He doesn't immediately fall over. The first bad sign.\n\nYou feel a sting in your abdomen. An even worse sign.\n\nHe starts laughing.\n\nHe [[walks towards you|TheEnd]].
The End.
<<set $you_men = "yes">><<set $num_men_phrases = $num_men_phrases + 1>>"You!"\n<<if $num_men_phrases eq 4>><<if $num_bar_phrases eq 4>>\nBefore the men can reply the [[door swings open|LongfordIntro]].<<else>>\n[["Go speak to the barkeep"|GoBar]]\n<<endif>><<else>>\n"Yeah. Us. We know who you are. We knew you were coming through here."\n"And so did Longford. Oh he'll be coming here soon. Just you wait."\n\nYou've heard this sort of thing many times before. You don't know if they're all in on it, but there are definitely seekers in this town. It's disappointing. You were hoping to relax today and get a good night's sleep. You wonder who this Longford guy is. All different types come after you. Mostly young men from small towns who have nothing else going for them. Boredom will make you do stupid things. But that's how it works – kill the Cowboy, get the Phrase.\n\n<<if $you_men eq "no">>[["You!"|YouMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_men eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_men eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_men eq "no">>[["One!"|OneMen]]<<endif>>\n<<endif>>
The barkeep points at the three men in the corner.\n\n"[[Those boys|Men]] will be wanting to speak with you. That's all I know."
<a href=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwY7mC9lXNw&list=PLt4IoNznId1Jbb4pyPkcP_WeZ0aGfHtT6 target="_blank">*A Song Begins To Play*</a>\n\nYou're riding your horse through the plains. You just got out of the Rockies a yesterday. The land is much flatter now. It's late afternoon.\n\nYou're bored. You pull out your revolver and pop out the cylinder. Six shots. You smile as you recall all the bullets that have briefly called this pistol home. You know your time is almost over. One shot. The weight of the single bullets adds up.\n\nOn the horizon you see the glint of a village.\nYou look down at your steed.\n\n[["You!"|YouHorse]]\n[["Only!"|OnlyHorse]]\n[["Get!"|GetHorse]]\n[["One!"|OneHorse]]\n\n<<set $you_horse = "no">>\n<<set $only_horse = "no">>\n<<set $get_horse = "no">>\n<<set $one_horse = "no">>
You follow him outside.\n\nHe stops in the middle of the road.\n\nHe turns around.\n\nYou know [[the drill|TheDrill]].
<<set $only_bar = "yes">><<set $num_bar_phrases = $num_bar_phrases + 1>>"Only!"\n<<if $num_bar_phrases eq 4>>\n[["That Phrase. I knew it was you."|GoMen]]\n<<else>>\n"Only? Only a water? I... I can do that..."\n\nThe barkeep picks up a glass, turns around, fills it, and lays it down in front of you.\n\nAfter a long day of riding you desperately need it. The last two days have been long ones.\n\nLast night some seekers ambushed you. There were five of them. You only missed one shot. Three died immediately. As far as you could tell, anyway. Of the remaining two, one was hit in the arm and the other was unscathed. They knew they were out of danger at that point. They know the rules. But they panicked and fled. Lucky for you.\n\n<<if $you_bar eq "no">>[["You!"|YouBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_bar eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_bar eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_bar eq "no">>[["One!"|OneBar]]<<endif>>\n<<endif>>
You decide to listen to the men. You turn around and walk slowly [[towards the bar|Bar]]. The barkeep remains intensly focused on drying a glass.
<<set $you_bar = "yes">><<set $num_bar_phrases = $num_bar_phrases + 1>>"You!"\n<<if $num_bar_phrases eq 4>>\n[["That Phrase. I knew it was you."|GoMen]]\n<<else>>\n"Listen, I don't want any trouble."\n\nThe barkeep leans to one side and looks past you. You turn around and see the table with the three men. They are looking at you. Their expressions are a mix of grimaces and smiles.\n\nEveryone wants the Phrase for a different reason. For you it was the notoriety.\n\n<<if $you_bar eq "no">>[["You!"|YouBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_bar eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_bar eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_bar eq "no">>[["One!"|OneBar]]<<endif>>\n<<endif>>
<<set $you_men = "no">><<set $only_men = "no">><<set $get_men = "no">><<set $one_men = "no">><<set $num_men_phrases = 0>>You approach the table. The men look up. One of the men is smiling. The others are stern.\n\n<<if $you_men eq "no">>[["You!"|YouMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_men eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_men eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_men eq "no">>[["One!"|OneMen]]<<endif>>
"I did it! That was so easy! I can't believe it!"\n\nYou fall on your knees.\n\n"Don't even bother. It's over. I'll carry the Phrase from here."\n\nYou feel a weight lifted.\n\n"I know you couldn't explain the rules to me, but don't worry I know them already. One shot per person. Live or die."\n\nYou fall face forward to the dirt.\n\n"And the last part. The most important part. The Phrase itself."\n\n[["You"|You]]
"One!"\n<<set $one_horse = "yes">>\nIf you were trying to count down from one to encourage the horse, it doesn't work. You realize counting down from one wouldn't make much sense to a human, let alone a horse. You shake your head.\n\n<<if $you_horse eq "no">>[["You!"|YouHorse]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_horse eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyHorse]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_horse eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetHorse]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_horse eq "no">>[["One!"|OneHorse]]<<endif>>
"You!"\n<<set $you_horse = "yes">>\nYour horse clearly seems to be unaware that you are referring to him. He trots along at an irkingly slow pace. You'd be more upset, but you're both getting old.\n\n<<if $you_horse eq "no">>[["You!"|YouHorse]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_horse eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyHorse]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_horse eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetHorse]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_horse eq "no">>[["One!"|OneHorse]]<<endif>>
Catchphrase Cowboy
<<set $get_men = "yes">><<set $num_men_phrases = $num_men_phrases + 1>>"Get!"\n<<if $num_men_phrases eq 4>><<if $num_bar_phrases eq 4>>\nBefore the men can reply the [[door swings open|LongfordIntro]].<<else>>\n[["Go speak to the barkeep"|GoBar]]\n<<endif>><<else>>\n"Get where?"\n"Get out of here? Ha! Yeah right. This is our bar. This is our town."\n"You're done for."\n"Just you wait..."\n\nYou try to imagine what everyone back east is doing. Probably a lot of people raising families. Probably a lot of people turned out just like these guys. You wonder about your family. Are they still around? You haven't seen them in thirty-odd years. You don't hate them. You grew up in a fine home. You just wanted something different. That's what the Phrase got you. But as you inch closer to death you start to wonder what could have been.\n\n<<if $you_men eq "no">>[["You!"|YouMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_men eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_men eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_men eq "no">>[["One!"|OneMen]]<<endif>>\n<<endif>>
<<set $num_bar_phrases = 0>>You grab a stool at the bar. The barkeep puts down the glass that he was drying. He looks up at you and cringes ever so slightly.\n\n"What can I do for you?"\n\n<<if $you_bar eq "no">>[["You!"|YouBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_bar eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_bar eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_bar eq "no">>[["One!"|OneBar]]<<endif>>
<<set $one_men = "yes">><<set $num_men_phrases = $num_men_phrases + 1>>"One!"\n<<if $num_men_phrases eq 4>><<if $num_bar_phrases eq 4>>\nBefore the men can reply the [[door swings open|LongfordIntro]].<<else>>\n[["Go speak to the barkeep"|GoBar]]\n<<endif>><<else>>\n"Do you even know how stupid you sound? Running around saying the same words over and over?"\n"You're too old to be carrying the Phrase. You're not worthy!"\n\nYou think back to when you first got the Phrase. You've turned the concept over in your head countless times. Like repeating a word too much it just stops making sense after a while. Everyone knows who you are. Kids read books about you, play make believe as you. All because of a code you undertake. Self-imposed laws you bear. The law of the Phrase. The women loved it too. At least they used to. Now you're just seeing how much long you can hold on to the title.\n<<if $you_men eq "no">>[["You!"|YouMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_men eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_men eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_men eq "no">>[["One!"|OneMen]]<<endif>>\n<<endif>>
Your eyes take a moment to adjust. The patronage is sparse. You touch your side and feel the reassuring weight of your revolver.\n\nIn the corner there is a group of three burly, filthy men. They are hunched over in conversation. They look up at you, but quickly avert their eyes.\n\nThe barkeep is drying a glass. He ignores you.\n\n[[You walk up to the bar|Bar]]\n[[You approach the men in the corner.|Men]]\n\n<<set $you_bar = "no">>\n<<set $only_bar = "no">>\n<<set $get_bar = "no">>\n<<set $one_bar = "no">>
"Only!"\n<<set $only_horse = "yes">>\nYes, if only your horse understood english. If only you weren't stuck in this stupid desert. If only your speech weren't cursed by the Phrase. You look forward to sitting in the shade of a saloon. You imagine a beer sliding down your throat. The village can't be far now.\n\nYou snap out of your reverie and look back down at your horse.\n\n<<if $you_horse eq "no">>[["You!"|YouHorse]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_horse eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyHorse]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_horse eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetHorse]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_horse eq "no">>[["One!"|OneHorse]]<<endif>>
A man walks through the door. He looks to be about 17. Filthy. Scrangly. Ugly as sin.\n\n"I'm Longford. Let's [[step outside|Outside]]."
"Get!"\n<<set $get_horse = "yes">>\nYour horse looks back at you and reluctantly begins to move ever-so-slightly faster. Luckily it's been a while since you've had to rely on your horse for a getaway. It usually ends before it gets to that.\n\nThe village [[grows closer|Village]]
<<set $one_bar = "yes">><<set $num_bar_phrases = $num_bar_phrases + 1>>"One!"\n<<if $num_bar_phrases eq 4>>\n[["That Phrase. I knew it was you."|GoMen]]\n<<else>>\n"Sure thing, sure thing... one beer coming right up..."\n\nThe barkeep lays the beer in front of you. You pick it up and down it in several gulps.\n\nAs the end approaches you think back to he who came before you. He was in much better shape than you are now. But he was also younger. You have outlasted him. When the Phrase was passed on he could still speak more than one word word at a time. Though his vocubulary had shrunken, he could at least still communicate a little. You mostly get by on intimidation and stern looks. You don't need much.\n\n<<if $you_bar eq "no">>[["You!"|YouBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_bar eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_bar eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_bar eq "no">>[["One!"|OneBar]]<<endif>>\n<<endif>>
It's over.\n\n[[darkness|Darkness]]
<<set $only_men = "yes">><<set $num_men_phrases = $num_men_phrases + 1>>"Only!"\n<<if $num_men_phrases eq 4>><<if $num_bar_phrases eq 4>>\nBefore the men can reply the [[door swings open|LongfordIntro]].<<else>>\n[["Go speak to the barkeep"|GoBar]]\n<<endif>><<else>>\n"Yeah, there's only four of us, but we don't even care about you."\n"The Phrase don't mean anything to us. Look where it's got you now."\n"You're just an old man fighting to stay alive."\n\nYou consider ending them all right here. Three shots. But they're just a bunch of drunks. They don't matter. You've encountered many worthy foes over the years. These are not some of them.\n\nBut what about you? Just running around murdering people who are trying to kill you. At least you have a code. That has to count for something, doesn't it?\n\n<<if $you_men eq "no">>[["You!"|YouMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_men eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_men eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetMen]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_men eq "no">>[["One!"|OneMen]]<<endif>>\n<<endif>>
He nods at you and smiles. The teeth that aren't rotted are missing.\n\nHe drags his foot in the soil and points. You place your feet shoulder-width apart, toes touching the line.\n\n(you turn and see the three drunks stumbling out of the saloon)\n\nHe turns his back to you and walks his 20 paces. He turns and [[faces you|Bang]].
<<set $get_bar = "yes">><<set $num_bar_phrases = $num_bar_phrases + 1>>"Get!"\n<<if $num_bar_phrases eq 4>>\n[["That Phrase. I knew it was you."|GoMen]]\n<<else>>\nBefore the word comes out of your mouth the bartender is already scuttling to the other side of the bar.\n\n"S-s-sure thing... one whisky coming right up."\n\nYou feel satisfied. You know you're dying. But people still respect you. Or fear you. One of the two. You don't care. For these moments the Phrase is worth it.\n\n<<if $you_bar eq "no">>[["You!"|YouBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $only_bar eq "no">>[["Only!"|OnlyBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $get_bar eq "no">>[["Get!"|GetBar]]<<endif>>\n<<if $one_bar eq "no">>[["One!"|OneBar]]<<endif>>\n<<endif>>
You strut down main street of the small village.\n\nYou spot a saloon at the end of the strip.\n\nYou pull up and tie up your horse outside.\n\nYou walk up the steps and [[through the swinging door|Saloon]].
Benedict Fritz