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Long I have dwelt here, in the Land of Water, longer still than any other place.  On my journey through the years I have known many travelers who have come and gone in their times.  I shall speak their names now, so that you shall know them, and tell of each so that you shall know of them.

First, I speak of those that came and went during my years in the valley of Harrington, a land that was lush and welcoming.  When I arrived there in the Elder Days, there dwelt Diggs, a plump and friendly young woman.  Her life was dedicated to her daughter upon whom she doted.  She was often weary from the day and slept in peace while I stood guard.  We worked together for 16 moons, and in that time there was not a dark word or look between us.

Also at that time there was Pearson, a birdlike woman quick in step and speech.  She spoke constantly, faster than any I have heard before or since, and she spoke on all things great and small.  Her company was somewhat tiresome, yet I bore her no ill will.  We worked together for a mere four moons, and when she left the Valley I admit that I did not despair.  

Then came Isaiah, a solid and stoic youth with head shorn and the bearing of an older man.  Isaiah was a preternaturally calm youth, never raising his voice for any reason nor gamboling foolishly as some his age do.  He was, by his own admission, often under the influence of both spirits and the strong leaves which he smoked, but was so steady that none would guess as such.  He brought tales of a Lost island and he brought tales of great Heroes, both of which were unknown to me.  We reveled in these tales and others of their sort for fifteen moons before he departed the Valley to toil elsewhere, and I was saddened at the loss of Isaiah, and the loss of Diggs who also departed near that time.  

Thus began a strange and turbulent Yule season, and there came to the Valley strangers, strangers who came and went with haste.  Chief of these was Kelly, known to me as the Oaf.  I turned from him in chagrin at first, and my thoughts of him were filled with gall and bitterness, for I found him loud and foolish.  But in time, his mighty heart became known to me, and I learned to call him friend.  He dwells here still, in glory.

There came also an elder man by the name of Glock, who was rough of limb but flowery in his speech, and this was strange to me.  He drove a brown van, in which he concealed a tuba which he entreated me to blow; I blew not on the tuba.  We worked together for one moon, but he remained near the Valley for many ages, as he comes and goes as he pleases.  I hear now that he is gone, and I do not despair.

There was also at this time a young and careless man called Franklin.  Franklin did little else but slumber, as he was under the influence of powerful sleeping drugs.  At times, his girlfriend would call from Omohundro and wish to trade words with him, yet I could not rouse him, for his sleep was that of the dead.  We worked together for three moons, until he ran afoul of Glock and was banished from the Valley.

At the start of a new winter came more travelers.  There came to the Valley the young Bell, a lad who worked elsewhere during the day, so he came to the Valley and slumbered.  He slumbered more than any other traveler.  There also came at that same time the worthy Morell, a friendly man from the country.  He was quick to laugh, and full of high spirit, and was quite dedicated to the practice of local fire and rescue, highway emergency response, and other such things which were strange to me.  The only words I can say against Morell is that he tended not to his teeth, which were brown and rotting, abhorrent to the eye.  Although I liked both Bell and Morell, they often clashed with the other, and spoke hard words to me of the other.

Then came the Great Flood of 2010, which brought great destruction and woe to the Valley.  Bell and Morell both left due to this catastrophe, in different ways, and I was sad to see them both depart after a mere four moons.  With their departure, the Elder Days of the Valley came to an end, and the Dark Middle Days began...

For a short time, as the Valley was drained and set to right, there came two travelers who were familiar with one another.  They were the young Richardson and the young Charmaine.  The manners of these children were strange to me, them being so enamored of their cellular phones, and their group calls which would last many hours, in which they would speak to themselves, and others, of matters of little consequence.  But they gave no offense to me, and I would say that Charmaine was very pleasing to the eye.  We worked together for a mere two moons, but when they departed I despaired slightly.

As the summer waned that year and the leaves fell, the Valley returned to normalcy.  Still more travelers came, a strange pair.  First there came Gilbert Morris the Ancient One.  His body was thin as a reed, and desiccated, and wracked by coughing, for he was very fond of tobacco.  He could do little work, which galled others, although I paid him honor sufficient to his many years.  He did little but smoke, and slumber, and devour a great many ring-shaped pastries, of which he was exceedingly fond.  We sat mostly in silence for the nine moons we worked together.

At that same time, there came a young woman known as Milliken.  She was flirtatious and pleasing to the eye, but also sharp of tongue and mind, full of fire and spirit.  We had much fellowship, although she tended to slumber in the night.  She despised the Ancient and Desiccated Morris, and left after eight moons, and her place was taken by Swanson, whom I worked with for one moon.  When Milliken left, I despaired, though I continued to see her from time to time.  She is now gone, and about to bear her first child, I have heard.  

Then came the time of my migration.  I was told to leave the Valley, where I had dwelt in peace and glory for thirty-nine moons, and sent by the Lords to the Hill, where now I dwell.  At first I despaired, for I loved the Valley and knew not of the Hill.  In time I came to love the Hill as I loved the Valley, although I did not think this would be so during these Dark Middle Days...

...for first, on the Hill, I worked with Bertrand, known to me as the Pisher.  He was a sullen, stubborn, disagreeable youth, indolent and greedy.  He was possessed of an unnatural lust for money and spoke of little else.  And he walked about noisily, like a stumbling colt, bringing annoyance to all.  He left after four moons, and I did not despair, for he brought no good to the world.

Then there came to the Hill those named Saunders and Gaines, but they dwelt for less than a moon, and are not worth speaking of.  When they left, I did not despair.

The Dark Middle days dragged on, bringing always new travelers, and always these travelers were lesser than the ones in the Elder Days.  I pined for Diggs, and Isaiah, and Morell, and wished their return, even though I knew them to have moved on forever.

That winter, there came the elder Nicholson, a man who once served in the King's Military.  He was a short, stocky, cantankerous man, also greatly fond of tobacco.  His manner was rough, his words like gravel, and yet our companionship was genuine.  We spent a worthy winter together in fellowship, and he left after four moons.  

At that time there was also Springer, another man who mostly slumbered in the same manner as Bell and Franklin.  He was amiable when awake, which was rare.  At times, his slumbering was such that I suspected him of also being under the influence of powerful drugs, although I cannot be certain.  He dwelt on the Hill for six moons before being banished, and I did not despair.

Then there came the young and foolish Whitaker  from the tobacco-lands of North Carolina.  He was wild and careless, rude in his manners and thoughtless in his speech.  He smoked as one who has been to war, despite his tender age, which brought me chagrin.  He harbored a great fear of the far-off King Obama, saying that the Dark King would sour the milk of the land, and make the bread of the land more costly than gold, although these visions never came to pass.  He was often drunk, and noisy, and when he left after three moons, I did not despair.

Then came the man known as Walker, a dull sort of man not worthy of mention.  He stayed for just under two moons, and when he left I did not despair.

Then, just as I had given up hope of ever having travelers that were dear to me, the Dark Middle Days ended, and there came a new sort of golden age, much like a return of the Elder Days.  The New Days began and I was glad...

...for there came to the Hill two young Muslim travelers from the northern land of Toronto.  There was Dahir, a raucous and friendly young man with whom I had great companionship for a time.  However, despite his good words, I came to know him as a man of low character and cheap cunning, easily distracted and not to be depended upon. He was a wasteful sort, enamored of trifles, the sort of man who borrows much but returns little.  After thirteen moons, he was banished from the Valley, and I despaired for the loss of his first days, but did not despair for the loss of his latter days, for he had become abhorrent.  

With Dahir there came his sister-by-marriage, Muna, a young woman who shined like a precious gem upon the Earth.  Of all the maidens of the Hill or the Valley, she was the most pleasing to the eye and the most dear to me.  We dwelt in peace for twelve moons, and had many good nights, before she took her leave and returned to the frozen north, and I despaired much at her passing, for such beauty will not be seen upon the Hill again.  Others despaired as well, for she was like a jewel in the flame that cannot be grasped.  

Then there came for two moons a traveler named Lawrence, who was said to be from the island of Lesbos, and her speech and actions did indicate this.

Then there came, in great glory, the young Wadham, known to me as Hamwad.  We had great companionship and his goodness eased the loss of Dahir, who was much diminished in comparison.  Hamwad brought exciting tales of a horde of corpses, known as The Walking Dead, which I enjoyed greatly.  We feasted often that winter, on burritos, on chili, and on other foods of which we were fond.  Hamwad remained on the hill for nine moons, and when he departed I greatly despaired.

At the same time as Hamwad, there also came to the Hill the afflicted man named Conklin.  Like most afflicted men he is lugubrious and unsure, given to worry and always wringing his hands over invisible demons that assail him alone.  He dwells here still, as he has for the past fourteen moons, and when he leaves I will not despair, for he has been the only shadow of darkness during the otherwise prosperous New Days.

After the departure of Hamwad, there came to the Hill a traveler named Lewis, with whom I had companionship at the Valley for many moons previous.  He is a decent sort, possessing worthy skills, but also possessed of strange appetites, fond of trifles and sometimes given to slumber.  Yet when he leaves, I will despair.

Thus my days on the Hill continue, to what end I cannot see.

During these days, there have been two other travelers worthy of mention, even though they do not share the night with me, for they dwell in the day.  There is Gomez, a man of great height but small character.  Although friendly in words, he is clumsy and foolish in his actions, given to laze about while dreaming of childish things, and giving himself to gluttony, bringing chagrin to many.

Lastly, there is the wretched and demonic traveler known as Nilley.  He is a horrid being, bloated from relentless gluttony, his mind wracked by suspicion and terror, and ill-known by all for giving false witness and gossiping like a woman.  He is covetous, cowardly, and as full of venom as a serpent's tooth.  He is also unclean, foul of stench and vile of body.  It has been over twenty moons since he was banished from the Hill and exiled to the dark land of Omohundro, and none despaired at his passing.  He dwells there still, doubtless bringing grief and chagrin to all.  

These are the names and the deeds of my fellow travelers, so that you may know of them.  
My Fellow Travelers
A glimpse into Reality, a place we only sometimes tread.
The Scrotecratic Dialogues II: International Spankers

1.1001: The Deep Green

Dearest Nebfield,

I heard today from the dear Professor that you will be joining him on the next expedition into the deep green to assist with his ongoing work with the Indachi people.  I'm glad you are applying yourself in this manner and believe that the experience shall be quite beneficial in your overall professional development.  Now, although you shall unquestionably hear all this from him, I still feel obligated, as your sometimes-mentor, to warn you of a few rather specific points about the Indachi and the river lands they inhabit, for although they are largely a peaceful people, there is always peril for the uninitiated inside the green.

One -- I would be very wary of the purplish, onion-shaped fruits that grow abundantly in the Indachi groves.  They will all look alike to you, but there are two differing varieties.  The caelemarra fruit is a nutritious and refreshing staple of the natives, and you will see them consumed with great relish -- but is virtually indistinguishable from the highly toxic caelamurra which will kill any man after a single bite.  There is no antidote for the poison of the caelamurra nor can there ever be.  As stated, they look exactly alike, save for a small variation in the mottling around the stem.  The Indachi can tell them apart, of course, and can do so with such natural ease that, as a jest, they will often mischieviously offer a poisonous caelamurra to a friend, knowing that it will not be eaten but tossed aside after a knowing laugh -- the cultural equivalent of playfully slugging one's mate on the upper arm.  If you should be offered any such fruits, please double-check with the Professor before tasting, although even he has been known to muddle the two on occasion, resulting in several deaths.  Ultimately, it might be for the best to abstain from the fruit entirely?  True, you will spend many a bitter meal supping on cold biscuits and sardines while your footmen and porters enjoy the delicacies, but I can assure you that at least a half-dozen of them will fall stone dead after a seemingly innocent repast.  

Two -- you already know that the Indachi are an anti-individualist culture, and that all victories, from a successful hunt to a winning tiak-branch toss, are credited to "the all" of the tribe and not the individual.  Take care to emulate this tendency in your speech and actions.  In addition, they are also a completely polyamorous people, and you will find that both male and female Indachi will seek to give you sexual gratification, using a variety of methods and techniques, and to refuse an advance is considered a terrible insult.  Also, when an Indachi does bring you to climax, be sure to let your seed spill onto the soil, do not mar it in any way, and give thanks as always to "the all" of the tribe.  However, no matter what indecorum you witness or partake in, the one taboo that you must never indulge is the anal stimulation of a female either three days prior or three days following her lunar blood cycle.  Doing so will most likely result in your death, unless the Professor can intervene, and even if you are spared it will take the sacrifice of several limbs to placate their rage.

Three -- you soon notice that all the men in the company will, as they draw close to the Indachi villages, urinate in plain view of all, rather than retreat to a copse or tusset in modesty.  They will then scatter a handful of granulated bleach to mask the odor and move on immediately.  The reason of course is that there lurks in the green a small predator known as the skeeatah, a fierce insectoid with a long proboscis, to whom human urine is the most enticing of nectars.  Should you relieve yourself in the vicinity of one, they will latch on to your privates and attempt to deposit their egg sac inside your scrotum, oftening severing the entire member in their frenzy.  Obviously this is something you want to avoid.

If you follow these simple bits of advice, you will avoid most of the dangers of the land, and your expedition will be nothing but industrious.  I wish you well, Nebfield, and know that with your valuable assistance, we shall be one step closer to the eventual eradication of the Indachi and the assimilation of their resources.  God Save the Queen.


2.02:  Weird New Car

So hey, check this out, last Saturday after the races, me and my friend Jake Radical were out drinking some beer by the Palisades, and we drove out there in that weird new car of his.  After a while, he says, hey man, you want to see what I've really been working on for the last year?  And I say, okay.  He gets back in his car, and it does this futuristic thing kind of like the Back to the Future car, and the bottom starts to glow and it flies up into the air.  Holy shit, I almost lost it.  So Jake flies around in it for a minute, just kinda looping back and forth and doing a few spins.  He lands it and gets out and asks me what I think, and I say, holy BALLS Jake that was awesome.  I didn't even know there were flying cars yet.  And he says, well, there really ain't, the technology is just barely existing right now.  I asked how it works and he said a big thing about long-range magnetic enversion, that it, uh, has a superconductor that builds up a charge and aims a neutron ray or something that bounces off the earth's core, and that it's actually kind of risky, because if anything gets misaligned or miscalibrated he'd launch straight up into the atmosphere at a thousand miles an hour "like a dang champagne cork" and be stuck up there where there's no fucking air, and then probably crash and die eventually.  Fuck, that sucks, I said.  And he says man, you know you can't tell anyone about this, you hear?  And I tell him I can keep a secret.

Okay, yeah, I'm telling you, but I didn't tell you his real name, I called him Radical Jake, which is a fake name.  You probably know who I'm talking about, though.  I mean, who else do we know who's been holed up in his garage for a year and has a weird new car?  You know who I mean.


3.330:  Wigged Out

Sometimes I like to just sit around and figure things out for myself, you know?  Such as like... nobody taught me this, but I figure that back in the Old Days, when America was Colonial, it was only really the wealthy and educated who were permanently wigged.  If you were a poor farmer, you pretty much had lice your entire life and just dealt with it.  But if you were of the upper-class folk, you would not ever tolerate lice; thus you shaved your head and wore a powdered wig, as was the style.

But I wonder at what age did they start.  When a boy became a man, did he submit to a ceremonial shaving and receive his first wig?  That sounds likely.  Also, I realize that social mobility in those days was fairly limited, but still, there must have been people who moved from unwigged status to wigged status and vice versa.  Maybe some poor orphaned urchin was born with natural genius, and at age 17 he chanced to meet and then impress Thomas Jefferson to the point that he said, come boy, thou shalt be my assistant at Monticello and oversee my personal effects and sundry papers.  But first, thou poor creature, go thee hence to the shed where the slaves shall make your head shorn and I shall presently send a rider to the Olde Wigge Shoppe and he shall return with a wig for you.  In the meantime, you shall wear one of my old wigs.  Forsooth, within a fortnight thou shalt be properly bewigged.

Or, maybe some rich guy lost all his money because of drinking and whoring and became a bum.  He barely had enough to eat and could no longer afford the upkeep of a wig.  He made his last wig last as long as he could, but inevitably it grew threadbare and some other stinking drunk stole it one night when he was passed out and probably used it to wipe his ass.  And there he is, squatting in the gutter, his scalp feeling the bite of the louse and the sting of the boll weevil and glaring in envy at the wigs of the fine people walking by.  And he remembers fondly his wig-wearing days.  Perhaps he will scrape some cash together someday and buy a cheap counterfeit wig made of hair from the ass of a horse.  

These things happened.  It's just history.  As far as I can tell.  Like I said, I just think of these things and figure them out for myself.

0.44  Weird New Car II: The Auto-erotic

When the kid opened the garage door, the first thing I noticed was the effortless and nearly-silent glide of the automatic door; by itself, it was an immaculately maintained piece of equipment, a testament to the man who once inhabited this space.  The lights clicked on -- they were brilliant light-blue LEDs, another tasteful touch, and activated by a motion sensor.  But the door and the lights were swept from my mind as I beheld the mechanical wonder that greeted my gaze.  I was stunned, taken aback, gaping like a landed trout at the reality of it.  The kid and I walked around it in a circle and gave it the reverence it deserved.  My respect was for the machine, while his was more for the memory of the man who had treasured it.

"Yeah, old dad really kept her in good shape.  I've had people tell me that I could hold out for a million or more, or keep it up myself and sell it in twenty years for two or three million... but to be honest, I'm trying to make my assets liquid, so my wife and I can move back to France.  Unlike my dad, I was never a car guy."

This really is a once-in-a-lifetime find, thought I.  The kid really doesn't appreciate what we have here.  

"A 1970 GTO Shelby Cobra 750 EX9..." I murmured, "only a few hundred were ever made, almost exclusively for the European market.  I've never seen one in this condition.  Absolutely unbelievable."

I paused at the hood and asked consent, he nodded and I lifted it to see the engine within.

"This is a rebuilt Heiden-650cc turbo engine," I said, almost whispering.  "the finest in German engineering.  Designed by the Ludoff Group, never put into wide commercial use.  Totally beyond the knowledge of your average grease monkey.  There are four, maybe five facilities in the entire world capable of even servicing this car.  Amazing..."

"Yeah, sure is," the kid said.  He'd probably heard this all before.  He was starting to sound bored, while I could have contentedly examined this machine for another hour at least.  Well, i suppose I should start to talk turkey, because there's no way i'm letting this one get away...

"Wait," I said, as we came to the rear of the car, "what's this?"

There was a strange oval opening just above the bumper, an oval with tapered ends.  Inside there was a fold of plastic, slick with oil.  It looked like... like...

"Yeah, that's its vagina" the kid said.  "I used to tell people it was a custom intake valve or something, but that just prolongs the inevitable.  It's a vagina.  Cargina, whatever.  Mom used to tell Dad all the time -- hey, if you love that car so much, why don't you... well, you know.  And he did.  He did, all the time."

His face was slightly red.

I poked my finger in and out of the opening a few times.  Yeah, a pretty good approximation.  Then I tasted the end of my finger, instantly analyzing the seminal residue that had coagulated inside the opening.

"Interesting, your father had very high cholesterol," I said.  "and an inflamed prostate.  But unless I miss my guess, it was liver failure that finally killed him."

"That's right.  Wow, you guys really do know everything."

"We sure do.  Anyway, if you want a check today, I'll go as high as $850,000."

"Sold!  Nice.  By the way, once the car is yours, you're going to cover up the cargina, right?"

I paused.  It really would depend on whom I eventually sell the vehicle to.  It really would depend.


5.0555: The Legend of Hard Dick

Steadily my boots pounded a path through the dark, reeking, and trash-filled alleys.  The hydrocarbon miasma particular to Philadelphia in 1982 assaulted my lungs, which were more accustomed to the fresh and piney air of the Alaskan wilderness where I relentlessly train.  Had my mind not been so preoccupied with the task at hand, it would have lingered with curiosity over the alien details of this urban blight -- the sooty phone booths, the large and boxy steel automobiles, the fuzzy static of cathode ray tube screens flickering from store windows.  All was peripheral.  I had been searching the area for a few hours, sifting through the human wreckage of the night.  Grotesque faces leered at me from every corner.  Drool dripped from toothless gaps and scabby skin tortured from the industrial emissions were commonplace.  Cigarette smoke and the bitter stench of stale beer wafted through the spaces.  From time to time a flabby prostitute or filthy beggar began to approach me, but scurried away when they saw the determined look on my face.  They could clearly see a man with no time on his hands and no patience for ludicrous trifles.  

When I halted in front of this new bar, I felt a slight tingle of excitement, some subconscious twinge on the ethers and I instantly knew that this was the place.  A buzzing neon sign spelled out the words L O N G S H O R E  &  H A G G E R T O N and beneath some crudely scribbled placards advertised the dubious "deals" to be found within. Two-for-one longnecks and BLT sandwiches on Tuesdays.  Ask about our brisket special... actually, I shall not inquire about this filth, miserable sign.  I have but one purpose here...

I entered the smoky den of sin and decrepitude and made my way around.  Then I saw him, for there was no mistaking.  He sat perched on a stool at the exact center of the Bar, a colossal man dressed in the rough and shabby garb of a steelworker.  He was pounding back the brews with three of his smaller chums, who were laughing at his simplistic jests.  It was just another night for them, their customary bit of revelry between work shifts.  But tonight...

I approached the large man and squared myself behind him, drawing the gaze of his orbiting louts.  The combination of my size and grim demeanor could only mean one outcome.  Within a few seconds he swiveled around on the stool, fixing one bloodshot eye upon me, a man nearly as large as himself.  I noted with some disappointment the cigarette in his left hand; such a habit would adversely affect his cardiovascular capacity and therefore also his stamina.

"Eh?  And whadda ya want, junior?  Come t'buy a round fer old Hard Dick?"

My suspicions were thusly confirmed.  This was Richard Sherman Hardcastle, known to those in this place and time as Hard Dick.

"No, I do not drink alcohol."  They sniggered childishly at this.  "I've come because they say you're the hardest man to have ever thrown hands on the eastern seaboard; Hard Dick, the man who never lost a fight."

"Yaar, that be me" he said with a mock bow, "And ya'are?"

"My name's Sonny, but they call me 'Eggshells,'" I said.

"...'cause when you're around, that's what people walk on, ah reckon?"

"That's right... you old bitch."

His face knotted in confusion and I remembered that in those days, men simply didn't refer to other men by that term which was still reserved entirely for women.  A hush fell over the bar patrons as Hard Dick's face hardened into a scowl.  He sized me up again, noting the almost exact similarity between our physiques.  He was a bit broader, I suppose, both from age and the overconsumption of beer, but our underlying structures corresponded almost precisely.  Not strange that this should be so.

With no further ceremony the fight began.  Hard Dick lived up to his reputation; he fought brutally, but did not, as I had feared, fight heedlessly, and merely depend upon his massive size and power to batter me into unconsciousness.  Nay, he clearly has some training, I surmised, as he adopted an orthodox stance and pummeled me with blows.  I fought defensively, my mind taking note of every aspect of his abilities.  I blocked many strikes, and simply absorbed others.  I feinted and played rope-a-dope, such that the ignorant patrons of the Bar assumed him to be winning -- but Hard Dick sensed what I was about, and knew that this fight was far from over.  As he began to tire, my speed only increased.  I turned the tables on him, boxing with greater vigor, and switching to various Tae Kwon Do and Krav Maga strikes that baffled him.  "Fight fair, you fucking faggot!" an old lady's voice screeched from afar.  "Knock off that gook fairy shit!" another wheezed.  At last, as his mighty fists flagged, I delivered the final blow -- a flying Muay Thai knee that caught him directly underneath the jaw.  His body flew high in the air before crashing down upon the hard floor.  He attempted to roll over, then stilled.  All trace of life had left him.

Turning with no words spoken I walked from the Bar as purposely as I had entered.  It was done.  Screams and wails followed me but none dared accost my person.  I marched to the alleyway, where I knew I would find my guide.

"I shall never understand the minds of you clones," Beltrinor the Time Wizard chided, "to travel all the way here, just to murder your original?  To what end?"

"It was the end in itself," I said as his magic caused us to disappear from this place and time, perhaps forever.  "for every circle of that sort must be closed.  When I first learned that he'd been killed in a brawl, I knew that I must be the one to do it."  The Time Wizard glared obstinately, knowing that I was speaking of matters he could never comprehend.


6.0666:  The Cannibal Lecturer

It was about eight months before he first met Clarice Starling that the infamous Hannibal Lecter had another unusual guest visit him in the basement of the Baltimore Institue for the Criminally Insane. It was a rainy Tuesday morning and the orderlies had already delivered the miserable morning meal and cleaned the area when the door to the wing opened unexpectedly.  Lecter, reclining on his hard bunk in his usual state of calm readiness with his eyes closed, focused his preternaturally sharp ears and discerned the murmured words belonging to the odious Dr. Chilton and a newcomer.  They were speaking of him, of course, Lecter thought, and the doctor was reiterating the usual warnings.  You never can be too careful.  

With a sharp click of the door Chilton departed, leaving the newcomer.  Already Lecter could smell their scent, a not-unpleasant melange of young flesh and some variety of exotic cologne.  So far, so good.  The person's footsteps were soft and deliberate, and they moved with some amount of grace.  Clearly, this was no loutish guard or prying psychobabbler... so who could it be, Lecter mused?  Now the person seemed to be fussing with something, setting up some sort of... stand, easel?  Yes, the slight rustle of heavy vellum and the whiff of charcoal in the air could only mean an artist of some sort.  Here, for me? Lecter smiled immodestly.  How intriguing.  He opened his eyes to see what he already knew.

It was an artist, young, obviously a student.  Hannibal Lecter, always a keen judge of humanity, was immediately struck by this person's appearance in a way he had not been in some time.  For one, he was at an absolute loss as to whether this delightful waif was male or female; they possessed an unearthly androgynous beauty -- slender form, olive skin, with blue-black hair carelessly tossed into a punkish youthful hairstyle, earring and bracelets.  Their features -- tapered chin, slightly almond-shaped eyes, a smattering of freckles, rounded nose -- suggested a delightfully mongrel heritage that must have come from many corners of the world.  There was some touch of Arabia there perhaps, filtered through the Orient or some minor island race, along with some European heritage.  It was impossible to say for certain.  Lecter's sexual urges, which were infrequent but still potent, were instantly aroused.  

The artist had finished arranging his or her equipment and then gave him the briefest of glances.  Tremulously, they asked "do you mind at all?" to which Lecter replied "no, no."  Sensing he was now a subject, he reclined at ease in his chair and asked "does this suit you?"


Then, with nothing further, the artist set to work.  For hours, the artist sketched, slowly at first but then with more confidence, becoming totally engrossed in their work and attempting no further conversation.  Lecter enjoyed the strange sensation of his body being the subject of intense scrutiny while his personality was completely ignored.  He felt a longing to speak to this artist, to analyze them as he so loved to do -- perhaps share some of his own excellent drawings -- but the sanctity of artistic effort was nearly holy to him, and he dared not intrude.  Besides, there would likely be time later.  The artist finally came to a stopping point, bundled up their tools, slipped the canvas into a vellum case, and departed with another small and polite nod.

The artist, he or she, returned the following day and worked again for hours in the exact same manner as Lecter resumed his pose.  When they parted late in the afternoon, the only words spoken between them were "One more day, is that alright?" and "Yes, of course."

On the third day, the artist only worked for three hours at most before their work tapered to a halt.  The artist's hands were filthy with black chalk that had smudged other parts of their person, including the tip of their nose, which caused Lecter to grin.  After much slow consideration, they deemed the work done, and with much trepidation, asked "would you like to see?"

"But of course."

The artist turned the easel around.  It was entirely blank except for a single crudely-drawn cartoon stick figure, like something a fifth-grader would produce.  One of its hands was jammed inside its buttocks, the other clumsily grasped an oozing human heart.  From the misshapen face, a speech bubble surrounded the words "DURR I EAT PEEPLE COZ IM A HUGE FAGGOT LOL!!"  

Lecter was truly taken aback.  His surprise and rage were so complete that he stared at the useless thing for several seconds before his eyes darted to the artist, who was racing from the wing, skipping and giggling at their mischief.

Hannibal Lecter sauntered around his cell and carefully forged a new room in his vast Memory Palace.  Every detail of the flippant youth was engraved with perfect detail, every clue that would help identify them later.  It would take another 23 years for Lecter to find, abduct, and finally devour them, because by that time, Norrin Maclay -- that was their  name -- had become one of the most prominent modern artists in America.  That made the meal ever so much sweeter.  Ever so much sweeter by far.


7.77: Suicide Buddha: The Overcoming

Egads, man.  If you really have to know, it all started at that miserable get-together back in Utica... it was just one of those unbearable things where the hipsters and fuckwads would stand around drinking Fat Tire and pretending to sound smart while all they really want is to get into someone's pants (or to score some Adderall for the fall semester.)  Me, I was just there for both of those lofty goals.  My stash was looking thin, and I thought there was the outside chance that Becca Parris would let me smash it.  She's always talking at me in the quad, after all.  Before that night, I considered her to be a bit remedial but not totally basic.  But as the night wore on, I realized that she was beyond basic, she was utterly tarded.  For one thing?  She didn't know how to use a corkscrew.  Even worse, she had some stupid chick fetish about guys smoking.  Not weed, which I'll smoke if I'm not doing anything, but fucking cigarettes.  She just kept saying "nooooo, you have to, it's so hot, I just think it's too hot when a guy smokes, come on, you have to smoke with me, you can't not smoke..."  I told her that having both of my parents die of lung cancer had some slight bearing on my decision and she just said "you're not supposed to think about that, you think too much you're no fun."  She was drunk and all but that is just too idiotic.  And then someone told me that she has... okay, I didn't know this, but apparently some teenage girls, or most of them really, have some kind of hang-up or sick fascination with their dad's dick?  They said she has that worse than anyone -- that in Freshman Art she carved a plaster statuette of her dad's erect unit that she referred to as "part of her overcoming."  And that it was over a foot long.  What the hell, I can't compete with that.  You think her dad smokes a lot of cigarettes?  I'm guessing so.


Even after I ditched her, the party still blew.  No one had any Addies, and the guy who owned the place, what the hell was his name?  Glade?  Glayden?  Gladbag?  Goat Sac?  He kept ushering people into his little den to show off his new prized possession -- a set of leatherbound and autographed first printings of the Alissa Rosenbaum trilogy.  There they were, perhaps the greatest books ever penned -- "Airtight," "Second-Hand Lives," and "The Strike," all displayed in a lighted glass case.  I know, I'm just jealous, I got the guts to admit it.  If I'd been smart enough to steal them, I would have.  But as I stood there, silently envying this rich cunt-rag, I couldn't help but think back to what happened on the way over.  As I was walking up 51st and Mercury, a wretched bum emerged from an alley.  He was almost totally naked, virtually hairless, and coated in an unspeakable filth that looked to be mostly composed of various condiments, as if he'd been dumpster-diving behind the Food Court.  Anyway, he introduced himself as a "man of reduced circumstance" and politely asked for "a tad bit of charitable remuneration to compensate for ongoing societal injustices."  I was so amused by the incongruity between speech and appearance that I pulled out my wallet and cautiously handed over about $150.  He accepted it daintily, and with a twinkle in his foggy eye he made it disappear to some place on his person.

I made to go when the horrid being grasped my shoulder with a strangely strong grip.  I don't take shit like that, and spun around to rebuff his ass... but he didn't attack.  He peered deep into my soul and launched into spellbinding monologue.

"We used to believe in things," he croaked.  "My generation is mostly to blame.  We used to believe in the deep and abiding honor of the President.  We used to believe in the transcendent omnipotence of rock-and-roll.  We used to believe in the inherent decency of women, of the inherent nobility of our military men.  We used to believe ourselves mainly good, that the dangers of life came from lone criminals, from perverted Satanists lurking on the fringes of our society, ready to slit our children's throats and frolick in their spurting blood to the discordant wailing of Megadeth or Metallica... a quaint notion, is it not?  Comforting, to imagine that human wickedness could be so plain and simple, embodied only in a small minority of disturbed individuals, a small and easily lanced boil on an otherwise robust body.  But now we know differently, don't we?  We realize that we, us, our hideous oppressive industrial ways have become the evil in the world.  Every tree we fell, every structure we erect, every animal we slaughter is not a net gain for the world, as once it was.  We became too efficient at killing, too successful... now, anything we do is a strike against goodness, against the world.  How can a species genetically programmed to think of itself as a race of struggling underdogs cope when it's conquered everything?  The only rational moves are those that steer the ship towards suicide and self-destruction.  That is why Superman no longer fights for us.  That is why he remains in the Fortress of Solitude, deaf to our cries..."

How nice, this man is insane.  And from the political nature of his sick ramblings, I surmise he was a teenager in the 1990's, you can smell those types a mile away.

The thing is, I like to talk to crazy people.  I like to fuck with them and egg them on.  So I sat and talked to this wretched sack of shit, humoring him and telling him the sort of things I thought he might like to hear.  Even now, certain bits remain in my brain.  My memory is hardly eidetic but I can retain certain chunks of speech for a long time.  

"Unquestionably," I replied.  "This?  All of this?  I'm ready for it to end.  I'm ready for this to fall apart.  I want to go into a coma and wake up in a world with no advertisements, no video games, no celebrity gossip, no apps, and no spoiled idiots like Becca Parris.  Have your apocalypse, just wake me when it's over..."

"...I'm not sure how long it will take humanity to create a sane society, it's decades or centuries away.  But I suspect this -- the people in the future will be aghast that we chose to trudge through our lives doing the same things every day in and day out, year after year.  Can you imagine something better?  I can.  Imagine, waking every morning and setting off to do two or three hours of manual or technical labor, combined with some exercise.  After lunch, teaching a single class for a few more hours, because almost everyone has some skill they can pass on to others.  And then one would have the evening hours to pursue whatever intellectual or artistic pursuits one fancies.  People would lead complete lives, instead of the drudgery we have now -- grunt laborers grinding away at repetitive tasks, withered autodidacts preaching to bored children, while so-called intellectuals live cloistered apart from anything resembling real life.  It's death through overcompartmentalization..."

"..if there was one thing I wish could pound into the heads of conservatives, it's that the structures they support have absolutely no regard for them as people.  They are just as interchangeable as any other Mexican.  When you drive into the city to go to work, when you enter that vast Machine that society has created, the network of factories and finance and infrastructure, you realize... the Machine is paramount.  The Machine exists, and it decides the number and sort of people it needs to sustain it for another day.  To have a surplus of people is always desirable, as replacement cogs for the ones that break down.  That is the truth of our society.  I think they realize this, and that their status as white, Christian, straight, indigenous citizens means exactly nothing.  The Machine, man, the Machine..."

"Rat shit, bat shit, a dirty old twat,
sixty-four assholes tied in a knot..."

"...wait, what now?"

"...rrrr... rrrraaaaagh!  Arrarafghghgjs!!!"

I think our conversation had overstimulated the bum, because he started having some sort of fit.  He kinda staggered about, looking around his nest of filth for some object or another.  I took that chance to turn my heels and walk away, but then I heard him begin to screech, and when I turned back for a last glimpse he was upon me, and he was jacking his dick, which was strangely long and slender, and blasting little gobs of yellow, diseased, pus-filled semen at me, shrieking something about black Presidents and the lower classes.  Oh, god, some of it got on my jacket.  I really, really wanted to punch him and break his face, but instead I screamed and ran.  I'm kind of a pussy, you know.  I was blocks away and nearly at Goat Sac's lame party and I could still hear him wailing.  I stuffed the jacket into a trash can in the lobby and got in the elevator to... well, you already heard that part.  Sorry for telling all of this out of order.

The night after the party, I was pretty depressed, to tell the truth.  I only had a few Adderall left and was rationing them pretty severely.  It was Fall break and no one was there.  I played games for a bit and then decided to write some bullshit... it has been a while since I wrote some funny madness.  The encounter with the bum and his rather dim view of the world inspired me a little bit, I guess, because I pecked out a document that I can only describe as being a parody of Gnosticism (and the Matrix reboot trilogy, to be honest,) and urging people to fucking kill themselves as soon as possible.  It was pretty clever in parts.  It was full of stuff like...

"...looking at the world as such, can there be any doubt as to its falseness and its wickedness?  Its utterly temporality and unimportance?  It's flimsiness and uselessness?  What false reason could possibly tether one to this dark illusion, apart from fear and inertia?  When the time comes, this writer will take the final step towards liberation, the final step taken by Lincoln, by King, by Kennedy, and all those other evolved souls who have awoken to the Great Truth and decided, by their own volition, to ascend to the Real, to ascend with joy in my soul, in full command of my faculties.  The only reason I have not yet done so is because I feel called by the Heart of Creation to awaken as many as my brothers and sisters while on my journey.  Join me, and let us ascend."

Yeah, a load of crap.  I posted in on the Metataxis boards so at least some people could get a chuckle out of it, and it got a few dozen likes before dropping off.  Then I forgot about the damn thing for about fifteen years.

Then, well, this happened.  The stupid suicide rant I wrote after a lousy party was apparently really well-liked by someone.  They added to it, passed it around, and formed a sort of internet cult around it.  And so there I am, sitting at my desk at the airport, and hearing my name on the news.  Tricia and Pete were staring at me, the boss called me up to the concourse... that morning, a few thousand depressed suburban kids offed themselves, most of them taking their friends or family along for the ride -- the greatest mass suicide in history, and the initial reports uncovered this bizarre essay written by me, the "Suicide Buddha."  There were reporters milling around my yard by the time I got home.  I tried to explain it all to them, I told them about Goat Sac's party, about the mustard-covered bum, about Becca's Dad's plaster dick... I told nothing but the truth, but I don't think it helped in the end.

And now, here we are.  

Here we are.



Hey, i ain't talking 'bout them niggas.  I ain't talking 'bout them downtown niggas.  Or them uptown niggas.  I ain't talking 'bout them-gelato-and-gazpacho niggas, them fancypants niggas.  I ain't talking 'bout them broke-ass niggas always coming out the woodwork when you hit the number.  I ain't talking 'bout them gay-ass niggas wanting to marry other niggas.  I ain't talking 'bout them Ferguson niggas rioting and such.  I ain't talking 'bout them niggas always on they cel phones and ignoring the world playing Candy Crush.  I ain't talking 'bout them radio niggas.  I ain't talking 'bout them strip club prostitute niggas talking 'bout -- these niggas, these nuts, these titties, these butts.  I ain't talking 'bout them Flavorade niggas.  I ain't talking 'bout them fluff niggas pending. I ain't talking 'bout them upshot honky niggas.  I ain't talking 'bout them coke babies and crack eaters.  I ain't talking 'bout them ho-ass niggas trickin'.  I ain't talking 'bout them wartime niggas.  I ain't talking 'bout them Stormfront niggas.  I ain't talking 'bout them dropout niggas, barely literate.  I ain't talking 'bout them unemployed niggas.  I ain't talkin' bout them Rude Dog and the Dweebs niggas.  I ain't talking 'bout them Hobie Cat niggas.  I ain't talking 'bout them ISIS niggas or them Al-Qaeda niggas.  I ain't talking 'bout them AIDS niggas dyin' on the couch.  Everyone know that a nigga showin' out and flauntin' clout ain't near as hard as a nigga layin' grout and building his own house.  I ain't talking 'bout them aborted niggas that wasn't even born.  Whom I talkin' bout?  Who, nigga?

I'm talking about them niggas that use they brain, and make a positive-ass difference in they community.  Smart niggas.  Like Einstein.  Yeah.  He a real nigga.
The Scrotecratic Dialogues II
Sometimes, the worst ideas are the very best ones.  These thoughts are not worthy of Gilbrod, but we still desired to have them recorded for eternity.
(The Jericho Project)

My friends, my followers, praise the Savior!  

Praise, praise the Savior... now today, my friends, I want to talk about something very important.  You see, it all started with this certain young man that we all know.  He was once a member of this flock but he doesn't come here much on Sunday mornings anymore.  I'm not going to name him and single him out but many of you know of whom I speak.  Anyway, I spoke with this young man recently, at his mother's house, and tried to get him to get back on the righteous path, praise the Savior!  And do you know what he told me?  He told me, Reverend Alljoy, I am having doubts -- doubts about my faith, doubts about the Gospels, about the divinity of the Christ, about the Church and the Message of the Third Revelation... and it near broke my heart, it near rent my heart in twain to hear this intelligent young man admit to these shameful doubts.  How can I convince him, I wondered?  How did this loss of faith come to pass?  And do you know what he told me, brothers and sisters, praise the Savior?  Praise, oh, yes!  He told me, Reverend, it's like this -- it seems, to me, he said, that the smartest and best people I know, all the other engineering students at the college, my professors, the people I admire most, are agnostics, even atheists.  None treasure the Gospels and the Message, very few of them attend a Sunday Service, and those that do so tend to do it in a lukewarm manner, halfheartedly, and only because a family member forces them to.  Praise the Savior.  The only people, this boy said, who come to the House of God every Sunday, and every Wednesday night, the most devout in their attendance and their belief, they tend to be, well, the "stupid" ones.  He hesitated to say it, but he said it.  He used that exact word, stupid.

It's terrible, it's terrible, my brothers and sisters, yes, praise the Savior, it is terrible.

But do you know what?

He is right.

He is right, praise the Savior.  I mean, let's be honest with ourselves, we're not the brighest bulbs in the drawer.  I'm no Einstein, I can admit it.  Heck, look at Doobie Cooner over there -- Doobie, stand up!  You, I'm gonna single out.  Yes, yes, wave to everyone, Doobie.  Now this is Doobie Cooner, you all know him, you know what he is.  Now Doobie -- okay, sit down, Doobie -- Doobie is as dumb as the day is long.  That's right.  Doobie's the sort of fellow who stares up at the sky when it rains with his mouth open, ain't he?  He sure is.  How far did you get in school, Doobie, the fourth grade?  What's that now?  The third?  See, folks, you see what I'm talking about.  Doobie Cooner never misses a Sunday, and he's as thick as a bag of wet hair, while this intelligent young man, who now only comes here on Christmas and Easter, he is a straight-A student and if he was any sharper, he'd cut himself.  That's the way it is.

So, my brothers and sisters, what does this mean?

What does it really mean?

Well, I will tell you.  Oh, praise the Savior.

There is a reason for this.  Oh, my yes.

Do you know what it is?

I do.

For I have thought and prayed long on this, and when I pray, I go deep inside, and not just inside the mind of God Almighty, but the mind of the Enemy, inside the mind of Satan the Deceiver.  Yes, I have touched his mind, deep in my prayers, praise the Savior, I have glimpsed his wicked mind and I have seen his designs.

Satan... is recruiting, as he always does.  He has his own church, deep in the Lake of Fire, and he has pews to fill just as the Lord does.  Praise, praise.  And who has Satan been recruiting lately?  Whom has he sought out to join the ranks of the damned these last few decades?  That's right, the smarties.  The eggheads, the professors, the scientists, the smooth talkers, the best and brightest of us...

...and why not?  Do you think the Fallen One needs any more lunkheads like Doobie Cooner taking up space in Hell?  No, no, sit down, Doobie, don't be afraid.  Praise the Savior.  He's not gonna get you here.  No, Satan doesn't want any more dummies, no sir.  He wants the smart ones, the engineering students like this young man whom Satan has caused to lose his faith so tragically.  He wants the high achievers, the college professors, and anyone with some fancy letters after their name -- can you look at the world today and doubt this inescapable truth?

You cannot.  

But why?

Why, I ask myself?  Why, I asked the Lord?

And the Lord, He gave me the answer.

Satan is building something.  Something more evil than we can imagine.  For you see, the realms beyond, Heaven and Hell, they were once as simple and natural as our world once was.  But as knowledge and technology have increased on Earth, so have they in the Beyond. The Realms are not static in nature but always increasing in complexity, you see.  Machines, computers, aircraft, rockets.... as these become known here, so they become known there, the knowledge of them carried into the hereafter by those who die and pass on.  In the last fifty years, the sinners who have gone to the Lake of Fire have brought their technical skills with them, have no doubt.  Do you think Satan makes no use of this learning?  He does, he does, my brothers and sisters, and he is putting that learning to use.  The discovery of modern military technology was the sweetest surprise that Satan has got in the last few centuries, yes sir.  So this is what was revealed to me; Satan is constructing a weapon, something decidedly mechanical in nature, deep in the bowels of his dark kingdom, to use against God, praise the Savior!  It is something like a missile, something like a laser, but more fearsome than any on Earth.  That smart young man, were he to die today, God forbid, would find himself forced to labor on this abomination.  This Infernal Device is nearing completion.  The more scientists and engineers that Satan causes to go astray, the more workers he has to complete it.  He is close, so close, to having a weapon powerful enough to... to strike the Earth, to strike Heaven, to damage or destroy both, perhaps, or to at least alter the balance of power in the firmanent forever.

It is terrible.  But it is happening.  It is nigh.

What do we do, my brothers and sisters, praise the Savior?

I know.  For the Lord revealed that to me as well.

My friends, we must stop him.  We, the members of the Lakeside Baptist Church of the Third Revelation.  That is our purpose.  When the Lord called our congregation together in the year 1834, this great purpose was already formed in his mind. You have seen the flyers in the common room, talking about the Jericho Project?  That is the Jericho Project, the mission to destroy the Devil's Weapon.  How?  Simple.  We must infiltrate Hell.  We must go undercover as damned souls.  We must sabotage it from within.  Now!  I will need volunteers, about five or six volunteers in total.  The best among us -- that rules you out, Doobie -- the five or six of us with the wits to achieve this task.  But how do we enter Hell?  Why, that is the easy part.  We shall gather, next Friday, which is All Hallow's Eve and the day most abhorrent to the Lord.  We will engage in the filthiest, most depraved homosexual acts we can imagine, and all the while we will be repenting our true faith, screaming obscenities, and denying the spirit of God.  And at the end of this disgusting orgy, we will take our lives.  These three high sins -- sodomy, blasphemy, and suicide -- done in close proximity to one another as to amplify their effects, will be more than enough to nullify our good works and send us on the express train to the lowest levels of Hades.

Then, we must make our way to the weak spots of the device -- the Lord has provided me with blueprints that indicate their locations clearly -- there are several that must be obliterated, simultaneously, to collapse the superstructure beyond any hope of repair. And we shall do just that, praise the Savior.  We shall direct his own hellfire at the crucial junctures, burn them with righteous fury.  The Lord has promised me that this plan cannot fail, so long as we have the courage and the faith to see it through... and if we do, we shall become the most exalted beings in all of Creation, for we will have saved not only the Earth, but all of Heaven itself, praise the Savior.  We shall have thrones next to that of the Almighty himself.

What, my brothers and sisters, could be more glorious?


[Note: On November 1st, 2014, the bodies of Rev. Nathan Alljoy, James Cowler, Hooper Higgins Sr., and Dorman "Doobie" Cooner were discovered in the common room of Lakeside Baptist Church.  All were nude and apparently died of close-range gunshot wounds in the cranial region.  Evidence of extensive sexual activity was present.  No statements from their fellow parishioners have been taken at this time.  Lakeside Baptist is expected to reopen on December 11th, under the stewardship of Rev. Snoal Kliegman, a resident of nearby Putnam Co.]

Praise the Savior
Religion, one of the greatest follies ever to befall mankind.  They worship false idols, while the truth of Illuvatar and the Valar remains hidden to all but the truest scholars.

Take one of these modern faiths and live as it would demand?  It is madness. 
"You been in the Shed, boy?  You been in there?"

"No, paw!" the little boy squealed, "I ain't been in there ever, since you said."

The father scowled as he towered over his shrinking son.  Playing cards and puzzle pieces crunched under his heavy boots.  "You sure, Addy?  You damn sure?"

"Damn sure, paw!  I ain't been!" Addy wailed.

The father started at the parroted curse word and thought he was being mocked.  His rage rose, subsided, and then rose again as he stared at the quivering child.  But the boy was fortunate; the sound of his mother's car came from the driveway, she was back from the Piggly-Wiggly with his cousins.  They would have some treats for him, and he'd escaped a brutal lick from his father.  His father had few rules, and the only one he enforced with absolute authority was -- no one enters the Shed, except him and those who had permission -- which meant Addy's cousin Coddy, Uncle Amus, and pretty much no one else on Earth.

They had waffles, tea, instant sausages, and strawberry milk for dinner that night.  After most of the family dropped off to sleep, Addy and Coddy snuck out to the living room and stealthily turned on the family television.  They were playing some Lone Ranger and Flash Gordon reruns after midnight these days, which were far more tempting than sleep to boys their age.  Good as gold, as Coddy said.  Can't pass it up.  Coddy was nodding drowsily and nearly asleep on the couch when Addy lightly punched his arm and whispered, "Coddy... what does my paw keep in the Shed?  I gotta know, I promise I won't tell, not ever."

Coddy looked furtive.  "Nuthin', Addy.  Nuthin'."

"C'mon!  It's gotta be somethin'!  He keeps it locked, all the winders are boarded, and he keeps yellin' at me..."

"It ain't nuthin', Addy, nothing interesting anyway.  Juss' forget about it.  I'm goingta bed now.  This's a rerun anways."

Addy sat there in the darkness and felt hurt.  Coddy was only three years older than him, why would his paw trust him more than his own son?  It didn't add up.  It was then that Addy realized he would have to take matters into his own hands.

It didn't happen until well over three months later.  The first part of Addy's plan was to act as if he had no interest in the Shed, refusing to even look at it as he passed it by in the yard.  He feigned an interest in motorcars, asking his father endless questions about drivers and engines that he'd picked up by reading the racing magazines at Pop's newsstand.  As far as his father knew, the boy's interest was totally consumed by this new hobby.  Meanwhile, while they slept, Addy constructed a makeshift ladder (out of several broken ladders from the trash yard) and slowly loosening one of the ceiling planks that would allow him to peep into the Shed from above.... night, while everyone else was asleep, he climbed on top of the Shed, pried the board aside, and tried to look -- but it was far too dark to see anything inside.

The next night, he tried again and lowered a candle into the darkness inside the Shed, but its light was too feeble to offer much illumination, and all he saw was a patch of floor and part of a wooden crate.  

That weekend, he could resist no longer.  His paw, Uncle Amus, and Coddy repeated the same Saturday night ritual that Addy knew so well -- they would, one by one, nonchalantly take leave from the family table and mosey towards the Shed,  as if merely going on a leisurely stroll.  Addy marked the look on his mother's face whenever one left -- she was aware of whatever occurred in the Shed, and looked none too pleased about it.  

All of them were gone.  They were inside it, and would be for a couple of hours at least.  

"I'm going to bed, maw," Addy yawned.  

"So early?" she inquired.

"Yup, I'm bushed," he yawned theatrically.

Into bed.  Out the window.  Around the edge of the property.  Ladder retrieved from hiding place.  Up the ladder, silent as a scullery cat the boy moved.

The lights were on inside.  Addy removed the board, moving it as slowly as humanly possible, easing it aside at a snail's pace.  Finally, he saw...

...his paw was tending to a large copper tub that was attached to some other containers by some tubing.  Unce Amus was filling up some Mason jars with a clear liquid, and dropping a couple of maraschino cherries into each one before sealing it.  Coddy was wrapping them in wax paper and placing them in crates, and nailing each one up with extreme care.

Addy realized it was a still.  They was moonshinin'?  Addy felt a tremendous sense of disappointment.  For months, he'd nursed visions of secret wives, pirate doubloons, fugitive slaves, caged zoo animals, stockpiles of guns and artillery.... but no, his paw was just runnin' moonshine, same as half the men in the county.  Addy knew all about the illegal liquor and it didn't interest him a whit.  He'd heard all about it from the older boys who fished in the creek, just as he'd heard about cigarettes, and the wacky tobaccy that the hippies smoked out West, and the "F-word," and the "C-word," and a little about the birds and the bees... he felt suddenly excluded, untrusted.  He could be in there helping like Coddy was.  Why did they treat him like a baby?  He was only three years younger...

Addy watched a while longer, then decided to go to bed for real.  This was boring.  He was slowly moving the loose board back into position when things inside the Shed changed.  The work seemed to come to a halt.  Amus began to fidget, while Coddy was staring at the wall, as if hypnotized.

"Alright, now," his Paw began, "alright, now, it's time.  Come and get it, come and get it, boy, fresh meat on the bone, yessir..."

To Addy's shock, Coddy and Amus began removing their clothes.  They did so hurriedly, but uncomfortably.  Addy's father undid his overalls, and before Addy knew it, his... his thing, his dong doodle, was flapping loose.  It was larger and hairier than Addy could have imagined.  Below it, his father's balls hung low like those of a hog.  His thing began to grow and stand up in a way that Addy's never had, and then he was approaching Coddy, he grabbed the boy by the shoulders, turned him around, slapped his rump...

Several things happened at once.  Amus looked upwards for whatever reason, and saw Addy's eyes peeking through the roof.  A yelp of rage, shouts of surprise and anger, Addy thrashed in fear and stood up, fell, stood again... and then the boards he was standing on gave way, he was falling, then was caught in the broken boards, he was being stabbed by splinters and torn by rusty nails, then falling again, a thud, starbursts in his vision, more screams and hollers...




Addy never saw the still tip over.  He felt only a tremendous shock as the boiling corn mash slurry cascaded onto his face.  The pain was like nothing he'd ever felt.  He remembered the episode where Ming the Merciless threatened to lower Flash into an active volcano, it must have felt like this, like this, oh god the pain, the pain...

Addy clawed at his face, and felt his flesh melt and slough off in globs.  He screamed like the damned.  Then, the blackness claimed him and he knew no more.

Weeks passed.

Many weeks passed, as if in dreams.

He knew only darkness, darkness came like the setting of the sun, and that was all.  In the darkness, slow creatures moved, sloshing through his nightmares.

The boy in room 201-A had undergone such a change since he'd been brought in, the nurses all said.  At first he'd been nearly comatose throughout the treatments which was not surprising given the incredible extent of his burns.  Once he awoke, he cried, and cried, and wanted his mother.  She was there most of the time.  His weeping jags were interrupted by fits of screeching, and more than one nurse began to slowly realize that his terrors seemed to strike whenever his father entered the room, which was infrequently... and then, as he healed, he became quiet.  Too quiet, one might say.

One night, a pretty nurse named Frannie Dalton was tending to him, delicately changing the bandages that still swaddled his face like the Mummy.  You ever seen that movie, Frannie asked him.  The boy nodded.  You see the old one or the new one?  The old one was better...

He would only stare.  He lay propped up in the bed, his arms at his side, his small fists clenching the bedsheets.  What little of his face she could see was set, stonelike.  He appeared deep in thought, more serious than any boy his age had a right to be.

Frannie cleared her throat.  "I want you to know, Addy, that you're still going to have a normal life, when this is all over, I promise..."

"No, I won't."  His words were still partially garbled by the hideous, melted flaps of flesh that hadn't yet been repaired.

"Now sweetie..."

"You don't understand.  I don't want a normal life."

"Sweetie, everyone wants a normal..."

"I don't," he interrupted.  

His head swiveled slowly and he looked at her with haunted eyes.  A fire burned in them.

"I don't want to be normal.  I want to be powerful.  I'm going to run things... I'm going to become a man that runs things.  I won't let him hurt me anymore.  I won't let him hurt Coddy.  I don't want to be Flash... I want to be Ming.  The Merciless.  I want to be (the boss governor senator president overlord king god) the one lowering people into the Volcano.  Not me.  It will never be me again, do you hear me?  Do you?!"

"Sweetie, don't yell, you'll tear the skin..."

His mouth worked furiously as the bandages began to slip off, and his squelching lips looked strangely beaklike underneath his flattened nostrils... Frannie couldn't help it, she remembed the tortoise.  When she was four years old, her grandfather had taken her to the zoo and held her up to the tortoise in his habitat until her tiny young face was inches from his prehistoric one.  She screamed, and her grandfather had laughed.  See that ol' turtlepuss, Frannie?  You want to make friends with ol' turtlepuss? Oh, he gonna eat you, Frannie, you wanna be in ol' turtlepuss's belly?  Hee hee hee!  He'll gobble you up!  He held her too close and the tortoise opened his mouth to nip at her...

The room seemed darker.  Frannie could hear tortoises, she could hear them waddling and splashing in the halls... their ponderous bodies dragging through the darkened corridors of Peachtree General.  Their dumpy shadows fell over the room... oh, god, the tortoises, why did the boy look so much like the tortoise... Frannie wanted to scream, to run...

"Addy, please..."

"And don't call me that.  That's a baby's name..."

He reached up and grabbed her uniform by the lapels, and she was frightened at the strength of his small grip.

"My name is Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr.  Call me that.  Call me that!"

The Volcanoes of North Georgia
A tale, is it true?  None can say.  Well, only one can say....
The following is a harrowing tale, and despite its incredible nature, I swear to any reading that it is entirely factual.  My time is limited, so I shall be necessarily brief and trim this account of any extraneous detail, which is much against my authorial nature.  Such is my haste during this remarkable episode.

I came to this state following the events of the autumn of 1916, while reclining at ease in the parlor of a certain prosperous Inn and brew-house in the charming suburb of Parnum, an area I frequent although I own no property there.  A boy entered and handed me a paper, which upon reading I learnt was a communication from Phineas Smedley, a friend of my father's with whom I was lightly acquainted.  My family and his had not called upon one another in many years, after the death of his sainted mother, the incarceration of his distraught father, and the gradual lessening of his fame as a painter.  In truth, he had become rather unpopular and even disreputable to some, and our erstwhile bond was hardly enough to make me willing to bridge the social chasm, although I like to imagine that I would have done so for most of my other, truer friends.  So it was with some surprise when I read the missive, and saw that old Phineas had heard I was in the area -- how, I know not -- and entreated me to "house-sit" his property for a length of time while he was called away to Millhaven on some sort of business "most urgent."

"I would be most grateful, my dear Runcombe," he croaked as he gave me a rapid perusal of his property, which was expansive but somewhat ill-maintained, "I have no one else in my employ at present, save for some grooms and stable-boys, and I do not trust them any more than I would a Spaniard; they steal from me, I am sure," he muttered bitterly as we marched past the stables where his hounds and horses were kept.

"But what of old Dalkins?" I inquired, referring to his family's longtime head butler.

"Dead.  Last winter.  Consumption." Smedley replied.

"Tragic," said I, and "verily" he replied, "for I can find no replacement of his calibur at such a wage as he demanded."

I had expected that we should then take tea together and perhaps spend an hour or so at conversation in order to renew our familiarity, but to my surprise (and slight chagrin) it was not twenty minutes hence that Smedley summoned his valet, grabbed some scant luggage, and made to leave.  I had no time to relate the particulars of my own current doings and, to say, elaborate on the length of time that I might be able spend on his property, and how I might be called away under certain possible circumstances.  No, not a spot of that; he hurled his key-ring into my hands, drew close, and with eyes narrowed left me with these words:

"Alright, this should do.  I have locked many of the interior doors, for there will be no need for you to enter them, Runcombe... you should be perfectly comfortable, I expect, making use of the main halls, the master-bedroom, the study, and the kitchen areas.  And I make this final request -- do not, under any circumstances, attempt to enter my upstairs studio.  I cannot impress upon you the gravity of this!  I have almost finished my latest work, it could even be my master-piece... yes, yes, it is nearly done -- is it done?  No, not quite so, and as you are aware, I cannot bear to have anyone, even a friend, see my work until I am certain of its completion.  Very well, I am off..."

Ah, yes.  Here I admired the man despite all; no matter what knocks and setbacks he had suffered since the Primrose Summer when his fame was at its peak, he never seemed to suffer any loss of confidence in his skill, and he regarded his ignominy as entirely the fault of an ignorant and superficial public, one gulled into believing all sort of scandal and rumormongering about him; and that his reputation would recover, undoubtedly, once certain critics had been exposed as frauds and drummed from the scene.  He had been in this mode for some twenty years, always promising that his next work, oh yes, his next work would be the one to return him to prominence.  

Here, reader, I make a confession.  Were this a proper autobiography, something intended for the public or for antiquity, I would use all the art and verve I possess to obscure the truth of what happened next.  I would say that I had every intention of honoring Smedley's request, that I spent days being devoured from within by the worm Curiosity and only relented to the temptation after putting up a heroic resistance... but since I have not the time for such machination, I shall admit instead that I merely waited until he was gone, allowed for such an interval to pass that I was certain he would not return, and then skipped gaily with the keys bouncing at my side to the forbidden studio to cheekily sneak a peek at his work.  

Such was my nature.  I felt that the imposition he'd placed upon me, combined with his brusqueness, fully justified such a harmless trespass.

However, after several minutes of fumbling it came apparent that none of the keys on the ring fitted the portal in question; I attempted each several times.  I'd been foiled, and gave it up as an unworthy endeavor.  I turned and made to leave, and with a start I saw that one of the servants -- a porky and grubby kitchen boy -- had espied me at my subterfuge and was grinning heartily at my dishonest prying.  I flushed and considered striking the slovenly urchin when he -- in the middle of cramming a dirty finger into his nostril to extricate a globby bogey -- shrugged and said "ye wantin' in there, master?  He keeps the cog t'that 'un 'idden in his chambers, he do, offin' in tha' old wardrobe, 'ee does."

He waddled noisily away, and even though I was no longer especially curious about the painting itself, I spent over an hour in search of the concealed secondary key.  As we all know, tasks that bother and confound us are often the ones that most ensnare our fancy, and release it only once they are cracked, even if the actual reward is meager.

With the key at last in hand, I returned to the studio, somewhat grumbly and bilious, and to my grudging satisfaction, entered it to gaze upon Smedley's potential "master-piece."

Dear reader, the shock.  The immensity of the shock was without precedent.

The first thing that struck me was that the work was not confined to an easel, but instead took up the entirely of the northmost wall -- it was a mural some fifty feet wide and twenty feet tall, vast in every aspect.  It portrayed a hellish landscape, something akin to the works of Bosch or Blake, but far more realistic and detailed than anything those masters ever attempted.  It showed mountains of reddish ore, a dark and foreboding sky, chasms, rivers, and precipices lit by a crepuscular light.  The skill on display was fantastic, and for just an instant I lost all doubt in Smedley's faculties, for he had clearly developed into a painter more able than nearly any other I could name.  Even the ceiling of the Sistine would look puny compared to this towering panorama....

...but then I noticed the true subject of the work, and my soul shrank in terror, and every slight upon Smedley's sanity echoed in my ears.  For amidst this alien vista there slithered a ghastly pair of leviathans such has never been seen upon the good Earth; creatures that could never be produced from the mind of a judicious God but only from the diseased brain of a Bedlamite.  Their bloated bodies were long, somewhat insectile, but supported by furry limbs like those of a deformed ibex, studded with curved horns, and sprouting whiplike tentacles and growths of a nature I cannot accurately describe.  The two insidious beings seemed to be attacking one another, the gaping maw of one dripping with ichor...

...I wanted to flee, I tell you.  But I could not.  Too striking was the image, too great was my aversion to its subjects, and too intriguing was the flawless execution.  I grabbed a three-legged stool and placed it underneath me and thus spent the greater part of the next hour in nauseated contemplation.  At times I thought to leave, to erase the image from my mind with a veritable marathon of strong drink, although I knew already this would prove fruitless.  So long I stayed that the sun outside began to set, and I procured several oil lamps so that I could continue my vigil.  After lighting the last one I was overcome by the urge to fling it at the mural and burn it to cinders even at the cost of destroying the rest of the property.  Yes, that was what must be done... I would blame the rotund servant boy for the incident, of course... I reared back to hurl the lamp when my eyes were shocked anew -- the painting, I tell you, appeared to move... the thoraxes of the hideous beasts undulated, the slimy sheen glistened in that damnable light.... I gazed deeper into the landscape, deeper, deeper...

...I suppose I dropped the lamp, but I do not know.  For when next I took stock of my senses, all was confusion.  My body was not my own; I had become massive and unwieldy, my every instinct struggling to cope with unfamiliar sensation.  I thrashed and flailed, and when my spasms abated, I began to realize the terrible reality.  Dear reader, I was inside the hated painting!  And I had ceased to be human at all.  I had, unaccountably, been transmogrified and my soul was now housed within the lesser of the two monsters; the acrid landscape had become utterly real.  I could smell the scorched soil, hear the roar of the roiling ocean, and feel the sting of the poisonous atmosphere... I fought against this reality, fought against it as anyone would, imagining that I had suffered a mental breakdown, a psychotic fugue, for such things cannot happen... alas, after several minutes, I had no choice but to accept the truth.  

Even stranger, I could see, with my new massive eyes, a ghostly image of Smedley's studio.  It hovered in the air, barely perceptible, a window to my own world.  I lurched towards it frantically, trying to propel my new body through it, supposing that I might return... but all for naught. I raised a black talon and it passed through the image, which was fading, fading, like a dream.  The last thing I glimpsed of it was the portly figure of the servant-boy, who had entered the studio and was glaring at the painting -- at me -- with gleeful malice.  Could he see me?  Could he know what had transpired?  I tried to scream but found I had no voice, at least, none that I knew how to use.

I then became aware of the other being like myself, the other colossal abomination in the painting.  It was bearing down on me aggressively, slavering and making harsh chittering sounds.  I thought of defending myself, but then... oh, how to explain... my mind was clouded with a languidness, an unaccountable desire to submit... and then, even though I believed my capacity for anguish and astonishment had been exhausted by the events thus far, this was not so.

For I realized it was not feeding time.  It was mating season.

Curse you, Phineas Smedley.  Curse you.

Phineas Smedley's Master-Piece
The third mention of the elusive Phineas Smedley within the Council.  At last, he appears on stage, and we get an inkling of why the Chinese would pay so much for one of his late works.  Truly, this is momentous....
Welcome, dear friends.

We are the Council of Gandalf.  Long ago, when the earth was younger, we gathered around the sacred flame, partaking of the holy herbs of knowledge.  Far we traveled with the aid of these herbs that we kept in a jar... our many mystical journeys we brought back much knowledge, and many amazing stories of long-forgotten legends and vast vistas unknown to mortal man.  We wrote them with ink on paper, sacred texts that were treasured above all else.  Long these tomes sat in secret, known to only a select few.

But now the world is changing.  Times of change and strife are upon us.  The winds and waters are changing, becoming strange.  It is in these times that the hidden knowledge must come to light, to offer guidance and wisdom to all who seek it.

We are the Council.  

Learn our knowledge and find your way in this world.

Peace and Love.

-- Gandalf.


The Wisdom of The Council
United States
Current Residence: A hideously stable geosynchronous orbit.
Favourite genre of music: Electronic.
Favourite photographer: Tom Bombadil.
Favourite style of art: Surrealist.
Operating System: Old Toby.
MP3 player of choice: The harpers of Elrond.
Shell of choice: Just an old blue hat.
Wallpaper of choice: That which pleases me.
Skin of choice: Old and leathery.
Favourite cartoon character: Smaug the Mighty.
Personal Quote: "Through the time, i see the minds, hear the voices of the world..."


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Acaciathorn Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much for the donation! :hug:
CouncilofGandalf Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2014
You are most welcome.  
ElusiveGnome Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2011
look, some quality! *watch
CouncilofGandalf Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2011
Thank you, sir. We treasure our humble works, and are pleased when others do so.
ststreet Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2009
I have a question if you don't mind.

It's a bit stupid, but how do you make the font go back to normal after you put it in italics like this? Is there a certain way?
CouncilofGandalf Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2009
Well, yes, i use html tags. I use < i> to start the italics, and < /i> to stop the italics. Of course, those tags have spaces so they'll show up in this note. Normally, they have no spaces.
ststreet Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2009
Argo602 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2009
Thanks for the watch!
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