Thursday, April 2, 2009

From the Nuz: Stirring Looper Guts

"Haw. Haw-haw HAW." His overemphatic hacking could only barely be accepted as laughter. His mouth and his empty eye socket gaped at Caleb like two wounds made by the same weapon. "It was jest Louis an' me for a month. After that, I been here another week." He was madder than a loon – and only in the space of a month and a week? It was easy to see how he had gone mad – he sat in front of the fire stirring the kettle of meat preserves as it sat in the glowing, coal-like embers – but so quickly? "Oh, balls, nothing better than that smell, that burning sperg smell. Like to keep the place filled with the smoke, reminds them loopers what's what an' who's the head honcho around here ta smell their own fat burnin'."

The smoke was sharp like pine, acrid like rubber. It filled the second story room. Reddish pieces of blubber floated in the kettle as he stirred. It could've been turkey necks, except for the yellowish oil that rose from it in waxy bulges as the meat cooked, and except for the lack of bones. "The company had us established here as a mine, and Louis an' me were the rock men. Just me an' Louis and ten men, hard workers an' Indians, two packs. They done went their separate ways. The white ones went straight to hell with no scalps, I reckon. An' the Cibecue went off nuz. Nuz is that way," he said, and he indicated the direction by pointing down the beach. "Ain't no north south east west I decided. Shit on you if I know what happened to 'em. The Apache. There's nuz and there's zun." He indicated his directions again, and pulled his spoon from the kettle a little too quickly, slinging broth about.

There had been no change from day to night. Perhaps there was a sun here, somewhere behind that higher-than-high wall. If there was a sky, Caleb had no sense of its place – there had been a breeze over the blue waters, but no horizon. He had never considered being in a world where there was no sky. Arizona had a big sky; this place had only the weight of the wall and the fog, and a stony beach, into which this man's mind had surely been ground.

"So, I sang a lot to myself about Suzanna an' I took to eatin' the black bugs. I can play the fiddle, but ya ain't got one, an' I done shat on that idea already. That idea, I mean, going back to globe and fillin' the whore farragut fulla daylight and takin' up the stringer-dee agin. Oh Suzzana! Don't you cry for me!" He wailed, it wasn't anything like singing. He had two plates. "Louis'," he said as he spooned a hunk of boneless meat onto one of them and extended it to Caleb.

Caleb took the plate in his hand and sat it down in front of him. His gun had been drawn the entire time.

"So, pardner, ya gonna shoot me soon?"

"No. Keep talkin'. What were ya minin' for?"

The Old Man spooned another piece of meat onto his own plate. "Ya sure?"

"No – yes – fuck you. Tell me the story."

"That's all the story there is. Don't care what we was minin' for, it's all still in there. I'm all done talkin' about harshus now. Been here a while, you know. I'm thinner now in my guts. My skeleton's gotten all small, and you see pardner I got no eye, them little black ones take your face if you're not up high enough when you sleep. Learnt it the first night here. Can't see no more can't talk no more!" He stood up. "Just go an' shoot me! Just put the bullet right in here ya sopping donkey's cunt!" He pointed to his eye-hole, touched the dry gouge with his dirty finger tip. "Yessir, dude, I don' care about your face or your balls, but by my balls! I am not livin' much longer now just do it, goddamn you and then shoot yerself. In the face you whore lickin' son of a bitch cunt monkey takin' a stroll on a stony beach like it's picnic season."

Caleb didn't respond.

"I fucked yer mammy til she called me Joseph," he said, almost as if asking a question.

Caleb watched the Old Man.

"Then I gave her to my Yaqui buddy, Loo Loo, and he strung her up like a brave by her ears and sodomized the old bitch like . . . like the fooker gollamphed on her like a cow trick on you turd."

"Sit down. Eat yer slop."

He bent over and picked up his plate. "This here yarfle slop in my gout? Eat it? Strip it? Here you have it!"

He slung the plate at Caleb, who fell onto his right elbow, managing to avoid the plate itself, but not the splattering of yellow oils and stewed ocean water. Hot droplets smelling like the fruited breeze from earlier landed on his neck, burning him.

"Ya like sperg, ya bafflin' turd? Ya like looper meats?" challenged the man as he stomped into the fire, throwing half-melted bits of glowing red looper flesh across the ground. "Here, fuck you! Shoot me!" He kicked the flesh-embers at Caleb. One landed squarely on his pant leg. It wasn't coal, but it was hot like a coal, and it was very near his groin. The Old Man took advantage of the moment and leapt through the fire. Standing over Caleb, he raised one foot in the air. "You shoot me! You shoot me now!"

(Caleb has been burned by a bit of fat! -1 hit point. This is combat! Initiative is on Caleb.

Thelonius passed a sanity check. -2 sanity for being thrust into this alien and confusing situation. Thelonius will be feeling the stress of the cumulative sanity losses, though he will not be insane.

Please include descriptions of your characters in your comments. To clarify, the scene is taking place inside a room, which is connected to a cave. In the orange glow of the fire, the stones from which the room is constructed seem to be made of dark stone taken from the cave. In this room there is also a pickaxe, and two sets of stone stairs cut into the wall of the cliff (into which the cave extends). One goes up, one goes down. Behind Thelonius, the cave is dark and seems to continue on an ascending grade.)


  1. "Fine!" Caleb snarls, letting his .45 do the rest of his talking.

    The Old Man shrieks as his good eye explodes in his skull. He twirls around, a trail of blood hangs briefly in the air. He crashes to the ground.

    "Shit," Caleb says as he stands up and wipes himself off. The burns seems to have done little noticeable damage to his monochromatic clothes. Head to toe Caleb's dressed like the stereotype of Western Badman. Covered in black: hat, kerchief, knee-length jacket, leather vest, a pair of gloves tucked into one of his belts, button-down shirt, chaps, jeans, boots. The only color on his body are the pair of gunbelts around his waist, his bandoleers, and the winchester repeater rifle strapped to his back.

    His dark brown eyes dart over the Old Man. With his off-hand he brushes back shaggy, unkempt dark brown hair and scratches the several days growth of stubble on his face.

    He keep his .45 aimed at the Old Man, while pulling a cigarette and match out of his pocket.

  2. Thelonius just stands there, slack jawed and surprised as the scene plays out before him. He's dressed in a rumpled brown suit, dingy white shirt and loosely hanging yellow and blue striped tie. In his hands is a 1920's style camera, a bulky yet portable device recognizable to anyone who has seen one of the older, tripod mounted models of the previous century.

    After several moments of inactivity, Thelonius raises the camera to his eye and snaps a picture of the bizarre scene. A *flash* of light bursts from the darkness of the cave where the man is standing.

    Thelonius fiddles with his camera, obviously preparing the device for another photograph.

    (ooc - I'm on vacation until a week from Monday. I may post before then, but maybe not. Sorry :-9)

  3. Caleb is about to strike his match, then a flash of light gets his attention. He returns the match to his pocket, rolls his cigarette around in his mouth with his tongue, and draws his off-hand pistol.

    He looks over at the cave leading upstairs. "Louis? That you? I only shot yer pal cuz he was fixin' ta destroy me. And if someone there and you ain't Louis, come on out, we can talk this peaceful-like. And if no one's there then I'm talkin to myself and goin..."

    He looks down, "Shit..." then returns his gaze toward the cave.

  4. The reporter stepped out of the cave, letting the camera dangle around his neck as he held his hands up.

    "I'm not's Thelonius...Thelonius Jones. I'm a journalist from New York."He kept his hands in view, hoping that the gunslinger didn't have an itchy trigger finger.

    "Given that this is my hallucination, would you mind telling me who you are?"

  5. Caleb pauses for a moment, tilting his head to the side as he studies the reporter. He releases the hammers of his pistols as he returns them to his gun belts.

    He smiles as he takes out a match. "M'name's Caleb. An' I would ask ya what broughtcha so far from New York, but yer last question sorta answered that."

    He strikes the match and lights his cigarette. "And if it makes ya feel better, up until a minute ago, I thought this was my hallucination, too. Ya get over that feelin' once ya shoot a man," he says with a smirk.

  6. Thelonius slowly lowered his hands as he approached the gunslinger.

    " you have a surname? And I'm guessing you're from out west somewhere, given your cowboy like demeanor."He extended an empty hand to the man, expecting a shake in return.

    "Care to swap stories on how we got here?" I have a few ideas, but before I bias you with my viewpoint, i'd like to hear your own."

  7. Caleb looks at Thelonius's extended hand, then nods, sliding his right hand against the brim of his hat as his own form of greeting.

    "Yeah, I gotta surname," he says as he heads over to the kettle, unceremoniously dumping out the remains of the 'dinner' on the floor and filling it with water from a nearby trough before setting it again on the spit over the fire.

    He grabs a chair to sit near the fire, taking off his kerchief to wrap it around his hand. He looks over at Thelonius. He takes the cigarette out of his mouth. "As fer how I got here, not too sure o' that myself. I was in Arizona Territory, I had just fought this... thing. This beast. Lost a good friend. I wanted to make sure the beast was dead. So I stayed in its lair, burnt its remains." He gets a distant look in his eyes. "Everything seems like a dream. The smoke, the smell of that burning beast flesh. This... this vein of something. Looked like silver, but it mighta been that stuff the panhandlers used to get gold with. Mercury. I think I felt the vein... calling to me? I think I went up to the vein and touched it. Felt like hair. No, not mans' hair, not beasts' fur... somethin' in between."

    The kettle starts to whistle. He snaps from his reverie and notices the inch-long pile of ash on his cigarette fall to the floor. He flicks the ash to the side as he takes the kettle off the pot. He sets the kettle on the table and folds his kerchief up as a bandage. While he does this, he says, "An' then I was outsida here. Heard somethin that sounded lika buncha... sellos tontos... silly seals, Maria used to call em," he smiles as if lost in a memory.

    He touches the kettle, seeing if it's cool enough. "Anyway, I hopped on over here, found this poor fuck who lost his shit sometime ago. Tried to be nice, but, well..."

    He gingerly dips his kerchief into the kettle, blowing on it as he does so. "So, yer turn, friend."

  8. Thelonius shrugs, frowning lightly as the gunslinger eschews the handshake.

    He pulls up a chair of his own and gingerly sits upon it, as if he were afraid it would shatter under his weight. Satisfied with the sturdyness of the furniture, Thelonius takes off his battered fedora and sets it on the ground by the fire.

    He brushes at his short, mousy brown hair that is plastered with sweat against his pale forehead.

    "I had an encounter with a similar silvery substance myself, but this was a drug, or a distillation of some sort made by a group of occultists. If we are to believe them....we are in what is more commonly known as the Astral realm. Our bodies are still where we left them, mine in New York, and yours in Arizona."

    He pauses, rocking back on the chair as he attempts to judge the gunslinger's reaction.

    "Back in New York, I had encountered a swami who claimed to understand this." He made a sweeping gesture at the room about them.

    "The man had a good grasp of occult lore even if his knowledge was bound by the limiting trappings of a specific dogma."

    At this point in his rambling, Thelonius reached into his jacket pocket, pulling out a rumpled packet of Lucky Strikes. He shook a cigarette into his lips and offered a smoke to Caleb.

    Lignting the cigarette via the fire, the reporter continued, "So that's about all I know. I think I have an idea about how to get back, but I'd like to do a little exploring first. It's not every day one gets to see the Astral realm...or a very vivid dream..or whatever this is."

  9. Caleb nods to Thelonius as he takes the cigarette. He gives it a good sniff then, satisfied, moves his hat back so it's hanging off his shoulders and lights the smoke off the fire.

    "So, we're in an Astral Plane that a... er... swa-mee toldja about. Hunh."

    He smiles, shaking his kerchief. "Well, considerin' this might still be a weird dream or vision from one of us, I hope ya won't mind this."

    Caleb stands up, unbuckling his belt, sliding down his pants and chaps. He wraps the now-chilled damp handkerchief around his burned thigh, tying it tight, before he pulls his pants back up.

    He sits back down and smiles, "Sorry bout that, friend. That som-bitch burned me up what good."

    He pulls out one of his .45s and reloads it with one more shot. "As fer exploring, shit, I'm with ya. I ain't gonna pretend I know halfa whatcha said, but hell, ain't got shit else ta do. There ain't much outside but a buncha black rocks, little bugs that, apparently, eatcher face, fog and weird creatures in the water that sound like Elephant Seals. Though, I am curious ya know th' way outta here."

    He returns his pistol to his holster. "Oh, and it's Black. Caleb Black," he says with a nod.

  10. (ooc) By the way, I so wasn't going for some weird Western Porn, I was more going for some busting out with First Aid, Danny :)

  11. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Black."

    Thelonious watched as Caleb bandaged his wound. He took a long drag off his smoke, exhaling a cloud into the fire before continuing.

    "The way out, and mind you I'm only going on what I have from the Swami, may involve a chant. Perhaps it is a mesmeric trigger to awaken us from our vision, or perhaps it is as the Swami indicates, an occult ritual of some sort."

    "If you wish, I can write down the chant and you can try to leave whenever you wish. I would like to take a look around, albeit it briefly. Given that you are armed, and clearly a man of skill with your weapon, I'd appreciate it if you would stay around a bit in case any of those creatures threaten me as I explore the area."

  12. Faintly, things grumbled outside and below. Their voices were hybrid grunts, like the coughs of cattle and the grinding of saws through ancient hardwood. Were these "loopers"?

    Caleb figured they were close, but there was no telling where they were. He might go downstairs and check through the front door - a glance through the stairwell confirmed that the door remained shut.

    This was not the first time that it had occurred to Caleb that he hadn't actually seen a looper. There was no good reason to think that any creature that belonged to this place would bear any resemblance to the beached giants of his youth.

    Thelonius was already sizing the ladder up. What would an astral being look like? Would it be the ideal version of an earthly creature, as would hold Plato? Perhaps the grunts belonged to a being of stardust, a creature composed of the celestial substances that bound men's souls to the planets? Would it be an angel? Those were the most far-fetched ideas - Thelonius felt sure that angels would not sound like giant, hollowed-out pigs.

    A dream creature, then, a phantasm? It could be anything, then. What guidance were the modern mystics? Those croaks could be issuing from the throat of a member of one of the old races that had once civilized Earth long before humankind - so might Blavatsky and her Theosophists suggest. Dagan and Romier had written about traversing the astral plane in a state of altered consciousness, based on techniques taught by Crowley. In their travels they claimed to have met doglike entities on the astral plane, and to have wrestled them. Thelonius had no such notions.

    The men heard the sound again - it was almost like honking, but deep, raspy, and elongated.

    The cave's mouth was silent.

    (Thelonius passed an occult check. Thelonius and Caleb both passed listen checks. Also, Caleb successfully applied first aid to the wound. +1 hit point.)

  13. "I'd be much obliged if you could write me a copy of that... er... chant."

    Caleb stands up, flicks the remains of his cigarette into the fire, and walks over to the stairwell down (nonchalantly stepping over the Old Man's corpse as he does so).

    "Way I reckon, either we can go back down to the beach, look at all the critters down there. Buncha bugs when I came up here. Or," nodding to the ladder leading up, "we can get a clear view at whatever lies up above. There's the cave you came outta, but I reckon you already know what's on the other side. Also, we could wait and see if these looper critters come and eat the rest of our friend here's face. Not too sure I wanna see the latter of that."

    Caleb pauses at that thought then draws a pistol.

  14. Thelonius listens to the gunslinger, then pulls a notepad and pencil from his jacket pocket.
    he writes on the pad, tearing off the top sheet and handing it over to Caleb:

    "I think we should take the high road. that sounds a lot better than a beach full of bugs."