(…For You, NaNoWriMo (Be Afraid)…) Public Display of Shame

Posted on a Tuesday in 2010 at 7:11 am in Absurdist.

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TIPJAR

Public Display of Shame I-V

This will not be funny. Oh, it’s meant to be, but it won’t be. It will be black and dreadful, full of morose angst and terrible failed attempts at clever wordplay and so forth, like puns that aren’t because I don’t really know how to do puns. Except for here and there. And that’s just blind luck.

It will be absurd, or so I will tell the legions of fans screaming outside my door…the ones in my head, who are keeping me from writing this novel. It’s them or the migraine. You see? Already, it is terrible. It will be a terrible, terrible fifty-thousand words.

And I will stop at fifty-thousand, even if it means I’m in mid-sentence and about to tie-up all the loose ends of the plot, and all my readers (if there are any left at that point) will scream and scream and scream in righteous fury. Or not so righteous, since I’m telling you ahead of time what you’re signing up for. I will, in fact, delete words if I go over, cast to the wind and the ether! Lo! Mourn for them! Cry out! Loss, loss.

I’m telling you, this will be the worst piece of drek to pass in front of your eyes since the last presidential speech about heroism, national security, and empty platitudes to the victims of natural disasters. I believe that’s because those are technically Acts of God, and supposedly, the president is in tight with the man upstairs or likes to talk like he is, so he’s letting him get off scott-free.

“Yeah, buddy, don’t worry, I’ll just quell the initial panic then forget about it. No one will even remember it was your fault, and your wrath against the wicked will be safe from any government interference and human do-gooders. I promise they’ll get what they deserve, even if it sounds like I’m saying we’ll fix things. Lying? Well…I’ll say ten ‘Hail Mary’s…right, that’s Catholic.”

And other absurd nonsense like that. Just terrible, I’m telling you. The most awful thing full of poorly written crap like that you will read this week. Why? Because I can’t write the good stuff…which I shouldn’t say, because then my Inner Child/Subconscious believes that. I should really say I haven’t been able to write the good stuff. Creativity blocked up for two weeks, like I’d been eating nothing but literary cheese pizza and I’m out of Pepto.

But…it will be fifty-thousand words. Then maybe this headache will go away.

There will need to be a plot, but I don’t have one. Not remotely. Would I be writing this if I had a plot? No. Obviously. But I’m not judging you for being stupid: after all, you are taking the time to read this, and I am the idiot writing it. I think that’s the worse sin.

I had considered writing “Fifty Great Starts That Go Nowhere”, since my stories often have a tendency to do that. Great, evocative starts that fizzle out and churn to a halt before they get anywhere. So, fifty thousand-word story openers free for the rest of the world to fill in…but I don’t think I can hack that, either. I mean, FIFTY story starts I can wax poetic on for a thousand words? I’m having trouble coming up with ONE right now.

So I thought: what about a humor novel? I haven’t done one of those yet, and I’m a pretty funny guy. Someone stole my humor gland though. Possibly witches, with witchcraft, or a black magician who moonlights as a troll on the internet and has thousand of sock-puppets to do his bidding!

That’s a great story idea right there, huh? Just throw some ‘Electric Ghosts’ ideas in there and brew. Well, sure, if I could make it make any sense. But that’s the problem, I can’t; so I’m doing this. Creating crap. Fifty-thousand words of crap.

I also thought: hey, do a really, really bad, totally over-the-top, cliche fantasy novel like those old B-quality sword & sorcery flicks from the seventies and eighties. I mean, someone actually wrote that drivel, surely you can write drivel, too?

Alas, even the worst plotted, poorly acted movie with dialogue so bad it makes your ears bleed and SFX your grade school buddies and you could have managed better in grade school has a plot. Which is what I’m lacking.

Really, at this point, I’m strongly considering what I said above in jest is actually true, about the humor gland, except on an even broader scale. It sounds crazy, but it makes sense, especially if you believe in magic and evil powers and that internet trolls are anything more than basement dwelling losers with bad skin conditions and horrid dietary habits whose pathetic lives are so depressing they need to harass people on-line to make themselves feel good about themselves for a moment. Right before they bite into that Twinkie and cry a little before making their next derogatory, asinine post, repeating this endless cycle until one day their mother finally kicks them out and they find they can’t pay for both internet and heat with their minimum-wage McDonald’s job, and choose internet because it is the only thing in the world that makes them feel even the tiniest bit powerful, superior, smart, and worthwhile: harshing newbs on WoW and finding pagans and feminists to mock and belittle to see how far their tolerance goes. At least until they freeze to death in the middle of winter because they don’t have heat and are eaten by their cat(s), their remains discovered hunched over their keyboard weeks later only when the neighbors begin to complain about the smell, because they don’t have any real friends: a sad, bloated testament to loser-hood.

But let’s not dwell on such a terrifying picture of desperation. Plus, I think there was a run-on sentence or two in there…I’m out of breath, at any rate, and that’s not indicative there isn’t.

So, someone stole my literary skills, and I intend to find out who, and get it back.

…um, but don’t expect a plot. This is not a plot. This is not what this book is about. You will be sadly, sorely, achingly disappointed if you buy in right there and expect there to be a plot centered around that.

Really! I’m warning you.

And seriously, don’t complain. I told you this was crap going in. You’re reading it despite that warning. If you complain about how truly awful this is, it is a good sign that you are a basement-dwelling loser with nothing better to do with your life than sit around and complain about how day old shit smells terrible after you’ve stirred it up with a stick. That is, you may think you are cleverly raging against the machine, but you are not.

Everyone knows day old shit smells terrible, especially if you are dumb enough to stir it with a stick. Please.

Chapter 2.

A chapter break? Yes, that is completely arbitrary.

Chapters are meant to show a change in the pace and the action. Well, that’s not necessarily true. I think they mainly just break up the text to make for better reading…placeholders, really. Some people glorify them and try to give them some mystical, cosmic significance in the literary world, assigning rules to them as though they behave according to rules or must be utilized in accordance with rules.

They don’t.

Chapter 3.

See? Ha.

By my count, given my late start here, I will need around 3200 words a day in order to finish a fifty-thousand word book by the end of November. That’s some crazy writing. Thank-the-gods I am completely unrestricted here.

This will be totally non-sequitur. Which I believe I spelled right. I am fairly certain I mis-used ‘dialogue’ above and should have used ‘dialog’ instead back in Chapter 1, which is unlabeled as a chapter, but which you should have no trouble finding, unless you mistook it for the prologue and are now searching vainly for more text between the Prologue (which doesn’t exist) and Chapter 2. No, really, that’s Chapter 1.

Chapter 2 should have held some statements about the rules about chaptering and the people who enforce those arbitrary standards, calling them control freaks. Unfortunately, there wasn’t room. It just didn’t fit with the vibe of the rest of the piece.

I mean, “They don’t.” just doesn’t sound right with “Control freaks.” right before it, so you can see the artistic reasons for not writing the chapter that way, though I really wish I had. It would have also included things like the following.

Writers — literaturists (which I don’t believe is actually a word) — are a great deal like priests. They want you to believe in things you can’t see based on sketchy coincidental evidence and the tendency of the human mind to seek understandable patterns where there are none, and caution that if you deviate from the rules (which change from religion to religion) your work will flop and you’ll have done it all wrong.

The kicker is, sometimes they’re right, reinforcing their view that they are correct and the heathens and non-believers are completely hosed, wrong, damned, and unworthy of respect (especially when asinine — which is a word I happen to like a whole lot, by the way — superiority complexes based on self-assured righteousness are more appealing). A lot of the time, they’re wrong.

So you get the liturgist (which is an actual word I am abusing for my own twisted purposes) who tells you fairy stories about the ways in which chapters Must Be Used — among other literary morality tales — and teaches the proper and correct manner of their use, ignoring the heathens

It is entirely possible one of these bastards have stolen my talent.

Of course, you can never tell which religion the editor you send something to is a follower of, unless you ask politely, and even then the number of different sects in each religion and half-baked understandings held by any given editor of their sect’s actual teachings varies so widely that your book may be rejected for something held sacred and holy by the followers of another religion, or even just by the members of another sect of that religion (or possibly an either quiet or ignorant heretic of that sect).

Damn editors.

In the Middle-Ages, wise, slightly-crazy men that no one would generally listen to wrote vast grimoires full of special words and geometrical designs meant to summon, control, and especially banish editors. These were useful tools to the writer seeking publication, because they were taught how to deal with and control editors, hopefully without caving in to their demonic designs, or simply send them on their way when you were accosted on the street by one.

The Church, however, made consorting with editors a criminal and religious offense. Mainly because they were competing religions at the time: you can’t worship two gods, after all. Which explains both why the Middle Ages were generally considered to be a terribly illiterate time, and why no one has written anything decent or creative since Shakespeare.

No one.

Chapter 4.

During the Victorian Era, people got into the business of selling and hyping the magical mysteries of the medieval grimoires to the uninitiated writer, promising to show them ways to deal with editors and even enter the mystical ‘upper realms’ of Publishing. They formed various occult sects — secret societies holding the keys to truth — like ‘The Hermetic Order of the Golden Pen’, ‘Temple Ordo Editor’, ‘Freejournalry’, and ‘Amway’, they were all pretty much social clubs where members went to listen to nonsense and feel-good hype, then engage in rather silly rituals loosely borrowed from the actual grimoires or just wholly made up.

Actually, they were all pretty much made for their leaders to rake in some spare cash from giddy socialites who thought in passing that it might be cool to try this writing thing, and it certainly couldn’t hurt with the ladies. You could also scare your neighbors or explain the funny smells coming from your tenement as ‘brimstone’ and ‘alchemical brews’ (actually, cats, usually). Thus ‘cat-piss man’ was born, and the tradition of would-be writers holing up with about a dozen cats for company.

The tradition survived to the modern day, in such events and organizations like ‘The Clarion Workshop’ (if that’s not an occult-sounding name, I don’t know what is), the ‘Writers of the Future’ competition (come on, I mean, it was HUBBARD! I shouldn’t have to spell it out for you), and especially the most eldritch and mysterious ‘Science Ficiton and Fantasy Writers Association’ (whose acronym, SFWA, is part of the mystery: because it is missing an F…oh, the occult secrets therein!), begun by a now infamous Fantatist out in California, who set himself up as the high priest of the Church of SF.

They’ll tell you the Church was all about freedom from ridiculous rules, the practice of black magic, and giving the finger to the established and venerable religious majority (amongst whom reading fantasy is an unforgivable and completely incomprehensible sin). Mainly, though, it was a way for Demon LeKnight to get laid by stupid, easy Valley chicks looking for a thrill, act superior to everyone and dangerous/weird, and look cool and goth before there ‘goth’.

Nowadays, you can pick up the ‘Fantatist Bible’ pretty much anywhere, but if you let on you are a fantatist most mainstream Literature and Creative Writing professors will make holy signs at you and accuse you of drinking ink and writing bad erotic porn about muscular barbarians. No one will actually get what you’re writing, so you’ll be forced to refer to them as ‘mundanes’ and ‘sheep’ and talk about how they’ve been manipulated by the lies of Fiction.

Anyways, the modern-day liturgists will be happy to give you their own Bibles and tell you the rules about chapters that were handed down to them by God Himself. They will tell you editors are always lurking just around the corner, waiting to harass or even possess you, and that only by following their holy advice can you avoid and be free of them and gain entry into The World of Publishing.

Actually, lot of these guys stand on street corners handing out funny little pamphlets or tiny green or orange books full of their rules…well, not really. They hang out mainly on the internet, which is kind of like the world’s biggest, dirtiest street corner, and I personally think it is where young writers go to die, or be mugged, then die. Sure, it’s very bright and colorful and full of seemingly helpful people, who, if they really knew what they were doing would be running an ‘Amway’ lodge, not posting free, half-baked advice on the internet and telling anecdotes about how their cousin was a Wiccan and drank blood and killed animals, SO BEWARE ENDING YOUR SENTENCE WITH PROPOSITIONS (which the Bible tells you of)!

Simply, they knife you in the brain for pocket-change.

Like I said, this is why no one has written anything decent since Shakespeare. Because if the Church hadn’t made consorting with editors a sin, and Shakespeare had an editor, said editor would be all like, “Huh? ‘It is all Greek to me.’ What does this mean? I don’t get it; use a more colloquial phrase your audience will understand. Also, Will, I’ve checked and I don’t think ‘eyesore’ is an actual word.”

Indeed.

Chapter 5.

We have a list of suspects now: trolls, editors, and internet writing advice columnists. Any one of them could have stolen my talent.

“What talent?” The critic in the back thinks that this observation on his part is astute, and that he is witty and clever, does he? It’s not really. It should be obvious: if someone has stolen my talent, how could I write any better than this? My talent is missing, jackass. So shutup and sit down unless you have a meaningful, positive, intelligent contribution to make instead of just making yourself look like a stupid ass, stupid.

It is also possible the gnomes in my head that are giving me this headache have stolen in, in which case I will need to hire a band of tiny heroes to go into my brain and retrieve it from the gnomes. This has a number of possibilities, as the tiny heroes could always be normal-sized heroes shrunken down by super-science and injected into my bloodstream ala ‘Fantastic Voyage’.

“Thank God you’re here!” the professor cried as the rugged, modern hero swaggered into the super laboratory, casting cool glances at all the machines that went ‘bing’, knobs, and LED-lit buttons of blue, red, and green, and the occasional amber. He swaggered to one of the machines and pushed an amber-button.

“What in God’s name do you think you are doing!” the professor cried.

“Your coffee-pot was about to overheat,” the rugged, modern hero replied coolly.

“Oh, thank God you noticed,” the professor cheered, his whiskered cheeks bulging with a smile, “I’d never be able to figure out these calculations to send you into my subject’s brain without a cup of good coffee!”

The rugged hero coolly sipped the hot black brew, asking the professor over its rim, “So, what’s this about gnomes?”

Of course, using gnomes raises the literary question: “What are gnomes doing in my brain, anyways?” I don’t know, I’m part German, so perhaps it’s a genetic thing. And then, “What do the gnomes represent in this story?” Other than tiny men in colorful leiderhosen and pointy caps, I’m not sure. Ask me in the morning, when the pounding headache stops.

Are the gnomes working with the trolls? Perhaps not. That seems too much like crossing genres. I’ll avoid that for now, but it would be a great twist if I get bored or start boring you. You know, “Elementary, my dear Watson, the trolls obviously stole the talent for the gnomes!” WAAAAUUUUHHH??? “But, Holmes, that makes absolutely no fucking sense! What the hell are you on about? Are you in the heroin again? Bad detective!”

Or, perhaps, could William Shakespeare have stolen my talent? Did the Bard time travel into the future for the sole purpose of stealing into my bedroom one night and extracting my creative and writing talent from me while I slept? Which raises the question of how the Bard knew I would exist in the future and would have talent to steal, unless it was an absurdly complex carefully orchestrated multi-generational plot on his part…in which case he could have at least left me some money and the name of the next Superbowl winner, having a time travel device and all.

But I can’t write that. Too complex.

Of course, I don’t know enough about the biology and make-up of the brain to write the sci-fi version of the story. Perhaps, though, I could get away with writing bad pseudo-science or a mystical-mumbo-jumbo spirituality book about aliens and faeries set in the modern day, which will sell billions through Llewellyns and require absolutely no fact-checking or reason on my part whatsoever.

Haven’t I written enough garbage as it is without bogging it down further? Might I not be better off writing ‘meep’ a few thousand times instead? Or go one even lower and write another ‘Wicca for Beginners’ 101-style vapidly empty book that reads like every other book on Wicca in the New Age section? I suppose I could, but then I’m not really figuring out who stole my writing talent.

Perhaps I am becoming too bogged down in plot, which I said there wouldn’t be, opening up the possibility of writing a self-help book or something else light that doesn’t require a plot! Then again, isn’t the point to write a fictional novel? I should probably check the rules.

Arbitrary chapter break follows another mention of how much garbage this is and that this work will be licensed through the Creative Commons (but I repeat myself…and earn vicious enemies in the process!

Perhaps one of them, some defender of the Commons, has stolen my talent…though I just made enemies with them, meaning they have gained access to time travel…setting up a paradox, since I never would have started writing this if my writing talent hadn’t been stolen. Perhaps the paradox also explains the headache. Is this too much text for inside parentheses?

Can you actually use a paragraph break inside them, let alone two?).

Tune in tomorrow, or whenever the hell I write more of this — hopefully tomorrow — for the answers to this and other burning questions! Like, “Should I have kept all that in the parentheses? Since it was the continuation of an idea begun inside them?” and revelations like, “Hey, this book is a Mystery written in First-person perspective!”

Except that I can’t keep THAT up for fifty-thousand words. Easy, boy, don’t get too excited. No plot (genre, characters, narrative thread, voice or setting), no problem.

Public Display of Shame VI-VII

“One Troll to rule them all,
One Troll to find them,
One Troll to {mumble mumble},
And in the darkness bind them,
On teh intarwebs,
Where the sockpuppets lie.”

It was a fine, fine day in the Shi…i-yiy-yii-I mean, non-copyright-infringing pastoral England-like place full of weed-smoking midgets that won’t get me my ass sued-off by the sprawling and lawsuit-happy Tolkien estate.

I had come to the Shi…ah, crap…the Shady Vale, yeah, that sounds like a nice and pleasant place that is plenty boring and full of simple farm boys with great destinies…oh wait, that’s been used, too. Well, let’s just call it Kentucky. So, I had come to Kentucky because I thought I had finally tracked down the greatest threat known to mature discourse on the internet: the Troll. Bum-bum-bum. The Lord of Darkness. The Prince of Pain. The Master of Machinery and Chicancery (a word I’m likely using completely out of context, but I can’t be bothered to check right now…it just SOUNDS cool). Awful God to the Huddling, Ignorant, and Easily Manipulated Masses. Also known as Mr. Big-stinky-pants (the magical “secret name” that sends the Troll into a fitful rage, and remake him into the Internet Tough Guy, who will “track you down and kick your wussy ass”).

It is a common and popular misconception that there are many trolls on the internet. Those who are wise in the ways of the Farce, however, know that there is only one Troll — a sad, cracked little man who uses sockpuppets (that is, fake accounts, spoofed IP addresses, and a chain of anonymous proxy servers) to appear as legion in an on-going effort to boost his sad, sagging ego in a 23-hour-a-day assault on LiveJournal (the other 1-hour is when he creeps outside to do things like buy more Mountain Dew and acne cream, or use the bathroom instead of just going where he’s sitting).

He lives in a run-down trailer in one of the only trailer parks that hasn’t yet been destroyed by a passing tornado, lounging amid a stack of empty liqour bottles he was actually too much of a pansy girl to really drink, but likes to think make him look like a real man, with a college degree he made himself in Microsoft(tm) Paint stuck to the wall with spit behind him, his pale, leperous skin tanned by the bluish-yellow glow of an aging computer monitor as he writes material for D&D and other fantasy role-playing games.

Truly, he is a Dark Lord to be feared.

It is also a common and popular misconception that tornados are “Acts of God” — by which is meant “random, meaningless, unforseeable” — when that is not true. Even if you didn’t know that tornados are actually powerful and intelligent elemental spirits of air and wind and storm, capable of making random decisions with the best atheistic rationalist, then you have to know if you build a trailer park, tornados will come. It’s simple physics based on a simple observation — like “rocks are hard”. When you want a place to be torn apart by a tornado to save you some demolition costs, you just open a trailer park there. All the big demolition firms know this.

But if you know that it isn’t just a natural law, and that tornadoes are intelligent, mindfully choosing their targets in a misguided attempt to cleanse humanity of its worst elements, mistaking location for worth in a manner not unlike Libertarians, then knowing that the Troll has been plaguing the internet uninterrupted since Al Gore invented it, you can narrow down your choices of where to find the lair of the Troll considerably. Indeed, there was only one untouched trailer park in the entirety of the lands of Middle-earth, which itself is wedged somewhere between Canada and Mexico.

Note: it is also a common and popular misconception that Middle-earth is NOT an invention of Tolkien, but comes down to us originally from the Germanic (alongside the Old Norse) and then from Old and Middle English, and I’m being completely serious this time because my lawyers suggested I point this out. Not that I have lawyers, but it seems like the thing to say if you’re worried about frivolous lawsuits by people waaaaaaay wealthier and better connected than you who might be looking to protect intellectual properties.

Anyways, knowing all this, I realized: where else are you going to find a trailer-park-living basement-dweller like the Troll except in a land full of pot-smoking midgets? That’s right. Kentucky. (Note: I had previously ruled out Alabama, as they’re much taller there.)

And there, in Kentucky, the untouched trailer park near Mount Dome, with its run-down little trailer up on cracked cement blocks, all the windows covered over from the inside with yellowed newsprint, and a leaking septic tank no-one had ever bothered to replace filling the air with miasmatic mist that blurred and burned the vision, making the landscape waver and shift phantasmagorically, and dead squirrels half-cooked in a rusted-out Bar-B-Q dance like living corpses.

Of course, finding my way to Mount Dome had not been at all easy. The Troll had gotten wind of my plans — probably when I was taunted and baited into raging in all caps, and with numerous colorful expressions, that I would hunt him down and make him eat his keyboard after I’d shoved it where the sun didn’t shine in front of his (supposed and entirely mythical) wife and kids (it sounded like a good threat, at any rate) and then posted his address for all to see. He said he’d enjoy that — that’s when I knew he was a really sick fuck, too — and he reported me to the FBI. Who proceeded to give me their blessings and provide directions from MapQuest to where he lived, because they were tired of his shennanigans fouling up their own attempts to use the internet for research and discussion, too.

Then he sent his minons after me: dark and mysterious internet posters — ancient and long-lived sockpuppets who many believe to be real persons, and may actually be men corrupted into the Troll’s service, instead of just another of the billion fake identities the Troll has spent his entire life creating and managing — who followed me from forum to forum, changing their handles, harassing and disparaging, attempting to discredit me at every turn, and just being rude motherfuckers in general. Which, you know, is pretty much par-for-the-course with the Troll, so it was only business-as-usual. But it fueled my determination.

The sorcerous battles that ensued were intense and worthy of any Hollywood studio. I would trip, and blame the Troll, I would get indigestion and blame the Troll, and I would forget to mail my bills out on time and I would blame the Troll, for the Troll claimed he would use his powerful witchcraft — learned from a Third Degree High Priestess of Wicca who had studied Crowley and was from a tradition stretching back in an unbroken line to the ancient pagan times — and voodoo on me, because he was like totally both a druid and vodoun, to curse and destroy me, and that I should totally ph3ar his l33t black magick skillz. Eldritch-colored mockeries flew furiously and unassailable bannings went into effect; I escaped unscatched though wiser for my troubles, then hopped a bus to Kentucky with a lighter and a heart full of righteous rage.

Meanwhile, a bunch of oblivious American buddhists stood around jerking themselves off with big thoughts about spiritual things they really didn’t have the first clue about regarding tolerance and acceptance. Later, it was revealed they were also sockpuppets and easily manipulated peons who had overused the big glass eyeball-thing and been corrupted by it. Then the Troll pissed himself when he realized I was writing about him and threatened to file a lawsuit that his “good name” had been impunged. “Good one,” the courts laughed, and waited for an actual lawsuit to appear, though it never did.

Then I became really, really fucking bored with this whole ‘Lord of the Rings’ parody schtick, as awful and unfunny as it now was, so I closed the story down with: I burned his fucking trailer to the ground — which wasn’t hard given the noxious methane vapors in the air; I sparked a lighter and dove for cover — he died, the trailer park and its weed-smoking midgets went up, and mature discourse on the internet was saved. I had to regrow my hair, but became known as “the Bald Hero King” because the publicity only lasted for another chapter or so and there weren’t any spots on Leno or Conan after I’d finally managed to sprout some decent fuzz.

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to find my talent. Apparently, the Troll hadn’t stolen it with his supposed big wicked magickal powerz, or I’d blown it up along with him. In any case, this couldn’t be it, because there was a gigantic plot hole in the idea that the tornadoes avoided the Troll’s trailer park. Why is that? Were they in league with him or something?

I have no clue, and the story is over, so you’ll never know now. It’s just a gaping plot hole with no explanation, like how come that cube-thing in Transformers only created evil robots if the good Autobot robots were also created by it, or like the entire second and third films of the Matrix trilogy. Sad, that.

Chapter 7.

Hey, where the hell is Chapter 6? Somewhere back there, unlabeled, for you to decide upon the best break-point yourself. See, you are totally brainwashed by the literary establishment and their rules, desiring me to give you some kind of obvious chapter marker and unable to decide upon one for yourselves. ee cummings would be r
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Anyways…

It’s around 3am and I’m running out of steam something major. Which sucks, because I need to at least double the word count I’ve so-far managed tonight, and do it in about fifteen minutes. How the heck can I write fifteen-hundred words in fifteen minutes? Well, I can type at a hundred words per minute plus, but I’ve found that when I’m writing — instead of typing, if you see the difference — I can only knock off maybe half to a quarter of that, since it isn’t just direct copying.

So then I visited the Project Gutenberg library of free crap to see what I could blatantly rip-off for another fifteen-hundred words…

“Once upon a time there were threee little goblins. Their names were Red-cap, Blue-cap, and Yellow-cap, and they lived in a mountain.”

Ok, what the hell is that? Well, other than being the opening to “The Story of the Three Little Goblins” by Mabel G. Taggart, it is obviously also a pointer to the gnomes in my head, which we discussed some time back. Perhaps the Troll is not so dead and crispy as it seems…or at least his evil head gnomes aren’t.

Weren’t we talking about goblins? Well, yes, but here’s the thing: who names their kids “Red-cap” and so forth, unless these kids never take off their damn hats…and who does that sound like? Yep, those crazy pointy-hat-wearing gnomes! It’s a sign, I tell you, a sign that we are on the right track, divine inspiration handed down to me by the gods themselves, or whatever is running the universe. Or at least we’ll have a good time rambling aimlessly for another thousand words or so as we track down the gnomes.

Or at least I would, if I weren’t such a bastard and didn’t plan to do anything of the sort, because I think we already covered the whole ‘Fantastic Voyage’ angle earlier, and I mentioned I just couldn’t pull it off. And how else do you find head gnomes?

That’s right, with Buddhism.

Contrary to public opinion and long-held belief, Buddhism isn’t so much about Enlightenment as it is about finding and throttling head gnomes. Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha himself, states in one of his lesser known and often misquoted teachings:

Once Buddha lived at Anathapindika’s monastery in the Jeta Grove, near Savatthi. Near morning, a certain heavenly being [ed: according to scholars, it was probably Jesus on a dare] came to ask the Buddha, “With respect, please, tell of man’s decline; tell us the cause of his downfall.”

The Buddha replied, “He who loves Dharma progresses; he who is averse to it, declines.”

The deity nodded, certain Buddha was on the pipe with all the weird non-English words, and said, “This much we see: the first cause of downfall. Pray, tell us the second cause of downfall.”

And the Buddha answered, “The wicked are dear to him, he finds no delight with the virtuous, he prefers the creed of the wicked – this is a cause of downfall. Beware the Troll, fond of sleep, fond of company, indolent, lazy and irritable. Who does not to support his father and mother who are old and past their youth, and deceives by falsehood brahmans and ascetics and other mendicants. And who enjoys his luxuries alone, thinking proudly of his birth and clan, and yet despises his own kinsmen.”

And then the Buddha needed to take a breath before he passed out, because Jenny Craig hadn’t yet worked its magic on his waistline, “The Troll is a rake, a drunkard, a gambler, who squanders all he earns on bad Chinese food, or rather, all his wife earns, for he is a lazy sot. But he is not contented with his own wife, and prefers to hit on harlots and the wives of others on LiveJournal, yet keeps his own wife locked up jealously in his trailer. He craves rulership and boasts of his ambitions.”

The deity nodded again, knowing full well the Buddha had been surfing the ‘net while high and had discovered the joys and pitfalls of supposed ‘discussion’ boards. He said, “Knowing well these causes of downfall in the world, the noble sage endowed with insight shares in a happy realm. What now are the causes?”

The Buddha finally said, “In protecting oneself from gnomes, others are protected; In protecting others from gnomes, oneself is protected from gnomes. How does one, in protecting oneself from gnomes, protect others from gnomes? By frequent bathing, anti-gnome shampoo, and making much of the Foundation of Issac Asimov. How does one, in protecting others from gnomes, protect oneself from gnomes? By forbearance and nonviolence, by loving kindness and compassion.”

In this way, the deity realized evil head gnomes were the root problem of humanity (though he wasn’t sure what that last bit had to do with anything, but liked it anyways and took it in a modified fashion for his own schtick…for this was in the days before IP and copyright laws applied to spiritual beings, and a smart man or divinity could still create a new religion without being criticized for being ‘derivative’ or ‘non-traditional’ and sneered at as some kind of “New Age mix-and-match hooey”.

Which, of course, is also when men were smarter and realized all religions were derivative, non-traditional, mix-and-match hooey, so whatever floated your boat was probably pretty good, until some patriarchal control-freak goons came along and ruined it for everyone, forming the base of the modern conservative Republican party. Ask Dick Cheney, he was around back then, even if he denies it.

Hrm. Here’s that parentheses thing again).

Ahem. Now, we could talk more about Buddha’s teachings regarding how one is supposed to go about getting rid of and avoiding head gnomes, but I think the message is pretty clear if you just bother to read the basic texts in the original Sanskrit or Pali. The Chinese really screwed it up, being one of the few cultures not to know anything about gnomes (gun powder and mathematics, and yet they didn’t know squat about gnomes. Just goes to show you…) and so removed all references towards them, messing up the basic message, which is why Zen doesn’t make any damn sense at all.

Chapter 8.

So I’ve purchased some Head Lice shampoo and am hoping it will do the trick, as no one at the pharmacy knew of anything specifically to combat head gnomes. I’ve gotten a towel and a mirror and set myself down in front of the latter with the shampoo bottle clearly visible, and a stern look upon my face so they know I mean business.

“Listen, evil head gnomes, I’ve slain your master and you are next, unless you give up the writing talent you stole from me,” I say, making sure not to look at the clearly visible shampoo bottle, for effect. “I mean business,” I add, just in case it wasn’t clear.

I am hoping this will have the desired effect of scaring the head gnomes into returning my talent, and leaving my head. “And leave my head,” I add, realizing I had forgotten that bit. I wait for a sign. Nothing happens. I wonder if that could be a sign, but I doubt it. I worry that the gnomes are taking this time to sabotage my talent and flush it down the toilet, clogging it and costing me hundreds of dollars to get the plumbing fixed.

Trust me, Drano just doesn’t cut it when you flush stuff down that isn’t supposed to get flushed. Sure, it will burn skin and make you go blind if you get it in your eyes, but it won’t even break up a wad of paper towels! And for the price they charge…

So I reach for the shampoo and start lathering some of it, “You’ve had your chance! Give up the talent, or I WASH you!” The threat produces no visible sign that the gnomes have heard me or care. I worry that the shampoo really doesn’t work on head gnomes and they realize that, so I have my wife print off a new sticky label for the bottle that says “Gnome” and stick that over the “Lice” on the existing “Head Lice Shampoo” label.

Then I make my threats again, “Listen, buckos, I mean business. I’ve already killed a whole trailer park full of little people, so don’t think your fancy leiderhosen or colorful hats, or even minority protection status under American law are going to help you…especially in this political climate. Affirmative Action is dead!” If they’ve been paying any attention to the news for the last eight years, that should scare them.

I think I hear voices, but I think it might just be the fumes from the shampoo bottle. Tiny, little voices dancing around, taunting me…no, singing joyfully, “Ding dong, the Troll is dead, the wicked Troll, the stupid Troll! Ding dong, the dumbass Troll is dead!”

It’s a few hours before the neighbors find me naked out behind my house, singing showtunes. After being treated for toxic vapor poisoning and released — the police were very understanding when they realized the fumes from the shampoo were at fault, happens all the time, apparently. Dropped all the charges. And at least I can be sure I don’t have lice — I made my way home to my mirror and my stern look into it.

Of course, the truth is obvious: those damn head gnomes. They’re crafty, clever and more deeply entrenched than I’d realized. It seems I’ll need professional help to get rid of them. I consider the Ghost Busters, but their second movie wasn’t really all that good, even though the cartoon spin-offs were pretty sweet…but they’re totally out-of-genre for this.

No, I need help from superheroes. And possibly pirates. Maybe ninjas, but I don’t trust them, and pirates are way cooler, anyways. Maybe pirates riding dinosaurs, with lasers! I drift off to sleep thinking pleasant thoughts about the Atom and how he would really be the best bet to help out in the current situation — even if everyone always wants to meet Batman — but then, I’m not sure that’s actually his superhero name. Wikipedia, here I come…tomorrow.

And if you’re wondering, it was way longer than fifteen.

Public Display of Shame IX-XII

Chapter 9.

The sign over the tunnel leading to life states: “This is a dark ride.”

You’ve been warned.

I’m not feeling much like humor, bad or otherwise, right now. Obviously, we haven’t found my talent, but screw the plot. The thing is, if I can write six thousand words in two days and even like many of them, or worse, write a thousand or two, hating it at the time only to find they’re not half bad when read later, I’m not missing talent (I don’t think).

I’m missing the ability to do anything productive or successful with it. I don’t know if that’s worse than not having any talent to begin with or even losing what you’ve got, but I think it is. Imagine if you were a brilliant mathematician, and yet you were stuck working at McDonalds’ as a fry cook your entire life, and everyone around you knows you’re brilliant, and everyone around you wonders why the hell you’re stuck at a McDonalds. Now, I’m not saying I’m a brilliant mathematician — there’s a reason the wife balances the checkbook — or brilliant anything, but that’s got to be a bit like how this feels.

But this is par for the course, it seems. Every time I have something good going on, my chair gets kicked out from under me and whatever it happens to be doesn’t end up being any sort of boon or blessing or help. Art? Yeah, great career I’ve got going on. Technology? I spent how much money and graduated at the top of every class that had ever come out of my school to end up with no decent job after five years of looking?

Bootstraps are bullshit.
Luck is the reality. Pure, undiluted luck.

All the talent, education, brains, skill, or anything else won’t do you a damn bit of good unless you happen to be in the right place at the right time with the right people. (Good luck with that.)

And I say that because I can do things like this:

We rode north without pause, driving the horses until they were red-eye, flecked white and foaming. We had been dead twelve days, but that did not stop us; when you make a pact with the gods of blood, little does, not even the walls between life and death.

The sky was leaden gray, a colorless sheet of streaked slate reflecting our own grim state, and if there was a sun, we did not see it. Ahead lay the Kingdom of Skulls, waiting, as it does for all mortal men, the sprawling and long-cursed ruins of the endless City of Dragons tumbling down the shattered hills of gray-green.

Black, noxious fumes steamed forth from hidden pits and cracks in the earth made by the cataclysm that had thrown down the walls and columns of the eternally slumbering city, steaming up from the dark underworld in which slumbered our stolen souls.

“Show them the head,” Bakluni whispered as we approached the gates, the horses picking their way up the hillside through rock and ruin, towards the main gate that stood alone, its accompanying walls now worn and jagged gray teeth that would offer no barrier to even mice. He spoke of the dark, hooded figures that waited at the gates, the silent priests of the necropolis whose prayers were silenced by black threads across their lips…the orifice sewn shut.

I lifted up the ragged bundle of shorn flesh, black hair tangled thick in my fingers, its eyes white and jaw slack, mouth hung open. The priests saw and deemed this payment acceptable, for they moved aside. It is not often the walking dead are given leave to enter the City of Dragons, but certain gods would pay much for certain heads.

Hooves clicked loudly upon broken flagstones, the noise a sacrilege to the dead strewn amid the shadows. Normal beasts would have quailed at the stench and nameless fear of the place, but these had borne worse for days now, so forward they stepped, eyes rolling, red nostrils flaring.

I lifted the gruesome trophy up before me, white and hollow-cheeked, all the life long drained out of it, and asked, “So, Mer-akthoth, which way do we go?”

A passer-by, had there been any in this gruesome place, might have thought this done in dark jest, but the lips of the severed head moved and the jaw worked at speech, the voice of the sorcerer it belonged to issuing forth as if from a great and echoing distance, hollow and thin, though the eyes did not move nor any other part of the face. And it told them what they wished to know, and cursed them, and begged them until the jaw fell slack once more.

There are some deals men should never make, and some bargains gods should never accept…

And yet when I do things like that, they never pan out the way they’re “supposed to”.

That’s a problem: even if I feel I could manage to do something that requires hard work and talent, even when I have managed to do things requiring hard work and talent, it’s never been the right time or the right opportunities have never been available or the right people haven’t been watching to make it all go.

It keeps a person from finishing things, or even trying, and it is damn depressing. It’s like sitting on a desert island throwing bottles into the ocean hoping like hell ONE of those damn things will wash up somewhere, that someone will find it and take the time to decipher the note you’ve scratched into a palm leaf, and then care enough to come looking for you.

Some people, invested in the cultural notion of the bootstrap, will deny this and furiously claim this simply isn’t true: that hard work and being smart “will too” get you where you’re going. They are full of shit; they believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and an all-too anthromorphic God (Go Jeebus!), because that’s where this myth belongs. An idea that provides safety and comfort in a chaotic, uncontrollable world; rules that are really prayers.

“Be good and Santa will bring you presents!” Sure, if you’re not dirt poor, in which case, Santa won’t bring you shit: whether you’re good or bad. And heck, if you are bad, Santa will bring you things anyways, especially if you’re stinking rich. It’s a child’s myth.

At some point, you have to realize that all the work you do might never see the light of day because you don’t have an “in”, and the secrets of the universe might end up in a shoebox in a closet, to be thrown out by your clueless relatives or written over by some monk looking for more paper he can write some hymns on. Because it has happened before, because it is happening now, because it is happening all the time.

Some people want to believe that best or important stuff always makes it to the top, that it always comes out. It doesn’t. So much of it doesn’t. It gets repressed, ignored, forgotten.

Success is not there waiting for you, if you just reach for it or grab for it or try for it.

You know that “decent” people will fuck you over for a dollar. They are guiltless assholes. They’ll do it because they know success is luck — not work or skill — and if they don’t grab it when they can get it, they’ll likely never attain it, no matter how hard they work, how smart they are, or how much they want to.

People will screw you over and rob you blind given the opportunity, if there’s percentage in it for them. That’s been my and my family’s experience, at any rate, on a generational level. We’re not the only ones, either.

My grandfather’s secret, incredible fishing bait? There’s a bait company out there producing it, under the name of one of his relatives who swiped the formula after his funeral. Nevermind his widow and kids.

My father’s inventive, portable mini-camp table? Offered for sale from one of the big outfitting companies as the “invention” of someone my father took on a fishing trip while he was testing the design. Nevermind the design wasn’t his to profit from.

Work your ass off, try it. End up like 95% of humanity.

Hard work and being talented has nothing to do with succeeding. That lucky 5% didn’t do anything differently than everyone else, no matter how much we want to argue and believe they did. That’s the secret no one wants to admit to, because it is just too damn frightening to contemplate. It was just blind luck in a chaotic universe: the right set of circumstances.

There are truly horribly untalented people in jobs they don’t deserve, being paid too much money to do a job someone else better qualified should be. There are stinking rich people who are awful, lazy people who deserve being rich about as much as our culture believes the stereotypical welfare mother deserves to be. And the scary thing is that they aren’t the minority.

That isn’t to say they are the majority, either, only that life is a random bitch and hard work and talent are no guarantee, or even affect the odds all that much.

Thus far, I’ve sent out a lot of bottles, and there’s a certain point at which you stop doing it, because the percentages are insane. The “Desert Island Survival Guide” claims that if you send out your bottled letters, someone will pick you up and rescue you. If you wonder how many, the Guide will say, “Just keep at it!” Tell that to the skeletons you find under the sand, that one last bottle clutched in their long-dead hands.

Grab someone else’s rescue boat the minute it comes by, because otherwise you’re stuck on that island. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who managed to reach someone with a bottle, one of the 5%. And then go on casually pretending that those other 95% of people still stuck out there were ‘doing it wrong’ somehow, chalk up your success to you, rather than random luck and benevolent circumstance that few others received.

Do you think the kid who could be a world-renowned genius piano player but is never given piano lessons, and becomes a poor cop instead, did something differently than Mozart? That’s life. Brutal circumstance.

Whether it is creating art in the visual medium, or designing web pages, creating multinational advertisements, programming user applications for VISA, or even just serving as the network admin for a local company — for me, it never works out. Something unforseen and out-of-my-control happens, or worse, nothing happens at all and what you’d expect should happen never does.

And sometimes your daughter’s guinea pig dies for no observable reason.

Which is a pretty succinct summary of life itself.

So you don’t feel like writing shit, or you feel like writing shit (literally). Now, here’s the interesting thing, I have to somehow tie all that into what we’ve got going so far. Maybe I’ll get funny again, or maybe, as I mentioned earlier, this will be all angsty and depressing and dark in an inelegant and horrid way and I’ll offend all the libertarians desperately clutching their Great Market myths to their chest and rocking back-and-forth, because they need those rules to avoid going insane, to feel like what they do is actually getting them where they want to go, to make them feel special and strong and clever.

At the very least, I thought I would treat you to a day in the life of LiveJournal (which doesn’t make it any less true for being annoying and disheartening and depressing).

We make gods to make us feel better. We want Santa to be real so we are rewarded for being good, even if we really aren’t; and we use him to look down on anyone who isn’t rewarded, even if they should have been. It makes us feel better, like there is an order to life, when there isn’t.

Because the human mind can’t deal with brutal randomness. It needs patterns, even fake ones.

Which is probably exactly why the Liturgists have their rules about the use and length and systematic ordinal placement of chapters and noun-verb order.

Chapter 11.

Hah, I had you going, didn’t I? Fooled you. Well, not about the guinea pig. That part is sad. Not about the rest of it, either. It’s all true. But that really isn’t the point: I had you. You invested in what was being said at some point, pro or con — which is the mark of talent. Grab onto the reader’s windpipe and don’t let go.

Well, not literally, of course, though I’m certain some authors have fans they write short fiction pieces about that involve exactly that scenario, which they then rightfully hide in a shoebox in the closet to avoid the bad press and possible charges of Making Terroristic Threats when they’re merely trying to attain some catharsis and avoid actually playing the scenario out. Or at least so they’re able to keep smiling while answering the same stupid question for the fifteenth time while on long book tours, because you know their idea of a good time would actually be a bottle of gin and a baseball bat.

Not that any of them would admit to it. Bad for business, unless you’re a D-list comic.

Anyways, what it means is that I must have scared the piss out of the head gnomes and they left for better climes and better pay (after all, who is going to sign their paychecks now?), and they’ve returned my talent. Hopefully, there isn’t still some random gremlin pulling and fixing wires up there, though I suspect it most days.

I’d like it if he fixed things, I wouldn’t mind being blissfully happy and energetic all the time, and it would annoy all the sad people. I know, the latter thought is mean and unenlightened.

And with that in mind, come on, goths and emos! Being mopey and sad isn’t really being all the different. Especially for the goths, you want to be really, actually, different AND annoying — and hey, this goes for the punks, too — AND sticking it to the man? Be blissfully and energetically happy, positive, and optimistic.

Because NO ONE is, except the Dalai Lama and even he has his bad days. Be happy, constantly; find the positive in EVERYTHING. That will piss EVERYONE off.

Just being all weepy and sad and bitter? Come on. No one cares, no one notices, it isn’t going to change the world or change anyone or anything because we all fundamentally know that’s the state of reality. Reality is really fucking depressing when held up to what it COULD or SHOULD be.

So buck the system. BE HAPPY.

BTW, Chapter 10 will be along shortly. Or not. It depends on whether or not it was raped in the bathroom.

But the real question is: were you paying enough attention to notice it was missing? Hah! Stupid you! Now be happy about your complete lack of perception and how it makes you less of a human being!

And note, as well, my terribly, randomly inconsistent chapter lengths! Fight the power!

Chapter 12.

Honestly, that one was because I had to pee. I was bouncing in my seat — actually, on the bed, because that’s where I’m writing from tonight — doing the pee-pee dance, and the urge finally overwhelmed me. This, I think, is a good enough reason as any to create a chapter break. But I’m relieved now. Thanks for asking; feel much better. Caffeine does that to me, just zips right on through.

Like most things, I like to blame that problem on Mickey Rooney. Now, I don’t actually have any reasoning for that, I just thought it would sound funny, which it doesn’t. At all. It’s just randomly absurd and completely unfunny, unless you actually do happen to dislike Mickey Rooney for some reason and are filling in the blanks there with details about why that makes sense to you.

But don’t tell me about it. I don’t care. And the reason I don’t care: Mickey Rooney. It’s his fault. I have no explanation or even justification and especially not any complex charts full of relationship bubbles and conspiracy factoids relating everything from the assassination of JFK to the Illuminati’s cover-up about the true shape of the Earth to Mickey Rooney.

That’s just more fake patterns.

We’re going for the gold, tonight. Six thousand words.

Halfway there or around that, but we’ll never make it. I’m being kicked off the machine up here shortly, meaning I will be forced to go into the cold, dreadful basement to write. But I’m comfy here, and not cold or even chilled, and I’d prefer not to be. It would just break the mood. Yet, what else is there to do?

Plus I have to work at noon tomorrow, and do you know how late I would have to stay up to manage another three thousand words? Yeah. I’d be a complete dope at work tomorrow without huge caffeine infusions, straight to the vein, and we all know what would happen then…potty dance. A constant potty dance.

Now, I was saying something above about talent equaling readership investiture: the thing is, I could have been writing complete bollocks, but as long as I sound like I believe what I’m saying, the reader invests. That’s tricky, that requires talent. Not the same sort of talent that shooting ping-pong balls from your nameless nethers requires, but nonetheless, it is a sort of talent (one shouldn’t try to put their own brand of talents up in lights with such luminary and exceedingly, highly specialized talents as that).

I need type just fourteen more words to make it to my three thousand. Well, there we go. And at least according to Textpad, which provides a completely different count than NaNoWriMo’s counting bots. So I never really know how many words I’m at, just a general impression of size. I could manually count them up myself…but, I don’t think I’m THAT invested, and it would waste a great deal of time that I could spend writing.

Editors, however, love counting words. In fact, they love counting, period. They’ll give you numbers and word counts all day long, until the sun turns red in the heavens and the clouds glow a glorious pinkish-orange, and then they’ll go home to their doting wives or husbands, counting steps all the way, give them exactly one kiss, brush their teeth exactly forty-one times, and go to bed. Then they get up and do it all over again the next day. They will leap out of bed like gleeful children, excited that they get to count more words, and rush back to it the office to start, forgetting their ADHD medication along the way. (Writers, of course — those who haven’t sold their souls — will say they are more like demonic children.)

Editors tell authors how many words they need, precisely and exactly, forcing them to manually count instead of relying on a general and pretty-good estimate from Microsoft(tm) Word or NaNoWriMo, and gleefully return or mercilessly slaughter manuscripts if there is even just one word over or under the precisely necessary count. It is a terrible thing to watch and it makes Baby Jesus cry.

They do this because editors are demons. They force writers to count the exact number of words in their manuscripts as a part of magical rituals meant to bring about the Apocalypse, though they will tell the unsuspecting writer that it is because of “space constraints” or “space requirements” in the periodical or other media being written for. That’s bollocks. They’ll tell writers that because demons lie, and therefore editors lie. qed.

Of course, if most writers read the necessary medieval grimoires, they would know exactly how to avoid helping the editors bring about the Apocalypse while still seeming to satisfy their slyly calculated and exacting numerical requirements. But, to their detriment, most writers don’t believe in magic spells any longer, and the age of superstition has passed us by.

Ok, ok…editors aren’t really demons (except when they are); and you can’t really control them with magic spells (except when you can). Editors aren’t bad blokes at all. And besides, the enlightened modern atheist rejects all notions of the supernatural as complete bollocks, including the existence of editors. This is why Richard Dawkins can get away with British spelling in his books: no editors to properly Americanize it.

And, boy, British spelling…no one wants that (well…Shakespeare can get away with it). So as you can see, editors aren’t all bad. Unless, of course, this section here is merely an editor’s “contribution” to the work as a whole, using the author as a vehicle towards advancing their own agenda. They do that: they’re editors.

Boy, this chapter is just all over the place, eh?

As I said, there’s no way I can reach six thousand tonight. Though I did watch Robot Chicken. The thing about Robot Chicken is that every writer, after having written for a couple hours, needs a Robot Chicken break. This is the first rule of writing.

There are others, but they’re spread throughout the text, or at least they could be. I’m not tying myself down with anything, you know! Just leaving the possibility open. Perhaps someday, assuming I write down more rules, someone will come along and compile a properly formatted, sequential, numbered list of the rules. Which is assuming anyone other than myself ever reads this whole thing…which is also quite a lot to assume. I expect new planetary systems to form from the dust of the intergalactic void before that happens, though perhaps I am selling myself short and in a hundred years, I will be all the rage.

So, have we found my talent yet? Didn’t we establish that a couple chapters ago? It seems we have, and yet…wouldn’t it have been easier to stop babbling some pages ago, once it was established, and start work on a “real” story?

Au contraire. You obviously do not understand the nature of reality yet. Nature is like a wad of sticky, pink bubblegum. And now that you understand the nature of reality, we can move on; not in a universal or evolutionary sense as a species, mind you — because I’m being facetious — more on a personal, subjective, momentary level as understood in context.

Though perhaps if we did understand nature as a wad of sticky, pink bubblegum, we would advance as a species. Or, more likely, we would apishly begin worshiping bubblegum and its chewers, developing another nonsensical, completely arbitrary and subjective set of beliefs about the way the universe works and what the Great Bubble wants for each and every one of us.

“The soul is like a bubble,” we would say, and follow that up with pithy, nonsensical apologisms simple to memorize and communicate memeticly. And I think I made up two words there. Go, my children, and use them yourselves! But, regardless, we would say those things and teach those things and have flimsily-obscured-as-political religious debates about them on the public airwaves, but when it came down to it kill everyone who thought the universe was nothing like a wad of soft, pink, sugary and easily air-filled gum while paying lip-service to cultural, religious, and scientific diversity.

And some people would say the “stickiness” was the most important bit, and others would say the “pinkness” was where it was at, and view all the other holy writ through rose-colored glasses, and yet others would point to the wad and be self-assured in their understanding and criticisms of the gum-theory of the universe and what a blatantly bad, even stupid idea it was…

Honestly, let’s just forget the whole idea.

Public Display of Shame XII-XV

Obviously, we didn’t make six thousand. We did play Dynasty Warriors 5, however, because we need to take breaks. Ok, -I- played DW5 — I don’t know what you did. But such breaks are necessary as there is a point at which you burn out and can’t keep moving forward, where you can feel the resistance like a liquid wall, and the words aren’t flowing easily or clearly at all. This usually happens around 3am, after you’ve already been writing for four hours. If it happens before that, you’re just making excuses to not write. Quit kidding yourself and get back to work.

That’s a pretty simple rule. So are “Sit down and write.” and “Make sure it sucks.” Because that way you’re doing it and you can’t disappoint anyone by doing it, though you could very well surprise yourself and anyone else who might come along afterwards. It’s a win-win sort of rule.

Have I just moved from first-person mystery fiction to a self-help book on writing? The answer is an unequivocal “maybe”! Having talent requires one to write a book that pretends other people have talent as well, and that you are helping them achieve their goals, when it reality it is just a subtle way to talk about yourself and cash in on your talent with something light and easy.

Because, seriously, you can write anything and pretend that’s how you work. Who is going to know? Maybe your close friends and family, but you can always blackmail them. Nothing is worse than being mocked and burned in literary effigy. Nothing.

Except, maybe, being dragged behind a pickup truck down a gravel road. And liverwurst. So people will go to great lengths to avoid getting on your bad side and ending up immortalized as a caricature in your next novel or short story. The pen, my friends, has power.

Because who wants to be remembered as the bumbling sidekick or that selfish bitch who stole everything I own and forces me to pay child support for kids who aren’t even my own but got her due when that semi plowed her down on the middle of the interstate. Ah, catharsis.

That is the power of the pen, and it is why America will forever be remembered as the first country to have elected a monkey to the presidency, even though that isn’t technically true; we at least elected a talking monkey.

That’s also why you’ll forever be remembered as a pornstar, even though you only posted that one picture to your friends-only MySpace on a dare. Except that has nothing to do with the power of the pen or with writing at all, so let’s just forget I said that. Unless, of course, we decide that a picture really is worth a thousand words, making NaNoWriMo really easy.

Of course, that’s abusing cliches to win. A picture isn’t really worth a technical thousand words, unless it happens to be an ASCII art picture you’ve created from a photo you took or the cover of a book you happen to have painted, in which case this particular book cover…

MMMMMMMMMMMMMNMNNMNNMMNMMMNMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMNMMMDNMMMMMNMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMNDDNMMMMMNNNMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMNMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMM8DMNDZDNMMMMMMMMMMMMMMN8MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMNMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMN888DNND8MNMMMMMMMMMMMNMMMNNMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMNMMMMMNMMMMMMMMM
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…is worth about three-hundred and seventeen words ASCIIfied at this particular resolution. I know, that’s totally cheating, but I won’t tell if you don’t, and I promise not to do it again. Ok, now I feel all guilty.

Chapter 13.

I was going to say “Time to get serious”, but I don’t know if that’s unlucky to do starting in this chapter. I don’t know if pondering and meandering is unlucky either. What about asking questions? Perhaps I should just not have a Chapter 13, like hotels that don’t have a 13th floor by renaming it.

Of course, you know the reason hotels do this, don’t you? It screws with editors. It is a generally unknown fact that hotel managers and literary editors have been engaged in an on-going, centuries-long battle for control of the destiny of the human race. The fact that hotel managers screw with the ordinal sequence messes up the editor’s structured reality.

So, why the 13th floor? Why not the 8th, or 2nd, or 23rd?

It is a common and popular misconception that the number thirteen is unlucky, and this is why hotels do not have a 13th floor; but the truth is that hotel mangers have chosen this number because editors, in addition to being bound by the rules of sequential ordering, have a special relationship with the number thirteen (which may be where the myth that thirteen is unlucky originally arises, from association).

The rules of sequential ordering are also why most writers stay on the 14th or higher floors of hotels when out abroad, specifically so that their editor — or worse, any random editor roaming the streets seeking writers whose souls they can steal with binding legal contracts — can’t find them. The lack of a 13th floor messes up the internal guidance system of the editor — like migratory avian in a strong magnetic field — and they end up riding up and down the elevators all night long, confused and bewildered, like a whale beaching itself after underwater missile tests. Consequently, smart writers will only use the stairs when staying at hotels.

Of course, since Chapter 10 skipped out, isn’t this really Chapter 12? What if Chapter 10 pops up later? Does that make this Chapter 13, or does Chapter 10 really become the chapter that would normally exist in that spot in the ordinal sequence? You can see how this can be confusing to editors. Such are the relevations of the ancient medieval grimoires.

Though, technically, they didn’t have the architectural skill to create structures of thirteen or more floors during the Middle Ages, making this particular trick a modern adaptation of age-old magical knowledge by clever and well-versed hotel managers. Of course, if you manage a hotel, dealing with weirdos and crazies all day long, day in and day out, you will pick up a wide variety of ritual occult knowledge as a part of the job just to keep employees under control, check-ins running smoothly, and the bedsheets clean.

That’s the sort of thing that has to be done when your staff consists of illegal immigrants like vampires, werewolves, and spectral manifestations. What? You thought they were Mexican? That’s just the cover because most Americans have never seen a real Mexican so they can’t tell the difference (of course, it’s completely the opposite south of the border: most Mexicans have never seen a real American, either. Yeah, you just think about that).

This is also why hotel managers have made very little progress against editors in their centuries-long war: you try keeping control over a bunch of supernatural freaks who don’t want to serve your guests (unless, you know, we’re talking about serving them as dinner) AND fighting a hidden war against an age-old evil. Thus, in the main, the managers have to settle for frustrating editors with tricks like the 13th floor.

We can only hope the hotel mangers fare better in their war against editors than the Church did. For all our sakes.

Chapter 14.

Obey/fail!

Chapter 15.

Just playing it safe, you understand. Superstition is a powerful thing, and you don’t want to mess with it, even if thirteen really isn’t unlucky. Because it is entirely possible that thirteen is not a number, not really…but instead an insidious, creeping horror of the eldritch variety, silently and invisibly stretching tentacles out wherever he is invoked, a cancerous shadow slipping quietly into mind and page and hotel floor, influencing and corrupting.

Why? Because that is apparently what tentacled eldritch horrors do, except for some of them who get into Japanese porn. Honestly, I would think those guys have the better of it; they’re probably like celebrities in the world (or, er, dimension…non-dimension? who knows!) of eldritch horrors, mainly as I imagine eldritch horrors probably don’t have demeaning, Puritan views of sex nor consider it something kept behind closed doors.

They’d be all like, “Hey, did you see Bobblguthr nail that chibi?” And “Can I have your autograph, Bobblguthr?” And “Oh, man, he touched me with his tentacle! I’m never washing my slimy, oozing membrane again!” And “Sign my loathsome orifice, Bobblguthr! I love you, baby! Whoooo!”

They are eldritch superstars. And the D-list actors would get all the “action/adventure” flicks and “comdey/dramas” and the lowest of the low, the “touching human dramas”. Eldritch porn is where the money and fame is. In eldritch world, the “Lifetime” and “Women’s Entertainment” channels would be like the “Playboy” and “Spice” channels, you’d have to pay for that disturbing shit and watch it behind closed doors.

Well, except for young, teenage eldritch horrors — only a few million years old — who would rent the channels as a group, or watch them through squiggly lines, passing tissues around during a big “circle cry”, as teenage boys are wont to do when high on pot, coke, or aerosol cans and thus completely un-self-conscious about whipping their immature tentacles around in public.

But you have to admit, despite a few bad eggs, life is pretty hard for most teenage eldritch horrors. It’s a confusing time, when their material and spiritual vibrations are changing and they’re becoming multi-dimensional terrors. It can be really confusing to have one part of your body in one plane of existence, and another in a completely different plane.

Add in tentacle envy in the locker room, and it makes it for tough few million years. Luckily, most eldritch horrors grow out of it. Cthulhu, though an awkward pseudopod, grew into the world-devouring horror he is today — even becoming the High Priest of the Old Ones — despite going through a rationalist phase and trying to exist in only one plane without creating any paradoxes or breaking any natural laws. Luckily, he grew out of it, and to his credit, even had a short-lived career as a fluffer in some low-budget Japanese tentacle porn you can still find clips of floating around YouTube.

Of course, tentacle porn would be on 24-hours a day, and the conservative traditionalist eldritch horrors would go around trying to convince people certain puppets on kids’ shows were heterosexual — rather than the acceptable bi (or, more accurately, “anything that moves…and anything that doesn’t”) — and not into rape at all. It would be a noisy, meaningless scandal, until the other tentacled horrors killed and ate them.

Which may just be a solution to the same problem in our world.

Public Display of Shame XV-XVIII

Of course, the other thing about eldritch horrors, and surprisingly something that gives them a common point of contact with modern Americans, is that they want to be rock stars: sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, cross-dressing, vague allusions to the occult, legions of starry-eyed cultists…it’s everything an eldritch horror could want.

Come on, you know it’s true. You’ve known forever that Gene Simmons had to be an alien horror from another dimension — no one descended from monkeys has a tongue like that — and have you never seen a picture of “Aerosmith” and Steven Tyler? How much more proof do you want? Ok, well how about the fact he managed to produce Liv Tyler…we all know laws of nature were broken in doing that; and if she gets all bug-eyed and fishy-smelling when she gets older and finally comes clean about worshiping Dagon, you won’t be able to deny it then. I know, horrifying to contemplate; Lovecraft ain’t got nothin’ on rock stars.

Regardless, not all rock stars are eldritch horrors from beyond space-and-time — there’s just a lot of crossover.

Chapter 15.

I am on chapter fifteen, right? Crap, I don’t recall. No, wait, I’m not. This is chapter sixteen. Chapter 16. I hope this doesn’t further confuse the editors, poor things are probably screaming and weeping at this point, their clever numbering system all mucked up and confused. Honestly, I’m out for the day. It’s 3:30pm and I haven’t gotten very far at all, so it’s time to take more drastic action (no, I’m not going to ASCII a bunch of photos, I promised).

I will now turn to a copy of “Mythic Game Master Emulator” and a copy of the role-playing game “Sorcerer”…

We’ll do a crime drama involving a thief who was turned in by an employer after they stole something for them. We’ll pick up the story after the thief has gotten out of jail, now a studied, but naive sorcerer, taught the black arts by a creepy older felon for his own reasons.

“I like you, kid. You’ve got the spark,” Pytor’s words echo in Thomas’ ears, a slight Russian accent slipping smoothly along beneath them like a current in a dark stream at night. The old con showed him his tattoos — circles and weird letters — told him what they meant, “Can’t get those kind of books in here. Have to carry them with you.” Sly. “Now, the first thing you do when you get out is find that book,” Pytor nodded, almost-American voice a whisper, “Find it and make use of it.”

Five years before he was standing under a free sky again. The first thing he wanted to do was find Eckelstein and settle an old score. Robert Fredrick Eckelstein, Esq., and altogether too accurate “Dick” to his friends, was the man who hired him to steal a rare little 3rd century Roman cask of grotesquely embossed bronze. $100k, half up front, half on completion: untraceable cash deposit.

That money was gone, of course, seized in the sting and taken by government and insurance companies at the conclusion of his trial. He had been set up by his employer, as much had come out during the trial. The cask itself had disappeared from the evidence lock-up, a fact quietly covered-up by the city police department using a whole lot of the taxpayer’s money.

That was all history, though. Unimportant. Uninteresting. The moment was now.

Dick’s mansion was dark. The security system hadn’t been much of a problem for a professional like him, and the bedroom had been easy to find. He flicked on his low-power LED torch and examined the bed…it was unoccupied.

“Hello there, Thomas,” a voice he’d heard in dreams for the past five years made him turn. A dark figure in the bedroom doorway.

“Dick,” he responded, calmly, angrily.

“I’d heard they let you out, and I thought you might try something like this. Going to kill me?”

Thomas thought about it, “No. But I did want to have a little chat with you. About five years worth of little chats.”

There was the suggestion of a grin on the shadowy figure’s face, “It wouldn’t look very good for you to be seen here. I suggest you leave, unless you want to spend another five for breaking and entering…and assault.”

Thomas narrowed his eyes.

“Be a shame for you to go right back to prison.”

“I made contact,” Thomas answered, finally putting the other off-guard.

There was a sharp catch of breath, a pause, “Not here.”

A few minutes later, Thomas found himself blocks away, sitting on a covered bus bench, looking like any other city dweller in his old gray hoodie, sharp eyes and slouched body language telling everyone to leave him be, hoping the last five years had been worth it.

Dick would pay him, regardless; there was already money sitting in a dummy account, in fact. He’d checked. Still…five years. Even for that sum.

“Three years maximum, Tommy, my lawyer can assure it. Less for good behavior and an early parole. I’d bet one or two years actually served, maximum. I’d stake my life on it,” Dick smiled at him across the polished wood of that massive desk of his. Dick wasn’t an IKEA man, he liked the traditional, the old, the symbols of status and power men had been clinging to for centuries. Short-lived fads of fashion and design weren’t his idea of success.

Dick had folded his thick hands on the desk and leaned forward. Against his better judgment, that little voice cautioning him against Dick’s well-known sly tongue and the vagaries of the American justice system, he had cautiously agreed to the plan.

That memory followed him all the way to the dump of an apartment he had rented. He could hear the cockroaches scurry when he flicked on the dingy light from a lousy 30-watt bulb. As an act of rebellion against a now distant and powerless authority, he deliberately left the light on after lights out — and it burned yellow until morning.

Five years.

Chapter 17.

Wow, that’s like a chapter break right there, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not a very long chapter, but WHOO. What a great time to toss it in. That right there is exactly how you pull off using a chapter. But right now, editors are crapping their pants, “What are you doing?! You’re drawing the reader out of the story, you’re breaking the fourth wall!”

And I totally am. Suck it!

When you have fifty-thousand words to manage in less than a month, you see how much you care about the damn fourth wall! Or anything much at all. If I didn’t do this, I’d just be sitting here spinning my wheels, dragging along, getting barely a thousand words out after a couple hours of writing…and that just isn’t going to get the job done, not at this point.

Plus, I just wanted to reveal my excitement to all of you about that chapter usage. And I wanted to talk about bunnies for a bit.

Bunnies? Yes. The fur-covered mammal also known as a rabbit that everyone thinks is so cute and cuddly, except one of my wife’s friends, who believes the eyes of a rabbit are dead, soulless pits that drink in your life and reveal untold landscapes of horror unto you.

She also has a thing about roosters and, I think, chickens.

It’s a whole farm-animal thing, but not in -that- way. She’s not an eldritch horror, or a space alien (who mainly have things about cows), nor is she Scottish.

But you know, as a drastic measure, turning to Mythic GME and RPGs didn’t do me much good for word-count purposes, though it did help with the “not knowing where to go or what to say or do” part. I seem to be having problems making significant progress towards my word count today.

It may be because my wife and I had an argument last night, which left me in no mood to finish off the extra twelve-hundred words I needed to catch back up to my previous necessary daily quota. Because, honestly, who wants to write when they feel drained and empty and emotionally battered? No one, that’s who. Unless you’re writing for catharsis and write a murder mystery involving a woman who looks and acts suspiciously like your wife who dies repeatedly in gruesome, painful, embarrassing ways.

In which case I suggest marital counseling, because there’s some serious issues under the surface there. And on that note, I will now begin a new story all about the murder of this woman who…OK, kidding. Such black humor!

GET OVER IT, soccer mom!

I have this theory about soccer moms, BTW. My theory is that they were the pretty, dumb girls in school. Feeling powerless in their forced bereavement from the sophomoric culture of high school where they were revered as goddesses, desired and quested after, standing at the top of the social chain, and finding themselves to be average, powerless, and unremarkable in the adult world — betrayed by the once seemingly important skills they cultivated throughout their schooling — they turn to complaining and bitching about everything and anything they don’t understand, becoming the bossy, clueless bitches of the adult world desperate to feel once again in control, important and special.

Time was, anyone could just say, “Shut your pie hole, woman!” and that was the end of it; but with feminists crusading for equal rights for all women, they opened the door to allowing ninnies and twits access to uncensored public braying and clueless crusading. Way to go, ladies; you’re suffering from it just as much as the rest of us, especially you dykes and lesbians. Never thought your freed sisters would jump up and betray you like that, eh?

That’s right, among the list of things clueless soccer moms crusade against, from rock and roll music, to Dungeons & Dragons, to short skirts and Democratic candidates, evolution from monkeys and a return of the Bible to public schools, is vile and unnatural homosexuality.

And you can’t just shut them up anymore, because if you try to call them on being clueless twits, you’re a sexist oppressor or liberal hypocrite, or both. Like I said, way to go, ladies. Way. To. Go.

I’m kidding.

Soccer moms are actually usually moderates politically, and have little connection with social conservatism. They do tend to be hyper-reactive when it comes to their kids, though, and fear long-discredited boogey men like “satanism” and “the occult” lurking around every corner waiting to ensnare their kids.

As such, they are the first to freak out about rumors of kids playing “Dungeons & Dragons” or posters advertising the “Vampire: the Eternal Struggle” card game, because they just aren’t smart enough to do more than watch the hype that is the evening news and fail to recognize it for hype, instead of a manipulated surface appraisal of various subjects. Which is why, if you’re crusading to get Dihydrogen Monoxide banned as a dangerous, toxic substance, you go to the soccer moms, who will not only sign that petition but will pass out flyers for you at the next local PTA meeting.

And on that note, I come across this statement today, regarding how microwaved water can explode, and how to avoid that potentially painful and scarring possibility: “Put a wooden stick or something in the water (preferably a coffee stirrer or cleaned popsicle stick, not one from the lawn). Do not use a metal spoon, as the lightning created by interaction of microwave and metal may have sinister effects on the already angry water.”

This is awesome: Lightning! Sinister effects! Angry water!

Sounds like ABC’s next half-hearted, once-a-decade attempt at a Sci-fi miniseries. Soccer moms trying to protect their children from from an aggravated water monster born from a lightning strike during an occult ritual while holding down a career and raising a normal family. Er, yeah. Stick to soaps, guys.

In fact, to prevent the very possibility of some clueless network exec reading this — as difficult as that scenario is to imagine, given I can’t see anyone reading this — and pitching that very show in a fit of self-satisfied pseudo-artistic genius, that idea is the only part of this document which is not governed by the Creative Commons, and I refuse to sells the rights to the idea. Which might break the rules of the Creative Commons, but I haven’t actually bothered to read the rules.

Unfortunately, as we all know, you can’t copyright an idea. Sorry, America. I know television programming didn’t look as though it could get any worse, but…

You know what? Blame the guy who brings it to the air, not the guy who thought it up as a sarcastic throw-away idea never meant to see the light of primetime network TV! I will not be your scapegoat! Nor will I be your huggle-bunny, or lambie-kins, or snuggle-puss!

Because I’m mad, and I’m not going to take it anymore! Ok, who am I kidding, here? I’m an American. I’m mad, but I will just sit right back down and take it, as long as I get my nightly TV program and I can blog about it. Because that’s what makes America great, that and being a bunch of fat, whiny, lazy, ignorant hypocrites.

And you know who we can blame for that?

No, it’s not the editors this time. It’s…

(Enough suspense for you? Ok, just one more…)

Alright, I lied, that’s more than one. But do you really want to know who we have to blame this state of affairs on? Who we should rage against, and write nasty letters to our Congress-people about, and start a hood-wearing society for the persecution and dehumanization of while blaming all our problems on?

Ourselves.

Oh…that’s disappointing, isn’t it? Got you all worked up, and now you realize that in order to change things, you’re going to have to change yourself, stop watching “Friends” re-runs, and cut back on the pork rinds. It’s not the Democrats, it’s not the Republicans, it’s not the liberals or conservatives (well, it is them, but let’s ignore that for now), it’s not the blacks or whites or Italians, nor the atheists, secular humanists, or the Christians, nor the vegetarians or meat-eaters, or New Agers, or capitalist pigs, or communist sympathizers. It’s you.

And doesn’t that just suck? Unless you’re a masochist, in which case it rules.

Man, this chapter is just all over the place. I don’t think we’ve even discussed talent or the search for it once in this whole chapter — except right here — though it seems we solved the problem a couple chapters ago when we decided I really did have talent, or managed to get it back if it had indeed gone missing (and am simply wasting it crazy right now). That seems remarkably early to have solved the central problem of the whole plot. A bit anti-climatic, too, so now we are stumbling around, trying to find some other loose thread to pick up and run with, to replace the primary motivation and driving impetus of this work. And coming up empty.

How do we repair such a problem in a novel or other work of fiction? Why don’t I simply continue from the cliffhanger ending of the story about the thief and sorcerer above? (Mainly because I’m lazy and don’t feel like it, plus it would slow me down.) The answer to these questions is pretty simple. Well, it is for an established novelist. For me, it’s like trying to perform brain surgery on my dog: so complex it might as well be impossible.

Unfortunately, the truth simply doesn’t help us at all, here. So, when in doubt, make some shit up. Most people aren’t paying attention anyways, as their brains have been dulled by decades of mindless television and the hype-media infotainment that passes as “news” in this country.

And for that, we have Mythic Game Master Emulator…ok, we don’t. I rolled on the Fate Table and found teasing the answer out requires too much thought, and as my brain has been dulled by years of mindless television watching and hype-media infotainment, I do not desire to do any thinking. I want it now, now, now! With little to no effort on my part.

Maybe really old technologically-advanced civilizations don’t blow themselves up; maybe they mentally numb themselves into extinction by allowing their technologies to turn them into will-less, physically and mentally lazy automatons with no drive or desire or spark? And maybe we are heading down the same path. And this time I don’t mean “just me” by “we”, I mean “all of us” “we”.

But such thoughts are frightening. I’d much rather download some porn off the internet.

Chapter 18.

Like a dying man thirsty for water in the desert, clawing his way across yellow-and-white sand dunes and burning rocks, his vision blurred and wavering, all shapes indistinct promises, a man who crawls as often as stumbles, tongue swollen thick and painful, choking, whose meager hope is drawn out with every rasping breath given up to the hot, dry air, where the blurred line between hope and desperation fuel the punishing drive forward, so it is we quest for more words to fill this hollow and empty input frame.

I’d look up another word for that second “blurred” there, but I’m being too lazy. Mainly because I am very tired right now, and feel like typing nonsense absurdities, like, “I like squares.” and just leave it at that. Even though I don’t, really. Like squares. I’m just -saying-.

Mainly, my problem is that when confronted with the problem we’re having right now coupled to the problem of being tired and uncreative, it is difficult to make shit up. Certainly, I don’t know if I can be clever enough to come up with a rule or witty suggestion that would serve as a remedy to the situation, a guideline, if you will, that would serve to guide (obviously) the future pattern and shape of this effort with inherent suggestions that, er, suggest themselves to…ah…someone…

Ok, crap, I’m tired. I don’t know what I’m saying. I just know that I need a few hundred more words, and these ones are no good. We have to find a way through this…a way to get to the other side, because this is the part of the novel where the hero and protagonist (that’s me) encounters his first major obstacle impeding the attainment of his goals, and feels it is insurmountable, often wallowing around trying to figure things out.

Usually, there’s like a kind of “guide” or “teacher” character who pops in about now and gives the hero the solution to his problem.

{Glances around.}

Ok, hello? I SAID, “Usually, there’s like a kind of ‘guide’ or ‘teacher’ character who pops in about now and gives the hero the solution to his problem.” Anybody? Hello?

Well, crap. It’s THAT kind of story, is it? The one where the hero is the teacher and discovers the solution to his problem inside himself. That kind of story sucks. Mainly because no man is an island, and because my self isn’t being very, particularly helpful right now, just kind of a dork.

So, I hope you have enjoyed this little jaunt through the “aimless wandering” portion of a novel. We will return you to your regularly scheduled novel tomorrow. Unless it is later, and I’ve written that part, and you just keep reading right now, in which case you will return to your regularly scheduled novel, well, right now, I suppose.

Unless you want a nice glass of milk or something. Go ahead, you deserve it. Maybe a cookie, too. Or pie.

Mmmm, pie.

Public Display of Shame IXX – XX

Chapter 19.

Some days it just doesn’t pay to be alive.

In fact, some days, it pays much better to be a zombie, with the mindless staring and shambling, shuffling, numb to the fork someone has stuck in your skull.

Think about it: those days at the office where you’re staring in bleak horror at the blank page that is supposed to be the quarterly report due tomorrow, and you haven’t gotten even half the data you need for it yet. As a zombie, instead of being distracted by depression and feelings of incompetence, you can just stare, slack-jawed at the screen and type numbers mindlessly until the report is done without feeling like a waste of a human being or fearing for your job if the best you can manage is a hunt-and-peck at ten words-per-minute.

After all, your manager would come in and ask, “Hey, John, how is that quarterly report coming?”

“Grrrrr,” you would say.

“That good?” he would say, and leave you alone, empathizing with your frustration.

Then your boss would call you into his office to talk about your lack of progress on the quarterly report, and you would shamble down the hall and stand rigid-yet-twitchy in front of his desk.

“John,” he’d say, trying to sound friendly, “We’re concerned about your work ethic lately,” and then he would talk about things you wouldn’t pay attention to because you’re a zombie.

“Ahhrrr,” you’d mumble incoherently.

“Oh, and that promotion you wanted? We gave it to Thompson, from accounting,” he’d finish.

“Grrrrr,” you’d say.

“He filed his quarterly reports a month ago,” the boss would add, in his defense.

“Braainss,” you’d say.

“Yes, Thompson is a smart guy…wait, what are you doing?” the boss would say, and you’d say, “Braainss…” Munch. Crunch. There would be screaming. And then you would shamble back to your cubicle.

“Hey, John, how’d the meeting go?” one of your co-workers would ask as you shambled by.

“Grrrrr,” you’d say.

This, in fact, is why zombies will one day rule the world.

I imagine being a zombie would be a lot like being stoned, except with a craving for brains instead of orange-colored, air-puffed snack foods (because we can’t say “Cheetos”, as Frito-Lay refused permission to associate their product with zombies and bad writing). Though it is possibly more like having a really bad hangover. I am uncertain, as I have no direct experience of these states, only second-hand reports.

Don’t do drugs, kids, and stay off the booze.

Of course, being a zombie wouldn’t be all good. I’d imagine trying to get head would be pretty difficult. There you and your sexy girlfriend would be, all snuggled up on the couch, zoning out in front of the idiot box, and she would get a sparkle in her eye, lean down and unzip your pants.

Seeing the back of her head, you’d moan, “Braainss…” breaking the mood, and try to scoop out her cranial cavity with your teeth, further destroying the atmosphere.

“AAAAHHHH!” she’d scream.

“Grrrr,” you’d say.

And then she’d lock herself in the bedroom and try to blow your head off with a shotgun.

Hrm. Other than the brains thing, actually pretty standard relationship troubles. I mean, who among us -hasn’t- been there?

Anyways, this is why zombies don’t have girlfriends, which is OK for ladder-climbing executive types, I’d think, not having a whole lot of time to devote to a meaningful relationship, being focused on killing and devouring the competition, and being overall completely and single-mindedly inhuman.

Chapter 20.

The thing about doors is that you have to be careful with them.

Doors need to be closed behind you, especially doors to the outside. While not closing a door inside a house can be a bad thing, if you forget to close an outside door, demons can slip into your house and possess one of your cats. This is an incredibly serious matter, as demon-possessed cats are not good…and I mean not just literally and obviously, as in “the opposite of good” i.e. “evil”, but “bad” in more than just temperament and moral character.

Ok, I know some of you are asking, what’s the difference between a demon-possessed cat and a normal cat? Hah!

While you who ask such a question are obviously witty and clever, you equally obviously have never taken care of a cat…or you have taken care of a cat and are thus eminently qualified to ask that question with full irony engaged.

But unless you wish to understand the difference first hand, make sure you always close your door when you are leaving your house. Don’t accidentally leave it open a crack, then walk away — not even for just a minute or two — because that’s how the demons slip in and get into your cats. This is true, and it is scary.

You will come back into the house and find your newly possessed cat staring at you, and you will know what happened. Yet, you will be completely powerless to do anything about it, because who is going to believe you? Then you will be forced to feed, pet, and serve the cat-demon, who will hold absolutely no regard whatsoever for you or your schedules, need for sleep, or desire not to smell like cat-piss. They will also drink your milk.

You should also be aware that this rule about doors applies to both the inner “storm” door and the screen door. Even if you close the screen door, if you accidentally leave the storm door open a little bit, the demons can get in. This is because screen doors are only made to keep out most weather and small flying insects, not demons. Demon-repelling requires a proper door. As does keeping out Jehovahs.

Interestingly and paradoxically, opening the storm door all the way while shutting the screen door will also keep demons from getting in, except at night. No one is quite certain why this is, but demons can only get in through partially open doors during the day and evening hours. It may be a case of Horror Movie Rules affecting reality, as they sometimes do. The demons have free reign at night, so make certain to completely close all doors at night.

Regardless of the threat of demons entering your abode, not shutting the outside door may also allow your cats to get outside. This is not a bad thing if the cat is demon-possessed, as you can then shut the door and call Animal Control to pick up the “stray” in the neighborhood, but it becomes problematic in other scenarios, such as when you love your cat, or when it is in heat and spends a tawdry night with roaming man-cats becoming impregnated. (Note that closed doors will not keep teenage girls inside; other methods for keeping them from becoming impregnated by roaming teenage boys are advised.)

So where do demon-possessed cats come from?

Back in the old days, meaning before your grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather was alive, and way before the 1960’s (which is what most people mean when they say “the old days”, and are quite wrong about it), demon possession of felines wasn’t a problem.

In fact, in those days, cats were worshiped as the incarnations of gods, and they didn’t shit on your bed or piss in your clothes hamper or keep you up all night trying to sing showtunes off-key. But then the whole “Egyptian” fad — with all its desert pyramids, animal-headed gods, and almighty pharaohs — fell out of favor and the world moved on to the next big cultural fad, and with that change, cats went from revered divine incarnations to mangy scavengers only kept by crazy old Jewish ladies who never married. Oh, and Italians. They mainly ate them in China, as the Chinese will eat anything.

Some of you may even be offended by my use of blatant and unflattering racial and ethnic slurs for effect, but I ask you…”waterbuffalo testicles” (need I say more?), “sea cucumber” (tubed feet and tiny tentacles around it’s mouth…clearly the spawn of Cthulhu), “bird’s nests” (made of spit and dirt!)…does any of that sound like something you would eat or even put anywhere near your mouth? (well, maybe the testicles for some of you, but…) Plus, do not worry! I will get around to everyone sooner or later.

Regardless, the hey-day of the cat was over, as was the divine protection afforded to them by the Egyptian craze. With dwindling power due a lack of worshipers, the Egyptian powers simply did not have the strength to keep protecting cats, and instead turned their last resources to the establishment of fast food chains to maintain their waning might.

Thus, cast out and forgotten, during the middle ages cats began to turn up possessed. It was a mysterious and frightening phenomena that spread through the population of European cats like a contagion, and would have been all over the news if everyone in Europe hadn’t been an illiterate hick at the time and thus incapable of reading the newspaper (a Roman invention sadly underrated and both highly unprofitable and unpopular until the Germans figured out how to read during the 1600s). Still, the Church got the word out.

The contagion surprisingly never hit the orient, or if it did, it was never noticed and the demonic possession just added a little extra spice to the noon-day meal. As I said, the Chinese will eat anything.

The Church involved itself as it is thought the influence of demon-possessed cats is where the idea of editors first came from, and that men sold their souls to the dark forces of literature through contracts offered to them by evil felines in return for dark and unholy power over other men and women.

The astute reader will note this is also where the medieval myth of cats serving as witches’ familiars arises, and explains the main reason writers have many cats: the cats are simply the familiars of their editors, keeping an eye on the writer for the editor, serving as his supernatural eyes and ears and occasional unholy torture device.

So you can understand why the medieval Church attempted to wipe out cats, going so far as to offer bounties for them: it was all a part of their on-going religious war with editors for the souls of humanity.

Of course, editors will say they are merely a peaceful, misunderstood religion with roots in the beliefs and rituals of pre-Christian eras. This is, obviously, a load. Most of the editors who claim this are just editing because they wrongly think it will help them get chicks.

Also, would it surprise you to know that newspapers — the natural habitat of editors — really took off right after the Salem Witch Trials?

Clearly just another move in the centuries-long war!

Though the editors have all but won the war, and the modern Church is an anachronism, feeble and diapered, we do have the Chinese to thank for slowing the oppressive tide of the Liturgists, all thanks to their disturbing culinary habits.

Actually, they are an effective weapon in any war because they will eat anything as long as you tell them it has magical powers, especially if you claim it will boost longevity or virility (particularly if it guarantees male children).

There is even an old Chinese folktale poking fun at this cultural propensity for putting anything and everything in their mouths, similar to the story of “Jack and the Beanstalk”. It is little known by even studied scholars, so I will repeat it for you here in short form (the long form is an epic story that spans about fourteen separate volumes and makes very little internal sense).

Basically, just as in “Jack and the Beanstalk”, a poor young farm boy and his mother learn of a plot by the evil Empire to destroy the Rebel Alliance once and for all and that he is a Jedi Knight with magical pow…no, wait, that’s “Star Wars”. Let me start over…

Basically, just as in “Jack and the Beanstalk”, a poor young farm boy and his mother have no food and only one cow to their name, so the mother tells the boy to take the cow to the market in the nearby village and sell it for food. On the way to the village, a stranger in red offers the boy a handful of magical glass shards for the cow. Proving that English kids aren’t the only stupid kids on the planet, the boy accepts this deal and rushes home with the magical glass shards. The tale diverts here from the European variations, but eventually, after defeating the evil Empire, learning to use the Force, and learning the truth about his father, the boy makes his way back mother with the glass shards, which they then cook and eat. In the morning, they die from internal hemorrhaging.

Some have called this ending “tragically poetic” and “full of wonder and sadness”, they are idiots. But what do you expect from anime freaks?

Honestly, the story doesn’t make much sense to me. I mean, the Chinese eat anything, right? Ok…well, they had -a cow-. Couldn’t they eat the cow? Like, I’m sure “cow’s hooves” is a delicacy of some sort and probably makes your penis grow to incredible sizes or gives you superior or something. So why didn’t they just eat the cow? That’s like, “Hey, look, meat for a month!” I refuse to believe the Chinese did not think of eating cows when they poked their heads into some caves and thought, “Look, bird’s nests. I wonder what those taste like?” It is simply inconceivable. The parts in the story about the ‘Death Star’ are pretty cool, though.

What? You think George Lucas made that shit up all by himself?

Give me a break, we all know he borrowed from mythology and fable to ‘create’ the Star Wars universe, you just didn’t know how much.

Of course, not all the films Lucas made by pillaging ancient Chinese myths and Japanese samurai films were successes, as we need only look to “Howard the Duck” for confirmation of how badly a beautiful and touching tale of a hengeyokai and forbidden love can be mistreated, until its themes and nature painfully bear almost no resemblance as the Japanese folk tale of the same name. Plus, look at the prequel trilogy. How can you make something that bad after making something that good? I’ll tell you why: because he stole the story of the original trilogy and made THAT shit up.

‘Midichlorians’ my ass; you won’t find that in the original Chinese.

Ahem.

Despite Lucas’ failures to regularly, effectively adapt the beauty and strength of the original material he borrows from, we should not forget the real lesson here: how Chinese gastro-intestinal fortitude saved the world from being conquered by editors. And also that it doesn’t matter how weird the shit is you eat, you can’t eat glass.

Public Display of Shame XXI

Chapter 21.

Woo. Some of those prior chapters need serious editing. SERIOUS editing, and I don’t mean something verbally clever like “editing to make them more serious”, but “editing to make them sound like real sentences, because there’s some really rough spots in there that make your eyes bleed”. Well, that’s what you get when you’re writing drafts and shooting for word counts.

But that’s the way writing works, and especially the way NaNoWriMo works. You write to get it down on paper, and tweak it later. It’s like doing a rough sketch before painting, getting the big details in and working out the overall composition, then tweaking the details. Most people don’t get to see an artist’s roughs, so they believe paintings spring full-grown from the artist’s head or hand like Athena from Zeus.

But you, lucky reader, are getting the amazing chance to read the unblemished-by-editing rough, first draft of this work. Unless, of course, you’re reading the published, edited version, in which case we feel very sorry for your loss. You should gnash your teeth in rage because it would be so…Biblical. Really, though, have you ever known anyone who “gnashed their teeth” or “tore their clothes” in rage? Ok, -other- than the Incredible Hulk (and that was really more a problem of sudden growth than a deliberate action)?

What you don’t know is that the Incredible Hulk is actually a heavily disguised tale about Catholic priests exploring vast, incomprehensible, and often dangerous multidimensional realms. When you know the truth, you can strip away the fluff, put the names and events together, and see the heart of the truth revealed via the public stories. It was a story that just couldn’t be told straight-up without endangering the lives and souls of those involved in both the actual war and the lives of those blowing the top off the cover-up — so they set the whole thing in present-day, modern America with a giant, green-skinned man.

I mean, it’s like the Hindus with Superman…but I’m getting off-track, here. I know that everyone thinks military black ops are where the action is, and the government is oh-so-powerful and clever. But let me set you straight: the government is a bunch of incompetent, bumbling goons; if you want to get into the good stuff, the Catholic church is where it is at.

Yes, I know the Catholic church might be a crumbling and hollow shell of its former power as well as an outdated anachronism…but that’s only in THIS dimension. You see, the Catholic church is actually a multidimensional institution with satellite agencies operating in a number of otherworldly realms, where they’ve concentrated most of their power after losing their war with the Liturgists here.

Let’s be serious for a moment, you don’t think a person needs eight years of seminary in order to tell a bunch of gullible hicks they should believe in Jeebus, do you? (If you do, you’re one of the gullible hicks!) We’re talking high-impact physical and spiritual training, interdisciplinary theological studies, and advanced multidimensional mathematics and theory, plus some Hebrew…because the Jews were doing this shit CENTURIES before the Christians, without access to modern technologies, and they’ve left important markers and records all over the known (and unknown) universes. GO TEAM YAHWEH! (Sorry, that’s just something the Jews do.)

Actually, the whole Exodus from ‘Egypt’? Another cover-up. The Jewish people are really, originally from another dimension, and spent a few centuries wandering the multidimensional realms until they settled here in the Middle East. But you knew that, because who wanders in a desert barely an eighth of the size of the American Southwest for forty years? Stupid people who can’t read a map, that’s who — like men who refuse to stop and ask for directions — and the Jews aren’t stupid, and they invented asking for directions (TRUE!) plus all the local gossip.

Oh, and the ‘Egypt’ thing? Remember the movie “Stargate”, and the spin-off series? Yeah, there you go. Seeds of truth. Hot, gay, body-stealing bishounen who are Not-Of-This-Earth, with great fashion sense and a penchant for ancient Egyptian art-deco, are trying to enslave the human race. At least some of that is true.

It’s all there in the history books and modern cinema if you know where to look and can put the pieces together.

Ok, so, you’re probably wondering about all those other churches? A number of wash-outs from the Catholic program have gone on to found rogue splinter sects, like the Lutherans and Baptists, with varying degrees of effectiveness, training, and survival rates for other-world teams. Honestly, the Baptists and any of those charismatic, revivalist churches are the worst: they hand you a gun and a cross, ask if you believe in the Almighty Jeebus, and then shove you into interdimensional combat-situations you’re totally unprepared to comprehend, let alone fight!

(And you wondered why so many nutjobs were religious? They’re suffering serious post-traumatic stress disorder! They need your love, plus professional counseling and drugs…lots and lots of drugs.)

Another thing you should realize is that these other churches often operate as mercenary groups, selling out to the highest bidder in exchange for access to advanced theology and multi-dimensional access codes not otherwise available to them. In fact, the Catholics often hire them to serve as flesh-and-blood meat-shields for the Church’s own operatives.

Crazy, isn’t it? You’re telling me. Actually, yes, you are, because you didn’t hear any of this from me. This stuff is locked up in the deepest vaults at the Vatican, along with stuff like who Jesus’ real father was, the finally recovered treasure of the Knights Templar (who went rogue, but just recently rejoined the Mother Church…which you probably heard about, covertly, in the news), next week’s winning lotto numbers, and the still-living and quite talkative (bossy) head of Emperor Constantine.

The Church is out there fighting weird, alien horrors from another dimension and exploring territories never seen by any other man, living or dead, so it’s a bit of a secret. And because it is so securely locked up and secretive, I’m not supposed to know about it, so I don’t. And you didn’t hear it from me. In fact, I am lying about all of the above. Completely jerking your chain: the Church is just a bunch of sad, wrinkled men in nightgowns who spent eight years at school wishing they could even just…you know, “jerk their own chains” if you catch my drift.

(However, I would be willing to provide a resume and full references should there be an opening on any of the other-world teams, should anyone from the Church comes looking. Ahem. I mean, Amen.)

Public Display of Shame XXI – XXII

One other thing you might not know is that back in the medieval days, people would catch demons for fun and profit. Demons are actually the not-quite-so-human inhabitants of other dimensional realms. They used to be called ‘dimmies’ or ‘d-men’ in Church scholar slang, and the name stuck. Blame the Jesuits. This is obviously where we get our word ‘demon’ from originally: dumb hick peasants overhearing things they didn’t really know anything about; pretty much the same thing that happens all the time.

Demons, of course, were much more common during the Dark Ages, as evidenced by the myth and lore surviving from that period. No one is certain why that is, but thanks to the efforts of the Church they are much less common today. Some people, however, utterly unwilling to give the Church a break in any way, shape, or form, blame the Church itself for the medieval upswell in demonic crossings into our world. These claims are often backed by shaky circumstantial evidence, absurdly complicated flowcharts, and a general dislike for old men wearing pointy, white hats.

This latter problem is why the Colonel, of KFC fame, never wore a hat, as he did not wish to become speciously known and thus hated on the internet as the leader of a chicken-worshiping religious cult like ‘Kentuckianism’ just for wearing a frickin’ hat. Yes, even before the internet existed. The Colonel, you see, was prophetic…actually, it was just all those chicken entrails lying around: they are one of the simplest divinatory tools widely available to modern man, and when you kill that many chickens, you just end up knowing things whether you want to or not.

But to return to the subject at hand: demons are hostile to human life for the simple reason that, being other-dimensional beings, they see us as either a) food, b) incubators for their young, c) sex toys or d) all of the above, because they think and exist in alien, non-terrestrial ways. This is also the classification scale for demonic entities. Type A demons want to eat you. Type B demons want to impregnate you, and not always in good ways. Type C demons just want to have sex with you (there is a raging debate over whether or not eldritch horrors are Type C demons). Type D demons want to eat you, impregnate you, and have sex with you, but not necessarily in that order.

For obvious reasons, everyone wants a Type C demon, which were also considered the prize catches of early medieval demon-catchers, until the Church swayed public opinion and made consorting with demons a sin (good-bye succubi orgy parties!). Many so-called witches were just men and women who had captured a whole lot of Type C demons.

Demon-cataching was almost like butterfly collecting, or maybe more like “Pokemon”. Some people even set up underground ‘fight clubs’ to make their demons battle one another. Often, travelers could hear the words, “I choose use, Suck-a-chu!” ringing throughout the medieval hillsides. And out would spring a thong-wearing succubi ready to use her suck-attack on the nearest unfortunate (or damn lucky, depending on your perspective) male. In fact, bandits often employed demons they had captured to distract and subdue potential targets; the tale of “Robin Hood” is one such example that survives to this day.

As a point of confusion that we haven’t been entirely clear on ourselves, some say editors were some of the first other dimensional beings to cross over into our world, in which case the question arises: are editors other dimensional beings that have established themselves in our world for nefarious purposes? Or are they simply one more religion in a long line of powerful and fractious fanatic cults built around a combination of desire for purpose in a chaotic universe and authoritarian personalities?

We have no clue. They could be eldritch horrors, adding to the existing debate over proper demonic classifications.

Other species of demon besides the sexy succubi are the hot incubi, and of course anyone who likes American “country music”. Actually, that last one isn’t so much a species as it is a demonic plague the Church has had little luck in containing the spread of. They are desperately working on a cure, and we all wish them the best of luck and pray they are successful before the entire populace becomes gruesomely infected.

Unfortunately, capturing a sample of the demonic plague (obviously a Type B demon) for study before it mutates inside the human body has proven thus far impossible, making the creation of a cure extremely difficult. The Church is currently seeking the original source of the infection in other dimensional worlds: it is said they seek a dark and dusty realm that has no dogs and where everyone is a divorced alcoholic, plagued by truck-driving redneck prairie dogs and easy, redheaded whores with loose morals and low IQs.

It’s probably like a common cold, there.

Of course, catching demons is risky and difficult no matter what type or manifestation they come in. As a well-known example from the middle ages, one type of demon would wait for its victim to fall asleep, then sit on their chest, physically paralyzing the victim and stopping their breathing. Trying to catch these things in the act was futile, as they were so fast, the minute you could see them they were gone. Medieval scholars had to hire brilliant, autistic speed-sketch artists to capture them on paper, rather like a modern camera, because they were just too fast for everyone else to even see.

However, the Church hasn’t been hunting demons for centuries without figuring out a few tricks, like this one borrowed from clever demon-hunting peasants before the Prohibition laws were passed to convince the gullible majority that consorting with demons was a dangerous sin: demons never check under the beds, as they are afraid of monsters, making the underside of beds the ideal staging ground for any anti-incursion or research team.

If this chapter had a title, it would be “Colonel Chicken Church-man, I choose you! And your dog dies. NOOO!” said in a creepy sinister voice. Which gives me an idea: to do this as a crazy, old-time radio style podcast. Because that would be crazy, and I’m all about crazy, as we all know I have so much time in my life to do a podcast.

Chapter 22.

Ok. If I write another thousand words, I’ll be good. Bet you’re tired of hearing about wordcounts…me too. Of course, since I am sadly the only one reading this, I can reliably answer that question. And it really is too bad, there are some great bits in here about editors, the Church, Chinese food, and zombies — at least I think they’re great. Some of it is junk, but that’s the way these things work. It’s ok, November is almost over.

So, instead, I’ll write something, a tiny piece from an otherwise unpublished work:

I wanted to sleep in the earth for a thousand years, go away and dream, or not dream, and just not be for a long time. For a while, I felt the seasons passing overhead, the earth slowly creeping up, building layer upon layer above. Dust and detritus becoming loam, soil, earth. Burying me deeper.

It was too much to deal with, all I had done, all I was, all I wanted and did not want. He was dead, my Master, by my hand — even if it had not held the knife, surely it was responsible. He had danced into the sunlight, and they both had been consumed in the sudden fury of his passing, a straining soul released from darkness.

The man who had given me everything I thought I had ever wanted, and to whom, in the end, I gave everything he found he truly wanted. I only hope her soul was as comforted by the sacrifice.

I summoned up the last of the black sorceries I commanded and scoured that place and its hoards of treasure and black knowledge from the world. Then, tired…exhausted, whatever might have remained of my soul too empty to continue, I buried myself in the earth, beneath the autumn boughs of the forest to sleep, perhaps to dream, perhaps to be reborn from eternity in unknown ages when the deep abyssal pits that were the stains upon me had finally leeched away.

But the soul can not be cleansed by time alone.

I’m so tired, and I just want to go home. But I have to stay here and work for a little while longer. (That’s me again, not the story…yet entirely fitting.)

Public Display of Shame XXIII – XXIV

Chapter 23.

When you go to the doctor because you’re not feeling well, they take samples of your blood and cultures of your infections, supposedly to help determine what is making you sick and figure out how to make you well. But what you don’t know is that once they have your infections, they have everything they want.

Hospitals are collection areas for a mass germ-breeding experiment funded by the shadowy go-to group for secret control of world governments, institutions, and breakfast cereals: the Illuminati. Or maybe it isn’t. The Illuminati is so shadowy and secretive, that you never know if the Illuminati is really behind something or not, or even if they really exist, or are the imaginary scapegoat of an even more secret group!

Some people claim language evolved over time from random elements of other languages and patterns of linguistic drift. This is nonsense. Language was created and designed, which I will now prove to you with the following example.

The phrase “Wakey-wakey, time for eggs and bakey,” does not translate into other languages with its clever rhyme intact. This is clearly proof that language is a randomly evolved thing, crafted in the shifting fires of culture and society, not a created artifact, as the Linguists would have you believe with their arguments about the perfect symmetry of the noun-verb relationship and the complexity and beauty of language.

But unknown to many, it is also the secret phrase that will awakening slumbering Cthulhu from his death-dreams in the sunken vaults of R’yleh, and can be spoken correctly only in modern English. Clearly, such an event could not be the result of random evolution, but deliberate and willful design of language by a divinity or maybe aliens or perhaps a flying monster made out of some sort of pasta and tomato-based sauce.

Regardless, we can explain away the supposed randomness with this one simple fact that clearly shows the hand of the elder things in all things linguistic, finally answering, perhaps, the question of whether or not editors are demons, simple pawns of demons, or merely highly deluded cat owners (due excessive exposure to ammonia fumes, as the Egyptians did not have or use cat litter, putting off the rise of editors and Liturgy for a few thousand years).

Of course, this does not answer the question of whether or not elder things are also demons.

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they are asked that dreaded question they are simply unprepared and unready — hesitant — to answer, when their tiny child looks up at them with the big, soulful, glittering eyes of an innocent and asks, “Mommy, where do zombies come from?”

We all go through this, and what do we tell them? There’s so much to know, and how do you know what to tell them when? Are they old enough to understand this information or that information, and what information is the right information to give them? Is the government even telling us everything we need to know to properly educate our children, or are they hiding something from us about the root causes and sources of the supposed infection?

Hopefully, we do not growl in tired annoyance and say, “They come from your father. Go ask him.” Because that would mean we are most likely married to a mad scientist, and you know how things like that tend to go.

Sometimes a soft touch is required, sometimes a stern application of force. But how can we rely on people to make those sorts of decisions? Won’t they get them wrong, make the wrong choices in the wrong situations? Yes, but we have to. People is all we’ve got.

This is how the world will end: there will be chaos in the streets, because some insect-like elder thing, similar to a worm or centipede, will begin to grow and devour the world and its dimensions. It crept in through my dreams, you see, and writing it now makes it real. That’s how elder things work.

I shouldn’t write this, then, but I feel I have to warn you, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom.

There will be chaos. The thing will chase us from street to street and house to house, preceded by minor elder things under its command, like moths and butterflies who exist in multiple dimensions. They will flit to and fro, and report our movements to the crawling worm-thing as we try to escape and try to find something to trap it or destroy it.

We will know that we will require water, earth, and a cup, though the tragedy is that we will not know what to do with these three things. We will collect these things and try to put them together, but the rampaging worm-thing will find us.

We will have only a moment to decide whether or not to finish trying to combine them in some way, and be devoured if we are wrong, or flee as the thing grows too powerful for us to manage. The worm will hesitate as we place them together, but we will flee, to live another few moments at least, frightened and uncertain of what it is we should be doing, and it will follow.

We will run down a long road to a cliff – a promontory with a circular bulge at the end — and the world will crack as we do so. The familiar spilling out of this dimension, the alien spilling in. The trees will tower and blacken and twist, and become barren all in one moment, where they were green and comforting before, and the world will become dark and unwelcome. Leaves that are pale things with no analogues will rain down like the soft fall of wretched snow, and we will not want it to touch us as we run through the dark forest towards what we hope is salvation.

At the end, at the edge, with the worm crawling and slithering behind, we will drop the cup full of earth and water, full of flowers, at the edge of the circle, and we will send ourselves into another dimension to safety. The flowers that grew in the cup seal away our world and block the passage after us, block the worm-thing from following. This was the secret thing we could have used to stop the worm, but were too frightened of immediate death to do.

But flowers need tending and good weather, or they die, and there will be none to take care of them nor a world with light and rain and warmth to make them spread. The worm, now too powerful to be destroyed by the elements that would have put it to rest and sent it away, will wait some years and centuries until the small cup of flowers on the edge of the circle — blocking the way between the worlds — perish and it may cross into the circle, into a new world from the one that bore us it has devoured, and after us.

That is how the world ends. And this is how this chapter ends.

What kind of crazy chapter was this? I don’t know. But in one final NaNo effort to muddy the waters further, everything good in the preceding chapters is copyright and I’ll sue you over it, everything that stinks is released under a Creative Commons and you’re free to it. And the dividing line is not subjective.

Hahahahahah…

Chapter 10.

Yep, that’s it, I’m done for the year. A few tens-of-thousands shy of fifty, so I lied when I said this book would end at fifty-thousand words. Of course, I would have never known how to accurately measure that exact mark, so it is probably better this way.

I’d like to thank you for reading, but we all know no one did. At least I got my talent back.



Copyright (c)2007 Raven Daegmorgan
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4 comments

  1. Comment by Ernesto Preatoni on November 24, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Hey how are you doing? I just wanted to stop by and say that it’s been a pleasure reading your blog. I have bookmarked your website so that I can come back & read more in the future as well. plz do keep up the quality writing

  2. Comment by Issac Maez on December 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Keep working ,terrific job!

  3. Comment by Elanor Zeimantz on March 26, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I have been reading out a few of your stories and it’s pretty clever stuff. I will definitely bookmark your site.

  4. Comment by Harmony Krusen on November 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Thanks for one more excellent post. Keep rocking.

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