Zoli Finds His Anima
by Sara Genge
Zoli liked to hang around psychiatrists' waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks. Neurosis was his game and he was good at it, but he hadn't counted on full-blown crazy.
"I'm telling you, I can't date you. I'm here to find my animus," the girl said. Her name was Padme? Pardoma? Ah, yes, Pandora.
Zoli wondered whether he should forsake Jungian practices altogether, but the paramythological interpretations were so convenient. Arguments could always be derailed away from his practical failings and into the terrain of the symbolic and abstract. Besides, sex with Freudians was kinkier than he cared for.
"I can be your animus, honey. For you, I can be anything you want," he said.
The girl chuckled, shaking her head. "The animus isn't a guy," she said. "It's the male aspect present in the collective subconscious of women"--she sounded like she was quoting something-- "You should get in contact with your anima, honey, you might become less of a jerk."
Zoli opened his mouth to proclaim himself innocent of jerkitude, but the woman scuttled closer on the bench and pressed his head against her chest. The proximity of the boob shocked him into silence.
"I'm opening your chakras," the girl announced, caressing Zoli's hair. "You have a beautiful anima, you simply need to let it out."
The door of the office opened and the girl stood up, stepped in and left Zoli alone in the waiting room.
As soon as Zoli stepped out of the office, he noticed something was different. He turned heads. The women who looked at him weren't prettier than the ones he usually attracted, but they seemed sharper, more together. Their eyes were everywhere. They held doors open for him.
The combination of gallantry and insult confused him.
He looked down at his body, fearing something drastic had happened to his sexual differentiation, but nothing had changed, as far as he could see. He was still a guy and he sighed with relief.
Suddenly, a knight appeared out of nowhere. Her hair flew in the wind, framing her face over her full-body armour. She shone like a diamond against the asphalt and skyscrapers. Without a word, she lifted Zoli up on her white horse and took him away.
P A S D
by Rudi Dornemann
To celebrate our first anniversary, each of us here at the Cabal has come up with a story beginning with a line kindly provided to us by the illustrious Jay Lake. Click the link at the bottom of the page to see how Alex, Dan, David, Edd, Kat, and Luc have handled the challenge, and check back tomorrow to see how Sara Genge winds up the series...
Zoli liked to hang around psychiatrists’ waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks. It could take a couple days of hanging around, doing odd jobs, before she’d hit on an office where someone had brought in chicks, and not something useless like ducklings or a goat.
All the psychiatrists around the rim had the same group therapy rates: six hen chicks for general lack of affect, six rooster chicks for low self-esteem, four ducklings for anger management, a full grown chicken for alcohol abuse, a duck for drugs, a sheep or goat or dog for nightmares -- because everybody’s nightmares were the same, and brought up things even psychiatrists didn’t want to face.
Zoli couldn’t stand any of it, the lying and turning away. "Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder" -- as if that meant anything. As if the problem weren’t as obvious as the crater six-hunded miles wide and fifty deep. As obvious as all the people who didn’t exist anymore, all the craters they’d left in everyone’s lives.
The psychiatrists always had clothes to be darned, roofs to be shingled, water to be schlepped from the ration-well-- finding odd jobs was easy. Finding male chicks wasn’t -- self-esteem didn’t seem to be a popular problem anymore. And even the esteem chicks weren’t 100%, because most people weren’t any good at candling to tell which eggs were future roosters. It didn’t matter much to the farmers she competed with, but it mattered to Zoli.
She lived in a roofless warehouse within block of the edge where she’d emptied the ceiling-high shelves of high-def TVs, microwaves and robot vacuum cleaners and covered the sides with chicken wire to create multi-story coops.
The ammonia stink was so bad that her eyes watered and her nose ran constantly, and the coops were only half full. Every morning, she felt the crowing as something physical, a strong wind pushing against her. A few more months, and it would work. A few more months of hanging around waiting rooms with women whose every breath sounded like something ripping, men whose eyes never stopped moving, and she’d gather the generations she needed to complete the sound. Then the crowing would be a vast thing, and the world would shake like it had that day, and it would be enough. It would wake God, and then it would be over, and everything would be normal again.
Cinderella Runs Into Snow White After Therapy One Afternoon
by Luc Reid
To celebrate our first anniversary, each of us here at the Cabal has come up with a story beginning with a line kindly provided to us by the illustrious Jay Lake. Click the link at the bottom of the page to see how Alex, Dan, David, Edd, and Kat have handled the challenge, and tune in tomorrow to see what Rudi Dornemann comes up with...
Zoli liked to hang around psychiatrists' waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks. It had been a slow afternoon, but he heard Dr. Rumplestiltskin's door open and readied an unsettling comment for the next one--a looker he'd just glimpsed on her way in, some kind of divorced royal.
"Man, up until now it was all pretty girls coming out of these appointments," said Zoli. Cinderella, roiling with thoughts about Charming and his perfect little dwarfess girlfriend, kicked Zoli solidly in the nuts. Zoli keeled over with a squeaking noise.
"Get some therapy of your own already," Cinderella said as she pushed open the door to the street.
The kick hadn't improved her mood; actually, she felt guilty. In her head, she hadn't been kicking Zoli: she'd been kicking Charming. She was inexpressibly angry at him, and yet she couldn't even kick him vicariously in the nuts and get any satisfaction out of it. What was wrong with her?
"Ella! Hey, girl!" someone shouted, and Cinderella looked up to spot Snow White hiking up her skirts and hustling toward her. There were at least 50 yards of empty cobblestone on every side; escape was not an option.
Catching up, Snow White linked arms with Cinderella and bent over to whisper in her ear. "Come to the farmer's market with me. There are a pair appleseller brothers there who'll take your breath away."
"You've got a perfectly good prince at home. Why are you ogling applesellers?" protested Cinderella.
"What, I'm supposed to close my eyes every time I buy an apple?" Snow White said, grinning. "So why do you look so down, anyway? Still moping about Charming? I don't know what you have to mope about, having that woodcutter all to yourself."
"I know," Cinderella said. "Hansel's wonderful. His family is wonderful."
"Well, you weren't satisfied with charming, and now you're not satisfied with wonderful. What do you want, abusive?"
"I guess perfect men don't make me happy," said Cinderella. "They should, though, shouldn't they?"
"Maybe you're one of those people who has to do something."
"I don't do things," said Cinderella. "I'm a princess, for God's sake."
"I'm just saying, maybe you have a greater purpose."
"Like what? What purpose could there possibly be for an aging beauty whose only skills are housework and animal relations?"
"Well, I guess that's the question," Snow White dropped her voice to a whisper. "This is the apple cart! Act nonchalant."
And as Snow White reached for an apple, Cinderella began to think that maybe she'd been angry about the wrong things.
Straight Out to Yurtville
by Kat Beyer
To celebrate our first anniversary, each of us here at the Cabal has written a story beginning with a line kindly provided to us by Jay Lake. Click the link at the bottom of the page to see the stories Alex, Dan, David, and Edd have come up with, and check back Monday to see what Luc Reid does...
Zoli liked to hang around psychiatrists' waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks. The waiting room on the Pacific zeppelin was the best, because every time the airship lurched the chick would fall into him and many pleasant sensations would result, usually up in her cabin after her session was over.
And then, landing in Tokyo, taking her cell number, and skipping town for Ulan Bator while the piece of paper with her number on it got washed down a gutter with the cherry blossoms in the Asakusa district. He always went to the temple before he left town. A couple of prayers to Her Holiness Kannon were a good idea: somebody had to have mercy on him, and the Goddess of Mercy was best qualified, right? Light a couple of incense sticks and head straight for Yurtville, the last place some clingy chick would look.
Zeppelin Freak Number 23 was pretty hot for a low self-esteem chick. She slouched like a professional, which made it easier to see down her shirt, although she had a face worth looking at too, an Ethiopian princess thing going on, even if she didn't take care of her skin--pockmarks on her chin and cheeks screamed "I hate me!" Perfect. Sarcastic and sad, even in bed. He found himself trying to cheer her up when he should've been getting off. She almost didn't give him her phone number.
"You won't call," she said.
"Yes I will," he lied, kissing her on the cheek.
Three incense sticks and two airships later, he settled into his guest yurt, thinking about Genghis Khan, who would never have screwed chicks who hated themselves. But old Genghis wouldn't have had a problem getting laid. Zoli drank too much airag and stayed up late playing dice with his landlord (also named Genghis).
In the night she stood over him, shoulders back this time, face like an Ethiopian queen this time, pockmarks royal instead of ugly, and she struck him about the face with the long sleeves of her kimono.
"You said you would call, and you didn't!" She roared in a voice meant for velvet compassion. He got a boner even in terror.
"And then you had the gall," she continued, leaning close, "the appalling gall, to light three sticks of incense at my shrine and pray to me for mercy? You're an idiot."
3 & Z
by Edd Vick
To celebrate our first anniversary, each of us here at the Cabal has come up with a story beginning with a line kindly provided to us by the illustrious Jay Lake. Click the link at the bottom of the page to see how Alex, Dan and have handled the challenge, and come back tomorrow to see what Kat Beyer comes up with...
Zoli liked to hang around psychiatrists' waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks. Being a ghost, he rarely got a reply, but he lived for the few he got.
'Lived' being relative.
First was Lily. He hovered behind Doctor Frost, reading that Lily had been raised by a mother that wanted her to be a model. Lily could not be thin enough, graceful enough, blah blah blah. Zoli rolled his ectoplasmic eyes.
She came out to the waiting room and stepped up to the receptionist's window. Zoli made his move. He flew in front of her and said, "Hey, baby. Rub that lamp some more, because wish number one just came true!"
Lily screamed, clutched her chest, and fell, her soul flitting upward where Zoli could not follow. "Massive heart trauma," said the EMT. "Never seen a heart tear itself up that badly."
The next 312 women he hit on walked right through him.
Then came Dekanawida. Zoli poked his head through Doctor Yough's chest to peer at his notes. Awful handwriting. Something about sexual abuse from her father, something about multiple sex partners, something about sabotaging her own successes.
She walked out of the doctor's office to find Zoli waiting. "Hey sweetie," he said. "If you give me the time of day I'll give you the time of your life!"
Dekanawida stumbled back, tripped over a magazine stand, and cracked her skull open on a water cooler. DOA. Very DOA, maybe even VVDOA.
And Zoli got it. He totally understood. When a chick saw him, it meant she was about to croak. You'd almost think he was a jinx or something.
He couldn't keep away. Something about haunting psychiatrists seemed just so right. Another thousand or so women passed through him.
Third, and last to be honest, was Melissa. When Zoli first saw her, it was like a bolt of lightning stabbed him right through his impalpable heart. He'd mimed lov before, but he knew the real thing when it hit him. He stayed in Doctor TenDening's waiting room, suddenly not willing to intrude. He wanted to leave, he really ought to beat it, but he just couldn't.
When she emerged, there he was. "Um," he said. "Er, hello."
She didn't scream. She didn't jump away. Unfortunately, what she did do was turn around and walk back into the psychiatrist's office.
She committed herself to the asylum that very night. Zoli happily followed.
Zoli Lends Himself Trouble
by David C. Kopaska-Merkel
To celebrate our first anniversary, each of us here at the Cabal has come up with a story beginning with a line kindly provided to us by Jay Lake. Click the link at the bottom of the page to see how Alex and Dan have dealt with this Zoli person, and come back tomorrow to see what Edd Vick does...
Zoli liked to hang around psychiatrists' waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks. They would do just about anything for a little insincere praise. The only downside was that they bonded quickly and he was not interested in commitment. He got around that problem by dumping them in parallel worlds when they became tiresome.
Dr. Faro had a large waiting room. Zoli made eye contact with the brunette again over the top of his Field & Stream. She recrossed her legs, flashing an inviting view under her white cotton skirt. He got up, then slid into the seat next to her. "This seat taken?"
Everything was going fine until another brunette strode in the door.
"Hey baby, you got a sister?" he asked the one holding his hand.
"I'm not good enough for you?" She pulled away a little.
The other woman (Brunette 2) stood in front of them, hands on her hips. "You! Here you are, picking up my twin in the waiting room, just like you did with me." She turned to the other woman. "Don't believe anything he says," she warned, "he showed me a great time for a few weeks until he got bored, then he dumped me in this universe. I guess he never thought his twin'd be running the same game over here." The woman sitting by Zoli (Brunette 1) took her hand out of his.
"Look baby, who you gonna believe? She's acting crazy, which is maybe okay because she's in a shrink's office, but you and me, we oughta go someplace else where we can be alone together." Brunette 1 stood up and took a step back. Zoli stood up too and held out an arm to plead with her. Then he dropped his arm. "You know what, that's okay. Plenty more girls out there, you know what I mean."
The door opened and two blondes came in. They looked like the doublemint girls. They made a beeline for Zoli, gave the two brunettes a once over, and then they grabbed his arms.
"You dumped my twin," one of them said, inclining her head at the other. "We've got a whole club going, and they want to meet you." Zoli gulped, and looked over at the brunettes.
"Can we join?" Brunette 1 asked.
THE GHOST OF ZOLI HAUSENHIEM, JAY LAKE, AND HOW THE CABAL UNCOVERED THE SECRET TO EVERYTHING
by Daniel Braum
To celebrate our first anniversary, each of us here at the Cabal has come up with a story beginning with a line provided to us by the illustrious Jay Lake. Click the link at the bottom of the page to see how Alex Dally MacFarlane started us off yesterday, and tune in tomorrow to see what David Kopaska-Merkel comes up with...
Zoli liked to hang around psychiatrists’ waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks. That’s what the case file said. Who the hell still said “chicks” and thought psychiatric help meant low self-esteem? Someone was gonna get smacked.
Patients reported feeling cold spots and someone pull their hair, when no one was there. So we knew we’d find Zoli there. We brought the EMP detector and FLIR heat sensor and the rest of our gear. I had a good idea we’d be able to contain him once we found him, but I couldn’t be sure. It hadn’t been written yet…
Jay Lake made me write this.
Three years ago I was stopped for a lay over at O’Hare waiting for a flight into Wisconsin when I saw his distinctive long hair and bright shirt, at the gate across from me.
I approached thinking of how to introduce myself and found him muttering.
“Luc, Sara, Kat,” he said.
“Huh,” I said.
“You know,” he said. “Cabalistas. Zoli. Zoli, Zoli…”
I stared blankly not wanting to offend.
“Oh,” he said. “You’re not going to meet Kat for another twelve hours and thirty six minutes.”
“Right, uh congratulations on Lake-Wu,” I said, and walked away looking at my boarding pass.
I didn’t know it then but I know it now. It was all part of Jay’s plan. Everything is.
The pattern is quite elegant, at least the parts I can get my mind around. It’s a matter of syncing up the 3rd letter of every word in the lettered edition of Lake-Wu, with the prime numbered pages of the Jacob’s Ladder screenplay, and then using that cipher to read Gibson’s rejected screenplay for Alien 3.
Its all here. I can show you. All roads lead to Jay Lake. The spaces in between the words, The implications they hint at. I’ll show you. I’m typing the cipher but its not showing up on my screen. Why are these words coming out on the screen? I’m not writing this…
Zoli liked to hang around Psychiatrists’ waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks,” Zoli thought. Simultaneously, Jay Lake’s hands typed the words into an e mail.
Why did I write that, Jay thought. He hit send anyway, thinking those crazy Cabalistas would get a kick out of it.
Zoli tried to materialize the waiting room. A woman waiting there felt an odd tug on her hair. In the lobby, Dan Braum, with a back pack full of high-end electronics, was about to push through the door.
- END -
by Alex Dally MacFarlane
To celebrate our first anniversary, each of us here at the Cabal has come up with a story beginning with a line provided to us by the illustrious Jay Lake. Alex Dally MacFarlane starts us off with the tale below, and tomorrow Daniel Braum will take us somewhere else entirely...
“Zoli liked to hang around psychiatrists’ waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks.”
The altered citrus sinensis’ comment barely made Roland pause. Even when it waggled a branch heavy with oranges near her face, she refused to look at it.
“He also liked to kick puppies.”
“Now you’re lying.” She planted a final passiflora edulis seedling in the flower bed, which was covered by a knee-high glass structure to protect the plants inside from the chilly nights. Hopefully these seedlings would not be as troublesome as the last batch. I hope the brothel-boys keep their windows closed at night, she thought, and couldn’t prevent a smirk. Passion fruits are passionate when allowed to express themselves. Why am I surprised?
Brushing soil from her fingers, Roland turned to the orange tree that grew in a nearby bed. Its flower-mouths moved in a way that looked rude, even if she couldn’t quite tell why.
“My brother was an opportunist. You act as if I didn’t know this. But I do know that he didn’t kick puppies. Or kittens, before you suggest that.”
“You act as if you knew him better than I did,” the citrus sinensis retorted, trying to mimic her voice.
Its words stung, a little.
“Then tell me why he went, if you knew him so well.” When the plant offered no reply, she shuffled along the wooden walkway between beds to another batch of seedlings that needed planting out. “You enjoy being smug. You don’t actually know anything, at least not anything important.”
“I’ll know when he dies,” it said curtly.
She wanted to ignore its games, its cruel streak--which had made her brother so fond of the plant, she knew. But this was new. “Oh?”
“He let me bite him,” the citrus sinensis said, smug-toned. “And now I have a part of him inside me. It will tell me when he dies.”
Glancing at it sideways, Roland murmured, “I didn’t know you could do that.”
And she lunged up, running and jumping for one of its branches before it could swing them away. It thrashed at her, shouting rage-filled nonsense. She plucked an orange and dropped to the ground. “An orange every now and then,” she told it, “and if you’re telling the truth, I will also know when the war kills Zolinder.”
“I won’t let you,” all the flower-mouths said, loud and shaking.
Laughing unpleasantly, Roland peeled aside the orange skin. “Even you sleep.”
She tasted bitterness, soil, sweat, pain. Life.
Tasting, also, anger at the tree for withholding this, she said, “You’ll grow more. And you’re a fool if you think I don’t care about my brother enough to hurt you.”