Plugs

The Makers
When your mystical text is bought at a mall bookstore, and you have to cross out the passages about self-actualization to get a clear idea what the golem-making process involves, it’s no wonder that, even though you’ve sculpted the body with the right kind of earthen clay, and even though you’ve matched the Hebrew letters for the word that means life and carved them on the forehead, and even though you’ve chanted the alphabets of the 221 gates in the proper order as you marched around the body in the proper direction–even though you’ve done all that–something can still go wrong.
The Made
When you’ve just woken into the world and the people around you are whooping and shouting, it can be a little frightening. When they take you outside, it’s natural that frightened turns to running.
The Makers
You were clever enough to learn from the old stories, so you didn’t do like the rabbi in one version of the tale, who was crushed when he unmade a golem who’d slipped from his control, the golem grown so large that it towered over its maker, the golem who crushed its maker on returning to being a load of inanimate clay. So making your creation small was wise. Foolish was taking it outside just when a school group passed by, when you could hardly run after and haul it home.
The Made
You wandered days before finding the place that seemed comfortable, and you sat there among the upright stones and the overhanging trees. You sensed bodies there, not turning from mud to flesh like you’d done, but the other way around. Your makers neglected to give you a purpose; becoming earth again seemed as good as any.
Ants
Your queen sought unclaimed ground to start a new colony, and the rest of you came after. It was readymade for you, with vein-tunnels, a stomach big enough to store many wintersworth of grass seed, and a well-protected place up top where the queen could settle in and bring forth generations.
The (Re)Made
You rose from a season’s sleep among the stones and the bodies they marked, and stood, your substance stirring with life, your mind borrowing the colony’s purpose. Hungry, industrious, you moved out into the world, looking for something to build, something to make with your big clay hands.

In Monday’s story, Susannah brought us a cutting from Goodwife Python’s Bestiary of Wonderful Flowers that contained the line, “Do not give [the devil] back his hat.”

I second this exhortation because, from firsthand experience, I know how true it is.

A few years ago, I worked as coat check clerk at a Nephelim bar in the theater district, back when it was still more of a semi-abandoned warehouse district. We had a list of rules, written by the owner in red Sharpie on pizza box cardboard, and not giving the devil his hat was number 5.

It was like a practical joke or a running gag between the boss and the fallen one. We had a whole lead-lined room in the basement full of hats, each on its own Styrofoam head, all under a continual mist of holy water. Each — cowboy hat, bowler, knit black watch cap, velvet beret — had two little holes for the horns, but even without that, you would have known. The heaviness in the pit of your stomach would have told you.

The thing about the hats is that they concealed something even more powerfully troubling: the devil’s haircut. That’s right, like the Beck song — where other cultures have proverbs, we distill wisdom for future generations in pop culture. It was different every time, sculpted hair-by-hair with some infernal product, each ‘do an unforgettable, mind-burning sigil, like crop circles or mandalas whose meaning you never wanted to know. But I digress.

It all went well enough until the day the devil didn’t just roll his eyes at the excuse du jour.

“Yeah. Fine. Never mind about the hat,” he said. “I know better than to wear anything decent here. But,” he dropped his voice to a conspiratorial pitch Eve might have recognized, “there’s a feather in the brim, and I’d like that back.”

There wasn’t anything on the cardboard about feathers, and the boss said to treat him like anyone else (except the hat thing), so I headed downstairs. The foam heads howled; the sprinklers misted what looked and smelled like blood. The only hat with a feather was the fedora I grabbed.

“Thanks,” said the devil. “Last one.” He twitched his shoulders. “Souvenir of the wings that were.”

A tip smoldered on the counter, generous enough — once the gold congealed again — but I quit. When the devil starts noticing you, however positively, it’s time to look for more anonymous work. Please, forget you heard any of this. Just remember the hats.

We’re changing things up a bit this week, giving you updates on cabalists you haven’t seen here in a while mixed with some microfiction pieces that are even more micro than our usual fiction. Click here to read yesterday’s update, here for yesterday’s story, or just click “previous story” further down this page.

Where are they now: Jason Fischer

Jason Fischer has written quite a few stories, garnered some awards and some nominations for them, and even written a graphic novella, After the World: Gravesend. His most unusual achievement, however, may be that his fiction once inspired the renowned science fiction editor Gardner Dozois to burst into song.

Bonus: If you’d like so see one ex-Cabalist interview another, click here.

Two years ago, Jay Lake generously supplied us with a first line for us to write short shorts to.  Through a bureaucratic glitch at the Daily Cabal offices, mine got sent 23.094688221709% of the way to Alpha Centauri, hit a mirror the Centaurians had set up, and has only just returned.  I suspect alien hands have tampered with it.  Check out the other Zoli stories. We’ve got a few clever reinterpretations.


Zoli liked to hang around psychiatrists’ waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks.  That wasn’t exactly right.  Zoli would have liked to like that… if it worked out.  Also, his name wasn’t Zoli, but he’d heard that Zolis do exceedingly well at picking up chicks, so he had changed his name.

Zoli also liked golf magazines, kicking one’s feet up on the cool, beveled glass coffee tables.  The pages crackled and snapped satisfactorily with each flip.  The plush blue upholstery snuggled his back.  The faint floral perfume of a female in… say, females were why he was here.  He cast an eye about.  Mothers occupied children with blocks pushed through wire circles.  And back again.   So many to choose from.

The secretary called him over with a crooked finger.  “Can I help you?”

“I have an appointment.”

“Name?”

Sweat trickled down his forehead and wandered into the thicket of his brows.  “Zoli.”

The secretary glanced at him, then at her keyboard.  “First or last?”

Zoli stopped himself from saying neither.  “First.”

“Last?”

“Zoli.”

The secretary shook her head.  “Zoli Zoli?”

Zoli beamed.  “Yes!”

“You’re not on the schedule.”

“Can you pencil me in?”

“Sure.  Psychologists pencil in creeps–I mean, suicides all the time.”

“Great!”

The secretary called over her shoulder.  “Another Zoli suicide!”  Every male in the room turned as if he’d heard his name.  The secretary held out her palm to Zoli.  “Fifty-buck Zoli suicide fee.”

Zoli paid and was about to hit on a dowdy woman who looked particularly depressed when a stunning blonde asked him to step into her office–the kind of blonde you’d see on an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

#

Zoli wasn’t entirely sure what happened next.  He seemed to remember the psychologist slipping an Alka-seltzer into a champagne glass.  She wore a white coat, so he trusted her implicitly.  The rest was a blank.  His head was still fuzzy when she…

Choose your own adventure!

1. …slit his throat–and all of the Zolis yet to come. Women lived happily ever after.

2. …kissed Zoli.  They were two of a kind. They lived happily ever after.

3. …administered shocks and truth serum to find out that no one could date the low in self-esteem without owning that quality himself. They lived happily ever after.

4. …keeled over.  Everyone died.  A disease lethal only to humans wiped them out. Earth lived happily ever after without the constant mellow drama.

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