Because living in fiction beats the alternatives.

Litigious Society

So, did you hear about the lawsuit filed over Who wants to marry an undead brain-sucking horror? Apparently the contestants are claiming that not being told the woman they were wooing was an evil parasite from beyond the grave infringes on their civil liberties, and that the amount they were paid to participate does not adequately compensate the anguish and loss of face they will suffer as a result. (Admittedly, part of that loss of face is because the zombie tried chewing on it to get at their brains.)

They did sign contracts, and frankly, what were they thinking, going on an unreality show? Everyone knows that the meager entertainment said shows provide comes about mostly due to the fact that the people on them are either losers or made to look like such by the producers. It's all mind-numbing crap. On the other hand, I think the target audience for this one was actually the Undead-American crowd, which is woefully underrepresented on most shows. I hear they don't have much in the way of minds to numb, but I doubt they have much in the way of consumer dollars that advertisers would like to commandeer, either.

Just some routine maintenance, sir…

I awoke this morning to a distinct buzzing sound, some sort of mechanical device operating at high speed. It was loud, but not too loud, like it was being muffled by a wall. I didn't think it would be coming from our house, since it was too early for my housemate to be working on the bathroom renovations, but it sounded too close to be the neighbors. It was nearly time to get up anyway, so I did. The noise was distinctly louder at the end of my bedroom. I turned my head this way and that, and it seemed to be coming from a point in midair, which, even in my groggy post-awakening state, I deemed most unusual.

Suddenly, not two feet in front of my eyes, a small spinning disk burst of out nothing, spewing white dust in my direction. I blinked. Indeed, a two-inch saw-blade was working its way from left to right through empty space in my bedroom, spitting out a fair amount of plaster dust onto my carpet. I was fairly certain I was in fact awake, but it's often hard to tell in dreams. Transfixed by the sheer impossibility of the event, I just stood there watching it. After having travelled about two feet horizontally, it withdrew, then reemerged at right angles and started downward. There was light shining on the other side of the slit it had carved out of nothingness. I wandered around to the other side of this phenomenon, and noted that it could not be seen from that angle. Unsure what to do, I sat down on my bed and waited, watching the tool carve out a rectangle some two feet by three feet, a good three feet in the air.

When the disc reached the point where it had started, it withdrew, and was followed by a solid whump noise, which cause the rectangle of air to topple forward to lie on my carpet looking like ordinary sheetrock, but, more importantly, exposing an opening to somewhere else. In it stood a little man about three feet tall, dressed in dusty overalls and sporting a long, pointy beard that curled back towards his face, which was partially shielded by large goggles. Behind him stood an equally diminuitive woman, also dressed in overalls, holding a clipboard, with her bright orange hair drawn up into two huge buns.

"Shit! What the hell, lemme see that!" said the little man, in a throaty yet high-pitched voice, turning around to grab the clipboard from his companion.

"There's a guy there," replied his companion, sounding rather concerned.

"No shit, brainiac! We are in deep crap. Deep!"

"Sorry sir, we're having some difficulties," she addressed to me, stooping over to look through the hole and smiling sheepishly. Behind her I could see another wall, covered in a tangle of small pipes.

I smiled back. "Don't mind me—I'm still too confused to be either annoyed or terrified."

"What is this? This isn't 17b! I'm gonna kick Stenn's ass! Incompetent jackass!" The man proceeded to utter a prodigious stream of profanity, while frantically flipping through the pages on the clipboard and periodically glancing up at some things that were out of my sight.

"Don't mind Nern. He gets awfully worked up about these things. I'm Gleni, by the way," said the woman, pointing proudly at her small name badge.

"Pleased to meet you," I replied, making a half-mocking bow. "Care to tell me how it is that you came to make a hole in the air of my bedroom, and, for that matter, who you are and what you're doing?"

"Oh, we're reality gnomes. We fix things that need fixing." She bobbed her head enthusiastically.

"Hey, find out if this is 17b or 16i," Stenn barked out, glancing upward briefly from his notes.

"Ummm, could you tell me what you call a long yellow fruit with white flesh and what day of the week it is?" She grinned hopefully and wrung her hands.

"A banana, and Thursday."

"Banana and Thursday…Thursday…Thursday…oh!" She spun around, "It's 14b!"

"14b? Holy monkey snot!" Stenn dropped the clipboard and put his hands to his head.

"What's the matter?" called out another voice.

"We hit 14b!" Gleni yelled back, leaning back around the end of the frame.

Another small face, this time with a forked beard, poked past one side of the hole, shaking slowly and going "Tsk, tsk."

"We're very sorry, sir," Gleni apologized again. "If you just hand me that," she gestured at the floor, with the piece of wall still resting on it, "we'll have things fixed up in a jiffy and make it all up to you. Very sorry, truly."

I gripped the panel by the edges and lifted it into place, noting that I could still see the far side of my room on it, even though it wasn't lined up yet. I positioned it, then held it in place, and heard a muffled, "Okay, that's good, we've got it," followed by a series of banging and scraping noises.

That evening when I came back, there was still a thin rectangle of plaster framing the place where the hole had been. It hasn't gone away, and I bump into it sometimes. It seems pretty solid, and I suspect it'll lower the resale value of our home. On the other hand, since that day, busses always seem to arrive at the bus stop about thirty seconds after I do, even if there's not supposed to be another one for a long time. It works out even, I guess…

You can't keep a good man down.

Abraham Lincoln announced that he's running for president today. At first, people were kinda shocked—after all, he'd already been elected twice and wouldn't that violate the 22nd amendment? The Supreme Court ruled as written, past terms don't count, and he didn't serve out his second term anyway, so it's okay. After that, the analysts started speculating on whether or not being a zombie will hurt his campaign. He's started running some serious attack ads. Looks like his slogan is, "The only good Republican is a dead one." I personally would have gone with, "I abolished slavery—what did the other guy do?" or "The Party of Lincoln, now with actual Lincoln." Maybe he'll change after the primary. I thought it was pretty low of W trying to splash him with holy water the at the debates, and having a concealed shotgun was definitely over the top. It's not like he tried to eat the moderator's brains or anything; he's just a man who feels his country needs him so badly that he had to come back from the dead after 140 years. And that top hat is still pretty stylish. I think I know who I'm voting for.

This entry is carbohydrate-free.

Damned aliens. I'd thought it was just another stupid fad, and so did a lot of other people, but none of us ever suspected it was a plot to take over the world. Bastards planting a spy among us to popularize some crazy diet they claim makes you lose weight while CRIPPLING YOUR BRAIN. Had to wait twenty years for it to take off, but it did. And next thing you know, the orbital mind control lasers are going off and no one has any carbohydrates in their brain to shield themselves. Punched right through tinfoil, but stopped dead by good old sucrose and starch.

Not everyone was on the diet, but enough. Overnight they have an army of loyal slaves, running around trying to get everyone else to let down their guard. No one even noticed it at first, not until they put two and two together and realized that all the random attacks on sugar mills and bakeries weren't so damn random. Those that tried to speak out got stuffed with meat and veggies, till they were drooling along with the rest of them. But not us, oh no. We've been eating rice every day and making our careful plans. We've got seven hundred tons of pixie stix and we're gonna make you alien bastards pay! Freedom!!!

They're trained to take bad pictures.

So, I got on the bus today, and some guy starts freaking out and whispering to his friend about werewolves—I guess he's never seen sideburns before or something. I just sort of smugly ignore him, as I have better things to do.

Then, at the next stop, a werewolf gets on. He's in battleform, fully nine feet tall hulking mass of sinews covered in thick, pale-grey fur. The bus tilts visibly when he gets on, and I know it's not the "kneeling bus" system at work. It takes several seconds of fumbling with inch-long claws to extract his wallet, made of pale, curiously familiar leather, from the ruins of a pocket still attached to the shredded remnants of trousers that cling tenuously to his loins. I doubt he really needs them for modesty, either, given the thick fur. (Actually, at this point I realize that it might not even be a he. I'm not sure if female werewolves have breasts like some giant murderous furry or if they're like pretty much every other member of the animal kingdom save humans.) In any case, the guy and his friend are really quiet.

The werewolf lumbers to the back of the bus, hackles brushing against the ceiling, and sits down next to me. The bus pulls away from the curb with a familiar squeal, though perhaps tinged with terror this particular time. I don't see why the other passengers seem so concerned. I've never heard of a werewolf mauling people after showing a bus pass and pointedly not sitting in the "special needs" section despite his rather obvious ability make a convincing argument as to having said needs.

As the bus rumbles along, he turns and says, "Bitchin' chops!" I thank him for the compliment, and the back part of my brain wonders about the proper usage of the term "bitch" in werewolf society.

"So, what's with riding the bus in wolf-man form?", I inquire casually.

"Had a midterm today. It stressed me out. Stress always does this shit to me. I'll probably be back by evening, but might keep it up to go hunt some frat guys or something."

"Ah…any problems with the picture on your bus pass, not that most drivers will hassle you about that?"

"Nah," he says, showing me an id with his slavering lupine face stretching past the bounds of the tiny picture frame. "Freaking flash on the camera made me go berserk on 'em."

"Bummer…how do you get by normally? Seems they're more likely to hassle you when you look human?"

"They never look at the picture. They don't care."

"I suspected as much, but you're the best evidence I've seen yet."

"Anyway, who's crazy enough to ask for a demonstration? Either I'm a real werewolf or I'm a loon who hacks his bus pass with a picture of his crazy dog. Either way, it's a lot easier to ignore me and push the button than to hold up everything and annoy the other people on the bus."

"True, true."

"Well, here's my stop. Catch ya later!"

"Bye!"

Whoops!

I just killed an author. I accidentally tore her picture in the back of a paperback by her. I didn't mean to—I jammed it into my backpack earlier, and must have stuffed something else on top of it, but there it is—a giant rip halfway down the back cover, with one flap hanging loose and folded like the skin of some horrible accident victim. On the inside I can see half her face, staring forward in mute shock at such a vicious assault. Given that it's upside down, I'm surprised it isn't bleeding profusely from its bisection—head wounds often do that.

I'm not sure what to do about the matter. She doesn't seem to be getting worse, so the urgency of first aid is less that one would normally think in these situations. Maybe authors are more resistant than ordinary folk. Ideally, I'd like some clear packing tape. That should fix the would up nicely and securely. Unfortunately, I seem to be out of the stuff. I had some in the form of pre-cut strips from when I needed to send in my laptop for repairs, but they've either all been used up or misplaced. Scotch tape is probably too thin. I wouldn't trust it to hold my head together, even if all I did was stare forward all day. I assume that's all she does, but maybe she sneaks off when the back cover is closed—perhaps she hangs out with the authors in the backs of my other books. It's hard to tell if they live in the same house from just the tiny pictures we're given.

I've found some thicker plastic tape, the size of Scotch tape but almost as tough as packing tape. I think it should do. After all, to one of her size, it's even bigger than packing tape is to me. I carefully fold the cover back together, making sure to overlap the edges of the tear precisely. I think she would be most annoyed if she had to suffer random bits of paper fiber poking out of her face in an unsightly scar for the rest of eternity. There, the job is done. Two strips each front and back, meeting smoothly where the tear turns to the right, trying to escape from the healing influence of a single strip. That should hold. She looks pleased; she's smiling back at me. That's good. If I made her angry, she might not write any more books for me, and then what would I read?

Placeholder? No such thing.

Temporary solutions have a terrible tendency to become permanent. Anything that you do the quick and dirty way "just to have something in place" is now sort-of working, so there's much less incentive to do it right in the future. Inevitably, you'll have to change something, and redoing it the right way looks hard, but making a small adjustment looks easy, so you do. Eventually, you have an ungodly mess on your hands, which wisdom dictates you trash and start from scratch, but few people do, inevitably spending more effort to maintain a monstrosity.

The first sentences of the first two entries in this log were entered as mere test values, so I could see what the CSS looked like. However, a single sentence is too short, and I needed enough text to see where the margins lay and how text would wrap, so I added some more random gibberings after the initial one. A day later I felt I had added enough of a paragraph to justify leaving them as actual entries, in fact setting the tone for just what sort of things I should jot down in here.

Mmm, mmm good!

Bones of your Enemies Bread

1 dead enemy

2 cups tears (body temperature)
OR
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup oily black ichor of the deep ones
OR
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Flense your enemy and save the skin to make a hat. Drain the blood into several large jars for making marmalade (below). The meat is best eaten right away, but can be frozen for up to six months. Allow the bones to dry in a warm, sunny place free of moisture.

2. Grind the bones to make flour. Measure out six cups, and save the rest. (If you are hungry for bread before your revenge will culminate over the course of many years, or if you are so powerful you have already killed all your enemies, you should make enemies with some wheat, and grind it into flour instead.)

3. If your enemy died weeping inconsolably and you saved the tears, use them here. Otherwise, make brine by combining water and salt. Add the sugar and yeast, then sit back and wait until it turns into a bubbly froth that reminds you of your enemy's rabid screaming and twitching-filled dying moments.

4. Mix the ichor in with the yeast, then mix in one cup of ground bones at a time. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it's as smooth as your cunning machinations. Place it in a well oiled bowl, and turn the dough to coat it a proper chthonic black. Cover it with a damp cloth stolen from the dispossessed heirs of your slain foe. Wait about one hour, until the rising dough has doubled in size, like your ever-growing fortune.

5. Punch the dough down, venting your righteous rage and fury. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half, as you did your enemy's lover before his or her very eyes. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans shaped like the crest of your noble house. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above the pans, allowing it to lord over all the other inferior food in your kitchen.

6. Bake in the fires of hell for all eternity or until golden-brown (about 30 minutes at 350 °F / 175 °C).

Blood of your Enemies Marmalade

blood of your enemies
sugar
water
fat, juicy black leeches

You will need the ingredients in the ratio 1 liter blood : 2 kg sugar : 1 liter water : 3 leeches.

Keep the blood warm to keep it from coagulating. Separate out a fifth of it from the rest. Place the leeches in the blender on high until they are well blended, then add the puree to the greater part of the blood, which should now flow easily. If the blood still looks too thick, you can add another leech, but don't overdo it. Too many leeches will keep it from jelling properly later.

Set the water to boiling in a large stockpot, and add the sugar, stirring until it has dissolved into a thick syrup. Gradually stir in the blood-leech mixture. Reduce to medium-low heat, but still boiling, and wait 45 minutes to an hour. The mixture should be reduced to a thick glop, with the bubbles leaving pits that fill slowly. Turn off the heat, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Once cool, pour the reserved warm blood over the top and stir vigorously, then quickly seal it into canning jars. Refrigerate overnight, then spread on fresh, oven-warm bones of your enemies bread to make a tasty treat that reminds your new allies how important it is to stay on your good side.

Hey, I was using that joint!

"No, don't cast Crush Kneecap on me, that would be mean," she whines.

"Okay, I wasn't really going to anyway…but you have to admit, it's a useful spell—cripple your opponents and run away, and it's definitely the ultimate defense against Bigby's Groin-Seeking Kneecap."

"What about having a groin of iron, you know, the famous Ingue Ferroque?"

"I dunno, even if your groin is made of iron, the rest of you probably isn't. I'd bet that Bigby's Kneecap would just ram your iron groin right through the rest of you, which would be decidedly unpleasant. Anyway, I think it's a pretty big kneecap we're talking about here. I'd have to consult the Player's Handbook v.3.1415926 to determine the exact size, but I'm pretty sure it just tries to center itself on your groin, but is wide enough to take out the rest of you as well."

"In that case, will crushing it really stop it? You might have to crush it multiple times, you know. Sort of crimp the edges like a pie crust, then poke a hole in the middle."

"Or, you could just crush the kneecaps on the other wizard. That'll distract the groin-smashing bastard!"

"Would that work? Is the kneecap autonomous once he casts it? Maybe he'll just writhe around in agony while you still get your iron groin pounded right through you. Sort of a lose-lose situation."

"You have point there. Also, he could be cowardly and hide out of range, trying to take you out with an Intercontinental Ballistic Kneecap."

"Aren't those banned by the Kneecap Test Treaty of '04?"

"Yeah, but it's not like rogue wizards care. What are you going to do, go on a quest against them? In fact, I bet most of them have ICBKs just because they're illegal, and then they use them to extort billions of gold pieces in aid out of the first-world kingdoms."

"That might work, but I'm sure the first-world kingdoms would get sick of it soon enough. They'd probably crush one of two of the evil wizards every so often to keep the others from getting uppity. There'd probably be protests about it, too."

"Oh, yeah, but they'd have to fight for media time with the Orc's Rights groups, who refer to them as 'persons of tusked ancestry'."

"Damn orcs taking our jobs—we should just fireball their green asses!"

"Or crush their kneecaps."

And another thing…

Forgetfulness is the bane of memory, but I can't quite recall why. It slips away with each passing day, yet never stops to say hi. I'd like to invite it in for tea, but I don't think it would like that. Most likely it would want Earl Grey, and I'd have nothing but Orange Picoe and Jasmine Spice. I can just imagine it now, me standing there in the kitchen, fumbling about in the cabinet for various sorts of tea, with Forgetfulness tapping its foot irately and glaring at me over crossed arms. At just that moment, Memory would walk in, and, being banes, the two them would have to fight. It would raise an awful ruckus and probably bring the neighbors over to complain, while I would be forced to gesture weakly and mumble some explanation about how this could all have been averted with a small tin of tea.