Thursday, March 24, 2016

Spinning In the Devil's Fingers

Another Time
Another Place

Cut apart by Old Man River, eastward Tumbleson County and westward Battiste Parrish are brothers with different mothers. The larger Tumbleson was seeded by anglophones, the triangle trade, and protestant work ethic; Battiste by the French, the Code Noir, and viridian decay. Most folk work in Tumbleson and cross over into Battiste for play.  This cultural divide has cemented Tumbleson as "God's Country" and Battiste as "the Devil's Backyard."  Though that line has blurred in the past, the Good Lord has seen fit to stiffen the demarcation.  

The countryside is consumed by loose bramble, knobby cypress trees, arrogant pines, and the creeping morass.  Shadows long and deep hide secrets and evils old before man of any stripe or creed came to these woods.  The Great War's industrial scale horror has kicked these monsters awake, slouching from their lairs following the siren call of apocalypse.  Old superstitions and folkways die hard and many see the signs, whether it's social unrest or the keening of birds.  This is your home, your family, your town, and your people.  Who will survive and what will be left of them?

Tumbleson County is a mash up of Supernatural and O Brother Where Art You? using Monster of the Week. An antebellum veneer to a rotten, monstrous core, and the brave folk seeking justice in the glades and rundown plantation homes.  Trying out thematic plot hooks on a random D6,6 table. 

1,1 - Family fortune -Grandpa Evinrude had a slew of government bonds, must be worth a small fortune. Things' ve been so bad, should get you outta here or set up someplace more comfortable.

1,2 - Lost evidence - The police seem to have "misplaced" the Rambler's car, it was supposed to be impounded but now the spot's empty.  The damned thing reeked to high heaven, stitched with bullet holes, and that awful hood ornament.  Can't see how they'd lose it.
1,3 - Sleepwalking - Keep an eye on your sister.  Tie her big toe to the bedpost if you have to.  Last thing you want is finding her face down in the creek. Or on the arm of some spectral bridegroom.

1,4 - Bloated body -Strangest thing at the Tagert place.  Their oldest son Bayard drowned in the bath tub. Thing is, the basin was dry and the boy's body swelled up like a sponge.
1,5 - Suspicious suicide - It's troubling, all these corpses popping up.  Mabel Ferris' suicide doesn't surprise me, with her husband running out on her and the kids. Wrists and face were bruised all to hell, to say nothing about the noose. 

1,6 - Enchanted hotel - The historic Hotel Masada has just reopened. New manager says they're gonna turn it around, bless her heart. I don't think anyone's told her about the hotel's sordid history. Or the ghosts. 
2,2 - Cannibal family - Ol' Duvall, the postman, delivered a condolences card to the sheriff's office from his Galloway County counterpart.  Something about "Good luck with the Herons!" Could be related to the Murff County Herons, backwood cousin kissers that they are.

 2,3 - Masked vigilante - The whitecaps are running around threatening everyone they come across.  Someone wrecked several of Pappy Ferguson's stills out in the woods the other night.  Hope they keep it up, his grip could lose a few more fingers.
2,4 - Buried treasure -Back in '66 a mob hanged John Benson, a no-good thief and land pirate who was running flesh and goods plucked from unguarded storehouses.  Relentless, he amassed a small fortune the envy of n'er-do-wells around, they're the ones who snitched on him.  Shame they never found it.

2,5 - False prophet - A new preacher's rolled into town, spreading the word of the Good Book. His sermon drips with promise of a New World beyond black stars and faith healing. Their tent is pitched out by the lake they've rechristened Hali. You can find many of the town's young ladies out there on Sunday. 
2,6 - Reluctant marriage - Remember young Annabelle?  She's getting married to Snake Hands Jimmy on Sunday.  I know his hands are snakes, that's not the trouble.  Her childhood sweetheart, Carp Plunkett, thinks he's gonna be a big dam hero and rescue her.  You need to stop him or there'll be blood.

3,3 - Wrongfully accused - Your cousin has been accused of an ugly crime and sits behind bars. The Young Town mob just wants someone to hang for it, they'd take anybody if it's compelling enough. He is your favorite cousin after all.
3,4 - Jailbreak - Want to help your brother?  Trouble is, Parcell State Farm is isolated.  No one's getting away without outside help, unless you ambush them out on work detail.  I know a good place to hide off the road.

3,5 - Serial killer - The Rambler, Otis Lee, was caught and arrested after a vicious shoot out. Lee still lives despite his multiple wounds. Hooked to a morphine drip, he calls for someone named Henry in his sleep. His survival is a travesty considerin' what he did, someone oughta finish him off.
3,6 - Unnatural storm - You say that old Bloodland is filled with strange lights? Before your time Bloodland was a den of vice, all manner of brothels and gambling parlors.  Not the ruin it is now; that's on account of the unseasonable hurricane wiping the town off the map.  My mother always said the strange lights in the Bloodland ruins were a warning.

4,4 - Hungry statues - See that grave marker? That one right there.  That belonged to old Miser Gold, spent more on that memorial of his death than anything in his life.  Creepy huh? Kids were daring each other to spend a new moon under its wings until the Harman boy was killed.  Looked like something had taken big bites out of him.
4,5 - Strange child - Don't forget Lorecia Conerly's funeral is in 3 days, you'll want to look your best.  Never know who comes out to these things.  Of course her family will be there, just because she died of childbirth out of wedlock doesn't exile her.  The midwife claims the babe has the legs and tail of an alligator.  Hell, if that's true I'm surprised they're taking as much time with it as they are. 

4,6 - Star-crossed lovers - Feuding families aren't new, and their fool headed children coming together is equally cliche. The Bigtrees and the Conerlys are in that very situation. Gator farmers by trade, they got into competition over a particular bull. Soon it was after-church shoot outs and bush whacking.  Now Euless Conerly and Ava Bigtree are convinced they're gonna mend a bridge that's been washed out by bloodshed. 
5,5 - Demonic possession - You know that juke joint off the tributary? Ruby's? Yeah, it burned down. But not before some bluesman seized the crowd by the soul and turned 'em inside out. Some of them are still out there, stalking the marshland. 

5,6 - Mystery cult - They say the scales have to be in balance and new life needs old death.  Some years back, rains were heavy, the levees broke, and the river overran county and parrish.  Things were bad, sickness and starvation were rampant.  Old Ms. Harman led several of the youth out into the swamp, "to pray on what'd happened" she said.  They came back fewer, but with nets full of fish, saving us.  These days, kids go missing but the river stays tame.
6,6 - Cipher - Take this basket out to your Aunt Ima.  I know her house smells foul, it's all the feral cats.  She's touched in the head, some sort of antennae to the angels.  Fills notebooks with funny writings, says she sees around the corner.  Warned my daddy to stay away from Bloodland when that hurricane hit.