THE UNDERGROUND | adepts | avatars | rituals | artifacts | dukes | cabals | rumors | unexplained | unnatural | misc | scenarios | mods | fiction | THE OVERGROUND | news | forum | submit! | search | links | downloads | ua-ml | NEWEST SUBMISSIONS | Thin Black Line | Dance of the Red Spiral Part 2: Collateral Damage | Shrekomancy | Ablutomancy |
A trigger event with a Southern drawl.
I was a kid when I saw the Dead Man, sitting around a bar with my pa, somewhere deep in the South. We’d been traveling, me and pa. He was a salesman, don’t remember of what, with clients all over Georgia and ‘Bama. Used to be he’d go it alone, but when momma died there wasn’t nobody to look after me, and so he’d take me along. I’d help him carry out the boxes, big old wooden crates full of packing peanuts, and once in a while instead of making deliveries we’d go for ice cream or a day lazing about a broad, muddy river trying to catch a fish or two.
Anyway, we were at this bar somewhere outside Atlanta. Used to be peach country at the time. Nowadays, who knows? Ain’t no money left in working the land, unless you’re Mexican. Then again, ain’t no money in that neither. Real tough-looking crowd. All big men with faces like cracked leather from being out in the sun all day, every day. Half of them nursing their fourth or fifth whisky too. My pa's into his second when the heavy door creaks open, and in walks this red man with long dark hair, dressed like something out of the 1800s, or a Western film – an old-time suit, with tails and a little bolo tie, a dressy cowboy hat. But it looks like it doesn’t fit, like he’d be more comfortable wearing feathers in his hair and howling at the moon. He sits himself down at a corner bench and leans against the wall, waits for service, I’m guessing. Ain’t that kinda place – if you want something you gotta bellow – but I guess he don’t know. Everybody’s lookin’ at him now, and one of the farmboys stands up… well, at any rate he kinda sways up, then with a tight little grin on his moon face and a mug of foamy beer in his fist, he stumbles towards the stranger.
“Well, well. You’re a real-live Injun, aintcha friend? Why dontcha innerduce yerself?”
Ain’t an ounce of friendliness in him. He’s talking through a smile, but I can tell he’s spoiling for a fight. Injun must’ve seen it too, but he’s as calm as I ever seen a man. Just kinda looks up for a heartbeat, shrugs his shoulders, and goes back to leaning against the wall.
“Hey, now I was talking to you, boy!” the farmboy spits through crooked teeth, and the illusion’s gone and it’s plain as day that he don’t mean Injun no good. “You’d best have the decency to answer a man when he’s speaking.” Walks right up to the Injun’s bench, slams his mug down so hard on the tabletop it looks like it’s gonna shatter. The mug does, and all of a sudden there’s beer spilled everywhere, and all you can hear is tiny waterfalls of gold and foam dripping down the edges of the table to form puddles on the dirty floor.
Injun still sits there, totally impassive, like he doesn’t even realize there’s a storm brewing. Stares at the farmboy for a spell, then he slowly pulls himself up till he’s standing upright. Looks up, right into the other man’s eyes, and says in the quietest of voices, “Your people say that children should be seen. Not heard.”
Well, the farmboy goes beet red. He’s a full two heads taller, and big to boot – a real cornfed Confederate. The Injun’s a small man, and skinny. Got no fear in him though, like he still don’t realize what’s about to happen. Farmboy turns around to his friends and guffaws, and then quick as a milk snake snaps around and whips a meaty fist at Injun’s face. Only it doesn’t get there. Injun steps right inside the big haymaker’s big arc, and drives a palm upward into Farmboy's gin blossom nose. There’s a crack, loud as a peal of thunder. Farmboy reels back and convulses, then falls straight backwards, blood seeping from his nose and his ears, pooling around his head like a red halo. Everything’s dead silent except a drip-drip-drip as the last of the beer finds its way to the floor.
Then Injun looks my way and we're staring eye-to-eye. There’s not an ounce of remorse, or anger, or pity or fear or any emotion whatsoever in those eyes, and I get the sense I’m staring down a coyote or a gator instead of a man.
That’s when it happened the first time. My head started to swirl, and it was like everything was a painting, just shapes and swirls of color – quick strokes of gold glazed with white where the beer had spilled; a heavy, chunky impasto where the blood was fast becoming a ghastly lake. But all that was secondary, entirely beside the point. For a heartbeat, the only thing in the world are those eyes, those terrible inhuman eyes pulling me in deeper and deeper until I can smell trees and smoke and hear a plaintive song broken up by great wracking sobs. And then there's a loud bang and I can smell smoke, and I shoot back to reality real fast - like I'm attached to a rubber band that's been stretched just short of snapping.
The barkeep, Otis, stands there with a smoking scattergun in his hands. Injun stands there with a gaping hole in his side where the pellets ripped through him. Except he's still standing, quiet as night. Then he turns around, walks to the door, opens it, and leaves, trailing blood all the way. The door swings closed with a heavy thud and I can see where the shot has embedded itself in the bloody, grainy wood.
There had been a brief instant, when the gun fired and I was rocketing back into my own body, when everything was still a painting. And reflected in his dead eyes, I saw the Injun’s village burning to the ground, and him standing with one foot in a freshly dug grave.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised when Farmboy’s eternal sleep was interrupted just long enough to croak a couple of words:
“No man can die twice.”
Written at work cause I'm bored to death. Enjoy.
Mattias | profile | Mar 08, 05 | 3:45 am
StreetSamurai | profile | Jan 13, 09 | 12:53 am