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TheGorondorf
I like making the pixel squares and drawing the things for the games.

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Writer's Jam 2024: The man from Bulliciosa

Posted by TheGorondorf - 1 month ago


The Man from Bulliciosa


Prologue


”Bulliciosa? I wouldn’t go down there mister, it ain’t a place fond of strangers.”

“I didn’t ask for yer thoughts bout it old man, do you know the place or not?”

The crooked willow aimed a sigh at at the bounty hunter, knowing the outcome of the conversation if he denied the information about the town.

“You entered town from Sinner’s Rock, right? Just head southwest til you find a creek. Can’t miss it unless you blind. Once you reach it, keep on following the signals till you reach Bulliciosa.”

“Good. Best be on my way then.”

“Mister, mind if I ask you something?”

“Ain’t got all day, spit it out already.”

“Why y’all folks keep going after Buck Conrad?”

“Cause the price on his head keeps on getting higher.”

The bounty hunter dropped a dollar on the counter and headed towards the doors of the saloon. A pair of eyes pierced his back, and a voice stopped him just before he reached for the swinging gates.

“Yer just another son of a whore who don’t know better bout where’s he’s going to end.”

“Keep it quiet or I’ll let the iron speak.”

“I ain’t afraid of no armed boy.”

“Out. Now.”

The drunk man cackled at the bounty hunter’s command and steadied himself towards the main street. The orange orb was starting to descend towards its resting spot.

The shadow of the bounty hunter reached the position of the fool in front of him. The latter kept laughing about the whole situation.

The bounty hunter drew his revolver and let the iron reply the laughter of the drunkard with three loud cracks.

The first bullet lodged itself within the liver, perhaps trying to remove the alcohol from the body of the soon-to-be corpse as fast as possible. The second one went straight through his left lung, switching the clear air exhaled from the man to a solid crimson river. The last one shattered one of his vertebra, driving him towards the ground with a lack of elegance.

The drunk smile on the face of the almost deceased twisted as the light from the setting sun faded from his eyes, which rolled up with his last breath.

The bounty hunter holstered his gun and walked towards his horse, ready to head southwest.


Chapter 1


The sounds of the stream blended with the chirping of the birds near the creek in a competition to see which one could be louder than the other. The bounty hunter reached the place in a matter of days, but to him it felt like weeks instead.

As the water softly hit the sides of the stream, so did the hooves of his horse against the walked path that lead them both towards an old signpost with only one name and one direction:


--Bulliciosa-->


The bounty hunter looked at the plank of drenched wood and followed the direction of the sign with his eyes, reaching over yonder. In the distance, some specks of candlelight started to appear in what looked like a small town. Feeling his horse’s pouch light on provisions, he decided to continue following the path in order to restock.

The town that received the bounty hunter felt as soaked as the signpost that pointed towards its direction. The welcoming board on top of the main gate read ‘Barrizal’, and the gunslinger agreed with the name considering the state of the main road. The mud felt like quicksand under the horse’s steps, and the lower ends of the cluttered houses built surrounding the stream were covered in shining brown dirt. It was hard to tell at a glance where did the foundation of the buildings started and when the mud ended.

A thunder killed the curiosity of the traveler, and he sought shelter on an empty watering hole close to the other end of the town. Tears soon followed the tantrum of the sky. With a feeling of unease, the bounty hunter decided that it was best to leave the town and face the elements. Something about the place rubbed him the wrong way, and he didn’t want to stay longer to learn the reason about it.

Exiting Barrizal, he saw what looked like the wooden pole of a signpost. The sky began to ease its cries of pain as he got closer to the still guide, and completely dried out its outburst once it got close enough to it.

The sign, old and slightly burnt, read:


--Bulliciosa-→


Chapter 2


The horse’s stance began to wither after such a long time carrying his owner. Has it been hours, days, or even weeks since the last time they stopped? Nobody was there to be witness of the time they spend on the road, so it was anyone’s guess at this point. Supplies were gone for a while now, and the only natural resource at sight was the unforgiving sun watching over him, always present, always looking.

Civilization was not a reality, let alone a concept, in the lands traveled by the bounty hunter at that moment. Vast amounts of arid land as far as the eye could see were being ruled with the ruthless king in the sky, and no animal was brave enough to defy its realm with their presence.

It was hard to tell what drove the bounty hunter forward on his quest to seek Bulliciosa. The quantity offered by the poster was something that only meant that the target was someone who had made a lot of noise in its time. Yet for the love of him, the gunslinger couldn’t remember a single thing this Buck Conrad did to earn him that price over his head. Only thing that was clear on his mind was the last place it was seen at.

The bounty hunter kept on riding until his mustang started rearing, terrified at something. He tried to grasp the pommel of his saddle, but to no avail. The man fell on his side and hurt his elbow in the fall.

“You alright there mister?”

The voice behind the bounty hunter startled him, drawing his gun and pointing at the source of the question.

“Wow, easy there now, just wanted to check on you mister.”

“Where you came from?”

“We’s just travelers, me and my wife. She’s carrying.”

The gunslinger looked behind the man and saw a woman in a wagon, looking concerned about the fate of his husband.

“Where the closest town at?”

“That’d be Goldwell. Just a few days from here I reckon.”

The bounty hunter holstered his gun with a groan. The elbow hurt more than he thought at first.

“Mind if I join you and your wife till we reach this Goldwell place?”

The man nodded and waved at the wife, and the latter exhaled with relief to see his husband safe.

The bounty hunter woke up from his slumber on the back of the couple’s wagon. He couldn’t recall the last time he slept for so long, and he felt sore from it. Getting outside the shade of the vehicle’s roof, he witnessed what looked like a moderately busy town. Folks moving back and forth running their daily chores, not caring at all about the everlasting star shining above them.

“You finally woke up mister! My missus was worried sick about you and that nasty elbow pain of yours, but she sure patched you up well.”

“Mighty kind. Where she at? I’d like to thank her fore I leave.”

“She gone to relief herself, but don’t rush yerself mister, you can stay with us for a bit longer. Goldwell’s fine with folks in need of a hand.”

The bounty hunter looked at the town, and then directed his eyes towards the man that have saved him.

“Afraid I can’t stay, must head towards Bulliciosa as soon as I can.”

The look on the man resembled sadness for a brief moment.

“Bulliciosa, you said? Ain’t a good place, that town. Why you want go there?”

“There’s a bounty on a man last seen there, and I intend to collect it.”

The man clicked his tongue and looked towards the ground. His face was completely hidden by his hat.

“You still have time to go home, mister. Bulliciosa only welcomes dead folks.”

The bounty hunter looked at the man and thanked him for his kindness. After getting on his horse, he rode towards Goldwell’s exit. He turned one last time to wave goodbye to the man, and after doing so, he turned his head towards the main road of the town.

In front of him, the bloodied figure of the man’s wife clutched his face with the strength of ten men. The face of the woman began to slowly tear itself apart from side to side, as if it was an open book with flesh for pages. The bounty hunter couldn’t move, frozen in fear. The silent darkness left by the now completely empty skull of the woman was filled after a few minutes by an ascending noise coming from within the wife’s guts.

The woman slowly pinned down the bounty hunter towards the ground. The sound grew louder and louder, resembling a young calf mixed up with the cries of an infant child.

As the wailing intensified, a small hand came out of the woman’s hollowed face. The arm connected to it, riddled with fish-like eyes that twisted and spun around like flies over a corpse, followed soon.

The sight of the rest of the body of the creature could have driven the most rational of minds into a state of pure madness. Rows upon rows of tongues and teeth gnawing and clicking the air replaced what would have been the torso of the nightmare. The several arms that grew from the mouths didn’t describe a regular pattern, as if chaos was the only thing that ruled over its minuscule body.

The cries of the creature made the bounty hunter scream as well, letting the last fragment of sanity left in his body fly away to seek an explanation to what was happening in front of him. The townsfolk didn’t seem to react nor care about to the display happening at the rear end of Goldwell.

“That’s alright dear. He made up his mind.”

The man knelt down next to the bounty hunter and grabbed the creature with the sweetness of a father taking a look at his firstborn. The gunslinger was terrified to the core, and didn’t know what to do other than staring at the man and the creature between his arms.

“If ye want to reach Bulliciosa, just head south from here. Just follow the signs mister, ye cain’t miss it.”

And with that final sentence, the man left the carcass of her wife on the ground and carried himself and the creature towards the flow of people in the main road of the town, fading in plain sight amidst the crowd.

The bounty hunter followed the two strangers with his wide open eyes until he couldn’t see them no more. The crazed gunslinger blinked once and, by the time his eyelids rose again, there was no trace left of the busy town of Goldwell.

He started to turn his head around looking for an explanation, and the only answer he received was a distant sun that decided to yield the celestial throne to a new moon.

“This ain’t real, this is all a dream…”

The bounty hunter slapped his face, wishing to conclude this nightmare of a journey. Standing on the edge of insanity, he decided to try to truly wake up by reaching for his gun. The empty holster met a twitching set of fingers that tried really hard to grab something that was no longer there. The unarmed gunslinger sat down on the ground and broke into tears.

The thinnest thread of sane thoughts woke him up from his despair and told him to look forward.

Once he did it, swear words filled his lungs andmouth.

In the near distance, a wooden pole grew from the land with a single plank of oak attached to it. With no other available plans on his mind, the bounty hunter stood up and walked towards the signpost. On the plank, the painted letters simply read:


-Bulliciosa--


Chapter 3


The bounty hunter was at the verge of exhaustion when he reached his destiny. His horse was gone, and with it his gear. Day and night, his legs were moved by the goal of reaching Bulliciosa and nothing else. He cared not for the reward for that bastard’s head, as he even forgot what the bounty’s face looked like. But as his body began to give up on the struggle, his mind kept on leading the way towards the end of his journey.

Over yonder, he spotted the silhouette of a town.

It had to be Bulliciosa.

Gathering the last remains of energy left on his frame, he ran towards the vision. Not paying attention to the road, he tripped and hit his right temple against a sharp rock. Blinded by his own blood, he crawled like a soul trying to flee from hell, growling and repeating to himself time and time again that he was going to make it.

And so, once he reach the entrance of the town, he was too blinded by the dirt and the blood to be able to read the name of the place.

Before passing out, he saw a couple of boots walking towards him.


The gunslinger woke up on a mattress made out of straw. He had been placed in a room poorly lit by a single candle. The source of light didn’t have more life on it than a couple of minutes.

The bounty hunter tried to stand up from the bed, but something felt wrong about his lower torso. He tried to move his legs, but there was no reaction. He started to punch and hit them, and the dread and horror grew with each strike. He couldn’t feel his legs at all.

The last glimmer of hope left his upper body at the same time as the wick of the candle decided to give up on his duty.

The darkness consumed the room, and an almost complete silence rode along. There was nothing else for the bounty hunter to do but to throw himself at the hands of fate.

A sound broke the quietus of the place soon after, a noise that could have easily been made by a large beast. The bounty hunter felt the air of the room growing denser.

“What are you doing here?”

The sentence almost made the bounty hunter’s ears burst, as the tone of the voice was so deep and grave that the foundations of the room began to shake.

“I… I just want to reach…”

“Bulliciosa, I know. Every damn fool always wants to reach that town.”

“Is… Is this Bulliciosa?”

“No, it is not. This is Caridad.”

For each word pronounced by the voice, the inner organs of the bounty hunter felt like they were about to explode due to the pressure.

“What have you done to me? Why can’t I move?”

“I am not the one you should aim your anger at. I just wanted to talk with someone for a change.”

“Are you… Buck Conrad?”

The voice didn’t answer.

“Are you going to kill me?”

There was no reply to the answer.

“Why don’t you answer you son of a bitch?!”

“Because I don’t owe you answers.”

“Damn you to hell, you hear? DAMN YOU!”

The man hit the floor with his closed fist twice and began to cry.

“I told you, I am not the one you should be angry at. How many times are you going to do this?”

The bounty hunter kept his tears on the ready, but his despair slowly turned into anger.

“What are you talking about? I ain’t been here before til now!”

“You were told to follow the signs, this is all your fault.”

“I followed the goddamn signs, I followed them all!”

“And time and time again you will try to follow them, but you will keep on reaching the same point.”

“I told you, I ain’t been here before!”

“I am not talking to you, boy.”

The bounty hunter’s mind began to crumble into pieces. He couldn’t hear anyone else in the room with him aside from the breathing of whatever was addressing him.

“You did this to him. And time and time again you’ll do the same mistake. Just learn when to quit, will you?”

With these finals words, the breathing that filled the air of the room ceased, and the only thing left next to the darkness was the cries of pain of the bounty hunter.


Epilogue


It was a hot afternoon at the saloon that day. The swinging doors barely moved, as nobody wanted to face the unforgiving sun that was shining hard outside. It was easier to hide under a bottle of whiskey.

The old bartender was looking at the main street of town with tired eyes. The cup he was holding was clear as the sky that morning, yet he kept cleaning it just to keep his mind busy with something to do.

The drunk man on the corner and his half-emptied bottle of rum were the only sights of life at that hour of the day, and it was at times like these that the barkeep wished to be somewhere else.

“You keep on looking you gon break them windows with yer sight old timer.”

“Was that?”

“I says you gon get your eyes all tired if ye keep looking like that. Maybe nothing won’t come round this time.”

“It ain’t no fighting against that, it’s going to happen no matter what.”

“Well, I raise the glass for it to be swift if it does happen.”

The drunk man raised the shot of rum and spilled half of it on its way to his mouth.

Giving a look of concern to the poor fellow, the bartender returned the windows of his soul towards the ones in the saloon. In the distance, the figure of a man riding a horse approached towards the place. The owner put the glass away with little to no joy in his demeanor.

The doors of the saloon were opened by a young man. He had the eyes of someone driven by a clear goal.

“What’ll it be, mister?”

“Whiskey. You know this area well?”

The bartender poured a glass and offered it to the young man.

“Sure I do mister. Looking for any place in particular?”

“I’m looking for a man named Buck Conrad. I’m here to bring him to justice.”

He drank the content of the glass in one quick motion.

“Conrad? Heard about him, but he’s not from around.”

“He was last seen in a town called Bulliciosa. You know where it is?”


* * *

Word count: 3159

Prompt used: Showdown

Thanks for reading!


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Comments

That was an interesting reading, love the theme of Wild West ghost towns. I will not deny that I was confused about the ending and the monster part and would like some things to be explained or at least less mysterious. The main thing that stirred my suspension of disbelief was the Goldwell. The bounty hunter's aim is supposed to be killing his target and for that he needs strength. Yet when he is out of supplies and tired as hell he just heads out of Goldwell immediately without trying to restock or rest, which was illogical.
Other than that, nice story, even if somewhat confusing.

Thanks! But oh boy you are in for a treat with the next game I'm releasing if you thought that short story was confusing

Woah, this was a mind-boggling read, well done! There haven't been all that many pieces that are able to build a world in such a mysterious but well-written way. It felt like you knew exactly what emotion you wanted this piece to invoke, and you did it with excellent precision! There were a few typos to be aware of in case you ever expand on this (I would love to see you do something with this!) but other than that great work!