Wings in the sand.
An unmovable sword.
He has been walking for days
across the barren wasteland.
He imagine himself a pawn.
A pawn placed in the path of a mighty queen.
A small beam of light penetrated the ragged curtains and hit Oliver Cavanough in the eyes. He squinted in annoyance, turning his head away in a childish attempt to postpone the break of noon.
"ugh…” He let out a small whimper before having to admit defeat, and begrudgingly sat up in the make-shift bed that decorated the middle of the hotel room.
The modest place had been his home for the last year, and as a ripe man of 20 years the community viewed him as ready to settle down. Oliver, on the other hand had little interest in the prospect of acquiring either an actual house or an actual wife, and keeping his place in the Shelby Gang was a far more prioritised matter. He relished the fact that this meant plenty of weeks on the road—sometimes at the drop of a hat—with the unstable lifestyle it brought. Reasons like these were why Oliver enjoyed the luxury of a small hotel apartment that was regularly cleaned by the owner of the establishment. The lack of responsibility that came with being a hired gun, and, as the quickest draw in the gang—and indeed the town—he received more than his fair share of the bounty from the adventures work they did. He reckoned that he had the means to step up as a leader, and take care of others around him if he had to. And he very much did not.
Oliver picked up the work-shirt that had been thrown carelessly onto the floor the night before, grabbed his revolver-belt and stood up. He had spent hours and hours fixing both hist belt and the revolvers for maximum efficiency. The inside of the holsters had been sanded down until it was slick and smooth, curved to an angle to which he could easily slip the muzzles right over the top and fire within the fraction of a second. Both of his guns were labeled Freedom Arms .454 Casull revolvers. He had found a matching set back at a weapons dealer in Second. They had been expensive, but with some tuning and work they had turned out to be supreme weapons. - Given of course the limitation of 10 bullets.
The belt buckle was an old-world motive from what Shelby had once told him was the insignia of the men who ran this land before the Ghede's. Oliver himself didn't care much for the old stories Shelby would often preach about. All he knew was that he had taken a fancy the way the metal bird spread its wings over the leather on both sides, its body hidden behind a colourful shield. It looked prideful, fearless against man. Just like him.
Oliver slid the old shirt over his head and down his thin, but muscular body. The kind young men have, when they can eat 'til their bellies burst, and still wake up with the figure of statue. He studied himself in the mirror hanging in the hallway. His blond hair was greasy and scruffy, his blue eyes shining through his dusty, but beautiful face. No matter what he wore, or what he did, the girls of the outskirts would notice him. He blamed it (rightfully) on his glacier blue eyes, and smiled awkwardly to his own reflection.
Then he walked outside.
The 5th was the last of the outskirts that had been founded and constructed under the Ghede family's watch. It bore the uncreative name as it had been considered merely the next in what would hopefully be a long line of towns. A dream that never really came to fruition. built 10 years ago on the ruins of old, the foundation recycled into half brick, half wood housing. The common sight was; Brown wood, interrupted by the pale and ghostly red brick that reminded them of the Flatliners. The shacks usually had tin roofing, or the equally popular rawhide, and the houses were never particularly big. The hotels, bars, stores, etc, were a different matter. Those were usually all wood or situated in the brick houses that had been left most intact.
Dusty roads ran trough the town in straight, long, intercrossing lines. The sun would rise in the west and hit the border-houses first—built far too close together. Then the old train station where the supply train should have arrived yesterday XXX. Further, the sun would finally hit the tents and caravans readying for the trip to the Tunneleres in the East. The town housed only around 5000 people, and wasn’t considered as much more than the last stop before the coast.
Oliver sauntered down the street that made up his newly adopted town, glancing back over his shoulder at the wooden sign written above his window. It read; "Swan's Hotel" in crudely carved out letters painted red. The owner of the place was a large woman affectionally nicknamed Swan. Rumors had it that she used to be a somebody in Babaco, before trouble had found her in the form of a bigger somebody. The solution had been to escape to the far south of the Human corridor. Out of sight, out of mind. In honest Oliver never did pay much attention to people’s fates, or the paths that led them here. In this town most folks had wanted to get away from something else. That was the life that they led; one of silent desperation. Even what Jonny had told him about Strawberries did not really surprise him.
As much as anyone, Oliver had seen his own share of shit, and out if it he had honed a skill. He knew something not many people did, and hence they paid him for it. He knew how to hit a target; how to hit it fast, and how to it it well. That was all a man could really ask for in the world of dust and dirt; food and a steady job. And with luck and ability he had acquired both.
Oliver reached down into his brown pouch and finished rolling himself a South-Babaco cigarette. He lit it and drew the smoke into his lunges, letting the dry taste linger on his tongue as he did so. It was not as good as the coast-brand, nothing ever was. but it was a lot better than the Le Choix crap, and it reminded him of home. He closed his eyes and dreamed of Babaco, his hardworking parents, and the smell of the herd as the sun rose over their little farm.
Then he released the smoke into the air as a man on a horse rode by pulling a cart full of old vegetables. The town had started rationing their food, and Oliver was getting increasingly worried about the delayed train.
He threw his cigarette down on the ground, the ember slowly fading as he panned his view across the familiar building. It was a bar bearing no name and on the outside hang only a plain sign that read; "Bar". The owner could not be bothered with fine points such a name, or cleaning the glasses for that matter. These where minutiae details far too small to bother a business man with. People had been getting drunk for ages and would continue doing so in the foreseeable future, regardless of titles, signs, or hygiene.
The door swung open and a round, stocky figure appeared in the doorway. His hands covering his eyes as if he had been in the bar for far too long. People called him Jonny Ghetto—for reasons that evaded Oliver. He sported a thick brown beard, and a well used green cap. Jonny waved and yelled out;
"Get your ass in here kido! We have beer!" Oliver in return awkwardly smiled as he nodded politely. The two men had been good friends going back to Olivier's first day in Shelby's service. The transition had been awkward and intimidating for the young gun, but Jonny had made it a lot easier by showing him the ins and outs, and introducing him to the crew. They had rode plenty of miles together, and they had seen plenty of scraps.
"Any words on the train yet? from Mark?" Jonny inquired. His polite tone changed into a more somber one as he placed his hand on the kid's shoulder, still holding the bar-door open, inviting him in.
"I just woke up" Oliver clumsily admitted. "I do hope they're all right."
Jonny scratched his bearded chin and stared into the horizon.
"Yes, this is a most serious matter. Hopefully our friends are alright." he grunted, then shifted his eyes around nervously, and in a lowered voice warned; "If Shelby lost that train, and he is NOT dead. I fear he'll soon wish he was".
Oliver's first thought was of the Baron and he swiftly shut it out out.
As the two friends entered the bar, the sweet smell of barley struck Oliver’s nose immediately. The place that was usually packed was now almost empty. Aside from Oliver and Jonny there were only two men in the establishment; The lanky bartender—and weary owner, pretending to clean glasses as he wiped the bottom of the mugs with a dry towel. And on the far side of the bar—in the corner; sat another man. He looked to be early 40’s, balding, with a thick twirled moustache on his face, and sporting, as always, a set of large black tinted teashades.
He usually wore what looked to be a well used shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and suspenders to hold his baggy pants up. The man leaned back into his chair and a much too familiar sinister grin appeared on his face.
"Oi! Fuckin' 'ell"d you cunts make me wait this long for?" He shouted. His accent unmistakable, as well as his name; Gavin Morrison. People in these parts simply called him The Englishman.
"The beer they serve here is warm enough to scorch me fuckin’ tongue off." He lazily leaned further back, so that the chair was now balancing on it's hind legs, then he slammed his feet upon the table. "Not that there's a proper lager to be obtained in this shite town anyway." The bartender scoffed in return, Oliver just chuckled and grabbed a seat next to him.
Jonny had emigrated to the 5th when it first become open to the public. With him he had dragged his family along in the hope of a better life—although he didn’t feel like he saw them often enough. “Always busy running errands for Shelby” as he put it. He was a funny, loyal, and level headed man.
For everything Oliver knew about Jonny, it was the opposite with Gavin. ‘He had learned that the man was a wild card, a joker, and that no one but Strawberries and Shelby knew how to reign him in. He had gathered—from the short time they had ridden together—that the man had come from the distant East, that he loved to sing horrible folk songs, and that he was bat shit crazy.
"I meet this bird once, yeah?". Gavin flicked a bottle cap at Oliver in order to break him out of his spell. "She was good-looking; Big, thick lips. Black, curly hair blowing in the wind. Perfect tits. The whole works." Jonny glanced over to Oliver and rolled his eyes. "So she worked at the local stable, yeah? Tending to the horses and what have you. And, one day, a lot wetter and darker than this day. Her father, Who ran the stables, told her she had to go all the way to the fields to get the horses in for the night as the rain and thunder was gettin' worse, yeah? So this young bird. Did I mention she had black curly hair?"
"Does this have anything at all with the peculiar situation we find ourselves in?" Jonny sighed.
A finger and a quiet shhss emitted from Gavin in reply.
"Right, so this young lady legs it to the fields to save the horses. But on the way she comes across a small scorpion. It was fighting for its life, grabbing at a leaf, floating in a large pond that had built up. So the small scorpion calls out for help."
Jonny slammed the beer down in the table. "Ok! Talking scorpions? Save these damn fairytales for the kids."
Gavin shot them both a look, and the light in the room dimmed, as the bartender seemed further away than ever.
"I've seen quite a lot of shite in my lifetime" His voice was earnest.
"Dead geezers who walk the earth, dark beings that pray on men, even the fuckin' goat-wankers. I don't think a talkin' scorpion is too much to ask, mate." Jonny knew the Englishman better than Oliver and was clearly not too impressed with his skill of tongue, however, he nodded, and let the man have the floor.
"No!' The lady cried out. “You're a scorpion, and you'll fuckin' stab me with your tail…"
The lady knew she had to rescue the horses; running around on the plains as thunder and water conspired against the. But the scorpion continued to beg;
“please! I beg you.” He cried out, “You have my word that i will not stab you with my tail!” The young lady hesitant at first. A Scorpion is a dangerous thing, innit? But love for all life won out in the end, and the brave, black haired lady walked out into the water and picked the tiny scorpion up."
The men were silent, Gavin used the dramatic pause to pore himself another glass of beer.
"So what happened?" Oliver yawned. "Did she save the scorpion?"
"She got stabbed by the bloody thing is what". The room was dead quiet. "The young lady fell in the water, and the scorpion with her, and she spent her last dying words to ask the scorpion; 'Why? Now we are both going to die."
"Because i'm a bloody scorpion is why!" Gavin rumbled. The. fucking. end."
Jonny gazed up and met Gavin's stare with his own.
"Wow...That's a… pretty shitty story."
Oliver burst out in laughter over his friend's brutal honesty.
"Who taught you storytelling? That was awful."
Gavin rolled his eyes, clearly embarrassed.
"You Americans wouldn't know good storytelling if it bit you in the arse."
Oliver was well used to Gavin uttering names that neither of the guys knew. Shelby always did the same thing, he reckoned it was part of the reason the captain liked him so much.
"So, we're the girl in this story? Is that what you're trying to say?" Jonny was known for his bluntness, and his impatience at long winded ways of getting your point across. 'Just say what you think' was his motto. Not the worst motto Oliver had heard. Better than Gavin's 'get drunk and hide when people shoot'.
"I would imagine we are the horses, and lightnin', rain, and the rottin' greek tragedy is headed our way."
"You referring to the Baron." Jonny's voice was low and cold.
"Bloody right I am! We don't go looking for that train, and the you-know-who will be lookin' for us".
Oliver knew exactly what Gavin was talking about. Shelby would never steal the train, it would be too far to reach anywhere with that cargo. However, if he had lost it, the Baron could be looking at the rest of the crew for an explanation.
"Could it be bandits, the East Traders, or maybe the tunnel men themselves?" Oliver knew he was reaching for straws, The tunnelers stood for a lot of trading with the outskirts, perhaps they wanted more for their troubles, maybe they were going to war with the Ghedes.
"I don't think so" Gavin peeked over his shoulder as two figures entered the bar. "It's somethin' else…. And it's headed our way." The two figures watched them from the far side of the room.
Gavin, being the least gracious of the 3, turned around to face the two. The first one was a woman. She looked well-trained, with a stern face, half-long black hair curling down on both sides, with pilot glasses in front of her eyes to hide her thoughts from the outside world.
The other one was a buff, tall man in full combat wear, black boots, black army fatigue, and a black kevlar vest over his brown shirt. His head was buzz cut short, and he had black stubbles on his rugged face. Oliver was certain he must have been born in some kind of mercenary camp that made crazy soldier babies.
"Listen up!" The buff man yelled out to them in an authoritarian manner. "The Top-hat man wants to have a couple of words with you, maggots!" The Top-hat man was another name for the Baron, and it was used more around these parts. The crew had all been traveling a lot in the southern parts of the line, and were accustom to the different names all a deity could have.
'The Top-Hat Man' in The 5th,
'The Baron' in Babaco,
'Mr. Petrol' at Second,
and of course 'Baron Kriminel' in most of La Croix.
"Sod off, you fuckin' bell end." Gavin flipped the buff man the finger, which was an unwise move and fitting to his character. The man showed no visible emotions in return, his face chiseled from stone. The woman next to him however slowly pulled out a rifle. Oliver knew that in a gun fight he would have had his gun drawn, cocked, and the crosshair aimed at her head before she could take another breath. The only problem was that she used her time. Her face calm, her glasses only reflecting the sorry state of the three men back at them. she slowly cocked the rifle and aimed it towards Oliver and Jonny. Panning the gun-muzzle rhythmically between the two. Oliver knew he could still take her out, if he reached for his gun while she was aiming at Jonny he would have a clear shot. The problem was, they all worked for the Baron, the Top-Hat man. He was better off just sitting tight. The buff man walked up to the table and placed his hand firmly on the back of Gavin's head. He gently smiled, before ramming his head straight into the table. Jonny leaped out of his chair with a horrified expression on his face, as a weak moan resonated throughout the saloon.
"Aaaah!... Bloody hell, whatchu gonn' and do that for?" Gavin braced his hands against his nose. The shades on his face holding on for dear life.
"Shut up!" The buff man then shifted his attention to the other two men, knowing full well he had his mystery rifle-chick guarding him. "you two wanna give me some lip too?" Oliver and Jonny stood there with eyes wide, much to his satisfaction. He grabbed the still moaning Gavin by his shirt collar and pulled him out of the chair "Top-hat man, now!"
The 3 were stripped of their weapons. of Jonny's Beretta 92FS, Gavin's Sawed-off, single barrel shotgun, and the love of Oliver's life; his 2 Freedom Arms revolvers.
The march over to the Baron's headquarters was a bit of a blur for Oliver; His head filled with the outcomes of several different scenarios, many of them ending in death. Jonny was blabbering on about how they had nothing to do with the train missing, until the buff man had first told him to: 'Tell it to someone who gives a shit.' and then threatened to shot him in the kneecap.
the Baron's Headquarters was situated in the middle of the town; All in accordance with the rules of the pact. It was a red, 3 story building made out of brick. one of the few structures that had survived The Great Collapse, as a result it was also the highest building in all of The 5th. originally full of holes and minor damages, they had covered them all with fabric and wood, with extensive repair to the facade. The windows were draped, and blocked the outside viewing in. On the front it read in big official letters: "The House of the representative of the Pact".
"When we get in, let me do the talking." Jonny whispered, trying not to draw the attention of the hired goons. "I might just be able to get us out of this one." Comforting words that calmed Oliver down somewhat. He knew Jonny had a knack of talking himself out of any situation, manipulating a kindness people found hard to ignore.
Oliver had never been inside the Ghede HQ, and doubted even Shelby himself had been allowed in there. Perhaps when he was hired, but even then, probably not.
The stairs leading to the 3rd floor was the shortest and longest stairs he had ever walked. The seconds seemed to vanish, but Oliver crammed them full of doubt. Eventually, they got to the top and the buff man led them into the main office; It was a tall and dark room. All of the windows where covered, the only light coming from the candlelights on the large table in the middle with a few beams of light finding their way trough the cracks in the window. The interior was built to accommodate each other. The chairs were in dark leather with buttons on them and curvy decorating lines carved into the ash wood. A big desk in the corner seemed to be the cherry on top. It was also in black wood and looked like a solid chunk of mass. It seemed to radiate some sort sense of importance, authority, leadership, or perhaps all of the above. As Oliver sat down, he cast a glance at Gavin who was sitting down next to him. He showed no visible injuries on his face, and his shades were as they had been before, in perfect order.
Gavin gave him a gentle smile and kindly nodded. As he was about to say something back, the door cracked open and in danced the Baron.
He was dressed in a dusty and dirty suit, a jacket black with white dirt on it, underneath it was his bare, slender, dark body. Oliver contemplated that he was once a normal man, but now his face was covered in white paint; It outlined a skull, covering all but his eyes, nose, and jawline. Ontop his head sat a top-hat that once had seen better days, slightly tilted to the side. He squinted at Oliver and smiled, then he gave out a big hardy laugh; A powerful bass sound rumbled trough the room.
"Welcome to me humble tower! I hope me men were polite to you." His voice was heavy, his ascent thick, Oliver could not place it. It seemed as exotic as Gavin's but at the same time a world apart. He felt the urge to speak, the Baron locked his black pinhole eyes upon him. Jonny saw this and immediately jumped in.
"Look, Mr Kriminel. This is some kind of misunderstanding, we're only hired work for Shelby. We don't know what…"
The Baron snapped his fingers and gave the buff man a little nod.
"Alan, get Miss Ritter, and hang dis man by him neck in de square." He then smiled back at Oliver with a calm and serene expression on his face. Jonny was in a mix of panic and denial as Alan 'the buff man' and Ritter 'the woman', dragged him by his shoulders out of the office.
Thus, only 3 men remained in the room. Oliver thought about where his guns were kept, and if he could take down a Ghede with only his wit and some hard bullets. He thought about Jonny, and felt the need to say something. Something profound.
“That this was a waste of time, resources... that this was madness.”
Gavin must have noticed this as he gave him the universal; 'don't speak' look.
"Where was I now?" The Baron smiled and turned towards Oliver again. "I run a small business; Dis town. For it to work I need dat train."
Oliver shrugged, unsure of what to say, or rather what he dared to say.
"And I can't let people see de crew responsible for de hunger crisis, be drinking and laughing in a bar, can I?" Baron paused momentarily only to acknowledge Ritter who came walking back into the room. They exchanged a quick glans, and Ritter nodded. Alan nowhere to be seen.
"Dis train, i would like it back. I have me people to feed." Oliver swallowed, as he attempted to answer for the crime of the century, one in which he knew nothing about.
"I.. I'm terribly sorry sir. I have no idea what could have happened. B.. but, we have nothing to do with it. I.. I swear."
The Baron smiled, amused.
"You swear 'pon what?"
It caught Oliver by surprise.
"Wh.. What?" He could only muster up a confused expression.
"Always be swearing, and begging, and praying. Never know to whom."
His white teeth shone brightly as he grinned, reminding more of a dog that Oliver had once been bit by as a young child. Things were going from bad to desperate now.
"But, I would like to volunteer to any rescue mission, Sir! Honestly…"
"Good!" He slapped Oliver on the back. "But maybe we find better use for you... Maybe we hang you up next to your friend." Baron held up his hands mimicking a sign. "Telling de rest of town what happens when you cross me."
Oliver's world started to spin, he felt dizzy. Thoughts jumbled together. All he could think about was getting out of the chair, out of the room.
"Oi, luv!" Gavin's voice cut the tension in the air like a knife. Ritter, in response seemed less than impressed. "Ever been with a proper bloke? Betcha a tenner my cock's bigger than this circus clown." He grinned, obviously happy with himself. the round shades on his face creating the illusion of a skull, an uncanny mirror to the Baron himself. Ritter's face of stone was unchanged, save an eyebrow of which she raised in disgust. "Ritter?" the Baron calmly spoke.
The silent woman drew her gun. Gavin's grin quickly turned sour and Oliver closed his eyes as a loud bang rang out, the ringing in his ears could not hide the limp sound of a sack of meat clumsily sliding out of the chair and hitting the ground. All of Oliver's fears were now materialising. He carefully opened his eyes in the opposite direction of the body. Jonny was probably getting strung up as they spoke, and now Gavin had gotten his chest blown off. A queasy feeling came over Oliver. His stomach tightened and he fell dizzy. Never had he crossed anyone, not really. Never borrowed something from the wrong man, nor let his mouth run loose in front of the wrong crowd. And now, here he was, ready to be executed for something he had nothing to do with. Just for the technicality of it.
"Now where was I?" the Baron scratched the top of his forehead with the smoking revolver he had taken from Ritter. the top-hat tilted down further on it's crooked angle.
"You see, I need one of you, de good shepherd Shelby might be coming back'". He casually danced on to his black desk, produced a cigar from the top drawer, and snickered. "And since you friends seem a little dead.."
Oliver wondered how old he was. How many men he had heard pleading for their lives. He decided to shut up, to let the top-hat man finish his little plan, and pray for the best; The fastest gun in town is not a match against a tank. Baron lit his big cigar. The ember burned brightly red, and Oliver coughed at the bitter smell of smoke filling the enclosed, dark room.
"You know, I told him once".
"Shelby". He slouched into his dark red leather chair. "I told him he could get whatever he wanted in dis place, he is a clever man." Oliver nodded and stared back onto the floor. The room smelled of vomit. Vomit, cigar smoke, and fear.
"Den he tricks me. Me, de Loa of Death. Who would dare to trick me?" Ritter had taken her seat in the corner of the room behind Oliver. He didn't know what she was doing, but he imagined it was something along brushing the blood from her jacket. "So you want de job, boy? Working for me to find de train and kill Shelby?"
Was he being given a way out of this room? A second chance? Oliver was about to answer when there was a small cough, coming from the meat sack that used to be Gavin. It started slowly moving and gave out a slow croaking moan
"Fuckin' 'ell, that hurt."
Baron Kriminel smiled and laughed out.
"Haha! welcome back, Mr. Morrison." He leaped out from behind his desk and flaunted around. "It took you long enough."
Gavin turned his head. It was clean of blood, the shades were in perfect condition again and had been tossed to the side. That's when Oliver realised he had never really seen Gavin Morrison's eyes before. They were, horrifyingly a haze of milky white. He could see nothing when staring into them, save the yellow candlelights in the room reflecting back at him. Oliver's hair stood up on his back.
"I knew you be a ghost, Mr. Morrison. I can smell your kind a mile away. If i couldn't, what would be de point of de pact?" Baron was acting like a kid trying to fry an ant under a magnifying glass. Oliver pondered on why he had never seen Gavin without his shades. He knew that he and Shelby had been a tight group. Or rather, that Gavin kept more to himself. He wondered why he was hiding here, in this town. Everyone knew that the Flatliners fought for the Banner..
A loud gunfire rang out again and Oliver fell out of his chair from the sheer shock. He hit the ground and rolled back beneath the toppled furniture, his ears were painfully ringing. The ever present fear of death he had sensed since entering the house, had now tensed his every muscle. He finally gathered up the nerves and raised his head just above his newly found fortress There he saw that Gavin had been shot again, this time by the Baron, and this time in the head. The smoke slowly curled around the revolver as Kriminal held it out.
"But ghosts are in the infernal flames, Mr Morrison." he casually licked the tip of his revolver. "Or belong to dem." The body slowly began to move again and coughed out,
Oliver was unsure if the next sound from the body was laughter or wheezing.
"Den what's your secret, dead boy?" Baron jumped trough the air and landed in front of him, squatting down and gently running the revolver down Gavin's face.
"They let me out" he answered without hardly any emotion in his face, save of pain.
The Baron's face changed from curious to disbelief.
"Fuckery!" He pulled back the trigger on the revolver. "I can shoot you all day, dead boy".
Oliver felt the cold tip of a muzzle resting on his ear, and noticed that Ritter had moved from the corner and was now right behind him, pointing her rifle at the back of his head.
"Don't you get any bright ideas now, Cowboy." He slowly raised his hands in submission.
"None escape from Hell, Mr. Morrison." Kriminel continued.
" I should know. Dere's something big at work with you; You made a bargain?" Gavin lowered his gaze down at the floor. His clothed were in perfect order. Oliver noticed that the hold his face had also vanished.
"Hell doesn't make bargains." He stumbled on his feet. "At least not with the sorts of us."
Ritter, in response, shifted her aim towards the now standing Gavin. The look on her face reflected a sort of uncertainty at the whole situation. The Baron's eyes, on the other hand, still locked in with the same joyful and fearless curiosity. Oliver shivered. There were no escape plans. Jonny was dead, Gavin was a damn Flatliner, and the Baron was wrapping up the meeting;
"Well dis was fun. One of you will be going to get me train." He opened the chamber of and silently counted the bullets left in the revolver. "And you, Gavin Morrison, be a person of a useful skill."
Then he pointed it at Oliver.
Oliver knew that the action of closing his eyes would not cause the outside world to halt to a screeching stop. The cylinder of the revolver would slowly rotate, the hammer would strike down, and the powder ignite.