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{Sunday, March 30, 2003}

It’s 4:44, which, by my estimation, is the middle of the night and I just put my cat out. For some reason I’ve yet to fathom, the silly twit – and I say twit because I’ve been listening to a British radio station all night and my inner dialog has developed an accent – absolutely insists on going outside anytime anyone is near a door. Now, I should point out that he has a compulsive disorder and simply must go through any door that opens. This can be a good deal of fun when you’re bored, assuming of course you find it amusing to open and close a closet door while watching your cat run in and out repeatedly. We have a stunningly low threshold of entertainment around here.

So, anyhow, Wraith, my aforementioned cat simply insists on spending most of the day and all of the night outside and frankly, I think I’m a little jealous. It’s not that I’m not allowed outside – I’m a grown up and am perfectly able and permitted to go out even at night – the thing is I can’t help but think that he has this whole other life that I’m not privy to. I fancy that he goes out to play his part in some sort of secret, feline social circle or private club complete with secret handshakes, pass words and maybe even a meeting hall with plush leather chairs, an open bar and free cigars.

Or maybe he’s living a double life and is secretly someone else’s cat when he’s not here. After all, one of my dogs used to do that. She would run off and come back later in the day with pizza but we didn’t mind since she was always willing to share.

I think what bothers me is the notion that my cat, aside from the killing of birds, squirrels, lizards and snakes, is living a more interesting life than I am.

by Shawn 11:07 PM

Part I   Part II
     It started as a prank. We didn't know what was going to happen.
     Old lady Grumble across the street never came out, and she never even opened her door except to pick up the milk, the groceries and the paper. She opened it just a crack, reached out a skinny hand and shatched whatever it was from next to the door. Her name wasn't really Grumble, it was Grublowski, but all the kids in the neighborhood called her Grumble. We'd heard stories from our folks about her yelling at people over the phone. She yelled at Frankie's dad when his delivery boy didn't put the groceries close enough. Since then, Frankie's Dad has done the delivery himself.      That's where Frankie got the idea.
     Sammy said it'd be funny, and Frankie said it'd be funny if somebody who wasn't him did it. I said it's only be funny if we did it tonight, tomorrow being April 1. Joe wasn't there, him being still in hospital after his Baseball injury; he would have told us not to do it. Pinch was at her grandma's, and wouldn't be back until Wednesday; she would have told us we were just dumb, mean boys, which she told us more and more often as we approached teen-age. Hammy showed up half-way through the conversation, and he had to be the fourth. We were always four or five.
     If we were four, we were usually up to something. If we were five, Pinch always kept us out of trouble. She was seven months older than the rest of us, and felt she had to keep us from being stupid, on account of her not wanting to be seen with stupidity in public. When we were four, there were enough for the decisions to be made by a faceless committee, rather than a single person. When we were three, it was Frankie's idea, and it was a mean, petty idea.
     And so we decided that Hammy'd be the one to do it. Hammy wasn't really one of us, and if he were caught it'd be his word against ours and there were three of us in the nameless, faceless committee.
     So, we went to bed early and all secretly reset our alarm clocks for three thirty in the morning, before the paper-boy came. Our paper-boy was old Mrs. Hennessey in her big Buick, but she still started at 4am. So we waited for her to come lumbering up the drive. She got out of the car, and walked up to the door to set the paper down beside it. It was the only stop where she got out of the car. It was the only time most of us saw her out of her car.
     She walked back to the car, idling away on the curb. She drove up the block slowly and around the corner. When we were sure she was away, we pushed Hammy to go up to the door. He wouldn't, the chicken, so it fell to me next, me being the smallest and least amenable to being punched; also, it was my house we had gathered at. So, I stole across my lawn in the still-misty predawn, and up to her gate. I unlocked it quickly. I had less than a minute to perform this vital and delicate operation. Timing was essential.
     I sauntered up to the door, and listened. She usually picked up the paper about a minute after Mrs. Hennessey laid it down. I heard the lock turn and ducked under the level of the peep-hole, scooping up the paper. I backed away, holding the paper. She looked at me with death in her eyes.
     "Give it back," she hissed. I pretended to be scared, and dropped it and ran. It fell about five feet from the door, and I vaulted the fence and ran across the street to my house and hid behind the tree where Sammy and Frankie were sitting on Hammy. We turned around to watch.
     She stood, glaring at the paper for a moment, and then reached beside the door for a broom. She tried in vain to reach it before giving up and putting the broom back. She looked hard to the east where the sun was getting ready to rise. She looked hard to the west where the last of the mist was floating up toward heaven. She looked hard at the tree we were all hiding behind and we had to duck down to be sure she didn't see us.
     And she opened the door, and took a step out into her yard.

by MisterNihil 6:02 PM

venturing out

by Sharon 3:19 AM

{Saturday, March 29, 2003}

Misquoted and Confused

by MisterNihil 3:14 PM

{Friday, March 28, 2003}

I'll see your topic, and raise you two. feel free to do any of the three. it is friday, after all.

in this
windy city

we breathe
carbon dioxide

by rocketo 2:50 PM


Josh, feel free to change the topic if so inclined.

by Shawn 2:00 PM

{Thursday, March 27, 2003}

Combining Posh and An Exquisite Corpse

Death had been kind to Jeremy – far kinder than life as it happens – and, as he stood admiring himself in the full-length hotel mirror he felt good, he looked good, he felt optimistic, death had given him a new lease on life, so to speak.

The transition from living to dead, or, technically, “undead” was far easier than he expected. While it wasn’t really his idea to start with and he never really saw himself as the vampire-type, he soon found that being pulse-challenged offered several distinct advantages. For one, as cliché as it seemed, becoming a vampire added a great deal to ones’ elegance and charisma. Vampirism seemed to turn everyone into David Bowie. In life Jeremy was far, far from being anything akin to David Bowie. There was a brief bit of angst over having to give up his job at Dell and what he was going to do for money until he realized that not only were his meals free but they came with wallets and purses. He suddenly had plenty of cash and credit cards and could, at last, live the type of life he’d always dreamt of. He could afford posh hotels and fine living, or, well, you know.

In time Jeremy learned to tailor his feeding to better accommodate his lifestyle. He would check into an upscale hotel, find a victim of about his build, feed, run up the room bill (that is to say Pay-per-view and room service) and take off with a warm meal and new set of clothes.

He knew there must be others like himself out there living a much more tradition life-style involving crypts and coffins and all that, but in truth the very idea sort of creeped him out. He saw no reason why being dead should be such an inconvenience or should compromise one’s preferred life-style. All-in-all death agreed with Jeremy.

by Shawn 10:22 PM

Is an off-topic post better than no post at all? It doesn't matter, I just needed to write about this.

My company took me out to a farewell dinner last night but, being mid-week, not many people came. In the end, it was my boss, our Russian office administrator, the Bulgarian developper, and another programmer born in Aruba. The usual folks who dominate the corporate conversation were not present, so we learned some fascinating stuff about the quieter members of the firm.

Konstantin, the Bulgarian, talked about serving in the Bulgarian army (which is mandatory) and about surprising amount of peace among the Bulgarians and Turks. Elona, though, came from what is now Azerbaijan. She is Armenian, while the area is predominantly Muslim, and she spoke at length of the years in her early twenties when the Muslims she had been friends with all her life suddenly turned against her simply because she was Armenian. She watched riots in the streets, Armenians being tortured and burned alive. She fled to Moscow, but her government had no pity for her and her family; in desperation she finally turned to the American embassy and applied for refugee status. Though it was granted, Gorbachev wasn't allowing anyone out of the country. Elona and her parents dyed their hair blond and hid in shelters for three years, biding time until they could get tickets out of their country and into ours.

I am fleeing New York City ... because I don't like the crowds and the commute. I worry ... how to pay for my east-coast airplane on a west-coast salary.

Thank you, Elona, for giving me some long-overdue perspective.

by Faith 5:36 PM

in honor of where we are...

by Sharon 1:57 PM

{Wednesday, March 26, 2003}

Igor's sacrifices were the most beautiful. Nikolai felt his face flush when he thought of this. Igor this, Igor that. The king, the gods, even the servants knew who was favored and who was not. Nikolai's farms had fallen on hard times, but now that the monthly sacrifices were the only way he'd keep his land, it had become a high-stakes game with Igor. The bastard lived next door -- well, the rural community's idea of next door -- which was really a distance of several miles. Nikolai's ancestors were always able to curry favor with the ruling party of the day, and as their homages grew, so did their land acquisition.

Until this new guy, Igor, showed up. Igor always had the best bushels of fruit for the king, even a few pretty flowers for the women that cleaned the Royal Lavatory. Nikolai didn't know where he got them, but Igor's sacrifices were the best he had to offer. Every month, like clockwork, a beautiful virgin would appear on his doorstep, and without even considering a pre-sacrifice impurification (a quick deed for both parties involved, with plenty of washing and praying afterwards) he gutted her on his stoop. Then, like clockwork, the beautiful girl's exquisite corpse would find itself on whosever burning altar Igor wanted to kiss ass to that month. Nikolai had tried to be a better sacrificer, but Igor's ladies were just too beautiful.

Until Nikolai put an ad in the local paper that read, "MODELS WANTED" Curry this, Igor.

by rocketo 11:59 PM


Banks glanced down to the left and fiddled nervously with his pie wrapper. He squirmed on the plastic seat. Squinting at him through the a blue cigarette haze, I could tell he was about to crack. "Well?"

He cleared his throat, then fixed me with his grey, hawkish gaze. "I didn't kill her. I swear that I didn't. She fell off the cliff herself and I couldn't get to her in time to save her."

I pointed at the photographs strewn about on the table. "What about these, then? They were on your computer and copies of them were on the data card ion your camera." Fifty-three pictures of Allison Banks' corpse, her back twisted and hair splayed out over the rocks at the base of Walker's Point. Her body showed no signs of decay; her skin coloration was normal. The pictures were obviously taken shortly after her fall. "This was your wife, man. Instead of going to the police or calling 911 on your cell phone, you climbed down the cliff, risked the same fall that killed your wife, and took pictures?" More than just taking pictures, he'd taken his time to frame each one. One shot of her hand with a fiddler crab crawling across it; a close-up of her eyes staring sightlessly at the gulls in the sky; a long shot of her draped in seaweed, framed by an spume breaking on the rocks behind her. All told, Banks' little photo shoot must have taken about three hours.

"You don't understand. But I wouldn't expect a person like you to." He practically spat that last bit at me. "You see, I loved her before but in death she was just beautiful." His eyes unfocused. I don't think he was talking to me anymore. "Laying there, surrounded by the beauty and fury of nature. The tidal pools and the sea spray... Her pale skin against the starkness of the granite rock... God, she was more than beautiful. She was an exquisite corpse."

"So you took the opportunity to go back to your car, get the camera, and take pictures of her?"

He grinned at me. "More than that. I loved her one last time."

And that's when I lost it.

by jal 7:16 PM

Ralph came jumping puddles to where we stood. He handed a rainCoat to the captain and said "Number Crunchers over Left, Taking our Starboard Prow." "Corporal," said Jones, "you take flank, I'll gun 'em down." He ran with his arms out like an airplane and threw up down the front of his shirt. His tits jiggled. I hurled a banana at the ceiling fan and yelled, "Fire in the Hole." Nothin was left o' poor Jonsey but his shoes and two bowls of steaming oatmeal. We saw the attackers coming over the hill, and couldn't decide why they weren't here yet. I checked my watch, but the hands had transformed into ticks and were sucking the life out of me. I was out of patience. LanceConstable Juniper Bush asked where we kept the ammunition, so I directed him/her to an empty cardboard box wherein had lain the bananas. I stumbled for words, smelling rancid meat. My skin dripped from my fingers and puddled around my bare toes. I took a drink of Vodka from a stripper's navel and waited for the enemy.

They stepped through the door, aimed and fired. As I died, I thought, "What cheaters! Guns! Indeed," then stumbled off toward home where my neighbor's wife would be waiting, naked, for news of my death.

by MisterNihil 2:19 PM


A surrealist's war leaves an...

exquisite corpse

by jal 1:11 PM

{Tuesday, March 25, 2003}

She smiled when he gasped, so she made the movement again. She moaned faintly, to imply that doing this felt as good for her as experiencing it felt for him. It didn't, but that is how this game is played. She brushed her lips over his skin on her way to kiss another area of his chest. He arched his back when his skin sprang up with goosebumps. She smiled: This was how to own them.

She shifted her weight on the narrow mattress, slid a leg over his, and pressed his thigh against her pelvis. She put her lips against his neck. "Talk dirty to me." He tensed, froze. She brushed his earlobe. "Talk quantum physics to me."

He laughed shyly, and began. "I don't think we'll find a Unified, um, Theory." He caught his breath. "See, gravity is just too--ah, that's nice--um, different. To be. Um. That's really distracting."

She looked up through her eyelashes at him. "Good." And then she resumed. The Scholars dorm was ripe hunting grounds. They were sweet boys, well raised by their mothers, and thrilled by the idea that a woman would even talk to them. It was easy to get them alone, and distracted. With his inhibitions muzzied by sleepiness and bewilderment, she would spend the rest of the night guiding him through the intricacies of her pleasures, without ever quite giving him anything. Sweet boys, they were unsullied by prior training and infinitely malleable to one's own private kinks.

In the morning, she would tell a few trusted friends, who would make it well known, that he had pushed her farther than she had intended to go or was entirely comfortable going. Hearing it third-hand, he would believe this, internalize it, and be deeply saddened and ashamed. One notch, a little less sweet.

by Sharon 11:59 PM


The clouds scudded low and grey across the horizon. Bodies and wreckage--the effluvium of war--lay strewn across the field. Boris strode through this bleak scene, only pausing to give some poor moaning wretch a quick death. He eventually arrived at his destination: The command tent. He shoved the tent guard aside as he charged in. "I arrived as soon as I could. You wanted me Hornblower?"

Torchlights danced around the tent as the evening wind gusted and waned. Garth Hornblower, scourge of eight nations, stood at the opposite end of the tent. His eyes were dark and watery; his posture lax and slouched. "Yes, Boris. There is a problem. A serious, serious problem." Boris' hand lept to his sword's hilt and Garth smiled. "No, not that kind of problem Boris." Garth tapped his finger against the side of his head. "I'm afraid, Boris. I'm afraid I've lost it."

Boris cocked his head at his leader. "But this campaign was one of your best yet." He put an gloved hand on Gath's shoulder. "Your mastery of the art of war is unsurpassed. It remains undiminnished over the years. If anything, your tactical skills have improved with age."

Garth smiled and looked deep in Boris' eyes. "You misunderstand me. I haven't lost my skills. I've lost the taste for war. I'd like to turn to something more... Fruitful."

Boris took a step back. "So it's time to settle down, is it? We're going to take our holdings and build a nation?"

"That's right Boris." Garth chuckled. "Ten years ago, all I wanted was revenge and bloodshed, but now I've seen too much. I want to build a fortress and a town around it. I want to build libraries and churches." He shruged casually. "I suppose I've lost my appetite for destruction."

by jal 6:45 PM


I am Declan, called destroyer, and I am master of men and the harbinger of chaos. In my wake all that would cling tenuously to the foolish notion of order is strewn like chaff before the hurricane, cast aside and crushed beneath my feet. Those that would know quiet and solace fear my coming and find refuge denied them, comfort fleeting.

I am madness, and I reach your brain with the shrill touch of morning thunder, glass shattering, dogs barking, I am turmoil made flesh. I am the voice that is never still, the piercing scream of immediate need and the storm of disorder that is not to be denied.

I am all these things and more; I am bedlam and I am the death of the resting mind and bringer of mayhem. I am Declan, I am 2 years old and I cry havoc!

by Shawn 6:10 PM

Appetite for destruction

In honor of Declan, my two-year old.

by Shawn 11:50 AM

{Monday, March 24, 2003}

I am a small thing, and I am pursued. I have short legs that struggle with stairs. I clutch a small, black pistol. Imperial guards are everywhere, could come around a corner at any minute.

I am running through this building at random, trying to lose my pursuers. I choose paths and forks, switching back, tending to choose down for stairs because it is too difficult to climb. It occurs to me that they will probably guess this strategy, but it's more important that I put distance between us.

Gray, gunmetal walls, stairs as high as my knee, tight corridors full of branches and turns. I am running. I am part of the resistance. They do not have the right to dominate us. They are not our leaders. They have no right. But they pursue with relentless efficiency, never hurrying, simply gray and tall.

I reach the basement. I find a small kitchenette, full of cupboards. I cannot climb onto the counter, but I can crawl under it. I hide amongst styrofoam supplies, peering out at the bottom of the door, holding my pistol at the ready. It feels light and metal and insufficient. But I will kill them before they take me.

The door opens, and bedroom slippers with pajamas shuffle into view. This is unexpected; I freeze. Disheveled, unshaven, and wearing a bathrobe, he drops onto all fours, quirks an eyebrow at me, and grabs a package of coffee cups from beside my foot. He is chewing on a toothbrush. Then he stands up and leaves.

—dreamt on Saturday night. In my dream, the guy in the bathrobe is played by Val Kilmer. I've got a great casting director, apparently.

by Sharon 10:26 AM

nowhere left to hide

by Fred 7:32 AM

{Saturday, March 22, 2003}

The angry sound of the buzz saw filled the room. After a moment, the executioner flipped a switch and the blades were silent.

"Is that supposed to scare me?" the woman asked.

"No," he answered. "Generally speaking, what it’s supposed to do is chop you up into little bits."

"Oh," she said. "I hadn't thought of it like that."

"Granted," he continued, "the phrase 'little bits' is somewhat relative. After all, some bits, like your head, are bound to be larger."

She frowned. "Are you saying I have a big head?"

"Well, no," he told her. "Not especially. I doubt we'll have any trouble fitting it in that basket."

She glanced at the object beneath her. "Oh," she said. "So that’s what that’s for."

"Well, it’s not for taking goodies to Grandma’s house," he answered with a smile.

"Is that supposed to be a joke?"

"Just a little one. We try to keep things light and informal around here as much as possible. The job can be quite depressing otherwise."

"How you must suffer."

"It’s a living."

"You’re not going to tell more jokes, are you?"

"It’s a definite possibility."

She sighed. "Then you might as well turn that thing back on and get this over with," she said. "I think death just lost its sting."

by Fred 11:59 PM

Chain Saw sound (from Saturday)

Even to this day I associate the sound of a chainsaw with snowy winter days in Ohio, out in the woods with my dad, cutting firewood for our wood-burning furnace. My job was primarily one of collecting the cut logs, stacking, clearing brush and often driving the tractor and wagon. Not particularly hard work, but, in near zero temperatures it could get to you after a while. Still, I enjoyed this time spent working next to my father; the camaraderie of doing a job and doing it well; knowing your labors would contribute to the family’s well being.

As a child looking on, it seemed as if one simply had to select the tree or log and let the saw itself do all of the work. However, now, years later, as I stand here surrounded by my own children, I know that simply is not the case. It takes a great deal of finesse to properly saw through limbs to get a good, clean cut and a piece that will easily fit into the furnace. Far more difficult still is working the saw through a torso in such a way as to not bind the chain. It takes a great deal of practice. Fortunately we’re Mormon.

by Shawn 11:59 PM

An aural topic today...
[ listen ]

by Sharon 7:37 AM

{Friday, March 21, 2003}

"It's the end, la la la..."

It was in my head, in the woods with a friend, this song by another friend's little brother. I'd like to call the little brother my friend, too, but I fear I'm not nearly hip enough. Do they even say "hip" anymore?

"Everything's falling... Everything's falling in place."

It was my first day out in the woods in a very long time. I am a pagan; my religion is out in the woods. My soul, my spirit. And I hadn't been. Texas, to me, is dry, paved, and silicon. With very large, very alarming insects. And hot. So I'd stopped going to church, because nothing would ever be like Four Quarters, and to try to approximate it would only reiterate how far away it is. I'd stopped living that part of my life.

Until I met another traveler on a similar path, and he said, "You have to go outside. I promise to put you out of doors. Often." I'm one of his New Year's Resolutions, how 'bout that. In the woods, this song is in my head, everything's falling in place.

"Everything's falling... Everything's twisting in space."

And then I am wheeling through the cosmos, alone with the river and the trees and the rocks, rocks, and rocks. A free bolt of energy in the mighty black expanse of space. My spirit name is Nova. It means "new star." I hadn't thought of that in years. I hadn't been her in years.

"Supernova-aahhh... Supernova-aahhh..."

I imagine Seth was alluding to an explosive finality. But I can't help it; the word "supernova" means other things for me now. With tights and a cape and a large S on my chest: Super Nova!

And that's 10 minutes of my day in the woods:

"It's the end, la la la..."

by Sharon 3:48 PM

   We traveled across the baren wastelands, Dofur, Hotspur and I. There was nothing for miles, and suddenly a mountain seemed to appear on the horizon. For days, we marched and it grew until we stood at its base, looking up into the cloudy recesses. I turned to Hotspur.
   "We'll never make the top."
   "Nor do we need to," he replied. "We need only make the side, and across into Dunlandia."
   Dofur nodded, and we began the ascent.
   After climbing for the better part of a day, we were all exhausted. We made shifts of three, one leading and the others as acting ballast, Dofur driving pitons, I ascending after, and Hotspur pulling them from the mountain face. I fancy we left no trace, but Hotspur tells me he could have tracked us easily.
   We made a lip of the mountain some 800 feet up and stopped for the night. We drove pitons into the rock and slept strapped in (as I know we are all active sleepers prone to roll). We started a little fire and made a meal. I'll tell you this: a dim flame does not cook quick enough after a day of climbing and a strip of dried meat. The tiny fire was pitifully slow in warming our food to edibility. We slept light that night and none for more than an hour in a stretch.
   In the morning, we started anew, angling our climb to allow us to make the side of the cliff and over, across the border line. On this side we were still subject to Amorcine law, and thus the Amorcine Rangers.
   About midday, while I was finishing an ascent, an arrow found its way up to the highest piton, knocking it out of the mountain. I fell and dragged Dofur with me. Our combined weight dragged out another and another piton from the rock face, and for a sickening moment I saw our fate lying in the jagged stones below. Hotspur, though, quickly lashed the rope and pulled for all he was worth. We hung there in the open as the Rangers in the blimp rained us with arrows. We'd been paying our attention down in the hopes that they'd ascend after us, and missed the sound of their approach.
   When they seemed to have satisfied themselves, Hotspur hung dead and Dofur was wounded and bleeding. I was soaked in their blood, and hanging limp to fool them into thinking I was also not long for this world. Their balloon sunk to the earth, and their climbing team prepared to make the trek up to us.
   Dofur and I started up again.

by MisterNihil 3:31 PM

Just a little Everything is Falling In Place. Everything Is Twisting In Space stream of consciousness

“With every step, you’re falling forward slightly, then catching yourself from falling, and that’s how you can be walking and falling at the same time” –
Laurie Anderson

I’m not sure if that’s the exact line as it’s been some years since I’ve listened to the song. I love the line; “Everything is falling…” from Brother Machine although to be honest I don’t recall what the song is about. Still, to me, it evokes a variety of images and concepts particularly since the line is not that everything is falling into place but simply falling, and twisting. Maybe a good metaphor for life in these hectic, consumer-oriented, sound bite times. I’m reminded of Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi (Wha? Word doesn’t have those in the spell check? How odd)

Anyhow, the point being, if in fact I have one, that the line is suggesting not that things are falling into or out of place but simply the sense that things are falling, moving, difficult to grasp or define. Of course the same thing occurs to me when I see a yard sale sign that reads “Moving Sale” and imagine all of the items floating around a yard; if you can catch it you can buy it.

The other thing that comes to mind is a metaphor for our place in this universe. We are falling through space around our star, our solar system is falling through space around the Milky Way, twisting, spinning and that in turn is falling through the universe as everything rushes madly away from everything else. And yet, to us, it’s all staying in place.

by Shawn 9:20 AM

The Choice of Three:

The Brightest Flame Cooks Wieners Quickest.
Everything is Falling In Place. Everything Is Twisting In Space.
Something I wasn't Listening to Bit Me.

by MisterNihil 2:15 AM

{Thursday, March 20, 2003}

They don't hear me. I've watched this happen a thousand times, and they never hear me. They never stop, because they never hear me.

They have a big, hungry machine, for crunching down cars. It makes horrible noise. It squishes cars into little squares. My car is getting crunched now. It is always my car; I watch it hundreds of times. Big, green Buick, with the triangle windows in the back that turn out, and the crank handles to roll down the regular windows. My car. It's getting crunched, and they don't hear me.

The car groans, and then it just... pops--all the glass flies out--and then it squishes quickly but it sounds like someone screaming. I wish, this time, they would hear me. And then the car folds up, like when you crumple your napkin and throw it away, until it's a box, and I can't see where there's any room for me in it now at all.

They drop the car in with a big magnet, and it falls pretty far. You can see it bounce on the shocks. And then the crusher starts up, starts whining, like it's hungry. Right before the pop, I keep thinking they'll hear me, one of these times, because I can hear me. So loud. Because I'm standing outside by then, already watching, and the sound is huge. Louder than the hungry machine, louder than the screaming car. It is like a thousand homeruns being knocked out of the park, all at once, a million cracking sounds, louder than everything, when the machine breaks all my bones inside the trunk.

Wouldn't they hear all those bones? They never do. But I do, every time.

by Sharon 11:00 PM

    Hello my name is Janni I am work in glue factory. They bringing me horse; I am cut from leg the hooves and taking off shoes. When I am done, I am pushing leg through bone-crushing shaft and am waiting for new leg. Is no happy work, but is job. I am pay for home and food with job.
    Last week they are asking me "Janni, how long you been here?" and I am saying almost year; is true, am being here almost year, next month. They are saying, "Janni, how you like to working here?" I am say, not bad. Is good place to work; stink is bad, but I don't mind.
    I am working garbage man in Russia two years, and am not mind stink of horse, ha ha.
    So they are saying, "Janni, we are think of lay off some peoples here, but we are keeping some, are wanting stay. We are thinking you are being good worker; we are want you stay." I say to them, "thank you."
    They are saying, "But we are having make small change to assembly line. We are use animals not all horse." I am say no problem; no animal stink so bad as horse inside. They are laugh, I am laugh, I am go back to work.
    For first week, is good; Horse, pig, sometimes goat. Normal animals are come down chute. Is only last wednesday, when hand is coming to me. I am pause for moment, and then cutting fingernails off of hand and tossing into bone crusher.
    I am working garbage man in Russia two years. I am no go back. They make glue from fingernails, I am helping, if I am stay in this country.

by MisterNihil 4:56 PM

<blockquote>Promoti-- no, no, be a little more other-focused. How about that one you've been hanging onto for, like, a week now? Ah, yes:

by Sharon 1:28 PM

{Wednesday, March 19, 2003}

Cedric had no head for heights, even under the best of circumstances. Weighted with armor and weapons, feeling like his feet were huge on this 10-inch ribbon of rock arching over a chasm that dwindled to a vanishing point below him, was not the best of circumstances. The steaming, stinking, grinning demon, with ruddy skin like a cooked lobster and impossibly small hooves, hulking over him while it balanced lightly a few feet farther up the bridge, did nothing to help.

It had a voice like hair pomade drizzled with honey when it said, "I'm just standing in your way. It is your own mind that tells you you can't go around." It made Cedric look over the edge involuntarily, and he had to look at the sky and breathe forcefully through his nose to quell the nausea and vertigo. Wobbling unsteadily on the thin finger of rock, he thought ruefully that a knight had to trust only in his sword and his shield. Just how had he come to be a paladin? He knew he'd have plenty of time to consider the answer if he fell.

The demon chortled, thoroughly enjoying this. It shifted 12 feet of bulk from one foot to the other with a light hop. Then it leaned very close, leering with too many pointed teeth, putting its face right next to Cedric's so that he could smell its breath: "Well?" And Cedric stepped left.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

I'm just standing in your way

by Faith 9:32 AM

{Tuesday, March 18, 2003}

Narla scratched the fur on her belly when it growled. It was time to hunt.

She lit the fourth candle, then the fifth, leaving cloven prints in the corn meal as she moved around the circle. She gestured with the casual precision born of long practice. Only her lashing tail betrayed her impatience. She was hungry.

She skipped the words; they were only for effect. With a black onyx claw, Narla scratched her breast, allowed a few drops of blood to fall stark red upon the white corn meal of the pentagram. Languidly, sensuously, she dragged one claw, still slick with blood, through the air, tearing.

With a twist of mime and a shadow's breath, she pulled back the skin between worlds. She ripped open a ragged mouth of darkness. And she stepped through.

by Sharon 6:49 PM

It was a fine party, albeit stranger than some, with the tigers speaking in rhyme and the geese wearing masks of bronze and brass with small bells chiming softly in an ancient tongue. Clowns—the race, not the vocation—played fanciful instruments, as midgets wearing Napoleonic hats smoked long, elegant pipes and quoted from Beowulf, substituting every ninth word with "green bubble." The mimes twisted overhead, suspended by thin, coppery braids as they smoldered and burned, falling gently to the marble floor like cloths of silk in clear water. Ballerinas danced a haunting waltz on golden ropes floating in the clouds, as crystal fish kissed orchids, sucking their nectar. Beautiful women, smooth as milk but bronze in color, sat still and graceful, waiting to be described by poets, and lizards dressed in the finest of Parisian styles lounged languidly on reddish stones floating among the chandeliers of bone and candle wax.

All in all, it was a fine party.

by Shawn 3:18 PM

a twist of mime

by Fred 12:49 PM

{Monday, March 17, 2003}

The morning sunlight was cold. Alia grabbed a lungful of crisp air and watched her breath steam out from her nostrils. Surveying the vista, she announced: "Where do we go from here."

Beth looked sideways at her friend, tried to squint past the brittleness in Alia's smile. It was about branching paths, sure, but it wasn't about these woods, and it wasn't a question. Where do we go from here.

They had been backpacking for two days through the Pennsylvania leg of the Appalachian Trail. Isolation and interdependence had bred wide-ranging conversations, and they had reveled in the intimacy of disclosure reserved only for best friends. You could tell your best friend anything. But not anything-anything, Beth amended. Not that.

It was a moment in the firelight last night. Alia's hair had shone copper, and Beth had felt separated from the rest of the world, apart from time, like they had side-stepped into a faerie ring. Like she could say anything.

Beth would snatch back that moment fiercely if she could, but she would relive it countless times in her memories. And it would still make her smile.

Alia's challenge hung in the mountain air: Where do we go from here. Beth answered, "Back the way we came. Back to where we started."

by Sharon 11:59 PM

Where do we go from here?

Or, one could use yesterday's topic. Or both.

by Shawn 9:49 AM

{Sunday, March 16, 2003}

Inspired by a recent search referral to my website:
funny English tea story
Just in case anyone feels inspired to write on a Sunday.

by Fred 10:12 AM

{Friday, March 14, 2003}

A man walks from the corner north of my house to the corner south of my house.
A child looks out a window at the man walking south and thinks of his dog.
A man drives a truck north on my street and thinks about a fight with his wife.
A woman cooks eggs in a kitchen and wonders when her son will awaken.
A woman walks back to her bathroom after a fight with her husband.
A woman wonders if her son will miss the bus.
A dog runs across my street after a night away from home and does not see a truck bearing down on him.
A man swerves to miss a dog and his truck jumps onto a sidewalk.
A man sees a truck jump onto the sidewalk in front of him, is paralyzed by fear and cannot move.
A child shrieks and turns away from a window.
A dog returns home.
I slumber, believing that all the possibilities of the day still exist.

by MisterNihil 9:54 AM

before I wake

by Sharon 5:07 AM

{Thursday, March 13, 2003}

Life without legs is tough. I woke up today and found that out. I gave myself a quick dressing down for not paying Louie and Joyce the six large I owe 'em, and dragged my ass to the shower. Man, I've said that so many times and never really meant it. What a hell of a day.
I had a buddy who went to Mexico to get drunk on cheap booze and ladies of negotiable morals. When he was down there, his boots got stolen and he had to walk up and down the street all morning, looking at the stuff folks had out on blankets, looking for his boots. Lucky stiff. It's hard to drive without legs, so I took a cab around town to the morgues. They're the only people I know who'll buy blackmarket legs. Mine aren't so bad to look at, but they're forty so I figured they'd still be around wherever Louie dumped 'em. He hadda sell my legs, I figure, 'cause he called 'em interest.
The fifth place I came to had a set they said were unclaimed. The doc said he didn't know whose they were and wasn't interested in finding out. For the right price, though, he'd be happy to say they were mine. I didn't have any choice. I had to pay him twenty-five hundred to get them back, and then he wanted another eleven to put them back on. 'Cause what was I supposed to do with legs if they weren't on me?
So now I'm back up on my feet again. Or somebodies, anyway. I notice I've developed a slight limp and it'll be a month before I'm fit to run anywhere. I gotta find Louie and Joyce...

by MisterNihil 11:39 AM


by MisterNihil 8:29 AM

{Wednesday, March 12, 2003}

Part I | Part II | Part III

Blue days, all of them gone
Nothing but blue skies from now on
-- Irving Berlin, "Blue Skies"

It sounded like a simple plan. I think maybe that's what worried me.

"As you may have gathered," the Weatherman had said, "we have certain resources at our disposal, resources we are prepared to share in exchange for your services."

I figured he wasn't talking about Doppler radar.

"It is imperative that we locate the umbrella," he'd added, "and that we discover those responsible for keeping it in play."

Uh huh. "Okay, let's assume you have all these resources," I said, although, frankly, all I'd seen of it so far was a lot of talk and a couple of fists from his goons, "why not just find the umbrella yourself? Whadya need me for?"

"We have tried," he said with a sigh, "but all avenues have been exhausted. I'm afraid my associates and I are simply too well known in too many circles. And we have been unable to locate the woman --"

"Smith," I said. I remembered that dress.

"If that's what she calls herself. Nor have we been able to ascertain the depth of her involvement. No one seems to know whose side she's on."

Until that morning I hadn't known their were sides, much less enough of them to fill a geometry textbook. I'd been happier then, I reflected, although that might just be the split lip and the morning's martinis talking. That last one had been like an olive-laced ball-peen hammer to the brain.

"But you've earned her trust," the Weatherman had said. "A fact which hasn't gone unnoticed by those who control the umbrella, I can assure you. They will be in contact."

Oh great, I thought. More goons. More talk.

"How can you be so sure?" I asked. "They've been pretty good at keeping mum so far." The drought had, after all, lasted almost three weeks. "What makes you think they want anything to do with me?"

"Because you, Mr. Elliot, are a wildcard and, therefore, most interesting. They will want you to choose sides. We want you to choose theirs."

"A double-cross."

"Exactly. You're the only one who can get close enough to find the umbrella. And when you do, you will contact us. Or we will be very angry."

I cast a quick look at the goons. They looked like they'd eaten "very angry" for breakfast.

"Okay," I'd said. "I'll play along."

I hoped I knew what I was doing.

by Fred 11:59 PM


"...But it looks like clear skies ahead from here on out, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight. If there's anything we can do to make your experience with us more enjoyable, please let one of our attendants know." I pondered that last comment while eyeing up a particularly delectable stewardess and chuckled to myself.

"What's so funny?" Aaron looked up from his Palm PC, stylus hovering over some technical document. "What's so funny, Blaine?"

I favored him with a toothsomely sharky smile. "People make outrageous claims when they're trying to be polite. I could think of several hundred things that this airline could do to, 'Make my flight more enjoyable,' but they won't do them. They could serve a real meal instead of these captain's wafers." Aaron nodded in agreement as I continued. "They could require that everyone boarding shower before entering the plane. They could offer complimentary oral sex to the first 10 people to check in."

"They're not going to do that." Aaron smirked at me. "Now if they auctioned the oral sex during the flight..."

I interrupted, "That's my next point. Why not have aerial casinos? Let the passengers gamble during the flights. After all, you're technically not in the state after a certain altitude, right? Even if you are, the FAA could change the laws to make it legal. If the airline industry is in such dire straits that the government needs to periodically bail it out, then why not give them the opportunity to help themselves out?" People in nearby rows were starting to stare. I realized that i'd gotten my rant on and needed to tone it down a little. I continued, a bit quieter. "At any rate, it'd make these transcontinental flights go a little faster."

Aaron passed the Palm PC to me. "Check it out. Pictures from the first Hooters Air flight. Maybe you should pitch your idea to them."

I thought about it while checking out the pics. Perhaps I will, I thought to myself. Perhaps I will...

Writer's Note: The Sun-Sentinel News has a pretty good article on Hooters Air and an analysis of what it needs to do to survive.

by jal 4:30 PM

“Damn, clear skies ahead!” came the urgent call from the crow’s nest.

Captain Dormadoque, seeing the direction of the look out’s outstretched arm, lifted the glass and searched the horizon. Sure enough, 30 degrees starboard the skies were clearing, a dull blue was beginning to show through the cloud covering and soon the ocean of gray they sailed would be replaced by the harsh blue of the mid-day.

“Hard to port, trim neat and drop ballast.” The crew responded as a well-oiled machine; the ship swung to port and skirted the edge between the billowing clouds and the sharp drop into hungry, clear skies. The Song of Orion was one the Empire’s newest and grandest Sky Ships and was able to cut through even the stormiest of skies with ease. Bristling with cannons few pirates would risk an encounter on the open skies but there were still dangers: clear skies.

Some sailors, new to the skies, thought the ships required clouds to remain aloft or the winds for movement. The winds were important but the actual clouds were incidental; gray skies were essential! The Cloud Ships needed the ill-defined reality offered by gray skies in which to sail. Shrouded in hazy skies with the horizon or land below obscured, the captain could, through dead reckoning, sail a vast distance in a relatively brief time using a sort of subjective, nautical reality slip. Clear skies meant that each league had to be sailed, one after another, after another, after another. It would take a month to reach port.

by Shawn 1:37 PM

clear skies ahead

by rocketo 2:20 AM

{Tuesday, March 11, 2003}

Nadia jumped and reached a hand to her hip reflexively. Pressing the button to stop the pager's vibration and pulling it from her waistband were one movement. What now... She scrolled through the interface to read the text page.
bored? I can help with that.
She had been nearly dozing. The conference room was too warm, and the meeting was too long. Who would page her, though? She looked around the room at her fellow prisoners, flicking her eyes over Mark, laptop glow reflected in his glasses as he studiously "took notes" that never involved looking up at the speaker. Wireless card: Check. Possible. Betsy also had a portable, at which she typed languidly, tracing designs in her trackpad like contemplations of a lover's hip. Probably not. Nadia considered the iron-gray hair, parted rigidly and divided into bangs, and the floral-print turtleneck. God, I hope not. She hung the pager back on her belt.

And it buzzed again:
Don't shut it off so quickly. Where's the fun?
Nadia looked sharply at Mark. His eyes never left the LCD screen; the corner of his mouth flickered. She tossed the pager onto the table in front of her and tried to become engrossed in configuration management.

The table became a sound board when the pager went off. Nadia snatched up the device and silenced it. She held it in her hand, beneath the table, out of sight, waiting to become inconspicuous again. Then she glanced, wearing an expression fit for reviewing a trouble ticket.
Oh, I'm hurt. This mtg could pass much quicker. Try me.
She squinted at Mark, his expression unchanged. Betsy, thankfully, did not make eye-contact. The speaker continued to drone. The Powerpoint animations did nothing to alleviate the gray wash of information. Nadia shrugged into a sly smile, and rested the pager in her lap.

by Sharon 9:54 PM

“Set it on stun,” said Captain Thud T. Jameson, a wicked glint in his eye. “And fire.”

“But sir,” cried Wednesday, the half-android hyper-intelligent reptile-boy first lieutenant with a difference at his side, “at this range even stun could have dire consequences. We don’t fully understand Thelurian physiology. It might – ”

“Damn it, man!” shouted Jameson. “If I wanted a science lesson I’d have asked the damn computer! She’s getting away!” He grabbed the phaser from Wednesday’s green metallic claw. “Give me that!”

He held it in front of him, pointed at the tentacled creature now almost at the shuttle bay doors. “Say goodnight, Lady Calamari,” he said and fired. A bright yellow beam spat from the phaser, hitting the creature straight between what Jameson assumed were its eyes. It slumped to the floor. And then it exploded.

“As I was saying, sir,” said Wednesday as he scraped purple innards from the side of his face, “if you fire, the Thelurian might explode. Apparently they do that, from time to time.”

“So I gathered,” said Jameson. One of the things he thought were eyes had landed at his feet. “Guess we should call down to the planet then,” he added.

“Sir?” asked Wednesday.

“Squid people are gonna need a new ambassador.”

by Fred 3:30 PM

Set it on stun.

by Sharon 12:22 PM

{Monday, March 10, 2003}

"An ounce of prevention is worth -- "

"A pedicure?"

"No, a -- a what?"

"A pedicure. See, apparently there's this guy who set out to give himself athlete's foot."

"You mean intentionally?"

"Yeah. I don't understand it either. It got pretty ugly, too. He kept his feet sealed up inside plastic bags with vinegar all day, sprayed them with lemon, splashed them in dirty water. By the end, they were actually starting to bleed."

"That's disgusting."

"Yeah. I guess it was some kind of science project or something -- you know, charting the evolution of the rash -- but ultimately it seemed pretty stupid and self-destructive."

"I'll say."

"And so I'm thinking, if he'd just put a little effort into preventing it in the first place, he wouldn't have needed all the soaps and sprays and visits to the doctor in the end."

"Oh, okay."

"So, therefore, an ounce of prevention is worth a pedicure. You see?"

by Fred 11:59 PM

I have a name. We all have names. For the shivering, hairless monkeys to pronounce it correctly, I would have to rip out their tongues. But that is the point, isn't it? They were on the verge of trying to pronounce it. There has been a resolution in the council, and I've been sent to look into the situation.
  It started with an accident. Glrgheixthp!rch was sick of the stupid monkeys, and sick of their crowding around him. He'd said "Get Off Me." That was all it took. Soon, one of them tried to say it. That's when the council was informed, and now I am dispatched. I've found the one who spoke, and she is in containment. Her child is being lured into a trap now, and her mates will follow. We've examined the rest of her tribe, and found no evidence of contamination, but one can never be too sure. We will eliminate them systematically in the morning. An ounce of prevention is seldom enough.

by MisterNihil 1:29 PM

An ounce of prevention...

by jal 10:23 AM

{Sunday, March 09, 2003}

Imagine the early ones. Imagine groping in the dark, finding the hollowed recess in the mountain and curling up again for the night. Imagine meeting others like you, your curious eyes, still untrusting, always meeting theirs. Imagine surveying the plains at noon, looking out amongst your vast kingdom and thinking to yourself that this is truly paradise.

The struggle to communicate is always a difficult one. Gestures only go so far, you know that. Trying to describe the bobcat that lives behind the boulder near the river is damn near impossible, even for the most adept gesturists of your day. Imagine lying on your back outside the cave lying next to your mate, staring up at the tiny points of distant worlds. Imagine considering your origins in this world, questioning where you came from, but not being able to ask anyone else what it all means. How does one even explain one's interest in the stars? It is one thing to tell others about a colony of small, tasty creatures living nearby. But it is quite another to ask them what it all means, who our creator is, what He wants with a world like ours. Imagine your frustration. Are you the only being on this world who is interested in these things, who wants to know what lies beyond the mountain range, or further than that lake? If you aren't, you may never know.

At least, not until you develop a grunt for 'star.' It's a low sound, with a rumbling pitch. A grunt for 'Sun' soon follows. You begin to teach your mate. She surprises you with more grunts: 'home,' 'explore' and 'far.' You don't know how you know the meaning of these things. At times, you can barely distinguish what one grunt means over another. The infection spreads. Thinkers become Speakers. And the world is never the same again.

by rocketo 3:56 PM

Language is a virus

by Shawn 3:08 PM

{Saturday, March 08, 2003}

Juanita smiled.

This was her favorite: the power pulling across her back as strong muscles reached for the sky. Her wings swallowed the air in heartbeats as she climbed towards the sun. It warmed her upturned face, while the wind of her movement cooled the perspiration. It was healthy, sweating from her efforts.

She turned from the clouds and looked out over the land. At a distance, even this city was pretty. Steel and glass gleamed like jewels; the reservoir looked clean from this height. From here, Juanita could go anywhere, see anything, be anyone. She thought about getting an ice cream cone.

Possessed by an idea, she set her gaze, snapped her wings, and dove, laughing from the speed, howling into her freedom.

When an orderly came to move her from the window, now to the dining hall, he spoke a soft one-sided conversation to her and wiped away the spittle that hung from Juanita's mouth in a slender thread.

by Sharon 11:59 PM

It’s not how I thought it would be, this thread, slender and crimson drifting lazily through the water. I expected a rush, a river, a flood carrying with it all the hopes, dreams, ambitions but mostly the pain, the suffering and regrets of a life ill-spent and cheerless. And yet here, drifting listlessly in the water, warm and soothing, profound in its simplicity is the thread of life, past, present and future. Here drifts all the past hurts and wrongs done, everything that was and may yet be; here drifts the future for better or worse, right or wrong, what’s done is done and it’s time to sleep.

by Shawn 2:52 PM

a slender thread

by Fred 2:03 AM

{Friday, March 07, 2003}

*crunk* It always starts with the cold, metallic jolt that leaves the Depraviti Angeli dangling in their harnesses beneath the airship like marionettes, mad, aberrant, a breath of death waiting to be exhaled on the enemy below.

It’s quiet here above the clouds blood red and golden from the setting sun. Her eyes, black and oily linger a moment tasting the beauty of the scene below her as some scrap of soul, that clings tar-like to what she is now, recalls another time before life was a simple matter of war.

With another metallic jolt the Angeli are released from the belly of the Mortis Auram and drop silent and deadly towards their prey as lumbering airship a mile below prepares for the assault. Its cannons reach heavenward launching a volley, hungry and vicious but are too far away for the Angels to hear the roar. Moments later the black and biting flack explodes around them as some of the Angeli are strewn about the sky in a haze of metal, bone, oil and blood, the last of their tattered flesh burning away.

But she continues to fall. The air cuts through her frame of exposed bone and steel and what few tendons and muscle were though crucial for her purpose. At the last possible moment her wings unfold in bladed elegance, the sun glistening on razor sharp edges. She chooses a target and banks towards the riflemen and they flee as death falls from the heavens.

by Shawn 8:40 PM

I've heard some expensive sounds, in my day. Like the hollow bang when two drivers ended their negotiations in front of the bank. And that sickly sweet crunch of losing a laptop off the back of a tray table. The despondent whung of a piano soundboard, collapsing under its own tension, was almost harmonious. These are expensive sounds.

But they really don't begin to approach the soft liquid crunk that the drive train just made. I was adjusting a valve, reaching past the smooth-fitting gears, and the clasp on my tennis bracelet just... let go. It slithered off my wrist like a liberated garter snake and insinuated itself into spinning steel sprockets. And then that sound, as lubricant was replaced by diamonds, poured cold water into the pit of my stomach.

How efficient of me to grind through this precision-tooled machine with the most expensive monkeywrench ever. Beyond that, it's one thing to damage the delicate inner-workings of your vehicle; it's quite another to cripple it in deep space. On the up-side, it won't really matter if they dock my pay, right?

Definitely the most expensive crunk I ever heard.

by Sharon 11:17 AM

"What an odd noise," said Sam, standing on a hill overlooking a pond. A smell drifted up with the sound, murky and green and sour. Sam listened again, in the hopes he could catch another glimpse, as it were, of the sound.
"Don't talk to yourself," he admonished, feeling sheepish. He hadn't had much of anybody to talk to for the last three months. Just his parents and, once, a friend from the foreign nation of school had dropped by. It was evening, and the sun was dropping slowly behind a far off hill. He strained his ears for the sound. A chill wind blew, the first he could remember in what seemed like a lifetime but was probably only months. He squinted toward the pond, looking for the possible source of the sound.
"Where is it?" he asked nobody in particular, wanting to run down the hill, but knowing he'd only scare it away. He'd heard the last crunk of Summer, and the last crane was down there somewhere. When this bird left, summer would be over and he'd have to go back to school, civilization and socialization. He'd have to go be that other Sam, the one who was quiet and sometimes knew all the answers, who didn't have many friends and was usually last in any line, usually at the back of any crowd. Now, though, he could stand in contemplation, looking for the last crane, and enjoy being the Sam on top of the hill.

by MisterNihil 11:15 AM

"Dude, this is some good crunk," said Billy Boy. He took another drag from the joint. "What's in it?"

"Selerian blood mites," said Sam. "Cut with Yasgari powder."

"Sweeeeeeeet," said Billy Boy. He grinned, handing the joint back to Sam. "Where the hell d'you get Yasgari powder? I thought that shit's illegal."

"I know a guy in the Armada," said Sam. "He gets it through customs all the time. There's a drop-off just off of Ganymede."

"Man, they say it fucks you up. I mean, you ever see a Yasgari?"

"Yeah, sure, on the holo-vids. Big snakes, yellow eyes."

"They say that's what you turn into, you smoke too much of this shit. Your teeth start turning into fangs. You grow a tail. We lost three colonies the first year they made contact."

"Dude, that's just politics. Yasgari eat humans, that's why we lost those colonies. It's got nothing to do with the powder." He held up the joint. "Hell, this shit's as safe as Altarian synthetic alcohol."

"Whatever, dude," said Billy Boy. "It's pretty sweet crunk either way. Here, give it back."

by Fred 8:59 AM

Slang Time! 8th graders in Georgia use this word:

by Remi 6:46 AM

{Thursday, March 06, 2003}

Star Trek's Mr. Spock said, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Adrian Veidt of Alan Moore's Watchmen knew, as the smartest (and richest) man in the world, that it would be better to murder a few hundred-thousand New Yorkers than to permit World War III to annihilate civilization. Any right-thinking person believes it is better to execute a rapist than let him off on a technicality. Mothers know we should incarcerate suspicious aliens, and perhaps citizens, rather than risk letting them on a plane with our babies. And all true Americans will agree with the Bush Administration that a "Shock and Awe" blitzkrieg on Baghdad will keep our citizens safe from potential terrorist threats.

Or perhaps not.

Shawn asks, if you could travel in time and kill Hitler before he rose to power, knowing that you'd take the fall as a homicidal kook, would you?

I answer that, when we view ourselves as infallible, omniscient agents of divine judgement, brushing away inconvenient ideas like due process, justice, and the Constitution, then we are far more dangerous than any terrorist, any Saddam Hussein, any Adolf Hitler, wreaking a much farther reaching damage. The rational, righteous defender of our security, well being, and prosperity—no matter the cost culled from the rights of the unworthy—is the most insidious threat to the only part of America worth defending: Our rights.

by Sharon 3:10 PM

One bullet, one chance, what do you do?

Kerrie crouched in the tool shed huddling her two, young children to her as if she could protect them from the terror that lurked just outside. She knew there was no protection. Neither the strength of her arms nor the Smith and Wesson .357 she clutched in her trembling, sweating hand could save her children from the beasts and the inevitable, horrible death they brought.

The beasts had come in the night, a week ago, and with them a death more horrific than any though possible. The small town of Freedmont, Alaska, 180 miles from any other sign of civilization had become a ghost town practically overnight. The beasts, black, savage creatures were unstoppable and could strip a human to the bone in seconds. They could, but they didn’t. Instead they would do so slowly, methodically over a period of hours. Some chemical in their saliva would cauterize the wounds and keep the brain active and alert far beyond the point that it would normally shut down in self-preservation. Death came slowly and with suffering beyond description.

Kerrie had a single bullet and two young, innocent children looking to her for salvation from this menace. One bullet, one chance to provide a quick, clean death. She could feel the hot breath of the creature just outside.

by Shawn 2:53 PM

there are good days, and there are the days you never forget. also, there are days when you're working like you always do as a teller in a low-rent bank where the "safe" goes home with the boss every night, and the security guard barely has a walkie-talkie and don't even ask about a gun, when something happens.

you're closing down for the night, and someone bangs on the glass. urgent-sounding, the rappings of a man who just received his paycheck and is trying to make a deposit before the automated draft cleans him out, and we happily charge him with close to fifty in fees. i never understood that about banks, how the people with the least chance of paying you back are the ones we charge the most fees to. so i felt sorry for the guy. arnold, our "security" guard monday nights had gone home already. we close early mondays, so it wasn't a stretch. And when this guy appears, brandishing a company check for two hundred bucks, you feel sorry for a guy like that. through the glass, i yell, "CASH?" He shakes his head no, quickly. It's one thing to accept a check after hours. You just change some numbers in a computer, and put another piece of paper on top of the stack you turn in. Cash is a different story. You can only have so many tens, so many hundreds. You can't give out cash if you've declared it all. And everything has to be keyed into a central cash deposit computer. So the employees don't have to trust the boss, and the boss doesn't have to take the employees' word. So I unlocked the door. He had one shot of getting into the bank, and he took it. If it was Marla, who works late on Wednesdays with Rusty, she'd have never opened the door. Even Jim, who would give a fly his lunch if it asked him for it, even Jim would have asked the man standing outside if he would please just use a deposit slip and we'd deposit it first thing in the morning. But I was the one working.

I let him in. He strode to my counter, the only one with a light over it. It's one of those big bulbs recessed into the ceiling. It's a very private light, doesn't cast a lot of shadows. He places the check on the counter, and i ask him for his account number as i'm logging back into the system. I look away from the computer, at the check, and I notice the blood smeared across the back. I look up at him, and he's grinning.

And the light goes out.

by rocketo 10:49 AM

I didn’t kill him. I don’t care what they told you.

They’re in the business of lying. It’s what they do. They conspire. You can’t believe them. It was Oswald, he’s the one who fired. They gave him the gun. They gave him that bullet. They told him what to do. Point and pull, and the gun will do the rest. He’s the one you want. History has that much right, Senator.

They called it a magic bullet, and everybody laughs. Nobody believes it. But that’s what it was. There was nothing it couldn’t do. Zip and zag, change direction, defy the laws of physics. Oswald was a terrible shot, but the bullet, it knew what it had to do. It was smart. You’d be amazed what we had back then, even in 1963. Some people say we faked the moon landing or rigged elections, but if they knew… By the mid-sixties, our government had already brokered deals with fourteen different alternate dimensions. Other Earths, Senator. They’d gotten their hands on technology you can’t even imagine. They keep that kind of thing under wraps. They don’t talk about it. You won’t see them used in any war or the nightly news. But if we wanted, we could’ve sent Neil Armstrong to the other side of the galaxy. We could have done just about anything we wanted. Killing a President was a walk in the park.

And that’s all I was doing there. Walking in the park. I was there to see the parade. Forget what you’ve heard about the grassy knoll. Forget what they told you. It was Oswald. I’ve heard rumors he was from another dimension, an Earth where the Roman Empire never fell, but who knows what’s true anymore? Who knows what you can believe?

All I know is, I'm not the one you're looking for.

by Fred 9:39 AM

One bullet, one chance: What do you do?

by Sharon 2:45 AM

{Wednesday, March 05, 2003}

Hey wait, wasn'tt there something about Breaking the Seal?

My 7-year-old son Garrison outlined this with a little help from me in the keyboarding department (Quiet Sharon). Oh, and I should point out that he doesn’t say “ya know”; I was just trying to sound like a teenager. There was also something about an Eskimo god watching all of this that I didn't have time for:

My name is Keith Banded and I’m in a bunch of trouble. It all started this morning when my mom insisted that my dad and I go to the museum to see this new exhibit about Alaska. I didn’t want to go but mom felt that we needed to “bond”.

So the thing is that there was some cool stuff and all, ya know, igloos, seal hunting, polar bears and stuff like that but still, I wanted to be hanging out with my buddies at the skateboard park. In fact dad said he’d drop me off after we went to the museum so I had my board with me. Well, one thing leads to another and I got bored and decided to, ya know, speed things up a bit and rip it up on my board. That’s when things got, ya know, bad. Real bad.

I was shreddin’ through the place where they had all the art stuff, ya know, statues an’ all that an’ BAM right into one of those display things that had a stone statue of a seal. Seal everywhere. I tried to act like nothin’ happened but then some lady started yellin’, and a guard showed up and there was people runnin’ and I tried to get to the exit but then they caught me and well, now I’m in trouble all cause I was bored and broke the stupid seal.

by Shawn 8:28 PM

I was hoofing it through the Cincinnati airport, a woman on a mission, catching a connection. I was traveling alone, and I was moving at a serious clip--and I saw him. A brief glimpse out of the corner of my eye, and there he was: my ex from high school, my ex-fiance, the boy who threatened to always love me. I kept moving.

I found my gate, touched tangible things, verified the boarding time, and then went back. I walked back to the magazine shop he'd been standing in. There was no way he'd seen me. I should have just sat down and read my book. But when there's a hornet in the room, you want to know where it is.

Once, he had driven up in front of my house and parked there by the curb for hours. I went and found the axe. My boyfriend talked me down.

Once, he showed up at my dorm room, having neither slept nor eaten for three days, distraught over losing me. He collapsed, and an ambulance came. I told him I loved him, to stop the trembling. But I didn't.

Once, once, and once, there are a hundred awful things I let him do. And there he was, again, in the Cincinnati airport.

I kept my back to him where he stood at the register. I read the ingredients on a package of Halls, waiting to hear him speak, unwilling to risk looking at him, for fear of making eye contact. It's a wonder I wasn't picked up for shop lifting. (Nowadays, it would be terrorism.) And then he spoke, and it wasn't him at all. With relief beaming out of my face, I turned around, immediately locking eyes with the man behind the register. He didn't look like him at all.

I went and caught my plane.

by Sharon 4:41 PM

Chance encounter with a fiend:

So, by an odd coincidence I was recently home alone having a conversation by myself with friends at some possible social gathering in the near-future, which, I feel I should point out is not so much a warning sign of mental illness as it is an exercise in exploring what you feel your friends would have to say about a particular subject. Hmm, reading back over that rather ungainly sentence maybe mental illness is a concerned.

In any case, here’s the scenario: Through some miracle of chance and temporal physics you’re sitting in a café in 1921 drinking wine with a young and frustrated artist by the name of Adolf Hitler. (Yeah, I know, not an original party question by any means but it was the first thing that came mind when I saw the topic of the day.) In that hindsight is 20/20 and you know the mass destruction and death that this man will bring about do you kack him or let him walk out of the café and into the history books?

To refine the question a bit: He’s with friends, you have a pistol and when he walks out he’s gone; no second chance, no time for popping him in a dark alley with no witnesses or any of that. You kill him then and there in front of witnesses and will undoubtedly be caught knowing of course that no one else of the time knows of what’s to come. So, to some degree the question is one of whether or not you can justify murder to prevent murder. But then, following the Treaty of Versailles Germany was primed for a fascist party and, were it’s leader not Hitler it probably would have been someone else. But that’s just it, we’ll never know will we? One bullet, one chance, what do you do?

by Shawn 3:09 PM

So, I've got this idea. It started the Monday before the Tuesday before Lent. Not Fat Tuesday, the Tuesday before that. You know, the one that Catholics call "Just another Tuesday." I stood in a pizzeria, ice forming on the ground outside, snow beginning, and thought, what if the Devil walked into this building right now? That's probably how it always starts. What if the Devil... Right? And that kind of thought always starts with no sleep, I think. I mean, This one did, and here I am writing here, and then there's this one, from just last weekend. And then later in the weekend I bumped into a drifter in a Szlotzkies. Sczlotzkies. Schlotzkies? A sandwich shop, who reminded me of the devil. The drifter did, not the sandwich shop.
Maybe not the devil per se, but one of his aspects from Master & Margarita who was both choir teacher and night. Dunno. I keep bumping into the devil. Not really. So, yeah, stuff. Really, I'm just putting together this post to see how well the name thing works within the context of my previous posts. So yeah. Totally lost my train of thought.
'S OK, though. I still posted something. It's a start.

by MisterNihil 3:02 PM

Try this:
Chance Encounter With a Fiend

by MisterNihil 10:10 AM

{Tuesday, March 04, 2003}

Walking into the room at exactly 1:00pm, ready for the fight of the week. Always ready for the fight of the week. Aren't we all?
Walking into a room full of people, chairs drawn into a circle, who have clearly already fought about everything worth fighting about, and who know why you weren't there.
Walking into half-hearted lies about messages sent 'several days ago' by people who thought you weren't going to show up because the message was sent at 9pm to your work email, on Friday. The person asked was leaving early, knowing you'd be late because that person moved the meeting.
Walking into the strange looks one must get when one is not really part of the group.
Always the last to know.

by MisterNihil 2:19 PM

the last to know

by rocketo 10:32 AM

{Monday, March 03, 2003}

Muggi sniffed at it. I wouldn't have. Scorched and smoldering, reeking of death and alien and black, this strange meteorite had made an appreciable crater in our back yard. It was just a bit of a thing itself--probably fit in the palm of my hand, were I foolish enough to pick it up--but it had carved itself a hole I could lie down in. I'd need to buy more sod.

But there was Muggi, leaning over it, reaching out her trunk and sniffing at it. I used to think she was smart. But this thing had clearly been built, which was an unsettling prospect. Someone was crafting meteorites that smelled like corruption and hurling them at us. From very far away, from the looks of things. And, of course, from very long ago.

Makes a body wonder if there were more to follow. Before we could launch any kind of cease and desist, millions of these things might have been lobbed at us. The price of sod was bound to go up.

Well, despite Muggi's sniffing, our little xenoguest failed to do anything. It just continued to stink and smoke. My smart wife squinted at it and then declared, "It's a research probe." She's got such a nose for these things.

by Sharon 3:57 PM

Can't breathe.
Can't see.
Nothing. Out here, it's just nothing. Stopped hearing from home twenty million miles ago. Probably. Can't remember either.
Cold. So Cold out here. Nothing to compare to. Just cold. Just absolute cold. Brought no thermometer. Only know am cold.
No stars. Just cold. Can see end of everything. Not beautiful, not even something. Just black and cold. Can't breathe. Won't panic.
No light, no air. No planets. No nothing. Send back report, hear nothing. Scream "All Is Well" into blackness behind, blackness ahead, blackness inside; years later, home hears and sends back "Is All Well." Never hear query. Just send answers. All is as it should be.
Can't see.
Can't Breathe.
Am Pioneer.

by MisterNihil 2:37 PM

is a good topic, so let's let that stand. And don't worry, gang; I'll talk with Shawn about how a calendar works.

by Sharon 12:50 PM

{Sunday, March 02, 2003}


A subject near and dear to my heart: Pioneer 10. After 7.6 billion miles they've finally lost the signal.

Aaargh! Sorry Jon, last night I logged in, saw my name listed for "Sunday" and posted a topic this morning. As opposed to say, NEXT Sunday which was the correct day. Sorry. Feel free to post a different subject.

by Shawn 10:28 AM

{Saturday, March 01, 2003}

Shawn's AFK again, this time in Seattle. So...

by Sharon 9:29 AM


<blockquote class="topic">your topic</blockquote>