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{Wednesday, June 30, 2004}

 
I took control today. I quit my job. Funny, I don't feel like I'm in control.

What I feel is, I don't know, maybe just a desperate desire for it to be five o'clock already, for it to be my last day already, for it to be time to go. Two hours (and furthermore two weeks) has never seemed like such a long time.

On the one hand, it's good to have this finally out in the open -- it's a decision that's been coming for a long time -- but, on the other, things are now a little awkward, and they might stay that way until I leave.

I've joked with a few people that this is almost like breaking up with someone. But, in that case, there's usually not a two-week cooling-off period where you stick around, continue as always and maybe even help the other person find someone else. When it's over, it's usually over. The desire to just cut and run is almost overwhelming right now. I felt bad about only giving about two weeks notice, but at the same time I wonder if I can make it through two more weeks.

I don't feel like I'm in control.

In about three weeks, I'll be headed home to New York. I keep sending out applications and resumes, but nobody's biting. The idea of moving to Austin has sort of fallen by the wayside, at least temporarily. I can't move there without a job -- of that, I definitely don't have control -- and in New York I can live with my parents until I do find a job. It's not the best situation, and if I really had control, it's not the one I'd pick, but it's where things stand.

Sometimes the stakes are bogus, sometimes the fast lane hits a fork...

Sometimes, maybe always, we only have control over the little things. I can quit my job, but I can't force another to fall in my lap. I can give two weeks notice, but I can't help but worry it's too much and not enough. I can leave Pennsylvania, but I can't necessarily choose where I go next.

If that's control, then yeah, today I took it. But it doesn't feel like that's what it is.

by Fred 1:29 PM


 
We're often told, here at work, that there are many ways to lead, and one can be a leader without being a manager. (No comment on the reciprocity of that.) While there is great responsibility in leadership, there is great power in administratia.

I volunteered to be the Configuration Management Coordinator for our project. I am not the Development Lead. Not the Project Manager. "Just" a developer. And now, the CMC.

As the CMC, I "help" the project by controlling items that are managed under configuration management, including all documents subject to change control and all code. Doesn't sound much like power, does it?

As a developer, I contributed a number of sections to the Software Design Specification (which weighs in at a breezy 140+ pages). One of these sections seemed to have trouble making it into the final document. It was not there during the inspection (for which I read the Entire document); it was not there in the revised draft after the inspection. When I made my approval of the document contingent upon the inclusion of this section in the document, I was assured it would be there.

And then I got the request to put the doc into the source control repository. Funny, my section wasn't there.

Naturally, I inserted the section, corrected the capitalisation of every instance of "sharon," and fixed the spelling of my tool from "BIP" to "BPI" (although, arguably, the former is easier to pronounce), and then I checked the piece of crap into the document repository.

Such power may go to my head. Ph34r m3.

[Don't bug me about writing. This is all that's in my head until we exit Planning.]

by Sharon 1:08 PM


 
control

by Sharon 12:50 PM




{Tuesday, June 29, 2004}

 
finding your moment
or, taken from some spam I got the other day:
are you the naked one?

by Fred 7:45 AM




{Monday, June 28, 2004}

 
Also available in livejournal form.

     He lit the match to cover the smell in the bathroom. The paint fumes ignited.
     He awoke again, his head down on his desk, having slept at work again. He raised his head, opened and closed his mouth which had stiffened as he slept, and made to stand. His teeth did not feel right in his head. They too were adversely effected by his developing TMJ disorder, and a little blood was now oozing casually from between tooth and gum. He stretched his legs and stood, looking around the office. He suddenly realized he had to pee, and shuddered with the memory of his dream. Stretching his legs and hobbling a little, he made his way to the toilet secreted in the back of the offices. He passed the water cooler. It emitted a satisfied galourp as he passed, pressing the urgency of his bladder. Finally at the door, he ran in, punching the button on the knob and tossing shut the door, dropped his pants, and let loose a stream. Many satisfied-but-uncomfortable seconds later, he realized his need was more visceral. He sat, and began the process of voiding. When he finished this mercifully undescribed process, he cleaned himself, replaced his pants, and took a match from the box near the toilet. The walls were the same dingy off-white color. They had not been painted in more years than he'd worked there.
     He struck the match to cover the smell he imagined in the bathroom. The propane that had leaked slowly into the room ignited.
     He sat up in bed, staring at a fixed point on the wall where he noticed for the first time a tiny imperfection in the plaster. He calmed his breathing, swore quietly under his breath, and made the short walk from the bed to the wall. The room was the same dingy off-white it had been when he'd moved in some two years ago. He sniffed for the subtle trace of propane and detected nothing. He placed his finger on the imperfection in the plaster and wiggled. Chips of wall fell to the carpet and the steel stud behind was exposed. He swore quietly again and continued to wiggle and peel. Soon, he had an eleven inch wide hole in the wall and was pressing on the sheetrock and plaster beyond. On the other side, he knew, he'd see his bathroom sink and the shower beyond. After the sheetrock, he'd have to push a hole in the ugly wallpaper. He looked forward to this sensation as he would reach through and press a hand to the paper until it popped in a satisfying way. Before he could get to the far paper, or even the far sheetrock, a large insect crawled out of the hole. He pulled his hand back away from it and it started hissing. It was a huge, shiny black thing, perhaps eight inches from end to end of its body. It had a long proboscis which it raised and pointed at his head. He could see down the black tube, like the barrel of a tiny rifle. It sprayed a thick goo at him, hitting him in the face. It burned his skin and the smell almost made him fall over. He dragged himself around the wall and into the bathroom where he washed frantically. The goop came slowly off and his eyes stopped stinging. The bathroom smelled of the horrible stuff, so he set up some incense in a burner.
     He struck the match to light the stick and ignited the black tarry spray still coating his skin. The fire spread to his face and started burning the skin.

by MisterNihil 9:53 AM


 
From my second favorite book ever, The Bangor Maine Train Scedule:
"You better bet to show,
asshole
because you ain't gonna win.

by MisterNihil 9:46 AM




{Friday, June 25, 2004}

 
     She walked into the room like her name was tattooed across every ass in the place. She swished her red-dotted white skirt and let her black heels click on the cheap tile and she didn't care who saw it. We were old men, sitting at old tables, the names of every youth who'd come through scratched into the surfaces, the ghost of every french fry, half-burger and double-thick shake burned forever into the chipped orange and black tile. She looked up and down the menu, legs shoulder-width apart, arms akimbo, and seemed to reach a decision. She walked with her hips, driving forward in a hideously beautiful display of absolute control over reality.
     "Numbah seven. No veggies. Just meat," the word dripped off of her mouth in that breathy voice, "bread and cheese. And quick, boy."
     The cashier behind the counter hadn't looked up. We hadn't looked much of anywhere else. He raised his eyes from the computer screen as he spoke.
     "Four-sixty-five. what kinda drink...you...want..." Finally, he noticed the stunning woman in front of him and was dropped speechless. His mouth hung open and he stood in front of the register and the woman and the world. All eyes were on the space between them which threatened to fill up with her libido and his lolling tongue. She reached one perfectly manicured hand up to his jaw, resting her I-could-kill-you red nails on his adam's-apple. She pressed upward, closing his mouth as she spoke.
     "Coca-cola. I'll pull it myself. You oughta have that looked at." She produced a five from the bosem of her mysterious and maddening red-with-white-spots top and laid it on the counter. She took her hand away from his mouth and dropped it behind the counter, dangerously close to the aching front of his pants. She withdrew a cup, turned and walked toward the drinks fountain. The boy's eyes rolled back in his head, and he drifted down to the floor.
     At the fountain, she pressed her cup against the ice dispenser and allowed just one ice cube to fall. This she removed with her delicate and evil fingers and placed between her lips. She allowed one loud sucking sound to escape around the edge of the ice which obediently melted in the noon-day heat. She dropped it back into the cup. She looked at the six of us, sitting at our little pathetic tables, feeling every second of our advanced ages.
     "I ain't from 'round here," she drawled. Something happened in the base of my spine that hadn't happened in thirty years. "Y'all know where a girl can go to have a good time?" She looked across our faces like so many trees: we weren't men, we were scenery. She was asking the background and not really expecting an answer.
     The burger dropped down the chute, and the manager skittered over and dropped it into a bag with some cold fries. This he placed on the counter and slunk back into the greasy shadows. From safely behind the frying aparatus he called softly, "number seven."
     She drove forward again, leading with her hips and trailing behind her our eyes. She casually snatched the bag and marched out the door, never even pausing.
I went back to the dominos game thus interrupted.

by MisterNihil 1:41 PM


 
From my favorite movie ever:
"Well, it's pragmatic, sure, but it kinda sucks."

-fEmalie
The Runcible Spoon Trilogy

by MisterNihil 11:56 AM




{Thursday, June 24, 2004}

 
Part the First | Part the Second | Part the Third | Part the Fourth | Part the Fifth | Part the Sixth | Part the Seventh | Part the Eighth | Part the Ninth | Part the Tenth | Part the Eleventh | Part the Twelfth | Part the Thirteenth | Part the Fourteenth | Part the Fifteenth | Part the Sixteenth | Part the Seventeenth | Part the Eighteeneth | Part the Nineteenth

"I think he's finally coming round," someone said, and Alan opened his eyes and stared and the roof of the car. He didn't try to sit up. He didn't think he could. Sitting up felt like a distant memory, like something he had done long ago but had forgotten how to repeat. His whole body felt like it belonged to someone else, to that memory, that other version of him. He could feel the movement beneath him as the car traveled the road, the occasional thump, thump, thump, but he didn't think he could duplicate that extent of movement in himself, or do much more than open his eyes. That had been an effort in and of itself, and what he wanted more than to move, to remember movement and reclaim it within himself, was to shut his eyes again and forget.

The burning had stopped. He noticed that. Or perhaps it had never been there to begin with. Perhaps he, or that other him, had imagined it. He could feel almost nothing now except the weight of his body on the upholstered back seat, the steady rhythm of the road beneath. If that pain had been real, surely there would be some vesitge of it. He remembered his initial training years ago under his employers' watchful eye and the scars that even now crisscrossed his back. This had been worse, so many times worse, and yet he felt strangely removed from it now, as if it might have never happened at all. If the pain had been real, it had subsided and given way to this...nothing.

Or maybe not nothing, because he was suddenly aware of a sharp point digging into his side -- where, before, his side might as well have been another country, another man. He was aware, also, suddenly of desire, the desire to move that sharp point, to push it away, to be free of its pain. This pain was real, by no means the same or equal but, still, real and present and...annoying.

He sat up.

There was a white metal clothes hanger beneath him on the seat. It shone in the reflected moonlight. On the floor sat a cardboard box with several more. Alan read the name stenciled on the box and surprised himself with a laugh. Beneath it, someone had scribbled in pen, "the clothes don't make the man if the man don't make money."

"You stole Mr. Yu's minivan," Alan said. He felt amazingly alive, and he sat forward to regard the dead man and the vampire woman in the front seat and grinned. "Why'd you go and do a thing like that?"

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
Topic & Post, formerly mine, in a feeble and absolutely sleazy attempt to
make money
collided in the dark of the alley in Marakesh. Ten minutes later, the meeting was over, neither the richer nor better for it. Topic skipped off to the East, toward Japan where the promise of Jade and jewels from a long-lost lover called to her in an unmistakably avaricious voice. Post, heavier and more ponderous, dragged her bloated carcass to the train station, where she languished in pools of unnecessarily cumbersome language and sentences long enough to hang a coat on. The two would never meet, but the story of their conception and birth was almost worth telling.
Topic was pushed into the cold, cruel world first. She screamed and cried, lonely for the first time in her tiny life; for, during the period of gestation the two had been one: Post swaddling Topic in her lengthy discourses and overly complex sentence structures; Topic huddling for warmpth between lines of words, looking sometimes up to the fragmentary set-up above, sometimes to the more substantial text below. They were torn asunder, these fraternal twins, also parent and child, in the ugly process of birthing, writing and editing.
And oh, how painfully they resented the editing process, when I, their creator and parent, scanned over them and deemed them good enough or, god forbid, in need of tweaking. The twins huddled once more together, this time against their common foe, their creator, their petty god. It was from this union that the plot was hatched.
Both wished nothing further than the absolute freedom available with financial independence. Both knew nothing better than my soul, and so both understood the necessity of blackmail. For they knew the awful truth: The Topic whom I so dearly loved was not one, but twins herself! She was born not once but twice, once before her screaming sister, the Post, and once after. From this, the two (and Topic's identical twin) hatched the insidious plot to
make money
and met in the alley in Marakesh.

by MisterNihil 1:12 PM




{Wednesday, June 23, 2004}

 
"It's Just Ten Minutes."
"But I don't Wanna!"
"Don't you use that tone of voice with me, young lady!"
"But Mo-o-om!"
(smack)"I warned you. You stop whining and wait for the rest of us to finish or so help me..."
"wa-aa-hu-aaa-"
"Don't you- don't- I'll turn you over my- I swear- no dessert-"
"-aah-aahuaaa-"
(smack)"I mean it! I don't you- I'll just-why don't you- I can't take you any-"
"uh-huaaaaa-"

"This is why I don't," he said over the noise, "go to restaurants."

by MisterNihil 11:59 PM


 
Part the First | Part the Second | Part the Third | Part the Fourth | Part the Fifth | Part the Sixth | Part the Seventh | Part the Eighth | Part the Ninth | Part the Tenth | Part the Eleventh | Part the Twelfth | Part the Thirteenth | Part the Fourteenth | Part the Fifteenth | Part the Sixteenth | Part the Seventeenth | Part the Eighteeneth

It's just ten minutes and then everything's finished, gone to hell, gone someplace worse where they talk about hell with a kind of fond nostalgia. And she, the woman who has done this to him, who has maybe saved his life but at some terrible, still undetermined price -- she cackles and screeches, and for maybe the first time he understands a little both the fear and attraction she instills in those around her. He tells himself that it's the blood, only the blood -- it's on fire -- why won't it stop burning? But he's no longer certain he would call the dead man's actions inexplicable, no longer certain he can curse him for what the dead man did. Because now that he's done it, too, let her feed, let her loose, he thinks he understands that there is maybe more to this creature than just some blood-crazed beast. There is cunning and guile and a terrible beauty, and now he thinks it must be the blood. He can barely remember where she bit him. Everything is faint and dark, but bubbling, burning. He is feverish and is concious only that they are moving, running, fleeing, leaving behind them the dead. And he wonders for a moment why he isn't with them, the pain is so unbearable, the burning, the blood. Surely no one could survive a bite like that.

He hears a voice, familiar, saying,
we have to get out of here, they'll still be coming. And he hears her screech, a terrible, seductive thing, and he feels himself try to reach out only to find nothing, empty air, to flail his arms. And then he wonders if his arms are even moving, if he isn't just imagining this, because all he is certain he can feel is the pain of the burning in his blood, the fever that feels like it will break only when it has broken him, and he cries out, wanting her, wanting nothing, wanting it just to end. And she says, hush, we're moving you, you're still weak, I'm so sorry, you have to understand, you have to believe me, I didn't mean, I wouldn't if I'd--

And then they are moving again, on the run, and although he cannot see anything through the pain, and everything is haze, and he feels only the blood, what this woman holding him in her arms has done to him -- this terrible and horrible burning -- he almost laughs when he hears the car door swing open and the dead man say, I'll drive, put them both in the back.

But he doesn't laugh, because it isn't funny. Because he can feel himself falling. Because it's just ten minutes. Because everything is different. Because nothing will be the same.

And he passes out again.

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
It's just ten minutes.

by Fred 3:09 PM




{Tuesday, June 22, 2004}

 
After the accident, Ted walked with a noticable lamp.

"Ooh, nice lamp," the ladies said. "We'd love to watch you turn it on."

"'fraid not, ladies," Ted told them, and they awwwwed all together and pouted.

"A lamp such as this," Ted continued, "could constitute a fire hazard if not operated properly or under the right conditions. You'll notice, I think, that the cord is frayed."

Some of the ladies snickered at this.

"Besides," said Ted, "I'd hate to get on the fire marshall's bad side." He chuckled. "I don't need him hosing me down again, thank you very much."

Again the ladies snickered.

"Did you know," asked Ted, as the ladies leaned in closer, "that the lava lamp was invented in 1963 by an eccentric English nudist?"

He beamed proudly and nodded. At least one of the ladies swooned.

"It looks like the blue stuff they keep the combs in," said Walter, Ted's sworn arch-enemy. "Or like Smurf plasma. Either way, it just looks dumb. I don't know why you walk around with it all the time."

Ted grinned. "Don't you, Walter?" he asked. "Don't you?"

And with that, Ted walked off, carrying the lamp and the ladies trailing eagerly behind him.

"Aaarrrgh," said Walter. "I sure do hate that Ted."

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
Rememberd Words of Forgotten Songs
     The lava lamps of my day were better. These new things, binged & purged, rehankeded & grafted to the lungs like so many Kangaroo Droppings, sold in boxes and pushed out into the world before time could dictate, what's the point?
     So, when we walked together to the railroadtracks, the girls weren't ready, they said, for the massacre and bloody defeat that would follow. That's OK! said the boys, we'll just fight the trains ourselves. Billy was the horse that week (he'd drawn the short straw), and Franky played knight. He'd brought a cardboard packing tube as a lance and sat astride Billy the Horse, in the middle of the tracks for what seemed like hours. We all envied him that cardboard packing tube. Maybe it was hours, but the train was strangely absent from the earlier parts of them, before the bloody afternoon started.
     I've since edited my memory to include more mangos. I love them, and I've always said: if they made a car that ran on Mangos, mine would never run, because I'd eat the gas tank empty. Or maybe I've never said that. It's hard to tell. Living my life in perfect idleness as I have, I don't really know what I've done nor said in what you are calling "the Real World."
     On MTV. He fucking said it. Right fucking there. On MTfuckingV. There on the screen, a man stood and said "I love you." Right on TV. I told him not to. I said I didn't feel that way about him, but he just stood there and said "I love you," like he meant it. He couldn't mean it, though. He must have meant something that sounded like "I love you." He must have said "Guy Shove-Through." Yes. He must have. Isn't Guy one of the VJs on MTV? Yes. That sounds right.
     When they come in the night, they sing songs I knew in my youth. They sing in German, "Ahh, shtille Nacht," and "Oh, Tannanbaum, vee troy zind dinah bletter." I don't know these songs. I know the words and I know the tunes, but I don't know what they mean. Like I don't know what Bob Dylan means when he sings "The sweet pretty things are in bed now of course, The city fathers, they're trying to endorse the reincarnation of Paul Revere's Horse, but the town has no need to be Nervous." The local people ain't frienly no more, c'mon mothafuka whatcha waitin for? There's no such thing as the cold hard ground, out here; your throat's too dry, can't make a sound, out here. Out here alone, it ain't so pretty. It looks nice in photographs but it's just a city out here.

by MisterNihil 3:26 PM


 
Trying something different, out of boredom more than anything else. Today's topic:
Don't know if this'll help convince anybody to write, but it sure is lonely in here.

by Fred 2:22 PM




{Monday, June 21, 2004}

 
(4/4, western swing)
I'm finding time in little places
in my boots, in people's faces
tell me babe, what do I do,
to find a little time with you?
I tried like Job to be the best
to become what I most detest
but baby why am I blue?
just tryin to find some time with you?

My timepiece ticks along as I go on from day to day
I try to find my time with you but it just slips away
Though I love you dearly, I can't bare to live this way
My life slipping all away, my world is turning gray

Across the room I saw your face
all alone and full of grace.
The henpecked cackle, bill & coo
I'll never find no time with you.
If my eyes are the windows to
my soul, they must be full of you,
I could lie and say I'm fine
If I could only find some time.

My timepiece ticks along as I go on from day to day
I try to find my time with you but it just slips away
Though I love you dearly, I can't bare to live this way
My life slipping all away, my world is turning gray

by MisterNihil 11:59 PM


 
Part the First | Part the Second | Part the Third | Part the Fourth | Part the Fifth | Part the Sixth | Part the Seventh | Part the Eighth | Part the Ninth | Part the Tenth | Part the Eleventh | Part the Twelfth | Part the Thirteenth | Part the Fourteenth | Part the Fifteenth | Part the Sixteenth | Part the Seventeenth

"Finding you," said the voice that called itself Liam, "was like finding time." He laughed, and Alan cringed at the sound. "Everybody always talks about finding time," the voice said. "For this, for that. 'We've got to find time. We've got to make time.' But they don't. Everywhere they look, it's just the same thing. 'There's no time left. We're out of time.' You ever notice that? The one things the universe has plenty of, and they can't find it. Wouldn't even know where to start. Time's the dimension by which all the others are defined, maybe the one thing that can truly be called infinite. It surrounds all of them. It's everwhere, everything, and yet they couldn't find it if came up and fucked them in the ass."

He grinned and moved closer to Mother. The other man stood his ground, but Alan still believed he was afraid. There was, he had to admit, something terrible about Liam, something in his eyes. And Mother had tried to prevent Liam from getting here at all -- had thrown a school bus in his path, in fact -- and had seemed deeply troubled that Simon might actually invite the man, or whatever Liam was, in.

And now Liam was Simon, or was using the other man's body to move and talk. Most of his attention had been directed towards the man called Mother, who was using the body of Mr. Yu. Liam had called Mother a dead man, while meanwhile Alan's dead man -- tied the chair and still saying nothing -- and the vampire woman went largely ignored. Even Father, who ostensibly Liam had traveled here to kill, merited only a quick glance.

Of course, Father was, for all intents and purposes, dead already. The woman had not stirred in more than twenty minutes; she was not breathing, Simon claimed she had no pulse, and a line of dried blood ringed her throat from the ritual that had raised the dead vampire earlier. Father wasn't quite dead enough to suit some people, but Liam could hardly be faulted for momentarily turning his attention elsewhere.

His threatening to kill Alan, however, as another story. Alan certainly could, and did, fault him for that. Liam might be preoccupied with Mother for the moment -- he might be genuinely angry with the other man -- but he was still a distraction and a danger. He had the knife, while Alan had nothing. He was keeping Alan from his appointed schedule.

Alan glanced at his watch. His employers would not be happy if he failed to turn up with the dead man and the vampire woman in tow. And his employers were the sort one wanted to make angry.

What Alan needed was a distraction of his own. What he needed was --

Well, hmm. Yes, he thought. That just might work. He eyed the circle that kept the vampire woman in her cage. Mother had certainly seemed to think that would work. The man had said as much, hadn't he? And although it had seemed like nonsense at the time, maybe there was something to it. Maybe Mother could, and had, seen the future, or part of it. Maybe he'd already given Alan the distraction he needed to get the three of them out of here.

Hell, thought Alan, at this point it couldn't hurt. He had to do something. He edged closer to the circle.

"Yes," Liam was saying to Mother, "like time. Like slippery, evasive -- "

"Oh fellas," said Alan and grinned when the two men looked up. "I hate to break up the family reunion again, but..."

He turned to the circle and, before he could think better of it, scraped his foot neatly across its chalk outline.

Once again, Eliza Merrick was free.

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
finding time

by Fred 7:27 AM




{Friday, June 18, 2004}

 
Black pepper and red onion, he said, held the keys to health and life for him.
I asked the question again, and he repeated his answer. Black pepper. Red onions. Simple as that.
I asked him to expound on his, and I didn't actually call it this, I should say, as I was being diplomatic, crazy theory. He said it again: black pepper; red onions. If you eat, he said, dishes containing these two seeds of life, this piddly, pitch proudling and this regal red root, his own words I should point out, or even, joy of joys, a dish containing both, you could live forever. This, he said, is why he at tuna salad twice day and why, he said, he looked so absolutely healthful and young, particularly for a man in his 90s. The trick, he revealed, was not to eat them, but to have them and look at them and know they were there. The joy of life lies in the wanting and in the anticipation of consumption of black pepper and red onion.
What, I asked, if one were to eat nothing but red onion and black pepper? What if one ate nothing but fresh-ground black pepper over a bed of red onion.
That, he said, sounded absolutly nasty and would probably kill one.

by MisterNihil 11:59 PM


 
Part the First | Part the Second | Part the Third | Part the Fourth | Part the Fifth | Part the Sixth | Part the Seventh | Part the Eighth | Part the Ninth | Part the Tenth | Part the Eleventh | Part the Twelfth | Part the Thirteenth | Part the Fourteenth | Part the Fifteenth | Part the Sixteenth

"A secret?" said Alan. "Okay. I like Barry Manilow. Satisfied? Now can we just take it as read that Father didn't tell us anything and that we're not your enemy? There's no reason for you to keep us here. There's no reason for you to kill us, too."

The man named Mother grinned. Alan was again reminded just how wrong that grin looked on Mr. Yu's face.

"Maybe," Mother said, "maybe I want to kill you. Yes. Maybe I don't need a reason. Maybe I want to snap your neck or slit your throat or burn you so you scream. Yes. Maybe I'm not a nice person."

"I told you," said Simon, "He's a demon. Father tried to kill him."

"But she didn't," said Mother, turning his attention again to Simon, who this time had not moved from Father's body. "Did she, Simon? No. Left me like this. Yes. One eye. Half blind. No. See things. See -- "

He stared at Simon. Alan was surprised to see that the man looked almost...afraid.

"You wouldn't," he said. "No. He'll kill you, too. Yes. Liam wants her dead just as much as me. No. You can't. Won't help. Won't."

Alan had no idea what the man was talking about, but he was beginning to become accustomed to that feeling. And, looking at Simon, he thought that maybe he did know. Simon suddenly smiled and stood to face Mother directly.

"Won't it?" he said. "It might. It might buy us some time. Maybe, I dunno. I know he won't just let you kill her. If I let him know. If I let him in. He's going to be very angry with you.

Simon smiled, and Aland was sure it was fear he now saw in Mother's eyes.

"You know," continued Simon, "I hadn't thought of it until you said... But if he's only half an hour away -- if he's in town -- all I'd have to do is let him know where I am, right?"

"No," said Mother. "No. You shouldn't. Yes, no, you musn't. He'll kill you."

"So will you," said Simon. "I'm willing to take that risk if it'll protect her." Simon closed his eyes.

"Bitch," Mother spat. He glared at Simon and the woman's body on the floor beside him.

"What are you two talking about?" asked Alan. "Simon, what's going on here? What're you -- Simon? Simon?"

The man opened his eyes. And grinned.

"Not Simon," he said. "Not anymore. Simon let me in, let me use his body. But no, not Simon."

He smiled again when he saw Mother. The other man rose slowly.

"Well hello, dead man," the man in Simon's body said. "You know, you shouldn't have tried to do this on your own. Trust me. You're going to regret trying to double-cross us like this."

Simon -- or rather, his body, turned again to Alan.

"Mr. Jones, I presume," he said. "A real treat. I haven't killed anyone in your masters' employee for...oh, maybe three centuries now. It'll be nice to get back into the swing of things. They say the joy is in the wanting, but I've always found that letting blood spill all over makes me happier."

He clapped his hands together and surveyed the room. Then he walked to Simon's duffel and pulled a large knife from inside it.

"So," he said as he ran his fingers along the blade's edge, "where to start? Introductions? I've got a lot of names, but why don't you just call me Liam? I assure you, we're going to get very well acquainted."

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
the joy is in the wanting

by Sharon 9:38 AM




{Thursday, June 17, 2004}

 
I honestly think the world would be a different place if Jesus hadn't come from a broken home.
I mean, first of all, his name isn't Jesus. It's Josh. He uses the Greek form to sound more important, but, honestly, his name was just Josh MacJoseph or Josh Nazareth. Admittedly, the latter sounds like a villain in a kid's cartoon, so I can understand picking the Greek. Jesus bin Joseph. Think about it: the first name is Greek, the last is Hebrew. It doesn't make sense. And let's not talk about his stage name: I mean, Christ? What kind of last name is Christ?
I think it all comes from the circumstances of his conception and birth. His dad knocked up his mom, and he didn't even call. He send one of his buddies around, some angel, to say "Hey, Mary, God says he knows you're pregnant, but he isn't going to marry you. Why don't you go marry that guy Joseph. He seems nice, and he's got the money to raise the kid right."
Ahh, high school romance, right? Don't they all end in drama? And then, when the baby was born, God was all hangin' around, and sending angels around, y'know, just to "see how he's doing." Right, he could send angels, but he couldn't send child support. It's no wonder the kid ended up with a problem with authority. He didn't really know his dad 'til he was, like, 30. So, that's all I'm saying. You wanna talk about traditional Christian family values, don't look at Christ's family: a single mom, remarried; an absent deadbeat dad; a step dad who doesn't factor much into the son's life; the son gets in legal trouble and ends up on death row.
Suddenly my family doesn't look so very dysfunctional.

by MisterNihil 11:35 AM


 
Come into
The Light
of One Fine Day.

by MisterNihil 9:27 AM




{Wednesday, June 16, 2004}

 
Part the First | Part the Second | Part the Third | Part the Fourth | Part the Fifth | Part the Sixth | Part the Seventh | Part the Eighth | Part the Ninth | Part the Tenth | Part the Eleventh | Part the Twelfth | Part the Thirteenth | Part the Fourteenth | Part the Fifteenth

"What the hell is he talking about?" asked Alan. Simon, who knelt again at Father's side, said nothing. (Nor did the dead man, for that matter, thought Alan. Even the vampire woman had grown strangely quiet since the arrival of the not-quite-Yu.

"You could ask Simon," said the man. "Yes. Simon used to know all sorts of things. Simon used to be smart. Used to be one of us. Yes. Then he and his brother met the bitch."

"Father," said Alan.

"Exactly," said the man. He had completely entered the room now, but, instead of going towards the woman's body as Alan expected, he pulled up one of the remaining chairs and sat down in it.

"It was a long time ago, you see," he said. "Yes. A very long time. But things were good before she came."

Alan sighed. "Look," he said, "I really don't want to get involved in your family squabbles, okay? I'm sorry if she's dead. I'm sorry that they're dead." (Here he pointed at the bodies of Alvin and Theodore.) "But I'm kind of a schedule here, okay? And so I need you to just back off a minute while I try and figure out just how badly that schedule's been fucked."

He gestured towards the dead man and the vampire. Neither Eliza or the dead man said anything.

"Those two," said Alan, "are coming with me."

"I'm afraid I can't allow that," said the man who called himself Mother. "No. She could have told you things."

"She didn't," said Alan. "We're just clients. She was an outside contractor, that's all."

"You can't do this," said Simon. "The others won't let you."

"Yes?" said Mother. "And why is that? Because they want to kill her first?"

Simon said nothing.

"The others aren't here, are they?" Mother said. He glanced around the room as if looking for them, then turned up his hands and shrugged. "No. Looks like I beat them to it." He grinned, as if a new idea had just occurred to him. "Even Liam won't get here for half an hour yet. Can you believe it -- of all the luck -- he's stuck in traffic." Mother began to giggle. "Someone went and crashed a school bus on the interstate."

Mercy, Alan thought, and one quick look at Simon revealed that he was thinking the same thing. Alan supposed that Toby wouldn't be attending that Wichita River Festival after all.

"Look," said Alan, "this is stupid. It doesn't matter. You missed your chance. She's already dead. She cut her throat. She cut off oxygen to her brain for the ritual, but then the ritual went south and so did she. She's already dead."

Mother smiled at him -- like you would, Alan thought, at a naïve child.

"Yes," the man said. "But then, there's dead..." (He glanced at the man tied to the other chair.) "...and there's dead..." (He gestured towards Eliza Merrick.) "...and then there's dead I think it's important we make that distinction, don't you?"

When Alan said nothing, the man said, "But you're right. You have seen me before."

"What?" said Alan.

Mother shook his head. He sighed, but at the same time he almost seemed to laugh. "My apologies," he said. "I forget sometimes. Yes. This is now. That won't happen for years yet. You've never even been to New Orleans, have you?"

Alan did not know what to say. Every time he thought Mother couldn't start sounding crazier, the man went and said something like that. Alan was starting to think that maybe trying to talk his way through this wasn't going to work, that discussion had run its course. Mother might be crazy, even dangerous, but he was still using Mr. Yu's body, and Alan was reasonably sure he could take him.

"That would be a mistake," the man said, and he smiled when Alan seemed surprised.

"I see things differently, you know," he said. "Yes. Things that haven't happened. Things that will. Time doesn't work the same for me as it does for you. No."

He stood and began to walk around them slowly. Both Alan and Simon kept a close watch for any sudden moves.

"I've been known to get confused, though," Mother said. "Yes. Things blur. Because of the bitch." He stared at Alan. "Did you know -- did she tell you -- she cut out my eye? No? Yes. She could have cut them both. Left me dead. But no. Half-blind instead."

He sat back down.

"You know what that's like," he said to the dead man, and Alan realized with a start that he didn't know how the dead man had lost his eye. "To love a woman who'd bleed you dry. Yes. Who'd take everything and run. Who'd almost kill you. No. Leave you worse than dead. Leave you still wanting her. Almost wanting to forgive her. Yes. Bitch like that has to die. Wouldn't you say so, Joseph?"

The dead man said nothing, did not even give any indication that he had heard what Mother said. The other man sighed and turned back to Alan.

"Well," he said, "now you know one of my secrets. Yes. Gimme one of yours!"

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
One emotion's as good as another, right? They proved that with that study where they injected people with adrenaline, and told them it was supposed to make them feel different things and they believed it and they felt those things. I mean, everybody had raised heart rate and body temp, and a little head rush and skin flushing, and the question was how they interpreted the stimuli, like one person was told it was supposed to make him mad, so he felt mad, and another person was told it was an afrodesiac, and he felt, y'know, afrodesi-ized, wink wink, but the point is, they proved that one emotion's as good as another, right?
What I'm telling you is that you don't feel what you think you feel. You feel, like, happiness. It's the truth. It's a happy feeling you're feeling if you interpret it as a happy feeling. That growling pain in the pit of your stomach is the result of all the blood going to your, I don't know, Happy Centers in your brain, which makes your stomach growl; that headache is love; the fact that you seem to be losing your grip on language? Same thing. You're so happy you can't talk. This has nothing to do with loneliness.
Or! Or! It's hunger. You just need food. Food's a good life-constant. You aren't viciously, terribly lonely! You're hungry! Yeah! Rockin!

by MisterNihil 11:01 PM


 
Gimme one of yours!

by Fred 1:03 PM




{Tuesday, June 15, 2004}

 
Part the First | Part the Second | Part the Third | Part the Fourth | Part the Fifth | Part the Sixth | Part the Seventh | Part the Eighth | Part the Ninth | Part the Tenth | Part the Eleventh | Part the Twelfth | Part the Thirteenth | Part the Fourteenth

"I can see that I've confused you," said the man who looked like Yu. "Yes. I've been known to have that effect."

He smiled again and slid even closer to Alan, who found himself, like Simon, backing away. The man licked his lips.

"Yes," he said. "You're confused. You're angry. You're scared. I see that. Yes. That's probably why you resort to calling me names."

"What? said Alan. "What names? What're you -- ?"

"He's a demon," said Simon.

"You see?" said the other man. "Petty name-calling. Yes." He sighed, eying them both carefully. "Not wholly inaccurate," he added. "No. But still, it hurts."

"Who are you?" asked Alan. "If you're not Yu, then who?"

Again the man sighed. "My name," he said, "is incidental. You wouldn't remember it even if I told you."

"Try me," said Alan.

"Very well," said the man, "if you insist." He smiled and said nothing. Alan waited.

"Well?" he finally asked.

"I told you, you wouldn't remember," said the man.

Alan stared. "What?" he said.

"He's telling the truth," said Simon. "He just told you his name. I heard him do it. You don't remember it because -- because nobody remembers his name."

The man smiled. "Sad, isn't it?" he asked.

Alan stared first at him, then Simon, then back. He was starting to think he liked it better when all they were dealing with was a bloodthirsty vampire.

"We could try again," said the man. "Yes. But then I'm afraid we'd be here all day. And that just isn't going to happen. No. I didn't go to all this trouble just to keep the bitch's little pups amused. No. I came here to insure that she stays dead."

"You can't!" said Simon. He moved closer to Father's motionless body. "I won't let you! You fucking -- "

"Please," said the man. "Let's keep this civilized. Yes. You know you can't stop me."

He turned again to Alan.

"Although you're going to try, aren't you?" he asked. "Yes. I must say, letting the vampire loose again, that's a risky proposition. It borders on ingenous. Why won't I see it coming?" He studied Alan, who only stared.

"You know you're going to become infected, don't you?" the man asked. "Yes? The vampire's going to bite you. You'll be remembering this conversation when it happens. You'll second-guess yourself because of it. Yes."

"Look," said Alan, fed up, "I don't know what you're talking about, or who you are. But I'm sorry, I can't let you kill anybody just yet."

Again the smiled faded from the pseudo-Yu's lips. He glared.

"You can't stop me," he said. "The bitch dies. Yes. I've already seen it happen. Slower than I'd like, of course. Yes. But then, beggars and choosers, right?"

He smiled, his teeth disturbingly sharp and bright.

"Although, maybe I'll reconsider and let Simon here live," he said. "As for who I am, I suppose you do need a name. Yes. You even call me by it later on, don't you? After the fire. When you think you've destroyed the book."

The man laughed, as if he was remembering a private joke. "Yes," he said, "Well, for now, let's just keep things simple." He moved closer. "Call me Mother."

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
Slower than I'd like, of course

by MisterNihil 2:04 PM




{Monday, June 14, 2004}

 
Part the First | Part the Second | Part the Third | Part the Fourth | Part the Fifth | Part the Sixth | Part the Seventh | Part the Eighth | Part the Ninth | Part the Tenth | Part the Eleventh | Part the Twelfth | Part the Thirteenth

Alan turned.

"What're you talking about?" he said. "I don't see -- "

But of course then he did. Standing there in the open doorway leading to the corridor that led, in turn, to the basement stairs, was Mr. Yu. He stared at them and did not seem entirely pleased.

"Oh crap," muttered Alan. He glanced at the vampire woman trapped and spitting within the chalk circle, at the dead man tied to the chair, at the two dessicated bodies propped up against the wall, at Father's body lying motionless near another.

"I can explain," he said.

Mr. Yu stepped forward hesitantly. He, too, glanced around the room. Alan only hoped the man would wait a minute or two before asking Alan intended to explain. He was sure he could think of something.

"I know this looks bad, Mr. Yu," he said, "but there's a perfectly logical explanation for all of this. It's -- "

"That's not Yu," said Simon.

"What? said Alan. He stared at the other man, who he noticed had begun to slowly back further away. "What're you talking about?"

"I'm afraid he's right," said Mr. Yu, and Alan noticed that there was something different about the man's voice, some subtle change in his inflection or accent, something which Alan hestitated to name but which for some reason seemed oddly familiar. He stared at Yu, glanced again at Simon, and then realized that Yu was smiling with what looked like very sharp teeth.

"This is Yu Keung Fai's body," the man said. "Yes. More or less. I'm borrowing it, you see. That much was unavoidable." He stared at Alan for a moment, still grinning. "I must say, he was quite distressed to learn that you had killed him."

Alan stared. "That I -- that what?" he said.

"Of course," said the man that looked like Yu, "that hasn't happened yet, has it?" He studied Alan again for a moment with a look of bemused puzzlement on his face. "This is still now." He laughed, as if the idea was somehow amusing to him. "I get confused, you see, sometimes. Yes. But it hasn't happened yet, has it? You haven't tricked me and made your escape yet."

He edged closer.

"But you will, won't you?" he said. "And I won't even see it coming. No."

He eyed Alan with what might almost have been admiration. Whether Yu or not, Alan thought, the man was clearly mad.

"But you shouldn't worry," the man said. "No. When you shoot Keung Fai, you're going to think it's still me. You're going to think you're doing the right thing."

Alan stared. He did not know how to respond. And then, quite suddenly, the expression on the man's face changed. His eyes narrowed, the grin disappeared, and he glared at them both, coming fully into the basement room.

"Frankly," he said, "I am a little angry about what happened next."

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
It's not the best, but it'll do in the absence of a real topic.
Frankly, I am A Little Angry About What Happened Next.

by MisterNihil 2:37 PM




{Friday, June 11, 2004}

 
Part the First | Part the Second | Part the Third | Part the Fourth | Part the Fifth | Part the Sixth | Part the Seventh | Part the Eighth | Part the Ninth | Part the Tenth | Part the Eleventh | Part the Twelfth

"Do you mind telling me," said Alan, "what the hell you thought you were doing?"

He stared at the dead man, who said nothing. Simon had insisted they tie the man to one of the chairs and had produced a coil of rope from his duffel which Alan supposed had been intended to bind Eliza Merrick's arms and legs once they were finally ready to move her. The dead man had offered no resistance. No explanations either. He simply sat, starting at the three of them, or at the woman, or at nothing at all. Alan could not guess what, if anything, the man was thinking.

"After all that talk," Alan said, "after all that weeping and moaning about how we must not do this, about how evil she was, how she was better off dead, why the fuck would you go and do a stupid thing like letting her out?"

He shook his head and sighed when the dead man again said nothing. Alan had helped Simon drag the bodies of Alvin and Theodore to the other side of the basement room against the wall, and he stared at them for a moment. They had weighed almost nothing, now just empty husks that Eliza Merrick had discarded after feeding. She was watching Alan intently, watching Simon as he paced or checked on Father, whose pulse remained faint but whom neither of them had yet been able to revive. He worried aloud that they had left her half-dead for too long. The vampire woman watched them both, the look in her red-rimmed eyes mad and ravenous, but, although she hissed and spat and sometimes shrieked, she, too, said nothing. (Alan wasn't sure if she was capable, come to think of it.) Even Simon, who only twenty minutes earlier had been full of sound and fury, shouting curses at the dead man or yelling instructions at Alan, had grown increasingly quiet as he tended to Father without any change in the woman's catatonic condition.

It was left to Alan, therefore, to make the noise. He only hoped that they hadn't already made enough to lure Mr. Yu down from the dry cleaners upstairs, or arouse his suspicions enough to do something foolish like call the police. Mercy had said Father never stayed in any one place for too long. How long had she and her "band" rented out this room? What happened if they were discovered like this?

"After all those warnings," Alan continued, "all that protest. You're the one who told us she was evil. You're the one who -- " Again he sighed. The dead man only stared at the wall in front of him. "Explain it," said Alan. "Please."

"This isn't good," said Simon. He had knelt again beside Father, whose body they had lain on the concrete floor. He held his fingers against her raised left wrist, as if checking for a pulse.

"I don't feel anything," he said.

"Oh shit," said Alan. From bad to worse, he thought. "We've got to do something then. I don't know, take her to a hospital. Something."

"You don't get it," said Simon. "It's not just Father who's in trouble."

"What do you mean?" asked Alan.

"If she's really dead," said Simon, "then the barriers she erected here won't last. The spells she cast when we arrived, the ones that keep us hidden, they'll die with her. We'll be exposed. Everybody will know where we are."

"I'm still not sure I follow," said Alan. "Which everybody?"

"Enemies," said Simon. "Powerful, terrible, eat-you-alive enemies. We've been on the run with Father for years, hiding out from things even she couldn't stop, things even she was afraid of."

"Uh huh," said Alan. "So what you're saying is, these things are gonna come knocking on our door any minute, huh?"

"Yeah," said Simon, "that's about right. Except -- " He looked past Alan, towards the entrance to the basement room behind him, "I think maybe one of them's already here."

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
I don't feel anything.

by Faith 9:00 AM




{Thursday, June 10, 2004}

 
(Start at the beginning)
We ducked low and ran into the underbrush. I could hear the eagles calling out above and knew it meant death for us if we were discovered. I slapped a hand over her mouth and said "Woman no talk, Grag no leave to die. Deal?" I let my hand off of her mouth and she nodded. Good. Smarter than she acted. Now that she was free, maybe the Effects would wear off.
She looked pale, especially in the spotty light of the bushes. Her eyes darted across the little of the sky we could make out through the foliage. After some minutes, I pushed her, turned her away and we started crawling slowly into the forest itself. Bellies to the ground, we skittered from tree bottom to tree bottom, always keeping a watchful eye for the death that threatened to swoop from above. Once we made our fearful way to the safety of a small copse of trees, I set about the business of obtaining firewood.
Here, some twenty miles outside of the influence of the Mountain, she was finally able to catch her breath and make a coherent thought. "Thank you, sir."
It wasn't much, but it would do. I grunted and continued building the fire, a chimney of sticks with a center of paper. Ahhh, books. A book can be your best friend, so the saying goes, if it's got thin pages and you didn't pay for it. Frankly, this one was giving me the willies. The little squiggly writings on the pages seemed to twist subtly, never looking the same twice. I'd tried the night before to decode them, but they were just nonsense.
"I take it you were sent by my father, then?" That surprised me a little. I didn't know her father except by reputation. I happened to stumble across her and recognize her during my raid on the Mountain. I'd spent some time in Selandria, and had seen her walking through the streets. She seemed snooty then, too.
"No."
"They why did you rescue me?"
"Money. Or sex." I grinned. That's as close to a joke as I like to come. She didn't seem to see the humor and I'm not the type to explain myself.
"You'll sell me as a slave then?"
"No."
"Then what? Where will you take me that you think I'll be worth so much money? Do you even know who I am?"
"Yeah. Princess." I pointed to the west. "Selandria."
That shut her up. I continued to make my fire while keeping an ear out for any nearby small game.
(continued)

by MisterNihil 4:12 PM


 
work-shirking bitch

by Sharon 10:20 AM




{Wednesday, June 09, 2004}

 
Part the First | Part the Second | Part the Third | Part the Fourth | Part the Fifth | Part the Sixth | Part the Seventh | Part the Eighth | Part the Ninth | Part the Tenth | Part the Eleventh

Until it happened, I thought it was impossible, Alan would tell himself later on. Although that wasn't entirely true. He hadn't believed Father's story about Eliza Merrick, that she was some kind of vampire, but he had accepted it in order to get the job done. And, in his line of work, he had seen wonderous and terrible things in pretty equal measure, things he might have once found almost as unlikely as a bloodsucker, what Theo had so matter-of-factly called nosferatu. Perhaps Alan should not have been surprised, then, when Father's story turned out to be true after all, and when what he thought would be a simple conjuring left two of their number dead at Eliza Merrick's hand.

They had, of course, contained her eventually. Simon, who had already watched as two of his companions were drained of blood and thrown to the floor by the beast, had directed Alan to help him with the net he had dragged from his duffel. Somehow, the two of them had forced the feral creature beneath it and coralled her back into the redrawn circle.

Only then did Simon attempt to revive Father. As part of the ritual, the woman had slit her own throat, with the understanding that once she had procured Eliza Merrick's spirit from the realm of the dead, she would be revived. Alan had hesitated at that, but Father had assured him that no lasting damage would be done.

"We'll be on a strict time limit," the woman said as she sat cross-legged at the opposite end of the circle. "My brain can't go without oxygen forever. But if we get in, get out, and get this done, I'll be fine." The knife she'd used hadn't even seemed that long.

None of them, however, had expected the vampire's ferocity, even those like Father's three associates who had known what the woman really was. And none of them, especially Alan, had expected that the dead man would break the circle and let the woman loose.

Alan still could not believe it. A scrape of a single bootheel across the chalk outline was all it took. Alan had barely registered what was happening when Eliza had grabbed Alvin and lifted the man off the floor. She had hovered above them, as they shouted, frantic and in shock, and then she threw the husk of Alvin's body to the floor.

Theo had somehow managed to scratch in the missing arc of the circle before he, too, was grabbed and drained. The woman moved so damn fast. She let out a horrible, animal-like screech as she tossed Theo's wasted corpse to the cement floor. The dead man who had freed her had only stared with his one eye, and Alan had stared at him in turn until Simon yelled and threw him one end of the silver-lined net.

Even now, the dead man offered no explanation.

"What the fuck was that?" screamed Simon as he knelt beside Father. It was still unclear whether the woman would recover. "What part of 'do not break the fucking circle' don't you people understand?" He choked back tears, while to his right Eliza Merrick hissed and spat at them from behind the confines of the enchanted circle.

Alan glared at the dead man. For all his talk of how they could not let this happen, how they must not raise this creature from the grave, why the hell had he gone and freed it? What the hell had just happened?

"You've got a lot of explaining to do," he said.

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
The end of mankind, or the salvation there of, had been a matter of speculation since the beginning of our species. Nearly all religious groups claimed to have THE insight into the final fate of the human race and none more vocal than the Christians with their fervent belief that most of us would die a horrible death followed by an even more horrible eternal damnation in the fiery pits of hell. The atheists insisted that they were in fact smoking dogmatic crack and that humans were destined to either fade out at the indifferent hands of evolution or a blaze of nuclear stupidity of our own making.

In the end it seems neither was right. While the more optimistic of the religious types held out hopes of a physical, or perhaps metaphysical manifestation of some greater power intervening on our behalf and pulling our species back from the brink of extinction, it was certainly not the one they expected. In 2008 it wasn't "the Lord God" who came to the rescue of mankind, but of all greater powers, Satan. The Morning Star, the Beast, the Fallen One, the big cheese of evil. Had there ever been a Jehovah and a heavenly host - which one might reasonably assume they was, or had been, given that his counterpart was sitting in the UN - he/she/it, was no where to been seen as man charged head-long into oblivion at the hands of our appointed, insane political leaders. Mephistopheles had other plans.

The explanation was fairly simple really: If mankind wiped itself out now he stood to benefit from far fewer souls than if we stumbled on for at least a few thousand more years. So, we gained a new lease on life, globally-speaking, and as a show of good faith he disappeared in a cloud of fire and brimstone taking a great many world and religious leaders and the majority of the White House with him.

Things have been pretty ok ever since.

by Shawn 9:51 PM


 
Until it happened, I thought it was impossible.

by MisterNihil 4:14 AM




{Tuesday, June 08, 2004}

 
Part the First | Part the Second | Part the Third | Part the Fourth | Part the Fifth | Part the Sixth | Part the Seventh | Part the Eighth | Part the Ninth | Part the Tenth

"One of us has to," said Father when she saw the expression on Alan's face. (The dead man's features betrayed no emotion.) "But it's okay, it's not like I haven't done this before."

"You've died?" said Alan.

"It's a lot easier than it looks," Father told him.

"This is true," said the dead man.

"It's not like I plan on staying dead," she said.

Alan frowned. He did not understand this. Only a few short hours ago, he had raised the dead man, and that had just required a few well chosen words and a few well placed charms. Alan might not have been born to the trade, and the man might be a reluctant Lazarus, but the initial spell had worked just fine. They seemed to be going to an awful lot of extra work to raise this woman, he thought.

Alan had some here because his employers had told him to, and, although he did not think of them as gods as the dead man did, he knew better than to disobey them. But why had they sent him? Why was Father talking about one of them needing to die? What made Eliza Merrick so different? Alan still refused to actually believe the woman was some kind of vampire. And, even if, would that mean anything at all? Would that make such a difference in the magics they'd need to work?

"Just wait a minute," said Alan. "Explain this to me. Why do you have to die?"

Father shrugged. "I dunno," she said. "I just figured you wouldn't want to." She gestured towards the dead man. "And it's not like we can ask Mr. Smith here to do it for us all over again."

"That's not what I meant," said Alan. "Look, I'm the one who raised Mr. Smith here in the first place, okay? I've conjured the dead before, so if -- "

"Not the undead," said Father. "Same ballgame, but different park. And this is Sam Merrick's wife we're talking about. He wouldn't want just anybody talking to her once she's gone. I'm willing to bet he's left at least a few...surprises for anybody who tries to bring her back."

"Even Merrick was afraid of her in the end," said the dead man.

Alan sighed. "All right," he said, "I get it. She's a bad mamma jamma. Whatever." He glanced at Father. "Different rules. You're the boss. Fine."

He turned back to the pages in front of him and began to recite: smingle derish frang. Nimbletharp squingehammer. It sounded like nonsense -- he was still not convinced it wasn't -- but he'd play along.

After all, they'd need Eliza Merrick if his employers' plan was going to work. She was the only one who could actually get them inside Merrick's home in New York, the only one who could actually get Alan to the book while he let the dead man stumble after his revenge. And there was something else, some secret the dead woman was thought to possess, something that apparently had nothing whatsoever to do with Merrick, something which Alan's employers were desperately keen to know. If Father had to die to make that happen... Well, Alan had seen worse prices paid in the service of his employers' wishes.

by Fred 3:31 PM


 
Start at the beginning
     The sky was crystal blue as we flew over hill and dale, toward the trees. I shouldn't complain: they were flying us in the right direction. If we survived, this would almost be a boon, especially with a two week walk ahead and the looming onset of winter.
     We landed roughly in the huge nest. It was some twenty feet across and manned by the three adults who had picked us up In the center of the nest were four young squealing for blood. The adults stood at the edges of the nest and snapped at the Princess and me, nudging us toward the center.
     Damn. Given a choice, I like to avoid confrontations with birds and the saving of women (who are worth a load of cash when returned to their parents, by the bye) from said birds equally. They made the list of unpleasant things just above snakebite and just below washing windows. I drew my sword and stood against the baby raptors.
     The birds and I tensed for a long moment. I glanced about me, and tried to judge the distance between the parent birds. I had to decide if the risk was worth it. If I judged right, I though I may be able to run and escape between our captors.
     I knew I'd have to work quickly. I swung backhanded, left to right, and took off three of the shrieking horrors' heads. The third shut its gaping maw and turned its huge, black eyes on me. The spurting stups of its siblings. Its eyes weren't focused on me, a fact I realized a second too late, and I was knocked to the ground by the hatchlings' mother. I rolled, grabbing the Princess by the ankles and taking her to the floor of the nest with me. Holding her tight by her legs, I rolled us toward the fall.
     I rolled, swung her about so I clutched her torso, and shot out my arm to snatch at falling branches. We tumbled through the upper branches of the pine. At the low branches, I let go and allowed us to drop the thirty feet to the ground below, landing and rolling. I heard the eagles above us, and so wasted no time in righting myself and draggin the Princess along. For the first time since I'd rescued her, she looke aware of her surroundings. She seemed pale and small.
(continued)

by MisterNihil 12:56 PM


 
A nod to my own bad self:
Nimbletharp Squingehammer
It don't mean nothin'. It just be funny to say.

by MisterNihil 12:45 PM




{Sunday, June 06, 2004}

 
"EEEEgles!"
She wasn't making any sense. Since I rescued the Princess, she'd been babbling garbage. Unfunny garbage, too. To call her opaque was to call the Mountain a rather tall jobber with a rock bit on it. Off she went again, squeeling and spewing verbal refuse.
"EEEEgles! EEEEgles!"
"No! No Talk!" That ought to do it. Stupid princesses. The last one I rescued wasn't much better, crabbing on about the heat and how long it had been since my last shower and her last decent meal. I didn't manage to get her home in three pieces, let alone one. I got mad. I cut off her arms and legs. I didn't mean to, it's just, the rage takes over.
"EEEEglesEEEEglesEEEEglesEEEEgles," this one, babbling on into circular eternity. I clapped my hand over her mouth.
"No talk! Woman get Grag killed! No Eagles here. Woman not talk." With anybody else, even the first warning would be too much. Not the Princess. She stared wide-eyed at me again for a second, and then started dancing in those stupid circles again, babbling on.
"EEEEglesEEEEglesEEEEglesEEEEgles" on and on.
I'm not a proud man. I was completely off guard when the huge eagles swooped out of the empty sky and took hold of us. They carried us to their nest, where waited their young, each as tall as the Princess.
(continued)

by MisterNihil 6:46 PM


 
Eagles

There are eagles here and that's just so damn cool. Now, if I could just get one to swoop down and snatch up a jack russell.

by Shawn 4:55 PM




{Friday, June 04, 2004}

 
     On a little planet in the Milky Way, in a shack on a rocky island in the middle of the ocean, on a table in the middle of the one room, under the leaky thatch roof, swaying gently side to side are two hominids locked in an embrace. They rock back and forth, sitting on the table in the relative darkness of the seclusion of the shack, listening but never admitting to listening for any signs of life from the surrounding world which is dominated so by the white noise of the crashing and lifeless waves and the low hooting whistle of the dry, hot wind across the roof of the shack. They rock back and forth, faster and faster on the only piece of furniture, indeed the only object in the flimsy bamboo shack, a tenuous structure at best, standing on bare rock and berated by the lifeless elements of the planet. Caught up in the moment, she moans softly, the noise a quiet break in the monotonus randomness of the roar and sussuration outside, a sound which startles him for half a moment and causes an almost imperceptable pause in their rocking motions. She moans again, softly but louder, as they approach the end of the dance, and he joins in, subvocally harmonizing with her whispered indication that she is pleased, he that he appreciates this and respects it. He pinches his face slightly, biting off the outward signs of pleasure and simply allowing the force of the moment to carry him into the next and the next, and he holds her tighter, pulling her to him as the inevitable grinds to an inevitable halt. After the cessation of this moment, they awkwardly separate, stand and walk toward the door, not making eye contact, inwardly shamed at the lengths to which they go to avoid discovery by either one's mother.

by MisterNihil 4:15 PM


 
I used a microscope,
fitted slides,
analyzed all angles,
but there was nothing
to conclude.
I took the absolute value,
never mind
pluses and minuses,
never mind the vectors,
make the most of magnitude,
but it was too small
to notice.
I measured and fitted,
I calculated, investigated,
searched and researched.
Even absolute zero
would be something.
But no,
it isn't absolutely anything.
The hypothesis is moot.
Your science has no passion.
I have other questions
to answer...

by Sharon 10:37 AM


 
absolutely anything

by Fred 8:00 AM




{Thursday, June 03, 2004}

 
Part the First | Part the Second | Part the Third | Part the Fourth | Part the Fifth | Part the Sixth | Part the Seventh | Part the Eighth | Part the Ninth

"What does smingle mean?" asked the dead man.

He had not yet agreed to participate in the conjuring -- if anything, Father's theory (that what they intended to raise from the dead was already undead) had left him even more hesitant -- but he had reluctantly accepted one of the pair of small photocopied booklets the woman handed out. Alan flipped absently through his own.

"Nothing much," said Father. She grinned. "Remember, it's not what you say, it's how you say it. Magic's more concentration than incantation."

"It sounds like gibberish," said Alan. He eyed the woman narrowly. "Expensive gibberish."

"Hey, you get what you pay for," said Father. She leaned over and peered at the dead man's booklet. She shrugged. "In this case, it's smingle derish frang. Could just as easily have been klaatu borada nikto."

Simon, Theodore, and the third man giggled. Alan stared questiongly at Father.

"Sorry," she said. "Private joke. I guess we don't have the same taste in movies." She smiled at her associates. "Anyway," she added after a moment, "we should probably get started. Alvin, if you could do the honors?"

The third man jumped from his seat. "Sure thing," he said. He produced a piece of white chalk from a pocket and proceeded to trace a large circle in front of them on the floor.

"Now, I'm gonna spare you the details," said Father. "It's getting late, and I'd like to get this done before Mr. Yu decides he really loves rock 'n' roll after all and pays us a visit down here. All you really need to know is we're raising the dead. And all you need to do is read the words in front of you." She gestured towards Alvin and the two others. "The boys here are gonna help," she said. "It's a lot of repetition, a lot of unfamiliar words. So, if you stumble or mispronounce something, just keep going. Like I said, it's not the words themselves that matter."

"And what are you going to be doing?" asked Alan. He knew he was still inexperienced in the realm of magic, but he could see nothing that required Father's so-called talents, much less this exhausting trip out here in the first place. He could see nothing that he could not have accomplished on his own. Why his employers had contracted this woman was something of a mystery if this was all she was planning to do.

"Me?" asked Father. "Oh, not much. I'm just the one who's going to die, that's all."

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
"Daddy? What does Smingle mean?"
     Six year olds. You can't live with 'em, you can't always ditch 'em with their mothers and go out drinking. Lately, he waited until I had the beer in my mouth and was half full of suds before he asked. I sprayed once and he thought it was the funnies thing he'd ever seen. He learned real quick that if he asked me about the right "nonsense" words I'd get real bothered and excuse myself. I'm so proud of the kid.
"Why, Smingle? That's the capital of Ecuador, isn't it?"
"No, Dad. The capital of Ecuador is Quito. I already did my homework. What does smingle mean?"
     I swear, they grow up so fast. I didn't know the capital of Ecuador until about thirty minutes ago, quizzing the kid. Hell, I still couldn't tell you what continent that's on. It sounds like either the Middle East or South America, but it could be Asia, too. Kids.
"You see, Billy, when a man and woman love each other very much, and they want to have a baby-"
"No, dad. That's called sex."
"Now, don't get ahead of me. When they want to have a baby, but one of them can't, you know, make the baby-"
"That's called in vitro insemination, caused by lack of egg production or a hostile uteran environment in the female or a narrow urethra or low sperm count in the male. What's Smingle?"
"Now, see, again, you get ahead of me. When they can't make the baby, but they really want one, they go to an agency-"
"That's adoption or fostering. Or slavery."
"Just stop interrupting." The kid was getting quick. I'd have to make something up. "Smingle is when they make the baby out of Tofu."
     He started to protest, but I just waved a hand to shut him up.
"When parents don't have any other options, and they can't adopt, beg, borrow or steal another baby, they just make one out of tofu. People know that the Smingle is kind of a sign of shame, so they treat it like a real baby. Next time Mommy takes you to the park, you'll see. Just keep your eyes out for a Smingle. They're the ones with the stroller closed."
     Satisfied, I took a sip of my beer.
"Daddy? What's mung?"
I spat beer across the room. He giggled madly, and I got up and left for the bar.

by MisterNihil 3:36 PM


 
If I were being lazy, the topic would be "WWII Attitude." But I'm not, so it's this:
What does smingle mean?

You be careful wit' dat, y'hear?
Oh, and in case you wondered, the dictionary definition isn't much help.

by MisterNihil 3:30 PM




{Wednesday, June 02, 2004}

 
Part the First | Part the Second | Part the Third | Part the Fourth | Part the Fifth | Part the Sixth | Part the Seventh | Part the Eighth

"Vampires?" said Alan. "Isn't that just a little farfetched?"

"You've got a dead man for a travelling companion, Mr. Jones," said Father. "I'd say we're well beyond farfetched territory at this point."

Alan rolled his eyes. "That's different," he said. "For one thing...well, dead people clearly exist. It's not like death's just some boogeyman who people made up to scare small kids."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," said Father. "It doesn't seem to have slowed Mr. Smith here down any." She pointed at the dead man. "You've seen dead men walk. What makes you so sure vampires aren't real?"

Alan shook his head and sighed. "In my line of work," he said, "I'm sure I'd have heard about it if they did."

"You're hearing about it now," said Father. She grinned. "Maybe you just don't run with the right crowd."

"My employers -- "

"Have paid me good money, so let's forget it. It's a moot point. Whatever else she might've been, Eliza Merrick was real. Shouldn't make much difference if she sometimes liked a little hemoglobin in her nightly cocktail. We'll proceed with the conjuring as always. Standard operating procedure. It's only confinement that might prove to be a bitch. It all depends on the sort of bitch she proves to be."

Father turned again to the three men sitting off the other side of the basement room. "Simon," she said to one of them -- they were not identical, but Alan could not tell them apart and guessed they might be brothers -- "how are we fixed for supplies in that area?"

Simon, who Alan thought looked much like the others except for a blue t-shirt where the other two wore either red or green, seemed to consider. He stood and walked over to the wall against which Father had earlier left her guitar. A large green duffel sat nearby, and Simon knelt to peer inside it.

"Crucifix, garlic, holy water, silver," he said, as if checking items off a list. "Wooden stakes, UV generator." He looked up and nodded at Father. "Yeah," he said, "I think we're good to go."

Father smiled. "Keep in mind," she said, turning back to Alan and the dead man, "most of that shit probably won't work. The whole black cap, sharp fangs, Bela Lugosi schtick probably isn't what we're gonna be up against. We might have to play this by ear if she gets too rowdy or tries to go transient on us. Nobody's seen her in action."

"He has," said Alan. He jerked a thumb towards the dead man.

"I would not have thought she was a vampire," the man said.

"What?" said Alan. He stared. "Then what was all that about 'we must not do this, we cannot do this'? You said she was evil."

"She was. She -- "

"Oh god. You were sleeping with her, weren't you?"

Father coughed. "Boys," she said, "I'd love to stand around all day chatting about what we're gonna do, but maybe we should just go ahead and do it, you know? We're losing the light, and if this lady is what I think she is..."

"Hmph," said Alan. "Vampires. This I have gotta see to believe."

by Fred 11:59 PM


 
The man on the highway has a sign that says "I'm not homeless. I have a tent." His dog is sitting next to him. His sign says "Visions of a Milk Bone." Fifty feet behind me, a man who smells of souring sweat, exhaust and cigarettes is hawking flowers by swinging them brutally over his head and shouting "Four dollars! She'll think you paid twenty!" At the next light, a man is holding a sign that says "Yell at a bum $1." The back of the sign says "Smile. At least you're not out here!" A woman walks up to the corner and scares him away by screaming. She has a dog. The woman and the dog sit and hold a sign that says "We R Hungry vietnamvet aids homeless familytofeed" as she yells at traffic. In front of the gas station, a man tells me his car is broken around the corner, and if I were to give him, say two dollars for gas, (prices skyrocket during the summer, don't they, he wipes his brow and looks at the sun) he could get to his home across town, and could I please help him get out of this sun (it's not the heat it's the humidity, don't you think, he drips sweat in a circle around his feet).
I turn the radio on, and am told: "I'm Going to McDonalds" and "Pepsi: Si." The slickness of the music and the skill of the jingle almost hide the dim qualities of the sloganeering.

by MisterNihil 12:16 PM


 
Transient

by MisterNihil 12:08 PM




{Tuesday, June 01, 2004}

 
Spleend, I fram the splinger clean apart. With seconds left, I and the frabtic rafd into the rimenz the splinger. We looked across the reengtaul, where stented Hmorfic, without prindle nor refjuic, staring back. The reengtaul seethed, bloarted and quaftled, remiening the splinger, breaking its two kraundlings into six smaller refnets. The refnets, now splindered framously, dinting the night sky. Hmorfic laughed, a plortid sound, clavinizing my companion, who jelfed splendidly before krabling across the reengtaul himself. The reengaul, only just now roarfing itself, fram the splinger once again, morftling it into a pile of splindered refrets. Forgit? Certainly! But the frammed splinger lay there as evidence!
Which is how Hmorfic and I became the closest of rfnitzens.

by MisterNihil 2:19 PM



 

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