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The Borderlands

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Jake Chambers and the other members of his ka-tet weren’t in Kansas anymore when they woke up thirty miles from I-70, the Green Palace, and that plague-infested version of Topeka, but the boundaries between Roland’s world and others were, as always, thin, and Kansas didn’t altogether leave them for small while yet.

Though they mostly traveled through wilderness, they still passed the occasional I-70 sign or mile marker in the middle of an otherwise empty field, along with a few rusted remains of vehicles. Jake counted an oil tanker, a ’76 Ford Pinto, what was probably an El Camino, a Takuro Spirit, and something Eddie told him was called a DeLorean.

There were the random billboards, too. Some advertising familiar brands like Burger King or Pepsi, others inviting them to drink Nozz-A-La, get the new smart phone (whatever that was) from North Central Positronics or shop at some place called Van Owen’s Premium Outlets, LOCATIONS IN LUD, NORTH HAVERBROOK, AND COMING SOON TO TRANSVERSE CITY!

On day four, just beyond the burnt-out hulk of what looked to have once been a roadside motel, they saw one proclaiming MID-WORLD SPEEDWAY SALUTES THE MAN IN BLACK, WINNER OF THE NOZZ-A-LA COLA 600 with an image underneath that made Jake shudder.

It was a black futuristic-looking racecar bearing the familiar bow-tie logo that might still mean Chevrolet, except that on the thing’s hood was an otherwise equally familiar looking blue rectangle enclosing the initials GM, which Jake was pretty sure didn’t stand for General Motors in this particular where and when, because the words underneath it were “Good Man Services.” The door and roof each sported a bright white number 13.

It didn’t have a face, but Jake could still swear the thing was simultaneously grinning and glaring at them.

“Oh Christ,” Eddie had muttered at this. “If there’s a fucked-up talking racecar anywhere in this adventure--words and pictures by Beryl Evans, or, I don’t know, Walt fucking Disney--I hope to hell it’s somebody else’s problem.”

“Don’t worry, sugar,” Susannah said. “If it comes to it, I can take care of one little ol’ car for you. Though if it’s silly questions the thing needs, I must admit that does fall more in your area of expertise.”

“Damn straight,” Eddie said, and kissed her.

Oy barked once and growled softly up at the sign, before turning and leading the ka-tet away.

Roland, who was being uncharacteristically silent even for Roland these days, said nothing.

Jake was also silent. He was sure the image was part bumhug and part the representation of some real bit of nastiness yet to come, but decided to keep his own counsel until the talent the gunslinger called the touch gave him some better insight into which part was which.

Day seven brought the last of the billboards, this one advertising “A new original series” by a network Jake, son of Elmer, only knew as not the one his father worked at, or any of its rivals.

It featured an image of one side of a highway full of dead cars that looked to have been fleeing a city. On the empty side of the highway, a man on horseback--this world’s last gunslinger, mayhap--rode into the city. (Jake, who’d just taken a train trip out of dying Lud, then walked through plague-ridden Topeka, couldn’t help wondering why people in such a desperate hurry to leave hadn’t just driven on the other side of the road, but never mind.) The series appeared to be called The Walking something, as the last word had been obscured by some helpful long-ago graffiti artist who had painted over it, substituting the word DUDE in bright red letters, and adding THERE, I FIXED IT FOR YOU for good measure.

Jake thought maybe, in some future, this was the sort of thing those descended from the survivors of Flagg’s plague watched for entertainment.

The next several days brought miles of nothing remarkable, just walking and more walking, with the occasional break to eat or kill a meal (the lunches packed by the Keebler Elves by now only a memory), shit or take a leak, and sleep.

There was still palaver around the campfire when they stopped for the night, but Roland wasn’t exactly actively participating in the conversation these days.

“I’d hear more stories of your world,” he’d say instead, and Jake, Eddie, and Susannah would struggle to come up with one the gunslinger hadn’t heard yet.

They’d gone through most of the fairy tales they knew, and Eddie was beginning to dip into his repertoire of old episodes of The Twilight Zone--at least, Jake was pretty sure Rod Serling and not the Brothers Grimm was responsible for the one where the kid wished people into the cornfield--which the gunslinger took in with an equal amount of interest.

“Thankee,” Roland would say when one of them finished a tale, but offered little other commentary, not even to remark on how they had a story much like that one in Gilead-that-was, except the way they told it the kid was actually a billy-bumbler and the field was actually a rice field, or some such other thing that proved things from Jake’s world echoed in the gunslinger’s but didn’t always echo true.

Something had gone out of Roland after reliving the deaths of his first love and his mother, and despite the gunslinger’s promises of more eventually, Jake began to wonder if they would ever hear another tale out of Roland’s past again.

Eventually, they walked into one.

Jake knew something was up at least a day or so before they encountered it, when he’d woken up early and caught Roland staring off into the distance at something only he could see.

“Roland?” Jake asked, knowing his dinh’s eyes were far better than his own.

But the gunslinger only shook his head. “If it’s trouble in our path, we’ll know it soon enough.”

Eventually, Jake, Susannah, Eddie and Oy saw the structure well.

By late afternoon of the nineteenth day out of Topeka, they arrived at the wall.

***

Jake knew the folly of mentally imposing his world’s geography on the gunslinger’s, but still couldn’t help but be struck by a sense of wrongness that was twin of the one he felt when the ka-tet first came across the city of Lud and the Send River Bridge. What’s the GWB doing in Missouri? he had asked then. Now...

“Who the hell built a giant wall across Kansas?” Eddie asked, voicing the thought aloud.

The wall itself was crumbling now, almost nonexistent in places, and no longer much of a barrier to anyone, but from what remained Jake could see it had once been at least ten feet high, likely even higher still, and stretched for miles in either direction.

“Some say Maerlyn,” said Roland in response to Eddie’s question. “And some say the forces of the White built it against Maerlyn. Still others say it predates the Eld, and was erected by the Great Old Ones themselves. We thought it legend back in Gilead, and its true purpose is no doubt lost to time.”

“There was a battle fought here,” said Susannah. She had that far-off look she sometimes got that meant she was seeing the past. “More than one.”

“Aye, with old weapons and old magic, so the tellers say,” said Roland.

“They called it the Borderlands,” Susannah said.

“And the Borderlands are place of death,” Jake added, feeling the touch flaring within him once again. Are, not were.

There were no bodies littering the field around the wall. No great old weapons left behind by the Great Old Ones, the Eld, or anyone else, that he could see. No unsprung trap he could sense. Nevertheless, death still lingered here. He could feel it.

He turned and studied the wall itself again. It was covered with graffiti, much of it faded, but Jake could make out PUBES DIE and further on ROCK THE CRADLE OF LUD, a complete version of the verse that began with SEE THE TURTLE OF ENORMOUS GIRTH, and the phrase NO FATE IS SHARED.

There was also, inevitably and somewhat comfortingly, BANGO SKANK.

Not everything he could read could he exactly understand. He imagined GILES IS WATCHING probably made sense if you knew who Giles was, but what to make of something like ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO THE PRIM?

Or for that matter, the drawing of the stylized, sad-eyed white kitten someone had painted standing on its hind legs, wearing the crown of All-World on its head, with a bizarre slogan underneath.

“I made you a world...but I eated it?” Susannah translated, sounding unsure.

The three New York members of the ka-tet looked at each other, shrugged, then turned as one to look at Roland. The gunslinger seemed equally puzzled.

“A jest, most like,” he said at last. “One in extremely poor taste.”

“And extremely poor grammar,” added Susannah.

“Ammar,” said Oy.

That seemed to be the last word on the subject, and Jake waited for someone to suggest moving on. Or at least address the other writing on the wall.

Specifically the phrase THERE AIN’T NO DOUBT THEY’LL CARRY YOU OUT IF YOU EVER CROSS THIS WALL written repeatedly in large black, still-fresh letters. There was something about that warning that tugged at something in the back of Jake’s mind. Something he couldn’t quite place, until...

“Johnny Cash,” said Eddie.

“Yeah,” said Jake, remembering. “Folsom Prison, right?”

“Yeah, that lyric’s not quite the same as they sing it in our world, but it’s Johnny,” Eddie said. “This one may have been a year or two after your time, Suze.”

He began to sing quietly:

“There’s a lot of strange men in cellblock ten,
But the strangest one of all,
Was a friend of mine, who spent his time,
Staring at the wall...

“The guy dies at the end is the important part. Though I don’t think we’re going to try climbing it, so maybe we’ll be okay, though I can't help but doubt it. Imagine that! A message out of the past from that legend of country music, the Man in Black himself...” Eddie suddenly seemed to realize what he was saying, and broke off. “Seems to be a popular nickname,” he said at last.

But Roland was already making that finger-twirling let’s-move-on gesture.

“Come,” the gunslinger said. “Whatever else it may be, this is a place I’d as soon be clear of by full dark.”

“So we’re just going to ignore ol’ Cash, then?” Eddie asked.

Roland spoke slowly, as if explaining things to a small child. “Our path is the Path of the Beam, which continues on the other side of this wall. Therefore...”

“We cross the wall,” Eddie finished. “Right. Got it. Just asking.”

They found a large enough opening where the wall had almost completely crumbled away. Roland carried Susannah across the thick ledge that remained, while Jake carried Oy, and Eddie took care of the wheelchair.

They crossed the field beyond, covered mostly with scraggly, yellow grass, taking care by mutual silent consent to avoid the areas where nothing grew. The battles were fought with old weapons and old magic, the gunslinger had said, and Jake had a feeling it was a miracle that anything grew here at all, even now.

He could taste death in the air.

It was dusk by the time they crossed the field and made it to the woods beyond, and they went on until it was too dark to travel safely, and they were too exhausted to go further anyway, before finally giving up, making camp, and each falling into a deep sleep.

***

Well a year's gone by since he made his try,
But I can still recall,
How hard he tried and the way he died,
But he never made that wall...
He never made that wall...

Susannah was sitting in the Hungry i listening to a pretty blonde woman with a guitar sing “The Wall,” and Susannah was dreaming.

She knew this first of all because knew she had never heard that particular song in this particular place. Had never heard it all, in fact, until Eddie sang it for her on the trail earlier today, which was a strong indication she wasn’t really here, but rather sleeping somewhere in the Borderlands.

Her second indication this was a dream was that her dream-self had legs.

Her third and final indication was that the young blonde singer on stage was almost definitely Susan Delgado.

Susannah dropped the “almost” when the woman finished sai Cash’s song and began that old song of Mejis, “Careless Love.” She had a fine, strong voice, did Susan, and most of the crowd, men and women both, were already half in love with her. Susannah could see what Roland saw in this woman.

She was so lost in studying Susan that, despite the fact that nobody would have gotten the drop on Susannah Dean like that in the waking world, she didn’t hear the footsteps or notice the presence behind her until she felt a hand on her shoulder.

“Aye, I see. Another one enamored of Miss Oh So Young and Pretty, so ye are,” said a voice. Susannah turned, and at once recognized the scowling face of Cordelia Delgado. “A pretty face, a fine voice, and a faithless heart had that one, and the last sent her to a fate that was no more than she deserved.”

Cordelia smiled a nasty smile, and regarded Susan. “And I think the two o’ ye may have more in common than ye might realize, Will Dearborn’s Dark Lady.” She lowered her gaze to Susannah’s belly. “Oh, aye. More in common, indeed.”

Susannah might have replied to this, but Susannah was still listening to the woman singing, so it was Detta Walker who came forth, snarled at Aunt Cord, and whispered “Git outta heah,” followed by a string of hissed invectives, the mildest of which was probably “sick mahfahin’ bitch.” This was greeting by a smattering of light applause from some of the audience members seated near Susannah, who were less than appreciative of Cordelia’s interruption.

“Well, I never!” said Cordelia, who obviously had no qualms about being quiet. “Ye share that one’s lack of respect, and ye’ll share her fate some day, mark my words!” She turned and flounced out of the Hungry i, and along with it, Susannah’s dream.

“No fate is shared,” Susannah muttered softly at this exit.

Susan, for her part, never wavered, as she finished her song and then announced a five-minute break. She put down the guitar, left the stage, and went to sit beside Susannah.

“Thankee,” she said.

Detta Walker came forward again, just long enough to mutter “Weren’t nuthin,” in a voice that sounded almost embarrassed before fading into the background and allowing Susannah to face the woman who almost shared her name.

“Tell me,” Susan said to Susannah. “Does he still quest for the Tower?”

“He does,” Susannah replied.

“And you follow him?”

“I do,” Susannah said. “Me and my man and the boy, Jake, and even a billy-bumbler now.”

At Susannah’s mention of her man, she could see something almost imperceptible shift in Susan’s eyes. Susan’s serious and sisterly gaze now carried within it just a tinge of the relief of a woman realizing that she is not, after all, dealing with a romantic rival.

“I would have followed him to the very end, ye know,” Susan said. “Would have followed him into End-World itself and beyond to his blasted Tower, carrying and then suckling the babe he put in my belly, if it came to that.”

And Susannah realized that perhaps she did have more in common with this woman than she thought. For she, too, was a woman in love, and she, too, would follow Roland’s quest to the very end. Not just because of ka, or because she herself wanted to see the Dark Tower, or even out of love and respect for her dinh, though all these things were very powerful parts of her motivation.

No, down deep, what it came down to was this: Susannah loved Eddie Dean and would follow him until she died. And Eddie would never renounce the Tower.

“Would thee give him something for me?” Susan asked, and Susannah knew that by “him” she meant not Eddie, but Roland.

“Of course,” Susannah said.

The other woman stood up, and then bent down and kissed her lightly on the lips.

“I’ll pass along the message, sugar,” Susannah said, and squeezed Susan’s hand.

“Thankee,” the woman said. Then, “I best get back to it.”

Susannah watched as Susan remounted the stage, picked up her guitar, and said, “This one goes out to the one I love...”

And before she could hear the next song, Susannah woke up.

She woke up shivering, because she was no longer under the blanket she shared with Eddie. Indeed, she was almost out of sight of the ka-tet altogether, with no idea how she’d traveled so far in her sleep. Maybe I walked here on my dream legs, she thought, then put it almost immediately out of her mind as she made her way back to the camp, then crawled next to Eddie, who woke up just enough and long enough to call out in a confused, almost comic, voice “Chickens? What chickens? Where?”

“I think the chickens are coming home to roost, dear,” Susannah said, laying a kiss on his forehead. Still half asleep, Eddie grabbed her hand and pulled her arm around his body.

Susannah Dean fell asleep holding her man.

Susannah dreamed no more that night.

***

Jake Chambers wasn’t sure if he was dreaming or not, but Jake was hearing thunder, and voices in the thunder. Or perhaps the voices of the thunder.

One sounded an awful lot like the legendary Man in Black singing “There ain’t no doubt they’ll carry you out if you ever touch that wall...” while the other continued to insist, “Hurry up, please, it’s...”

“...your turn.”

Jake awoke with a start, and Oy broke off from licking his hand long enough to echo, “Turn, ‘ake!”

Jake turned his gaze from the bumbler to read a banner on the wall of this place. NOTHING BUT STRIKES AT MID-WORLD LANES, it said.

Of course, Jake realized. He’d somehow dozed off in the middle of the bowling alley, and the “thunder” was nothing more than the familiar sound of bowling balls traveling down lanes to knock over pins.

Embarrassed, and still in a daze, he patted Oy, got up, took up his ball, and faced his lane while reciting the well-known lesson passed on to him by his bowling instructor:

“I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
“I aim with my eye.
“I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
“I shoot with my mind.
“I do not kill with my ball; he who kills with his ball has forgotten the face of his father.
“I kill with my heart.”

Before the more rational part of mind had the chance to wake fully up and remind the rest of him that something was just a wee bit off about this, he launched the ball towards the pins, watched it travel down the lane, and heard Oy cry “ ’Rike!” as it hit dead-on exactly where Jake intended.

“Well done,” said another voice.

And that was when Jake snapped out of his daze and regarded his companion for the first time.

He was a large boy, slightly older than Jake (fourteen, Jake’s mind, now fully caught up on the action, reminded him), with blonde hair and a round face. He was clad in jeans, a faded blue shirt, and rented bowling shoes.

“Alain Johns?” said Jake.

The boy nodded.

“But you’re...”

“Dead?” Alain said, and it was Jake’s turn to nod. “Aye, dead by the hands of those I called my brothers and dust in the wind these many years, though not ‘til I looked quite a bit older than you see me now.”

Alain got up, selected a pink ball, and took his turn, knocking over eight pins and leaving himself with a 7-10 split. “Fuck-commala,” he said.

“But why are you here?” Jake gestured at their surroundings.

“Roland called us forth,” Alain replied. “Or rather some combination of his memories and this place did. The Borderlands, I mean, not the bowling alley. This came from your own mind, though I reckoned there was no harm in enjoying a game ‘long as I was waiting.”

He retrieved his ball as it came out of the ball return, and took his second shot. It almost worked, too. The ball hit the seven pin so that it flew toward the ten pin and knocked it just enough to set it wobbling. In the end, though, the final pin stayed upright.

“Ah, well,” said Alain, shrugged, and turned to Jake again. “I’m meant to give you a warning about that which lies ahead in your path.”

“The Dark Tower?” asked Jake, picking up his own ball.

“Nay,” said Alain. “For you already know all you need to know about the cursed Tower, and that is the truth.” He paused for a moment. “The truth is that I died for Roland on that mad quest, and I would do it again. I, however, will never get that chance.”

Jake, who took his meaning very well, only nodded.

“The truth is also this: He blames himself. I do not. When you next see your dinh in the waking world, tell him that for me,” Alain, who had already switched out his rented shoes for cowboy boots, picked up his ball and put it in a bag bearing the Mid-World Lanes logo. He held out his hand. “Cry your pardon for leaving before the game is through, but...”

“Ka,” Jake said, and shifted his own bowling ball to the crook of his arm so he could take Alain’s hand and shake it. "Ka speaks and the wind blows."

“As you say,” said Alain, and gave Jake a small smile before turning away.

“Wait,” called Jake. “Was that the warning?”

“Nay,” said Alain, turning back to face him. “For the warning’s in front of you, if you’d only but look.”

The young gunslinger walked away, carrying his pink bowling ball in its Mid-World Lanes bag with him.

His pink bowling ball. The one that, now Jake thought about it, looked exactly like Maerlyn’s Grapefruit.

He looked down at the bowling ball in his own hands.

Or rather black sphere that he saw very well now was, and had always been, just another part of the Wizard’s Rainbow.

Black Thirteen glared back at him.

Jake dropped the thing on his foot.

He woke and choked back a cry of pain. Here in the waking word, he realized, his right foot had gone to sleep at some point during the night, and had moved beyond pins and needles to sheer agony while Jake dreamed.

As he rose, he heard Susannah shifting in her sleep, Eddie asking something about chickens--“What chickens? Where?”--and Susannah giving him a quiet answer before they drifted off again. On his right, Roland lay breathing steadily, dead to the world.

Jake paced back and forth across the campsite, Oy at his heels, until the pain in his foot was again silent.

Then Jake and Oy fell asleep and dreamed no more that night.

***

Eddie Dean hoped to all the gods and the Man Jesus he was dreaming, because Eddie was some place he never wanted to be again: in the snack bar of the John F. Kennedy International Airport, listening to a Muzak version of Johnny Cash’s “The Wall” and wondering how the hell he was going to deliver a pound of cocaine from the hands of dying man on a beach in another reality into the hands of Enrico Balazar in this one before the shit really hit the fan.

It had to be a dream, Eddie reckoned, because he’d lived through this already, and now it was only playing out in his subconscious like a re-run of a bad TV show.

He could even see the same customs agents watching him, except the guy in the muscle shirt pretending to talk on the telephone appeared to have the head of a rat, and they were all wearing dirty yellow coats.

The fact that nobody in the airport seemed to notice anything unusual about Rat Boy was perhaps another important clue that was indeed a dream, Eddie was telling himself, when a voice rang out across the terminal.

“Edward Cantor Dean, I set my watch and warrant on it!”

Eddie turned and found himself face-to-face with a tall, dark-haired, grinning cowboy. A cowboy who was carrying two foot-long hot dogs in one hand and a couple of paper soda cups in the other.

“Cry your pardon, where are my manners? Cuthbert Allgood, at your service.” The man made to shake Eddie’s hand, then realized both of his were occupied, and instead dropped into a graceful bow, neither dropping the food nor spilling any of the drink in the process, Eddie noted, somewhat impressed.

“Eddie Dean,” he offered. “But it seems you know that already.”

“Indeed,” said Cuthbert. “Been waiting for you.” He handed Eddie one of the drinks and one of the dogs. “This is Pepsi-Cola, and this odd looking popkin is called a hot dog, though I’m told that, despite the name, no actual dogs were harmed in its making. Shall we sit and eat?”

Eddie accepted both items gratefully, nodded, and led Cuthbert to a couple of not-quite-comfortable plastic chairs, surrounding a table with the name BANGO SKANK scratched in its surface. He remembered reading somewhere that you shouldn’t take food from dead people, but was pretty sure that was in hell, not in dreams. Besides, for whatever reason, he trusted the man before him, so he bit into the dog eagerly, savoring the genuine New York style chemical aftertaste before washing it down with the sugary, caffeinated goodness of the Pepsi.

“So Cuthbert,” he said when his mouth was empty. “How’ve you been, man?”

“Dead,” Cuthbert replied, around a mouthful of meat. “You?”

“Well, you know, same old, same old,” Eddie said. “Got kidnapped, fought a beach full of mutant lobsters, met the love of my life, visited the world’s most fucked up city, killed a psychotic train, saw the wizard, and now I’m back here in the airport talking to a dead gunslinger.”

Cuthbert grinned. “I take it you still quest for the Dark Tower, then?”

“Yep,” said Eddie. “This usually ‘bout the way it goes?”

“I have to admit your adventures are somewhat more...colorful than mine ever,” Cuthbert allowed. “Symptom of how the world has moved on, I suppose.”

“I’m worried about old long, tall and ugly, though,” Eddie began and broke off when Cuthbert made a choking noise.

At first Eddie thought Roland’s old friend was in some sort of distress, but then realized it was the sound of a man with a mouthful of carbonated beverage trying desperately not to laugh. He handed Cuthbert a fistful of napkins and waited for the gunslinger to compose himself again.

“Gods,” Cuthbert said at last. “Warn a man when you’re about to say things like that. That stuff hurts when it goes up one’s nose, so it does!” He chuckled again. “Old long, tall, and ugly. I like it. You actually call him that?”

Eddie shrugged and nodded.

“To his face?”

Eddie nodded once more, and Cuthbert was off and laughing again.

“Had I but lived to see Roland’s expression in response to that one,” he said at last, wiping a tear from one eye.

Eddie tried his best to imitate his memory of Roland’s look, but in the end couldn’t quite pull it off.

Cuthbert’s tone shifted into a somewhat more serious one. “I have to admit, I’ve been somewhat worried about—can’t help it, cry pardon—old long, tall and ugly myself, much as I’m capable of worry about anything these days, but knowing he has companions such as you to help him keep his head and sense of humor helps me feel just a bit better about how this all may turn out.”

“Thankee sai,” Eddie said. And then, because it felt right, “Thankee, brother.”

Cuthbert looked touched. “My brother,” he said. “It was Alain’s job to pass on the warning that’s needed, and whatever Susan had to say is her business and hers alone, so all that’s left for me to give ya is this.” With that he embraced Eddie warmly. “Tell Roland ‘Bert says hello,” he said when it was through. “And tell him ‘Bert says never cry off, never renounce.”

“Will do,” said Eddie.

“Mayhap we’ll meet again in the clearing at the end of the path,” said Cuthbert. He turned to leave, then back again. “No, wait. Before that. We’ll meet again when it comes time to save the writer. The chickens! How could I forget?”

“Chickens? What chickens? Where?” Eddie said. And woke up.

“I think the chickens are coming home to roost, dear,” Susannah said sleepily, laying a kiss on his forehead.

He grabbed her hand, pulled it close.

There, in the arms of his beloved, Eddie Dean fell immediately to sleep.

Eddie dreamed no more that night.

***

When they woke up, Roland was gone.

They found him a small ways down the path, staring out into nothing. Jake reached him first, and was about to ask him how he slept that night and if he’d dreamed, when he saw the gunslinger had been crying, and fell still and silent.

Eddie reached him next.

“’Bert says...” he began, then choked up, and settled for putting his arm around the gunslinger and passing on Cuthbert’s embrace instead.

Susannah, who reached him next, pulled his face down to her own and kissed him gently on the lips.

Finally, Jake took his hand.

“I cry your pardon,” Roland began.

“No need,” said Susannah firmly.

“We are ka-tet,” said Jake. “One from many.”

“And we’ve got a quest to finish,” Eddie added. “The Tower’s not going to find itself while we stand here burning daylight.”

“Indeed,” said Roland.

They never did find out if Roland had dreamed that night, and if so, who or what may have visited him in his sleep.

No fate is entirely shared, even among those who are ka-tet, and not all stories are told.

They made good time that day, leaving the woods and venturing once more into fields and more fields. At some point, Eddie gave up on singing about the wall and began teaching Susannah the Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown.”

And thus the gunslingers left the Borderlands and walked on into the next part of their tale.