The starless night over Death Valley Free Prison rumbles with thunder.
A stone's throw from the walls of Depot lies a pile of bodies. They baked in the sun, these dead folk, for half a day. This morning, they were guards of The Fat Man, servants of The Fat Man, or denizens of the biggest city in the DVFP. Shot down by DVFP Security or each other in their panic to avoid that very fate. Now, they rot in a heap, discarded. Forgotten.
Most of these bodies were stripped down for whatever barter could be taken, the laborers needed payment for their efforts, of course. Still, a mask lies at the bottom of the pile, its innards stripped of all the gadgetry once embedded. Now, it is left behind. Ignored. Worthless.
Thunder rumbles again, this time the clouds above Depot light up with electricity. Rain begins to fall. For the first time in months, rain falls on Depot.
The night sky lights up again as a single lightning bolt streaks down to touch the pile of bodies. An explosion from the impact sends dozens of them flying. At the bottom of the pile lies a monstrosity with a horrendous face. His body is torn and mangled. He is well and truly dead.
Electricity arcs over his skin and his massive right hand twitches.
As the peals of thunder roll across the sky, one bloodshot eye opens. Gigg
, you wake up in a rainstorm surrounded by corpses. Your mask is lying nearby, lit by the lightning rolling in the clouds above. The eyes of the mask bore into you, and Pops is not there. Lala has taken the mask now, she is your companion. You feel no pain.
What do you do?
Chemical change • like a laser beam • you've shattered the warning • amber light • Make me warm • let me see you moving everything over • smiling in my room • you know you'll be inside of my mind soon • There are so many of you • White shirt and tie, white shirt and tie, white shirt and tie, wedding ring, wedding ring • Mulligan stew for Bloom • the only Jew in the room • Saxon's sick on the holy dregs and their constant getting throw up on his leg • Molly's gone to blazes • Boylan's crotch amazes any woman whose husband sleeps with his head all buried down at the foot of his bed • I've got his arm • I've got his arm • I've had it for weeks • I've got his arm • Steven won't give his arm • to no gold star mother's farm • War's good business so give your son and I'd rather have my country die for me • There are so many of you • Sell your mother for a Hershey bar • grow up looking like a car • there you are • All you want to do is live • all you want to do is give • but some how it all falls apart
Since Rich kicked off this new scene with such a vivid tribute to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, I thought I would continue with my own soundtrack tribute to James Joyce's Ulysses in the form of Grace Slick's 1968 song rejoyce as performed by these really cute young people. I think it fits the mood and the theme perfectly of what's happening to Gigg.
My stomach growls, and I sit up for the first time. I notice dozens and dozens of these curious circles all over my bare torso, arms, legs. Circles of thick permanent ink with a tiny number beside them. Each encircling a scabby, scarred hole. My stomach growls again.
From the corner of my eye I see a rat, arms length away, tugging on the flesh of some dead body next to me. I don't even look away from those mask eyes as my hand darts like a lizard tongue and snatches that rat, it's neck snapped and my mouth instantly sucking the warm juices from its soft belly. I remember being out in the courtyard under the 'lectric misting fan, playing with my fipper-men in the sand and gravel, and he brings me an orange with a hole cut through the rind, my tiny hands eagerly clutching it and squeezing, sucking every last drop of juice out of that fruit. Blazing hell that tasted sooo good.
The runoff uncovers a partially buried hockey stick near me. Just like that mask, I know it belongs to me, and I grab it and start to use it to pull myself upright, tossing the flattened carcass to the side. As soon as I put weight on my legs to walk, both my knees pop to the side and I collapse in a tumbling heap back into the muddy ground.
Gonna have to do somethin' 'bout reinforcin' these bees knees.
I start to look around for something, anything. 15 yards away, off to the side of these bodies, I spy the stripped down frames of a few bikes. No wheels, no motors, no chains or gas tanks. Not even a fuggin' seat. But they still got their front forks. I crawl through the rain and mud, lightning flashing and the occasional sound of thunder. The feel of soft mud squishing between my toes, and I remember I don't have my red boots on anymore.
I pull myself up next to the bike frames and instinctively reach for my wrench at my belt, discovering its still clipped there. Sheet fire! Guess nobody wants an 80 year old iron wrench no more. Good for me, and I use it to disassemble the frames and fashion a makeshift brace around each knee to keep 'em from popping outta place. I smile as lighting flashes and reflects off my new chrome and shiny legs.
I see the scurry of another rat, darting into a muddy floral print purse to escape the rain. Huh. I think that's mamma's purse. I squint my eyes and shake my head trying to clear the haze, but I can't picture what she looks like. I grab the purse, and use the hockey stick to pull myself upright.
Yes, Will, these braces are gonna get the job done just fine if I don't say so myself.
I feel the rat running around inside the purse, and I turn it upside down and shake it out. Unnoticed, an old yellowed handwritten memo note flits to the ground and the rain instantly washes and runs the ancient ink. Just as I turn to walk away, I catch another glimpse of the mask now part-way covered in the rising water and mud, its eyes still staring off into the angry desert sky. I take a couple steps and reach out with hockey stick and snag its straps with the blade.
Holding the mask and its hose in my hands for a moment, I drop it into mamma's purse, and sling it over one shoulder, and turn and start shuffling and limping towards the gates of the Depot. My stomach growls again and it reminds me I was headed to see a fugger named Tum-Tum about some little girl who needed a friend.
What do you do?
I call out, "It's me, his son Will Isaac, I'm cold and soaked to the bone, and just trying to come in out of the desert and get some shelter from the storm, friend. You can see I'm unharmed and pose no threat. I would be grateful if you can help a fella out." I hold my hands up to show I have no weapons and then shielding my eyes from the spotlight to try and get a good look at who's guarding the gates.
Can I Read a Sitch?
(Rolled: 2d6+1. Rolls: 3, 3. Total: 7)
• What should I be on the lookout for?
You should be on the lookout for the high alert these guards are on. Something's wrong in Depot, and they're on edge. Dropping Fat Man's name will give them pause, but they're also wary of an attack, a wolf in sheep's clothing.
"Will Isaac?" a woman's voice calls down. "He disappeared years ago. I heard he was dead. Prove who you are!" You can see the glint of steel from a gun barrel in the light of that spotlight, they're aiming at you.
What do you do?
I lean against the Depot wall near the gate and slump into a heap, curling up fetal-like and tryin' to keep what body heat I have from escaping. I remember the mask inside mamma's purse and I pull it out and stare at the eyes for a few moments before slipping it on to keep the rain out of my eyes and face. I wrap my arms around my bare torso and bend my knees as much as they'll allow, and try imaging a place that always safe and warm ... and withdraw in the psychic maelstrom.
Triggering A mother's heartbeat
(Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 3, 2. Total: 7)
• ...Meanwhile, you can still watch and hear what’s happening where you were.
• ...You can re-emerge in a different place altogether. --> Tum-Tum's tent
• ...You are healed of all harm.
• ...You can bring someone in and out with you.
'Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood • When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud • I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form • "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm" • And if I pass this way again, you can rest assured • I'll always do my best for her, on that I give my word • In a world of steel-eyed death, and men who are fighting to be warm • "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm" • Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved • Everything up to that point had been left unresolved • Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm • "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm" • I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail • Poisoned in the bushes an' blown out on the trail • Hunted like a crocodile, ravaged in the corn • "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm" • Suddenly I turned around and she was standin' there • With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair • She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns • "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm" • Now there's a wall between us, somethin' there's been lost • I took too much for granted, got my signals crossed • Just to think that it all began on a long-forgotten morn • "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm" • Well the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount • But nothing really matters much, it's doom alone that counts • And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn • "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm" • I've heard newborn babies wailin' like a mournin' dove • And old men with broken teeth stranded without love • Do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn? • "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm" • In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes • I bargained for salvation an' they gave me a lethal dose • I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn • "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm" • Well, I'm livin' in a foreign country but I'm bound to cross the line • Beauty walks a razor's edge, someday I'll make it mine • If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born • "Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm"
You step through an open door and walk right into Tum Tum's tent. He's lying asleep on his cushy couch, a small handheld electronic device on his chest. You hear the rain outside, music in the distance, too. He hasn't woken up.
What do you do?
That device looks like some kind of dead-man's switch. I chuckle to myself knowing Tum-Tum's about to see a dead man.
"Tum! W-w-w-wake up, man! I-I-I'm freezing, friend. Can-can-can you help me out? Ya got some blankets? towels?"
"Don't fret, I'm just trying to get out of the storm. I knew you'd have a safe place. So, thanks. What about the little teeter? Foster's girl. Did she make it out? What about the Zons? And the others. What did you hear?
I slam down the shot glass and grab Tum-Tum forcibly by the shirt collar and drag him across the table, face pressed to face.
(Rolled: 2d6. Rolls: 3, 6. Total: 9)
When he sees you relax a little, still threatening, he spills, "Junkyard info won't come from me, but you gotta know Fat Man's wise to it. He'll probably send some thugs out that way in the morning." He sits up a little, eyes drifting longingly to the bottle of alcohol.
I raise my hand as if to say enough, "I gotta go some where an' think 'bout all this..." I trail off, but pour myself another shot from Tum-Tum's bottle. Mamma probably wants me to keep everyone safe at the Junkyard, so I need to be out there 'fore morning -- unless I can take care of Pops' thugs tonight... Esco... Sierra... Motley... so many visitations, but what do all these lines and arrows in my head mean and how do I make sense of how to make good on all the evil I've done?
I toss the drink into the back of my throat as best I can. It's warmth draining down to my stomach and it warms my bones in a noticeable way. I stand and scoot the shot glass lightly across the desk at Tum-Tum, those chrome bike forks that keep my knee joints in place creaking and popping. "I'm lettin' you live, Tum, cuz there's one piece of information I want you to give away to anyone and everyone. Make it known to all your people. Tell 'em my name is Will Isaac, and I've come back from the wasteland to claim justice for myself and everyone else that's been used and abused, the playthangs for the rich and powerful, and I'm bringing a Day of Reckoning with me. Spread the word, Tum, and then I suggest you disappear where I can't find you no more."
I turn and walk towards to the flap of his tent, leaving behind a scent of mud and death, stopping only to pick up my mask and slip it back on my face.