There is no dawn. There’s only shuddery, dim twilight.
Bats wheel in the distance. They make little ultrasonic noises.
“Cheep, ” say the bats. “Cheep.”
The bats are not commenting on prices. They are commenting on the night.
Off to the side of the street, something scurries. Is it a horrible witch? No. It is a newspaper, blowing in the wind. It has a headline. The headline says, “There is no dawn.” It’s not clear how the paper survived this long. It’s been three million years since the dawnlessness was news. But some things just . . . endure.
There’s a jingle-jangle on the streets. An undead guy walks past. He’s dressed for the Old West. It’s not actually the Old West. That’s just what’s in fashion. It matters, when you’re undead and there’s never any sun. You want something to cling to. Old movies. The runways of Paris. That kind of thing. He’s wearing a leather shirt. Its fringe is tipped with gold. He’s got guns in holsters. They’re silver. He’s got spurs. They’re plutonium.
Jingle. Jingle. Jangle.
He walks on. He’s gone. The street is silent for a while.
Jingle. Jingle. Jangle.
Sid and Max emerge at opposite ends of the street. They walk towards one another, until they stand 30 paces apart. They’re real gunfighters. It’s high midnight.
“Hey,” Sid says.
They turn. They count to three. Then they draw and fire.
Sid’s faster. He fires first. He takes Max square in the forehead. Max isn’t as fast. He fires second. He takes Sid right in the heart. They stand there for a long moment, staring at one another.
“You flinched,” Sid says.
“They could have been magic guns,” Max says. “I looked really hard for a magic gun.”
“Dork,” Sid says.
Max sighs and sits down. Sid doesn’t come any closer. But he doesn’t go away, either. He moves a few feet to the side and leans against a tree.
“I miss you,” Max says. “I liked being your friend.”
Sid sighs. “Yeah,” he says. “Me too.”
“Then why aren’t we? Why do we do this?”
“There’s no closure,” Sid says.
“You sat and watched, Max. You sat and watched as they tortured me to death.”
“Oh.” Max slumps some, then straightens. “But . . . that was three million years ago!”
Sid smiles wryly. “Yeah.”
“So?” Max says. “Three million years. Huh?”
” ‘Huh?’ ”
“You can’t forgive me? In three million years?”
“There are some things that are too big to forgive,” Sid says. “Sometimes, a crime’s so big that it’ll never be okay. So I can’t say it is. I just accept that it happened, and some of the reasons for it.”
“Then why can’t we be friends?”
“We can,” Sid says.
Sid sighs a little. “Just . . . not the kind of friends that stay up all night looking at the stars. Not the kind of friends who share ice cream. Not the kind of friends who talk.” He shrugs. “The kind where, every now and then, I have to walk up to you at high midnight and shoot you in the head.”
“It kind of hurt, Sid.”
Sid shoots him in the head. It’s a perfect shot: the two bullets collide and send sparks through Max’s brain.
Max sighs. Then Max gives Sid a wild and cheerful grin. “I suppose that it’s okay. If, y’know, it’s for friendship.”
Sid snorts a little. It’s kind of affectionate. He turns away.
In the distance, there’s a white light. It rises and rises. It fills the sky. It’s not the dawn. There’s never any dawn. But every 3,000 years or so, someone manages to click the ground with their spurs just right.
And it’s jingle.