Part 22: Ride the Snake River, part 1
Note: this is a two-parter. Part two will go up tomorrow night. Also: I can't fucking believe this game.
OCTOBER 20TH, 1848
Sarah Jane wanted to die. Literally. She was praying for instant and painless auto-combustion because Snake River was the largest and scariest body of water she had ever seen.
The Neckebards in general were exhausted, dirty and in pain.
Susan, despite her elite training, was suffering from dysentary, measels, fever and cholera. It was amazing that she was still able to pull it together. In the battles that had been going on for over a week now on the trail, Waffles had almost fallen from the wagon, breaking his leg, and was still suffering the effects of cholera. Sarah Jane's measels had caused a terrible rash and fever to wrack her body, Baby was dead (of a broken heart) and Cyrus was... actually Cyrus was fine. Relatively so, if you ignored the fact that his wife was a British superspy working for England and now he was a wanted criminal by association. It was incredible that he had not contracted any of the plagues that were making the rounds.
For Cyrus, it was clear that fording the river was not an option. Even if the wagon did make it through the six-foot waters, the river moved at an incredible pace and was extremely wide. He was confident he could caulk the wagon, but it could take hours and the family was in a hurry. Besides, he wasn't so confident about his ability to control it on such a fast-moving river. Where was a ferry when you need one?
It suddenly occured to Cyrus that there was a large indian population around the river on both sides and found this slightly odd. They seemed to have people lined up all the way down both sides of the river, but only in one direction: downstream. They were eyeing the Neckbards like hunters, clearly waiting for the right moment to spring on them. Suddenly one approached the stagecoach and said something in a foreign language. Cyrus tried to conversate by gesturing wildly and speaking loudly, a proud American tradition when speaking to foreigners.
Er... HELP WITH RIVER?
He made a hand motion like a wave moving through the air.
The indian become excited and replied happily. Cyrus couldn't make out anything in english but "Fif-tee! Fif-tee!"
Fifty? Oh, dollars! You want fifty dollars to help us across? We're in luck, Susan!
Actually, I think...
He eagerly held out the money to the indian, whose immediate response was to replace the money in Cyrus' hand with a bit of dried green plant that had been rolled up into small cylinders.
The indian jumped away shouting something with glee. Other indians at the river had taken note and were starting to come closer.
Congratulations, Cyrus, you just bought some peyote.
Who the whats-it?
Another indian was now standing next to the wagon, holding up some bright fruit. Then another showed up with a colorful blanket. Soon a dozen indians were crowding aound the wagon, eagerly thrusting their wares at the Neckebards and shouting various numbers. Twin-tee! Ayy-tee! Boxes of bullets and wool clothing and spare wagon parts. Things were getting out of hand. Susan noted nervously that they seemed to have a lot of colonial goods for an indian tribe.
No! NO! We don't need any more axles! Get that puppy away from me!
The din was becoming overwhelming and indians were now starting to climb up the sides of the wagon to show off their goods. The Neckebards were finding that they were having to politely shove the indians back to keep the wagon from tipping under the extra weight. Cyrus was becoming increasingly worried.
Get off the wagon! GET OFF MY WAGON!
Cyrus had momentarily lost himself in rage and the indians were taken aback, slowly moving back from the wagon. A sharp whistle went up from behind the crowd. An older indian had stepped forward and the crowd moved aside for him as though he were the native american Moses. He spoke with a commanding voice.
White man need help on river.
Yes! Finally! Please, we really need to get across. How much will it cost?
You give 'em clothes.
Make naked! You and you!
He pointed to Cyrus and Waffles, who was looking just as confused as his step-father.
Cyrus eyed the indian with suspicion, bewildered. Waffles was already taking off his shirt. He wanted the hell out of here. Cyrus was morally and spiritually opposed to this idea but saw no choice. Plus Susan was laying into him for his prudishness.
Oh, just give him what he wants, you big ninny.
He began taking off his belt. Soon the Neckebard men were sitting around the wagon au' natural and tossed their clothes down to the indian chief. With a smug grin, he nodded and gestured to a few strong-looking indian men, who climbed up onto the sides of the wagon. Cyrus had broken out in a cold sweat at this point.
No worry, white man. We make wagon balance. Help to stay up.
Behind them, more indians had begun to push the wagon into the water of the river. Between the roaring sound of rushing water and her recently nudened male family members, Sarah Jane had decided to take a trip into the Mystical Land of Underblanket where she made good with the freaking out. Susan acted as though nothing odd was going on here.
The indian men on the sides of the wagon would periodically yell things to each other as the wagon would lean either too far one way or the other so they could adjust their weights. To be honest, it actually seemed to be working fairly well. From behind they could faintly hear the indian chief chuckling with his cronies. If they could have translated the conversation, it would have gone something like this:
"...but Chief, why'd you take their clothes?"
"Just fuckin' with em. I didn't think they'd really do it."
"HAHAHAHAahah! Shoshoni 4Ever, bitches!"
As they neared the half-way point of the river, a shout rang out from the bank. It was the english-speaking chief.
OK! NOW MAKE FUCK 'EM!
The indians were suddenly rocking voilently back and forth on the sides of the wagon, which had begun to teeter on the precarious waters like a seesaw being molested by two competitive fat kids. A pair of shoes bounced over the side of the wagon and rushed downstream, where indians were already lined up with long poles trying to fish them out of the water. This did not bode well. As the wagon began to make its final death throes, the "guides" had already jumped off and swam like professional athletes back to the water's edge.
It was too late to finish the sentence. Before they knew it, the wagon had flipped!
Then shit got real crazy.