Saturday, April 25

This Is How The World Ends #10

(Off the suggestion "BBQ sauce" by David)

"I hope you all don't mind but I tried something new."  Fredrick was almost bubbly this evening as he placed the plates of food before us.  It was slow going because he only had the one arm and his prosthetic right leg below the knew was just a touch too short.  "I experimented with the White #16 and Yellow #5 to make a something like mashed potatoes.  I think they came out pretty well.  Not that I can actually remember what potatoes even tasted like."  Fredrick laughed and everyone else politely laughed along with him.  Except me.  I wasn't in the mood to laugh.

Out of the five of us, Fredrick was the best cook and, as always, he managed to make the processed "food" elements that gave us most of our nutrients into something that actually looked like food.  And since it was Friday night, we were actually having our special dinner with real meat.  And, in spite of myself, it smelled delicious.

Jessica looked done at the thin slices.  "Barbecue? You made barbecue sauce?"

Fredrick sat down and tucked his clothe napkin into the front of his shirt.  Something about that felt vulgar to me.  Tacky.  Disrespectful.  "Yep.  Not only that but...." With a flourish, he removed the lid from ceramic dish on the table to reveal a thick brown fluid.

Peter leaned over and stuck the tip of his pinkie in it and stuck it in his mouth to taste.  I restrained the need to wince.  "Gravy!"

"Yes," said Fredrick with obvious pride.  "Yeah, I know that barbecue and gravy don't really go together but I thought it might make the potatoes feel more like potatoes." And with that he took a large spoonful and dripped it unto the mound of white on his plate. 

Looking at the four of them, I could see the anticipation and hunger in their eyes as they readied themselves to dig in.  We rarely stood on any sort of ceremony but this was Friday night dinner.  Fredrick was staring at me with that stupid grin on his face.  In someways, I was glad that he was to cook tonight since I knew the meal would be excellent.  But it irked me the joy he took in it.  Cooking Friday dinner always bothered the rest of us but not Fredrick.

The others awkwardly avoided my gaze which also made me mad.  I suppose it was a no win for them and me.  I looked down at my plate, both ravenous and nauseous.  The meat looked so delicious, lined with crispy fat and red with juices.  My stomach ached at the smell but my head rebelled at the thought.

Fredrick coughed.  I looked up at his questioning but smiling face.  I knew he didn't mean it, but I felt like I was being mocked.  I took a deep breath, knowing my roll.  "We thank you, Fredrick, for preparing tonight's meal," I said in measured tones.

He, in response, said brightly, "And we thank you, Noah, for providing it."  And with that they began eat.

We rationed the food substitutes we had slowly, keeping ourselves alive a long as possible.  We had no idea what we might be waiting for since we hadn't had contact with anyone in months and were isolated.  The last communication we'd had was jumbled and confused.  We could only guess when (or if ever) they'd be able to mount a rescue.  After six months, we'd realized that there was a gap in the nutrients, some type of protein we weren't getting.  So we'd come up with this solution.

I suppose it was an extra special Friday.  When our turn came up, we got to chose what got provided for the meal.  And I, unlike Fredrick, was not ready to give up an arm yet.  So this was our first thigh as my shins had been offered up on my previous turns.  I knew that the extra meat made this a large meal. And all that fat rendered down made the gravy possible.

The pain from the surgery still hurt.  I looked down at the bandages just below my right hip, where my leg had been just 24 hours before.  I refused to take any more painkillers because if I was going to have this meal, I wanted to be able to at least taste it since we had so few pleasures.

I pushed past my disgust and cut a piece of the succulent me.  Spear it with my fork I slowly drew it to my mouth and held it on my tongue.

Survivor/Amazing Race

I haven't watched either for a few years (or at least not attentatively). God bless the internet for allowing me to catch up mid season.

Survivor this season is actually pretty good. The vast majority of choces and moves have been smart. Not always correct, but they have made sense from a game stand point. Often the game gets bogged down in emotion. It's fun to watch people just play. And there have been nice turns and shifts.

One thing I have always enjoyed about Survivor is the editing. Some of it is just silly, yes. The inevitable shots of spiders when people are scheming or of snakes just before someone turns on an alliance... but it works. ("Alliance." Weird to think that in season 1 everyone was SHOCKED when Richard "came up" with the concept of an alliance, Weird.)

There is one character that is just mind blowing. Yes, character. Hard to call him "person." Coach. Soccer coach and symphony conductor. Looks like Aragorn... a skinny creepy new aged self-help Aragorn. Credit to the producers for drawing out the reveal on his craziness. Maybe he revealed it slowly to everyone during filming, but that is hard to believe. Once he starts referring to himself as "warrior," "samurai," and, my favorite, "dragon slayer"... it's hard to take anything he says seriously. Add in his campfire story ofthe time he kayaked the AMazon and was jumped by an indiginous tribe and beaten and escaped. And how he responds to someone saying, "Well, none of us have broken tiles with a slingshot before" with "I have." Lovely lovely madness. He is like Baron Von Munchausen.

I have always enjoyed the Amazing Race. The lack of voting off and it being more of a personal challenge and seeing the teams of two struggle to work together. Also it's mix of ADD travel show/random slapstick is entertaining.

I usually hate when teams talk about "proving" something to the world. "Old people can compete." "Gays are like anyone else." "Blah blah." So I was a bit annoyed with the deaf son/hearing mother team. But, I have to say, when they won the first leg of the race... I cried.

Friday, April 24

For Ben

...because I mentioned it the other night.  Also, for all improvisers looking to expand support work.

Maru & The Box

(via Unique Daily)

This Is How The World Ends #9

(Off the suggestion of "blackboard" from Nicole)

The chalk dust always made her cough.  Well, cough more.  Everyone coughed now.  The filters left the air stale and rife with particles.  The ever present stench of bodies and sweat.  And of course the radiation.  She didn't like to think about what her RAD count was over the last twelve years even though she knew it by heart.  They all did, just as they knew their white blood cell counts and what their last chest x-rays looked like.  But the chalk made it worse.

Silvia finished erasing the blackboard and wiped the yellow dust on her jeans.  Picking out a fresh piece of chalk, she turn back to the classroom and the children's attentive faces.  Thirty boys and girls, ages seven to ten.  This was a lesson she was dreading.

"Okay, class.  I need you all to pay attention and take this seriously.  I know it is an uncomfortable topic.  That's okay.  But it's important and that we don't get distracted by giggles."

She turned back to the board and wrote three letters, large and clear.  S. E. X.  She expected giggling to erupt behind her but there was only silence.

"Sex," Silvia announced towards the class.  There was little recognition from most of them, as if she was speaking a foreign language.  "So, does anyone know what 'sex' means?"

The class shifted uncomfortably and exchanged nervous glances.  The lights flickered and went off, plunging the room into black.  A few second later there was a thump and a hum as the back up generators shifted on.  The lights sputtered back on.  When she had been a child, a moment like that would have frightened her.  Hell, when they first moved into the vaults, it scared her.  But not anymore.  Nor did it frighten the children.  Fear of the dark is the fear of the unknown.  They had always known the dark and took it as a given of daily life.

Timothy, sitting near the front, cautiously raised his hand.  Silvia noticed it was bandaged and assumed that he had lost another finger.  The phrase "ten heathy fingers and tenhealthy toes" flashed through Silvia's mind and she forced it out.

"Yes, Timothy?"

"It's when a man and a woman get naked and touch each other."  There as a small wave of giggling which filled Silvia with joy.  It was a sound she so rarely heard and reassured her.

"Yes and no.  It doesn't have to be a man and a woman.  It can be two women or two men.  And it can be between more than two people." More giggles.  She remembered when there was a time that speaking those words would have started a flood of controversy.  Not any more.  There were too few of them left to care anymore.  And all the arguments for only same sex relationships had disappeared.  It was hard to defend those sort of moral judgments these days.

"We're going to spend the rest of the day talking about sex.  You can ask any thing that you want.  It can be confusing, I know.  But you are all getting older and soon you will begin to want to experiment and experience sex.  I would guess some of you have already begun to experiment."

She noticed a quick exchange of nervous looks between Amber and Benjamin, both aged ten.  She made a mental note to approach both of them privately.  And to notify medical for them to both be checked again.  Just to be safe.

"First, the important thing for you all to know is that your body is your body.  No one has the right to make you do things that you don't want to.  It is your choice.  That is very important.  We can talk about that in more detail later.  But, please, know that if you ever feeling like someone is forcing you, even if only with words, tell me or your parents or a doctor or an enforcer.  Tell an adult, okay? I repeat: your body is your body."  Even if it is rebelling against you and slowly dying.  She thought of her own body and its pains and sores that never seemed to heal.

They nodded, most of them probably not understanding.

"Sex can, if done with people you feel comfortable with and trust, be wonderful and pleasurable.  I am going to tell you about some of the things people can do with each other and ways that might help it be more pleasurable.  But each person is different.  But let's start small."

She turned back to the board and wrote KISSING.

"Kissing isn't sex!" a voice said loudly.  Turning back, she saw that it was Bradley.  "My mommy kisses me before I go to bed.  And I don't think that is sex."

"You're right, Billy.  There are different types of kissing."

Christina's hand was up and waving for attention and Silvia knew exactly what Christina was going to say.  She was only eight, but Christina was smart and her parents, unlike most parents in the vaults, did not go out of their way to protect her from the truths of the world.  Like any eight year old, her knowledge was incomplete and often mixed up, the old world mixing withe new, but Christina had the awkward, if healthy, habit of shattering lies people often hid behind.

Maybe it would be better to lie, to pretend.  It is not like it matters in the long run.  There was no long run anymore.  Who was Christina or Silvia to force people from fantasies that made it easier to go on day to day?  But Silvia was a teacher and believed in truth.  Even now, making informed choices was a human right.

Silvia point towards Christina who looked like she was about to explode.  "Yes?"

Christina cleared her throat.   "Sex is also how you make babies.  But not kissing.  The other thing.  When a man puts his penis in a woman's vagina."  A mixture of giggles and shifting and mumbling.  Still certain words always bring giggling.  But the mumbling was from the other word, the word no one liked to say any more.  This is what Silvia had dreaded.

"Yes.  It is how we used to make babies."

Babies.  The word that had no more meaning since there were none.  Not for seven years.  In this very room was Eve Mendleson, the youngest person in the vault, probably the world.  Her parents had named her in an obscene hope that Eve would not be the last but a new beginning.  Not the choice had already been made.

The vote had been overwhelming.  The facts were clear.  To have more children was just to extend the suffering of the human race.

Silvia looked across the faces and forced herself to smile, living her own lie.  She wanted to cry and hug them.  She missed her own little girl who had died just weeks after they entered the vault.  Her little girl, dying in incredible pain, coughing up blood and the skin pealing from her flesh.  She forced the memories from her mind, forced the tears to not flood from her eyes and smiled at the children.

"But we don't have babies anymore.  Everyone has had surgeries so that no one can have babies ever again.  So people only have sex for comfort and fun and pleasure now."  Silvia knew that wasn't exactly true.  Sex was still used to hurt and to feel sorrow and anger and any of the thousand reasons people have always had sex.  Just not to make life.  "That's why there are no babies."

The children, no matter what they had been told in their short lives knew what this meant.  But they all already knew and had always known.  Just like darkness, it was all around them.  The concrete corridors and rooms were empty of new life and would some day soon be empty of any life.  

Their lives now would be short.  Her job was to help them find what joy they could.

"So," Silvia said as brightly and cheerfully as she could manage, "let's talk about kissing."  And some of the class leaned forward to listen.

Thank You, 30 Rock

Thursday, April 23

Alan Moore reads

(via Topless Robot)

Adam Frucci works his way through The World's Largest Cheeto

Adam is a brave man. The sound is the worst. I can just feel the inside of my mouth getting cut to shreads.

World's Largest Cheeto and the Optimus Maximus from Gizmodo on Vimeo.

This Is How The World Ends #8

(This is more a scenario than a story.  Similar to #1, I suppose.  Actually the more I look at itm the more I see that it is almost exactly the same.  Ah, well.  And, to be honest, my knoweldge of computer science and security is slight.  I really have no idea what I am talking about.)

The most amazing thing about the maker of the ConF virus is how longer term their plan was.  They weren't thinking in terms of weeks or months or even years.  Decades and more.  That is what they planned for.

They saw, back in the first years of the 21st Century, where it was all heading and they started the ground work then.  I don't know if they knew, or even suspected, at the time what ConF would eventually be used for.  I don't even know if when it was finally triggered if it was the original designer or if it had been passed on to their children or whatever.  Moot point, I suppose.

ConF was discovered early and warned about.  In the first five years, much effort went into eradicating it, or at least defend against it.  But in those days, the internet was a wild west, massive and relatively uncontrolled.  Most computer security was based on protecting the individual and only attempting to minimize the impact at large.  There was no way to "inoculate" each individual computer system.

Usually what happened was that there would always be some computers that were infected when the virus triggered.  Once triggered, they did whatever they did (crash systems, steal information, etc.), often forcing the individual system operators to cleanse their computer.  Just like a biological virus, it was only once symptoms appeared that people took action.

And that was ConF's genius.  It took no action.  Every few months it quietly called out to different sources and got new instructions, which was usually just a new date and new address to check for the next set of instructions.  The computer security community would hold its breath on each date, only to exhale with a new sense of dread when nothing grand happened.

Each instructions also tweaked its code, getting past whatever new counter-measure that had been put up.  Between dates, ConF infected a new set of hosts.  New counter-measures would be set up and the cycle would continue.  But each time it infect more new machines than machines it was removed from.  

Most hackers at the time were looking for a quick buck or a quick brutal attack.  The reasoning was to strike before counter-measures could be put up: quickly infect as many computers it could and then go into action before too much defense could be mounted.  A race, a mad sprint. That of course meant there was a limited amount of computers it could infect.  And once it went into action, it often killed its host system.

If a biological virus that kills its host too quickly, disappears.  One that lingers for years, infects many, eventually causing much greater damage.

As time went on, the general populace forgot about ConF.  You can only be warned so many times before you just don't pay attention anymore.  The security community kept monitoring it, kept alert, but as the years went by it just became one of thousands of vague dangers.  And since it never caused damage, it drifted into a minor box on a checklist of every security update and new operating system.

After a few years, there was a subtle change in how ConF was updated.  Instead of each copy getting the same updates and the same tweaks, mutations were being mixed in.  It took quite awhile for anyone to notice.  It was alarming.  Just as you can create a vaccine for a few dozen types of influenza, there is always the chance of mutated form to get through the cracks.

New warning went out.  There was a new minor panic.  But the word had become so used to hundreds of viruses and security warnings that when nothing yet happened, the world quickly forgot again.

What the creator of ConF counted on was our reliance of the internet and its structure.  It was never designed to be a global tool, used by every man, woman and child on the planet.  It grew so quickly and too many systems became dependant on it.  Instead of replacing the internet in whole with something more stable, it was just boosted and repaired over the years.  In bits an pieces it became something new and different, again and again, but never all at once.

And in the gaps ConF evolved and proliferated, silently waiting.

The internet began to be connected to everything in our daily lives.  Not only in our financial and global infrastructure, but on very personal levels.  Our lives became stored on our computers.  And as the internet migrated into phones that we carried with us twenty -four hours a day, we relied on having access to everything all the time.  And as technology progressed, it became simpler and easier and more intuitive.

Until we started getting implants tied directly to our brains.

Although ConF was never mentioned, the fear about security was of course great.  There were warning and reassurances and there would always be people who would never use it and there were always people who wanted to be one of the first.  The temptation of was of course too great and more and more people had the procedure.  Once you witnessed someone with almost perfect recall and who could call forth almost any piece of information with just a thought, it was hard not to desire it for yourself.

From there it was a gradual increase of power and usefulness.  Control was introduced.  Why just call up a recipe when you could (for a small charge) have the skilled hands and taste of the great chefs in the world downloaded into you?  Why send a sexy video to your lover when you can transmit not just the sensation of your touch but also the depth of you actual emotions?  Sure, there were hiccups and abuse.  Just like malicious spam before it, filters were created.

The information being passed was scale that would be inconceivable just ten years earlier.  And hiding in all that ConF existed.  It remained extremely small and simple that it was lost in flood.

As the 21st Century pulled to a close, the human race had truly involved into something new.  We had moved beyond just tool users t a race that could communicate across the globe with a thought.  Our ability to process information and utilize it was seemingly endless.  An era of unimaginable science and philosophy and art had dawned.  If ever there was a golden age of man, it was then.

And then ConF received new instructions.

It is not that every person on Earth was infected.  It was one in ten, but that was enough.  One tenth of the population suddenly became totally controlled by an outside source.  It was as if an invading army, coordinated and with all the skills of trained killers and an infinite rage and passion appeared out of nothing amongst us.  Within the first night, billions were killed at the hands of their family and friends and people on the street.  They were in every part of society, including access to the most closely guarded hardware the and systems the control what the internet had become.  Once the security measure were removed, ConF could infects billions of new people.

And you never knew whose mind had already been infected, waiting for their instructions to kick in.  Sometimes it wasn't total control, and you could see in their eyes they were horrified at what they were doing, trapped in their own bodies.

Still, it couldn't get everywhere.  For whatever reason, some implants were better protected than others.  But many died as they tried to remove their implants by themselves with whatever tools at hand.  Even with the skills of a surgeon, it is difficult to perform a brain operation on oneself with nothing more than a pair of scissors or a hand held laser designed to cut a pot roast.

ConF rules the planet now, the whip that controls three billion slaves.  We are building something, a structure of some sort.  It reaches into the sky, still just a skeleton but slowly taking shape.  I am trapped in this shell, at the mercy of my unknown master, placing nano foam into molds.  Most of the people around me have dead stares but there is a young woman near me who still has live behind her eyes.  We can't speak to each other but we still share any moment we happened to be facing each other.

For over eight decades ConF waited.  And now I wait to see what it impels us to build.  All I can do is wait.

Wednesday, April 22

Unicorn vs. Narwhal

(via Boing Boing)

Matthew Barney's Cremaster series as LittleBigPlanet levels

Cremaster 1

Cremaster 4

Man.  There are days I realize how much I love this world!

(via Offworld)


I have no real idea who FESTO is, but I have quickly become convinced that they are a subsidiary of CYBERDYNE.

First, I saw this lovely video. It makes me want to immediately book a Thank You, Robot & Fat Penguin show just so I have a solid excuse to post this everywhere.

But then it gets weirder.

Here's a large Air Jelly... Pretty but creepy..

Or ones in the water...

And, finally, my greatest fear... robotic rays. Seriously, if the future is going to be filled with these, I'm done.

...oh, god... giant robot rays in the sky...

I'm climbing under the covers now. You can listen to your robot dj overlords all you want.

The Longest Way

I am a sucker for these things. No idea why. Maybe it is how, through just quick fire images, the brain creates its own narrative.  I am also a firm believer that any travel is only in part about where you go.  Most it is about the traveler.  Is that a self-centered sort of view?  Perhaps.  But something like this recognizes that.

And, yes, it gets a bit saccharine at the end. But, hey, I haven't walked 4600 km across China.

(via Neatorama)

They say it is a similar reaction to an orgasm...

(via Bits & Pieces)

Tuesday, April 21

This Is How The World Ends #7

"Thank you for your patience. Your communication is important to us and a service representative with be with you in a mo–"

Zeeefthhhhh. Zeeefthhhhh. Click.

"This call may be monitored by a supervisor to enforce continued excellent service."

"Hello. You have reached Stellar Home Insurance. My name is Glu't'xvee'tak'chugoo'ch. And how can I help you today?"

"Yeah. I, um, am lookin' to get my, um, planet insured."

"Okay. I am sure we can help you... sir? You are a male of your species, correct?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Great. To be honest, I kind of pride myself on being able to tell right off what the break reproduction break down of species is and just from a voice what of the standard six patterns they fall into. I know. It's silly."

"No no. That's good. No one guess right the first time."

"I bet you're oxygen breathing."


"And... quadruped?"

"Well, no. Bipedal actually."

"I always mess those up. Well, two out of three is pretty good, am I right?"

"Uh, yeah. Pretty good."

"Well, thanks! So, you are the designated representative of your planet?"


"And are you the dominate species?"

"Um, yeah."

"And your specie is certified as such?"


"Great! Can I get your Galactic registration code, please?"

"Sure. Um, I have it right here. Just a minute. Here it is. Ready?"

"Yes, sir."

"Six Six Seven Two Alpha Three point One Four One Eight Delta Beta Gamma Nine Zelquid Shaftupe Two Timplblot and, um, it looks like a squiggly line with a circle and a sort of squished triangle thingy?"


"Yeah yeah. That. And dash zero."

"Okay, let me wait for that to come up. To confirm, I have you here as the representative of the Solarians? Is that correct?"

"Well, we prefer Earthling..."

"No problem. I'll make a note of it in your file. And what is the name of the planet you wish to insure?"

"Um, Venus."

"And in what system is that in"

"Sol. The Sol System."

"I have that as a terrestrial planet with an atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide with a dense sulfuric acid cloud cover. Is that correct?"

"Well, we've been terraforming it for a bit now."

"How neat! Well, I am just going to leave it like this in the file but you will need a re-inspection within 90 cycles after your first payment."

"Yeah, no problem."

"Oh. Sir, I see that your file has been flagged."


"Yes. I see that you have had two previous planets insured with us that both had to be totaled."

"Well, yeah. I guess..."

"I see the first one was the planet Terra..."

"Earth. We called it Earth."

"I am sure. It says in our records that your race polluted it, over populated it, stripped it of all resources, managed to cause mass extinction of 99% of the native species, and finally initiated a global wide nuclear crisis event across the entire surface."

"Well, yeah. But that was years ago. We were a young species. Isolated from the rest of civilization. Didn't have the guidance of the rest of the galaxy and all. I mean, we were told that would be taken into account."

"Well, sir, there is a notation to that affect in our files. But–"

"And we've been working real hard at getting it back in shape. We have all sort of species in storage that we'll brig back when we have it up and running again."

"Yes, sir, but–"

"And when we first filed for insurance on the planet we didn't really know how bad it was. Most of our claim was put through. There wasn't any fraud. We went though litigation about this!"

"Yes, sir. I have all that, more or less in my file."

"Well, good."

"And the second planet was Mars of the Sol System?"

"Yeah, but–"

"It says here, sir, that Mars was destroyed... is this right? It crashed into another planet?"

"It's kind of complicated."

"Well, it appears that we had to pay out not only on the total destruction of Mars but on major repairs to the planet Saturn, its rings, and three of Saturn's moons."

"I know it looks bad."

"How does one drive a planet over a trillion kilometers up system and crash it into a ringed gas giant?"

"Well, Saturn was a big planet. We tried to swerve but.... And we were going through some stuff. We'd just lost Earth and all."

"I have a notation that your entire species was suspected of being under the influence—"

"Never proven, Ms. Glootzeeveetackchewgoochy! Never proven! I demand you take that off our record right now!"

"Please calm down, sir. First, the name is Glu't'xvee'tak'chugoo'ch, I understand it is difficult for oxygen breathers to pronounce it and I do appreciate the effort. And my species do not have females. The correct title would be Jft. Jft. Glu't'xvee'tak'chugoo'ch. I will make a notation of your request to have your record changed and pass it to my supervisor."


"Now, I just want to make sure that you knew why your record had been flagged. We can proceed now had getting... Venus, was it? Getting Venus some sort of insurance for the time being or you can wait for a full inspection and investigation to be done."

"Um, well, we better get something before then. You know. Just in case."

"I thought as much. In cases like these, we need you to put something up for collateral."

"Collateral? Like what?"

"Well, most species opt to put up a diverse unique genetic record."

"Well, all of that was on Earth... and, well, you know...."

"Yes. Right. Well, do you have any technologies that the rest of civilization find valuable?"

"Well, we perfected the fast food industry...."

"Wait. You are those Solarians? The ones behind McDonald's and Starbucks and the rest?"


"Right. Um, no. I'm afraid that won't be worth very much. Anything else."

"Not that I can think of."

"Do you have any other planets to put up?"

"Sure! Yeah! Um, let me see. How about Pluto?"

"Is that a planet, sir?"

"Uh, sure.... Yeah, it's a planet."

"Great. Tentatively that should be fine. I'm computing your rates now. We will only be able to insure Mars for the lowest level until we get all this cleared up and confirm the status of Pluto and all the rest."

"Fine. Fine. Let's just get this done."

"Okay. I will need Venus and Pluto registration and ownership numbers."

"Shit. I had those some where. Just a moment."

"No problem, sir. We're here to serve you. So... how's is the Sol System? Sounds cozy."

Why the End of the World

Approximately 74% of the people reading this already know the answer but I am going to chat about it anyway.   I am recently started a class at the Upright Citizens Brigade: The End of the World.   It is performing an improv form using the genre of the, well, end of the world. Apocalypses and post-apocalypses.  Alien invasions, viruses, zombies, doomsday weapons, time travel, distopias, reality altering drugs, clones, robots, Revelations, meteors, earthquakes, global warming, the sun dying, nuclear war, 2012, genetically altered animals, mutants, the Antichrist, and on and on.

If you know me at all, you know why I felt like this class was something I needed to participate in. Hell, I toyed with the idea of asking if I could be unpaid TA if I didn't get in the class.  The whole concept fascinates me.  It is both epic and personal, and usually slapped with a great big moral message. What also fascinates me is our (has a human race) fascination in it.  We just love  (and apparently always) be unable to not think about the end of it all.  How will we, has a race, meet our final demise?  With a bang or a whimper?  Usually it is our on hubris, especially since the start of the 20th century.  And that alone is a testament to our own hubris: We are very convinced  that our own ability to play god will be our own destruction.

Also it is just damn fun to do.  Seriously.  It is like an excuse to initiate all the crap that usually occurs to me.  Crazy scenarios, themes that hit you like a 2x4, the type of broad characters that I am nervous to break out in any other impov form.  I am like a kid in a candy shop.

Anywhozits, that is why I am using it to write short stories.  Apologies to Douglas Adams and the original conception of what eventually became Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I will probably run out of steam at some point (heck, I am behind now).  If you have any suggestion, challenges, ideas, whatevers... feel free (read: I beg you) to post them in the comments.  I will do my best.
Simple idea with bizarre results: insert dried spagetti into hot dogs, then boil.

Gross?  Sure.  Fantastically freaky?  Yes.

For John Robert

PediSedate: feed kid nitrous oxide while they play a Game Boy.

JR, do they have DS hack for this?

This Is How The World Ends #6

(I fell behind this weekend, I know.  Here's a lengthy one.  Thanks to Anna and especially Nicole for research help.)

In what may have been the worst case of miss shelving in the history of time, the book was placed in the children's section of the Greylock Public Library.  Somehow it ended up slipped in between National Velvet & The Neverending Story, which is curious since the book gives no indication of its title.  How it end up at the Greylock branch at all is curious as well.  There are only so many copies and most are guarded extremely closely by their owners.  But the copies of the book have been known to surface in odd places at odd time, so it is not without precedence.  And this was one of those small Massachusetts's sea towns where these sorts of things seemed to happen.  It may have even been by design.  

Young Nicolas Brogan  felt drawn to the book.  The unadorned leather binding, the deep brown stains in one corner.  The rough edges of the pages.  The tattered red silk ribbon bookmark.  The rusted metal clasp.  It was a bit over sized but not to stand out amongst many of the children's books.  It was perhaps thick, but it was not a complete edition of the book at only 400 some pages.  (The last know complete edition, John Dee's flawed translation from the 1603, ran over a thousand, if accounts are to be believed.)  What decided it for Nicolas was the short glance at the inside.  The chaotic drawings and mess of words.  And especially the hand written notes filling the margins, scribbled in at least a dozen different hands.  He was good reader for an eight year old but many of the word, even the letters themselves, were foreign to him.   But fragments could be deciphered.  On the top of one page, someone had written in a shaky letters

That is not dead which can eternal lie.
And with strange aeons even death may die.

Nicolas knew it wasn't a normal book.

The librarian paid little attention to what was being checked out.  She scanned the barcode taped to the spine (which, oddly enough, came up as The Places You'll Go) and sent him on his way.  Nicolas' mom was distracted by the fact that her Pilate's class had been cancelled and only asked him if he had found something interesting.  "Uh huh," mumbled Nicolas, clutching the volume to his chest.  She left it at that as she juggled driving and texting and wonder what the hell she was going to make for dinner.

Late that night, Nicolas huddled under his covers with a flashlight and flipped through the book.  It made little sense to him but the drawing were neat: animals and creatures; men and women doing things he only had a vague notion were naughty; lines and curves; knifes and swords.  Nicolas wanted more than anything to understand but the words seemed to scuttle across the page.  But he was a determined young boy.

The book, of course, has driven men mad.  Just reading it can open one's mind to horrors beyond horrors.  Perhaps the fact that Nicolas had so little experience of the world to place it in context shielded him from having his reality ripped inside out.  Or perhaps it is that a child's mild is ready to accept anything, has not been made rigid by years, that it was no different from believing that the worlds of Star Wars or Lord of the Rings could be real.  The hows and whys are not important.  The facts are that Nicolas Brogan focused his entire attention on the pages and managed to sound out words that had not been spoken in decades.

Through random circumstances everything was aligned that night.  It was the right time of year and the right stars were in their right positions in the sky.  The elements of the ritual just happened to be amongst the things an eight year old boy collects on his journeys through the neighborhood: an old coin (that happened to bare the likeness of Emperor Septimius Severus and had last been owned by a lady of the night); the skull of a bird (that had happened to drown in the first rain of Spring); a stone in the shape of a heart; an iron spike (that happened to have been driven into the lung of a police officer).  The tooth beneath Nicolas pillow in fact covered at least three of the elements required, including "a sacrifice of one's own flesh."  At the moment Nicolas finished whispering the words, his parents climaxed together in joyless copulation in the room below him.

A ritual that many before had failed at before him, that had destroyed souls and shattered minds, was complete to perfection by Nicolas Brogan under his Transformer sheets.

Nicolas pushed his head out from the covers at the silent tearing sound.  The air at the end of his bed split and cracked and opened up.  It opened up into the depth of the nothingness beyond our world, a void that sunk into infinite abyss.  A chaos of black could be glimpsed.  Great globes of of light approached the opening.  Surrounding the globes were tendrils of amorphous black flesh, blood and pain, flowed and crept from the nearest globes as they broke apart.  In time primal, the eldritch, hideous horror of the realm of The Old Ones, the monstrous noxious form of the formless, drew itself towards our world.  And a voice of a thousand souls immortal, murderous and vile, frothed and spit and addressed the wide eyed Nicolas.

"You call me, the Lurker of the Threshold, into your world.  I am Yog-Sothoth.  All-in-one.  One-in-all.  Yog-Sothoth is the gate and the gate is Yog-Sothoth.  Time is nothing to me as I am all time.  Into your world Yog-Sothoth spews and the era have man shall end.  That is the trade.  Infinite knowledge for my passage to the realm of flesh.  All that has been known and all that has never been known and all that shall been know has been tasted in Yog-Sothoth's maw.  You call me and that knowledge is yours to be had.  Power and suffering beyond measure.  All you have to do is say the words, but, be warned!  For this knowledge can–"

"Am I getting a Wii for Christmas?"

The formless thing stopped moving at the edge of the opening.  A silence stretched into the emptiness.  Nicolas has shifted out from the covers, the book still in his hands, and sat bouncing on his knees at head of his bed.  

Yog-Sothoth remained unmoving.  Slowly it opened its maws and slithered, "Um... What?"

Nicolas picked at his nose and said, "You know everything, right?  I really want a Wii and I didn't get one for my birthday so I really really want on for Christmas.  Am I going to get one?"

Yog-Sothoth shifted slightly.  "The secrets of the universe are open to you... and you want to know... if you are getting a... Wii... for Christmas?"

"Yes. If you don't know just say so."

"I am Yog-Sothoth, All-in-One, One-in—"

"You said that part."

"Okay, yes.  You are getting a Wii.  Your dad hid it in his closet above his ties."


The Lurker swelled again, it protoplasmic tendrils gripping at the edges of the rip.  "Now!  What other mysteries to you wish to have stabbed into you small mind, to be enlightened and blinded and–"

"Why did Sally throw a rock at me yesterday?"

"Look, there is so much–"

"And babies.  Where do they come from?  It has to do with s-e-x, right?  Do you know where my G.I. Joe got lost?  Why does orange juice taste weird right after I brush my teeth?  Timothy said that dinosaurs are just birds, but he's a liar, right?"

"Well, I–"

"When can I have my own dog?  I think I like Sally and Dad said she likes me too but it is stupid to throw rocks at someone you like, right?  I am I going to be an astronaut?  Are there really aliens in space?"

"Oh, oh.  I know that one!  In the great void, The Old Ones, the They, live and shall–"

"Why are tomatoes gross but not tomato sauce?  Can you make ice cream with Twizzlers in it?  Why do people have ear lobes?  If Optimus Prime fought the Power Rangers who would win?  What is better, burritos or pizza?  Can you be an astronauts and NASCAR driver?  How about Wolverine and Optimus Prime?  Timothy said cooties are real, but they aren't, right? And–"

Yog-Sothoth had backed from the opening and was slowly closing it.  The globes of light dimmed as if trying as unobtrusively as possible to slink from the room.

"Where are you going?"

"Well, you know, this is not really my... um... expertise.  Really, kid, you should ask your parents.  So I'm just gonna go."


"Look.  Try me in a few years, okay?  I'm not going anywhere.  Because, well, you know... All-in-one..."


"Right!  So... um... yeah."

And with that, the Lurker of the Threshold closed the porthole behind him.  All that remained in Nicolas' room was the slight smell of fish and cobber.

Nicolas picked his nose again and thought for a few moments.  Then, remembering that in just two months he would be opening a Wii under the Christmas tree, he crawled back under the sheets.

Later, the book fell between the foot of the mattress and the endboard and unto the floor under the bed.  It would lay there, next to G.I. Joe for quite awhile.

Grrrrr. And I though cel phones were bad.

I am at the coffeeouse.  The wi-fi has suddenly slowed down.  I am guessing it is the trio doing a video chat to Argentina.  They are screaming in Spanish (because yelling is helpful when it is an issue with bandwidth).  I am pretty sure they are talking about desert.  Definitely food.

I am also trapped in my chair because to move from it would mean i would have to squeeze behind them... and that would totally interupt their video chat.  My coffee is empty and will remain so.

Now they are talking about the dogs outside.  Loudly.  To Argentina.