Day 38: Dirges in the Dark

Jester pointed his revolver at King. Devil had his gun trained on Jester. The Quartet seemed confused, and pointed their guns back and forth between seemingly random targets–including each other. Jack was singing. King was threatening to destroy the Thorny Crown, his own snub-nose revolver fixed on the Crown itself.

And the Crown waited.

Jack was singing John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom.” He didn’t have a gun, but every so often Devil or one of the Quartet would tell him to shut up and wave their weapons at him. Jack ignored them. He seemed bored.

“A standoff,” chuckled Devil. “How amusing.”

“I’ll destroy it!” King threatened. Despite the panic in his voice his hand was steady as a stone.

“Anybody does anything stupid, this thing ends in a hail of gunfire,” said one of the Quartet. Jester could never tell the four of them apart.

“Fire is my friend,” said Devil with another chuckle.

“That Crown gets destroyed, there’s nothing here for any of us,” said Jester.

“But death,” Devil pointed out. “Which could very well lead you to the same place.”

“I want to go there with my life intact,” said Jester.

BANG BANG BANG BANG–HEYOOOOO,” Jack wailed. It spooked one of the Quartet, who pinched off a spray of bullets into Jack’s chest. He fell back, knocking over the candlestick.

The flame of the candle caught the curtains.

“Fire,” said Devil.

And Jester blew half King’s skull off. Devil blasted Jester’s shoulder before the Quartet riddled him with bullets. Jester picked them off one by one while they were confused, barely managing to fan back the hammer of his gun with his injured arm.

The place was going up. Gunsmoke and firesmoke made Jester cough. Some blood spattered along his lips. He didn’t have much time.

He dropped his revolver and seized the Crown with his good hand. The thorns pierced his flesh, his muscles, even his bone. But there wasn’t enough time for pain.

Jester fixed the crown atop his scalp. Felt it dig in deep, tickling his brain.

Then he moved to another place entirely. An after-place. He was bleeding, but he was alive. He was the only living mortal here. At first, he wasn’t sure he left King’s house. It was cloudy, like the smoke. But he knew this wasn’t the world he was from.

He made it. The Thorny Crown brought him here. It had to be the right place. But he wasn’t sure. It could have been the other place.

He wished he still had his revolver. He would not be welcome.



Today’s random prompt categories were, “Mexican standoff,” “A MacGuffin,” and “Is it Heaven? Or Hell?”

I don’t know why I decided to use the characters from “American Pie” (the song, not the movie), but there it is. I kind of like all the silly nicknames. Especially picturing the Quartet as the Beatles, and the Jester as Dylan. Made the whole scene a touch more surreal. And badass.

– H.


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