Get up, Ranger. I know you’re groggy from yer dirt nap, but I ain’t got time to wetnurse a 200- year-old piece o’ meat.
Yeah, I look a little different than the last time you laid eyes on my ugly puss, but it’s me, Coot Jenkins. The Prospector. Ringin’ any bells, wormfood? I’m the one who stuck you in that hole 200 years ago. June 8th, 1876, if memory an’ that tombstone behind you serves. Kind of a “contingency plan,” y’see. In case my other little scheme didn’t work.
Well, guess what? It didn’t.
If your brainpan ain’t too full o’ bugs from all them years in the ground, you might remember I put together a couple score of your kind back then to fight the Reckoners, the monsters responsible for all the stuff that happened in the “Weird West,” as the papers used to call it.For that, me and my little undead army had to go into the spirit world—the Hunting Grounds as the Injuns say—where the Reckoners lived.
We had no problem gettin’ there. It was that army o’ demons waitin’ on us that gave us a few problems. Worst part of it was the demons took control o’ most of my stiffs and turned ‘em against me. I shoulda known the same demons that keep corpses like you movin’ would have an easier time gettin’ control on their home turf.
We still won—the battle at least—but we lost the war. Me ’n’ what was left o’ the meat put down the bad ones.
Then we got “lost” somehow.
The last dozen o’ my soldiers and I wandered around the Hunting Grounds for a long time before we found our way out again. I didn’t know how long we was gone ’til a few weeks back. You’ll see what I mean if you turn your sorry sack o’ bones around and look at some o’ them other tombstones.
Brace yourself, friend. It’s 2094.
No use cleanin’ that dirt outta yer ears, son. You heard me right. I’ve been back about a month. Now I’m diggin’ up my reserves, and you’re the first o’ the lot to see the light o’ day. I just hope it ain’t too late fer us ta do somethin’ about all o’ this.
I don’t know what we’re gonna’ do yet, but I ain’t goin’ back in the damn Huntin’ Grounds, that’s for sure! I shoulda realized the demons would have more control over your kind in their own stompin’ grounds. Worst part is, I reckon my mistake cost us pretty dear. I think they done gone and blowed the world up while we was away.
I walked a couple hundred miles to get here, and there ain’t much left o’ the world. The cities have been blasted, and there’s hardly a tree between here and Deadwood. It gets even worse. Y’sure you wanna hear it? Maybe you oughta wait a while and catch your breath. Don’t give me that look! It’s a figure o’ speech.
All right, smart-ass. You wanted to know.