Lost in the Shadows
The Urban Legend that’s anything but Urban
Short Description: Scary Luddites from Up North.
Dress: Seriously? They dress like, and I shit you not here my little goslings, Scary Luddites from Up North. Or hobos. Whichever. Either way its quite a hodge-podge of used hunting gear, worn and patched second hand military gear (they especially favor old USAF jumpsuits, did they get a deal on them? I certainly don’t know). The only things that really stick out about them is 1. they all shave their heads, all of them, men, women, children, and never any tattoos, never, not that the Vu has ever seen, and 2. the knives (or as the Jacks call it “A Stick to Beat the Devil With”). They all carry knives. All of them, every shaven one of them. Big knives, little knives. Not that they’ve any problem with other weapons (often homemade), but you can always count on them to have a knife, at the very least. Apparently going armed is some kind of religious obligation. So if you see one and you don’t see the knife, that’s the time to be worried, because I assure you, lovely little birds, that it’s there.
Symbols: I don’t even know. They seem to keep something in those Crown Royale bags and leather pouches they all carry, but I certainly have no way of knowing what they keep in those, although the Vu does have a private guess. (Hint: It begins like “Drive” and ends like ‘Hugs’)
Lingo: It’s english, after a fashion, but nearly incomprehensible, filled with religious imagery and outdated political thinking and things from, presumably oral knowledge (no, it’s alright, the Vu knows what you’re thinking. Go ahead, take a moment. The Vu will still be here when you get back) and religious literature. Honestly, it’s like those annoying friends who’ve been together simply forever to the point where every damn thing they say is an in-joke? God, who doesn’t hate those people? Anyway, now imagine they’d been living together in a bunker for fifty years and inbreeding. That comes close to trying to listen to two Jacks speaking.
- Styles: Chant, Rockabilly, Gospel
- What’s on Their Playlists?: Rider Williams, 14 Words, We Hunt Kings
- Local bands: The Reverend Leeland Singers, The Last Jack, Jake Anger, Lakeskin
Well, we’ve all heard the stories, haven’t we. It’s inevitable, if you live in the Duopolii long enough, especially if you dwell in the less-than-direct-sunlight part, you will eventually hear the tales. Madmen in bunkers, stockpiles of ancient weapons, hunting parties that never came back and teenage lovers that escaped death but with a strange mark on the back of their car. Old horror movie tropes recycled through the fevered collective imagination.
You’re pulling my leg, Vu. Really, you buy into this drek? Really? It’s just stories that tourists tell to impress their friends after a lost weekend at the Lakes.
Ain’t no legend. These guys are hard fact north of Grand Rapids. Folks up here know what land is theirs and stay the hell off of it. Although they’re also not a bad source for arms, if you’re strapped for funds and not too picky as regards provenance.
Even their name “The Jacks” rides through the filter of popular stories, some reference the term “Jack Mormon” for heterodox mormons or the old phrase “Every Man Jack must be ready to defend his country” or some such, others point to an old radio host “Jack Turner” who preached the end of the world during the Awakening, while others make obscure connections to heretical religious or obscure political movements. I even heard one poor soul once insist they were Jackalope shamans, but since he had smoked pretty much all the dreamweed there was, I think we might generously take his words symbolically, don’t you?
Whatever the truth of it, they do answer to ‘The Jacks’ when they answer at all, but the Vu has to admit that the Vu is not on what one would call speaking terms with them. And they do make little shrines to a ‘Jack’, often made of found objects and the bones of roadkill wherever they go. And they have these little rituals, like when their drinking that awful moonshine of theirs, they always overfill the cup so that a little bit spills on the ground, and when they kill a man, if they haven’t been hurt, they cut themselves so a little blood hits the ground. They call both of these ‘Pouring one out for Jack’.
Every account the Vu has heard agrees that they live in bunkers and isolated communes throughout Minnesota and the Dakotas, where they set up shop during the Awakening, which they seem to regard as the fulfillment of the ‘1000 years of Satan’s reign’ over the earth. Their beliefs, as least as far as can be told from second-hand accounts (it’s always a phooj ywg of a phooj ywg, isn’t it?) are rather similar to one of the original Awakeneing-era apocalyptic movements, the Church of the Seventh Secret, Unsealed, which made strong correlations between the Awakening and the biblical book of Saint-John-and-the-Really-Bad-Trip. Er… Revelations. Yes.
Speaking of really bad trips the one thing that the Vu does know for sure about the Jacks is that these good old boys not only party hard, really, really hard, but they do it in the name of God (or Jack? A little vague on that point) or as one of my ‘working colleagues’ once put it, “Buncha shiv-swingin’, hooch-slingin’ hillbillies on a mission from God fer Big Black Cock” my, Ray-Ray always did have a way with words. They work themselves up into ecstatic states, with or without chemical assistance, and apparently receive some kind of crazy insights in what they call “Letting the Prophet Ride You”, channeling messages from sources even they call “The Mad Angels”. And while Altered States of Consciousness can certainly be reached without drugs, the Jacks are a little bit infamous for growing their own, drugs that no one else can seem to identify or duplicate. Even the Vu hasn’t had the chance to sample these, so the Emptor should be be very, very Caveat.
Had a streetdoc omae of mine tell me about seeing one of these guys overdosing before his people disappeared with him. From what he described, I’d say that there’s more to their ‘wild homebrewed moonshine drugs’ than meets the eye. They seem to have properties not dissimilar to the “spirit helpers” brewed by the Anasazi of the Mojave desert. Which is not unlikely given the plentiful supply of talesma in this part of the country.
It is, even among those who don’t believe in them, a well known and popular fact that the Jacks hate urban, industrial civilization. Their legendary status probably comes from their relative isolation from the glittering Twin Gems of the Misi-ziibi, which they only visit when they feel like making trouble. Living off the grid they are the epitome of SINlessness and the tarnished Knights of Errantry have a standing policy of shooting first and asking no questions whatsoever, on those rare occasions they can tell them from regular refugees or street people that is…
Because the other thing that the legends get right is their almost-uncanny ability to sneak around undetected, honed, no doubt, from a lifetime stalking Hodags or Jackalopes or whatever in the northern wetlands. In fact, they are so good at it, that one might accuse them of being Adepts if they weren’t so murderously opposed to magic as ‘witchcraft’ and the ’devil’s work’.
Fortunately it is another popular and well-known fact that the violently pious are never, ever hypocritical in any of their much-touted beliefs, especially when they would be useful to them… ;)
What got the Vu interested in the Jacks in the first place is a small but noticeable trend among certain disaffected sorts to fetishize the Jack legend, especially those who collect the mysterious shrines they leave at their urban camp sites. This is a growing trend on the fringes of the BDSM community, where the Jacks, who are seen as brutal, mysterious, and almost monstrous in the eyes of their ‘fans’, are turned into a fetish, fed by stories of wild, unfettered orgies and rumors of taking city-bred lovers and then stealing off into the night with the children of such unions. While the Vu is the last to decry any fetish, glass houses/stones and all that, it has been the Vu’s observation that this Jack-loving is often a red flag for serious, serious issures with a capital ISSUES. My advice would be to avoid unless you are really, really into that kind of freaky scene… (in which case, pm me?)
When I was still down in the camps, I used to hear about these guys from a buddy of mine’s tentmate. Said they only came into town to start trouble. Said they called it “Catalyzing”, stealing and fighting and begging and running cons and vandalizing, just to stir up trouble, add a little chaos to the pot to make Satan’s Civilization fall faster to make room for the Kingdom of the Lord. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.
I’ve only seen one member of the Jacks before. Unfortunately (?), it was after the Fire Girls had a little chat with him about how to treat their girls in the camps. Never realized the human body held so much blood before that day…
[OOC note: Templar Arizona’s Jakeskin for the source of these guys]