|TIME:||Tuesday – July 01, 1879 – 12:00 PM|
|LOCATION:||New Jerusalem [MAP]|
|POSSE ROLE-CALL:||Allen Jabour with his flock (Ed Green, Nathan Green)|
After their fun with the marshal at the church, the posse finally visited the barber. When they entered, they found him shaving a patron. They all noticed that the barber seemed nervous and actually holding himself back from conversation rather than suffering from the lack of intelligence abounding in New Jerusalem. As they spoke with him, his patron seemed to get more and more agitated. It was then that another customer joined the first and took a seat to wait for a shave. The small shop was becoming a bit over-crowded, so Sterling, Jonah, and the Green brothers left to water the horses.
As the small group walked to the hotel where the horses were tied, they noticed that the few people walking on the street actually slowed and watched their progress, but did not interact with them in any way. Worried that the water in town may be contaminated, Sterling took only one horse to a water trough across the street at the stables. After being in the sun all morning, the horse was very thirsty and quickly drank its fill. Sterling watched carefully for any ill effects.
Meanwhile, as Yang Li and Brother Allen waited at the barbershop, they noticed that the more active and talkative they were, the more the two patrons watched them. Yang Li also noticed another oddity: the two men blinked in unison. The barber did not seem to share this trait with them. Yang Li shared this information with Brother Allen as they left the shop to join Sterling and the others.
As the posse reformed, Sterling shared that based on his “test case” with the horse, the water had no ill effects. Brother Allen and Yang Li shared the information about the blinking. Once pointed out, it was easy enough to notice that everyone in town (at least, those visible) shared the same eerie trait.
Wanting to speak with the barber privately now more than ever, Brother Allen went back to the barbershop. He attempted to prevent any further patrons by moving the chairs for waiting customers out of the shop. After all, where would the men wait if there were no chairs to sit in to wait? (With the amount of intelligence shown by the townsfolk, this was not an improbable theory.) Unfortunately, his efforts simply caused the waiting customer to follow him and retrieve the chair once he put it down. His efforts also seemed to be drawing more attention to himself and the posse from the townsfolk. However, the people still did nothing more than watch.
Brother Allen went back into the shop and told the barber he would like to meet him at the church after work. The barber informed Allen that no one went to the church and that he should not go there, but his body language and expressions seemed to suggest the exact opposite. Following along, Brother Allen agreed that he and the others would not go to the church and then left the shop. Gathering the others and their horses, the group headed for the church.
Finding the church as deserted as before, Brother Allen asked the Green brothers to keep watch in the church’s bell tower. It was roughly during this time that everyone but Sterling noticed a “sluggishness” to their thoughts. It seemed to affect Yang Li the worst: he was never proficient in the English language, but now he was unable to make sense of it at all. He could only communicate with the others through hand gestures.
Wishing to leave the area now more than ever, Brother Allen rode off to the east with Yang Li and Jonah to test the boundaries of New Jerusalem (i.e., how no matter where they head, they always return to the town). Sterling rode to the north to perform his own scientific observation of the phenomena.
Brother Allen, Jonah, and Yang Li eventually found their way blocked by a steep drop down to a rushing river. The group then split, with Jonah riding south and Brother Allen with Yang Li riding north. Through the magic surrounding New Jerusalem, they eventually met without finding any crossing over the river. Brother Allen then rode west. He stopped by the general store in New Jerusalem to grab a rope and some pitons, and then continued west, eventually reaching the bank opposite Jonah. With the help of Yang Li and the horse, Brother Allen lowered himself down to the river, but upon seeing the rushing water close up, decided not to attempt a crossing. After being pulled back up to the top, Brother Allen signaled to Jonah to return to the church. He and Yang Li then remounted and did the same.
Upon returning to the church, the group spoke with Sterling and found that he had learned as little as they about the bending of space around New Jerusalem. The posse settled down in the church to finally have a meal and wait for the barber. Yang Li was the only member with actual dried rations so the rest of the group enjoyed (if that is the correct term) a meal of preserved peaches and green beans. These had been found in jars that morning at one of the local farm houses. Unfortunately, only enough jars had been found for this one meal.
The sun was setting when Brother Allen heard someone opening the latch on the back door of the church. It was the town barber. He was immediately challenged by Sterling with a simple math problem: what is 12 divided by 3? He responded correctly and then presented Sterling with a problem of his own: what is the derivative of the function 4 sec(x) – 3 csc(x)? After a few moments and some quick calculations in the dust on a pew, Sterling responded with the correct answer: 4 sec(x) tan(x) + 3 csc(x) cot(x).
Having verified that he was not inflicted with the idiocy found in New Jerusalem, the barber, who introduced himself as Oliver Pickman, explained that the townsfolk were under an evil spell. Beings from another world had entered through a portal found within the mine near the river. These “masters” had cast the spell on the people to make them malleable and give them slave workers for the mine. The portal had destabilized the area around New Jerusalem so that it was impossible to leave. Oliver believed that closing the portal would allow New Jerusalem to once again be anchored in the world and end the masters’ evil spell. It had taken him a month and much research in obscure studies to learn this information. Another interesting note was that Oliver believed New Jerusalem to be located in Colorado, not Missouri where the posse found it.
Evening had fully fallen at this point and Oliver asked if anyone had seen the posse come to the church. Brother Allen told him no, but did not tell Oliver that no effort had been made to actually hide their destination when they rode out of town. Therefore, Oliver was relieved by this answer and continued to explain that the spell affecting the townsfolk caused them to become cannibals when night fell. They had eaten all the meat in the town and new visitors were usually next on the menu.
The conversation with Oliver was interrupted by the Green brothers hurrying down the ladder from the bell tower. They explained that folks were coming up the road toward the church. The posse quickly gathered their horses from the front of the church, and walked them through the church and out the back. Once outside, they could hear the moans of the townspeople approaching. They quickly climbed onto the horses and headed for the mine, to confront these masters and win their freedom.
|EXPERIENCE AWARD: 1|