The Complete Tales presents:
Racconti di Vecchio Ovest
Episode 6, Il Rapido ed il Pane
The Quick and the Bread
As Kit stepped forward, he felt a hand slip into his as Madame Patisserie came to his side. He noticed, abstractly, that she was actually slightly attractive. The crowd gathered around them. Beneath the ruins of the fountain was a shallow hole, and in that hole was a wooden box.
Buzz and Enriquo avoided each others' gaze. Fong stared at the hole like it owed him an answer. The others just milled around, wondering what would happen next.
They didn't have to wait long.
It began as a high-pitched shriek, reverberating through the hills and mountains, streaming across the desert, and blasting through the shattered remains of a town called Yokel. It was the sound of deliverance, but also dissolution; the sound of the New World, and the end of the world as they knew it. The UnBread looked up; even they knew the sound of looming destiny. At long last, even without their pirate workforce, the Great Iron Horse had made it to Yokel. And it contained the one group that would be the ruin of them all - pirate, cowboy, zombie and ninja alike.
Madame Patisserie spin her head in that direction. To her embarrassment it kept spinning, a trick she'd learned from her friend Linda Blair; fortunately everyone else was distracted by the train too, so she forced herself not to projectile vomit and stopped her head from rotating.
"We must hurry," she said as soon as she stopped feeling dizzy.
"What is it?" asked Beergut.
"I don't know," she lied, "but God told me that if we don't find this item soon then you'll all get genital warts. Somebody open the damn box!"
Kit shrugged, and knelt down; using the heel of his (or Ricco's) shoe, he broke the wooden slats at the top of the box. Before he could look in, Patisserie had pushed him aside.
Reaching into the box, she drew out a nugget of pure gold.
The train gave out its high-pitched cry again. Patisserie grinned.
"Thanks, morons," she said. "And now, by way of thanks, I shall tell you what happens next, maybe tie up a few loose ends for you:
"On that train are prospectors, and tourists, and businessmen with stock options and low fixed-rate mortgage plans. They're all coming here to see the Old West, the exciting fronteir, the end of the known world - a world that only exists in their fantasies, coz as we all know, all that really happens in the Old West is that old Dennis the Smithy gets tapirs in his vest, and even then they leave without a fight.
"But they have money, and guns. They will MAKE their Old West, and yours will be destroyed, in a way that all the zombies and indians in the world could never manage. This - " she held up the nugget " - will ensure that Yokel will finally meet its end, for good and all.
"Now, I hope you'll excuse me. I have a train to catch."
With that, she vanished.
There was a moments silence, but before anyone could say anything, Beergut spoke up.
"Everybody shut up and listen to me. We still have a chance."
The silence stretched, tenuously; but held.
Beergut continued, amazed at his own lucidity, and the clarity of the words coming from his own mouth. "There are two things that must be done. Firstly, this town must become boring again. Until this business is dealt with, I don't want anyone to so much as re-sort their music collection in non-alphabetical order. We must be vigilant, at all times, for anything that could be considered interesting; when we see something, we must leap upon it instantly and quash it into the ground."
The remaining pirates began to cheer, but Beergut held up his hand. "No cheering, lads; that's too interesting. From now on, you applaud politely." The pirates nodded; this made sense. A light ripple of applause broke out.
"Second," Beergut sighed, "we have to get that nugget back before Patisserie can sell it to the men on the train."
"How?" interrupted Buzz. "She can teleport, and as soon as she get's to the train we'll never catch her..."
"We have one advantage," said Beergut. "From working on the train, I know one little secret that even she doesn't."
"And that is?"
"It's run by Railtrack. It's going nowhere fast, and if we're quick, we can still make it. Let's decide who's going after her and quickly. There isn't a second to loose!"
"Steady on, isn't that a rather interesting thing to say?"
"Sorry; I meant that..."
He paused. The village looked on expectantly. He shrugged.
"Looks like it goan' be warm again," he said.
"Did someone say 'ninjas'?" muttered Mayor Sarah. "I could have sworn I heard someone say something about ninjas. At least we haven't had any of them show up. That would be just a little to interesting, I think."
"¬_¬" said the plot.