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October 31, 2007

Limb Enigma Disorder. An Introduction.

Limb-Reanimation Dysphoria, also known as Limb Enigma Disorder or LED
is a recently described condition ailing those patients whose limbs
have needed extensive reanimation techniques.
It is obvious that limb-reanimation--usually due to heart failure to
the limb--is a specially traumatic medical intervention, particularly
for those patients who, except for their limbs, remain conscious
during the affair. The majority of patients experience some sadness,
heaviness and lack of joie de vivre in their limbs for a few days, but
in a small percentage of cases, this condition becomes persistent and
merits the diagnosis of LED.

October 30, 2007

The Ghost Key

A leaden skeleton key lay locked in his head. Arthur could feel its heft when he shifted in his acceleration couch. He traced the lumps of his skull like a phrenologist divining the contents--lumps received by attempting to retrieve the key the hard way.

The key to unlock his head was locked in his head, so Arthur was baffled how he might retrieve it. Even if he did, it remained to be seen whether it would fit all the locks that needed opening: his Babbage Engine of Analysis, an empty chest of drawers (he’d been living out of his space suit for weeks as though the ship might spring a leak any second--his fishbowl helmet was flecked with toothpaste), and a medicine cabinet stocked with the essential toiletries.

The color of the key he could not see, it being on the inside, his eyes on the out. But he felt it. The once machined-smoothed edges had corroded down to brittle sharps that broke apart and cut if he stood too quickly from his acceleration couch to stare out the bay projection window into the starry night--the stars aswirl in golden flames. The impression of the grooves--that the key slipped into--still hung in the convoluted knots of his gray matter, like that image of a child that remains after he’s fallen backwards into a snowbank, flailing his arms.

Arthur had fallen back into the acceleration couch, just smelling the rusty tang of impossibility. The key’s teeth must have bitten into his olfactory. A drop of blood leaked from his nose. He held the bridge of his nose between thumb and index finger, recovering. A bridge. That’s what he needed--the kind Einstein and Rosen might construct.

But he needed the right equations to plug into. The equations lay in his engine of analysis. The key opened his engine. His fingers drummed the couch’s leather armrest. He tapped something hard.

A keypad! If he could visualize the equations and escape coordinates, freedom might once again be his. His fingers tapped the keys, then again--harder. He pounded them with his fist.

They didn’t respond. They were frozen.

The ship was losing heat rapidly, becoming a cryogenic freezer. Or a coffin. Depending on whether rescuers spotted his ship in the vast expanse of space. He’d wait quietly. Not hope. Hope disappointed. Instead, he’d drift: down passageways, haunting them as if still alive.

October 29, 2007

The Ham Sandwich of Destiny

The day the evil shaman came to the café, Matt could feel her before she walked in the door. The coffee beans were nervous. Being a good shaman himself he began to place protections on the counter—but then she was there, and there was nothing to be done—she was after his soul. Already she was clouding his senses. There was no time. There was no thought. He spotted a croque Monsieur on the order counter. In one breath he sent his soul into the layers of ham and cheese. He could grab it in a moment. She would never suspect.

He turned to face her. They dueled silently. Perhaps no one suspected, not even the Socialist reading the Wall Street Journal.

"Can I help you?" He asked, while searching the Over-Soul for her name.

"Double decaf nonfat latte, please," she replied (definitely an evil shaman). It's too late for you to seek my name, you fool!

"For here or to go?" I will never let you have my soul! Who orders decaf espresso?

"For here, I think," she said, smiling. Me! I’m evil! And you are too weak—I will find it and feed upon it!

"Great. That'll be up in just a minute at the counter over there." NEVER!

But suddenly he felt teeth sinking into him. He whirled around, her change still in his hand, and saw a girl sitting by the creamer counter. He was too late! She had taken the first bite of the sandwich that held his soul. He stared at her until she looked up, and then found himself swimming in the Over-Soul of her eyes.

"Never mind, I'll get it to go,” said the shaman behind him. He didn't want to stop looking at the girl, but he dragged himself around to face his nemesis. Foiled, but not for long, said her eyes.

"Change the decaf latte to go!" He called to the barista, who called back, "On it!"

He handed her her change, putting a small curse on the dime as he did so.

"Thanks," she said.

Matt walked out from behind the counter and sat down across from the girl with the sandwich. At the door, the shaman laughed.

October 26, 2007

Poker Face

So there I am, holding four to a flush and confident as hell. The werewolf on my left has the best tell in the world; his tail droops when he's got nothing. The vampire across from me has a mirror behind and to one side of him so I can see every hand. And the mummy on my right is too stupid to live; barely intelligent enough to unlive, if you ask me.

I bet twenty guldens, Dogboy folds, the Count matches my bet then throws in a blood-red jewel, and the mummy slowly topples forward into its plate of nachos. "I take it you're folding," I say, and push all my winnings into the pot. To the Count: "I'll see your Heart of Mongombo." Then I pull the deed out of my inner pocket. "And raise you Castle von Frankenstein." I unfold the document and set it reverently in the center of the table.

The inn goes quiet. The squeak of the golem's rag on already clean glasses stops, and a succubus clutches my right shoulder. They know.

They know there's only one thing the Count has that's worth anything to me. His gaze finds mine, and I know he's trying to exert his vampiric influence, to find out what I've got or to force me to fold. Nothing doing; I'm beyond his power.

Then, slowly, he extends a hand toward a shadowed corner without removing his attention from me. A woman glides across the room and enters the circle of his arm. Leaning on him, she too looks across at me in mute challenge. Her all too solid reflection blocks my view of the Count's cards.

Good, I think. He's not made her entirely his.

I deal him two cards, and take one for my own hand. I barely glance at them before placing them face down on the table.

He studies the pasteboards. "Pass," he says.

I have nothing more to bet. He could have had the pot for a gulden, but I know his pride.

He puts the cards down. "Full house," says his ensorcelled 'wife'. "Aces over eights." She reaches for the pot.

"Royal flush," I say, tipping the cards over.

The werewolf snorts, and everyone in the inn - those that breathe, anyway - exhales at once. I stand, and take my wife's still-outstretched hand. I pull her to me, pick up the deed to my castle, and shamble to the door.

I fear no retribution. Fear was mislaid when I was made.

October 25, 2007

Petri-Dish Pink

They ordered their girls pink and their boys blue. Purple and green were also available, but the elderly parents who bought artificial children preferred conservative colors. Human skin tones were illegal, obviously. It would have been distressing to have artificial children grow up to infiltrate Human society.

When Mary was eleven, she caught site of another pink head spying her from the neighbour's house. That night, Mary crept out of bed and threw stones at the other girl's window until she came down.

"What's your name?"

"Mary, yours?"


The girls laughed.

"I'm bored, Mary," said Mary.

"Do you want to swap?," replied Mary.

They switched pyjamas and swapped houses. Mary loved her new room.

In the morning, her new mother came to kiss her good morning. Her mother didn't notice the change.


They wanted their girls pretty and their boys smart but sending them to school was out of the question. The younger adults weren't prepared to support the artificial baby-boom so the Mary and Peter models stayed at home and played on the computer.


Mary enjoyed being a different Mary for a while, but staying at home all the time wasn't much fun. It was just as boring to be Next Door Mary as it had been to be the previous Mary.
This time, she wouldn't stay in the same neighbourhood. She searched the Internet for other Marys in her city, but they all seemed to lead the same boring lives.
Then, she found out about China. Her parents were concerned about China, they said, because artificial children where put to work there. They also said that Chinese people called their Marys Yings. Mary had never worked and she had never been called Ying. It sounded fun, so she got on the computer.

"Who wants to swap?" she asked the Chinese Yings.

October 24, 2007

Jakob Black-Thumb

A demon of pestilence and a demon of fear emerged from the rough road through the forest into the sleeping village. The demon of pestilence was called Jakob Black-Thumb, and the demon of fear preferred not to have a name.

"Why do you always go first?" rumbled Jakob. "Your thing isn't even real."

The demon of fear turned a cold glare on Jakob, and Jakob felt a familiar chill trickle down from the base of his horns to the tips of his talons.

"Well, I'm ... I'm going over here now," said Jakob, and he headed for a large house fronted with neat flowerboxes full of pink and blue pansies. He began looking for a rat to infect. Minutes later, he was interrupted by a scream.

Near where the fear demon lurked in the shadow of a doorway, a fire had broken out, and two men were struggling in the street, scrabbling for each other's throats. That demon of fear was a fast worker.

The screamer was a young man, or a nearly-grown boy, and he was running through the hard-packed dust of the village street, straight toward the demon of fear. The boy had one of those monocles in his eye, the ones men made sometimes by imprisoning an executed murderer's fleeing soul, and through this he apparently could see the demon of fear. What made no sense was why he was running toward it instead of away from it.

The demon of fear drew itself up and roared, its mouth distending into a slobbering, iron-toothed muzzle, its skin rippling with flames and unidentifiable, writhing masses. Jakob flinched involuntarily, and the boy screamed again, but he flung himself at the demon of fear and ... hugged it.

Jakob would have liked to think it was a tackle or some kind of wrestling, but the boy wasn't squeezing the demon hard, and he wasn't trying to force it down: he simply wrapped his arms around it and hugged. Jakob's gorge rose.

The demon of fear, defenseless against the hug, howled desperately as it broke into pieces, falling to the ground like chunks of a burned, rotten tree.

The boy wasn't screaming any more: now he was breathing hard and gritting his teeth. His chest and arms were badly burned, but he still had the monocle and he had a fervent gleam in his eye. The men in the road stopped fighting. The boy smiled at Jakob.

Jakob ran.

October 23, 2007


Darrell stumbled to the kitchen, desperately hoping there was coffee. There wasn't. In desolation he put some water in a coffee cup and raised it to his lips. He downed three swallows of aromatic nectar of the bean before he remembered he'd expected water. He set the cup down with shaking hands. He sniffed. Yes, this was that ambrosia Prometheus had given to man.

The special: grits, eggs, and bacon (or sausage). A dollar less than eggs and bacon alone. So even though he didn't eat grits, it was worth it. Today he asked for water instead of coffee.

"You flyin' this morning?" Rashika said, "why else you don't want coffee?"

"An experiment," he replied. When she turned away he took a sip. He gulped the rest so she wouldn't see the coffee. It was the perfect temperature.

"How was the experiment?"

"I'm makin' it."

Coke turned. Also, orange juice, milk, and vinegar, but not liquid paper. A shadow fell across him.

"Bored, Stevens? I can't think of a better reason for drinking liquid paper. And if you ARE bored," his boss continued, "I can find something for you."

Darrell hastily screwed the lid back on.

"Back to work and quit fooling around."

"Yes sir."

By the time the apartment door closed behind him that night, Darrell had drunk so much converted coffee his hands were shaking. He wanted water, but it seemed that wasn't going to happen. He started to examine the horse's teeth in earnest and came up with some hair-raising questions.

Just what would happen if he cut himself and absentmindedly sucked on it? If he watered the bushes and drank from the hose would the entire municipal water supply go mocha? What if he got seawater in his mouth at the beach? Was kissing too close to drinking? How long could he live without water?

He could drink broth, it turned out, if he did it with a spoon, so he didn't have to resort to intravenous fluids. The problem of kissing was only theoretical until he met Sara. Standing in line at the juice bar she struck up a conversation with him. One thing led to another. On the third date she grabbed him by the ears and took the kissing question out of his hands. She lived. She settled the ocean question by dunking him. Finally, he stopped at a drinking fountain and took the plunge. He had to know.

October 22, 2007

One Man's Heaven


You oughta drop in. It's all chew what they say about how grate hell is (sp? Nobody thought to bring a dickshunary. Thank God. Books would of made life in hell hell!)

It's a never-ending bitch party with necked sand volleyball and castles that last forever (unless someone kicks 'em over. Someone usually does). One half of the place is frozen, the other a fiery lake. Remember the Polar Bare Club in Alaska? Like that accept we brake holes in the frozen lake, leap in, then dripping ice cubes, dash over to the one of fire.

Hey, remember the good times when we'd boozed up at ol' fatty Slim Jim's, then you'd talked me into driving us around town doing crazy shit like playing chicken with oncoming traffic or tossing the "Bridge Out" sign into the ditch? Damn, that was funny. At least I thought so until I drunkenly forgot about it on the drive home.

That's what it's like here--crazy fun! non-stop parties by the lakeside! the best practical jokes! One hot chick keeps an everlasting stash of whiskey chilled in the frozen lake. While we slurp Southern Comfort from rose-colored, plastic sand-buckets, the guy or gal who's been the biggest pain in the neck of late gets roasted on a spit over the lakefire. It hurts like a son of a beach, but the pain receptors get charbroiled quick enough. Then we've got something to snack on with our buckets of booze. The meat rots fast, so we wolf it down. Tastes like chicken. Not a big deal to the guy being charred cuz he reappears after we've licked the last grease off our fingers.

You were always the life of the party, so I know you'd be a favorite as I've been. Life here is so much more exciting--better sex, sexier babes, faster boats, spicier meats, and no work. Heaven can't beat this living.

RSVP. The guys look forward to meating you.

October 19, 2007

The Diplomat

I had to kill the Diplomat. The elders said so, and nobody argues with them. He agreed to have breakfast with me.

I took him to the orchard, and he helped me make a fire pit. He talked about his home planet, Gaia, but he called her "Earth." I said I thought that was a plain name for such a beautiful-looking planet. "I like it," he said, "plain, yes, but there's a lot going on under the surface there—like here," he added, and patted the earth beside him with one wrinkled brown hand.

After I served him, I slipped my knife out. They said they chose me because I was the best rat hunter. The first ships from Gaia brought rats with them, and we lost a lot of harvests. "Gaia rat," they called him. I thought rats never looked so peaceful.

"But won't his people come with big ships and guns?" I had asked my father (not an elder yet—OK to argue).

My father said, "He came on foot. No big ships. Just a little old guy in a robe. His badge is faded, and the plastic on his communicator is yellowed. What do you think?"

I looked at the Diplomat peacefully eating. A film of grief started to form over my eyes but I wiped it away.

He looked at me and smiled.

"You were going to stab me with that, weren’t you,” he said.

I saw I had wiped my eyes with the back of my knife hand. I stared the blade.

After a moment I said sadly, “It’s still too late.”

He looked down at his bowl, then up at me. "Ah?” he asked, holding it up.

I nodded. His grin seemed to embrace me.

"I forgive you for killing me," he said.

I did not wipe the film away this time, and I buried my face in my hands and howled.

After a moment he tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up, rubbing my eyes.

"My dear friend," he said, laughing, "Did you think I prepared for this journey without defending myself? Did you think I had no protections?"

"I know you disarmed me somehow," I said hoarsely.

"Well learned. And if you want to poison a human, galangal doesn't really work. We use it in cooking.”

That's when I laughed too.

October 18, 2007


Sara is in the parking lot, looking out over the beach. I'm in a chubby three-year-old with popsicle residue on her bathing suit. I toddle over to a deep hole in the sand recently abandoned by a teenager, which is now filling with water as the tide comes in. I lay the first egg. The only visible sign from my three-year-old body is a slight bulging of the eyes, but astrally my ovipositor reaches down and releases one shining, silver globe into the cradling mud.

We can't lay eggs on the Astral plane. We have to come to the material plane for that, and on the material plane we're free to inhabit bodies.

I look up to see Sara staring directly at me from the top of the beach, her eyes glinting, the wind lifting her black ringlets in a wave around her shoulders as she levels a spirit harpoon at me. The harpoon, if it hit, would kill the toddler, but Sara knows what my eggs mean. They mean more Astral Takers. They mean that maybe my kind will swarm the world again soon.

I send the toddler careening down the beach toward a rearing, six-foot wave. A woman screams. The harpoon embeds in the sand behind me with a muffled thud. I leap into a 50-something, sunburned man with a belly like a bowling ball. As him, I tell my wife I'm getting the other towel from the car, take the keys, and soon I'm roaring over the blacktop, headed back into the city. I feel my Astral Thread resonating with Sara's channeled fury. It will take her days to find me again.

A lean young man in a silver convertible passes me illegally. I leap into him, leaving the potbellied husband to swerve off the road in the confusion of regaining his body.

The sun shines on my shoulders and the wind caresses my scalp. It's a beautiful day. Maybe I'll lay the next one in the park.

October 17, 2007

Still Life with Apocalypse

Among the ruins of a city unmade by years: a lean-to, a fire, a pair of ragged figures watching open cans bubble on the cracked stones ringing the fire. Corn, beans, peas: vegetables harvested three generations or more ago.

"Succotash," said the older woman.

"Is it?" said her companion. "I didn't know that had peas in it."

"Close enough," said the first.

Among the shadows, a pair of even more ragged figures watching the fire-watchers.

"Succulent," said the zombie with one arm.

"Are they?" said the zombie with half a face. "I didn't know there were any left who weren't all tough and gristly."

"Close enough," said the first.

Among the dimensions, a pair of many-tentacled entities watching the watchers.

"Supplicants," said the one oozing green etheric radiation.

"Are they?" said the one oozing blue. "I didn't know there were any left who remembered us, let alone think of us as something to worship."

"Close enough," said the first.

The older woman reached for the tin of beans, but didn't wrap enough of her sleeve over her palm, and dropped the can with a yelp, knocking all the vegetables into the fire.

The one-armed zombie startled back at the hiss and steam cloud that arose, and jostled a pane of glass free from its dry-rot fragile frame. At the crash, the humans looked up from trying to spoon their supper out of the ashes, ran up the steps of the municipal library and slammed the huge doors with a boom.

The green-oozing entity felt a pang of melancholy at the echoing of the sound -- the exact note of the corpse-drums that had once been beaten in accompaniment to unspeakable rites in the entity's honor. Its blue-oozing companion vibrated sympathetic sorrow. The humans found themselves remembering unruined days, but that was nothing unusual; that was how they spent most evenings. The zombies, however, found themselves longing for the taste, not of blood or brains, but of mixed vegetables, still metallic from the tin. This desire, among the ruins of memory, was nothing like fulfillment but, for this one evening, it was close enough.

October 16, 2007

Paranormal Kansas: Garden of Eden

In 1905, a retired Civil War veteran named Samuel Dinsmoor began to build a sculpture garden out of concrete in Lucas, Kansas. Incorporating both religious and political motifs, his labors continued until his death in 1933, at which point his body was prepared and placed inside of a glass-sided coffin within a limestone mausoleum on the garden grounds. Today, thousands of tourists visit the gardens each year, ending their trip with a viewing of it's creator's corpse, which even 74 years after death, remains remarkably well preserved. It was this preservation that first drew my suspicions.

Few locals visit the garden, and even fewer tourists return more than once to view the monochrome spectacle. This accounts for why few have noticed that construction within the sculpture garden continues. New pieces representing Lot and his wife have appeared in the northwest corner within the last year, fashioned in Dinsmoor's characteristically crude style. The non-profit group responsible for the upkeep of the site claims they are the product of local pranksters, but if that were so, would they not remove them? They have thus far refused to answer any further questions on the matter, and I suspect they have blocked my email address, as so many do when my lines of query draw close to the truth!

Twice, I snuck within Dinsmoor's crypt to take samples only to find his body missing. And I have heard the rumble of a cement mixer outside, somewhere among the statues, but always the sound vanishes if I approach.

The third and final time I attempted to sneak within the garden, I climbed over a fence at the perimeter. Arriving within, I felt a fear that I could not explain. I glanced up and saw the silhouette of a thin figure standing among the statues built atop a concrete tree, a figure that had not been there in the day. It was as motionless as the sculptures, but I could feel it watching me. I departed with haste, and I have never returned, not even in the day. When I pass the gardens occasionally on business, the statues seem to gaze out at me in hostility. I leave the gardens' mystery for some other researcher to uncover.

October 15, 2007

Belter Skelter

Driven. Obsessed. Fixated. Those words seem weak when applied to David Mattucio Paradise. Sure, you've heard of him. Everybody has. He's the poor little rich boy who grew up sculpting asteroids.

It started thirty years ago when he turned twelve. All seven of his parents gathered for his birthday, and just before he got there a shield generator failed and they all got sucked out to space and died. Made him faboo wealthy, of course; they were Reagans and Gateses, Murdocks and Rossums, and like that.

David took it a bit badly.

As soon as he held the reins, he repurposed entire divisions of many of his companies. Design, fabrication, IT, transport, demolition--he called for quite a lot of demolition.

The first seven asteroids were reshaped within a month into busts of his seven parents. They were designed to rotate in a circle fifteen klicks in diameter. Not satisfied, he moved on to transform another ring of rocks into famous ancestors. Movie stars were next: Greta Garbo, Humphrey Bogart, Groucho Marx. Then presidents, then musicians. He's got forty thousand asteroids over a half-mile wide to work with, so I figure he'll be down to plumbers before he's done.

Just to show he hadn't entirely lost his marbles he transformed the largest asteroid, Ceres, into the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe and hollowed her out to make a hotel. It's phenomenally popular.

That's where I come in. Patrick Pindaccio Paradise. David's younger brother. I was ten when mom and mom and mother and dad and dad and father and Laura died. Where David was calm I was the wild one. Where losing his parents drove him crazy, it drove me sane. I graduated from playing with shield generators, for one thing.

Now, I play with English. 'English', as in snooker. In my armored darksuit I carom off asteroids in carefully computed strikes. Hit one just so and in eight months its orbit is perturbed enough to collide with another asteroid, then they bounce off two more. I've already ruined Russell Crowe and Frank Sinatra. David's got his goons out searching for me, but it's too late.

Four years down the line Marilyn's history.

October 12, 2007


"Wake up, sleepyhead. Do you remember your dream? You squeezed your pillow awful tight. Was the dream of me?"

"I don't think I dream. I never remember them."

"Everybody dreams. Maybe they're nightmares, so you block them."

"I'd remember a nightmare."

"Maybe your dreams have nothing to say. We only remember the memorable, holding on to the relevant."



"Wake up, Love."

"What a strange dream. I dreamed I said I don't remember dreams, but I do--to the minutest detail: my day-old perfume mingled with your scent on my lace pillow, the brush of cotton sheets against my legs and the heat of your face hovering over mine, the sound of your voice cracked and scratchy as if you were getting over a cold and it made me a little tingly down there, and my mouth sour from the alcohol of the night before. I don't even drink. My dream-me implied dreams mean nothing, but they mean the world. Why would I say something that I don’t believe if it was my dream? Do you think some being hijacked my mind?"

"Being? Do you mean aliens or chimpanzees?"

"I'm serious. God could be trying to tell me something. Or our mitochondria are trying to warn of impending catastrophe. Or you, even: You're making me dream."

"Possibly. Could also be that someone who needs your help sends you the dreams--someone in another dimension. Or else you dream of the life you live in a parallel universe."

"I hope I'd have more sense than that. An inability to see meaning shows a distinct lack of imagination."


"Pay attention, Mabel! You're always daydreaming in my class."


"Wake up, oh god, wake up! Don't die on me--god please no. If you leave me this way, I’ll never forgive you. Please. Breathe. Oh baby. Breathe. The CPS will send out their investigator again, and she won't believe me. Not a third accident."


"Why won't you wake up?"

"You ruined my dream of flight over the ocean where the sea met sky--no up or... What's that smell?"

"The house is on fire, you fool. We have to get out of this place."


"Despierta, mi cielito."

"¡Mamá Mar! ¡Acabo de soñar que hablo inglés pero no hablo inglés pero yo estaba hablando inglés!"

"¿Qué dijiste en tu sueño?"

"No sé. No hablo Inglés."

"Espero que fuera bueno."

"¡Claro que sí!"


"Wake up!"


October 11, 2007

Egg Salad Surgery

Ever since being struck by lightning the Mad Scientist had been plagued by the scent of egg salad. “Which wouldn't be so bad,” he muttered to himself, “if I didn't loathe egg salad.” To top it all off, after risking his life in the storm he hadn't been able to revive Igor after all. The hunchback made a really terrible zombie. (He had been kind of clumsy and slow of mind in life, and those things were not improved after death. In fact, it was said that only the sense of smell became more acute for zombies.) All of this made the stench of egg salad that much harder to take.

Do it yourself brain surgery on others was one thing, but the Mad Scientist had never tried it on himself before. His aim was to manipulate the nerves in the olfactory center so that egg salad smelled like, say, an avocado sushi roll. Or pepperoni and sausage pizza. It didn't really matter as long as it was a pleasant aroma. Using a waldo was too crude; he had to culture and then guide the evolution of surgical nanobots that would navigate the fluid surrounding and cushioning the nerves in his brain, snipping some connections and encouraging the growth of others. Fortunately, this was not difficult.

The nano-surgery complete, he unwrapped his nose. All that remained of his tiny army was a drop of milky fluid on a glass dish. He took a hesitant sniff – fried liver. He shuddered and stifled his gag reflex. What were the odds? The food he hated nearly as much as egg salad, and he was stuck with it day and night. Unless he wanted to launch another expedition into his brain.

"Oh man, this stinks!"

"Tell me about it, Master."

The end

October 10, 2007

Paranormal Sites of Kansas: The Big Well & Meteorite

It is no coincidence that the world's largest hand-dug well and one of the world's largest pallasite meteorites are both found in Greensburg, Kansas. And it is no coincidence that a recent tornado flattened the prairie town and everything within it.

The official stories of these two artifacts do not intertwine. But a town of the size of Greensburg, Kansas had no need for a 109 foot deep, 32 foot wide well. The hole's use as a well is an old cover-up, as is the story of a Hutchison man locating the meteorite in the 1900s with a primitive metal detector.

Local stories tell that the simple farmers and ranchers of Greensburg found themselves compelled to dig the well for no reason that any could speak of in the spring of 1887. They dug for days on end, in shifts, each man and woman confused as the other. Only the children were spared from the compulsion. After 90 feet, they discovered the stone, which weighed over 1,000 pounds. My source, the great-grandaughter of one of the well's architects, claims, that as soon as the townspeople touched the stone, it floated into the air like a balloon, and the diggers were able to gently guide it up the shaft and into the light of the moon. Once it arrived at the surface, its weight and mass returned just as the compulsion to dig disappeared.

The meteorite remained undisturbed, and the real story of its discovery mostly forgotten, until 2006, when the largest tornado to strike Kansas in 30 years touched down within Greensburg, destroying thousands of homes. The town is only just beginning to rebuild. And while you can still see a meteorite on display at the Big Well, it is not the meteorite from before. Local officials have replaced it with a fake made from plaster; after the twister, the original meteorite was never found.

October 9, 2007

Hunting for Ernest Hemingway in Kudu Heaven

I had been up more than an hour, drinking coffee, when Thorn came out of his tent to join me.

"Coffee?" I said, pointing a hoof.

"Wonderful," said Thorn, and took a cup. Thorn was a springbok, hardly half my size, but he was a good friend, and a damned good hunter.

"Ready for it?" said Thorn. "Maybe you'll have better luck today."


We set out from camp toward the water hole we'd watched for three days. We hadn't seen anything but a few dog teasers, but I didn't care. Crouching in the grass, the dust cool against my legs, the sky the same blank blue as a robin's egg, I was happy. It was good to be a kudu, hunting, in Kudu Heaven.

There was nothing that morning. It was dry and still, and very hot. The trees came close to the edge of the water hole, shading it, and it was hard to see from where we sat downwind. We didn't see anything until a few minutes before sunset. It was nearly too dark to shoot already.

"There!" Thorn whispered. "By god, there!"

An Ernest Hemingway had come out of the high grasses, an old bull, heavy, powerful, wearing a pair of Bermuda shorts.

"Look at that bastard," Thorn said. "Isn't he magnificent?"

I lined Hemingway up with my Winchester special, with its hoof-sized trigger. He crouched by the water, alert, confident. Heat rippled the air between us. Then he lifted his head, and he reared. He'd seen my horns. He bolted for the trees.

I shut away my excitement and tracked ahead of him with the Winchester. When I had the shot, I squeezed. Hemingway jumped at the edge of the trees and disappeared into them.

"Good shot! Marvelous!" said Thorn, leaping out over the grass on all fours. I followed him at a trot. "Do you think you killed him?"

"I don't know if I hit him."

"I'm sure you hit him."

"I don't think so."

He was there when we reached the edge of the wood, collapsed in the brush. My shot had gone through his lung and heart. His massive head was turned to the side, staring at an anthill with glassy eyes. Thorn was delighted. Hemingway looked fierce even dead.

He was mine, dead like that. But he'd been mine since I lined him up in my sights. If I'd let him live, he would have been mine and alive, still roaming. Maybe that's what hunters were bad at: letting things live.

"God, what a kill!" said Thorn. "Don't you admire these things?"

"No," I said.

"You don't?"

"No. Not anymore."

October 8, 2007

Woe Vs Leg: action suit

On October 1234 OC., Mr. Woe's leg presented itself at the Newstalk
Police Station to denounce Mr. Woe for alleged mistreatment of an
extremity and improper walk without wages, resulting in two lost toes
due to frostbite.

Mr Woe, who was himself along for the ride, dismissed the accusations
as "fabulations" and told the police that "he was damned if his leg
was going to tell him what to do".

Mr Woe is a professional mountain climber, internationally known for
his speed, as well as for his disregard for the safety of
his Sherpas and body-parts. The limb reported that it was only after
being forced to keep going without food and half-frozen on Mr. Woe's last
climb to the Everest, that it decided to breach its lifelong contract
with William Woe.

At the close of this edition, the Court had not yet called a date for
the hearing, although sources claim the State prosecutor may decide to
bring a case against Mr. Woe.

"A leg has rights," the state prosecutor allegedly said in a private
family gathering on Monday, while massaging a sore toe.

Leg's attorneys have said that the Leg doesn't plan to settle outside
of court and that it wants to bring Mr. Woe to justice. They've also
informed this reporter that they are in the middle of
negotiations with Mr. Woe's Sherpas in the hopes of agreeing on the terms of a
joint law-suit against Mr. Woe.

October 5, 2007

My Cell Phone is a Slut

Seriously, my phone screws anything its ports are compatible with, and it's only a week old, so it's compatible with everything. It's constantly skittering off to copulate with other consumer gadgets, which is annoying, because I've been waiting for this girl to call that I met at a skin-PAN party a few days ago. She had the most complete collection of Dr. Who episodes in her files I have ever seen--even the reconstructed episodes with the original audio and stills from production. I dropped my vCard, and I know she acked it. I'm afraid that while my phone is humping the cappuchino machine, it gets poor reception, and my voice mail has iterated out pretty far recently and it asks for instructions in Esperanto right now. My Esperanto isn't very good. I've tethered it to my PAN for now, but that just pisses it off and I'm afraid it might start dropping calls on purpose.

I mean, I understand the whole principle of evolutionary processes in iterative product design, and the eggs that the phone lays usually net me enough credit to pay my carrier bills, but I think there's something wrong with this one. Nobody else I know has a phone that screws so much. I tried calling technical support yesterday, but all I got was a calm voice of a woman telling me that the problem that I was calling about had already been diagnosed and a hotfix was being deployed promptly. There's something a little unsettling about technical support that knows what you're calling about before you even dial the number.


Now my phone seems a little depressed, and I'm wondering if I should have made that call after all. The touch display doesn't seem as bright, and the ring tones that normally match my mood towards the caller are all break-up songs from the 80s that I barely even recognize. I promise the phone that I'll let it off its tether at the next skin-PAN party, and that seems to cheer it up a little bit, but it's still not the same. I think I kind of miss my slutty phone. So I call technical support again. All I get is an error message, saying that my problem can't be diagnosed, in a tone of voice that implies that I don't really have a problem, and then it gives me the URL for a dating site I haven't tried yet. I use my phone to upload a profile to the site, and I wonder if maybe I shouldn't just set this phone free and upgrade to something from the next hatch.

Okay, so maybe not. This phone is black, and that color isn't trending well lately, so my chances of getting a new one in the color I like is pretty slim. I'll wait a couple more days and see if black comes back. It's usually popular on Wednesdays.

October 4, 2007


People don't go anywhere anymore. It used to be, grandad says, people worked hard for days and days before they had earned enough vacation time to actually go in their rooms and plug themselves in to a virtual national park or amusement park or water park or venusian tuber farm or something. Now we just go out behind the recycling center and stare at some weeds, or throw chunks of plastic at the vehicles on the Superway. If we want to go to an amusement park we have to actually pretend everything. You call that living?

I mean, what can you do with plastic, glaspex, and vegebord? Yesterday, Tim3 is standing on a bit of vegebord shouting "I am Chancellor of Trash!" or some sh*t and so Lefrim shoves him off and says she's Premier of Trash and waves a block of glaspex in the air. The new kid from Moon 13 pushes her off and says he's King of the Trash. Dorks!

If I was going to pretend something it would be way faster than that. I would be a unitank pilot, beneath cloud cover on a Chitin-occupied world during the Wars. We'd have to wipe out a Hive. We wouldn't get out alive. Or maybe....

October 3, 2007

Acute Leg Sorrow: A Case Report

Acute Leg Sorrow: A Case Report.

Mrs M., a forty-five year old woman, reported to the Emergency Room with acute leg sorrow in her lower left extremity.

The examination revealed redness and emotional stasis in the leg, as well as pulsating anguish and some financial distress. The patient was not allergic to any medication, had no previous conditions and didn't remember any leg trauma in the previous months.

Basic tests showed low platelets and self-esteem, left-leaning leukocytes and high introspection/physical exercise ratio. The patient didn't report any addictions or compulsions, although she did admit to marital stress (football and beer related) and conjugal sexual dysfunction.

A number of treatments were proposed, including lymbic transmapheresis, Viagra treatment for the husband and divorce (with or without heterosexual-to-homosexual, sexual orientation reassignment ).

Mrs M. wasn't amenable to any of these options. Resistance to treatment in patients with organ sadness has been amply described in Medical Literature, and although more conservative treatments were suggested and Mrs M. was informed that she had to do something to appease her limb, eventually, the patient elected to sign a voluntary release form and leave Hospital, talking her grieving leg with her.

October 2, 2007

Record Review

The Cloud-Veil'd Moon: Eileen and Gemma Darwater (1977)
4 out of 5 stars

Just a few years after Led Zepplin issued an album with mystic runes for a cover and bands like Black Sabbath launched careers around dark, occult themes, the Darwater sisters set up their amps and instruments in a fairy ring somewhere in on the moors of Devon. Or so goes the copy on the back of their first and only LP, The Cloud-Veil'd Moon. No doubt it was all the fancy of some A&R man who'd read too much Tolkein, but it was nice to see someone conjuring up a gentler version of the magical.

The album itself is best described as eccentric. An eccentric selection of folk standards, pop-song covers and what are apparently folk-inspired originals, arranged eccentrically (in time signatures that seem to shift with every other measure), and played on the most eccentric collection of instruments (if the liner notes are to be believed, which takes some effort on this reviewer's part).

For example, tracks 3 and 10 feature a percussion instrument called the "Doord" which is described as "a broad stone played by two trolls alternately and rhythmically striking their skulls upon either side." What exactly the "Doord Grande" (track 7) is, we aren't told, but it certainly fills up the bottom end of the mix. Internet discussions still rage as to whether the harp heard on several of the songs is actually a carefully recorded duet or the result of even more careful tape-splicing. A few holdouts do insist that these are, in fact, recordings of a single harpist with twelve unusually long fingers, but this seems unlikely.

Adding to the album's mystique are the mysterious guest appearances, including backing vocals on the cover of Dylan's "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," which are attributed to a "Mr. Nicholas D., who traveled a very great distance to join us on this track." The listener is apparently meant to guess that this is none other than Nick Drake, and it certainly sounds like Drake, except that he was dead for three years at the time the song was recorded.

Whatever the strangeness of the record, and in spite of the record company's attempt (successful, certainly) to create a mystique around the sisters and their band, there's no question that the Darwaters recorded a catchy set of tunes. After several hundred listens, I still can't say I like the music, but neither can I put anything else on my stereo that doesn't sound trite and ordinary in comparison.

It is a pity that the Darwaters only recorded this single album before disappearing for nearly twenty years. In May of '78, Gemma was quoted in the NME as saying they were going to tour extensively "down under," but no documentation of an Australian tour has ever been found. So The Cloud Veil'd Moon remains the only available recording by this promising enigma -- at least until someone makes a bootleg available of last year's already legendary surprise appearance at Tokyo's Budokan arena.

October 1, 2007

Tornado on Fire

You ain't never seen a true and actual heart-stopping terror 'til you seen a tornado on fire. They rise on up outta volcanos in the midst a' hurricanes, most likely during an earthquake, and they're so tall they been known to scorch up the moon. They set lakes a-bilin', cows a-cookin' to a well-done state, and they'll melt ever'thing made a' wax for twenty miles 'round.

I was only eight years old the first time I seen a tornado on fire. It waltzed through our town and made all the windows shatter and the foundations crack. My momma and my twelve sisters died from the fright right then an' there, an' my daddy, he aged a hundred years just from the pity and awfulness of the experience. Bein' a kid with no more brains than a run-over snake, I didn't think too much of it, 'cept that I knowed ever since then I musta been born to chase tornados on fire. An' that's what I done, for seventy-eight years, gettin' paid no more'n kept food in my belly and tires on my pickup by them silky-palmed, snail-eatin' Mr. Wizard types who just shiver to know anythin' I can gather up to tell 'em. An' I done it good, too, trackin' eighteen tornados on fire so close they near always singed off my eyebrows.

But this last one, oh Lord, it weren't like them others. This one was tall enough to burn the moon right up if it'd happened to be up just then, and it vaporized rivers and turned a strip a' desert a mile wide to glass. But it weren't the size of it as turned me yella, Lordy no. This one had iron sharks in it, which is more than a mortal man can bear to see, and that's why I'm a-here applyin' for my social security benefits.