Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Wild West
As the sun set on the desolate western horizon, a young man named Scott Pilgrim rode straight after it.
For months, he'd been planning this journey. For months, he'd done little more than mope about his hometown, drunk and stupid and lamenting the loss of his first and only true love: sweet and innocent Natalie Adams, whom had once been such a kind and lovely girl, but only once. Whom Scott had loved for well over two years, and whom everyone had expected him to propose to, despite their wild differences. While Natalie was a driven and well-educated woman of respectable upbringing, Scott Pilgrim was a man whose family was simple, and who had only really made a name for himself by being a surprisingly sharp shooter, and a surprisingly out-of-control drunk.
In a way, everyone was glad to see him go. In other ways, they were not. Scott was barely twenty-three, and though he'd been a man in society's eyes for quite some time, his mother still saw him first and foremost as her only son, and she wasn't quite ready to see him leave. He was chasing a dream, though: something that no one had ever seen him do. Something that legendary men did. Scott vowed to become a legendary man in one way or another—perhaps by chasing his true love all the way into the western wilderness? Who could tell?—and his sister told him that she certainly hoped he would, seeing as how he would never quite cut it in their father's business if he continued only to mope and drink as he had been.
He would show the world, he told them. And when they least expected it, he announced that he was on his way, and indeed he was.
He was on his way to the city that Natalie had claimed would make her a star: a hundred miles to the west of Scott's hometown, near the town where Natalie herself had been born and had lived for the first eleven years of her life. She had longed to become a famous singer, and the bustling city by her decrepit hometown had drawn the eye of many talented men and women in years past. She could be a celebrity, she told Scott, and the temptation of stardom had been too much for her: she'd begun to believe that Scott wasn't good enough for her, as half of the people in town had only joked before, and she'd told him quite plainly that if she was going to be anything in this world, she would need to do it either alone, or with a man who truly understood her. Scott Pilgrim did not understand her, she said.
And she'd left.
That had been precisely one year ago. As Scott watched the stars flicker to life overhead, his heart ached, pounding in time with the steady gallop of his horse's hooves. He remembered her words as though they'd only just fought yesterday, and the sting was still fresh within him, aching and bleeding a year after the fact. He needed her back. He needed to prove to her that he was worthy of her love, and that they were in fact meant to be together. He would beg her on bended knee, if need be. He wasn't exactly the most respectable of men, as it were, so it wouldn't hurt to grovel a little, he thought. After all...she was worth it. He was sure of it.
He rode for hours before finally stopping for the night, the city a distant speck on the horizon, nearly invisible in the darkness of midnight. He was grateful that he'd left while it was cool out: even the brief hour or two that was left to ride in the morning would be undoubtedly scorching, as the rest of the summer had already proven itself to be. Scott dismounted and secured his horse, then went about setting up a small campsite, glad that he would be able to eat in the morning when he finally got into the city. Of all the things he'd actually been smart enough to bring, food was not one of them. He hadn't quite realized that it would take this long to arrive. Supper would have to be sacrificed.
Scott poked at the fire that he'd built, wondering if Natalie would even be happy to see him again after all this time. What if she really had moved on, he wondered? What if she didn't want to see him again? What if she was still disgusted by his utter lack of real life skills or talents...? He shook his head, trying to clear those thoughts out of it. A year ago, he had told himself almost constantly that he wanted to marry this girl someday. He still loved her to this day: the ache in his heart told him that much. There was no use worrying about whether or not she wanted to be with him. He would court her again and prove that he wasn't the worthless human being that most men back home had pegged him as. She had once seen something good and worthwhile in him: surely she would see that again when he showed her how much he loved her and still needed her in his life.
He was about to put the fire out and try to get some sleep when he happened to look up and have his eye caught by something running east not too far off from where he was. He squinted for a moment before realizing that it was far too big to be an animal of any kind, and it was running upright, to boot. Scott stood, lifting one hand to remove his hat from his head.
It was a woman.
And judging from the way she was running, she'd seen him, and she wanted to get as far away from him as possible.
Intrigued, Scott kicked dirt onto the fire and didn't even bother to re-saddle his horse, throwing himself up onto her and clinging to her mane as he dug his heels in and chased after the running woman. She couldn't evade a horse, no matter how hard she tried: and as Scott got closer, he realized that she was barefoot. She nearly screamed at him in half-fear, half-anger when he swept around in front of her and stopped her dead in her tracks, dismounting and approaching her breathlessly. She kicked dirt at him with her bare heels.
"G-get away from me! I ain't goin back there, you hear me?" Her voice was fierce, as was her face. She looked a little beaten up, though she had quite a bit of makeup on. Scott would have taken her for the young wife of a distasteful man if she hadn't been dressed the way she was, her arms fully nude and her dress torn at the bottom hem. Her hair was cut surprisingly short for a lady of her vocation.
Scott held his hands up to try to calm her down, catching her arms when she tried to hit him and eventually managing to pull her to the ground to keep her from kicking him. She was surprisingly strong, for her size, but Scott held fast to her, doing his best to talk her through it.
"Miss, I...w-what are you talking about? What are you running from?"
She paused for just a moment, her chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath.
"...You ain't one of Graves' lackeys?" she demanded, and Scott had no idea what she meant or who she was talking about. He gave her a blank look.
"...Uh...n-no, Miss. I'm afraid not."
She was still tense in his grip, but as he slackened it, she seemed to calm down. Her eyes stayed nervous while her body relaxed, though, and Scott cleared his throat a little to try to make conversation.
"...I beg your pardon for chasing you, Miss, but I—"
"Ramona. Call me Ramona," the young woman said quickly, tugging at a longer piece of her hair. Scott nodded.
"Very well then, Ramona. I was just wondering what you were running away from? I'm headed west myself, and I gotta tell you, it's quite a ways before you're gonna hit the next town if you keep running east like that."
"I know," she replied bitterly. "I don't much care. Anythin's better than the Hell I come from."
"You mean the city, few hours from here?" Scott asked, bewildered, and Ramona nodded heavily. "...What's so bad about it? I heard nothing but good things about it. I need to go there, myself. I'm looking for a girl named Natalie Adams, and I—"
Ramona stared at him. "Adams, you said?...Yeah, I hate to say it, but she's out there. Just you believe me this: it ain't worth goin all over into the Graveyard for a girl like that."
Scott stared back in total disbelief. This woman...this prostitute...was telling him that the girl he loved was mere miles away, but that the only real choice he had was to turn back and abandon her? He almost scowled at her once he'd let that sink in. "...You listen to me, Miss Ramona. I've been longing to see Natalie for a year, now, and she's—"
Ramona grabbed the front of his shirt. "She'd be better off dead. And honestly, if you're gonna go to the Graveyard? So would you."
Their eyes met briefly, Scott's confused, Ramona's nearly begging him to reconsider, and then Scott did scowl, grabbing Ramona's wrists to get her to let go of him again. "I'm going to win her back. I love Natalie, and I'll do whatever it takes! There can't be anything so bad about that city if no one back home has heard any bad news about it!"
"Boy, are you an imbecile?" Ramona cried, trying to pull free again. "I tell you, they'll murder you over there! And they'll murder me, too! I've got six men all wantin me dead, and the only chance I got is to run out, tonight!"
Scott scoffed. "What'd you do, steal their hearts and break 'em all?"
Ramona gave him a pained look, and for a moment, Scott was embarrassed. He cleared his throat.
"...Don't you mind that. I'm a better fighter'n I look to be. Tell you what. I don't want you running through the desert all night'n collapsing before you get to town. I'll give you a ride back into the city and we'll—"
"I ain't goin back," Ramona growled. "Not for you, not for no man."
"Just for a day!" Scott protested, still fighting with her. "After I sort things out with the sheriff and these men you say wanna take your life, I'll be more'n happy to give you my horse to take back to town, seeing as how I plan on staying in the city 'til I get things sorted out with Natalie. Then you'll know for sure that you're a free woman. What do you think?"
"I think you're plumb crazy if'n you think you can take down the men what want me strung up," Ramona said quietly, and Scott loosened his grip a little, frowning softly.
"...My name's Pilgrim, miss. Scott Pilgrim."
"...Flowers comes with Ramona," Ramona sighed. "...You seem like a nice enough boy, Scott Pilgrim. Why you wanna go and get yourself killed over a girl like me?"
Scott laughed. "I ain't gonna die. Come on now and rest for a while. We'll head back into the city in the morning."
Ramona stared at him for a long, long time before she let out another weak sigh, this one of defeat. Nodding unhappily, she allowed Scott to help her first to her feet, then up onto the horse, leading her back toward the tiny campsite he'd abandoned.