Meadow Gold

Grizz's Logs, 03
A New Regime

Late last week I had myself a little chat with our resident Rich Guy, Julius Orange, about the state our town was in. We agreed that Datsun wasn’t the right guy for the job – something about how he’d take a year to complete what should be done in a month on account of how slow he moves his lips. Leaves a man to wonder if he slowed down on account of his leg, or if he was always slow and crippled himself to let the world know.

Source knows stranger things have taken place. Bless the Source.

Commodore came down with an illness, and the Source was no help: the Maelstrom interfered with the Ceremony and spoke to me about the state the world was in. I knew this was a sign that the time to strike was nigh.

Slaves out of town on a water run, the first one the town has sanctioned since Bambi passed (or was blown away, but I s’pose I was trying to keep things clean). Julius and I had ourselves a tete-a-tete, and we came to some terms. He wanted to be the one who offed Datsun, told me about some broad that thought she had found my source. A problem, but one for another day. Bigger fish and all that.

Before we marched on the Palace I led a ceremony to heal the sick. Some sort of illness from digging up the mud maybe, nothing these eyes have seen before. The Source flowed through me and into my people; their fever gave way to fervor and they joined my flock. I gained a Following for the Source; we marched together on the Palace to overthrow Datsun. Our loss were minimal, but his were many. And in the end it was Julius who mowed him down and left him to rot in a pool of his own blood while the former slaves tore down the palace brick by bloody brick.

Change is afoot. The Source has spoken.

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Water Run
Ray

Right. So.

It was the only choice I could make—I backed Datsun‘s play. He said my water truck would stay mine if I’d let him use it, he’d even chip in to help get it finished. It’d be for the common good, yeah? I can’t quite figure his angle, but what he laid out sounded like a step up from the Bambino. Sure enough, a dead Bambino, a little jingle, a few extra hands and a week’s worth of work later, I got the truck up and running (and hooooo boy, that thing ran nice!).

Ran. That’s right, RAN. Past tense.

I ship out with the first run, just to make sure my water-baby works all right. On the way back, full tank and all, up rolls a gang of fucking Marauders. Enough to outnumber our little contingent. There’s a vicious scrap, more than a few folks dusted. They drive off the Free Slave Army guards, and who decides she’s going to take my truck (that she’s been “guarding” this whole run) out from fucking under me but the self-styled head of the Mudpuppies herself. “You weren’t supposed to be here”, she says. (Missed that memo, ha.) “I didn’t want anything bad to happen to you,” she says. Bit late for that, puppy. Her top man flips on her and lights her ass up, and his boys tan my hide before they haul off with my goddamn truck.

So here we are, middle of the dustdamned desert, looking like we’re about to be buzzard food. I’ve been out cold and have just come to, when up comes a man in a raggedyass cloak (the fuck? who wears cloaks these days?) looking like Death On a Horse. Turns out that in all that mess might have been a shred of luck. They’re a traveling freak show, en route to Tulsa. Raggedy Man turns out to be a troubadour, calls himself Palimpsest. Their sawbones (and her imaginary friend) patched us up well enough, I don’t feel like I’m about to shuffle off any more. Apparently I have a concussion (fuck), and have to stay awake a couple of days. I might end up raving without sleep, but at least I might get back to town in one piece.

I don’t know what I’m going to do when we get back. We’re still short water and we’re going to be shorter. Maybe that compacter I sent off to the water road will have made a dent (ha), but it won’t be enough. What the fuck happens now? I’ll find out when we reach Tulsa, I guess.

In the meantime, I’m going to very seriously consider selling the Incredible One-Armed Gun Bunny to the fucking circus.

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Shadow Beastie #4
Nothing Went According to Plan

I have a saying. “When you get woken up by motorcycle noise, it’s either going to be a hella good day or a waking nightmare.” Today was definitely the latter. You see, the first thing I heard this morning was the roar of the full might of the Muddy Marauders. The problem? I didn’t organize an attack. Or feast. Or any reason for them to be organizing. So where are they going? Up runs Glutin. I already don’t like this guy and he hasn’t even said anything. Where is General Tzo anyway??

Glutin comes in spouting something off about a water truck raid. WATER TRUCK??? I had no idea this was the inaugural trip for Ray’s water truck. I know my boys aren’t the most gentle handed types so I knew shit was about to hit the fan and rode out with them hoping to minimize the damage. At this point, I don’t think I could stop them even if I wanted to. They’ve gotten greedy on the riches from the last hit.

I let Glutin ride point. My honor guard ride with me. 4 guys whose loyalty I don’t have to buy with water. We go way back. My 4 horsemen. Or, bikermen. Tic, Tac, Toe and Louie. I can feel the gang slipping out from underneath me and only hope to be able to secure the water truck and thus my standing in the gang with few casualties. The “few casualties” isn’t normally a goal I value that highly. Oh, how things change.

We come in hot and fast, Glutin’s preferred method for taking things. I’ve got to teach him subtlety. My priority is gain control of the water truck. Passenger seat secured. I grab the wheel and look over and it’s RAY!?! What is she doing making a water raid? Shit. Plan B. Protecting her is priority one. I try to talk her into minimizing the damage. The cart is already rolling, we are the horses in front of it.

She’s not having any of it. Doesn’t she see I’m trying to do the best I can?? I’m sorry it’s not good enough. Not near good enough. We can hear water splashing on the ground, and the truck starts pulling like a tire’s gone flat. As the truck slows to a stop, Glutin comes up along the driver door and says it’s time up for Ray. He opens the door and visibly throws her on the ground. I try to regain control and tell my boys to let her go. That we have what we came for. But they are no longer my boys as Glutin levels his flare gun at me. I try to quick draw and catch the sumabitch in the stomach. He gets me in the face with the flare gun. So much for surviving on my good lucks.

I’m thrown to the ground unceremoniously as the gang takes the truck and rides off. I have just enough presence of mind to fall on my back as unconsciousness claims me.

[Indeterminable amount of time later.]

I wake up. Dust has settled over me and into my congealing wounds but at least my wounds haven’t gotten worse. I know I’m in rough shape. I look over. Ray’s not any better. We both need medical attention and the quicker the better. I look around at the post carnage report written in the blood of innocents and bullet casings. What have I done?

Up comes a rider. For a fleeting second, I think it could be one of my horseman. So much for loyalty. But no, it’s a rider in silks and what was once a yellow cape. The triggers a feeling. Carcosa. Shadow. Whipcracker in yellow!! He starts talking about the situation he found us in. I don’t want to talk about it. Help. We need help. He says he has help.

On the way there, Ray tries to sell me. As if I’m for sale! My services, yes. Always. But me, not so much. As they are talking though, I lean in close to the guy in yellow and whisper “Carcosa”. He stares off into the distance at something I can’t see. So I open my mind. I see him conversing with a guy in a crown made of light. Wait, did I see shadow? No, surely not. A being like that wouldn’t be in shadow. As the vision fades we walk into the caravan.

His “help” turned out to be an invisible doctor who doesn’t even know when to amputate. The assistant is good about causing a lot of pain though, a skill even dear old dad would be proud of. After taking what looks like a needle and thread to my leg which hurts like the burns on my face, she rubs a paste on my leg and offers me things to swallow. No devil woman, I don’t need any more of your witchcraft!

Seeing as how I’m as good as I’m going to get, I wander off before I can be press ganged into taking those things. Feels bad man. I lost my gang. I lost my bike. Ray and I, are less injured, but still injured. No water truck. I have no home to go back to.

I need to get the gang back. I need to find the Marked Ones. I need to get my basin back. I need to find General Tzo. I need to get a new bike. So much to do. And all the while, I feel like Carcosa draws ever nearer.

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Shadow Beastie #1 and #2
Gang Time!

It’s been a weird day. One of my members got hanged. Tried to strong arm the barkeep, Julius, into helping me find the last deserter. Shot my archrival- Butch. Took her gun. Got to stretch my legs in a chase. Good day. Weird. But good. And then- things got even weirder.

I show back up the Yard. Not sure why I feel drawn to the place. Or Ray. But I am. And I always listen to my gut. Anyway, I show back up to find Ray had been shot! Now, I’ve seen dad do plenty of surgeries before. Bullets aren’t even that hard to get out. You heat up some tongs, go in after the bullet, and get it out. Done-zo y done-zo. So… why is Ray so hesitant? This shouldn’t hurt much. She’s screaming of course, thank goodness dad isn’t doing this one, he’s not as gentle as I am, and just as I clamp onto the bullet, this … thing… comes flying at me like I’m the devil! Reflexes take over and i jump back out of the way, luckily keeping hold of the bullet.

Come to find out, the thing is a person called Grizz. She immediately takes her hands and puts water on them before putting them over Ray’s wound. The wound heals instantly! But what’s even weirder is that Ray now has a Mark in the exact shape like Grizz’s handprint. And I instantly want to know more about who this person is. I’ve seen Marks like that before.

Before I can ask my questions, Grizz goes spastic and the radio starts playing these weird sounds. All the sudden Datsun shows up. Considering how slowly the man moves, it’s amazing that he magically shows up at what seems to be the perfect time for him. So now, i’m on babysitting duty for the One Who Marks while Ray and this guy have a chat. I don’t mind the busy work for once, a person who Marks is important indeed. And knowing it’s Datsun, we’ll be here a while.

Then Ray comes back and says Datsun wants her water trucks. Grizz like wakes up out of a dream screaming about Bambi being dead. I think she’s talking about the Great Bambino? Not nice to call him Bambi. So I say that i want to go up to the Palace. But Ray says no. Hmm… how to make her think I’ll do what she wants? I don’t think she’s right in that I should stay away. I have work to do. And, I’ve hit my quota of weirdness for the day. So I offer to take the 2 bodies in her yard to my dad’s place to have him burn the bodies with the intention of dropping them off and leaving to head to the palace.

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All According to Plan
Shadow Beastie #3

I haul the bodies back to dad’s and let him know the new experiments have arrived. I know he likes to have spare parts laying around. Maybe he can give toes back to Phil after he lost them last week. All goes according to plan as I drop them off and head straight to the Palace. Rumors are afoot.

The run clears my head as I notice it’s awfully quiet. The lights are off in the Palace. Maybe the rumors are true. I walk in and see no one. It’s too quiet, so I take out Butch’s gun, my most prized possession besides my right arm, and fire a round off into the ceiling. Can’t miss me coming. No one comes running so I’ll go check out the rest of the Palace. I bet I’ll find the Great Bambino in the master bedroom. The door is closed. I’m feeling an adrenaline rush, so boom! The bedroom door goes crashing to the floor as I make my entrance. The Great Bambino is sitting on the edge of the bed with Datsun, of all people, pointing a gun at his head. Next thing I know, there’s the flash of gunpowder and the smell of gun powder, and the Great Bambino is slumped over.

Well that was unexpected. How do I get in the Great Bambino’s good graces now? I was going to be second in command now that I’d proven I was stronger than Butch.

Plan B! Wait, I had a plan A? Oh yeah, work the inside job. Sigh, I’m on to plan B and flying by the seats of my pants. Or rather, by the roaring sound of my Harley. So I try to find out what Datsun’s plan is. “Secure Ray’s water trucks.” Secure them from what? He has water he says. Doesn’t he know the whole town is in a shortage?? This guy might be crazy. And that’s almost harsh coming from me after the day I’ve had.

In comes Julius. He asks a lot of the same questions I did. Then Ray and Grizz come in. Ray has a whole new question and asks about where the slaves are going. “Protect the water trucks.” That’s always the answer. And then it hits me. I’m the threat. I consider pulling my gun on him then and there. But no one knows. Best not show my hand quite yet. I don’t know that I can trust anyone in the current group.

Time to ride out to the Muddy Marauders and figure out how the crew is doing.

General Tzo greets me and reports our biggest haul yet. Raiders are afoot. Caravan coming in. And possibly a war on our hands. My numbers are too few. Too few indeed. But water! I have it. And most don’t. Me thinks there’s recruiting to be done. But first, what visions does my right arm bring me? Visions of happiness? Visions of sadness? Visions of death? Those last ones are my favorite.

No, this time I get visions of yellow and shadow and innocent people being slaughtered by things. Of a guy in Yellow cracking a whip at an invisible team of horses. Of a sign saying “Welcome to Oklahoma.” Of Carcosa.

The word resonates with my soul as i prepare to give my speech. It pours out of my mouth and I’m not sure what I’m saying. So many moving pieces. How did I get to be in charge? But they seem to like it. Glutin, to celebrate, even dumps out a water skin. I admonish him. We don’t get rich by being wasteful. Feast is scheduled. Everything is in place. For what, I’m not sure. But it’s in place. Time to sleep and put an end to this weirdness.

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Why bother?
Julius

I’m beginning to think I may not be the master of my own destiny. Why bother taking up such a active role in the community when everything I plan goes up in smoke. Damn Mr. Cocopuffs I sent him for information, I even made sure my contacts were… perfect… He’s still not back. Instead I got a mess back at my bar. After that dumb shit smoked Jackson V he had the audacity to try and extort me. Between him and Sharon and Mountain the Dude I’m surrounded by idiots. Spent hours after I killed that chump but I played that situation like a song. All because of Bambi…. after all that what to I hear. The Bambino is dead!? Why do I bother playing the game? I could have shot every idiot in that bar and it would have saved me a good deal of time and effort.

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Grizz's Logs, 02
02 - The Reaper

The Source is a blade without a handle. With one hand the Source gives, and with the other the Source takes away.

Market Day is the day of the ceremony. Once a week like clockwork – the poor, the infirm, the thirsty. They come to me for guidance, reassurance, a gentle smile, a blessing. And as the Guardian I do my best to ease their suffering, lead them down the right path, cure their ailments.

This evening it was different: the hangings had just happened, Bambi told the crowd there wouldn’t be water this week, people panicked. They flocked to me in droves; any who usually came alone brought a friend, seeking answers, wanting assurances that the Source would not leave them bereft.

I began the ceremony, and as I raised my hands skyward, appealing to the gods, the heavens opened up and rain began to fall. My people rejoiced: they opened their mouths to catch the droplets, they squealed with glee, the twins each kissed a likely fellow and left him swooning. But the Maelstrom had more for me: it clutched me in its grasp, my vial of water began to glow, first blue then yellow, and in my head I heard the tongue of the Source. A harsh, guttural language, but at the same time soft, melodious. It made no sense, but made all the sense in the world. My eyes flickered: black, then white, and within my mind I saw the faces of those Marked for Death. I watched them die: blown to bits, shot from afar, shot from not afar.

And then Ray’s face swam before my eyes. Her beautiful smile, her guileless eyes, her calloused hands. She was fading away before me. I knew I had to go.

Running is not difficult work – not when the one person outside of your flock you call friend is screaming at you from the Maelstrom itself. I felt no burn in my legs or lungs, and when I reached the gates of Ray’s Yard it was to see them blown to bits. A monster loomed over Ray, clutching a red-hot pair of tongs in one good hand, laughing. Ray was screaming in agony.

I charged.

The monster fled before me and I turned to Ray. Her arm was blistered, blackened from the fires of pain, burning. I wet my hands with water from my vial and pressed them to her skin: sizzling, searing, steaming. When I let her go I saw it there, my hand imprinted onto her flesh. She would bear the mark for all her days.

“You’re a Marked One!” the monster – I recognized her now as Legs – exclaimed. “And you’re one who can Mark!”

Legs didn’t have time to say anything else. Datsun came a’knockin’.

I felt the Maelstrom in the back of my mind, caressing my brain with its tentacles of knowledge, slithering inside my thoughts. Ray’s radio spoke to me, and my vision went black, then white. I saw the Source, but it wasn’t mine, but it was mine. It always had been and never was. Its followers wore yellow, then red, then colors that I can not begin to describe. Everything was right. Everything was wrong. I was alive. I was dead. Drowning. Burning. Garroted. Bambi’s bloody face swam before me – knifed, shot, crushed under the weight of a water truck. Ray’s truck.

The Source giveth, and the Source taketh away. I felt it drain me as it bestowed knowledge upon me. Too many times I had accessed the Maelstrom this evening; it punished me, the errant guardian, the wayward child. It was not to be trifled with. I would need to offer a sacrifice when I returned to the warm springs of the Source.

Legs and Ray were arguing about Bambi, but I saw him die. Ray did it. She said she didn’t but she did. I saw it. Crushed under the weight of her truck. She said it doesn’t run yet, but the truck killed Bambi all the same. Legs seemed disappointed, kept repeating something about “Leg Day,” Butch skipping it. Maybe it’s her birthday; maybe she killed Butch for want of presents.

Doesn’t she know there’s a shortage this week?

Ray thumped her radio real good after Legs took off to burn the bodies. I don’t think it was the same thump that came from the slave quarters; that one was louder, like a skin drum. After a few beats it quieted.

The smoke spoke for it.

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Useless Things
Julius Orange

Strange times have a way of delivering strange fortune and today was some _strange times. A triple hanging and a water shortage. People get upset when there’s no water. Find me a water shortage in history that didn’t get out of hand.Now my old best customer is wanted by the Great Bambino. Well he was my best customer. He won’t be with Bambi’s guys after him, or the that saucy one with the tight corset and the wooden arm. Jackson V is useless now and useless things have a way of disappearing….

Helping catch him discreetly may have endeared me to the Bambino but when he stumbled into my bar he became too close for comfort. I only sent Cocopuffs for the information not the man. If this is his doing he overstepped. I can’t be seen to publicly feed on my patron’s demise nor can I be seen to publicly oppose the Great Bambino. This will force my hand in an unpleasant direction. One thing is for sure Jackson is worse than useless now. Maybe this disappearing act needs an assistant.

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Market Day
Ray

I wasn’t expecting a hanging today. Three guys dusted, a two-span bounty out for a fourth (fifth, Jackson the fifth). Deserters, says he. (Which he? What he do you think.) Didn’t expect an offer on my water hauler project, neither. Not an offer (ha) so much as a demand. Turns out the Great Bambino doesn’t take no for an answer.

He doesn’t want just the truck, that’s the problem, right. Wants all the trucks. A little bird (big scary bird) let me know ahead of time, but I’m not having it. I got water, I’m not so bad off as the rest of town if a run heads down Route Guano ‘stead of back to Tulsa. I can count on Grizz for that (bless the Source). We talked for a minute at the market— I don’t know if that child of a man’s on to what Grizz’s got, but if he finds out there’s no way it’s gonna be good. No way he’d let that kind of competition sit.

…. what the hell was that?

Okay, so the Great (ha) Bambino really, really won’t take no for an answer, and now there’s one dead Butch in my Yard (aw FUCK no) and I’m gonna close this door and hope the goons leave me be. I am in for a world of hurt if they bust in here. Maybe this was a bad idea. Maybe I oughtta just bail and hide out somewhere. But I can’t just leave my Yard. They’ll wreck it. I don’t touch what’s not mine (law, that) but they don’t play the same rules.

This is not gonna be a good night.

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Grizz's Logs
01 - The Hangings

Went to town today. Mozilla came with. It’s Ration-Day, and while I don’t have any need for the water the others rely on (bless the Source), I enjoy the time to peruse the market, catch up with old acquaintances, and listen for news of other followers.

Ray was in her stall tinkering with her trinkets. She does good work. Always has the answer. Good woman. I like her. I think Mozilla does too, but Mozilla is kind of hard to read. Mozilla likes to correct me when I call Bambino “Bambi.”

“That’s a whipping,” Mozilla says.

I like Mozilla too. I like most people. Maybe not Bambi. He killed some guys. Hanged ‘em. Strung ’em up real good. Ray says it’s because they deserted the water train, but I don’t think that’s worthy of a hanging. Maybe they was just sleeping. Maybe they got lost. I bet Bambi didn’t ask.

It makes me mad. Their lives weren’t his to take. Don’t touch what’s not yours, that’s the rule. The Source doesn’t look fondly upon those who break the rules.

Ray said she’s making a truck. Like for water. Water truck. Maybe I could use it, bring some water in. No water this week, Bambi said. How can they live without water? I can share. More followers for the Source. I’ll talk to Ray about it tomorrow. She thinks Bambi might get mad, but if I’m helping his people (they’re not really his, just the slaves, but that’s not right) then how can he be mad? People die without water. I’ve seen it.

I gave her a blessed vial before I went on my way. People to talk to, Jackson V to find. He’s wanted as a deserter so Bambi can hang him too. That’s not right.

I stayed close town tonight for the ceremonial preparations. Heard a loud bang, some shouting. Hope everything is okay.

Bless the Source.

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