Dead Man's Hand
Now you lissen here, son, because there's a good few hours left of life for you yet, and I ain't one to send a man to his death without a word as to why.
There's three things that not even a fool does in this here town. You don't play rough with the ladies at Old Sal's. There's no funny business with the cards at Ringo's. And there ain't ever gonna be a merc band callin' theyselves the Dead Man's Hand.
Now you're a kid who's got a taste for history, and that ain't so bad a thing, but you wasn't here the time the real Dead Man's Hand showed up, a good twenny years back near enough. We didn't cotton on to who they was at first, they looked like any one of the mmerc bands, 'cept a bit more hard-bitten than most. Still, they was polite, they paid their tab, and they kept their pieces in their pockets, so we was happy enough to have them. And when they asked where Radcliffe was, we told them Cliffy lives in the old house near the edge of town, and off they went to see 'im.
And that's about when we figured it. They stroll up, calm as you please, and the tall one with the big duster pulls out 'is Piece, a sawn-off shotgun. That's what they calls the ones the artisans make, see, 'cause they're a piece- o' work. This one was special, though, looked just like the Eight of Clubs. He fired it just once, and we saw that this weren't no copy, but the real thing. No pellets, just those blast of wind or somesuch, tore the shack to pieces and blasted apart everything inside it but the iron safe and Cliffy be'ind it. And it didn't stop there neither, but went through Old Sal's and made a mess of every poor bastard on the ground floor 'fore it collapsed on them. Couple of the ladies and a feller was with them got out soaked in blood, and they was the lucky ones.
Now I'm movin', and I ain't so slow else it'd be you lect'ring me, but 'fore I can even reach for my iron Cliffy's up, and it turns out the daft bastard's not half the fool he pretended, 'cause he's got his hand on another Card, looked like the Queen o' diamnods or somethin'. He spins the cylinder an' pulls that trigger, and it sounds like a damned stampede or something with more bullets than are in this town comin' out the business end.
These cold bastards don't even move, and the short one pulls a pistol, ornate as anythin', and it ain't nothin' if it aint the Ace of Spades, 'cause he shoots down ev'ry last one o' Cliffy's shots before they hit, like somethin' outta a bad novel. The shots go wild, and any poor bastard dumb enough to have come to look cops it, and a couple who was hiding anyway. Couldn't hear none o' what Cliffy was yellin' over them screams.
So Cliffy hides behind the safe, and I see him reloadin' just six shots despite what he'd just sent downrange, and waiting for one o' them fellers to come in sight. 'Cept, they don't.
The thin one takes out this rifle, real long, real smooth, and Eight of Spades done down the side in this fancy silver. He lines up on the safe, and takes a shot. All you hear is a gongin loud enough to drown out the screams 'cause that bullet musta gotten inside it, and then a tink and a yell as it somehow comes out the back and hits Cliffy in the hand. He grabs his Card in his good hand, and makes off like a bat outta hell. I had my own iron out by now, but damned if I was gonna take a shot at Cliffy and I know it ain't good for the health to be linin' a shot on those fellers. If folk with a Card can't do it, then I got no business tryin'.
So Cliffy's leggin' it, and they ain't movin'. The big one with the coat like them Germans wore takes out an iron, or what looks like it. It ain't fancy, or special, and looks like any ole one I can find at Sam's when he gets a cart in. 'Cept I know this one's special, because there's just something about it, you know, lookin' at it. It sends the part of your brain what knows when to shoot and when to duck screamin', and yet it looks so Goddamned beautiful you can't bear to look away. And that's when I figure out that right there is the Ace of Clubs, the Trump Card what beats all the others and never has to fire a second shot.
He pulls it out, and aims it like he don't care, then pulls the trigger. There ain't a bang, barely even a whisper, and Cliffy drops. No drama, no gore, not even blood. He just falls like God hisself reached down and turned him off like a lantern.
And then this fifth one appears. No idea where he'd been 'cause we'd only seen four of these folks, but there's somethin' about him that tells you he's been here all along. All five of 'em walk up to Cliffy, the fifth takes back the Queen o' Diamonds, and each lays a card on 'is back and walk away. And when I'm done trying to keep things calm and get the Doc savin' a couple of the poor folk what got caught up in this, I go and take a look. Sure enough, the cards are right there, Queen Diamonds, Eight Spades, Eight Clubs, Ace Spades, Ace Clubs. And then it hits me; that was the Dead Man's Hand. We got a visit from a merc crew right outta Goddamned kids stories, and that they'd only killed a quarter the damned town was a mercy.
And that's why I gotta do this, kid. Your buddies are dead, but I ain't cruel. I sent 'em off quick. I just wanted you to know why you had to go. You're goin' because we learned a damned important lesson that day. You don't steal from the Dead Man's Hand, and you don't let nobody who does live. Else they'd come for you, and that'd be the ruin of all of us. They already came here once, and they ain't gonna appreciate a second visit.
Now you just hold still, and I'll make this quick.
-Dr. Baron von Evilsatan
Back to Wild Cards: Stories of the World
|Spades:||2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - J - Q - K - A|
|Hearts:||2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - J - Q - K - A|
|Clubs:||2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - J - Q - K - A|
|Diamonds:||2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - J - Q - K - A|
|Jokers:||Red Joker - Black Joker|
|Introduction - The World - Gameplay - Stories of the world |
On the Attainment, Ownership and Passing of The Cards
Variant Rule: Hands