The Uncensored, But Still Pretty Vanilla, Story Of Mostly Purple Patty And The Bus Full Of Deadheads

…co-starring the ghost of Jerry Garcia

Here now, our final entry for “The Middle Of Nowhere Week“!

365 People, Places & Things #106

This place is a welcome sight for most travelers. Most, but not all.

The Middle Of Nowhere: Next Gas & Food: 100 Miles

We’ve all seen the joint before, those of us who sometimes drive on those lonely interstate highways. It’s always by itself, no houses around. Just a cafe and a two pump gas station with that big old sign that reads “Next Food & Gas: 100 Miles”. After dark, the lights are always on and during the day, the place usually looks half abandoned.

It’s almost always at least 50-75 miles out from the last town and anybody with a full tank, an empty bladder and no hunger will just zip past it without a second thought. But for those folks running on fumes and yesterday’s breakfast…those down on their luck or brokenhearted or running away or running towards or just plain running sort of folks, it looks pretty good.

The faces change over time or location, but there’s always that just past her prime but still full of piss & vinegar waitress, the cook in the back who’s been at this so long he probably sweats burger grease and the young high school age kid who helps the cook or washes dishes or some shit. The place is cleaner than you think and the grub is pretty good and pretty cheap.

There’s always a couple of regular type customers sitting at the counter. Could be Ed the farmer or Gary the trucker or Sandy the hippie chick or any of a couple of dozen others. Just who kind of depends upon what might happen later.

The gas station part of the operation is made up of the old fart and the young dope. Old fart almost never leaves the office unless he comes out to ask you about your hot looking car or to give advice on how to get somewhere. Young dope does all the work and he never shuts up talking to you, like he’s hoping you’ll give him a big tip for the conversation.

The special thing about this place is that some folks find stuff here. Those people just passing through don’t find anything but food & gas, but the ones who need a place to stop, think and think some more, they’re the finders.

They might find love, be it temporary or otherwise. They might find an answer…hell, they might find a question. Some have found freedom and some have found justice and some have found peace and some have found fear and some have found redemption and some have found out they weren’t really looking for anything after all. Once in awhile, somebody finds death and somebody else finds a new life. You just never know.

About the only thing you can be sure of is that almost nobody ever stays more than a few hours. They eat, they talk, maybe they get an oil change or a transmission job and then they go. What happens during all that, well, it’s different for everyone.

My story? Hey, I’d love to tell it, but I see that young dope is taking my car down off of the jack and my flat tire is fixed. I’ve got to hit the road, man. You stay a while though, have a cup of coffee and a cruller on me.

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The Winkerdog Versus The Bowl Of Green Beans

…Winkerdog: 1 Grean Beans: 0

365 People, Places & Things #104

Don’t confuse this island with that one Mr. Welles wrote about. These souls don’t know The Law and they aren’t really lost.

The Middle Of Nowhere: Lost Souls Island

This island is about 10 miles long by 3 miles wide and nobody ever finds it on purpose. When they do find it, they are usually glad to see it and come ashore for food and water. If they only stay a couple of hours, everything goes well. If they stay over night, the shit hits the fan.

This is usually signaled by many of their crew turning up near dead. A few never turn up. Then there is the problem of the screams in the night, the glowing shapes moving through the woods and the attacks by giant tentacles that pop up out of the water. Most ships leave pretty quickly after that.

The truth about the island is pretty simple: There are no ghosts or monsters, just some people who were castaway here over the centuries and decided they liked it here. They do all of the scary stuff (including the tentacles, which are made mostly of rubber) to scare off bad guys or snoops. They also liberate a few crewmen who might be slaves, steal some supplies and free any prisoners (on the promise that they only take over the ship once it has sailed out of sight of the island.

So far, the system has worked well.

Pianist Envy

…yes, I know, I’m evil

I missed the 365 post yeaterday, so here is the first of two quickies.

365 People, Places & Things #103

Here is a creepy place to stumble upon just at sunset.

The Middle Of Nowhere: The Abandoned Farm

This place exists on nearly every variant of our planet that has farms. It is never found on a main road and it’s always at least 3 miles from the next farm, usually through rough country filled with thickets, bogs and the local version of Fangorn Forest.

The house is always an huge old three story Victorian and there will be a humongous basement. The barn is big enough to hold a Rolling Stones concert in and the sheds, chicken coops, smokehouses and other outbuildings are not much smaller. None of them look like they have been lived in or repaired since about 1880.

You might just find an ordinary but creepy family living here, but don’t count on it. Most likely, they are crazy as outhouse rats…or cannibals…or vampires…or werewolves…or Satan worshipers…or inbred mutants…or aliens…or followers of some Elder God…or all of the above.

Never turn off the main road, kids!

Redrum & Coca Cola

…you know what they say about all work and no play

365 People, Places & Things #102

Have you ever played in a Fantasy RPG session where your party really could have used an inn to stay at, despite being way out in the boondocks?

The Middle Of Nowhere: The Rascally Mage

From the minutes of the High Council of Archwizards meeting, May 3rd, Year of the Bright Dragon. Reported by Enchanted Quill Pen #19.

Council Chair Vendomas Harl: “This meeting is being held is to address the intolerable situation of the inn known as The Rascally Mage.”

At this point, most of the assembled council cursed roundly for about 30 seconds.

Council Chair Vendomas Harl: “Indeed, indeed…we all feel the same about it. The question is, what can we do about it? We have, every one of us, had at least one adventuring party robbed nearly naked by it. Many of us have been hit more than once. Why, Sister Oropalidya has been hit four times in the last 7 years.

At this point, the Enchantress Oropalidya cursed in at least 6 languages, two of them Demonic and one completely unknown to the rest of the council. A motion was made that at some later and calmer date, she be asked to give a talk on it. Motion was seconded by Archwizard Bolobo Rongogo.

Council Chair Vendomas Harl “My apologies for bringing up painful memories, Sister, but it only underscores the need to find this place and shut it down. We all know who is behind it…that chaotic jackanape, Moorl Delvin. He’s been a thorn in our side for nearly two centuries now, but this latest bit of chicanery is the last straw! So again I ask, how can we stop him?”

Enchantress Oropalidya: “I say we put a huge bounty on his head and set Demon Hounds on his trail.”

Archwizard Ugroth: “We could rally the goblins and trolls against him. That would give us nearly a quarter million bodies all searching for him.”

The Whispering One: “We could fashion a Wish Spell tailored precisely for him and his accursed inn.”

Council Chair Vendomas Harl: “Hmm…all good ideas, although the Wish Spell would be the most likely to succeed…if nothing crocked it. However, we must remember that Delvin has accumulated a rather impressive lot of magical artifacts by robbing our hired help. Besides that he is, no matter how much we hate admitting it, an extremely powerful Achwizard. Caution must be taken. Now, let us review what we know about this inn. Famzil, if you would be so kind.

Subwizard Famzil Ambindidias: “Ahem, yes, Archwizard. The inn is, by all accounts, of modest appearance and of a smallish size. It tends to show up along a little used road that the adventurers happen to find on their way back from the intended target location. It always seems to appear shortly before the tired party decides to look for a place to spend the night. Upon entering the inn, they are greeted by a kindly looking old couple and their two daughters. Food and drink are offered and the party is later shown to modest but very comfortable rooms. They sleep deeply and awaken on the ground where the inn stood, dressed only in light clothing and armed with the cheapest of weaponry. They do, however, get to keep any mounts they were riding as well as a two day supply of food & water. Oddly, they also know the fastest and safest way home.”

Council Chair Vendomas Harl “Thank you, Famzil. I suppose we can be thankful that Delvin doesn’t kill or enslave them. I can assure you that most of those same adventurers would love to get him at swordpoint, kindnesses be damned. Ahh, I see that Wenulindo has finally conjured us up some wine! Let us take a minute to enjoy it before we press on.

The Council stopped at this point to drink wine. Approximately 90 seconds later, they were all overcome by a Time Out Spell that extended throughout the entire tower level, freezing all living things in a moment in time. During the 23 minutes they were affected, a tall dark haired Archwizard fitting the description of one Moorl Delvin appeared in the room via Warp Door Spell. He proceeded to strip the entire council naked and take many small valuables from them, including rings, amulets, bracelets and wands. He then, after pausing to write the words “Thank You” in fire above the Council table, used another Warp Door to leave. Two minutes later, the Time Out Spell ended and the Council resumed activity. There was a great deal of cursing and chaotic behavior for the next two hours.

Little B And The Three AM Job

…all he needed to bring was a glass cutter and some old socks.

365 People, Places & Things #101

Space has plenty of nowhere and sometimes you find a somewhere there.

The Middle Of Nowhere: System TZ-4431

If you go way the hell out to the very end of the Carina-Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way, then go about 13,000 light years farther, you’ll find System TZ-4431, also known as the Five Sisters System. Totally restricted space by Federation edict, but not very hard to get to, if that’s what you want to do.

The star is pretty much your typical G2V type star, just like the Terran sun. The big difference is that the five planets in the system all share the same orbit. That’s right, five planets in an evenly spaced ring around the star. Deemed impossible by every scientist you’re likely to ever meet, but there it is just the same.

Even more interesting is the fact that they all contain Earthlike atmospheres and other conditions that make them able to support very rich Terran style ecosystems. But here’s the kicker: The lifeforms on these planets are not related to each other. Yeah, five planets in the same orbit and the life forms are sufficiently different that there is only one explanation: All or most of these planets were brought here from someplace else. Again, the experts say that’s impossible, but they also can’t come up with a better answer.

The planets all have sentient beings, most of whom have a Bronze age level of civilization. They’re all pretty peaceful, too, which is kind of odd. You’d think at that stage they’d be all about conquest and war and stuff.

So, the reason I’m telling you this is because I’m gathering up a small group to go to one or two of these planets and investigate money making opportunities. Yeah, I thought you’d be interested.

Frisky Skinks & Pouty Polecats

…and Otis the Gnu, too

Ooooh! The 100th post! Yay!

365 People, Places & Things #100

Our 100th entry is a train stop in the old west, but only a few people get off the train here. Even fewer get on.

The Middle Of Nowhere: Dead End Junction

Some will tell you it’s down Arizona way, east of Tombstone. Other’s figure it’s nearer to Death Valley and then there’s people that swear it’s in west Texas or New Mexico. Whatever the case, they all agree it’s somewhere along the Texas & Pacific rail line that runs from Dallas to Los Angeles. After that, all we’ve got is stories.

It’s generally agreed that only every 13th train passing through the town will stop there…except for the folks who say it’s every 9th train. Generally, only one person gets off the train, except when more than one get off. Mostly, the folks who get off never seemed to make much of an impression on their fellow passengers. Almost nobody can tell you exactly what they looked like or anything they might have said. An exception to that would be the time Kansas Jack Ordway jumped clean through an open window before the train even stopped completely. The folks sitting in his car remembered really well that he was screaming “Luke Skinner, I told you I’d kill you!” as he made his exit. Unfortunately, it being dark and all, nobody could see this Luke fellow or much else. That’s another thing…everyone agrees that the trains never stop there during the day and you can barely see the town, kinda like there’s a light fog between you and it.

Now as for people getting on the train, well, everybody who’s seen it happen can remember it clearly. Most well known case was when a young lady and a young fellow got on one night back in 1905. Gave their names as Ellen Andrews and Henry Tallent. Said they were heading for Dallas to get married and start a new life. Kept talking about being given a second chance at life. Folks said they were a real friendly young couple about 20 years old or so. Got off at Dallas and were never seen again, though a check at the Hall of Records does show they got married the next day.

Funny thing is, a search through various newspapers showed that an Ellen Andrews went missing from Amarillo back in 1860 after apparently stabbing her abusive husband to death and a young cowhand named Henry Tallent went on the lam after gunning down another cowpoke back in 1858. Both of those people were 25 years old when last seen. Kind of funny, eh?

Oh, and about the train stopping at that station that maybe only exists sometimes? Seems that no matter what the engineer or anyone else does, that train stops. But then, three minutes later, it starts right back up and heads on down the line. Happens enough that the railroad just tells the crew to relax and not ever get off the train. Not too surprisingly, the crews all follow that rule really well.