January 2017


Late Friday, President Brayne signed a controversial direct order from the Blight House, bypassing the Zombie Congress. Opponents in the zombie and fleshy media were quick to describe the president’s order as a “living ban,” one which forbade fleshies from entering zombie lands on penalty of having their brains devoured.

“Listen, this is not a ‘living ban’ or a ‘fleshy ban,'” said Blight House Press Secretary Amy G. Dala. “It is simply a temporary precaution to prevent careless fleshies from terror attacks by the Brainist Nation of Braaaaaaaaaaaains (BNB),” she added.

Asked by reporters from the New York Postmortem about the title of President Brayne’s order, the Act to Ban the Living from Zombie Lands, Secratary Dala dismissed them as “fake reporters from a fake newspaper.” Asked by a reporter from online Brainist website Brainbart News whether the order meant freedom and security for all zombies everywhere, Secretary Dala agreed.

Zombies and fleshies at home and abroad were quick to condemn the order, citing the possible damage to zombie-fleshy relations. “This brainless move sets back our detante by a decade and merely plays into the Brainists’ hands by making us appear unreasonable,” said the European Reunion zombie spokesperson Sir Low Botany. “It is even more harmful than the British Union of Zombies’ vote to leave the European Reunion.

At press time, there was no statement from any Brainist organizations, but fleshy students at prestigious zombie universities such as Brainmouth and Cerebrum Tech reported that armed members of the Callossum Corps prevented them from attending class and escorting them to the border.

Coming on the heels of other recent controversial acts by President Brayne, who was recently elected under the popular but controversial slogan “I Will Eat Your Brains,” this order has raised fears that a Brainist agenda will dominate the new administration. Dismissing these fears, Vice President Sarah Bellum insisted that zombies should stop listening to media outlets like the New York Postmortem and instead put their trust in President Brayne’s truthfulness. “He has never told a lie,” she insisted. “This order is the start of a glorious new meeting of the minds.”

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Of course, no one would ever wear plaid jeans.

Successfully crossbreeding plaid with jeans to get plaid jeans would cross the seams, and that would be bad. Bad in that it would cause a singularity. And that would open a portal through which the denim demons foretold in the book of Levi could invade our world and wreak havoc.

Do you really want that? To be scalded by red-hot rivet rain from on high while the world is thoroughly pantsed?

I thought not.

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“So here’s the thing. Elves won’t go to school with orcs. They say that, in their holy book, orcs stole the Light of the Twin Boughs and fed it to Ariachne the Star-Devourer. So naturally, that means that their kids can’t learn about geometry together.”

“And the orcs?”

“There are enough velfor tots around to show that they’re one and the same once you get past appearances, but a lot of the orcs are a little hostile on account of the fact that the elves saw fit to condemn them to an eternity of servitude after the defeat of their dark master Malktozt the Enemy. So the orc parents are likely to agree to shared bussing but their damn kids get in trouble with the elves. And of course neither of them likes the velfor.”

“I see what you mean about this being complicated.”

“And ours is an easy lot! District 12 is 15% dwarves and 5% hoblings. Now any student of history knows that they have a common origin, but thanks to the Dwarf-Hobling conflict in the Middle West, they get hysterical at any idea of shared schooling. And naturally, the dwarves believe that orcs are unclean thanks to the Dimming of the Two Bushes (subtly different from stealing the Light of the Twin Boughs you understand), while the hobbling are a bit peeved at elves thanks to the Harrowing of Hoblingshire, during the war, when 50% of their people were killed by elves for no good reason I’ve ever been able to uncover.”

“So you can’t bus orcs and elves, orcs and dwarves, hoblings and elves, or hobbling and dwarves. That’s beyond complicated.”

“Oh you can try. Many have. What you wind up with is the elves pulling their kids out to go to expensive private elf academies, the elves move away and stop paying taxes, and then you’re got a school that is 90% orcs again.”

“Makes me glad I’m an goblin and reproduce through budding.”

“You and me both, buddy. You and me both.”

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It may look a pattern of wool
But inside’s a pattern of steel
If into your home you let it pull
Your soul will never heal

It looked an organic pattern a little lopsided but competent. Almost like a blanket from the Southwest made by a journeyman, still making their bones. You had to stare at it to see the squat man in armor emerge, sword in one hand and shield in the other, his armor a devouring black.

The nightmares had started the week after Jamie brought it home. Armored men rode wild through their heads every night, leaving every roommate bleary-eyed and irritable. At their head, the Rook. Built like a castle from a chess set come to life, he never spoke, but only glowered.

By the next month, he had begun to be seen in the waking world. Just out of sight, in the periphery, a shadow in the corner of one’s eye.

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We have a lot of rain in June. Mom tries to be cool by saying that she likes all the same things that I do. She folds her handkerchief neatly. The sky is clear; the stars are twinkling. I ask her: “Where do random thoughts come from?” She tells me, against the water streaming down: “He didn’t want to go to the dentist, yet he went anyway.”

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Albert Smathers moved to Mexico in 1933 to escape what was, as he saw it, a communist takeover of the United States in the person of FDR. A former broadcast engineer for WHN in New York, Smathers purchased a ranch near Juarez and set about building a powerful radio transmitter of his own.

Smathers had been an initial partner of WHN and had sold his founder’s shares dearly, leading him to be quite wealthy. By setting up a clever series of accounts in Mexican banks, with the aid of a lawyer he retained from the Mormon colony at Colonia Juarez, Smathers ensured that all his bills were paid and that a regular, daily delivery of food was made to his remote holding. Ordering all the parts he needed via mail order, he was able to build a transmitter rivaling that of KFAK in El Paso.

Starting in 1936, not long after FDR defeated Al Landon to win a second term, Smathers began broadcasting from his station. He was not a powerful speaker, with a weak and reedy voice, but his broadcasts were full of conviction and quickly attracted a reasonable following. His diatribes, mostly with communist conspiracies at their center, became popular as much for their inadvertent humor as anything. One listener recalls a 1941 broadcast where Smathers switched from an anti-Nazi to a pro-Nazi viewpoint mid-broadcast as he recieved a newspaper detailing the invasion of the Soviet Union.

Smathers broadcast 16-20 hours per day, leading to complaints from stateside radio stations of interference from his pirate signal. Without any legal teeth to enforce a cease-and-desist, Smathers became the model of later “border blasters” to follow in the 1950s and 1960s. Popular legend has it that Smathers helped XERB and Wolfman Jack set up their initial operations, but that is untrue. Jack, speaking in later years, in fact recalled being chased away from Smathers’ ranch by a blast of rock salt.

As time went on, Smathers became more and more disorganized in his thinking. Communists, renegade surgeons, mind-controlling aliens, and more all began appearing in his shows. Smathers began raving for hours on end, often digressing into almost unintelligible gibberish and shrieking. This cost him most of his audience, such as it was, though his ravings later acquired a certain caché with the counterculture of the 60s and 70s.

After a particularly rabid session of raving, Smathers’ station abruptly went dead on August 4, 1974. It wasn’t until a check to his Mormon solicitor bounced that the Mexican authorities investigated. They found Smathers’ mummified body, weeks old, slumped at his microphone, surrounded by warrens of filth. The official coroner’s report, delivered to the US consulate in Juarez, speculates that Smathers was suffering from undiagnosed and untreated paranoid schizophrenia before succumbing to a intracranial hemorrhage.

Strangely, the autopsy also confirmed extensive needle marks on Smathers’ arms, despite the fact that no intravenous needles or hypodermic supplies were found among his effect.

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“What would the government of Celebes II want with that?” whispered Pauline in a hushed voice, one so low her suit could barely pick up on it. Maria couldn’t see her face; the glow before them was simply too strong.

“Nothing,” said Maria flatly. “Whatever we were told before, it’s obviously a lie.”

The light pulsed, playing against their suits like the reflection of a tropical sun across the ocean.

“I think it knows we’re talking about it,” Maria added.

“How can it know? How can it even be something that could know?” Pauline cried. “It’s just light.”

“No,” Maria said. “No, it’s not. I think it’s alive, and I think we’re under contract to sneak it through a blockade.”

Maria honestly felt like she was having a failure of imagination. Jessie wouldn’t have had that problem. There would have been theories bubbling out at a mile a minute, half of them funny, half of them brilliant, half of them again 150% ridiculous. Alone, without Jessie, Maria wasn’t able to take that same light and reflect it into vision and creativity.

Her speculation was just a pale glow.

The lights contracted and began to swirl, appearing like some sort of impossible galactic vortex in miniature. “What did you do?” Pauline cried.

“I…I thought about Jessie,” said Maria, her voice now filled with wonder. “And it responded. How could it have known?”

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