want to know

Everything else, basically.

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Re: want to know

Post by happywaffle »


In the barren wastes of western Nevada, Red Boy was rummaging for edible scraps in Carson City when he felt it.

Alongside the quiet river outside of Mission's End, Doc Jenkins was just taking his morning oatmeal when he felt it.

And inside Dicks's abandoned office back in town, Sheriff Brettsdick returned to consciousness one final time when he felt it—and then felt no more.

Meanwhile, as the city of San Francisco rocked and swayed, and those outside the whorehouse struggled to stay afoot, Cleary's lit cigar rolled unnoticed back into the collapsing stables, coming to rest fatefully in a pile of dried straw.
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Re: want to know

Post by happywaffle »

(I've reached Jordan Maxwell levels of anticipation for the next chapter)

(Soooo close to the end, who's gonna bring us home?!)
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Re: want to know

Post by happywaffle »

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Re: want to know

Post by happywaffle »

Tonight, the conclusion gets written…
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Re: want to know

Post by Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell »

The beginning...of the end!


Everything happened very quickly then.

Everything froze then.

A moment. That was all it took. But before it passed in the skip of a heartbeat, it stretched out for the span of eternity.

Cassandra saw the straw catch fire, engulfing Hazel as she cradled Audie’s corpse. Even in the stillness of that moment, Cassandra found it odd that Hazel made no effort to move. But she understood the fatal inevitability of it as she stared up at her own husband.

Jesse saw Cleary scrambling away from the pistol aimed at his head. He no longer cared about the deformed old man, or the Chinaman who had taken the knife from his throat, or the Chinaman’s sister who he’d been so intent on killing mere seconds before.

Nothing else mattered. Only this moment. For all the wasted moments that had passed before it.

They had no more time. They had all the time in the world. Between the space of a breath, they said a lifetime’s worth between their eyes.

“Hey, pretty girl…”

“Hey, cowboy…”

“We made a right mess a’ things, didn’t we?”

“Suppose we did at that.”

“I been thinkin’ back on us, on every step we’ve taken…”

“Along this broken path we been ridin’...”

“I wonder if there was another road to take…”

“But we took the path that was beaten for us…”

“If I could go back…”

“Don’t you dare…”

“If I could change one thing…”

“Not one second…”

“I’d have told you more.”

“...say it now.”

“I love you, pretty girl.”

Cassandra let the breath she’d been holding out. And in that moment, she saw every possibility, every potential, every happy ending she’d ever dreamed burn to ash.

She looked away for only a second, distracted by a symphony of chaos...shattered glass, a gunshot, the cry and whimper of death...and when she looked back, her world was torn in two.

Jesse lay on the ground, a metal rod from the roof above pinning him through his belly. She did not gasp. She did not cry. She walked the few steps to his side, dropped gently to her knees beside him, and placed her hand upon his chest as its rise and fall grew ever more shallow.

“I love you, cowboy.”
Sweetness Prevails.

-the Reverend
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Re: want to know

Post by hujhax »

The continuation of the end!

"A beast lashes out", Baozhai had told Wu Yun, long ago. "A beast panics, and has no choice but to panic."

Wu Yun asked her, his voice quivering a bit, "You can do better deal today, grandmother?"

Baozhai nodded, slowly. "A person, Wu Yun," she said, "a person can choose to be still."

And so they stood their ground, Wu Yun taking his cue from the old woman, until the bear two yards in front of them roared, and then roared again, and then lumbered away.


But sometimes it was so hard to make that choice. Now it felt like the whole world was on fire -- flames were licking up the walls. A broken pipe poked out of the ground like a cracked bone, shooting out flames. The hot, acrid air was painful to breathe, on top of the steady throb of pain that filled his whole body. The whole building made uneasy creaking sounds.

But he had to be careful. He had to be calm.

He took a slow, shallow breath. He adjusted his grip on his knife. He steadily scanned the room, starting at the window Cleary had just crashed through, and then checking the vicinity of the window. Yes. If he could just move quickly, and calmly, he could get out through --

PING! Something loud, something metallic, rang out above him. Not a bullet, but it was like some sickly, misshapen bell had tolled. His eyes darted up.

And there was an impact -- he spun around instinctively, and then -- then he was flat on his back. He was looking into his sister's eyes, and those eyes were wide with shock... strained... looking past him. She pulled away from him. Wu Yun realized he'd stabbed her in the heart.

"What -- how -- not believe your eyes!" he said, confused and pleading. "Was expecting great savings!" he spat out.

Lien-hua shot a look past his right shoulder. He glanced over, following her gaze. A couple of girders had come unhinged from the roof. One of them had impaled itself in the ground, right where he had been standing and watching, right up until his kid sister had instinctively knocked him out of the way.

He looked back at Lien-hua. "Lifesaving remedy," he said. He looked down to where she clutched at the knife. "Cost is only -- only --"

She sunk against him. "Cost is very affordable," she said. And then, in barely a whisper: "Pay now."

Wu Yun sat very still. Then he began to sing, softly, and in a croaking, almost tuneless voice. And as he started singing the song, he realized it was an old song from the temple, a song he hadn't heard in so long that he didn't even remember it past the first few words.

So Wu Yun sat there, his sister cradled in his arms, and sang whatever nonsense words he could think of. He wasn't sure whether to laugh at himself for babbling meaningless nonsense, or to curse himself for forgetting something that he cherished, or both. But he sang the old melody that Baozhai had sung, all those years ago, to sing his little sister to sleep.

He shut her eyes. He lurched towards the window, aimed his gun out the window unsteadily, and pulled the trigger. What had to be Cleary's voice shouted what had to be a choice collection of profanities with whatever was left of his tongue.

He pulled the trigger again, but Killer of Bad Personss had shot its last bullet. He set the gun down, gazed at it for a moment, and then kicked it out the window.

He shook his head a bit, like he was coming out of a dream, and turned around. "Jesse," he whispered.


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Re: want to know

Post by happywaffle »


The gunshot sent Jesse rocketing to his feet... or would have on any other day. On this day Jesse simply found himself prone in the dirt with his eyes open. There was Cassandra. There was the Chinaman. There was the Chinaman’s sister, lying very still next to him. And there was a steel beam, delivered from God straight into his belly. Jesse was dimly aware of how nonchalantly he regarded the last; he’d seen much the same passivity from the dying men at San Juan Hill when he was a boy. He knew that no country doctor or Eastern poultice would remedy this. Jesse heard the noise.

Cassandra dropped to her knees when she saw her husband was still conscious. “Hey pretty girl,” he muttered, though it tasted of blood for him to say. She held her open palms towards him, as though terrified to touch him. That would be a first. “Hey,” she snapped to someone. “Little girl, go find a doctor.”

Jesse lazily swung his head around to see who she was talking to. There was a young soot-covered whore in the shattered door frame of the brothel, staring back at him in terror. 14, maybe 15 years old--who could keep track of birthdays these days, anyhow? Jesse started to apologize, absurd though it was, for posing such an awful sight. But he stopped when he saw the girl’s dimples: one in her left cheek, one in her chin.


Addy Windale.

Was he here with her spirit? Dead already? No. The one girl he had never found, the one who started it all, was standing right here. Delivered by heaven, and just as real as that steel rod in his gut.

Suddenly he knew what had to be done. And he had moments to make it happen.

“Wu Yun,” said Jesse, with a sudden clarity in his voice and his mind. He had to speak loudly to be heard over the noise. The Chinaman appeared over Cassandra’s quivering shoulder.

The noise grew louder, but Jesse’s voice couldn’t match it. He pointed to the girl and mouthed his words carefully. “Get her out of here, Chinaman. Get her to Mission’s End.” Blood was pooling in his mouth, and the noise grew even louder.

Wu Yun showed no understanding, no sympathy. His face was a stone. But as he turned and stepped away, Jesse knew that he would perform this task. And with not a moment to spare. The noise reached a deafening volume. It was almost upon him. He looked one last time into Cassandra’s sea-green eyes. “Pretty girl,” he whispered again, as the noise finally passed over him...

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Re: want to know

Post by jesspasc »


"Hazel!" Addy cried, lunging toward the only woman she knew as a mother. "Hazel!"

"Don't be a fool, girl, she's dead," the other woman said. Addy looked back at her. The scenes could have hung next to each other in a picture gallery. Hazel, kneeling with her arms wrapped around that strange, scarred man, and this other woman gazing down at the limp body of Jesse Calhoun with a detached look on her sooty face.

"Come on," she said, breaking her reverie and grabbing Addy by the hand.

"Hazel--" Addy started, pulling, but at that moment a crack resounded around them and a flaming beam fell between Addy and the pair on the ground.

"I told you, girl, she's dead. Whether she knows it yet or not. Now come on." This time, Addy followed.

The streets outside were unrecognizable. Miss Henry's Sewings & Alterations had toppled sideways like in a children's tale. The corner store where Addy and Hazel had sometimes bought penny candy was on fire and crumbling away. The stables were swaying like they were about to collapse--but right before they went, Addy saw the silhouette of a man on horseback galloping out of the flames. It was the Chinaman who had been in the bar, looking, if possible, even worse than he had then.

"Get…it…up…." he wheezed, barely lifting his head from his chest. His horse, a homely looking nag, rolled its eyes backwards and began to rear. "No, Happy Beauty Pony," the Chinaman whispered, and pat the nag on the neck. It didn't calm, but it stopped its prancing and rearing.

"Get…it…up…" he said again, "Faster…longer…"

"Don't have to ask us twice," the woman said, and threw Addy up on the back of the horse with surprising ease. As she was about to jump up herself, the Chinaman slid down clumsily next to the horse.

"I lead," he wheezed again, clutching his side. When he removed his hand, Addy saw the white of bone sticking through his skin.

"Fine by me," the woman said, and with an athletic leap situated herself behind Addy on the pony.

The fastest pace they could manage was a crawl. As they meandered through the burning city, the Chinaman seemed to have a sixth sense for a path to take. All Addy could do was watch and, through her fear, hope for safety.

"I'm Cassandra," the woman behind her whispered in her ear. "You're Addy, right?"

"Yes," she croaked, her throat lined with smoke.

"I'm gonna take you home, Addy," Cassandra said, and then they were silent. It was an empty promise, to Addy--since she was kidnapped, home had been wherever Hazel was.

It was too much effort to talk, but Addy couldn't help looking. San Francisco had been her home for the last five years, and now it was burning. It was fitting, given the things that had happened to her here, and she wasn't sad to see familiar landmarks present themselves to her as felled monsters, roaring, wailing and hissing as they died.

There were people, too, or, what looked like people. Addy saw a woman carrying what looked like a burnt loaf of bread that she realized after a moment was a bundled infant. She recognized a few members of the homeless teenage gang that roamed the neighborhood, one supporting the other as they called their friends' names into the smoke. As they rounded a corner only a few blocks away from the bar, the Chinaman faltered in his step and Cassandra's grip around her tightened uncomfortably. A one-handed man lay across their path. With his mouth agape, his white teeth and red tongue stood out in contrast to his blackened face. He looked monstrous. Addy hid her eyes. The Chinaman's pause was only momentary; he lead the pony around the man and continued on. Cassandra relaxed. From behind them Addy thought she heard a cough.

They walked for what seemed like forever, and Addy stopped looking. Her eyes glazed and her breathing became shallow and more labored. She barely noticed that the smoke was starting to thin and that she could see daylight in the distance. She didn't even register that the pony had stopped walking until Cassandra shook her shoulders.

"We're out, honey, we're out," Cassandra said, and Addy looked up. They'd made it to a rise and when she turned around she could see the city fanning out behind them, a patchwork of char, brick and flame.

"Take Happy Beauty Pony," the Chinaman said. He must have been in terrible pain, Addy thought, but from his face you couldn't tell.

"All right then," Cassandra said. The Chinaman leaned down and rested his head against the nag's forehead. He closed his eyes briefly and took a deep, rattling breath that seemed to cost him every ounce of his strength.

"Want to meet beautiful Russian girls? Chat now!" he said finally, the trace of a smile on his face. "Bye-bye."

With that, he turned and walked away, back down to the patchwork of destruction.

"Hold on, Chinaman, what in the hell do you think you're doing?" Cassandra said, grabbing Happy Beauty Pony's reins to stop him following his master.

"Wu-Yun…not done…" he replied, so quietly Addy barely heard him.

"You can leave him, Wu-Yun!" Cassandra said, "Just leave him!"

"No," the Chinaman said, "Want to know."

“Want to know what?” Cassandra called as she tried to calm the pony, who was now prancing in agitated circles. Addy slumped backwards onto Cassandra's chest, her eyes fluttering with the effort of staying on the pony and not passing out. Cassandra continued to circle the top of the hill with her eyes trained on the receding figure. Addy struggled to keep her eyes on him, the exhaustion taking her over.

“Want to know what?!” Cassandra called again. The Chinaman never turned around, nor slowed his gait. Within moments he had vanished into the smoke.
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