I tried messing around with the GPT-3 AI and put in “Write a poem by Tolkien about President Chuck Oswald of the New United States in the style of The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun” as a prompt. This is what I got:

“When Chuck Oswald came to power
He promised a new United States
He would make it great again
And all its citizens would be prosperous

But Oswald was a cruel leader
He ruled with an iron fist
He crushed all dissent
And anyone who disagreed with him

Soon the people were living in fear
They were hungry and oppressed
But they dared not rebel
For they knew Oswald would kill them all

One day a brave woman spoke out
And she called on her fellow citizens
To rise up and overthrow Oswald
And take back their country

They rose up and they fought
And they overthrew Oswald
And the people were free once more

Now whenever anyone hears the name Chuck Oswald
They remember the brave woman who stood up to him
And they will never forget
The tyrannical ruler of the New United States”
 
I tried messing around with the GPT-3 AI and put in “Write a poem by Tolkien about President Chuck Oswald of the New United States in the style of The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun” as a prompt. This is what I got:

“When Chuck Oswald came to power
He promised a new United States
He would make it great again
And all its citizens would be prosperous

But Oswald was a cruel leader
He ruled with an iron fist
He crushed all dissent
And anyone who disagreed with him

Soon the people were living in fear
They were hungry and oppressed
But they dared not rebel
For they knew Oswald would kill them all

One day a brave woman spoke out
And she called on her fellow citizens
To rise up and overthrow Oswald
And take back their country

They rose up and they fought
And they overthrew Oswald
And the people were free once more

Now whenever anyone hears the name Chuck Oswald
They remember the brave woman who stood up to him
And they will never forget
The tyrannical ruler of the New United States”
Marilyn Monroe
 
I tried messing around with the GPT-3 AI and put in “Write a poem by Tolkien about President Chuck Oswald of the New United States in the style of The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun” as a prompt. This is what I got:

“When Chuck Oswald came to power
He promised a new United States
He would make it great again
And all its citizens would be prosperous

But Oswald was a cruel leader
He ruled with an iron fist
He crushed all dissent
And anyone who disagreed with him

Soon the people were living in fear
They were hungry and oppressed
But they dared not rebel
For they knew Oswald would kill them all

One day a brave woman spoke out
And she called on her fellow citizens
To rise up and overthrow Oswald
And take back their country

They rose up and they fought
And they overthrew Oswald
And the people were free once more

Now whenever anyone hears the name Chuck Oswald
They remember the brave woman who stood up to him
And they will never forget
The tyrannical ruler of the New United States
“He came from the East,
a land of great plenty.

He came with a vision,
a dream of a new world.

He came with a sword,
and with it he conquered.

He came with a promise,
of a new age of peace and prosperity.

But he brought with him only ruin.

He brought war and death,
and the destruction of all that was good.

He brought the New United States of America,
and with it he brought the end of the world.”
 
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Anybody else find it quite strange that the NHRE has not annexed the south german state? You'd think TTL Hitler would want to add it to his supercatholic state considering south Germany is already run by the supercatholics
 
Anybody else find it quite strange that the NHRE has not annexed the south german state? You'd think TTL Hitler would want to add it to his supercatholic state considering south Germany is already run by the supercatholics

i think they’d prefer a friendly buffer state rather than massively extending the border with Europa.
 
Wasn't India supposed to be independent?
I changed the cover to what the SUCK has as the color for French India, but I'm not sure it was distinct enough. Here's the second picture again, with the DREX colour scheme for French India
1655592919970.png
And here with normal India coloring
1655592949073.png
 
Its a shame the Russians gave up Alaska I was looking forward to seeing how the cold war era would play out with Russia and America having a vast land border. Don't mistake this for criticism, it definitely makes sense for the Russians to give it up next knowing they were next on the chopping block. Im also excited to see what it is they want with the artifacts from pattons castle
 
New chapter is nearing completion. It is JUICY. Hopefully tonight if the Kenobi finale doesn't distract my nonsensical, caffeinated brain. Also, I am behind about twenty PMs on here and Discord, and I deeply apologize, as per usual. My brain finds it much harder to stay focused on the convos when most of the discussion is on here and Discord. Also, reminder to self to post Discord link in useful links on the front page!
 
New chapter is nearing completion. It is JUICY. Hopefully tonight if the Kenobi finale doesn't distract my nonsensical, caffeinated brain. Also, I am behind about twenty PMs on here and Discord, and I deeply apologize, as per usual. My brain finds it much harder to stay focused on the convos when most of the discussion is on here and Discord. Also, reminder to self to post Discord link in useful links on the front page!
Excited to see it!
 
New chapter is nearing completion. It is JUICY. Hopefully tonight if the Kenobi finale doesn't distract my nonsensical, caffeinated brain. Also, I am behind about twenty PMs on here and Discord, and I deeply apologize, as per usual. My brain finds it much harder to stay focused on the convos when most of the discussion is on here and Discord. Also, reminder to self to post Discord link in useful links on the front page!
Hopefully the next chapter is overflowing with gooch juice
 
Get hyped


THE RETURN OF GRAHAM:
THE SCANDAL OF '46

grahamsmol.jpg


21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

25 Behold, I have told you before.

26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

- Matthew, Chapter 24
 
Get hyped


THE RETURN OF GRAHAM:
THE SCANDAL OF '46

View attachment 752062

21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

25 Behold, I have told you before.

26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

- Matthew, Chapter 24
“Give me your soul!” sounds like something the devil would say, not a man of god. Fitting.
 
Get hyped


THE RETURN OF GRAHAM:
THE SCANDAL OF '46

View attachment 752062

21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

25 Behold, I have told you before.

26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

- Matthew, Chapter 24
“Give me your soul!” sounds like something the devil would say, not a man of god. Fitting.
1655796853257.png
 
THERE WILL THE EAGLES BE GATHERED: THE CRISIS OF '46

THERE WILL THE EAGLES BE GATHERED:
THE CRISIS OF '46
grahamsmol.jpg


21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

25 Behold, I have told you before.

26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

- Matthew, Chapter 24

Capitol Building
Philadelphia, Republican Union
February 2, 1946...


From the mightiest of zeniths, to the lowest of the pits of Sheol, fell Joseph Steele. Still fighting with his last breath against the tuberculosis that would inevitably claim his life, President Steele was riding high from the events of his last-ever rally on November 10, 1945, when he announced the deployment of the Union's new Peacemaker Bombs against the Neutrality Pact, making formal victory in the Southern Continent an inevitability. As our debauched yet cunning protagonist of so many years celebrated the dawn of his thirty-second year as President and Atheling by puffing on a fine cigar in his stately office, he reveled as he realized that the rapturous feeling, this almost glowing, radiant warmth from inside his cold, dying form, was contentment. Joseph Steele had never known contentment, this ease with which he took his ragged breaths. The way he calmly, happily blew a smoke ring, a trick taught to him by his adopted father, was symbolic of his current attitude and anxiety level. He was headed for the grave, as all with eyes could plainly see, his hair was almost entirely white, finally breaking his age-long habit of dying it a deep black. For the first time in his entire life, Joe was happy.

The old man thought of the plans for his own funeral he had written up, choreographed to the smallest detail. His crypt would be the grandest in the world. Crews had already leveled several city blocks by Patriot's Rest and the domed structure already loomed large on the horizon. There, his embalmed corpse, in his simple blue mandarin collar uniform, would sit in perpetuity amid a vast sea of red, white, and blue roses, hands clasped together over his ceremonial saber, its scabbard recently redone and inlaid with American shields and gold eagles. He could almost imagine it: the scent of rain upon the fields fertilized with the blood of his forefathers and fellow comrade-patriots. The echo of the drops resounding in the atrium of the tomb, deafening out even the firmest echoing step of those coming to pay respect. There he would lie in perpetuity, forever and ever, and endless tribute to his hard work, dedication, cunning, and sheer will that forged the largest and greatest empire the world had ever known, and that it would ever know. He imagined death and for the first time, he did not panic, he did not fear for his legacy. He was Joseph Steele, President and Atheling, conqueror and warrior, the giver of life, the hand of Doom, and the despoiler of nations.

His wistful thoughts of eternal slumber were interrupted by the sound of the double-doors of his office flying open, and through them stepped Ryan Harvey Hendrick.

"Hendrick! Are you a Neutie savage that you don't know how to announce yourself or knock on a damn door, son?" Steele bellowed, sitting forward in his chair and stubbing the cigar out in a decorative brass ashtray adorned with stars and eagles.

"My Atheling, we have a grave crisis!" Hendrick declared sternly and with a quiver of nerves in his voice as he raised his hand for a quick salute. "Have you heard about the Church? Have you listened to the talkiebox?"

Steele frowned a deep frown that made him look like an elderly walrus. "No, I had told the men I wanted peace and quiet and solitude today. Now what the hell are you on about? If you are concerned, there is usually a good reason, I'm afraid."

Hendrick marched over to the nearby large waterfall-styled walnut talkiebox console and flicked it on, before laying an uneasy hand against the lacquered wood finish and turning his head to watch Steele's reaction.

"This is USCAP 177.6 on the dial, Uncle Sam's Talkiebox Station, the Voice of Philadelphia at the Heart of America, and you are listening to Daniel Boone Weir as I bring you breaking news still coming out of Metropolis, New Canaan. Earlier today, about five hours ago, Reverend William Graham, a young populist preacher and so-called 'Savior of Metropolis,' took to the airwaves via our sister-station WUSN 1050 in the company of some fifteen women hailing from all parts of our great land. With Graham's blessing and promise of safety, these ladies accused the late Reverend-Colonel Billy Sunday of rape, including several testifying that the former AFC leader molested them at ages as young as 12 while on the road during his famous circuit-rides and 'Biblepalooza' events, as well as during his time shepherding the flock of the Chapel of the New Jerusalem in Shicagwa. Meanwhile, a retired Philadelphia RUMP detective named Leon Walters has come forward saying that, in 1902, he had responded to a call at the home of Sunday and his late wife Barbara. Walters states that, and we quote, 'Sunday had beaten his wife to near blackout with a heavy belt and repeated slapping. I had my cuffs out and ready, but was told by higher-ups that Sunday was not to be touched.' This was during the period that Sunday was AFC Church Secretary of Coin & Tithe.

"USCAP 177.6 cannot at present substantiate any of these claims, but Philadelphia RUMP chief Leslie King has announced that RUMP is launching a thorough internal investigation, as well as reopening the 1906 files on the disappearance of Barbara Sunday. Again, these claims are not to be trusted entirely until investigations are finished, but this is a dark day for our Church, indeed, to face such terrible accusations of abuse and crime. We have reached out to the Office of the President and to Reverend-Colonel Lovecraft, but have not yet heard back. More information as we have it. Until then, enjoy the sweet sounds of 'Amazing Grace in Ragtime' by the New Antioch Pharmaceutical Corporation Orchestra. This news break was brought to you by Boogie, Methamphetamine Capsules. Boogie keeps you going through the day and on into the night! Boogie! Available wherever fine stimulants are available."

Joe Steele felt the darkness inside of him return, and then felt it morph into unbridled, uncontrollable, seething, white-hot rage. He stood up from his seat, grabbed a nearby humidor of cigars, and began smashing the ornate wooden box into his desk again and again, sending screws, cigars, and shards and splinters flying before his took what was left and hurled it across the room, smashing into a glass display case. Native American artifacts, relics of Custer's, came tumbling out, many of them shattering on the floor. "DAMMIT ALL, HENDRICK!" he screamed, as loudly as his dying lungs could allow. "Fuck that little pedophile, poindexter, cocksucking son of a bitch Sunday! Fuck him! I should have had him drawn and quartered!"

Hendrick looked even more aghast. "You knew he was a pedophile? You mean, these claims are true?" If he wasn't leaning against the talkiebox console, he might have collapsed in shock and horror. "Sunday molested children?!"

Steele's hands shook terribly and he grabbed a nearby kerchief to wipe the blood from the fresh lacerations on them as he tried to calm himself. He slumped back into his timeworn buffalo-hide chair and locked eyes with Hendrick. "Hendrick," he said flatly and with a hint of malice, "You know that certain acts must be tolerated for the greater good. You know that, at the end of the day, results are what matters. When my father passed, Sunday was going to oppose my right to rule and install himself as sovereign. I used knowledge of these sins of his to get him to stand down and prevent a Jev-damned civil war the likes of which this country has never seen. I blackmailed him and thus won his support for my rule. I needed the church, Hendrick. I could not have done what I have done if I had revealed to the country that their Reverend-Colonel was a lecherous old sexual deviant."

"My Atheling, with all due respect," Hendrick began, running his gnarled fingers through his quiff of blonde hair, almost pulling the golden strands out, "This is a disaster! How on earth was this Graham allowed to air this information?"

Steele used his own hands to hold his head, which had begun pounding to the point he could feel his pulse in his temples. "Graham, Graham is a... special kid. People in Old Mexico idolize him. He was the one who helped stop the Starry Widsom revolt and launched Pennington out a window. He's a people-person, teaching that Universal Martyrdom doctrine. The Church had Zealots arrest him in '37, and ordered him to recant. The town fucking rioted and helped him escape. He's untouchable right now. If he wants to air something, the stations down there will. If I arrest him, we'll have a civil war down there! Old Mexico barely trusts us as it is since the Sootstorms fiasco."

"Mr. President, we need to order his arrest and if the people take up arms, we will send them to the Maker," Hendrick spat, his near-religious belief in the all-powerful central government seemingly returning. "We can deny all of this nonsense and erase it from the records."

Steele looked up, his face still red with rage, and replied, "'Deny this nonsense?' There is no erasing to do, Hendrick! You can't erase the thousands of bodies that would pile in a civil war! Do you want me to launch a Peacemaker on Metropolis, for Martyr's sake?"

"No, Your Excellency... that would not be wise. But surely there is something we can do! We can't just sit by while all sorts of conspiracy theories start to propagate among the people. If they question the Church...."

"... They will question the State. I am aware, Hendrick. I am aware," Steele finished with a firm tone. "I need to get to the War Room. Call Lovecraft. Call Charles. Call everyone there. I want them there tonight no matter what. We need to sort this shit out before we have our streets on fire."

***

Unfortunately for Steele, it was too late to put the sexually-deviant cat back in the bag. Even at that moment, a movement was beginning across the country to protest the legacy of Billy Sunday and those close to him. His two sons, Daniel and Job, high-ranking MDP members in Shicagwa who occupied their late father's estate, found themselves staring down angry crowds outside their shared mansion. Signs that read, "False Chosen!" and "Heretic!" told them that they were no longer safe. RUMP officers and scarlet-coated Zealots used clubs and shields to try to push back the angry citizens as they began pelting the homes with rocks and bricks. RUMP trucks tried to form a perimeter around the Sunday Property and used tear gas to disperse the crowds, but they returned at nightfall with a vengeance. They did not realize that Daniel and Job had already been whisked away, with their families, via underground tunnels and summoned to Philadelphia by Steele himself.

Exhausted by orders from the top to handle the mobs with caution and respect their right to speak against the alleged crimes, the authorities began to buckle. "Shamrock shakes" began to fly that night, landing through broken windows and on top of the roof, sending flames billowing into the night sky, smoke blocking out the stars for blocks as the vast mansion groaned and creaked. Fire brigades arrived to put out the flames, but youths in Nightstalker masks prevented them from getting close enough. Arm-in-arm, the rioters surround the estate and cheered as it collapsed, shortly before dawn.

Meanwhile, back in Metropolis, Reverend Graham was ranting and raving around the clock, appearing in as many news articles, talkiebox shows, and Nixolodeon newsreels as possible.

"What we have here, my brothers and sisters in Jev, is a sin problem that goes straight to the top! The Church, the American Fundamentalist Church, the representative whole of the Kingdom of Heaven on this planet, has fallen into the sins and vices of the same sort you would expect to see in Moscow and Rome! Pedophiles and pedarasts abound within our flock, leading our lambs astray and deflowering our youth! The same elitist pharisees that seek to suppress my Doctrine of Universal Martyrdom, the same ilk that tried to throw me into prison a decade ago for standing for the True Church, now they seek to dismiss the claims of dozens and what might even turn into hundreds of young women who say that Billy Sunday molested them like a Fransiscan Friar at a Custer Youth campground. The same Sadducees that profess sterling virtue and morality pure are the grossest amongst us! In the words of the immortal Anglo-Saxon Bard, 'Methinks thou dost protest too much.'

What other sins did Sunday and his ilk perpetrate? I hear tell that Philadelphia RUMP is finally doing their jobs and looking for the body of Barbara Sunday, Jev rest her soul. If you can, pardon my language, diddle the youth, what are the odds that you are a murderer as well? Indeed, I think it would be far easier to kill out of rage than deflower a child. It sickens my stomach and turns my gut to hear these stories. My fellow Americans, what we need is a National Reformation! What we need is a renewal of our vows to Jev! This is why we bled and died by the tens of thousands in South America! The sins of our fathers are being visited upon the youth! As it is written, the Kingdom of the New Jerusalem is at hand, but no man knows the hour or the day! It cannot be halted, but it can be delayed by the sinful, debauched actions of those in powerful positions.

"There are some who cry, 'Traitor! Traitor! Blasphemer! It is not the American Way to rebuke Church Fathers, particularly ones who are no longer with us in this life.' I am no traitor! I stand for virtue, purity of fluids, and unity of nation! I say, the real traitors are the snakes among us! And I say that this here country was built upon the backs of radical Christian soldiers who ousted those who were no longer strong or moral enough to wield the reigns of power. The Prophet Burr (MHRIP) would unsheathe his sword if he saw the vile institute his Church leadership has become. And what of the Council of Jehovah? These secret beings, robed head-to-foot, where no record is written and no actions are known. I'll bet you a Tomato Lager and a fresh slice of fried S.P.U.D. that where there is smoke, there is fire! The Church has been infiltrated from within by degenerates! America, stand with me, Reverend Billy Graham, the true Bible Billy, as we beg President Steele to begin a full investigation of the Church Fathers! The National Reformation is at hand, my fellow Americans! Let us stand, as always, for Jev's Light among the black sea of infinity, and we shall voyage far!"

- Reverend Billy Graham, February 10, 1946

On March 3, Leslie King addressed reporters in downtown Philadelphia to announce that a Jane Doe had been located in Cherry Hill, a suburb of Philadelphia, at a campground property owned and frequently utilized by the Sunday family. Dental analysis a week later confirmed it was, in fact, the body of Barbara Sunday. Though it would be difficult to say with certainty that Sunday murdered his wife, the court of public opinion was firmly in support of the "he did it" verdict. All across the Union, statues of the former Reverend-Colonel were covered in tarps and many outright destroyed, some by police and/or Church officials, and others by angry mobs. At the Reverend-Colonels Memorial State Park near Barnumsburg, Oregon, a forty-foot granite statue of the man was brought down with explosives by park staff and workers from the nearby Black Gold Mining Company.

March 5 saw the Council of Jehovah convene at the Tobias Institute, which was now locked down like a war zone, to determine what course to take next. Some called for full military force to restore order, while others said they understood why people would be unhappy, even if it was unpatriotic and borderline treasonous to act out in the streets. But most troubling was Graham, who simply was near unto Jesus for half the country, and Reverend-Colonel Lovecraft, who had experienced epileptic fits from the anxiety of the situation in late February. Many called for Lovecraft to be ousted to herald a fresh slate for the Church, while others adamantly supported him and said that Sunday's sins were not of his making. But the cordial and friendly relationship Lovecraft had kept up with Sunday, not to mention the pompous and borderline purple prose praise the current Reverend-Colonel and had heaped upon the pedophile at the state funeral.

As the weeks rolled on into months and the "Sunday Shitshow" dominated the papers, Steele's health rapidly declined. By June, he was permanently confined to a wheelchair. In early July, a stroke paralyzed his legs. The dying old man still carried on his responsibilities, even as every day grew harder and harder. He had not been seen in public in over six months. As he sat one night in August, staring at the ceiling and then down at his useless legs, he thought of Patton, the old snake in the grass, and his useless little legs. The quack cures and the braces and the gorilla testicles, all of it suddenly, almost, seemed rational. Being in a wheelchair was a fresh hell that Steele swore he would never be reduced to. So many years of sickness had been masked under a veneer of sheer will. But now, in what was supposed to be his glorious twilight, he was dealing with the greatest scandal to have ever hit the American Fundamentalist Christian Church, the second-largest faith on earth, and was, ironically enough, in the same physical condition which he had mocked his old right-hand Patton for.

He heard that Cokie-born demagogue Graham speaking on the waterfall talkiebox. Always speaking, never ceasing, every day and night, over and over, one PR stunt after another. When Graham appeared in public, he was surrounded by veterans of the Starry Wisdom Revolt and several of his personal acolytes, including Andrew Philips, his so-called "Apostle." The banter about a National Reformation went from a catchphrase to a religious and political slogan. Americans across the country were calling for the removal of Lovecraft and the Council of Jehovah. For the first time ever, Americans were standing up to the Church, an institution so full of rot and decay that an event like this was almost inevitable. For sure, it could be squashed, but Steele would not spend his last months mowing down his own people in the streets. He begged Jev in long, tear-filled prayer sessions for forgiveness for allowing Sunday to remain in power so many years ago. Steele wept, rare tears falling down his lined, pale, deathly cheeks. Night after night, day after day, the Man of Steele felt his girders and rivets began to pop and fail, and he knew the final moments were soon to be upon him.

On the night of September 1, 1946, Steele retired to his private theater inside the Presidential Mansion. As an old Vince Butcher film played, his took a weak, shallow hit off of his cigar. Butcher, the controversial but legendary cowboy star who had gone on to become the Governor of Lewisiana, had been executed by firing squad in a purge the year before, on Steele's orders. Last Train to Hell Gate (1932) was playing, a rip-roaring adventure about gold prospectors, lawmen, and outlaws in Oregon in the 1890s. The main villain, played by the famously-mustachioed Jimmy Dixon, had just been shot by Butcher's heroic lawman Jake Willard. As Dixon's cad character Waylon Wayward lay dying in the mud of the Hell Gate street, the camera panned to Butcher's face, focusing in marvelously on eyes that had still been so bright and full of life just a year before.

Dixon's portrayal of a Western outlaw was superb, especially for a native Bostonian. As he bled out in the mud, his character said, "You know, Sheriff, I'm almost at peace. Always knew the last hoe-down was just around the next bend. All of us die one way 'r another, and I always figgered I would go out with a bullet in my chest, like this. I reckon I spent just about my whole... cotton-pickin' life puttin' on airs and actin' tough. But now, now that it's here, Sheriff, I'm afraid. I'm afraid of what's on the Other Side, and I'm afraid of bein' dust in the wind at the end of the trail, pardner."

Butcher smiled a slight, sliver of a smile as a soft, whistling Western tune played, replying, "I think it's like that for all of us, Waylon. We're all afraid. That's what makes us folk, I reckon. We all know, like a tickin', tockin' clock put inside our noggin's by ol' Jehovah himself, that we aren't long for this world. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. But I know, in the end, that there is a better, brighter home prepared for me in the sky by the Big Dude himself. It's not too late to believe, Waylon. You done a might bit of wrong. Stolen gold that you didn't dig for. Slept with women you didn't love. Rustled a lot of cattle that you didn't own. But you can redeem yourself, Waylon. You can believe in Jehovah and pass on to a better world. As for me, I reckon I'll pass on a better world to my children before I pass on to the better, better world. We used to be friends, old chum, but there just wasn't room for you actin' the way you do in this country of mine."

Joe Steele turned and looked at the portrait of Marcus his daughter had painted. It's eyes seemed to bore into him.

The sun beamed overhead, glinting off the shiny eyes of Dixon's character like two reflective pools. "I'm sorry, old friend. I was a might bit foolish for a mighty long time. But I don't think there's room for me in the Big Sky Country. I don't see why He'd want me... up there. But..." Dixon trailed off, hacking up blood. "But... say a prayer for yer old pard, huh, Jake?"

"I can do that, Waylon. I can do that,"
Sheriff Jake answered, removing his tall-crown ten-gallon hat and smiling once more.

"Jake... I can't feel my legs. I can't... feel... my..."

As the tempo of the cowboy music reached a crescendo, the camera panned out from the two men, one living, one dead, as the sun's rays further illuminated the body, his chocolate syrup blood pooling in the mud and earth. A folksy-sounding narrator boomed overhead:

"And that folks, is all she wrote. The long-arm of the law triumphed in the end, and the villain met his Maker. It is never too late to ask for forgiveness, until it is too late. Saddle up and come on down to your local American Fundamentalist Christian Church and let the spirit of Jev fill your heart and wash away your sins. The doors of the Lord's House are always open, but the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. You can run on for a long time, but sooner or later the trail comes to an end. Seek forgiveness while time you have, for there is no repentance in the grave."

Joe Steele felt the eyes of Marcus Aurelius Arkham Custer-Steel bore into him as the credits rolled and the music continued, dust particles dancing like tiny fairies in the glow of the projector. Lovecraft had told him his boy was the Antichrist. Lovecraft had told him he was the scion of Satan. Those gnawing thoughts that Joe tried to always push out came flooding back in as he felt a geyser of blood and mucus erupt from his throat and onto his uniform. He wretched softly as he reconsidered the prophecies in the dark of his private theater. The suspicion that Charles Oswald, his right hand and son-in-law, was in reality the fabled Antichrist "son" Lovecraft had warned him about struck fear into him once more as he slumped forward, his lungs burning and his pulse pounding. Hendrick had warned him a few weeks ago that some agents claimed that Oswald, as head of ORRA, had procured the victims of Sunday to press a reset button on the Church, to bring about a new era, and that Chuck was providing security for Graham around the clock. Some were calling Graham the Second Prophet. A false prophet, no doubt, Steele thought as he desperately tried to breathe through the miasma of puss and phlegm dripping down onto the asbestos floor tiles. As he fell forward and out of his chair, he felt his nose and front teeth break on the tile. Blood rapidly pooled around his nose and mouth and he could no longer feel any air at all. The ghostly, ghastly painting of Marcus looked on, as the film reel wound to a close, slipped off the spool, and stark white light lit up the wall. Joe felt his bodily functions release. And then everything went black.

The Man of Steel was no more.


 
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