the folk into a fit and they start having gunfights and generally just running amok. I do n't know how true it is, but I do n't want to find out. This is me making a note to never go there. Palisade, it was called, I think.

August 12
Passed through a small mining town earlier today. Came across a gunslinger the townsfolk called Sally Sixgun. She seemed to be the protector for the area, and she seemed to have gave herself that job, but I was both dumbfounded and dismayed that a little girl - no more than ten - could do the things she could. It was brave, doing a job it seemed like nobody else wanted to, but that's no way for a little girl to act.

October 5
I will never forget what that Fuller Howard guy did for that woman and her little girl. If that's who I think it is, he's not what the stories make him out to be.

October 30
Saw the carcass of that Terrible Beast of Pueblo. I made a special trip to New Mexico just to see it. I would n't of believed it otherwise, and I'm not sure I do even now.

December 24
It's the day before Christmas, and I'm dying. I hope the dear Lord sees it fit to let me live just one more day, so I can spend it with my family. But if some of the things I've seen are a sign of what the world will be like in the future, I'm glad I'll be gone from it soon.


Chad Walters - 2/22/09

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Los Hermanos y Los Lobos Part I

Summary: A disjointed account of Frederick and Dane Quartermane’s journey across the American West and Mexico is full of challenges as they find their destinies seemingly intertwined with that of Marcellus Vasquez and his gang Los Lobos. Their trek is accounted in first person by Frederick himself and is laced with horror, tragedy and adventure as their troubles lead to a startling discovery about Los Lobos and because of this discovery their lives are put in serious jeopardy. A story of devotion, loss, and survival.


By: Catherine Leatherwood(Ms. Marvel)


Los Hermanos y Los Lobos (The Brothers and the Wolves) Part I


Contact


Freddie Quartermane, age 10


“Freddie! Stop! You’re gonna get us in trouble!” my brother shouts behind me, but I don’t care. He’s always naggin’ me about somethin’, but it’s cause he loves me, that’s what my mother always said. Older siblings annoy you because they care about what happens to you. He just wants to protect me and keep me safe. I’m just glad he’s still around. He hasn’t left me like my parents, but I have a feelin’ he’ll leave me someday too, but I’ll hold on to him as long as I can. So even though I’m runnin’ from him, I know he’ll follow me right now. And he’ll keep shoutin’ just like he is now.

“Stop followin’ your stomach for once and use your head!” But I’m so hungry and this lady has a big bundle of avocados in a bag around her hip, and she’s walkin’ beside an old man with a wheelbarrow full of the same fruit. There’s so many they won’t miss one or two so I begin running through the crowded street to get close to ’er. It’s very simple. I’ll accidentally run into her and knock her over, so a couple avocados go missing, but no one is really the wiser.

As usual, my pulse is racing and my heart feels like it might just go pop! and fall out of my chest and hit the ground with a thud. I wonder why though. I’ve done this a million times before. I’m small, fast and very innocent lookin’. No one ever suspects me to be a pickpocket. It could be because most white kids like me belong to very rich families, but who knows? The guy with the wheelbarrow does give off a creepy feelin’, but I doubt he could really do me any harm.

I’m gettin’ closer, all I gotta do is ram her with my shoulder, reach into the bag and knock some avocados into my pockets. I’ve done it a million times before but I’m still nervous. One foot to go. Elbow in, duck and ram up like you’re goin’ through her. Here goes nothin’!

Everything begins to slow down as she starts to stumble, I reach into the bag and then… she regains her balance. She grabs my arm and twists it into a downward motion. A sharp immobilizin’ pain shoots through my arm and I know it’s broken. She’s strong. I look up into her eyes and there’s a wild, animal-like expression in ‘em. I look up into her thick, dark hair and see a blood-red bandana I hadn’t seen earlier. Los Lobos.

My brother Dane is running to a stop and his eyes grow wide when he sees her ‘n me. He then looks to his left at the old man and the wheelbarrow and his eyes go wider still. He pulls a lead pipe out from the pile of avocadoes, bright orange and dark gray against their bright green. He swings towards Alan’s head, but before I can see anything that happens she’s spun me around to face her again. But now her fist is pulled back and balled up behind her head. She lets the punch fly right towards my face, and then…

contact.


Aboard the Midwest Hiawatha


Freddie Age 7


The wind feels good as it blows in my hair. I close my eyes and enjoy the usually dry air that’s been tricked into coolin’ me off by the train somehow. It’s cause it going one way and the wind the other. That’s okay, it feels good. Below my legs and bottom the train is vibratin’ and the wheels are screechin’ like cats as the wheels scrape against the track. I’m sittin’ Indian-style with my hands in my lap enjoying the sounds and feelin’s. The whistle moans a warnin’ for the empty desert to hear, and it seems like no one hears it until the mountains moan right back.

I suddenly feel a little cooler as a shadow blocks the warm sun. I open my eyes and look up to see my big brother with two pieces of bread in his hand and a canteen around his neck. We sit down facin’ each other and prepare to fill our bellies. We’ve been on this train for months. Life is good as we sneak from train to train, making our way around the country. We steal, play, laugh, talk and sing as we see all there is to see across America, but we generally stay in the West ‘cause them city folks will pick ya up and throw ya in an orphanage.

There might also be a war pickin’ up, don’t know why, but some rich guy on the train said it was because some Yankees are tryin' to take their negroes. I don’t even think I’d ever even seen a negro out here until I saw a lady one with some little kids on the Sunset Limited. So I figure we’re safe here.

“Hey goose, what are ya’ doin’? You’ve got food that ain’t gonna last forever. Ya gotta eat it!” he chuckles, “Or I’ll steal it from ya!”

“No way!” I shout back and shove it all in my mouth as we wrestle for it. We’re out of breath from laughing and look out as the sun sets against the mountains. The Midwest Hiawatha will keep on goin' no matter how dark it is and we’ll stay the course. But right now I just wanna enjoy this moment, jus’ me an my brother, and the sun of course- I wish it could last forever.


Gone


Frederick, Age 14


“Hey kid, you ok?” an old man shouts as he leans out of his screen door. I know what he is sayin’, but the words sound muffled. Like someone has a pillow over my face, but I know it’s the blood that’s caked in my ears and starting to dry. From the metallic taste in my mouth to the warmth trickling down my face and drenching my clothes making them stick to my body I know it’s everywhere, but not all of it is mine.

Everything is so blurry I can’t focus and I can see the old man, probably a farmer, running towards me with some big farm hand behind him to help. I’m trying to hold on but each step gets heavier. I can feel every break and tear throbbing in my poor body. Every piece of splintered wood sends me a stinging reminder of its existence and the scratches across my back leave a pain that won’t leave. My blood is leaving my body. They’re so strong and…

I feel the world suddenly slip away and there is nothing beneath me and I begin to fall forward. I land in strong arms, probably the farm hand. All I can do is muster a few words, “My brother…”

“Shhh, don’t say anything. We’re gonna take care of you young man.” The farm hand whispers in a deep, husky voice. He’s tan and wrinkly, reminds me of hide. But I try to continue, they need to know,

“Los Lobos.” I whisper, I can feel the man stiffen and I can’t blame him. They’re feared everywhere. It’s amazing we’ve seen what we have of them and survived, until now. The market place, the train station in La Paz, the woman with the avocados in Saltillo, the meat market in Laredo, in the desert outside the village of Santa Rosa, Blancas, and the Burlesque theatre in Kansas City were all lucky moments. Too many I suppose.

But last night at Clarita’s what we saw shocked our very system and will never leave me. We’ve seen them at their worst, but it was nothing compared to this. It seems we were continuously drawn to them like snakes are to a fire, and it was to see what we saw. What I want to know is, was I supposed to survive? They initially wanted me dead because I knew their secret, but they let me go in the end. We’ve stolen from them and messed up their plans in the past and they had yet to kill us, and now I know their biggest secret and they let me go.

Then again, they got my brother.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Blind Joe

(Epitaph) NEVER SAW IT COMING.


Chad Walters - 2/19/09

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Clandestine Happenings in an Establishment of Ill Repute

El Paraiso, California. They call it "The Gem of the West Coast", but that moniker, much like the official name, is purely ironic. It's a waste of space and nobody lives there who doesn't have to, which leaves it a barren wasteland of squalor and a superb (and therefore popular) place to conduct unsavory business.

Ford Hawks, a stranger around these - and all - parts, did not like to come around here. He didn't like to surround himself with common criminals, for he thought they gave the profession a bad name. But this was the location chosen by the man he was on his way to meet, so that must be respected. He headed down the High Street to the Saloon at the far end. He tried, though sometimes failed, to not make eye contact with anybody else on the road; he had very important matters to attend to, and he did not want a fight breaking out to interrupt that, nor did he want anyone trying to steal his knapsack, or more specifically, the wooden case therein.

Hawks entered the batwing doors of the saloon and almost instantly spotted the cards. He and the other party had never met, so a signal that would point the man out was agreed upon: the Dead Man's Hand. He sat down at the appropriate table in the chair indicated by the hand.

"Greetings," the man across the table said. "I hope your travels were well."

"I got your telegram. Obviously," Hawks said, getting straight to business. "But before we make the exchange, you have to tell me one thing: how'd you find out about it?"

"That must be a joke," the man (whose name was Jonas) replied. "Word about you always travels quickly. And news about Phineas Taylor gets around just as well. So imagine how a story involving the both of you must move! People back East have already heard! But let's not beat around the bush; show it to me."

"Ok. But before I do, I think this transaction should be handled like gentlemen. Go get the two of us a pint, on me," Hawks said, as he tossed Jonas a coin.

Jonas was wary at first; it felt like a trick to him somehow, but he couldn't figure out for the life of him what the trick could be. He let his love of lager get the better of him, though, and took Ford Hawks up on his offer. He removed himself from the table and headed across the room to the bar, where he proceeded to ask the barkeep for the aforementioned beverages. The man behind the counter prepared the drinks and handed them to Jonas, who, after paying, promptly left without leaving a tip. Upon returning to the table, he noticed that Hawks had placed on it the purpose of the meeting. "That's all?" Jonas had to ask.

"What were you expecting?"

"I don't know. I thought it'd be bigger, I guess. But I've heard it was everything from gold bullion to the Holy Grail itself, so I suppose I didn't really have any expectations, except that it's said to be incredibly rare."

"That it is," Hawks replied.

"So what is it?"

"I don't know why you don't just open it and find out for yourself, but it's a revolver. They claim that it was forged from the ancient sword Durendal and that it will only claim the lives of the sinful. But you know how legends are. For all I know, it's probably just a regular old revolver."

Jonas slid the case toward him, undid the clasps, and opened the lid. He looked back up at the man across from him in preparation to say "Where is it?", but before the words could escape his lips, he found the answer he was looking for.

Then the gun lived up to its legend.

Hawks left, tucking the presumably enchanted weapon back into his pants as he did so. He still didn't know if what they said about it was true, though a few more tests should do the trick. But he imagined that it was one of those things where it kills everybody because everyone is sinful in one way or another. Legends are like that.


Chad Walters - 2/17/09

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Riders: Boogeymen of the West

The Riders travel on silent feet
And bring Death to every soul they meet.


Chad Walters - 2/15/09