What in the world?

It is a well-known fact that all movies which end with the word "world" must, by law, contain Yul Brynner. The most famous of these is, of course, Westworld, closely followed by its cinematically inferior sequel Futureworld. At possibly the extreme end of obscurity lies The Light at the End of the World, in which Yul Brynner plays a pirate leading a crew of Italian extras who like to peel cute monkeys with large knives. He is opposed by a lighthouse operator played by Kirk Douglas, who turns into a ninja upon meeting the pirates and proceeds to annihilate them.

In the ground-breaking Cool World, Yul Brynner posthumously played the part of a minor cartoon police officer, using a recording taken of him prior to his unfortunate death from lung cancer (which altered his voice beyond recognition). Not to be outdone, Steven Spielberg is including a digitally re-created Yul Brynner in the upcoming War of the Worlds.

Other, less-well-known roles include that of an elder vampire lord in Underworld, a conniving record-company accountant in Wayne's World, a morose teenage girl in Ghost World, and a suitcase full of money in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

Other highlights of his career include authoring Brave New World, personally having fathered everyone to ever appear on The Real World, and inspiring Madonna to write the song "Material Girl", as clearly evidenced by her use of the phrase "Material World".

With a name like Billy, it has to be good.

Billy runs across the grass and trips, falling down and scraping his elbow. He gets up and winces, while Suzy comes comes over to take a look at it. The blood welling out of the wound is strangely thick and pale.

"Owww…" whines Billy.

Suzy comments on the strange injury. She thinks she can see some stringy bits in the issuance. Billy licks the fingers of his other hand and wipes at it, repeating the process. When he does so a second time, he stops with the fingers in his mouth. "It tastes orangey. That's so weird."

"Huh?" opines a skeptical Suzy. "Blood doesn't taste like oranges."

"Well mine does. If you don't believe me, why don't you try it?"

"Eww, that's gross." She makes a warped face and pokes her tongue out.

"Suit yourself, wimp."

Suzy cannot bear such an affront to her valor. She glances to the sides to make sure no one is watching, then leans over, sticks her tongue out as far as it goes, and takes a quick lick. "Wow, it does taste like orange! And it's all thick and sticky!"

"Yeah, weird, isn't it." Billy isn't entirely sure what to do next. He's never bled orange marmalade before.

"I've hearda blood oranges. Maybe they have something to do with this? Didya drink a lot of orange juice or something?" Suzy rolls her tongue around in her mouth, savoring the sweet flavor of preserved citrus.

"Nope. I had some with breakfast, but I do that every day." Billy glances at his elbow with some measure of concern. The flow of marmalade has mostly staunched, forming a sticky crust over the region. "Didn't Mr. Arnson say that blood was important and stuff, like it carries oxygen and things around? I'm not sure if jelly can do that?"

"Dummy, you can't make jelly outta orange. It's always marmalade! Mmm." The thought of juicy orange goo fills Suzy's mind.

"Oh yeah, well if you're so smart, what's the difference between jelly and marmalade, eh?"

"Umm…marmalade's thicker…and it's got fruit bits in it. Jelly's clear and all." Billy's elbow has definitely stopped oozing. Suzy is saddened that she will not get to taste any more of the goodness within. "Maybe it's just your elbow. We could try scraping your other elbow, see if it's fulla orange too?"

Billy looks up, displaying concern at his friend's behavior. "Uh, no, it hurts. You're being freaky." He takes a step back.

"It's in the name of science." Suzy advances, licking her lips and fixing her eyes on the delicious elbow.

"Uh, ah, help! Miss Warner, help!" Billy turns and runs towards the school building, screaming in terror. Suzy chases after him.

"Good thinking, she can get us some toast from the cafeteria!"

Two yards of other cloth

She was wearing other pants. Not only were they not the pants she had been wearing earlier, they were unlike any pants I'd ever seen before. It was hard to say they were really pants at all, other than the fact they were on her legs, or where her legs would have been were she wearing normal pants.

"What do you think? I just got 'em!" She smiled perkily and wiggled her butt in a pattern that made my eyes hurt.

"Uh, they're, uh, nice." I was having trouble following the shape of the pant legs. I kept starting with the usual two in the vicinity of her hips, and somewhere along the way another one showed up, resulting in three feet. Trying to find the start of the third leg was fruitless. Scanning up and down only made me question my sanity. As I stared at the three feet, it became clear to me that they were the left, the right, and the plerf. It was strange, because I'd never realized plerf was a direction before, but it seemed so clear.

The pants themselves were an odd color, sort of white, with crawling blotches of green and yellow, unless those weren't the pants. The color seemed to be out of space to sit in, flowing off the pants into the air around them. The aura of yellow looked very kingly, though I think would tire of it after looking at them for the twelfth night in a row.

"We should go out, I want to show 'em off!"

"Uh, okay." Noticing the fly, I realized that's what a crosscap looks like. The pockets seem quite roomy, and nothing was going to fall out of them, given that they were completely enclosed, but having to reach through the fourth dimension to get at their contents did seem a bit unwieldly.

"We could go to the game tonight."

"Game?" The tag on the back pocket, which appeared to have gotten bored and crawled around to the front by way of her innards, read "EL Y V'AI'S", and depicted a pair of shoggoths tearing apart a man wearing some decidedly eye-catching pants. I retrieved my caught eye, and watched the man twitch in agony as the shoggoths rended him limb from limb in their little ink-drawing way. The tag was a supple light brown leather, thin, and reminded me of people I hated who had disappeared.

"Hello?!" She balled up her fists and put them on her hips in exasperation. "The Pods are playing North-Southern tonight." Her hips got bored and started crawling up her fists. "We should totally go root for 'em. Woo-hoo! Miskatonic rules!"

The prospect of sitting next to said pants for a good two hours did not overly appeal to me. Still, it sounded better than figuring out what would happen if I tried dancing with her with those things around. "Sure, whatever, Cthulhu Ftaghn."

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.

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!"



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?