John Marston and I had just come off Butter Bridge one day, trotting nonchalantly toward McFarlane Ranch train station. We ended up in the Twilight Zone instead. We had just passed the triangle where Red Train stops to let Blue Train pass. Red Train was about a half mile behind us, chugging up the steep hill in Mexico toward the bridge. I was waiting for it to catch up because I wanted to see whether it would do its collision thing with Blue Train which was chugging toward the other triangle over on the north side of the ranch. These collisions are rare but I had seen one recently and I was trying to re-create the circumstances that might cause another one, angry terrorist that I am. I base this on the fact that Red Train had not stopped at Chuparosa station, or any of the other stations in between, so I felt the chance for a collision with Blue Train was possible. I was scouting out a location near the tracks that would give me a good view of the destruction, or whatever happens in these horrific events.  


Gun shots off to my left, the familiar sound of Bird Shooter at work. Sure enough, there he was, picking off innocent birds and knocking them to the ground. I like birds, even virtual ones, and my normal reaction lately has been to charge at him and knock him on his ass. This doesn’t kill him but it stops him from shooting the birds. So I take aim and spur horsey up to speed, and just as he starts his spiel, “Hey, how good are you with a…” wham! we run him down and send him flying into the weeds. I feel so justified and superior, a defender of nature. His normal reaction is to get up and chase after me, shooting my ass all the way home. I like to lead him into town where the sheriff usually shoots him as he crosses the little bridge near the foreman’s headquarters, haha! My conscience is clear, my honor remains intact. Sweet, huh?


So here’s where this encounter goes to spooky town. I’m trotting away from Bird Shooter like I always do. He gets up and starts taking pot shots which are whizzing by my ears, smacking leaves and branches as they pass (those sound effects are great!) Meanwhile, Red Train has crossed the triangle and catches up to me. I let it slowly pass me because the map tells me Blue Train has stopped at its triangle north of the ranch, so no collision today. Oh well, no big deal, just a routine trot to the station, on with the game, yeah right. The train cars are passing me and eventually the caboose passes and bang! bang! bang! someone starts shooting at me from inside the car! It’s frigging Bird Shooter, kind of snarling and laughing at me and getting pretty damned accurate with his bullets. He’s on the damned train, for pete’s sake, on the train! What the hooha is going on here? Witness wet pants at this juncture because I don’t believe what I’m seeing. I shoot back and maybe I hit him, maybe not, I don’t really know, I forget whether the red dot locked on him. I follow the train to the station and hop onto the caboose but a body is not visible. Did he fall off before the train stopped? I went back up the tracks but I didn’t find any X’s or bodies. Perhaps we’re too far from his origin and his persona has expired. It happens.


I’m thinkin’ I just witnessed intelligent thinking by a toy made of silicon and plastic, an act that seems possible only in higher animals, and sometimes xboxers. Bird Shooter seems to have figured out that he could catch up by jumping onto the train as it was passing him. It looked to him like I was staying close to the train so why not hitch a quick ride and pick me off as the train caught up. Am I wrong here? I’ve tried to make other conclusions, find reasons this might have happened, but this is the only one that fits. Anybody else have a supernatural encounter like this? I suppose those clever Rockstar programmers could have built some kind of pseudo reasoning into their characters: “If train equals ‘nearby’ AND John_Marston equals TRUE, attach to train AND shoot John_Marston.” Sounds plausible. And really cool!


I love that this happened and I got the biggest kick out of it, but it’s still a little disturbing.  As advanced as these gaming platforms are, they’re still plastic and silicon, right? They simply perform as they’re programmed. At least that’s what I’ve always thought. I’ve tried to repeat this event but it’s a tough one. Many variables have to coincide: .the train’s position, my position, Bird Shooter’s random appearance nearby, on and on. Try it, though, and see if you can make a believer out of me. Bird Shooter appears in other locations. Perhaps other antagonists (gang members) could jump on the train as well. Try stealing someone’s horse as a train goes by, or wounding a bandit; you know, the sorts of things that get someone pissed at John Marston. You, too, can attain Wet Pants Expert.

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