I suppose I should have seen it coming. Even with my nose buried so deep in apocrypha I should have seen the signs; the restlessness, the hushed conversations behind my back, the secrets. I should have known one of the three of them would leave before too long, and Paul was never one to sit idly by while adventure waited just outside. Personally I don’t blame him. A few years back and I would have left myself. However, bravado is no longer a luxury I can afford, not with so much at stake.
I bring all of this up because I know that Paul’s departure means my time here at the Library is coming to an end. While Liebowitz and his comrades have been more than accommodating, I’ve infringed upon their hospitality long enough and no matter how much I wish to tell myself, I’ve no more information to be gained here. It’s time to ride out, meet Eli and begin the real legwork.
I’ve always been more the type to talk than to write so under normal circumstances you wouldn’t be reading this. Liebowitz was kind enough to leave me with a Palmcorder though so I can dictate my words and maybe it’s about time I do just that. All of that information might seem a bit arbitrary at first but it brings me to my point. I’ve gotten through all of this – the time travel, the apocalypse, all of it – by the skin of my teeth but even my luck has a limit I fear and one day, it’ll run out. That having been said, if you’re reading this, my name is Ulysses Walker Danbrook. I am the only person in the world who knows how to kill Jasper Stone and I’m probably dead.
It’s a weird thing, death. I hadn’t thought about it much until lately. I’ve spent almost a month of my life in books trying to figure out how to kill one man and it seems that the subject has a way of seeping into my subconscious. Out of boredom and egotism I looked myself up in the Library’s records the other day. There wasn’t much- bits and pieces about being a known gambler and outlaw and disappearing in 1876 – but that got me to thinking. If I was presumed missing then I had to have been presumed dead, which means that somewhere along the line there was a funeral for me and that somewhere out there is a tombstone with my name on it. “Ulysses Walker Danbrook. October 31, 1842 – ???, 187?”. In a dream I saw myself standing over my own grave in that old cemetery just outside Last Stand. There were other graves, too – the graves of the others who had died in our journey, both good and bad – but I stood over my own and stared. For how long, I can’t say. Eventually, there came a cackling all too familiar and out from the grave burst Stone. He pulled himself out of the dirt as if he had just clawed his way free from Hell and leveled his Dragoons to my head. There was a loud gunshot and I awoke in a cold sweat to a pounding on my door. It was Mary Lou. She told me Paul had gone in the night.
I dressed quickly and followed her to Paul’s room where we found Sally in tears. I tried to calm her but she insisted on chasing off after him and with 200+ years distance between us, I’m no longer a man who can really tell her no. In hindsight I can think of a thousand things I should have said to Sally before she left that night and if I knew what I know now, I would have said them all. I took a break from my work that day and spent it with Sally and Mary Lou, reminiscing about the old times and hearing all of their tales from the in between years. It was the first time in a long time that I can recall being happy. That night Sally came to my room and I took her to bed as I had so many times before. It was different but somehow the same. By morning she was gone.
Mary Lou said the two of them had eaten together that morning before she left out but I couldn’t bare to ask her anything further. I just smiled and changed the subject. To Stone. Always to Stone. I gave her my book and made her learn the Imposter hex and told her we’d ride out in three days time. Half expecting her to push the subject, I was bit shocked when she didn’t. After all these years she was still playing the part of the daughter and to a father she barely knew. Back in my room I set about slinging a talisman; the old wooden mask I’d had in my saddlebags all this time. I was leaving the Library in three days time, but not without at least one Ace up my sleeve.
At dawn on the fourth day Liebowitz was there to see us off with a few other Librarians. They’re good people, the Librarians. I expected to find them inhospitable but instead I found friends, a rare thing to find in these dark times. As Mary Lou and I mounted up on Eli’s metal horse, Liebowitz tossed me a bag and bid me farwell. Inside, he’d slipped us a couple of Librarian robes and a prognosticator for Eli. Miles down the road the two of us slipped into the new robes and popped an Imposter hex on, myself of an old man I’d seen passing through last stand a couple hundred years back. Mary Lou adopted the look of one of the girls from the Calypso. No one would recognize people that hadn’t been around for two hundred years. As we climbed back up on the horse, Mary Lou turned to me and asked, “What should I call you? You know, for the sake of authenticity.” I thought for a moment before I spoke, “Telemachus.” She smirked and responded, “Odysseus’ son? Fine. Then call me Nausicaa.”
I gave a half hearted smile and put my feet in the stirrups. “Before I knew you, I had a daughter named Nausicaa. I’ll have to tell you about her some time, before it’s too late.”
“We have time now”, she said.
I smiled and told her about my life in Savannah, about my wife and my daughter and how I lost them both so many years ago. Mary Lou never once interrupted nor did she ever seem to let her mind wander anywhere but onto my story, absorbing every word. When it was over she smiled and kissed me on the cheek. “I missed you. We all missed you while you were gone.”
“I missed you too, Mary Lou. More than you can know.”