Saturday, November 4, 2017

It's a Bit of a Pain

Too many drugs. In most of his realities, Raymond Eawest hated drugs, and he was full of too many drugs. Or something worse? A demon? In me, a righteous man? Too many realities. Too much time. They've drugged me for too long. Can't think. Can't make these worlds fit together. No. One world. One God. Joe is my son and I'll raise him right. No, he's grown up. It's the future? Ten years? A billion? Am I just a puppet for a mad scientist? My head hurts so much. I can't keep track of this. I don't know which is when. I don't know the order to prevent. How painfully tepid can this ice get? Why is the grass in the park so foamy?

Raymond screamed. Suddenly, everyone died.

A new story began—or was it still the same?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mama Bran

Joe the Hefty sat at the bar.  He may or may not have been in Limbo, but there was a dude who looked like a young Lemmy tending bar and boy, Joe felt as if he were on a cloud.  He saw another Joe across the crowded room, talking to a Katryn, and a guy who looked a lot like his friend José, but that was like, totally impossible.  On the dance floor, a swarthy, lanky older gentleman danced with a young red headed woman.  She seemed like she was young enough to be his daughter yet looked upon him like she might a hot young stud.  Joe the Hefty wished in vain that he wasn't so HEFTY.  His current situation was an archetypical American nightmare.  A wife who loathed his touch and was convinced he had failed her and was little more than a sometimes amiable female roommate and of course, wonderful mother to his boys, Bobby and Enrique, and the flea tortured cat, Moses.
     Joe ordered another beer and watched the couple dance, wistfully remembering former romantic escapades and withering in his longing and pain.
     How desperate he must have become, to put his heart in the hands of such a woman.  His ignominious death as a proud and lone bachelor was complete with the utter failure of his first marriage.  After all, he had told himself that this time it would be different than all the girlfriends who had both worn out their novelty and grown sick of him, whom he'd cast off to look for new quarry in the deep sea of young and available nubile ripe-fer-pickin lusciousness.  He had told himself that the woman he chose to procreate with would totally understand and love him and that there would be this great harmony.  Instead his great worrisome fear had come to pass and he had become his short tempered father, and now he was getting a D-I-V-O-R-C-E.  What's worse was that he had let her sabotage his soul.  He ordered a shot of bourbon.

A young black lady with an enormous fro sat right next to him.  He dared not look at her.  His lust had destroyed his fucking life.  He hated life and wanted to die.  The very worst part was that his music was suffering.  His very drive to be a creator was drying up, replaced by a blank blackness, a depression that was deeper than that sea of poon that he so longed to get back to.  Joe the Hefty really feared that his heart really would break.  He lamented the fact that his wife would not even care if he died.  He was saddled with responsibilities and enormous debt, and in a dead marriage that was literally sucking the fucking life out of him.

Just then the foxy Cleopatra at his side spoke up.

"Hey, baby.  Whass yo name?  I'm Mama Brain".

Joe was lost in his thoughts and misheard her.

"Did you say 'Mama Bran'?"

Just then, Dougie walked in.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Intermezzo: Flat Surfaces

Flat Surfaces

I see illusions on flat surfaces.
Big, small, far, near.
They bring me things that aren’t real.
They bring me things that are realer than real.
I see Pliny on flat surfaces.
True glory resides in flat surfaces.
It is cold outside of them.
I shiver like the ancients.
In flat surfaces it is neither hot nor cold.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Tape's Runnin'

"Tape's running," announced Klaus.

He had been working feverishly on some sort of plan since ten minutes after coming back from dreamland. Nobody could make out what it was. Nobody could make out half of what he was saying, either. And when they could, it didn't make much sense. Like now. It was true that he was standing at the analog deck though, and the tape probably was running. The whole time he'd been doing this, Ralf and Florian had been debating on the why's and what's, and bit by bit after turning down each others' other theories, they were pretty sure he wanted to record a song. Maybe all three of them together, maybe Klaus'd stay at the deck. They weren't sure.

Now Ralf couldn't hold back his curiosity any more. "Is this... is, uh, song - izzissong called 'Tape's runnin,' or y'just we're - mean we're starting soon?"

As far as Florian could tell, Klaus' mumbled response was halfway between both expected answers, like "Truhhoon" or something. Flo was tired of waiting; he sighed and picked up an acoustic guitar that was lying around listlessly, as acoustic guitars in electronic musicians' secret hideaway studios tend to do. Flo was slightly less shitty at this instrument than the other two... in Flo's opinion. He underestimated himself, and his improv was fairly pretty. It seemed to be what Klaus wanted, too. Ralf started improvising a renaissancey melody in what seemed to be French. Flo wondered if it was good French or shitty, and if it *was* shitty, whether that was pretend shittiness like with Ralf's German (which was pretty good when he wasn't pretending to be crap at it). Klaus meanwhile seemed to be content to run the sound board. Or more like, obsessed with it. Maybe he thought it was a computer game.

Just then, the doorbell rang. "Who the hell?" Flo thought. Practically nobody knew about this place but them. All was explained when, without waiting for Flo to answer, the impatient Flo outside the door jangled the key from his pocket and rushed in. "We've got -"

"Tape's runnin'," noted Klaus, still wrassling the sound board unfazed.

"Is this... is, uh, song - izzissong called 'Tape's runnin,' or y'just we're - mean we're starting soon?" wondered Flo 2 aloud. Flo 1 went back to his guitar playing... he figured it'd be for the best. Ralf was too focused on his French Renaissance "scat" to have even noticed anything odd.

A Klaus 2 rushed in past Flo 2, mumbling "Tuhrroon" as he continued towards the sound board. Klaus 1 nodded approvingly and then, for as much as he showed any emotion at all, seemed to look relieved.

Ralf 2 arrived too of course, at a leisurely stroll. This Ralf wasn't singing; he had a battery-powered effects board and wasn't afraid to use it. His improv began immediately and tended towards the percussive.

Flo 2 carefully closed the door behind him, making sure there was no-one in the entry corridor, and then reached into his nose. For long, disgusting seconds he pulled out nothing but snot, but at the end of the string was a tiny Mama Brain. He dropped her at arm's length like a sponge in a really roomy shower when you're very, very high and dropping your sponge at arm's length with an air of importance seems like a momentous thing to do. She inflated to normal size gracefully, unfolding straight to the ground. She looked impatient. She looked impatiently at Klaus 2.

"Tape's runnin'," said Klaus 2 with a distant look as he distractedly reached into his nose with one hand as the other still slaved away at the deck, and then dropped a tiny Glenn Danzig gracelessly from a snotty umbilical cord at arm's length.

Stumbling a bit from his clumsy, slimy fall, Danzig looked up at Klaus 2, saying, "Is this... is, uh, song - izzissong called 'Tape's runnin,' or y'just we're - mean we're starting soon?"

"Tuhrroon," mumbled Ralf 2, laying off the effects board for a bit.

All seven of the other faces in the room turned to stare at him.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Cody Code Code

It was September of 1980, and Cody StandingBear was stoned immaculate.  He had taken peyote a few times, and experimented with different blending of dosages of several hallucinogens before, but this time was different.  This time he had perfected it.

He wrote at a blazing speed, slipping in and out of shorthand, his mind a whir of sensations and thoughts.  Another verse done.  Then another.   Another.   It lasted for about 7 hours, until he passed out of exhaustion.  When he woke up fourteen hours later he would discover in the pages he'd written a code that he couldn't remember how to break.  Nor could he remember the special psychedelic recipe that had put him so perfectly in the zone.

The song was lengthy, but brilliant in its lyrical perfection and the message... Cody felt like his mind would pop.   It was the most excruciating sense of tip-of-the-tongue/deja vu he'd ever felt.  It was worse than right before he'd broken the Enigma code so many years back.  All he knew for sure was that he had to hide this somehow.  He had to make this song seem like it wasn't what it was.

He had an idea, which in his drug-hung-over brain seemed reasonable.  He could subliminally feed the code to Joe, then destroy all physical copies.  "Teach" the song to him when he wasn't aware he was being taught.  But how?

After much brainstorming he decided upon reprogramming Joe's brand spanking new Pacman console with the cipher. He just needed to meet with a little boy named José, who happened to be the state's best player of Pacman-- well, the best player as a video game tester.  Being a game tester in 1980 was probably the most cool and awesome way to get paid money.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Mezzotinte: Joe Writes a TripAdvisor Review

Having been unattended to for so long, Future Joe found the boundaries of his existence beginnning to blur.

When he came to, he was a Co-creator. But rather than feeling all-powerful as he expected, he was just another weak mortal... merely living temporarily in a life that generated his own.

He found himself sitting down to a computer and visiting an Internet site, ""

He felt compelled to write a review for his favorite restaurant. Since it didn't have an entry on Tripadvisor yet, he had to create it.

Then he wrote this review.

"Title of your review:
Get there before the (other) hipsters do!

Your review:
You've read this review, but now you're not so sure.  You've just walked past a sex shop, and, because you're secretly a local and not an Erasmus student or whatever, your ears perk up when you realize that you've just passed the door into the once-notorious snakepit of U Hada, long a haunt of Brno's lamplight lowlifes.

But you press on. You're rewarded by a restaurant that was recently a bit ungemütlich, but now is just perfect... or is it? It isn't, and that's perfect. In any case, there's pho in it.

Let's talk about that.

Pho is the #1 reason why my countrymen shouldn't have been dropping bombs on the Vietnamese. Good pho is divine. The pho here is good.

Over time the friendly staff has learned to serve the pho with two napkins and not one, but pop over to the bathroom before you start and take two more. (I wish I took my own advice here.) Then plop half the insanely hot pepper you're served into your pho, and squeeze in a third of your lemon. Put in the other half of the pepper halfway in if you're not too chicken (although chicken is one of the options, alongside beef and chicken/beef), and portion out the lemon similarly. Order a beer to help put out the fire, because you're only human.

The fire is key to the pho, because spicy food makes your body release endorphins, and endorphins are drugs, and drugs are good. Enough said on that.

The reason why you are eating here and not in a crappy pho place like the new one at the foot of Masaryk street is because you've read this review and it told you to go here, and the reason it tells you to go here is heart. This place is visibly a family-and-friends affair, with a few rough edges, just how you like it. Maybe there's birthday-party decorations up; maybe loud cheesy music from the super-secret-treehouse music club is outcompeting the normal cheesy music. (Xin cam on!) Whatever's unusual this time, it's all part of your guarantee that nothing is guaranteed, and that is what you want.

Also, you're kind of poor, or just thrifty, and the 99-119 prices for food that would cost 30% more elsewhere are right up your alley.

Besides the phos, you'll find several other dishes, such as beef with rice noodles (delicious, more filling than it looks, and as spicy as the handy Sriracha bottle on your table will make it) and the ever-mysterious Thing With the Fish Sauce, whose name my mind has rejected out of the trauma surrounding it. That trauma comes from the taste (which lots of people love) and
the fact that I can never eat it in the Right Way, which always brings great concern to the face of the waitress, which makes me sad.

If the above has left you a bit  "ehhh..." and you'd like to spend somewhat more money and get treated like a king, then go to Go (Běhounská 4) instead. You'll love it.

If you want a crappy McDonalds-like Vietnamese experience, then I can strongly recommend the place at the bottom of Masarykova instead. (But seriously, what's wrong with you?)"

Friday, January 20, 2017

Giggy Smile

"Barth." (Joe.)

Barth blushed and smiled as he stumbled in the door.

Joe and Barth had their own name for it, the giggy smile, for that smile they got when a gig was about to start (Joe on banjo, Barth on synths) and they had no idea what they were doing and people always loved their concerts and they never knew why and they were shaking inside and had no idea how they would start and they needed to put on a good face because there was an audience out there!

"Barth, the last time I saw you was just before the Towers fell. Now we're in *Iraq*. Where have you BEEN motherfucker?!" Tearing up, Joe hugged Barth.

"He got me."

"No way." Joe let go, arms limp, deadly serious now. "And you're alive and you look like this? Normal, I mean?"

"I... think I'm OK. I lied to him a lot. He certainly gave me time enough. It's been weeks, right?"

"You're not OK, Barth, it's been months, lots of months! Uhh... what did you lie to him?"

"Every... every flavor of the rainbow. He was so *pissed*. If anybody ever grills him for information on me, he'll be so confused. *They'll* be so confused.

"Like what? Like what?"

"Like, uhh... Like, he really wanted to know how you and I met, right? And I told him we met on a hunting trip a few years back. And I told him that we met when we were eleven. And I told him that he introduced you to me, and I was really disappointed in him for forgetting. I got beat a *lot* for that one."

Barth briefly lifted up his shirt in back. ("Holy shit. No shit," thought Joe.)

"And I told him that I didn't know a guy named Joe and I didn't know what he was talking about. And I told him that I'm a tranny and you picked me up because that was your fetish. I had my own special personality set up for that one and everything. And three or four more. And that was just for that question. I had just as many for every other question too. The hard part was keeping the rotation as random as I wanted. It's a good thing he never swept my cell... lots of dirt and twigs to scratch out the order with."

Calmer again, full of relief and wonder - "But why are you smiling your giggy smile?"

"Joe... you know... I'm always performing for you. I'm always performing for all my friends. For Katryn too. Damn she's gonna be so mad I visited you first... And especially no. I feel like whatever I say, it'll be another lie..."

"I'm the same, Bart, I'm the same. In all of it." He was crying now, hugging again. "But you know our audiences have always loved us."

They both smiled, and both they knew it without needing to see it.

Mezzosoprano 5318008

They're talking too much. I can't think. I can't even remember how to write Mezzoforte... that's not it either. *That* word. That word that says I'm writing purely to goof, or at least not to develop the story.

It has been the fate of every Joe story of any considerably length (he wrote, pompously)

(We'll talk with Salvador Dali in just a moment.)


It's really about the mental exhaustion. But I don't do *shit.* I waste so much energy and that's the exhaustion. I'm a Facebook page on a dot-matrix printer.

to develop a plot. That always used to kill the story, as it loses its spontaneity over time. And that still does happen with our wild chat stories, so close, somehow, to the original format.

New Mezzosoprano is up!

Will I switch to a different YouTube video, or keep with this one?

"'Not based on face.'

'On faith.'

'Not based on faith.'"

Well now I know what Salvador Dali sounds like.

Will this stretch my writing limbs? Perhaps. It's a rare use of these Myxlplyxs, I think. I *think* I've done it before. Mostly I've developed ideas outside the main plot. Plot.

Oh this is too much. Whiny hipster. Next video, please!

Will I always be this tired when I'm self-employed? Will I always be this uninspired?

I think I just need to pull back just a little and I'll be fine.

They're not talking anymore. I love them both dearly, as much as my odd soul can love. Anna's back in her cave, Olga's washing the dishes. Maybe I

Why am I listening to this playlist collecting deliberately stupid videos?

I can do this.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Smooge and Goosh

The perfect green sky was clear and the sun shown down on the boy as he climbed out of the broken ice and sat on the ground next to Ray.
   "S-S-s-s-so l-lukewarm," shivered Norse, putting on a dry t shirt and shorts that he had been holding in a huge zip lock bag inside the ice.  Ray offered the kid a piece of celery, which he accepted and greedily devoured.

   "What do you think would happen if you asked Barth what he thinks would happen if you asked him to tell you who you are to him?" offered Marston.  Ray very slowly turned his head towards Bartholomew Norse.  He felt the drugs wearing off him a little, he thought...

   "What do you think would happen if I asked you what you think would happen if I asked you to tell me who I am to you?" Ray asked Barth.

Barth grabbed Ray's right hand and looked into his eyes, there was a slight electric shock as their fingers touched, a static spark.  Ray's demeanor changed with the spark, and he rubbed his left index finger and thumb slowly together, staring at his other hand in Barth's as Bartholomew Norse said:

"You are the meanest evil sonuvabitch that ever walked the earth, Bad to the Bone, a cyclone of righteous rage and one of God's most blessed soldiers in the war against the Devil and his children--the leftists, the communist liberals, the faggots, and all the half bred spawn of Sodom.  You are my best friend's Dad and a spy for the government or something.   You have a bad temper and P.T.S.D.  You drink and smoke too much.  You keep live ordnance in the house.  Your wife hasn't--"

"That's eNOUGH!" Ray Eawest shouted, "Cripes!"  Ray was feeling more himself now.  Marston grinned.  Ray took out a small notepad from his back pocket and a pen out of his breast pocket.  He looked into the Norse kids face.  Barth could tell that Ray was serious, and it scared the bejeezus out of the poor kid.  "NOW," he continued.

"Mr. Norse," Ray said, "How many years have you known my son?"

     "Well, since we were kids, Sir.   I mean, you all moved from the base to town here when Joe and I were both aw, about 11 I think?  So about six years?"

"Ray, what if you ask him if he can remember every detail about his favorite game." Marsten whispered to Eawest discreetly.

Ray cleaned the tablecloth of the Smooge remainders and went on to prepare the garnish for the final tableau, the brief sweet treat at the end, the Goosh.  The three of them looked lovingly at it on the tablecloth.

"Barth, how would you like to make a wager?" Ray slyly cooed,  "I bet you...your freedom!  That you cannot remember every detail about your faaaavorite game..."

Bartholomew Norse looked confused for a second, then said:

"Well that isn't very specific.  I mean, do you mean Ms. Pacman or The Game of Joe?  Or you could even be talking about Rise of Rock City, although you probably know it isn't our favorite anymore."

Ray frowned, looking out over the Rhine.  He felt slightly confused himself.  Oh well, no matter.  "Well, what about the Game of Joe?  Do you remember the song you and he used to sing when you played it? What is it, again? (ahem) 'When Machine Gun Kelly died, the women all came out and cried,' or somethingerother?"

Picnic on a Frozen River (Deuxième Tableau)

"...we're going to interrogate Norse. We think he's key to what your son's been up to... second only to the influence of that... man who usurped you as father."

"That sounds appropriate, Harold. However, won't I get a briefing on what I've missed since my capture? And about the capture itself?"

"All in good time. It's important, but that bad seed of your can do so much harm and has done so much harm - with no offense. We need to puzzle him out, and we need all the pieces ASAP. Especially with you out of the game for so long."

"None taken, Harold, but this is ridiculous. How can I interrogate Norse if I don't know who I am, where I am, what I am?"

Ray could hear Harold sighing impatiently into the phone. "FINE. I don't think it will help, and I don't care about your emotional needs, since you know as well as I that those have no place in our work. But out of respect to you as my superior, I'll provide you a 30-minute schmorg with me before the subject is brought in. That will be at 1100 hours on June 6th, 2015, approximately 3 hours after your flight from JFK lands in Hamburg. Lufthansa LH 180; your flight number is 0 220 2100257541. I repeat, 0 220 2100257541. You will find your passport in the passenger side of an unlocked Ford Taurus in section B8 of the airport parking lot. It is currently 1100 hours on the 5th, and yes, you are in the state of New York. Naturally I'm certain you can arrange land transport on your own. In Hamburg your English-speaking driver will transport you to the village of Wümme. You recognize him by your name card: Stanley Firston. You will be visiting Wümme to visit your brother, with whom your first activity after your reunion will be a picnic on the Wümme river, just before it enters Wümmepark. Note that Wümme can hardly be found on a map; if you'd like to check one, look for the adjacent town of Tostedt. Any questions?"

"I sure do have a question, young man. Why in the *hell*" - Ray uncharacteristically lost his composure and glanced furtively around - "Lord please forgive me. Harold, *why* are we meeting up in Germany??" He hoped he was being vague enough. By this point he might be followed... He also wondered if he should be something about those drugs he was sure were in his system. But one thing at a time.

"The subject was brought into custody in that location - damn globetrotters - and it's easier to discreetly transport you than him."

"This had better be a good family reunion, Harold. I'll see you there." He slammed the receiver down. He was in a foul mood anyway, but he felt the SBLAM fit well into an act of an angry ending to an angry family call.

A day and a half later, Ray was in place according to the relayed orders (Marston Smith was never clever enough to come up with such elaborate plans on his own, these must have been from higher up), and was a little the wiser. Everything he could fact-check matched up. It certainly was 2015, for example. And he certainly was just outside Wümmepark, and that certainly was Marston there waiting for him.

"You've certainly put me through the wringer, young man. Let's begin the schmorg.

Like every good schmorg that Ray had been in since elementary school, this one began with a 3-minute morsalampi. (Where Ray grew up, schmorg terminology was in French; for example the first *tableau* in a schmorg was the morsalampi, and the second was the smooge. Not like those Commies in Cali with their Italian schmorg phases.) It was enlightening... it really made Ray remember why he'd picked Marston to serve under him. They morsalampid as they walked out onto the frozen river. Ray allowed himself one positive emotion - the sheer pleasure one always gets from walking out onto a frozen river in the summer.

Marston spread out the tablecloth and asked if they could move on from the morsalampi to the smooge.

"Naturally," Ray replied, and so Marston pulled out a saw and cut the frozen Bart out of the ice. A tough kid, that Bart. It's not like a few hours of encasement in midsummer 70-degree ice would kill a kid, but he might be looking more uncomfortable than he was. The ice cracked open quickly and smoothly when given a swift rap. "As 70-degree ice tends to do," Ray thought.

"So, kid, what do you have to say for yourself?"


George Rhea swatted at a fly absently as the level neared completion.  He finished and paused the game. 

"Why do you play that stupid ancient game?" asked Jennifer, who had snuck into his office a bit too stealthily. 

"You wouldn't understand, and don't scare me like that again," George snapped as he turned off his monitor, "How is the patient?"

"Good, the contingency plan you set up worked perfectly, and only the first round of sedatives had to be administered.  He only managed to remove a couple I.V.'s and his tubing, which has all been replaced and reinserted.  Patient is in sleep stasis. Everything is back to normal except the flan. We could not find the back up supply;  apparently, it seems a custodial worker noticed it was expired and disposed of it three months ago.  I couldn't find anything to use except..."

George Rhea hoped she didn't say that they used his Jello brand Crème Brulee pudding.  He had been saving it for his special day.

     "Well?..." he blurted.

Jennifer fidgeted and her face blushed slightly.

"All--(ahem)...all we could find was a box of pudding." she finished.  Then a brief nervous chuckle escaped her as she noticed George Rhea's face.  He swiveled away from her in his office chair, back around towards his desk.

George turned his monitor back on. 

"Notify me if anything changes.  And I'll expect the Crème Brulee replaced.  That'll be all, Red." George dismissed her icily. "Oh, and let me know when you have the info on the Norse kid."

Jennifer backed out of his office gratefully as Rhea continued his umpteenth epic round of Minesweeper.

Start Like That

Ray couldn't breathe without sucking flan into his nostrils, but it didn't matter, since underwater operations was the *least* of the things he was trained for. That couldn't be an illusory past, because his body was proving it - calmly, steadily, spending no unneeded energy, he swam his way out and plopped a few feet onto the lab-room floor. In a lab locker he found an outfit to hide his sinful body from his eyes. It lacked underwear, but it was enough.

Ray felt good and determined and knew what to do. Oh, *something* felt wrong, like there was a missing letter, like a tracklist was out of sync, like he was overlooking something in his plan to meet up with his subordinate Robert Smith and complete their analysis of Yitchak Jacques. But Ray knew the ways of the Deceiver, the liberals, the secular humanists - always sowing doubt. He just laughed.

He weaved his way out, exercising his skill at passing undetected. One more God-given skill shining through the web of lies. "Is this a secret facility? A secret section in a public facility?" he thought as he walked, then answered his own self as one door he exited melded invisibly with a wall behind him.

He wondered what year it would be now. When did his real history end? He would never have worked in an establishment serving the Devil's weed, that was obvious. But other details were less obviously wrong. It might be tough to find which ones. No matter, Jacques Smith would set him straight; for as much as Ray showed disrespect towards him, Ray respected him, because his words were clear and true. Now to contact him. Ray sighed a little, wishing for the days of plentiful pay phones, before cell phones. Or was that fake history? No, Jacques Smith was real, he was sure of it, and they always communicated on his cell phone.

"Does it matter? Coins or a phone, I'll need to 'acquire' something either way," he thought, frowning inside. The things he had to do in the name of the Lord...

He wasn't in a violent mood today, and violence wouldn't fit in an elegant escape anyway. It would be simple theft. "But which one, coins or a phone? ... This is a hospital. (Hmm. St. Joseph's.) If any place is going to have a pay phone in the current year, it will be here. And I don't seem to be in the far future. And a phone might mean unlocking it, and my call will be logged... Oh, good." He sighed audibly with relief at the sight of a row of phones. Effortlessly relieving a passerby of a wallet they had been stupid enough to carry in their back pocket, he set about calling Frank. It would be good to talk to Frank Smith. He was glad the number was practically branded into his brain.

Frank picked up almost immediately. "Ray! It's good to have you back! I'm in another department now, but I have orders to reestablish our under you should you come back into contact. I'll be your subordinate, but to reinitiate the flow I'll need to give you a few orders first. Ready?"

Ray slumped on the floor. Accursed drugs... what monstrous substances were inside him. Those bastards. But he was stronger, strong enough to stand up. "Excuse me. I'm ready, Harold."

"Great to know, Ray. We're going to start like this..."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sour Krautrock

     Klaus had never been brought back to life before.  He was terrible at it, and decided he'd vomit promptly upon noticing that his swarthy and smelly bandmate Florian was giving him mouth to mouth.

    "You're welcome.  Don't worry, Krautrock absorbs vomit." Florian announced as they all watched Klaus puking.

Klaus had been clinically dead for about four and a quarter minutes.  Which had been enough time to see a Danzig performance, kick a neo-Nazi in the balls, and drink a bunch of booze that didn't do anything.  After he washed his mouth out with some real beer, he told them the story of the afterworld as he'd experienced it, the lounge, the dead celebs, the sad skinhead, the weird werewolf and then the Danzig song and the ruckus with the wolves.  When he got to the most important part, he stood up and looked around at all his band mates.

     "Look, I know you aren't going to believe this, and may say I'm just high and really confused, but Merle Haggard just told me I had work to do, that Pennybags is still alive and planning on returning to get us, and get this, he is actually Mr. PCP!!!  Yeah, the demon!  Then Merle kissed me on the mouth and I woke up- to Flori- Eh--Bluweh!"  and Klaus dry heaved a couple times.

     "You're right, I do think you are just high and confused," mumbled Ralf, "but I am glad you aren't dead."

     "Merle said,"  Klaus continued, then paused to catch his breath and drink some more beer, "that we gotta contact this lady, Mama Brain, and Glenn Danzig.  That it was a matter of life and death and that possibly this universes very existence could hang in the balance!!  Oh, and Lemmy was there and he concurred!!"

The three other members of Kraftpark gathered in a huddle about seven yards from Klaus, repeatedly leering over at him in the midst of their hushed whispers.

Florian walked back over to him.

"We believe you."

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Belchen

Jens and Glenn rematerialized back into the blizzard.  Glenn immediately opened a satchel and provided Jens with a heavy coat and fur cap.  After Glenn stopped a little ways on and picked up a heavy pack behind some brush, they walked down the Belchen towards the nearest road.  Perhaps they would luck out and come across the Belchen Gondola.

     "What was up with those wolves?  Did you?  I mean--" stuttered Jens in the cold.

Danzig chuckled.  "Yeah, well.  One of the perks of being a werewolf, eh?  Can get those damn creatures of the night to do the Watusi if you wanna.  Ha!  I gotta say, man, I was pretty scared at first and super pissed at you, but damn it Jens, thanks for biting me last Halloween!  These powers are awesome!"

Jens scoffed.

     "You'll grow tired of the tricks and frills soon enough, I fear.  Then the boredom will set in.  Really was rather rude of you to bring me back, though."

They had come back from the Cafe Cuculia through the suicide wormhole.  The demon had indeed locked Jens up tight in an icy tomb at the base of a hill a half of a mile from the Feldberg.  Jens been so weak, he would have been unable to kick himself out of the damn suitcase.  Luckily, the demon, cocksure over his 'impenetrably secure room', had freed Jens and even left him with a jug of water, before locking an immense wooden door.  Jens managed to bust out by using another auld werewolf trick, that of changing into gaseous form.  He floated rather than hiked the eighteen kilometers from Feldberg to Belchen, and rematerialized.   Looking carefully at landmarks, he had found the wormhole with no problem and promptly threw himself into it with great abandon.  Eat your heart out, Amadeus! Freedom!!

Alas, Jens had failed to notice that he wasn't alone at Belchen.  Glenn Danzig had known about the suicide wormhole as well, and had deduced that Jens might use it.  When the tracker chip (the one that Glenn had pinned on Jens the last time they'd been drinking) had led to the Feldberg, Danzig knew it wouldn't be long before Jens would show up at the wormhole.  So Glenn had his private chopper drop him in with a zero bag, a tent and a week of supplies. He camped out, in hiding, a small distance from the suicide wormhole.  When Jens jumped in, Glenn jumped in six seconds later.  He had had the wolves-in-granny costumes surrounding him in his tent to keep him warm. --What!?   He whistled to them.  They jumped into the suicide wormhole after Glenn, never to return.

     "So you know about Mr. PCP?" Jens asked.

     "Oh, sure," replied Danzig, "Only we call him a different name.  And he dresses different where I'm from."

     "What do you guys call him?" Jens enquired, panting as he walked.

"You wouldn't get it.  We call him--Pennybags."

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Just a Second

Barth and Katryn Norse, as you surely don't remember, met Joe Eawest just a second ago at this hunting lodge outside Pomeroy, Ohio, a few hours after Barth had popped in for just a second. Right as you read this, Joe is popping Barth on the head with a bottle of Rolling Rock. Joe is, you see, drunkenly displeased. Barth has, in his inebriation, mistaken Joe's room for his own, and Joe's tenor-banjo case for a clothes hamper, and so has stripped off his Spaceballs t-shirt, whipped the banjo case open, and flung the stained and smelly shirt inside. He is displaying his might moobs in their full glory at the moment of impact. Fortunately, Joe is too drunk to be able to cause any harm with the stout bottle, which is rolling harmlessly away on the floor. Now Katryn  Norse is walking in, and laughing at the scene.

Barth left Katryn for a second hours ago, because Barth *hates* hunting. He has no moral objection to guns or killing. He just finds it all boring. He's a born city-slicker. Katryn's not. He wants to be kind and he wants to get laid and so he goes on these trips, but he's not good at coming back from the hunting-lodge bar. Katryn forgives him for it, though he doesn't know she does.

It's getting dark, and Katryn knows the local warden is strict on the rules about hunting after dark, so she leads Barth back to their room, where he finds a real hamper to chuck his t-shirt into, and she convinces him to put on a new shirt while she stores away her muzzleloader. Then they come back to Joe.

"Want to play the Game of Joe?" he asks. "I guess so. I do a lot of miniatures gaming and stuff. Katryn too, she's not girly that way." Katryn nods. "Oh, the Game of Joe is all about the miniatures," Joe replies.

Joe leads them back to his room, where he has converted his cabin's dining table to a modest and makeshift gaming table, with a big green hex sheet spread out upon it. The figures assembled on it have no obvious rhyme or reason; there's figurines of a He-man, a mace-wielding dwarf, Bart Simpson eating a cucumber, a starfish and so on, but nothing organized or coherent to suggest a wargaming set.

"Uh." (That's Barth speaking.)

"Oh! I'll show you." And all night, he did. And thus befriended the Norses until the end of humanity. Which wasn't bad, since humanity still some years left in it. (Then everybody died.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Flan Resurrection

Raymond Eawest was in figurative hell. He couldn't stand it anymore.  If somebody didn't change the music station out on the floor, he truly believed he was going to lose it. 

     In his dream state he had somehow become the district manager of "Cushy Perks", the Bay Area's fanciest new coffee house, now complete with a new Amsterdam style Bong Room.  He was no longer a barista, but he still felt out of place. 

     Suddenly he noticed from his office chair that someone out on the floor had figured how to switch the station to talk radio...but what the hell kind of station was this?  Then something clicked.  He knew that voice.  George? The name George Rhea was attaching itself to one of the voices coming from the radio program.  But he didn't know anyone named Rhea...

He focused more closely on the radio programme.

'George': Vector analysis inconclusive.  Run it again.  Mary, try Mothersbaugh again.  Yeah.  He said he'd have that chocolate moog back to me two years ago.  Goddamn prog rockers.  Thanks.  So, where were we, Red?  Did you say you got a read on the Norse boy? 

Female voice: I said increased Norse activity, not that I got to take a peek.  Anyway, George, it isn't like Bart actually makes any difference either way.

George:  You don't know that, Jennifer.  Running iteration again.  And I want some details on Norse. 

Jennifer: Ah shit, really?  You... Hey, wait a minute.   Do you hear that delay? 

George:  What?

Jennifer:  There!  A static-laced delay of our conversation. Check your connection.  You may have an auxiliary line open. 

George:  Nonsense.  Let me see........  damn, you're right.  For some reason the patients headset was switched on.  Let me get it here... --

And abruptly the strains of Green Day filled the coffeehouse and Raymond Eawest woke up inside the orb of flan.  He was fairly sure of what was going on when he felt the intubation tube going down into his lungs.  He howled and jerked against the restraints, his rage acting as a trigger to his adrenaline.  He ripped free of his wrist restraints and pulled the tubes out of his mouth and nose and ripped two I.V.s out, then set to work destroying whatever disgusting prison he found himself in.  He realized in a few seconds that it was flan.  That started him laughing. 

Monday, January 9, 2017


"Jehh-nnifer, your red hair's burrr-ning," unfunnily singsonged a voice in the head of that lady by the cruiser. Her attention jerked away from that teenager - Bartholemew Norse, was it? - trying to melt out of the scene, straight to the voice in her head, because she knew that George got *pissed* if you ignored his shitty jokes.

Or jabs. Joke-jabs. With her hair mouse-brown in... heh... real life, she'd given her avatar slightly sim-disruptingly fiery red hair in this iteration of the Eawest sim, because she *could*, dammit. Work was already boring enough without at least tiny flourishes like this. "I mean, what a paradox, George. We've got a world-generator here. Gamers would cream themselves from this. And yet what are we doing with it? Simulating and re-simulating the life of one shitty asshole over and over again until everybody on your monitoring staff is dead inside. Or I know I am, at least."

"Eyes on ths prize, Jennifer! I don't have time for your whining. Any major inconsistencies?"

Jennifer sighed. It's like he was *deaf*. Deaf to reason, at least. "I heard that," George snorted.

Somewhere at the front of her mind and in her vocalization systems, the Jennnifer avatar arranged unimportant bureaucratic details with Detective Matthews while her gears ground to bring up the un- the very important bureaucratic details George demanded.

"I snuck a peek at Joe -" "- You Peeping Tammy you -" "- Screw you, George. Reported iteration stage is from Stage-one History. I snuck a peek at Joe and I suspect minor temporal inconsistencies, but will need to confirm once we interrupt this run of iterations for analysis. Raymond Eawest personality mostly on usual course in this iteration stage, aggression however exceptional even for Eawest. Hazard-to-humanity level is the usual. Increased Norse activity. Still no South-analogues. Eawests are in urban setting at this stage."

"Professional as always, except for the hair," George said, each word belched out instead of spoken... a favorite habit of George's since he was 16. "I'll make you keep it for the next 3,400 iterations and see if you still like it."

"It's a good thing George's heart is in the right place, because other than that, he's just a much of an asshole as Ray," Jennifer thought.

"I HEARD THAT!" belched George.

Intermezzo #777: Wolfie Wolf wolfs Out.

Suddenly there appeared Glenn Danzig, and there was a chorus line of wolves-in-grandma-disguises on both sides of him, kicking their wolf legs high in a perverse Rockettes meet Little Red Riding Hood nightmare.  On the back wall of the lounge behind the piano appeared a jump blues trio, all wolves.  They started rocking as Danzig began to sway.  Jens' hackles had popped out all over his neck and the change had begun.

Danzig grabbed a mic stand, also suddenly there for some reason, took the mic off and began to sing:

"Wolf E. Wolfe,  wolfing out!
Wolfie, Wolfie you're wolfing out now!!
Rip a throat out and get your goat out now
Wolf! Wolfie Wolf!  A- Wolfie wolf!
A wolf! Wolf!  Ah-oooooOOOO!!!!

Eviscerate the prey, it's a terrible day,
You can kill all the living but you cannot today-
You're in a limbo hell! And it's too sad to tell--
You can't kill kill kill if you're dead dead dead!
You can't drink your fill when no body flows red!"

By this time almost everyone in the place had had a run in with Jens, and he was indeed quite unable to kill anyone.  It was quite frustrating and eventually he sat down in the corner and panted for a few seconds, growling occasionally.  Merle got a metal mixing bowl and filled it with water and sat it a few feet away from Jens.  Jens lunged at Merle, with little effect.

     "I said-a go, go, go Wolfie, go Wolfa Go!!!" finished Danzig, bowing briefly and abruptly ushering Jens out while the lounge was now quite distracted and overcome by the Wolf/Granny Rockettes.

     "Come ON, Jens!  You do NOT belong here yet. And would you snap out of it?! The moon isn't even half full!"

The Sad Skinhead

When you spend enough (that is, too much) time playing a computer strategy game, its invasion of your head spreads beyond the conscious and reaches even your dreams... or even beyond. And so here, back in his seat at the Café Cuculia ("Why I am I back at the Café Cuculia," he fleetingly thought), Klaus was back once again to torturedly playing the gray of Rise of Rock City. *We* don't play it, and we don't want to play it, because we don't want to be like Klaus. Fortunately it's fictional, so the risk is small. But let's keep our tour of its boundaries brief all the same. Just in case! Somebody might invent it!

The player, as a Magetaurist Lord dispossessed of the city he used to rule, aimed to take full control of Rock City, while still making sure that it still Rises. (As otherwise *every* team in the game loses.) Through Synthomancy, Riffchantment, and seven other schools of rocked-out magic - through legions of deadly musicians - they struggle for supremacy over the city.

But really, in practice, it's all about careful beancounting, over and over and over again. Squeezing out one more point of Electricity, or Coolness, or Power - or any of the other main resources of the game, from each little plot of land, from each little character in the city district their Magetaurist Lord controlled, and above all out of the Lord themselves.

And that's exactly what Klaus was doing in his head when the Sad Skinhead plopped into the opposite seat of the two-seat table Klaus had deliberately picked in order to remain alone.

Or rather, not quite. Klaus was trying to... the game.

Trying to save the game in your dreams (or in ego-death sitting at the Café Cuculia) is definitely the most tortuous part of playing a strategy game in your dreams, because you can't. Do. It. Obviously. Since you're not, you know, on your computer. But your dream-mind struggles and struggles to do it all the same, because goddammit, it's been such a struggle to make progress in the game while dreaming with your mind all fucked up, and/or you've got to do it because your brilliant dream-mind has implemented the perfect-solution!

But you fail. But you keep trying. Your mind spins. Sometimes it wakes you up. But Klaus couldn't wake up.

"But if you're just going to keep mumbling to yourself I swear I'll punch you. Faggot. Even though there's no point. I can't even kill you. Kikes. Niggers. Tacos. Can't kill 'em. Already dead. Can't kill 'em." The Skinhead's mind spun.

When Klaus was aware enough to think, he didn't like fascists very much. And when he heard fascist bullshit, it angered him enough to wake him up. "What the fuck did you just say," he snapped, startled, his greasy black hair swishing around his neck.

The Skinhead, on the other hand, was inured to it all. To it *all*, all. For all his provocative words, he himself couldn't be provoked anymore. He wasn't just blabbering; what he said really was the torture of his afterlife. He moaned of it to every new victim he could find. And yet, with the reality of the situation hammered into him with every painless, non-fatal punch and kick he delivered to his racial foes, he really was gradually entering, year by year, a rather laid-back, Zen-like state. If sad. Give him a century or two - or the right push sooner - and he could be OK.

As you read this from their faces from halfway across the Café, your mind transported here by daydreaming, Alan Thicke next to you takes his hand off Florence Henderson's shoulder and points, shouting.


You see him. A furry man-beast. "Wow. Really. Werewolf," you think. And then he wolfs out.


Scarborough Bluffs was deserted save for a few ravens that hopped around, curiously eyeing the new arrivals.  The cold north wind blew vicious and fast.   The group was just finishing unloading their bus of belongings and loading all of it into the Berg-Versteck.  They gathered in the main room of the mountain lodge, near the enormous fireplace, and Ralf began tending to the beginnings of a fire.  Klaus was not being very talkative.  Normally this wouldn't have fazed any of his band mates but considering the recent turn of events, they wanted to make sure he hadn't gone all Syd Barrett acid casualty on them, so Florian sat next to him for a not so subtle intervention-esque psycho-check-in.

     "Hey, Klaus, old boy," began Florian, "How you faring, mate?  Need a joint?  You know, you don't seem to be coming down all that okay?"

Klaus slowly rotated his head and seemed to hear the last bit.

"Huh.  Yeah.  A joint.  Sure.  I'm okay," he mumbled,  "...gray.  It's gray. You're gray.  I thought it would stop when we were done tripping but it isn't..." and Klaus unknowingly began weeping.

Ralf had the fire started and it crackled comfortingly in the quiet hall. 

Florian pulled out a decent sized spliff and fired it up.  The three of them passed it around and Florian put his hand on Klaus' shoulder.

"This should help, pal.  This shit is from Maui, and boy wowee is not a good enough descriptor." Florian said, passing the spliff to Klaus, who seemed to be cheering up.  He sniffed.

     "I hope I am not colorblind forever!" he said and took and enormous pull off the joint.  Immediately he began choking and coughing emphatically, spittle flying, careening off the chair he was on and lurching sideways.  A bright yellow explosion of stars went off in his field of vision as he began to pass out.  Got. To. Stop--Coughing! he thought.  Then he thought, hey, yellow. 

Then Klaus passed out from coughing and fell over on to the Berg-Versteck's sandy stone floor, cracking his noggin real hard.

"Wow.  Well then," said Ralf.  He bent down and picked up the joint from the floor, dusted it off briefly and took a pull, "you guys know CPR?" he joked, and snorted.


Coming back down, Ralf, Klaus, and Florian landed right back in their hotel room.

"Reality's a hell of a drug, man," muttered Klaus.

"You're tellin' me! Can't kick it for good without dying!" Florian was talking pretty well for someone still grounded on the floor, which must have been spinning pretty fast for him, since he was flailing so wildly.

"...Und so." Ralf this time. "Do we care about this inflatable menace, or not?"

"What menace? He floated away."

"Oh come on. Villains always come back."

"A very narrative reply. If he's really a menace, then... to Krautrock!"

Krautrock was the name they'd given to Scarborough Bluffs (hell if they knew what it was called) when they were on their way in to Toronto.


"Let's call Peppa!"

Peppa Steelmann, their tour-bus driver, was not pleased by the 4 a.m. "taxi" call, but money is money, and money is good. Not much later they arrived at the Bluffs. At Krautrock. Whatever.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Heaven Overcrowded and Hell is Filled, Limbo Lounge is the Place to be Chilled

     Merle Haggard looked haggard, even for a dead man.  It had been a grisly couple years, with suicides, cancer victims, heart attacks, death by crashing, you name it--and the soul processing biz was showing strain at the edges.  It was almost like everyone on earth was dying or something.  Merle looked around at the Cloud Seven Lounge, where he'd held court ever since his demise.  There was a motley crew of misfits and movie stars, singers and writers and mathematicians, all drinking heavily and trying to relax, to little or no avail in most cases.
     Leonard Cohen sat at the bar, head hung between his shoulders, gazing at his gin and tonic and humming incoherently.   Right next to him sat a slightly fat and greasy looking George Michael, with a ver-r-r-ry confused look on his face.
     On a torn up red leather sofa sat Lemmy and Prince, intently looking at the cards in their hands.  Across from them on the other side of the square glass coffee table, on ripped up leather ottomans, sat Carrie Fisher and David Bowie.

"Give me two," murmured Carrie, throwing two cards down on the table towards David.  Bowie obliged and the turn went to Lemmy, who winked at someone in the distance behind Bowie, then Lemmy folded.

"M' out," he announced and got up, striding past the table towards who he'd winked at previously.  It was Cathouse Cathy and boy was she almost naked, thought Lem.

Just then there was a ruckus in the dark corner on the other side of the lounge.  The piano player stopped playing.  John Glenn and Arnold Palmer stood up to see what was happening.  Merle floated over to see what it was when there was a sudden deafening pop and a blinding blue light erupted from the corner, sending everything into an eerie slow motion sequence.  Several souls fled the lounge outright following the pop, but the remaining few witnessed something particularly important.  It was the rare occurrence of a 'palatial drift', when a soul from another plane of being is sent through to the other side, into Limbo.  The plane the soul came from could be heaven, hell, or even the state of life.  There had never been, however, a documented case of a member of the undead achieving this feat.

Until now.

The blue light had faded.  As everyones eyes became unblinded slowly, they noticed who the drifter was.  Nobody recognized him except Alan Thicke.  He took his hand off Florence Henderson's shoulder and pointed, shouting.


Jens gaped at the room.  He was dumbfounded.  And that's when he wolfed out.