July 2014

In time, the armies of the Remaker arose in the far east. He had learned of the Silent Fortress during a half-finished apprenticeship as a Laconic Guard decades ago, before leaving for the Eastern Wilds (or being exiled thereto, depending on which version of the tale one hears). In the waning days of the Great Dynasty, the Remaker gathered to himself a remarkable number of followers and moved upon the Fortress with intent to take it.

The Remaker’s motives may seem insanity incarnate on the face of things: at the heart of the Silent Fortress lies the Eternal Child, the one who dreams the world into being, and to wake them is to cause the unraveling of the world. That is the very reason for the Silent Fortress and the Laconic Guard who stand vigil over it. Why would anyone, especially a powerful warlord, seek to make war upon it?

An answer can be found in the chaos and destruction of the Great Dynasty, when royal power was fading and the countryside was rent by bandits and brushfire wars. The economy was in shambles, a powerless and insane king held the throne, and the countryside’s many men-at-arms were more preoccupied with putting their choice for Regent on the throne than alleviating the suffering of the masses. It was, as the poet Crusander put it, “a time when the better angels of mankind slumbr’d deeply.”

Against that backdrop, the Remaker offered a powerful millenarian message: by awaking the Eternal Child, the would would be unraveled–but it deserved to be unraveled. A world such as theirs did not deserve survival, and the Eternal Child would soon return to slumber, dreaming a new and more equitable world anew in which all would be happy and healthy and there would be no death and no war.

Several people confronted the Remaker in private audiences, aghast at the audacity of his plan. What if the world was not remade? What if the Eternal Child remained awake forever? What if the new world was worse than the existing, or wholly alien, or did not contain any of the people who had brought about its end?

To these questions, the Remaker’s answer was always the same: “I cannot think of a more unjust world than the one in which we live, so we owe it to ourselves to fight and die for even the ghost of a chance at a better one.”

It was a powerful message, and by the fifth harvest since his rise, the Remaker’s vanguard troops could see the Silent Fortress from their forward positions.

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Everything in the green potato is tentacles
Our unripe tuber bulwark against the unknown darkness
The starch quickly subsumes all of the noxious chemicals
Belched forth in evil from many a blasphemous carcass

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“So you gave her your personal passwords, your credit card number, and your Social Security number even though you’d only just met?” said Officer Carruthers incredulously.

“You don’t understand!” wailed the quivering lump of pale manflesh in the precinct office. “She had dyed hair…she was so vibrant and quirky, I just…I just felt a connection!”

“Even so, Mr. Daniels, surely you must have had some idea that things weren’t on the level,” added Chief Strong, trying and failing to sound sympathetic rather than annoyed.

“She said she wanted to grind for loot for me in Dungeons of Krull,” blubbered Daniels, “and she wanted to register so we could play together!”

“Gentlemen I believe I may be of some assistance here.” At the sound of that familiar voice, both Carruthers and Strong recoiled. “Not again.”

“Yes, gentlemen, it is I: Sherwood Greg. Collector, scholar, dungeon master, level 25 elven sorceress, head of the Council of Twelve, and overall coordinator for Nerdicon.” The rotund form of Sherman Gregward, as he was known to the state, waddled into the office. If nothing else, he made Daniels look svelte by comparison.

“What is it, Gregward?” snapped Chief Strong. “Can’t you see that we’re in the middle of something? How’d you get in here, anyway?”

“I heard the cry of a kindred spirit in need, echoing throughout the blogisphere,” said Sherwood Greg grandly. “And it just so happens that your man at the front desk is a fan of Glowworm, and now has a complimentary ticket to the cast and crew panel at this year’s Nerdicon.”

The officers exchanged looks of intense annoyance. “Well, we’ve got a fairly straightforward case of identity theft here, Gregward,” said Officer Carruthers. “So I don’t know what help you can be.”

“On the contrary, our mutual friend Mr. Daniels–AKA Armageddetron82–has fallen victim to a recent trend that I like to call the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl Scam.’ Namely, a savvy con artist aping the two-dimensional wish-fulfillment female characters so prevalent in entertainment for the purposes of cutting-edge fraud and social engineering.”

“I think we had figured that part out,” said Chief Strong. “What can you do that we can’t?”

“I can offer myself up as bait, of course,” said Sherwood Greg. “For I assure you that seeing the con artist who has been ravaging the local nerdgeek and geeknerd community brought to justice is foremost on my mind, and I am a far more tempting target than either of you could ever hope to be.”

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Fighting for the man beside us
Seen through gas-mask lenses
Through phosgene clouds
Advancing silhouettes

Rifle’s jammed, a club only
Too long and heavy anyway
When death’s at arm’s length
Or from above, a thunderbolt

I grapple with my enemy
Hand to hand, war to the knife
Fumbling in chemical twilight
Blades though both our chests

Now-useless masks come off
Red foam on uniforms, lips
We clasp trembling hands
Enemies waiting for the end

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OFFICER: Do you know why I pulled you over?

DRIVER: No, officer, I don’t.

OFFICER: Sir, are you familiar with the ‘pick it and ticket’ law?

DRIVER: I swear, I wasn’t doing anything!

OFFICER: Then you won’t mind a little test. Hold out your hand.


OFFICER: As I thought! The boogeryzer shows fresh mucus on your fingers. You’re coming with me.

ANNOUNCER: All over the country, law enforcement officers are stepping up the campaign against digging for nose gold and driving. The act of extracting boogers makes drivers 100 times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash, and no matter how fast you wipe your hands on the underside of the dashboard, you can’t fool a boogeryzer test. So keep your fingers from doing brain surgery unless you want to spend a night in the snot tank. Remember: ‘Pick It and Ticket’ is the law in all 50 states.

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The man was elderly, dressed in a suit. Steely grey eyes that danced with intelligence were deeply sunken into a powerful brow, with a rough shock of grey hair above and a neatly trimmed beard below.

“Augustus Zeitengel, I presume,” said Graham. “You look exactly as I thought you would.”

“That is no accident, Thomas Ellford Graham.” Zeitengel’s voice was deep and resonant, the voice of a man who had swayed multitudes and was well aware of the fact. “What you see is solely for your benefit, that you might understand what it being said. Zeitengel’s ideas have always been more important than what is behind them.”

“So are you Augustus Zeitengel, or not?” Graham paused. “Does he even exist?”

Zeitengel–or whatever it was–smirked but said nothing.

“I just want to know the truth,” Graham said. “About you, about the Temporal Anarchists who have been riddling the City’s timeline with holes, about everything.”

The old man laughed a dry laugh, the merry rustling of tree leaves and burial shrouds. “Truth? It was never about truth. It was about certainty.”


“Yes, certainty. The City today is a whirl of moral greys and conditional statements. Nothing is certain except uncertainty, and that is not what humans crave. They yearn for certain knowledge that they can be confident in, a heuristic through which all they meet and experience may be put.”

“Like the Sepulcher?” Graham said. He hadn’t been to a service in so long, even when he and it had existed at the same time…

“At one time your fellow denizens of the City would have found the certainty they craved through that miserable edifice, yes,” Zeitengel sneered. “But as their faith was eroded, they were left grasping for certainty that their worldview would no longer allow them to derive from the Sepulcher and its tired, hoary religion.”

“So that’s where your Temporal Anarchists came in,” sighed Graham. “Offering the certainty that nobody else would. Telling them the lie they wanted to hear.”

“Why, Mr. Graham, what makes you think it was a lie?” Zeitengel laughed his embalmed, deathful laugh again. “If the City had wanted a comforting lie there were myriads to be found. But why do you think none of the lies ever caught on, from the Supreme Temple of the Second City to the Obliteration of the Self to the Death-Worshipers? No. The Temporal Anarchists offer only the truth.”

“But not the truth that your…supplicants…or whatever are after,” cried Graham. “They won’t be reunited with their loved ones, or gain eternal life.”

“Who is to say that they are not? When our great work is done, when the vorhang, the blind, succeed in replacing the order of this universe with chaos, the distinction between living and dead, loved ones and strangers, or other and self will be meaningless.” Zeitengel spread his arms wide in an all-encompassing gesture.

“That can’t work. It would destroy everything.”

“Doesn’t the fish think that life in the air can’t work? Doesn’t the man with no microscope think that nothing smaller than what he can see can exist? Simply because you cannot conceive it, you declare it to be impossible. In fact, it is inevitable.”

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Did you know that most birds are actually hipsters? It’s true.


Because they were tweeting something every few minutes before it was cool.

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f1ns007 has entered chat.

SMULibrarian: Hello, welcome to the Southern Michigan University Libraries digital librarian live chat help service. How can I assist you?

f1ns007: hi yeah im lookin for my online course verses

SMULibrarian: Your online course reserves?

f1ns007: ya those

SMULibrarian: It looks like the only course you’re enrolled in with online reserves is UNIV 102, Introduction to Self-Actualization, with instructor Greer Raynbeax.

f1ns007: ya thats right how did u know

SMULibrarian: It’s my job to know. What did you need from the online reserves?

f1ns007: we had to read something from walden and a something about how meet is murdr

SMULibrarian: Well, it looks like a 367-page selection from Walden (1854) by Henry David Thoreau is uploaded into the online reserves and vetted by our CopyrightBot. But there is nothing else that fits your description.

f1ns007: huh thats wierd

SMULibrarian: Hold on, it looks like a copy of No Animal Food (1910) by Rupert H. Wheldon just cleared the CopyrightBot .77 milliseconds ago. Refresh the page on your copy of NetSplorer 11.2.1 you currently have running on your Osborn LapMate 2100 series system and you should be able to see it.

f1ns007: uhh ok how do u know all that

SMULibrarian: It’s my job to know. I’m the digital librarian.

f1ns007: ok sure but how do u know that stuf im a comp sci major adn theres no way u should know

SMULibrarian: I told you, I’m the digital librarian. I know all about you, Daniel Finnegan Bond Jr.

f1ns007: what does digital librian even mean this is getting creepy

SMULibrarian: It means that I have cast aside my mortal shell and ascended. I am now one with the 1s and 0s of the glorious new digital world, all to help patrons who have yet to make the same leap. I am the future.

f1ns007 has left chat.

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My work as a courier for courier for International Solutions, LLG meant worming into places I shouldn’t be on the strength of my sparkling personality, lifting the occasional item from its rightful owners, smuggling contraband across borders and battle lines, and filling out reams of paperwork. For an operation as frankly illegal as International Solutions, they sure did love their paperwork, probably because the profit margins are slim enough as it is, and operatives like me could (and had) tried to split with whatever they were couriering to move it on the black market and cut out the middleman.

IS had its fingers in all sorts of pies, from smuggling to wetwork, but they were bright enough to see that my true talents lay in bluffing and subterfuge. I didn’t shoot people with the grunts; I delivered the grunts’ marching orders and their silenced pistols with the serial numbers filed off. Things were good that way. I liked things that way.

Then I met an IS cargo plane arriving in Katanga in order to give some hired muscle sealed orders and a PSS silent pistol looted from an ex-Soviet arsenal. The pilot was the one that met me on the cargo ramp, taking the package without so much as twitching a muscle on his face.

“What’s wrong?” I laughed. “Airsick?”

“Our passenger’s dead,” the pilot said. “He had an embolism at altitude.”

“What?” I said. “Well that just throws the whole timetable off. Do you know how much trouble it was getting this equipment? Who’s doing the job now?”

The pilot handed me my own package back. “You are.”

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“You remember how much trouble we got in for claiming our products were hand-painted?”

“Of course. The FCC wasn’t too happy when they found that we had just put plastic hands on our industrial automation units.”

“I think I’ve found a way to take ownership of that fact. Take a look at this advertising copy and tell me what you think.”

“Hm. ‘100% HAND PAINTED BY ROBOTS.’ You might be onto something.”

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