Saturday, August 31, 2013

One of my darker stories: A VISION FOR THE FUTURE

A Vision For The Future
Al Bruno III

“There are CREATURES that come from beyond reality.
From beyond the realms of TIME and SPACE.

The Kriely Fragments
Sixth canto
Translator unknown


Sheku Banjah tried to keep the class busy but the children were tense and distracted. He stood at the front of the one room schoolhouse, framed by the maps of the African continent and Sierra Leone on the walls. He kept the questions easy and gave away pieces of candy for each correct answer. The schoolhouse had been a farewell gift from the Peace Corps workers that had visited almost a decade a go. The people of the village of Kono did their best to keep it in repair, doting on it with the same amount of care and reverence they had for their place of worship.

Usually the classroom was loud and busy but today Sheku’s students were all nervous glances and halting replies. The adults of the village had tried to shield the children from the chaos erupting in Freetown but they knew; they heard whispers of the wholesale slaughter committed in the name of the Revolutionary United Front. They snuck radios to their beds and listened to the news from under the covers. They had all seen that man stagger into their village a week ago, his dark skin pallid with blood loss, his arms and lips hacked away.

The schoolhouse window was propped open with a length of wood, warm air and the bustle of the spring afternoon wafted in over the lesson. Fathers and older brothers were coming back from the fields; mothers were out and about, talking and keeping busy. Anyone with a time to while away congregated on the steps of the church. The priest, Father Warrick, had left some two weeks ago claiming he had business back in Rome but Sheku suspected that the stories of he Revolutionary United Front had been too much for him. Of all the things that were happening now, that had left the children the most unease. After all if even God’s messenger was afraid what hope could there be?

But in truth, Sheku Banjah was glad to see the back of Father Warrick. All the man ever did was carp on and on about the end times and the book of Revelations. He told everyone that 1999 was their last year on Earth and the last chance to repent their sins. It always amazed Sheku that someone supposedly schooled in the hope of Christ’s resurrection would be practically salivating at the thought of the apocalypse.

He asked them another math question and one of the girls had the answer- it was Fatou, she always had the right answers. Sheku liked to imagine that someday she would leave Sierra Leone to study in Europe, just like he had.


“The ancient people had a name for THEIR kind
The Beings from Outside”

The Kriely Fragments
Seventh canto
Translator unknown


From his vantage point in the shadow of the foothills of the Loma Mountains, Major Ishmael Mayta watched his troops make ready. Battle hardened men and cold eyed children took long drinks from plastic jugs filled with wine and other spirits. For the more jaded or weary there were methamphetamine and crack. The officers had a little bit of everything and knew what to dole out and when.

Mayta was in his fifties with thick muscular arms and a swollen belly; a decades-old bullet wound marked his right cheek. His uniform was stained with sweat, dirt and blood. He stood in on the drivers’ side of his battered old jeep and stared through a pair of binoculars, tracing a path down the dirt road to the village. His glance flickered from the overworked, arid fields to the small, sturdy houses that clustered around the schoolhouse and church. Everyone was going about their daily routine, children were rushing home from school, and men were coming home from the fields. Smoke from a cooking dinner slowly wafted up from each chimney. Mayta wondered how many of those houses in the village might have guns.

Not that it really mattered, in over a dozen raids he’d yet to meet one community with the will to defend itself. He put the binoculars down and turned his attention back to his troops.

The three supply trucks were being arranged in a circle, one carried scavenged food, the second weapons and ammunition, and in the third the camp wives crowded together. The camp wives- women and girls as old as fifty and as young as fifteen were kept manageable with Quaaludes and malnourishment. The clustered together in the back of the truck, trying to keep as far as they could from the stinking bloodstained burlap sacks they had to share their space with. The wounded and older men would be left behind to guard the wives and the supplies. They knew that Mayta would call them down once the village had been pacified and The Cuttings had begun.

Seems a lovely little town.” A voice rasped, “Do you even know its name?”

Such things are not important.” Major Mayta glanced at the emaciated man in the passenger seat. The ragged yellow cloak he wrapped himself in barely hid a faded gray uniform; the mask he wore was snout-like and the color of bone, the clear glass eyepieces revealed pink skin and dark eyes. If any of Mayta’s loyal soldiers or conscripts could see the figure they gave no indication.

These empty gestures, I expected more from you.”

These are my orders.”

Orders from above. I understand.”

Mayta had been seeing the shape for weeks, ever since he found the book with the image in it. At first hovering on the outskirts of battles and celebrations, fading in and out of focus like a wisp of smoke until Mayta had begun to worry about his sanity. The shape had drawn closer and closer over the days and nights until finally Mayta found the figure in gray and yellow waiting for him in his tent.

In the end, how many villages with you burn?”

“As many as it takes. Until the nation is strong and secure again.”

And what about the people?”

Mayta made a dismissive gesture, “The people are weak. They voted for full bellies now and famine later. They must be shown the error of their ways.”

A nation is an eye blink in the lifetime of a world.”

The shape called it the Hierophant. Mayta reading the name in the book but he was sure he had heard it before; a white man’s word for a white man’s demon.

Mayta thought of the promises the specter had made the allusions and prophesies. One had saved Mayta’s life but still the questions lingered, “What is it you want? Do you enjoy watching what happens? Would you like a hatchet so you can try it yourself? Maybe I should take a hatchet to you.”

The Hierophant shuddered and blurred for a moment, it reminded Mayta of a film being mis-threaded through a movie projector. When the Hierophant spoke again his voice- and it was a man, Mayta was almost certain- his voice was stronger, “You already attempted that Ishmael. How many bullets did you fire? Did it matter?”

Mayta bristled at being called by his first name, “What do you want?”

The jeeps and troop transports were lining up; a few of the officers were fussing over their video cameras and burlap sacks.

I am searching…” The Hierophant juddered, “…for a vision of the future.”


“Know THEM!
BODGE LOYAR -- the harlequin in rime;
ANZON - - pallid and murmuring;”

The Kriely Fragments
Eighth canto
Translator unknown


The RUF moved with the sunset. The child soldiers led the way, jittery eyed and firing wildly at anything that moved, Major Mayta’s regular troops moved in after, blocking avenues of escape. By the time the inhabitants of the village of Kono had realized what was happening, they were trapped. Already a handful of villagers were lying dead in the street or slumped over in their doorways.

With practiced efficiency, they herded the citizens from their homes and forced them to the center of the village. The officers moved from house to house, filling their pockets with anything valuable. Other officers had video cameras; they jokingly interviewed their captives, asking them who they had voted for in the election. One of the older men of the village was shot in the face by an eleven year old boy. No one knew why.

The officers separated the prettiest girls and women from the rest and told them they would be the camp wives. They ordered them to strip, their camcorders at the ready. Mothers and fathers began to scream and sob, but none of them moved forward.

Fatou resisted, tried to run away. The RUF made a game of recapturing her until finally a tall rebel soldier dragged her back to the center of the village by her hair. Her face was bruised and she was bleeding here and there. She was ordered to strip again. She told them no, she dared them to kill her.

Major Mayta frowned, in situations like this hope and bravery were best dealt with harshly, “Kill her then.”

“No!” Sheku Banjah broke free of the crowd, immediately there were a dozen weapons pointed in his face, “Don’t do this. This proves nothing, this gains you nothing. These are children.”

Who are you?” Major Mayta walked up to the smaller man.

Sheku tried to stand his ground, “I... I am the schoolteacher.”

The supply trucks were slowly approaching the village; one of the officers was placing a chopping block near the church steps.

A schoolteacher?” Mayta smiled, “I consider myself something of a teacher as well. You see these children here? I have taught them more about the truth of things than you ever could.”

Don’t do this.” Sheku said again, “Don’t.”

I think I will teach you a lesson too.” Mayta called out, “Where is my Princess?”

A girl approached them, she was short and chubby with narrow eyes; unlike the other child soldiers she was completely sober. She wore a white t-shirt with ‘Princess Cut Hands’ scrawled on the front. She carried a worn but sharp-looking hatchet in one hand and a burlap sack in the other; she looked to be almost twelve but she might have been younger.

The older men were chanting “Princess! Princess!” over and over again while they dragged the schoolteacher to the chopping block. The girl had not always been Princess Cut Hands, there had been another name but she worked hard to forget it. When Mayta’s men had come to her village they had mistaken her for a boy. She had always hated when that happened but when she saw what Mayta’s men had done to the other girls she was glad. It had given her a chance to prove her mettle. The boys of the village were given a choice, conscription or the hatchet. To prove their loyalty to the RUF the boys were ordered to chop off their fathers’ hands. Most of the boys wept at the very idea but Princess Cut Hands had found it easier than she’d thought.

By the time someone finally had realized her gender Princess had added a dozen hands to the burlap sack that held her father’s. Mayta had laughed long and hard at this, but she understood was not mocking her. With a single embrace he had made her his Princess and treated her like one.

She traveled with the officers in relative comfort. One officer had taught her about guns and tactics, another made sure to keep her hatchet sharpened. They all brought her gifts scavenged from other people’s homes. In truth jewelry and dolls meant little to Princess Cut Hands but she liked the attention so she made sure to reward each one with a hug and a kiss.

The schoolteacher was screaming and struggling. It took five men to hold him down. She stood over him listening to him beg. Princess Cut Hands asked, her voice gentle, “Are you right handed or left handed?”


She twirled the hatchet, “Right handed or left handed?”

“… right handed.” He said with a defeated posture.

With a single, well practiced swing Princess chopped off his right hand. Then she took his left. His feet took longer, the bone was thicker and he kept thrashing. Then she asked one of the officers for a bayonet and she took out the schoolteacher’s tongue and turned his eyes into a weeping ruin.

Princess Cut Hands could feel Major Mayta beaming with approval. They brought a pregnant villager before her and Princess asked for the bayonet to be fixed to a rifle.


“Hear THEM!
KRESSOR - - who wanders in the void through worlds;
DELPHANOS -- the broken seraph of desire;”

The Kriely Fragments
Ninth canto
Translator unknown


One by one the men and boys of Kono were led up to the chopping block; many of the men had to hold their sons down for the hatchets before lying down meekly themselves. The burlap sack slowly began to fill, just like all the others. The men and boys that screamed too much or cursed the rebels had their faces mutilated or their ears cut off. A few of the boys were given the chance to join the rebels if they could muster the brutality to win Princess Cut Hands’ approval. After the hatchets those that could stand were told to run to the next town and see if the government could give them new limbs. Most collapsed in the town square, broken and bleeding; their last sight was of their daughters of wives being passed from rebel to rebel by the light of their burning homes.

The older camp wives had learned to keep themselves busy at moments like this, otherwise they might be forced to join the rebels’ parties or worse yet, to be found tiresome and killed with a bayonet to the throat. The camp wives took the farming implements the officers had set aside for them. Using picks and shovels they dug a shallow trench and dragged the bodies of the dead to it; the school teacher, the village elder, the defiant girl and a half-dozen others were piled atop one another without ceremony. Major Mayta always nodded approvingly at such initiative, he liked to burn the dead before his troops moved on.

A number of his men were standing guard on the outskirts of the village, men with no real stomach for the work being done here or men that had displeased the Major in some way. They kept watch for government troops or UN forces, there had been a few close calls recently; escapes marked by gunfire and human shields. Sometimes Major Mayta wondered at the expressions on those troops faces were like when they found the remains of his work, when they heard the stories of the survivors. He liked to imagine a line of anguished faces, one after the other leading all the way back to President Kabbah.

Drinking from a bottle of wine Major Ishmael Mayta watched the fire spread from house to house like a living thing, dancing and licking at the air. Something was screaming in one of those houses, high pitched and keening- it was either a baby or a pet that had been forgotten in the chaos. He offered it a toast. After all didn’t we all burn in the end?

Mayta glanced over at the church and the schoolhouse, they would both have to be razed to the ground, along with the fields; nothing salvageable would be left behind.

A shape was moving in the schoolhouse, flitting like a shadow. Mayta told one of his officers to keep watch over things and headed towards the building. Just in case, he kept his sidearm ready. Mayta didn’t see the Hierophant until he closed the door behind him. The cloaked, masked figure was whispering to himself; he held a piece of chalk in his unsteady hand and drew his sigil on the blackboard with practiced care.

Mayta drew closer, “I wondered where you had gone.”

I found it all so very tiresome.”


The Hierophant glanced over his shoulder, “Do you and your men think this is original? Do you think that transgressions like this haven’t been committed before?”

An entire generation will remember what happened here. A hard lesson but a necessary one, they will have to deal with us and address our demands.” Mayta glanced out the window to watch his men, “Besides, the government troops are no better, I know what they do to rebels when they capture them.”

A nation of browbeaten cripples.” The Hierophant turned, “Is this your goal?”

“What I want is for you to give me that power you spoke of- or stop haunting me.” Mayta approached the figure in gray and yellow. He cursed himself for ever glancing through that book. It had been months ago, when his forces had been smaller and they had been forced to hide from a regiment of government troops. Up in the mountains they had found refuge in an old house that seemed to be left over from the colonial days. The windows had been boarded up and the walls scarred with marks from an old fire but the walls and roof looked solid enough so Mayta and his not quite a platoon of soldiers had taken refuge there.

The old house had been stripped of anything valuable, they only room they had found furnished was on the second floor. One of Mayta’s officers had found it while scouting for snipers. It had been a study, with fireplace a mahogany desk, and an entire wall of books. The desk however had begun to warp and rot, its drawers now holding only nests of spiders. The chimney had long ago collapsed into the fireplace. The books had been in a dozen languages but Mayta found that most fell apart the moment he tried to page through them. There was only one that he found legible and untouched by age- Broken Pantheon: A Socio-Archeological Reexamination of the Kriely Fragments.

Mayta had only glanced through it, just enough to learn about the so called Dark Gods and their Hierophant. Then he had tossed the book aside and gotten back to the business of keeping his men alive and the government troops at bay.

In the end the entire regiment had passed them by, it had almost been as though they hadn’t even seen the old house. Mayta wondered if somehow that had been the work of the figure mocking him now.

The Hierophant looked away from the blackboard, “And what would you do then? How would you change the world?”

Mayta grinned, “I would take what I wanted and live like a king, and the rest can go to Hell for all I care.”

The Hierophant laughed, “How petty. How banal. No wonder you need children to perform your cruelties for you.”

Snarling Mayta raised the pistol and fired, emptying the clip. When he recovered his senses he found the blackboard riddled with bullets but the Hierophant was gone. Mayta cursed under his breath.


“See THEM!
ELDRAD -- the dismembered harbinger;
NOGGAR-DALLIEON -- the shapeless and everlasting;
DAMIEA -- she who writhes;”

The Kriely Fragments
Tenth canto
Translator unknown


One of the other child soldiers was a scrawny boy named Joseph. He had been traveling with the rebels for almost two years; first with another group that had been wiped out by a government mortar assault and then with Mayta’s men. He was quiet and efficient, the officers frequently trusted him with difficult and dangerous tasks. They had even pinned a makeshift medal to his shirt as a reward for courage under fire.

Princess Cut Hands had lured him out of the village telling him that they needed to bring the men on sentry duty fresh water. Then when she had known they were alone she had shot him twice in the back.

She stood over his dead body, trying to understand the strange fluttering in her belly that seeing him still made her feel. She glanced back to the camp, to the screams and the fires, wondering what she should tell the Major. That it was an accident? That Joseph was a traitor? A deserter? She wondered if she should just say nothing; drink and drugs often left the men with foggy recollections of what had happened the night before. Princess Cut Hands decided to do just that, let the adults make sense of it.

He knew it would be you.” A voice started her from her thoughts. She turned to see a stooped shape resting against a tree. A pale mask covered its face; a yellow cloak was draped over its body. “He always knew it would be you.”

Princess Cut Hands drew closer, “You’re Mayta’s ghost. I hear him talk to you sometimes.”

He thinks he’s discreet but someone always notices.” The Hierophant watched her, “You should know that. Someone always notices.”

No one saw us.” She glanced back to the village again. The schoolhouse was burning now.

Someone will put the pieces together and understand.” The Hierophant drew closer, “And then what?”

They won’t care.”

Are you sure?” Mayta’s ghost cocked its head, “You don’t think you’ll be punished?”

Shut up.”

The Hierophant moved closer, the yellow cloak gliding over Joseph’s body, “If you had the power to change the world what would you do?”

A wish, if I had a wish?”

Perhaps… perhaps something better than that.”

I would go back.” Princess Cut Hands said, “I would make it that Mayta went to some other village and found some other girl. I would make everything like it used to be.”

That’s all?” The Hierophant slouched a little, “You could have anything.”

Princess Cut Hands walked back over to Joseph’s remains and gave them a savage kick, “You don’t understand. He made me kill him. I didn’t want to… I don’t… why did he make me do that?”


“Praise THEM!
In THEIR madness they are never cruel.
In THEIR wisdom they are never uncertain”

The Kriely Fragments
Eleventh canto
Translator unknown


Barely able to breathe, choking on old blood he awoke. Sounds rattled through his head, full of fresh screams and past conversations. Phantom agonies wracked the jagged stumps where his hands and feet had been. Blinded, he felt the remains of his eyesight running down his face like tears. Sheku Banjah couldn’t believe he was still alive, he couldn’t believe this wasn’t all some impossible nightmare.

He tried to shift so he could catch his breath but a soft weight held him fast. Twisting and pushing, he felt limp arms and faces brush across him.

How far down deep was he buried? How many bodies were atop him? He felt himself almost giggling at the question. Was that Fatou pinning his knees? What old friend was crushing his chest?

Leveraging one of his elbows against the crumbling wall of the mass grave Sheku started to crawl. Dirt tumbled over him, sprinkling into his gaping eye sockets. The bodies pressed down on, pushing him back. If he had a tongue he would have cursed them, he would have cursed the world.

He thought that perhaps in a way Father Warrick had been right. Perhaps after two thousand years, all humanity deserved was judgment and fire. As he struggled up through the bodies, Sheku imagined himself passing sentence on the entire world; on the West for its meddling and its greed, on the government for its ten years of blundering, on the rebels themselves for their pointless campaign of terror and mutilation. Even the people of the village of Kono would find his wrath. Were they so afraid of dying they were willing to suffer such tortures? Their daughters were being raped and their sons turned into monsters and they did nothing but weep.

A waft of cool air filled his nostrils. It smelled like smoke and cordite but it sent a shiver through him. The sound of his own struggling breaths filled his ears as he pulled himself over and through the dead; their skin felt clammy and rubbery to the touch, fluids and waste slicked across his skin. He wondered madly where their blood ended and his began.

If I could, Sheku thought, I would teach them all how to weep. Everyone in the world, the sinners and the pure. I would flay the skin from their backs and leave them living. I would see them eaten alive and split in two. I would watch their cities burn and crash around them.

Sobbing and exhausted he pulled himself free of the shallow grave and dragged himself worm-like over the ground.

The Hierophant was waiting for him, “Schoolteacher?”

Sheku gurgled and hissed as blood and bile lolled from his mouth.

The Hierophant nodded with approval, “I share your vision of the future.”


“THEY are less than MANKIND and THEY are more than US
THEIR dreams are our FLESH; OUR dreams are THEIRS”

The Kriely Fragments
Twelfth canto
Translator unknown


By the light of the burning village Major Ishmael Mayta of the Revolutionary United Front watched his men dance drunkenly and sate themselves with the new camp wives. From where he sat in his jeep Mayta could see the three boys from the village that had been found acceptable and conscripted; they were lying passed out on the ground in a stupor on the ground. Princess Cut Hands stood guard over them, her eyes, puffy and sullen.

One of the officers was discussing plans to rendezvous with another branch of the RUF. He was eager another run at Freetown but Mayta didn’t think much of the idea. The government would defend Freetown to the very end, they only way to win the nation now was to break the spirits of the people.

Every village they raided sent more and more frightened citizens fleeing to Freetown and the military garrisons. It strained resources and put more pressure on the President.

A scream sounded from one of the trucks. A handful of the camp wives that had been lying low ran spilled from the vehicle. Dark shapes clawed at them, crawling over their bodies. Mayta was about to shout orders when each of the burning buildings extinguished; their fires snuffed out as though they were mere candles.

Lost to darkness, the village of Kono was suddenly filled with fresh screams and flashes of gunfire. Mayta took cover behind his jeep. What was this?

The UN?

Impossible, they would never make an appearance without air support.

The government?

It was too organized for that, stealth had never been the regular army’s strong point.

A scuttling sound roused Mayta from his thoughts. Something was scrabbling under his jeep. He drew his sidearm and looked down.

At first he thought is was a rat or some other small animal, but there were too many limbs for something like that and the shape was blunt and headless. It moved like an insect in starts and fits.

Then he realized it was a hand. A severed hand, half gone to rot.

More of them were scrabbling their way over and under the jeep, blind and purposeful. Mayta stood waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. Rebels and prisoners alike were dying around him; their faces clawed away, their windpipes crushed.

Mayta thought of the three burlap sacks filled with hands he was saving to bring back to his RUF commanders for the sizable bounty they had promised.

How many hands? Sixty? A hundred?

Hierophant!” Mayta screamed the name half in outrage, half in fear, “What is the meaning of this?”

Hands leapt, fingers raking the air. Swatting at them Mayta got up and started running. All around him the ground was alive with the things, they darted this way and that. Firing at them in frustration Mayta called for his men, for anyone.

Princess Cut Hand’s voice was shrill and pleading, Mayta turned to see the girl being dragged into the shallow grave; pale bloodless limbs grasped at her, the bodies that had lost their hands made do with their teeth.

Years of experience on the battlefield had taught Mayta to know when to retreat. He spared the girl a moment’s glance and then moved on. The supply truck was on the outskirts of the village square. He knew if he could reach it he could be away from here, a short drive would bring him to one the rebel bases or perhaps he would just right across the border to Liberia. All that mattered was finding his way back to a place where the world made sense again.

Near the supply truck, the schoolteacher was waiting. His wounds that still bled something like smoke; he stood without feet, he glared without eyes. When he spoke his voice was a gurgling nonsense.

The sight of him froze Mayta. This was the power the Hierophant had spoken of; the power to change the world. Mayta raised his sidearm and pointed it only to have the thing that had been the schoolteacher begin to laugh.

Sheku Banjah has a vision for the future.” The Hierophant stood nearby, “He wants to share it with you.”

Mayta could hear skittering sounds all around him. He thought of the strange book with its strange gods, was this a dismembered harbinger? Or a broken seraph? How could a bullet kill such a creature?

With a single, swift motion he jammed the pistol under his chin and fired.

A disappointed howl escaped from Sheku Banjah, his tears were smoke.

Don’t mourn him.” The Hierophant said, “Not when there are such terrible wonders before us.”

They faded into the darkness as the village of Kono began to burn again, the fires snarling back to life. The legion of severed hands climbed over the body of Major Ishmael Mayta like ants; tearing and pulling until at his remains with mindless determination until the sun began to rise. Then they began to sputter and slow like clockwork toys, until they stilled; their bodies pulling into a clawed rigor.

When the government troops arrived they found only the schoolhouse standing. There was anger and outrage and vows of retribution. All throughout the grim business of gathering up and accounting for the dead, the Hierophant’s sigil remained unnoticed on the blackboard.


“In the wake of THEIR passing into the secret places
a HEIROPHANT was left behind
HE safeguards THEIR memory”
HE will choose the FLESH and DREAMS to make THE WORLD ready.

The Kriely Fragments
Thirteenth canto
Translator unknown

Friday, August 30, 2013

Words by Bill Watterson art by Gavin Aung Than

The always eloquent Patton Oswalt on Ben Affleck as Batman...

From his FACEBOOK page

    No matter how many times you post your stupid “Fire Ben Affleck from Playing Batman” petition, I’m going to delete it and block you. Take a deep breath, and think for a second:

    Yeah, the dude’s made some bad films. Every actor has. Every actor does. Every actor will. It’s a huge, arcing career and NO ONE has control over where it goes. Movie to movie, year to year, you’re collaborating and trying and risking and, sometimes, yes — failing.

    Plus, everyone seems to forget that he had the world dropped in his lap when he was YOUNG. And, judging by how other suddenly-famous youngsters do in the same situation, he fared pretty well. Even when it went wrong, he seemed to keep a self-deprecating, long-view philosophy about the burning freak carousel he’d found himself on.

    And then what happened? I mean, he’d fallen from a HEIGHT. You know what happens to 95% of people who weather a descent that steep? They come apart, fray at all of their sanity nodes, and give up.

    But then there’s the 5% who embrace crushing defeat and see it for the gift it is. And here’s the gift: when you fail, and fail UTTERLY, you wake up the next morning and see that the world didn’t end. And then the fear of failure is gone. And you’re free. You’re free to proceed on your own terms and pace — if you have the ego that permits you to.

    Ben brushed himself off, realized he’d kept his eyes open on the movies he’d done, and started directing. And he’s become a damn good one.

    A Batman portrayed by someone who’s tasted humiliation and a reversal of all personal valences — kind of like Grant Morrison’s “Zen warrior” version of Batman, post-ARKHAM ASYLUM, who was, in the words of Superman, “…the most dangerous man on the planet”? Think for a second and admit that Ben Affleck is closer to THAT top-shelf iteration of The Dark Knight than pretty much anyone in Hollywood right now.

    I’d write more, but I have to go work on my post about how an overweight 44 year-old comedian with bad feet and insomnia would be a bold choice for The Joker...




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The trailer for the restored edition of the original, classic and fantastic THE WICKER MAN!


Fuck you WICKER MAN remake. Fuck you fuck you fuck you!


1 comment:

SCARFOLK COUNCIL warns you to keep Simon away from the sugar (and vice versa)


LiarTownUSA is romantic at heart...

How is it that a podcast featuring an eldritch dog park can be so damn profound?

"But here is the truth of nostalgia: we don’t feel it for who we were, but who we weren’t. We feel it for all the possibilities that were open to us, but that we didn’t take.

Time is like wax dripping from a candle flame. In the moment it is molten and falling, with the capability to transform into any shape. Then the moment passes and the wax hits the table top and solidifies into the shape it will always be. It becomes the past. A solid, single record of what happened, still holding in its wild curves and contours the potential of every shape it could have held.

It is impossible—no matter how blessed you are by luck, or the government, or some remote invisible deity gently steering your life with hands made of moonlight and wind—it is impossible not to feel a little sad looking at that bit of wax. That bit of the past. It is impossible not to think of all the wild forms that wax now will never take."

Welcome to Night Vale #21, A Memory of Europe

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Cold Inside (a serial novel) Chapter Thirty part two

The Cold Inside
Chapter Thirty
part two

Thursday January 12, 1995

Phil was back at the critical care ward first thing in the morning. He brought coffee and doughnuts for the nurses as if somehow that might make Zara matter more to them than any of the other patients clinging to life around her. Phil didn't like to think about how much money he was wasting on taxis but he never had the nerve to risk applying for a driver's license under any of his false identities. He'd faced monsters, bloodthirsty cults and appetites from outside conventional reality but he had never worked up the nerve to cross paths with the DMV.

Once he had gotten an update from the staff he sat down in the chair next to Zara and sighed heavily. No new news, no old news. He thought, It's only a matter of time now isn't it?

Of course it was, the clock had been ticking since last year, he just hadn't been willing to face it. Now he was waiting for her to die, he was waiting and making preparations and hoping that would be enough. He stared at the life support machines allowing himself to become hypnotized by the regular beeps and hisses.

Were there more than yesterday?

Phil shifted in the chair, he felt like he might nod off at any moment but the pounding in his skull was more than enough to prevent that from actually happening.

Stupid kid nearly killed me. Phil washed down a handful of aspirins with a mouthful of black coffee. Little bastard was smarter, and stronger than I thought.

Which meant of course that he had to trust Tristam. The problem was that everyone Phil relied on betrayed him. Victor went mad, John skipped town and Zara had to go and start dying on him.

That's a shitty way to think. He thought to himself, and he gave Zara's hand a little squeeze just in case she'd overheard his thoughts. You could never be too sure.

Not only did he have to trust the boy, he also had to give him what he wanted. Phil didn't like to think what Tristam might do with that power. He'd watched the kid's little revenge games last night and had been surprised to see such a sadistic streak in someone so young.

Victor would have either recruited him or killed him. Phil thought with a smile. And if the Monarchs notice him, they'll eat his mind thought by screaming thought.

Still though, in a matter of days it wouldn't be his problem anymore, he and Zara would be in a better place. Either option was better than living in the world Victor Kovach and the Monarchs had made.

A few sips of coffee later Phil was sitting in his chair and listening to the ebb and flow of conversation in the critical care ward. If he was lucky he might hear snippets of doctors talking about Zara's case, most time all he heard was the nurses complaining about their men and their shoes. Phil found most women rarely seemed to find lasting satisfaction with either.

A new voice entered the network of whispering voices and machines, a voice that was cool, professional and almost familiar. Phil wondered if he had backup standing by. He wondered if this new Project Pharos still arranged for the occasional 'disappearance'.

Then he thought of John.

Measured, easy footsteps were approaching. When he walks in here I could throw a cup of hot coffee in his face then take his sidearm…

There was a certain thrill to the idea of going out in a blaze of glory but Phil knew he had better stick to the plan. If Victor was going to devour their souls he was going to have to fight for them.

A man approached Zara's bedside, his blonde hair was graying at the temples and slicked back, his expression was warm but his eyes were haggard. “Hello Phil.”

“Do I know you?” Phil sipped from his coffee; he couldn't believe how much the boy looked like his old man just softer. “Are you from the insurance company?”

He scanned through the charts and files hanging off the bed, “My name is Gawain Wight. I tried to talk to you the first time Zara was hospitalized…” 

“Who's Zara?” Phil said, “My wife is named Lucille. Are you sure you're in the right place sonny?”

He sighed, “I'm a special agent attached to Project Pharos.”

“Project what?”

“Project Pharos, the same people you used to work for.”

Wrong dumbass. Phil thought, You work for the government, I worked for Victor Kovach.

Phil gave the Special Agent his best confused look “Mister, I worked for General Electric for twenty years.”

“Why are you doing this?” Gawain raised his voice, “I can help you.”

“You're no government agent. You're some kind of a repo man! I told you bastards that I sold the damn car. It never worked right from day one anyway.”

“I understand that forty years of old habits are hard to break but Phil, you have got to understand how counterproductive this is.”

“Forty years?” Phil scratched his chin, “Is this about that cross-eyed girl I knocked up in Mississippi when I was in basic training?”

“Whatever secrets you're keeping aren't dangerous anymore, whatever or whoever you're hiding from is no longer in power. This is a different world, a changed world.” Gawain stared down at Phil, “I want to help you.”

“She said she was gonna get an abortion!”

“You two are the last surviving members of the original team, there is still so much we don't know about, so many records were lost.”

“Are you… are you my son? Am I your daddy?” Phil had to fight hard to keep from bursting out laughing. Screwing with the suits was better than a decent bowel movement any day.

The look in Gawain's eyes began to give way to anger, “Please, we just need to know what happened to Victor Kovach for once and for all.”

Sure. Phil thought, Then maybe you can take care of us like you took care of John.

“I have no idea where John Sig is.”

Phil stood suddenly spilling his coffee over both their shoes, “Don’t you bring him up. I didn't even say anything about-”

“I know.” Gawain took a step forward, he was a few inches taller than Phil and he used it well, “But I heard you anyway. You must be pretty tired, last time your thoughts were better protected.”

“I have nothing to say to you.”

“Or maybe you're just getting old.”

“Self righteous little prick. I'd gut you like a marlin soon as look at you.”

Gawain smiled, “Now that's the Phil I've heard about.”

Phil smiled back, “Your old man was self righteous too. Maybe that's why he got his throat slit.”

“What do you know about how my father died?”

“More than you.” Phil stuck a thoughtful pose, “At least I think he got his throat slit. It was either that or he choked to death swallowing some guy’s jizz.”

“You just watch your mouth!” Gawain shook a fist at the old man.

“See, I'm old and I can never quite remember.” Phil crossed his arms, “I do remember him gurgling but the rest is kinda fuzzy.”

A pair of nurses with fire in their eyes stepped through the curtains, before they could say anything Phil pointed to Gawain and said, “I have no idea who this man is but he won't leave me alone. I think he’s trying to sell me Jesus, or Amway!”

Gawain Wight bristled as the nurses scolded him coolly and professionally. One of the nurses lead him out of the critical care ward.

The other nurse checked on Zara and offered to get Phil another coffee, he declined. When he was alone with Zara again he walked over to the window and tried to see if he could spy Gawain or the modern equivalent of a Project Pharos retrieval squad, but all he saw was a cloudy sky and plain ordinary cars.

“Things are really starting to come to a head aren't they?” He mused to the woman on the bed. Phil doubted he would have to worry about armed goons at this stage of the game. Lionel’s boy was still convinced he could get a few members of the old team back together again, so he could weedle a few remaining secrets out of them. Phil wondered what Gawain Wight wanted to know more- how his father died or how Victor Kovach sent the Dark Gods packing in 1937. That was what this was all about, Phil was sure of it; Gawain thought he could push back the Monarchs using the same methods. Idiot. Phil thought, The Monarchs drove the Dark Gods away, and it would have happened no matter what anyone did. Victor just helped them sink their claws into the world good and deep. He was just a pimp and he whored out the whole damn world.

Phil shook his head at the thought, it only served to remind him that the sooner they were out of this world the better.