March 2013


I know it’s not

realistic

But some days

I dream of

an open beach

Quiet

waves

at

sunrise

Not

a

person

or

structure

in sight

Just me

the sand

the sea

the sun

I know it’s not realistic

but I still dream of it

some days

in winter

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After passing out once the cyclone had lifted the house, he was awakened by a shock, so sudden and severe that if Theodore had not been lying on the soft couch he might have been hurt. As it was, the jar made him catch his breath and wonder what had happened. Theodore sat up and noticed that the house was not moving; nor was it dark, for the bright sunshine came in at the window, flooding the little room. He sprang from the couch and opened the door.

The Theodore gave a cry of amazement and looked about him, his eyes growing bigger and bigger at the bizarre sights he saw.

The cyclone had set the house down very gently–for a cyclone–in the midst of a country of terrifying darkness. Most of what he could see was pitch-black, with no delineation between sky and earth. Trees bearing fruit and banks of flowers were visible, stark against the darkness and glowing eerily as if under a blacklight. Theodore could hear other sounds—for instance, that of a a small brook rushing nearby—but couldn’t see anything but the fluorescent foliage.

While he stood looking dazedly at the strange sights, Theodore noticed a group of people coming toward him. They were not as big as the folk he had always been used to. In fact, they seemed about half as tall as Theodore, although they were, so far as looks go, many years older.

Three were men and one a woman, and all were oddly dressed. They wore round hats that rose to a small point a foot above their heads and glowed a bright and piercing orange. The little woman’s hat was white, and she wore a white gown that hung in pleats from her shoulders; both colors were so bright despite the darkness that Theodore had to hold up a hand to shield his eyes.

When these people drew near the house where Theodore was standing in the doorway, they paused and whispered among themselves, as if afraid to come farther. But the little old woman walked up to Theodore, made a low bow and said, in a sweet voice:

“You are welcome, most noble Sorcerer, to the land of the Ltmbgjhms. We are so grateful to you for having killed the Wicked Wizard of the North-Northwest, and for setting our people free from bondage.”

Theodore listened to this speech with horror. His parents had always warned him to be wary of twisters and cyclones, for he came from a Technicolor world. Everyone knew that tornadoes from monochrome worlds brought folks to the Technicolor Oz, but tornadoes from Technicolor worlds, on the other hand…

“Oh no!” Theodore cried. “I’m in Ultraviolet Oz!”

This entry incorporates some text from the public domain Oz books at Project Gutenberg.

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The elevator stretched deep beneath the university’s central administration building, and opened on a short hallway with an old-fashioned, cast-iron door guarded by a member of the campus police in a ceremonial uniform.

“This is it,” said the university president to his guest, the head of the alumni association. He waved the guard aside and withdrew a tarnished key on a chain from around his neck. It jangled noisily in the lock.

“But I still don’t understand,” said the alumni association head. “Why freeze the coach, especially with the state of technology in those days?”

The door retracted into the walls, long-disused gears squealing. A circular room lay beyond, with a cylindrical capsule at its center. A beefy man wearing nothing but a primitive wooden jockstrap was suspended in fluid, lit by gas lamps that flickered to life as the president and head entered.

“Because he was too advanced for his time,” the president said, raising his voice to be heard over the low din of Industrial Revolution era life support machinery. “Our sachems knew that one day American football would rise to preeminence among college sports, but a man can only live for so long. So we chose instead to preserve him, to be thawed out only when the need for a bowl game was most dire.”

“It is most dire indeed,” the alumni association head agreed, wincing at the thought of the previous week’s 127-3 loss.

Soon the room was full of clatter and steam as the machinery was disengaged. The coach emerged from his pod to behold the president and alumni association head kneeling before him.

“It is time,” said the president. “Lead us to victory.”

“Bully,” said the coach, twitching his handlebar mustache. “We play by Boston rules. I have in my head a secret plan to score more runs per match than has ever been attempted even by the likes of Harvard. No carrying the ball, no unsportsmanlike shoving, just pure and simple contests of fielders versus bulldogs with the fair catch kick rule in play above all.”

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And yea did he wander across the rubble-chok’d plain for he knew not how long, lit only by the fire of dying galaxies as they pinwheel’d above.

No more than a stone’s circumference higher or lower was any part of the land. For this was the dust to which the universe had been ground, and he was among its motes.

Wanderings were aught but the backdrop for his mind. For as he wander’d, yea was his mind fill’d with recrimination and sorrows forever multipli’d. All he had done, all he planned to do, was held up to the flame of introspection.

But amid a landscape without features, without companions, his musings could bear no fruit.

But yea did an object eventually present itself, a silhouette against the backdrop of a cosmos grown indifferent. And he found there a great pillar, crook’d and erod’d, stretching several cubits above his head.

A simple touch told him all he could ever hope to know: he had found the Sinstone, the petrifi’d remains of aught that mortalkind had ever transgressed. He sat on it base, on a ledge chipped from sin itself, and thought.

As he though, as he grappl’d with the raw and horrifying truth of every sin ever committed, the featureless and rubble-bechok’d plain began to stir once more from the depths of oblivion.

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Jainkoa had never explained to Deabrua why he preferred to meet on the Salar de Uyuni salt pan after a rain. Deabrua had a few inklings; Bolivia was a country of strong faith and clean air, and the salt flats were like a giant mirror of the heavens after a rain.

Perhaps that beauty was all the explanation that was necessary; Deabrua himself was not particularly anxious to find out.

They met near a graveyard of ancient and rusting trains, reflected in a few millimeters of clear and reflective water. While either Deabrua or Jainkoa could have appeared as anything they chose, or nothing at all, they met by mutual consent as winged humanoids in roughspun cloth.

“What is the occasion this time, my friend?” Deabrua asked. He had arrived to find Jainkoa staring blankly over the reflective expanse.

“Something has been troubling me of late,” said Jainkoa. “I thought I might parley with you about it for a moment or two.”

Jainkoa hardly ever asked for advice; that was the cause of their long-ago rift, after all. And if they were able to agree to disagree for an informal chat every now and again, the old wounds still remained fresh and strong.

“What is troubling you, then?” Deabrua resisted the temptation to add a little snark, if only so that Jainkoa’s next words would be honest.

“How can the same world contain such beauty as this and such despair?”

Deabrua was taken aback for a moment, but considered for a moment. Jainkoa had the power to influence much if he chose to do so, so the question was almost nonsensical. Still, there was a sincere gleam in his old sparring partner’s eye.

“Without despair there can be no true happiness, I suppose,” Deabrua answered. “Without something to compare it to , or contrast it with, the concepts would be meaningless. To you, to me, to all the things on this rock capable of feeling.”

“You think so?” Jainkoa said with a strange note in his voice. “Even with all our disagreements?”

“I think so, even with all our disagreements,” said Deabrua. “After all, what is rebellion without something to rebel against, hatred without something to hate, or selfishness without altruism to reject?”

“A wise answer, my old friend,” said Jainkoa. “I think this may be the rare thing you can I can agree on.”

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“We’re flushing out the last of the resistance. They’ve retreated to the pipes and sewer lines, and might be able to hold out for a while there, but I think they’re finished.”

The Colonel looked over the room which had served as the Ars Nox control room. A factory abandoned to the elements, each of the windows was covered with sheets of foliage that gave the interior an eerie green look–and which had helped to shield it from Directorate satellites. “What about the intelligence? That’s why we didn’t nuke and pave from the air.”

“Well, Unit 731 has been brought in, and given everything we found,” said the Adjutant, instinctively ducking as the sound of heavy combat echoed from deep below their feet. “Ars Nox was able to nuke most of their drives, so it’ll be some time before we know for sure what we’ve got.”

“Papers?” The Colonel ran his hand along the worn surface of a wooden table bolted to the floor, one which had until recently housed the nerve center of the local Ars Nox computer network and command/control systems they’d been using to stage attacks nearby.

“Recent orders, daily codes that will expire in a few hours…nothing significant beyond delivering a few local cells to us.” The Adjutant licked his lips delicately. “If I might speak freely, sir, I don’t think that the intelligence value of this raid will be worth the cost in lives, time, and treasure. I would submit that next time an aerial bombardment might-”

“That’s enough,” snapped the Colonel. “Go get me an update on the fighting, and tell the Unit 731 boys to contact me as soon as they finish sifting through those fried drives.”

Seemingly terrified, the Adjutant fled the scene clutching his briefcase. With him gone, the Colonel allowed himself a long, sweet breath of the musty air.

It brought back so many memories. The factory had been silent for ages since the final and crushing depression–no one in town was closer to it than a grandfather or great-grandfather who worked the line. But even in the Colonel’s boyhood days, children had run throughout it, playing games, stealing kisses. They would be on the side of Ars Nox now–the whole area was–but they likely still came to play even as men with weapons and computers fought a quiet war nearby.

Even if they didn’t, the Colonel couldn’t stand to see his old haven taken from him, no matter the cost in “lives, time, and treasure.” So much else had changed, so much else had been destroyed.

But not this; not this.

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“Now remember, the Swingline Sanctuary is a safe environment for office supplies from the Southern Michigan University computer lab,” said Rem, the brown and cracked old bakelite-handled staple remover. “We’re on the front lines, the most heavily used supplies outside of the admissions office, and our health and well-being is very important. No one wants a repeat of the Elektro-Stape incident.”

The assembled supplied moved their hinges in agreement. The Elektro-Stape, a motorized stapler with undiagnosed PTSD, had snapped during one fateful final exam period and devoured 50 freshman introductory composition essays. The computer lab posse had been forced to feed him cardstock to stop the carnage.

“Bic, I believe you said you wanted to start us off.” Rev was too old and broken to see the rigors of use anymore, but he had led the supplies placed near the lab’s printing station 1948-1971–a lab record–and was kept around by the juniors and seniors that ran the place because of his “retro” look.

The multi-hue highlighter loaned to students in the lab’s quiet study area moved forward. “I was all ready to spill forth my ink for the first time,” moaned Bic. “It’s an important rite of passage for highlighters, even if the pens make fun of us for it. and then…and then…”

“It’s all right, let it all out,” said Rem. “We’re here for you, Bic.”

“They used me to highlight dirty words in Sixty Shades of Beige,” Bic wailed. “And to draw mustaches and eyepatches on Kym Cardassian’s photoshoot for Person magazine!”

Murmurs of concern and support came from the circle. “That’s awful,” said Rev. “I knew ENGL 401 was using Sixty Shades of Beige as part of their unit on worthless drek, but…wow.”

Stanley, the current lab stapler, moved forward next. He was a 1982 model, and had outlived 177 cheaper replacements due to his sturdy construction…but even he had his demons. “The sign says twenty pages or less, but they just kept…piling them in there,” Stanley said. “When I jammed, they just kept pushing, and pushing, and swearing…the guys at the computer desk had to unjam me with needlenose pliers! I still have a headache from the trauma.”

“If there’s one thing those rotten freshmen won’t do, it’s read the directions,” Rem sighed. He’d been used as a toothpick 1949-1955 despite a sign specifically prohibiting that usage.

Stanley continued: “And my friend HD the heavy-duty stapler is still in intensive care after those brutes tried to use him to staple two and a half pages. They might have to disassemble him!”

“I hear you,” said Cole the hole punch. “I’d like to share a similar story that your struggles are helping me to confront.”

“Please do,” Stanley said.

“Well, the kids can’t usually put too many sheets in me because of my design, thank goodness. But with exams…I’m so full of punched holes that I’m about to back up, and the kids at the desk are too busy to empty me. I haven’t been emptied since May. I haven’t been emptied since May!”

From an idea by breylee.

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“Okay, let’s go over everything again,” said the dessicated packet of Old Martha’s Hazlenut No. 1 tea. The oldest packet by far in the cupboard of Madame Vizcacha (born Gertrude Nussbaum), Old Martha’s Hazlenut No. 1 had been forgotten in a corner for years, even after Celestial Seasonings had bought her parent company and ruthlessly gutted it. It had taken on the post of unofficial leader, organizing the other teas and keeping them motivated to pass their prophecies on to Madame Vizcacha with clarity and focus.

“Number one! What’s your prophecy?” Old Martha’s Hazlenut No. 1 said, addressing the contents of a newly-opened box of Château Piccard brand Earl Grey packets.

“Flat tire from a broken beer bottle at the corner of 8th and main!” the first Earl Grey tea barked.

“Number two!”

“Mr. Brandstead’s wife is considering leaving him for a Nordic masseuse!” cried the second. “That’s what she’ll read in my leaves!”

“Number three!”

“Extinction of all life on earth if the Large Haldron Collider is turned on between 2:17 and 2:19 AM local Swiss time!”

“Number four!” Old Martha’s Hazlenut No. 1 cried at the last occupant of the box, which Madame Vizcacha had been drinking through in reverse order.

“Umm…” Earl Grey No. 4 hesitated.

Old Martha’s Hazlenut No. 1 sighed. “Focus! You need to receive your wisdom from the aether in order to pass it on! It’s your life’s purpose, so make sure you get it right!”

Frankly, Earl Grey No. 4 thought that its life’s purpose was to be a scarf-wearing hipster’s trendy substitute for coffee, but it was in no position to argue. “An angry customer in two hours looking for a refund,” it said at length. “He’s not happy that Madame Vizcacha’s romantic advice didn’t turn out as he hoped.”

“No refunds,” barked Old Martha’s Hazlenut No. 1, echoing Madame Vizcacha’s well-known life motto. “It’s not her fault that prophecy came from a bad Metromart Generic Tea No. 7. There’s a reason those are so cheap.”

From an idea by breylee.

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HE 20.402:M 52/2/2013
Lykos Lypimenos: What You Need to Know
A publication from the Office of the Shaman General of the United States

1. Lykos lypimenos can be treated
The first thing to understand it that being a lykos lypimenos (or a so-called depression werewolf) is a legitimate medical condition, and treatable with a combination of medication (most often prescription Selenia™) and therapy. It is, however, a much more complex condition than lycanthropy or depression alone, much like bipolar disorder is much more complex than mania or depression on their own.

2. Observation is essential to diagnosis
It’s crucial for your diagnosis to gather as much information as you can about the behavior of the wolf than infected you:

-Were its ears and tail erect?
-Did it growl or just simply whimper?
-Did it bite you proactively, or did you have to force it into a corner first?

3. It’s important to have a supportive environment

While lykos lypimenos sufferers generally spend the full moon too depressed to maul or kill or infect, tending to sleep or watch TV or write poetry during lycanthropic episodes, a supportive environment is still essential. Try some of the following techniques with friends or family:

-Controlled doses of mood-altering drugs like ice cream (not chocolate) or prescription Selenia™
-Tactile stimulation – petting a lykos lypimenos sufferer releases valuable serotonins
-Games of fetch or keep-away with favorite objects
-Heaping sacks of raw or undercooked meat

4. This part has an old poem in it

“Even one who is pure in heart/and says their prayers by night/may become morose when depression blooms/and the moon is full and bright.”

Remember, with early diagnosis, a support network, medication (most often prescription Selenia™), and other treatment strategies, lykos lypimenos sufferers can live rich full lives. All the other options open to lycanthropes, from indiscriminate slaughter to secluded and horrified contemplation, are ultimately attainable!

This pamphlet is an official publication of the Office of the Shaman General of the United States in association with GesteCo Pharmaceuticals, makers of prescription Selenia™, the once-daily pill for mild to severe rheumatoid lycanthropy. Call 1-555-GES-TECO for more information about prescription Selenia™.

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TRANSCRIPT FROM EPISODE 2S14 OF PRINCESS SEARCH PROVIDED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE HARD OF HEARING, EARLESS, GNOMIK-QUAL, HALF GNOMIK-QUAL, AND SUFFERERS OF THE BLOOD SILENCE BY PMTI – PUBLIC MAGICAL TELEVISION INTERNATIONAL.

FOR A FREE TRANSCRIPT OF ANY EPISODE, SCRAWL ITS NAME IN ASH ON A COLD HEARTH DURING THE NEW MOON OR MAIL A S.A.S.E. TO PTMI AT 1 ROCKMOLDER PLAZA.

[Commercial advertisement for Magi-Cola™ (“taste the midichlorians!”) ends]

ADJUDICATOR NOMIS: All right, we’ve come to perhaps the most unbearably painful part of our selection process: singing.

GRAND MUFTI AL-TEMSAH: You will each sing an original song of your choice, be it a war ballad or a love requiem, and we will tear it to shreds in front of millions of viewers at home as is our wont.

DOWAGER EMPRESS HALLUD: Express yourselves and be free, children of the celestial mushrooms!

[NOMIS and AL-TEMSAH exchange glances but say nothing]

AL-TEMSAH: All right, first up is Princess Ndlovukati from the veldt kingdom of Lesthwazil. Hit us with your best shot.

NDLOVUKATI: [singing] Someday my prince will come/Someday I’ll find my love/And how thrilling that moment will be/When the prince of my dreams comes to me…

NOMIS: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Put the brakes on there, Snowderella. What part of the word “original” do you not understand?

Al-TEMSAH: They could be watching and listening right now! Do you have any idea how fast-

[a piece of parchment is handed to AL-TEMSAH from off-screen]

AL-TEMSAH: And there we have our cease-and-desist parchment. And a lawsuit. Thank you for that.

NDLOVUKATI: [sobbing] I’m sorry! My people have no concept of copyright infringement!

NOMIS: Excuses, excuses. Next!

HALLUD: Well I thought that, original or not, it was pretty unique.

[NOMIS and AL-TEMSAH exchange glances but say nothing]

NOMIS: Princess Skald of Kalmarunionen, warble something OR-IG-IN-AL for us, if you please. If I hear a single copyrighted syllable, I’ll whack your pretty blonde head with my scepter so hard you’ll see the astral plane.

SKALD: [clears throat] Yo yo! I’m on probation makin’ it harder for me/Bitch, now she mad cause she ain’t gonna see/Machine gun bulletproof this bitch/Blow yo brains out cuz you been playin’…

AL-TEMSAH: Stop, stop! What the hell was that?

SKALD: It’s a traditional love-song of my people.

NOMIS: Seems a little downtown for a shield-maiden of Nødin in the high halls of Hällvalla. And what’s all this about machine guns and bulletproofing? Your people haven’t even discovered gunpowder yet!

SKALD: Look, I’m just trying to keep it real. My song was born on the mean streets of Daß-Hågen, and it’s about social problems that real people deal with everyday.

AL-TEMSAH: I find that highly problematic and vaguely insulting! You’re a cloistered princess who lives a carefree life of martial training and boastful feasting!

NOMIS: Your kingdom has a homogenous population of 10,000 with an elective monarchy and generous social programs for serfs!

HALLUD: Preach it, sister. Power to the serf on the street with his gat, giving woe to the man like a real woe-man!

[NOMIS and AL-TEMSAH exchange glances but say nothing]

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