The Short Cut is the name given to a strange alien world accessed by the Highwayman, John Bruckner. It is an eerie nightmare world, full of strange flora and fauna, and where time and space behave differently to the way they do on Earth. The Short Cut is also referred to as "The Between".
By day the Short Cut is lit by a green sun that moves slowly, but perceptibly, across the sky. The light from this sun bathes the Short Cut in illumination that human visitors find strange, and when nightfall comes the sun is extinguished with a surprising suddenness. Night time is lit by a moon that is splotched and diseased-looking, and that shines with a greenish light like the hue of gangrenous flesh.
The Short Cut is populated by creatures that bear human traits, yet are noticeably different. Some of these are spider-like creatures with disturbingly human faces, and plants filled with fluids that bear a strong resemblance to blood seem to move under their own conscious control. Many of the denizens, both flora and fauna, have been observed to secrete corrosive fluids, either as an attack form or just a natural part of their biological make up.
One creature stands out from the rest. It appears to be a duster-clad man with a featureless white cone for a head that tapers into a wet red tentacle. This creature has demonstrated some level of command over the others.
Laws of time, space, and physics appeared to be as skewed as the bestiary in the Short Cut. When Bruckner enters the Short Cut he can travel from London to the United States in roughly quarter of an hour. He has also noted that guns do not work in the Short Cut, and yet the chemical reaction in the engine of his truck remains unaffected by the environment. When Bruckner travels the Short Cut, he does so on a straight, well-maintained highway. Despite the straightness of this road, it will always take him exactly where he needs to go when he exits the Short Cut.
The ace Hellraiser also appears to have had some connection to the Short Cut, as he becomes possessed by Horrorshow, a powerful Cthulu-like entity that is a native of that dimension. At the end of High Stakes, Franny Black and Bruckner dump Hellraiser's dying body in the Short Cut in order to trap Horroshow there and save the earth from his influence.
Origins of the Short CutEdit
The Short Cut, also known as the Between, appears to be the extra dimensional space through which all teleportation in the Wild Cards universe takes place. The Highwayman, Jay Ackroyd, Hellraiser and Noel Matthews have all managed to access this location with their various powers.
It is useless to speculate on how the Short Cut came into existence. The primary visitor is John Bruckner, the ace known as the Highwayman, who routinely travels through the nightmare world. Jay Ackroyd, who has never visited the Short Cut himself, but has suffered a recurring childhood nightmare in which he witnessed the cone-faced man descending into a dark subway station. It was into this nightmare reality that he teleported the murderous joker Ti Malice, and it was Ti Malice who later caused problems for Bruckner. Hellraiser acted as some sort of gateway to the location, bringing beings from that world into ours until he eventually became possessed by one of those beings, Horrorshow. Noel Matthews was able to transverse this dimension in both his male and female alternate forms with their powers of teleportation.
- Wild Cards Volume VII: Dead Man’s Hand (Jay Ackroyd's childhood nightmares follow him into adulthood)
- Wild Cards Volume XVII: Death Draws Five - "Chapter Ten" (Bruckner and his passengers come under attack while driving through the Short Cut)
- Wild Cards Volume XXIII: High Stakes (Bruckner is called upon to remove an otherworldly horror from Kazakhstan)
- When the Devil Drives: Short story available on the TOR website. Noel Matthews muses the nature of what he calls "Between" as a short cut for teleporters.