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You Are Now Leaving Jackalope Crossing - Part 1
The Sleepy Sands Trailer Park
Jackalope Crossing, NV - Two Years Ago
Gus and Carson made their way down the dirt road to Gus's trailer. It had been a crazy night, with the robbery, the murder, and the theft of ill-gotten money. Gus was worried about Vargas, he'd no doubt gotten himself into some crazy bad trouble. Yet right now, he was simply intrigued by the girl he was with. Carson had a way about her that heavily implied she was more than she appeared to be. Gus could just barely make out something, he couldn't put his finger on it completely, yet it was there. It was like he was wearing sunglasses that were hiding certain things from him and he was painfully aware of it.
He was aware of it all the time. The fact that what he was seeing wasn't the whole picture. It was a feeling he'd had ever since that day...
"So this is your place?" Carson asked as they came to a stop in front of his trailer.
"Uh, yeah!" Gus snapped out of his internal monologue. "Mi casa, man! It ain't much but it's home. You don't need much to be happy, at least that's my philosophy."
"It's a good philosophy." Carson murmured.
"So you wanna come inside? I got pizza rolls and uh... I think a two liter of Sierra Mist. Oh, and water." Gus chuckled.
"I'd like that." Carson nodded and followed Gus into his trailer. It was a small abode, and messy. A bong and copious amounts of weed were left in plain view on the pathetically small dining room table. Gus didn't seem to mind as he went to the kitchen and pulled the bottle of Sierra Mist out of the fridge.
"I like your place." Carson said.
"It's a dump." Gus said. "You don't have to be nice. I know it's a dump."
"No worse than any other place I've been." Carson said.
"And where have you been besides here?" Gus asked.
"Lots of different places." Carson answered vaguely. Her eyes scanned the trailer and stopped when the fell upon a telescope resting in the far corner. "What's that?"
"My telescope. I, uh, use it to keep an eye on the sky. Lot's of weird shit in the sky. I like to let it know it's being watched. Plus you can see the planets pretty good with it too."
"Can we look at them now?" Carson asked.
Gus leaned over to look out a window and up at the sky. "Seems clear enough. Sure. Let's break this bitch out!"
Gus took the telescope out to his usual spot out front of his trailer and began to search the night sky for something Carson would find interesting.
"You seem to be obsessed with the sky. Why?"
"Well I learned a long time ago that there's more going on up there than we think there is. You see, I used to work for NASA, and I saw some shit during my time there that eventually led to me being who I am now." Gus explained.
" NASA....it is a space study program is it not?" she asked. " what did you learn there that made you wary of the stars?" she asked not like she thought he was crazy but not like she believed him either. More like she just wanted to hear what he had to say.
"I was an astronomer. Studied stars, looked for earth-like planets, that sort of stuff. But one day something appeared in my telescope. Now... you're probably thinking it was an alien ship or something. But it wasn't. It was the corpse of a massive alien being! A creature so vast it had moons orbiting it! I don't know what it was. Some sort of ancient being, maybe the remains of an ancient god? Who knows. But soon the government was covering up the whole thing. The images were confiscated, and I was told never to divulge what I saw. Of course, no one would believe me, so I never really bothered. But now... knowing things like that lurk out there... I can't help but keep one eye on the stars..." He looked up at the stars again. "You never know what's lurking out there..."
Carson followed his gaze up "I understand....and you are wise to always be on the look out...not all things come in peace..." She didn't say it like she was teasing at all. Mostly cuz she wasn't. She looked back at him "More humans should be like you..."
Gus looked at her, into her eyes. At the time he hadn't considered the possibility that those eyes were the only eyes he wanted to look into for the rest of his life. That Carson was the love of his life.
"What the hell did you see in me?" Gus asked suddenly. He stood next to himself, the past and the future in one single frame of time. Past Gus was frozen, but Gus moved freely in this frame. The Sight now gave him that, and he was happy for it. He looked at his past self and sighed. "I was a fucking bum back then."
"You were unlike any human I'd ever met." Carson said, future her standing next to past her now. The stars began to shudder and shift. The night sky slowly turning into something akin to a Van Gogh painting. "You had seen The Truth, and you turned away from it. You wanted to be happy. And you were happy."
"Carson, I was high." Gus said.
"But happy. You were given the choice between understanding and ignorance. You chose ignorance." Carson said.
"You make it sound like it was noble..." Gus shook his head.
"It was." Carson said.
"And you fell in love with this guy?" Gus looked to himself, who he was. It was like he was looking at a completely different person. Messy hair, wearing a ratty bath robe and a silly shirt. And the jelly sandals... oh god those god awful things! Gus felt embarrassed.
"You may have changed in a lot of ways, but your heart has always been the same. That's what I saw in you, Gus. That's what made me fall in love with you." Carson smiled at the past version of Gus while the present one looked on, embarrassed. Yet he smiled still. "And that's what made you decide to betray your entire race."
She looked to him finally. "It was worth it."
"For all the good it did..." Gus looked around and saw the trailer park had shifted to ruins. Beyond that Gus could see Jackalope Crossing had been laid to waste. The buildings broken husks like the remnants of some nuclear test site. Gus wanted to close his eyes but he couldn't.
He could never close his eyes again.
"Come on, Gus." Carson went to him, put her hand to his cheek. "You need to go back. You can't stay here..."
"I can stay here as long as I want." Gus said adamantly. "This is my favorite moment. The moment we first met. I cherish this moment, and I can stay here as long as I want."
"You know where this moment leads. You can't change it." Carson said. "And you can't keep hiding here."
"The past is the present and the future. They're all one, happening at the same time." Gus said. "A massive structure made of moments. I can see it now, and I can go anywhere in that structure."
"You're still running, Gus. Like you have all your life. That's your drive..."
The world shifted, the structure of space-time moved, the frame in the film skipped ahead. They were in the parking lot of the World's Last Video Rental. Fire engulfed the building, shards of glass littered the parking lot. To his right Gus could see Nate Castagnacci, or rather The Kakabel General Marcinoma who now had his appearance, standing over the lifeless body of Carson.
"Nnnnooo!" Gus shook his head and turned away. Only to see himself on his knees. His eyes pulled from his skull, yet he could still see. "I can't! I don't want this! I won't accept this!"
"You have to, Gus!" Carson appeared in front of him. "You see the whole structure of time. Tell me what you see beyond this moment."
Gus shook his head. "All I see is a world without you..."
"And if you keep hiding like this then I see a world without you and it frightens me." Carson told him. "The structure isn't a straight line, it's a complex web of maybe's and could-have-been's. With the has-happened winding around it. You can keep running around this place for eternity, see all the could-have-been's... but it won't change what has happened."
Gus started to cry. "I can't lose you..."
"You never have, and you never will. You know this isn't the end." Carson pulled him into her arms.
"We're still here, bud." Vargas said. He was flanked by Charles and Daniel and Rayne and everyone he and his friends had lost along the way. "Nothing is gone forever."
"But I can't go with you..." Gus looked up at her. "Can I?"
"It's not your time." Carson said. "This town still needs you. They..." She looked to the other Jackalopes who were frozen in the moment, Freddy taking cover behind his car while Simon was in the back with a shotgun in mid-pump. Allison, Jackson, and his other agents were engaged in a major firefight with Miles and Isobel and Marc's army of co-opted mobsters. "They still need you."
Gus looked at the frozen battle. Black blood began to pour from his eyes. "Okay..."
Pain shot through him. Through his eyes, through his heart, through his soul. The world began to resume playing at the moment Gus left off. Gus screamed. Gunfire roared through the air.
Mar gazed around the world, Gus's eyes now in his skull. They glowed with the otherworldly energy of The Sight. He smiled.
"So this is The Truth..." Mar smirked and looked down at Carson's limp form. "Your punishment for your betrayal is merely a footnote on this monumentous moment..." He looked to Gus. "You saw through these great eyes, yet you chose to be blind... You are a fool."
Somehow, despite the fact he didn't have his eyes, he could still see. The Sight was with him still. He could see more than he had ever seen before. And with a mere thought, he could still see through his own eyes as they looked down at him. Gus shook his head. "You're the fool... You think my eyes will let you see... Eyes... You can never trust your eyes..."
Mar chuckled and turned to Isobel and Miles. "We're leaving. We have what we came here for."
"No!" Isobel hollered as he turned to Mar then back to where Allison had taken cover. "You promised me revenge! I want Allison!"
Mar rolled his new eyes and outstretched his hand. Isobel was pulled up into the air by a clear foot and sent flying into Marc's outstretched hand. "You are a pawn in my game, not the other way around. My endgame spells death for every last one of you wretched creatures. If you will not lay out the path to my goal, I will pave it myself in your blood." He then crushed Isobel. Blood spilled and pooled around his feet and spread out onto the asphalt. Miles was horrified, he took a few steps back and looked at Mar with utter horror on his face.
"I may still require your services, if you wish to live beyond today, you will fall in line or share her fate." Mar threatened.
Miles merely nodded. "Alright, boys!" Let's get the fuck outta dodge!"
Mar extended his hands and suddenly there was a shift in the fabric of reality, a portal opened and Mar stepped through. Miles and a handful of goons managed to make it too. However, some were stranded.
Freddy and Simon wiped up the straggles with some well placed shots while Allison and the others rushed to where Gus was, cradling Carson's lifeless body in his arms.
"Oh god..." Freddy said under his breath. "No... not her..."
"Gus, sweetie you gotta let me check her!" Kelli shouted as she tried to get him to put Carson down.
"It's too late... she's gone... I know... I see it..." Gus muttered.
Jackson looked to Allison for confirmation. She looked to him, tears streaming down her face, she nodded.
"Kelli, back off..." Jackson muttered.
Kelli looked to him then to Gus and she fought back tears of her own. She decided to focus on Gus's injuries instead. "Gus, let me help with that. Please."
Gus didn't seem to care much that his eyes had been plucked out of his skull. Dried blood ran down his face like some horror show makeup. Yet to Jackson's surprise he seemed to react to them as if he could still see them.
"Gus..." Jackson frowned. "Are you...?"
"Blind?" Gus shrugged. "Yes and no."
At this point, such a nonsensical response sounded perfectly valid to Jackson. "So that son of a bitch has your eyes. What's he planning to do with them?"
"He can see it now. The rift. It is an oddity of the cosmos." Gus said. "The Baker family used it to fuel their magic. The Kakabel intended to use it to power their doomsday weapon. It is a source of power capable of rewriting reality. And I believe Mar, the Kakabel entity that's running around with Nate Castagnacci's face, plans to finish what he started with a caviat: he's gonna bring back his people."
"Fuck that!" Freddy said. "That fucker's gonna pay for everything he's done!"
"Gus, we need to move." Allison said. "If that thing is going for the rift we have to stop it before it gets there."
Gus was still in a state of shock. Kelli was already at work putting bandages over his eyes. Even then, he could still see. If anything, losing his eyes had been an improvement. He looked to his left and saw Carson standing there. She nodded to him. He nodded to her.
He knew he had to keep moving. Carson was counting on him. He nodded in response to Allison's declaration and looked down at Carson, or rather Carson's empty shell, and he sighed. "We need to head down into the catacombs. He'll be headed there."
Kelli and Hunter helped Gus up to his feet, then Hunter shouldered him and helped carry him to Jackson's government SUV. The police and fire department were already arriving to secure the area and put out the fire. As Hunter put Gus in the back seat of the SUV Gus looked over and saw Carson was already sitting in the seat next to him.
"I'm always with you, Gus. I'm not going anywhere." She smiled at him, her face somewhat sad that this had to happen.
"Carson's still here..." Gus said.
"We know, we'll get someone to recover her body and keep it safe." Hunter said, assuming Gus was worried about leaving her remains behind.
Gus didn't bother correcting him.
Allison and Jackson got to work making up a cover story for what probably was the tenth major gunfight Jackalope Crossing had experienced in the last year. It would've been hard to explain this had it not been for the fact that this Mar entity had decided to rope in Castagnacci's old crew into this as foot soldiers. Chalk it up to bad blood and gang violence.
Once things about the cover-up were situated Allison went over to where medical examiners were gathering Isobel's remains. She sighed and asked them to give her a minute and she knelt down next to the poor girl's corpse.
"I wish I had been honest with you from the beginning Isobel... I'm so sorry I left you..." She expected to see her ghost wandering about somewhere, but Allison didn't see her. She pondered the reason why for a moment then shook her head. "Wherever you are, Isobel, I hope you're doing better. You didn't deserve any of this..."
Then she went to Jackson's SUV to check on Gus. She was pleasantly pleased to see that Carson was still around, even if only in spirit. "I'm so sorry, Gus." Allison said.
"I know..." Gus winced as Kelli gave him some drugs for the pain. Though really he wasn't feeling much at the moment. "Carson and I had a long talk. There's no going back now. No last minute saves. We're on the road to the end..."
Allison got a chill when Gus said that. The finality of it all made it sound ominous. Freddy and Simon got back into Freddy's convertible and began to follow Jackson and Hunter's cars as they made their way to City Hall where they knew the entrance to the catacomb under the city resided.
The drive was quiet. Everyone was still processing everything that had happened. And while they did that, Gus left the moment and went to another.
Gus and Carson were in the video store. It was the night after she had come back to him after she'd made her sacrifice to stop the Kakabel. They lay on the fold-out sofa in the store's back room. Their naked bodies wound around one another in blissful relief. A blanket they shared while Gus listened to her sleeping breaths.
"I remember this night too..." Carson said as she turned to look up at him. "It was a special night for both of us..."
"Did I ever tell you that when you made that decision, to sacrifice yourself for the whole world, I was never able to see you as a Kakabel after that?" He asked.
Carson shook her head, "You never told me that. But I know what you mean by it now."
"You became human that day. As far as The Sight was concerned. You were, for all intents and purposes, human. Pure and simple." Gus ran his fingers through her hair.
"You shared with me the most important thing that makes humans... well, human." Carson smiled.
"We're always here, aren't we?" Gus asked as he nuzzled the back of her neck and took her smell in.
"We are. Always. In this moment." Carson closed her eyes and smiled. "A moment in eternity..."
"Yet we're not at the same time." Gus said. "Even now I still don't understand."
"There are some things we will never understand, Gus. Even you... with a sight that stretched beyond veils and falsehoods. No perspective can grant you the full picture." Carson said.
Gus returned to the here and now just as the Jackalopes reached city hall. Once they parked, Hunter offered Gus his shoulder again, but he refused. Much to everyone's surprise, Gus easily navigated his way up the steps to the front door on his own. he turned to his friends and, through his bandages they could make out a light frown.
"What're you waiting for? We've got to save the world one last time... Come on!"