Thursday, February 28, 2013


"The television was her way of bringing voices into her life that required neither reaction, nor response."

-- From the short story Water Child, by Edwidge Danticat, printed in The New Yorker, Sept. 11 2000 issue.

So it's like a vacation! For your legs!

So I've been talking lately about how laser treatments and the like can help your varicose veins, because, you know, I'm all about the public good, here, and sometimes the public good is not inflicting your hideous vein-covered legs on the public during swimming suit season.

Think about the children!

But maybe you're saying "Sure, I could get laser treatment for my veins, but what are the risks? Is it safe? Will it be like some terrible CIA torture, or more like a spa vacation?"

Fair question, and if you get your laser treatment coeur d’alene, the answer is "A lot more like a spa vacation and also it's safe."

At Vein Clinics Northwest, they treat your varicose veins, and your spirit.  (*Spirit treatment not literal.)  They provide a relaxing, resort-like atmosphere staffed with top professionals, and the treatment they provide is extremely safe: you'll feel just a small needle from the anesthetic, and the laser itself won't be felt at all, with minimal bruising and soreness afterwards.

Click that link for more information and to plan your getaway... from ugly veins!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

hot which isn't really hot at all. (Friday's Sunday's Poem)

The Secret Identities Of Colors

Yellow looks like how it feels when the sun hits your arm.

Blue is the color of a pool in the evening when you float just your chin above water and the day was hot but it was September hot which isn't really hot at all.

Red is spicy potato chips and White is snow and Black is sleep and Gray is when you don't know the answer to a question so you guess.

Green is the sound leaves make in a breeze and also the crack of a baseball bat; only Green is more than one thing.

Violet is none of these, it's when you hum a song to yourself but only part of the song.

Orange is every cat, even the ones that aren't.

Indigo is when you wake up thinking it's almost day but it's not yet midnight and so you get another whole night to sleep.


This first appeared on my blog Thinking The Lions.As always, all Friday's Sunday's Poems feature a Hot Actress.  This is Alyson Hannigan.

Old-timey movie cliches are the best way to explain common medical problems.

One way to know if you are at risk for varicose veins is to see if you have them -- those ugly, spindly, pushing-up bluish veins on your legs that look, well, weird.

Another way to know if you might get them in the future is to see if you have any of the risk factors for developing varicose veins in the future.  Women are a risk group, as are people who stand for a living and people who gain a lot of weight in a short time.  Age and genetics play a part, too -- so basically a woman with a job that requires a lot of standing is dead-center in the tracks while the varicose veins steam engine is barreling down on her and the moustache-twirling villain of society's expectations glowers nearby.

(Nice image, eh?)  But you can fight off varicose veins, and you don't need a Mountie to do so.  All you have to do is check out things offered for treatment of varicose veins by the Vancouver Vein Center. Not only do they offer a lot of botox vancouver but they treat varicose veins through some easy and inexpensive procedures.

The treatment isn't merely cosmetic.  Varicose veins cause problems, including potentially-serious ulcers and blood clots.  But the treatment the clinic offers improves your appearance AND helps avoid those complications.  So check them out today.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sexy Readers!

A story is coming... and between now and when I get it posted, enjoy this stand-by feature, sexy readers!

like... Matt Bomer:

Matt Bomer's favorite book is On The Road, by Jack Kerouac.

And...  Miley Cyrus

who cites as her favorite book "Don't Die, My Love," by Lurlene McDaniel.

Story soon!

Aquatic workouts and physical therapy are what you need. Or what I need. What we all need, let's face it.

So the thing about me working out and trying to get in shape is, I AM OLD.

And also I have had a LOT of injuries.

Plus, I'm old.

So when I work out, in addition to just the exercise and all that I am also dealing withe impact injuries and that means sore knees and sore feet and aching joints and all of that can add up to make me want to work out less frequently.

Given that, imagine if you have to rehabilitate an injury, a really serious one like when I had a slipped disc that led to back surgery? Or if you're getting into shape after a heart attack, like I had to do? (I told you: I'm old.  Plus I'm easily injured.)

One solution is to do something like the aquatic therapy orange county offered by In Motion OC.  That link will take you to their site, but I checked it out for you and I can tell you, it looks  promising.

They've got both fitness and physical therapy programs leds by people with doctorates in physical therapy,  in an indoor, heated pool. There's private treatment rooms, light therapy, pilates, and they take something like 120 different insurance programs and plans.

The best exercise I've done in the past few years has been water-based.  When I first had the heart attack I would walk in the pool to get a low-impact but resistance-y workout, and this past summer swimming was an integral part of my plan to lose weight.  I can see where aquatic physical therapy would be a GREAT idea.  Check it out yourself and see if you agree.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"On the other hand, I don't have any knees." (The Continuing Adventures Of Monty The Mountain) (1)

My name is Monty.

I am a mountain, which is why people get confused sometimes and think that my name is "Monty The Mountain," but you would be wrong to assume that is my name.  Are you,  after all, "Mark Twain The Human?"  I think not.

Forgive me for using "Mark Twain" as a descriptor for an average human.  Mark Twain is on my mind a lot these days, because I am taking a class in American Literature at City College of Omaha,  which is where I am a student. I only took the class because I knew him, Mark Twain, or, well, mostly because I knew him but also because I needed three more credits to get full-time status this semester and I didn't want to have to start paying back my student loans.

You think being a human is complicated?  Try being a mountain.

Seriously,  I wish you would try it. Because I get lonely, especially since I found out my girlfriend is cheating on me.  I haven't told her yet that I know, because I'm not sure what I am going to do about it.  I mean, yes, Lucy is cheating on me, and yes that hurts but then yes, too, not many girls are willing to date mountains at all, and so maybe I should hope this is just a fling? And that she'll get over it and we'll be happy together?

For so long as she lives, anyway, which is not nearly as long as I am going to live, provided that My Nemesis doesn't get me.  I hope... she? he? it? ... it is hard to have a Nemesis and not know a thing about he/she/it other than that it exists, especially when one is trying to write down one's thoughts and feelings, as I am trying to do here, which may surprise you in that I bet you didn't know that mountains had thoughts and feelings, let alone girlfriends and a need to not pay their student loans, etc. etc. and so on.

But we do: I can tell you, because I am a mountain, and I have all those things, except maybe the girlfriend because I haven't spoken to Lucy in a week since I found out that she was cheating on me, and so while we haven't broken up we haven't exactly been together, either, and so I have all those other things.

On the other hand, I don't have any knees.  I don't know why that is.  People ask me that sometimes. There's this guy I know who said to me the first time I met him, "Why don't you have any knees?"

There we were, standing in the middle of a cosmic battleground created by the interaction of our psychic forces, ready to do battle, and that was what was bugging him.

I was, like, "So you are about to do battle with a psychic mountain and that's what's on your mind?" but before I even thought that we were fighting and pretty soon he was just a pool of juice.  Not pretty.

Don't mess with a mountain. I can say that, for sure.  I may be an indifferent student, but why would you hold that against me? It is not easy to be a mountain and a sophomore in college.  For one thing, I have to constantly mess with perspective, so that I can be a mountain and still sit in one of those dinky chairs.  The Student Life Coordinator told me that the various laws that help force accommodations for people don't consider "mountain" a handicap, which they're damn right it's not, but still, I have to constantly be focused on maintaining my own giant size, while also not, if you know what I mean.

I know you don't but it's hard, is the point.

So. I am writing this down because I don't know what else to do.  I am sort of at the end of my rope, here. Ha.  I was about to write "proverbial rope" but then I didn't because of course the rope is proverbial.   Can you imagine a mountain hanging from an actual rope?

I did that once, and I'd rather talk about that than the feelings of hopelessness I get, the feeling that sometimes maybe I should just give it all up and rock out... that's what we mountains call it when we finally give up being sentient and decide to just sit for a few eons until the shifting of the Earth's mantle which originally created us, springing us up from the accumulated dust of the eons into giant piles of sentient rock (albeit without knees) destined to use our psychic powers to protect one chosen ... thing.  I... um.

I'm getting sidetracked.  Anyway, I've been thinking of rocking out,  of giving up, of letting the Earth swallow me back up eventually, but I'm not sure I've gone that far down this road of depression yet.

Also, I haven't found my chosen... chosens? thing to protect.  I know I'm supposed to protect... he? she? it? them? from My Nemesis, but I don't know who any of these things are.

Which is part of why I'm depressed, so let me tell you about the rope thing because otherwise it's more beer, more thinking about calling Lucy, more thinking about how I don't know what it is, exactly I'm supposed to be protecting from what it is exactly that's hurting them, or it, or whatever.

There I was: in the deepest, darkest part of the jungle.  Only not really.  I mean, it looked like a jungle but it was south Florida, and it was spring break last year, and I'd gone there hoping that maybe some of the people I'd met on campus would hang out with me, but nobody really does, everybody's all like, "Um, you're a mountain, I don't think you would fit in with the basketball team," or whatever, so I was kind of bored and it was day three of the vacation and rather than hang out on the beach, again,  and just read, I thought "Well, I'll take one of those tours of the Everglades," only the guy wouldn't let me on the airboat.

It is seriously discrimination and sexism, whatever, etc., that they didn't. I explained to him that I wouldn't tip the boat over and that I'd fit right in, and this hillbilly guy wearing some kind of tattered old baseball cap from a strip club and no shirt and a pair of jeans on, how is that even a look, I don't know, says

"Yeah, bit yer a muntin," which is I swear how he said it: bit for but and yer for you're.and muntin for mountain.

Well that was not the last I'd see of that guy that day but of course I didn't know that yet, so I got back into my rental car, which the lady at the rental car agency was actually very nice and never gave me any "you're a mountain" crap at all, and I was driving through this road through the Everglades National Park because you can do that and I got out and I was looking at the swamp and trying to see alligators, or crocodiles, or whatever they have there (I think I heard they have both) and I didn't see any.

It seems like when a place is famous for something, that thing should be like all over the place, doesn't it? Like if you go to Florida there should be alligators and white-trash serial killers just walking around the streets having drinks at Ernest Hemingway's house, the way (I imagine) if you went to Australia you would have kangaroos just jumping everywhere, ten to a streetcorner, as they say.

But no, there were hardly any alligators or crocs or whatever in the swamp, at least I didn't see any, and I got back in the car and drove some more, and I drove most of the day, and stopped from time to time, and I ate some of the snacks I'd brought with me -- Cheetos, mostly-- and pretty soon it was like five o'clock and I thought I should be getting back to the hotel, because there'd been a lot of serious partying at the pool and I was hoping to make it into my room before that got going.  You know what's depressing? Slinking around the edge of a massive party carrying a six-pack of beer and a book you bought at the mall that day, hoping to get invited to the party but knowing you're going to end up reading, like, 2/3 of that book that night and you won't even drink the whole first beer you open.


So I wanted to make it back before the party started, really, so I wouldn't be confronted with the noise and girls in bikinis and guys who are cooler than me, etc., and whatnot, and I turned around to get in my car and there's Airboat Hillbilly standing there, grinning and chewing on something.

"We don't git miny muntins in the swamps," he said.

I didn't answer back.

"Wonder what the 'gators'll think of you," Airboat Hillbilly said, and he pulled out a gun and fired off three quick shots at me.

I don't need to tell you that they didn't hurt me at all, I mean I'm rock and all, etc., but I was surprised, and so I stood there a moment longer and then Airboat Hillbilly smiled, more.

"So ya rilly are a muntin," he said.  "I wasn't sher the boss wasn lyin' t'me."

And with that he pulled out a totally different kind of weapon, one he'd had behind his back, and I'd seen something like it once before only not this close and not pointing at me and not, for sure, in the hands of an Airboat Hillbilly.

So I ducked and rolled, something that took me years to learn to do -- no knees! -- and hoped to get out of the way of the device but it didn't work, it enveloped me and him in this field and we were on a psychic battleground, but one he'd devised, not me.

It was a cliff, or rather a precipice, or maybe a rock tower.  More like a rock tower, I guess, this pile of rocks that just rose up, out of nowhere, or out of infinity, or something, taller and taller and taller and at the top, it was only a few feet wide all the way up, at the top it was maybe 5 feet wide, total, and we were standing on it, and the Airboat Hillbilly says


and pushes me off the rock and I am falling.

But look, it wasn't my first psychic battle and obviously wasn't my last, because I'm here telling you about it and I've had some since then, and so I quickly got a rope, made from my mind, that anchored onto the top of the rock and couldn't be pulled out, and I grabbed that psychic rope and I slowed myself down and I hung from the bottom of it, looking up at Airboat Hillbilly.

"Perty quick," he said, and he tugged at the rope.  I concentrated, and the rope resisted him.  He put both hands on it and pulled, and I thought harder and the rope turned white hot, electric hot, and he pulled back, his hands singed and burning.

This was all in our minds, you know: if you'd seen us in the Everglades you'd have seen him holding a Projector, a device that lets people use psychic powers even if they can't consciously control them, in a limited range around them, and me standing there, and both of us motionless, because what he'd done was snare my consciousness into this realm he'd created.

So I was hanging from my white hot rope and he was up there with his (mental image of his) hands burning, and we had a standoff. I couldn't climb, but he wasn't able to dislodge the rope.  I was trying to think what to do next.  The hardest part of a psychic battle is gathering your thoughts.  The thing about Projectors is they make it a little easier to do that, amplifying what you're thinking and giving it energy,  whereas I've got to do that on my own, pulling it from Ether and etc., so I was furiously trying to focus on what I was going to do next but Airborne Hillbilly had the edge, and he began pelting me with comets.

Really big ones, great big giant balls of ice that were flung into me from everywhere, forcing me to use my perspective to be full-sized again and that helped a little but comets are big anyway, and I was starting to get hurt, and I heard him yell

"Good bye from yer Nimisis!"

and I concentrated really hard and his hat turned into a monster, a monster that was all mouth and it swallowed him up and then flopped onto the rock, chewing him ferociously and then spitting him out in bits because it hadn't any stomach, and the comets stopped.

I focused and created a mental jetpack and got myself to the top of the rock tower, where I kicked the monster off the edge and heard it howling as it fell and fell and fell into the distance, and I looked down at the Airboat Hillbilly's head.

"Don't mess with a mountain," I said.

And then we were back, in the Everglades.  Airboat Hillbilly slumped to the ground.  He wasn't eaten, not really,  at all, but his mind was eaten, pretty good, and he was pretty much just one of those comatose zombie patient guys like Jack Nicholson was in that Cuckoo's Nest movie I watched onetime on Netflix.

So I got in my car and I drove back to the hotel, where I didn't get invited to the party.  I never saw Airboat Hillbilly again but for one time. That's another day,  though, because I have to get to class.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Hey, there.  I've been writing a story for about four years now.  It's called Lesbian Zombies Are Taking Over The World!  and it can be found, in its entirety, at that link.

BUT, on the offchance that you have not been following that story for years and might be a little confused in the mythology of it, and also because this is my website for stories now, I am going to begin reprinting it here, from the inception of the story,  as well as there, so feel free to follow along however you'd like.

Also,  this story might never end.  I thought it would once but now I'm not so sure.

Anyway, our story begins here..., with a young lady in love, and having some sexy thoughts as she listens to a preacher tell how she might be the end of the world as we know it:


"Lesbian zombies are taking over the world!" Reverend Tommy hollered. He was in a lather.

So was I but that's because Brigitte was sitting next to me and had her hand on my knee. Above my knee, actually. Her little, soft, pink hand was resting right where my miniskirt would end if I wore my miniskirt to the Church of Our Savior of Living People Only, but I don't wear it there because Reverend Tommy wouldn't approve.

He wouldn't approve of my thoughts, either, or of what Brigitte and I had been doing just before we left for church in our church-y clothes: We'd been having sex, which Reverend Tommy disapproved of. Reverend Tommy disapproves of any sex, and he's not one of those preachers who say they disapprove of sex but then they're fucking the girls (or the boys) behind the curtains by the chapel; he was the real deal. Reverend Tommy hated only one thing more than sex, and that was zombies. And he hated only one thing more than zombies, and that was lesbian zombies.

That's what he was tearing on about, and it made me wish that Brigitte and I had not rushed to get there because if I'd known the whole sermon was going to be about nothing but how I'm supposed to be taking over the world, I would have skipped. But I doubt Brigitte would have skipped. She's not like that. Even though she's a lesbian, she's very religious. I don't know how she got mixed up with the Church of the Savior of Living People Only. I don't know how she got mixed up with me, either. She's going to be mighty confused when she finds out. If she finds out.

And I don't want to let her find out. Not yet, anyway, because I've got plans. I may just make her like me, for one thing. But even if I don't, I can't resist her lips. That's what almost made us late for church. I took a look at her lips as she was putting lipstick on them, and couldn't resist. Without even strapping on my bra, I had to lean over behind her and turn her head to face me and started kissing her.

I pushed my tongue into her mouth, forcing her lips apart so I could feel them on either side of my tongue, soft and pliable and gently sucking on my tongue and she pushed her tongue into my mouth, so I tried to return the favor, but my lips are always a little dry, probably (I think) as a result of being me and probably because I'm not very ladylike except in public and I associate wet, soft, moist lips with ladies. We kissed like that for a while, pressing our lips more and more firmly together, and I couldn't take it anymore, I wanted those lips everywhere else on me. I moved her mouth away from mine and stared into her eyes for a few moments and then lowered her head down to my breast. She took the hint, and she took my nipple and she nuzzled it and sucked on it. God, her lips were so soft that I almost came right then and I cupped her hands in mine...

So you can see why we were almost late. And here's Reverend Tommy, who's actually not a bad guy except he says I'm going to hell and he wants to kill me, and I don't even know why, ranting and raving:

"These lesbian zombies walk among us. They dress like us, they talk like us, they look like us..." although technically, Reverend Tommy, I don't look like you, because you are a man, I wanted to say. Brigitte squeezed my thigh. I thought she did it inadvertently but she leaned over and said

"They don't look like him," in a whisper that tickled my ear and made me start to perspire. She was so much like me already! Could I make her more like me? Would she like me more if she were more like me? Word games in my mind were better than Reverend Tommy:

"And they will come out in broad daylight and mock us, and then after dark they will steal into our houses and steal your wives and your daughters, they will corrupt them and drag them down to the bowels of hell with them. They move freely between the Life and the Afterlife."

That startled me. Do I? Do I move freely between the Life and the Afterlife? I'd never thought of it. Maybe those dreams I have where I go to Hell aren't just dreams?

"And they will leave our women in the fires of Hell and return to take your souls and eat them." I looked around, furtively. We sat midway back in the Church, and the Church attendance was evenly divided between men and women and children. Most of them were attentively listening to Reverend Tommy. Some of the women looked a little flushed. I guess maybe they wouldn't mind a little corrupting.

"And Jesus doesn't want them. He wants YOU. He wants to save you, but you've got to be vigilant against the newest trick of the devil. The lesbian zombies are out there. They are after your souls, and they are taking over the world!"

I should a few things straight.

First, I am a lesbian.

Second, I am not a zombie. I don't think so, anyway. I'm not a revenant, either, because nobody controls me. I'm some kind of creation. I think that because none of my parts match. I have dark black, straight hair, but my pubic hair is brown. My left hand is larger than my right and doesn't look the same. I have one green eye and one blue eye and who ever heard of that? Plus, my right shoe is size 6 and my left shoe is size 9. I have a slight limp. At least my torso appears to be all one piece and I don't have any scars, so I'm not a Frankenstein. I don't think. I've never met anyone like me. Or at least, anyone who I knew was like me.

Third, I'm not sure why I'm here. Not here in the Church of Our Savior Of Living People Only. I'm here because Brigitte goes here and I'll do anything for those lips. Not here in this town, either. I wandered here a few months ago after living in New York City for a while and then deciding that I couldn't go on working at a diner and wondering why I didn't have parents, or didn't rememer any parents, or even a childhood, or even anything before one day I was just there, working at the diner and serving people egg platters and refilling their coffee without any idea of who I really was. People called me by my name (Rachel) and seemed to know me but nobody talked to me much and I didn't live with anyone. That first day was kind of scary -- I left work at 5 and I didn't know why I was leaving at 5 because I didn't remember being scheduled to work or even that I worked or who anyone was, and then I started walking home and got on the subway but I didn't know what a subway was, and I was riding the subway and I realized that I was going home but I didn't know where home was or if I had one at all.

I got really scared, then, and then tried to clear my mind and relax, which worked because when I stopped thinking about it I just headed home, which turned out to be a kind of crummy little studio apartment that had a view of a wall and some furniture and a TV in it. So maybe someone is controlling me because I went home, but I don't think so because why would they let me just wander away?

But fourth, I think maybe I am trying to take over the world.

Go on to part two-- Meet Doc-- by clicking this link.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When A Really Good Song Comes On. (250=1, Story 19)

When A Really Good Song Comes On.

Your body whips into gear.  First to react is your heart, which is usually a person waiting in line in a supermarket, perusing the tabloids, but suddenly is that same person back 10 minutes before when he realized he had enough to buy ice cream this week.

Your heart tells your arms: Move.  Your arms are the class president and glee club director. They are always doing something and happily help out.

Your arms ask your legs to get into the action.  Your legs are the old man at the bus stop. Uninterested.


Your brain is actually last to get into the scene.  Your brain is a bouncer at the door keeping people out, and is at the same time the group of girls begging a way in.

Finally: dance.  Even the old man of your legs is in. You stand up and you jam out, probably with an air guitar.  You do that Chuck Berry thing across the room.

Your wife comes in, sees you.  Without a word, she walks up and dances with you.  If you had kids, they would think you were lame if they were old enough, but they would dance if they were young enough, or they would have kids of their own if they were already the age you were when you had them.

But you do not have kids.  So you are neither lame nor fun to dance with.  That is why you need the song.


In 250=1, I write stories that are exactly 250 words long, including the title.  Click here for a listing of all the others like this.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I wonder if they could do something about the way my face sometimes looks asymmetrical.

When most people think of cosmetic surgery,  they probably just think of facelifts, or nose jobs, but there's a lot more to it than that.

Take ultherapy odessa, a procedure done by the Body Focus Clinic there. Ulthera procedures can tighten up face and neck skin, but nonsurgically: 30 minutes in the clinic with an ultrasound treatment is all that it takes, and you can enjoy a better, firmer look while still getting back to the office after lunch.

That clinic has lots of unique procedures like that.  Dr. Anna Rosinska also does "Liposonix," another nonsurgical, noninvasive procedure that aims to completely destroy fat tissues underneath the surface of the skin. No fat tissues, no fat.  And no surgery -- just an hour in the clinic and you're done, and on your way to a more slender you.

And then there's "fat grafting," which is just what it sounds like.  Fat from one part of your body is surgically transferred to another area.  Why would they want to do that?  Because it helps you prevent aging signs: when you get older, you can lose fat in your face and neck, causing wrinkles.  Taking some of your own body fat, in a procedure that doesn't require general anesthesia, and transplanting it elsewhere, avoids that while also avoiding complications from foreign substances being put into your body.

A lot to think about -- and to check out at that link.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mr Suitcase

Everyone would know him when they saw him, but they almost never saw him... first.

Mr Suitcase is terribly quiet.

And terribly quick.

Mr Suitcase repeats those words to himself as he walks down the middle of the road, his path never directly cutting into the circles of light cast by the lampposts that alternate up and down the street on each side, their cheerful yellow glows never actually reaching the edge of Mr Suitcase's shadowy outline as he says to himself, over and over:

Mr Suitcase is terribly quiet

And terribly quick.

His feet tap on the pavement, the tar still warm from the heat of the day, baked by the sun and heated, too, by the friction of bicycle tires and rollerskate wheels and little girls chasing after little boys who had stolen their dolls and were throwing them into the sprinklers on front lawns of perfect houses with perfect families in a perfect minature world.

Mr Suitcase is looking for a victim, of course.  That is what the magical, but evil, things in this world do, they look for victims and Godhelpyou if they find you and think you might be one, because all it takes is that thought, that you might be a victim and you most certainly will be.

Do you know those horror movies where someone moves into a house and there is a ghost there and the ghost begins to torment them, a little at a time and then more and more until finally the ghost reveals itself and it is more horrible than you ever would have thought?  Do you know how you watch those movies and later laugh and say "Why would they stay in that house, when that started to happen?  I would move immediately!" and you and your friends chuckle over the tropes of movies?

Do you know those movies?

Mr Suitcase does, as do all of his kind, and they laugh at your laughter, late at night, drinking cups of your blood made out of glass forged from the powder of your ground-up bones.  They laugh and laugh and laugh because they know why that became a trope in the first place, they know why it is that always happens, and that is because that always happens.

When someone like Mr Suitcase decides you are a victim, you have no say in the matter.  These things crawl around in the night, and fly around your chimneys and scurry up the trees as you look their way, they lurk under beds and in closets and behind the edge of that car over there, these things like Mr Suitcase, and they will choose who they will for their victims, and that person, or those people, will not survive.

Mr Suitcase stops and looks at a house that has caught his eye.

(It goes without saying that you do not want to catch the eye of Mr Suitcase.)

In the dark, in the quiet night, if you had been watching Mr Suitcase you would have suddenly realized, when he stopped, when the tiny, neat, tip tap tip tap tip of his footsteps ceased, you would have realized that all noise had stopped.

No other animals were foolish enough to want to attract the attention of Mr Suitcase, is how to interpret that.  They were hiding in their burrows, their nests, their holes in the wall, aware of Mr Suitcase and avoiding him.

You were not.  Nobody ever is.

Mr Suitcase squints into the house and if you had seen him squint you would have been surprised because it would have been apparent, suddenly, that Mr Suitcase had no eyes with which to squint, no pupils to grow large in the night, no irises to winch in and out as he focused, indeed no eye sockets to hold a juicy, wet eyeball that would glower and turn and squint.

On his head, where eyes ought to have been were simply blank spaces.

Mr Suitcase's head is not a regular head, anyway, you would have noticed (but you were watching television, a variety show, probably), but rounder, larger, more like a balloon or a ball atop a body than like a head.  His head is not perfectly round, no, but it is rounder than it ought to be and it is freakish when you see it, but you have not yet seen it.  It has a nose, of sorts, and ears, of sorts, but no hair and no eyes, despite its tendency to squint when Mr Suitcase looks at things.

(He covers his lack of hair with a hat, this time a jaunty chapeau, because Mr Suitcase is always well-dressed.  He is a civil monstrosity.)

Oh, and Mr Suitcase has a mouth, and it is the mouth that keeps most people from noticing his lack of eyes or commenting on his baldness (or complimenting his hat, which nobody ever has time or the inclination to do), because the mouth goes full 2/3 of the way around his head and it is lined with seven separate rows of teeth, each tooth a perfect triangle, equilateral, and sharp as the razor blades Mr Suitcase made them from, so long ago, when his own teeth proved insufficiently murderous and so he spent three full days ripping them from his jaw and replacing them with razor blades he had cut into triangles, a process that was so exceedingly painful that Mr Suitcase has been in an extra-foul mood ever since.

It is quite a mouth and very often not even the last thing you see of Mr Suitcase.

Mr Suitcase smiles, now, showing only a hint of a glint of silvery razor teeth in the moonlight, as if the moonlight itself is afraid to touch him.

(Probably because it is.  Once Mr Suitcase challenged the Moon to a fight and the Moon retreated to the sky to avoid him, and Mr Suitcase, who must always have at least one part of his body in touch with the ground or he will evaporate, has been ever since plotting a way to reach the Moon.)

Mr Suitcase rubs his chin with his left hand, the one with only three fingers.  He had moved the other two fingers, and the thumb, over to his right hand, the better to pull things from his suitcase with.  When he is working, Mr Suitcase lets his left arm hold his victim while the right arm pulls things from his suitcase, which is held by his third arm, and just as Mr Suitcase may never fully leave the ground, the suitcase may never touch it.

(There are laws upon laws upon laws, most of them you do not know about and never will until you are victimized.  But the suitcase-not-touching-the-ground rule is not a law, it is merely prudent, lest the suitcase escape Mr Suitcase's grasp.)

Mr Suitcase takes a step forward, sticking his tongue out and tasting the air that comes from your house.  He obviously likes what he tastes because he takes several more steps forward tip tap tip and he is on your sidewalk, his long sinewy legs carrying him neatly past the yardlight.

You have a dog, but that dog is useless against Mr Suitcase.  Even with its senses that are better than yours, your dog, dulled by its life with you, does not hear or see or feel or smell Mr Suitcase and then Mr Suitcase is upon it, and before your dog can even twitch its ears up, the suitcase is hoisted by the third arm, opened by the three-fingered left hand, and the 7-fingered, 2-thumbed right hand is dipping into the suitcase itself, digging in there.

The dog, your dog, sees Mr Suitcase now, sees the sly grin Mr Suitcase has, sees the blank stare that emanates from Mr Suitcase's head, and even though it should bark, or run, or growl, or bite, it does nothing.

Your dog knows.

You, you will fight or you will run or you will protest, at least, probably, but your dog, dumbed down by an easy life of food in a bowl and water in a dish, still has its animal instincts -- slowed, stupefied, but there-- and its animal instincts tell it there is no way out.

The right hand comes out of the suitcase and there is a thing in its grip, a tool or a weapon or maybe a jar?

But no it is a glass, a looking glass, and Mr Suitcase cackles

Hee he heh

And he puts the looking glass to where he has no-eye and looks through it at your dog, pointing the small end of the looking glass at your dog and looking through the large, with his no-eye, the other one squinting, and your dog shrinks on the spot to a tiny fraction of itself, an involuntary whimper rising from its throat as it realizes its organs are being crushed and its bones melting, but the whimper stops almost at the same time Mr Suitcase takes his three-fingered left hand and picks it up and drops it into his mouth, this tiny, disfigured gremlin of your dog, and eats it alive, shrunken and in pain it is sliced into shards by the razors and put out of its misery.

Hee he heh


tip tap tip

Mr Suitcase moves towards the window.

You still don't see him.

You never do.

Mr Suitcase bides his time.  He has all the time, if he needs it, but he rarely needs time and so he doesn't notice it at all when time passes.  It seems like no time and all the time in the world as you sit there, watching your variety show and then the evening news and then you are nodding off as the weather comes on.

It will be sunny tomorrow.

But you won't know and that's not for you, anymore.

Mr Suitcase is outside your house.

He is watching you.

You won't see the sun again, unless he wants you to.

You are half asleep and Mr Suitcase is now deciding how he should enter the house.

Through the door, tip tap tip into your front hall?

Or through the window, slither and sneak?

Or through the chimney? Slide and tumble and dance and roll.

Or simply slip in through the wall, because Mr Suitcase need not pay attention to things like walls, either, if he does not want to?

Or should he tear your house apart around you, causing it to fall and crumble and tumble your wife into the ground and your baby to the floor while you wonder if it is an earthquake, an earthquake might spare you but Mr Suitcase will not.

Mr Suitcase thinks about these choices as your chin drops to your chest, and the magazine you thought you might read slips from your hand onto the floor and your eyes are almost closed.

He will come in through the window, and the thought makes him happy.

Hee he heh

You don't hear him.

Again the suitcase is opened, again the 7-fingered right hand dips in and again Mr Suitcase pulls out something he can use, this time to go through the window.

It is a snake, burnt half to a crisp its skin crackley and falling off in dark flakes in places and one eye still glowing red, but the snake is alive and Mr Suitcase whispers something to it in a language only Mr Suitcase speaks, but everyone and everything understands that talk.

The snake uncoils and slithers forward, its half-burnt skin rasping on the glass and the windowframe, sliding and writhing until it manages to work its nose into the edge of the window, scraping through, compressing itself down almost into two dimensions, its tail delicately held between two fingers and both thumbs of Mr Suitcase's right hand as it does so.

The snake is inside and its slimy trail of blood and gore mars the window as it slides up and unlatches it, after which Mr Suitcase puts the snake away and uses his left hand to lift the window, which makes a small scraping sound.

You snore a little and sit up, glancing at the television, not seeing Mr Suitcase lift one leg into your house through the now-open window.  As you sit up and rub your eyes, listening to the sportscaster tell how the local high school team is 3-0 on the season, Mr Suitcase pulls his other leg in and then brings the rest of his body through, the head last, and he is standing in your dining room, behind you.

You would marvel at how Mr Suitcase's proportions are out-of-whack, how he seems to be 15 feet tall but still fit in your dining room without bending or hunching but you are picking up the magazine and putting it on the coffee table so your wife will not be upset when she comes downstairs in the morning, and then you are turning off the television so that the only light on the downstairs floor of your house is what little light comes in from outside, and precious little of that is willing to come near Mr Suitcase, who stands stock still in your dining room, his no-eyes wide.

You shuffle around the sofa in your socks, a big toe sticking out of the one on the left, and you rub the back of your neck and you yawn and your ears pop and you miss the tiny cackle of glee

Hee he heh

as you turn up the stairs.

You walk upstairs slowly, tired, the house far too quiet but you don't notice it any more than you notice Mr Suitcase's

tip tap tip 

behind you, and he is right behind you, practically drooling on your neck.

But you never see him.

Do not feel bad.

Nobody ever does.

Up into the hall, and Mr Suitcase is right behind you, his finely-pressed trouser pants whisking quietly as he steps behind you

tip tap tip

and you look into your child's room.


Mr Suitcase looks in, too, as you do, his too-large head peering over your shoulder with his no-eyes, his left hand hovering just over your shoulder, almost almost almost touching you

but he does not, not yet.

He does, though, unbutton his suitcoat with his right hand.

On down the hall to the bathroom, where Mr Suitcase lets you go in alone, out of modesty.

When you open the door, if you looked to your left, you would see Mr Suitcase but you turn to your right, to your bedroom, and you push open the bedroom door where your wife stirs lazily and, half-asleep herself, says

"Did you turn off the TV?"

You will never answer her.

Mr Suitcase has put his left hand around your face, the fingers -- each too large in diameter, and smelling of breakfast sausage and nitro-glycerin, smother your mouth and choke off your reply.

The door still open, your wife turning over on her bed to plump her pillow a little more and snuggle into her own arm, you are turned around and you see Mr Suitcase for the first time, your feet dangling off the floor, your lungs already choked for air, your eyes tearing up from fear and the smell and the sight of Mr Suitcase, leering at you in the near-dark, the gloom.

His no-eyes somehow get narrow and then wide and then narrow.

His tongue shoots out and he tastes your sweat to see how afraid you are.

Very afraid, indeed.

His left hand with its three fingers wraps entirely around your head.  You cannot breathe.  You cannot touch the floor.

You try to kick out, to reach the wood boards below you, to reach Mr Suitcase, whose name you do not even know, to fight or to flee.

Very afraid, indeed.

If your wife turned over, she would see you, held in midair by a giant hand on the end of an arm that disappeared into the darkness, but she does not turn over and no sound disturbs her sleep.

Mr Suitcase is terribly quiet.

And terribly quick.

He holds you there, thoughtfully staring into your eyes from his own lack of eyes, malevolently staring, now.

Nobody sees Mr Suitcase first, which is only in part because nobody ever wants to see Mr Suitcase.

As you try to remember what it felt like to have oxygen in your lungs, as your brain shrieks in terror and suffocation, Mr Suitcase's right hand digs into the suitcase that his third arm holds off the ground.

Hee he heh

He chuckles, and pulls out something that looks as though once it was alive, but that was (if ever) very long ago, and in perhaps another kind of universe where life took on crueler forms.

This thing is big, and it has eyes, too many of them, and it has claws, too many of those, too, and it glows, glows like coals in a forge, but gives off no heat, in fact it takes the heat from you and your blood is cold.

Surely you have heard that saying, his blood ran cold, but you have never thought what it would be like to feel the cold in your veins instead of warmth, to want for air, and then for heat from the inside, as you dangle off the ground in your own house held in the air by something that you would have sworn had no right to live, but you would have been wrong.

It is you who have no right to live, not while the monsters walk the earth, not while Mr Suitcase is alive and he always will be and always has been.  You live only for so long as you do not attract the attention of Mr Suitcase or something like him.

That is, you live until right now, and the thing that maybe is dead is pressed onto you and you are trying to fight it, wildly, its claws digging into your ribs and heart and lungs and belly and legs and even as you dangle held by your head, with energy you scarcely have you are flailing with your arms and legs and trying to scream but now screams escape past the fingers that still hold your mouth and nose closed.

In silence, you fight this thing that is all over you, you shriek in your mind you pray for your wife to turn over and see, for someone to come in and shoot this thing and its master, for someone to rescue you.

Nobody will.

But pray anyway! It cannot hurt and may provide you distraction as the thing that is not alive and is disembowels you, your blood and guts spilling onto the floor as the thing shreds you, as it rips into your spine and dismembers you, your arms falling limp at your side, your legs dangling, until all that is left is your head, still held by Mr Suitcase's left hand with its three fingers, a head that trails a part of a spine and some lungs, and a heart that drops still beating onto the pile of parts and blood and shriveled-formerly-human things on the floor.

The thing that is or is not alive is put back in the suitcase.

Hee he heh

Mr Suitcase cackles, and

tip tap tip

He walks back down the hall.

You are not anywhere you can see him anymore, but if you could see him -- you never saw him first, remember -- you would see him pause and look back at the bedroom where your wife sleeps, undisturbed (as yet!)...

You don't see, nobody sees, as he tastes the air of the hallway, coming from the bedroom, with his tongue, and considers.


He's got Leeeeegs! He knows how to use them! EVERYONE TOGETHER NOW!

So my legs are ugly.

Really, they are, and while I can live with that because I am not all wrapped up in the cult of beauty that is modern America, I think it is...

oh who am I kidding? I DO NOT WANT UGLY LEGS.

And yet I have them.

I have what scientists refer to as "Varicose veins," those bulgy, twisting blue snakes of ugliness that creeps up the leg and makes people get grossed out when they see me in shorts.  And so do lots of other people -- you know who you are -- and if you are one of those people and if you are really really bothered by it

(GUILTY AS CHARGED) then maybe you want to get an endovenous laser treatment for them.

"Endovenous" whatchamacallit is this treatment where a doctor can insert a laser into the vein and shut it down, just like that, with no scarring and no long-term recuperation and no muss or fuss, really: just go in for what sounds like an outpatient treatment and walk out that day (albeit with compression stockings for a while) and get back to work, but now with legs that are beautiful and won't make children scream in terror.

They do that treatment at this "Heart And Vein Center" where that link above leads you.  I've spent the last twenty minutes alternating between reading the site and staring at my legs, with a few trips to see if Sweetie still keeps the credit cards in her old hiding spot.

(She doesn't)

So if you hate your legs and want to fix them, click that link.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Leaving Outpost Pluto (The 9 Planets)

153 years ago, exactly, humans colonized the last of the traditional 9 planets.  With Outpost Pluto humans now were living on every planet in the solar system as well as many of the moons.  This achievement was celebrated not as the final end of human exploration but as a first step towards the rest of the cosmos.

152 years ago, exactly, Outpost Pluto lost all contact with every other human settlement or planet.  

When no word had come in six months, and trans-light signals failed to be responded to, even on the distress channel, Outpost Pluto faced a choice.

There was one ship on Pluto, the one that had brought them there.

Eventually, it was decided that a group must go look to see what was happening on the other planets and settlements.

The decision as to who would go and who would stay was not an easy one.


Quid sat in the acceleration chair and watched the countdown clock in his visor as he listened to the radio chatter.

"T-15 minutes Rocket Osiris." Crackled in his ear on the override channel from Mission Control.  When that subsided he watched the instrument panel and listened to the news channel broadcast from the Hut, the only building humans lived in on Pluto.

The debate had been rekindled by Jena's demands that others be allowed to go on Rocket Osiris after the discovery of the collapsing orbit of lesser moon Romulus, figures which had been known for several months and which were generally disbelieved by most of the colony but which a vocal minority had now decided proved that the colony was entirely unsustainable, now, and which Jena argued viciously even over the earpiece that carried her words to Quid.

"Anyone not on Rocket Osiris is DOOMED!" she practically howled at what Quid knew would be the rest of the assembled colony; even those not directly involved with provisioning and launching the Rocket would have gone to Assembly to watch the launch and ended up hearing the debate that Quid felt had been settled months before.

"Sending everyone is abandoning the colony." he had argued that.

"Leaving people behind is killing them," Jena had said.

She had not taken kindly to her demotion from military leader of the expedition, nor to Quin's promotion to that same post.

"We will be a year, at most.  The fabricators are operating perfectly."  Fourteen large fabricators -- giant versions of 3D printers -- worked around the clock pulling minerals from the ground and energy from space, their first jobs having been to create housing units for temporary periods, and then larger equipment to build Assembly Hall and other parts for other buildings, and lately they had been putting out smaller printers to create more technical materials, like chips to build computers.  One fabricator was devoted entirely to creating food for the colony.

"With no promise of another supply rocket, Rocket Osiris is the only hope we have to return," Jena had said, and most of the 72 people in the colony had seemed to agree.

"Return to what?" Quid had said, quietly.

After the silence engendered by that question had grown too long to ever be comfortable again, he had said "If nobody is out there, then we are all that is left of humanity."

"Which is exactly why we must all go!" Jena had said.

"Which is exactly why it is foolish to put every living human being in the UNIVERSE on one small rocket and blast it into space.  This is not the deluge."

Quid's argument had carried the day.

That day.

It still raged on and he listened now, thumbing a small switch to let his radio communicate with his crewmates.

"You guys hearing this?"

Affirmative responses flittered into and out of his consciousness.  Twenty people -- nearly 1/3 of all that might remain of humanity -- sat in acceleration chairs on Rocket Osiris, ready to head to Neptune, a distance of only 35,000,000 miles at this point, but the journey would be longer because they would slingshot, heading out pushed in part by Pluto's own journey around the earth, their boosters being used only to lift them off the surface and to the Hooke elevation at which the Rocket could begin to orbit faster and faster until it achieved the desired velocity and with a small boost could be pushed on its line, a line that would eventually intersect Neptune's own orbit.

"T-10," came Mission Control.

"They are leaving in 10 minutes.  We cannot let them go!" came over the airwaves.

Quid grimaced and watched the clock, nervously chewing his tongue.  They could, if necessary, launch as much as two minutes early, but even with that, the first three Hooke orbits would leave them within range of ground weapons.

"Ready..." he told his crew over the internal line, although he wasn't sure what he was ready for.

On the community channel, more voices clamored and shouted, various people yelling to get to Mission Control while others urged calm, and still others suggested contacting Quid and asking him to delay the launch.

Delaying the launch by even a day might mean three more weeks in transit.

Quid wished above all that some signal would come from some one out there.  People might be nervous about being left on Pluto, where they'd thought they'd spend their lives, but didn't know that the return ticket might be gone, but what of him?  He was launching into the unknown, a trip back among the planets that would not be aided by Isolation Sleep, nor would he have the Hyperspeed rockets that had carried them in a straight line out past the asteroids and sent them tumbling superfast towards Pluto.

He would be working his way, slowly, inward, and if he found nothing at Neptune he would have to move on to the next post, all along hoping that someone still lived.  His entire life might now be spent on Osiris, slowly plodding through the galaxy, and whatever had happened to silence the rest of the colonies, he had to go face it.

"Rocket Osiris we are speeding launch.  T-6.  We will launch at T-2."  On the community channel the voices were louder, angrier.  Quid had missed something in his thoughts.

"Right. Check," he said.  Inter-com: "Everyone batten down."

They would not attack the Rocket, would they?

Would they refuse to let anyone leave, to avoid being left behind?

On the community channel he heard guards outside of Mission Control telling people to stand down, to calm down.  He heard a voice above those, Jena's, shouting them down in turn and telling them to back away, that she had the right to get into Mission Control and talk to the Rocket.

"This is a secure area," a guard said.

"This is our right," Jena responded.

Quid listened over the radio.


Two minutes.

"Stun settings," the guards said over the radio.  It was a warning to those around.

"This is not a military dictatorship," Jena said, stridently.

"Patch me through," Quid said into the Intercom.  His voice carried to the hallway speakers in Assembly outside of Mission Control.

"Jena, others," he said, calmly, hoping  it was calmly.  "Please let the guards alone.  This was decided.  It is not a military dictatorship.  We decided it by a straight vote.  The majority ruled and this trip was set.  All you are doing is scaring people."

"Quid, we demand to be put on the Rocket!" Jena yelled.


One minute.

"Jena," Quid said, hoping this would calm her "Outpost Pluto needs competent leadership here.  There is a great deal of work to do.  In less than two years we could have Pluto Sol up and running and begin making this more and more habitable.  And if there really is trouble out there, survivors will need a place to go."


30 seconds.

"Outpost Pluto might be the only such place."

"We are not going to be left behind!" Jena yelled.

10 seconds.

Quid flipped several switches.

He heard pushing and shoving on his headset.


At least two laser blasts and someone screamed.

The rocket boosters started and he could hear nothing after Mission Control said "Blast off."


I wonder if he can make me look like Ryan Gosling?

So maybe you, like me, have looked in the mirror and thought "I don't know, my face is a little saggier than I'd like it to be."  Or maybe you are a woman who wishes she was a little fuller in those areas men tend to look at. 

Or maybe otherwise you've considered plastic surgery?  It's not for everyone, sure, but sometimes there are things you want to fix about yourself that you can't do through diet and exercise, and if you think that's the case, you'll want to get more information about it before making up your mind.

The most important thing is to know what you're getting into and then getting a reputable and good surgeon.  There's this guy, Dr. Qaqish, who says he is a preferred provided of cosmetic surgery in and around San Diego County; information on his breast lift san diego procedures can be found at that link or by calling 760-432-9518 to get a consultation.

His website has lots of pictures and information, telling you what kinds of procedures might be best if you don't like saggy eyebrows (forehead lift) or hate your jowls (guilty!), in which case he'd do a neck lift, which can even be done minimally and on an outpatient basis.  His website answers a lot of questions about what to expect, and provides videos showing how procedures work.

So if you ARE thinking about getting some work done, get the information first and check out that site to see if it's for you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Electronic Fish Tacos From Jupiter Save The Day??!?

If you are coming over here from Andrew Leon's blog, WELCOME!

You're probably here to read The Electronic Fish Tacos From Jupiter Save The Day??!? which actually is a more horrifying story in the end than the title would imply.  I didn't even realize it was a horror story until Rusty Webb let me in on that secret.

But it is, and you'll enjoy it best if you start from the beginning, which is HERE.  Don't worry -- at the end of each section, you'll find links to the next.

It's long.  Take your time.

ALSO: There are no fish tacos in the story.  (Um, spoiler alert?)

The Electronic Fish Tacos From Jupiter Save The Day??!? PART EIGHT: Just Another Place To Die.

Here's where this story began, so click that link to read it from the beginning.  

Here is where it ends:

 Jimmy Earwig came in many different variations, just as everyone and everything does.  An infinite number of possibilities, say scientists (but what do they know?) means that everything that ever could have been... is.

Including Negative Jimmy Earwig, who had been sinking into the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, watching with interest as his very existence destroyed things around him, enjoying himself touching selected monsters living on Jupiter and watching them explode, as the Emulsifier shaped and formed over his head, a machine as humongous as it was ridiculous-looking.

He knew what it was for, of course, and he wondered at what point he should touch it and destroy it, ending Other Jimmy Earwig's hopes.

And then he had felt the shift and known that everything had changed, that he was not the destroyer anymore.

Unless he wanted to be.

"That's the thing about negatives," he'd said many times.  "They don't make any sense."

And now, formerly-negative Jimmy Earwig, Negative Jimmy, began walking towards the base of the Emulsifier, heedless of the battle raging above him in the skies of Jupiter.

He had, he knew, only a few moments.  So little time to do what he loved so much: destruction.

So little time to prevent this machine from working.


"Why do you want to die?" asked Darth, her own daring at questioning the God she had adopted a belief in years ago amazing her.


"I have been dead for years, so, no, I do not."


"And so you will destroy everyone?  To end your own torment?"


The lights flickered warningly, flashing brightly enough that Darth had to shield her eyes.  The room, if it was a room she was in, seemed to tilt.  Zero was angry.   She floated, feeling herself off-kilter.


"And so you are better?"


Darth thought she heard something somewhere.  She could not be sure.  The lights, though, in the distance -- did they blink? Were they running over to one side?

"The process..." she began.  There was a sound, something besides her and Zero, here.  "The process... of destroying everything?"


"If you let everything die, you will be more alone than ever."


"Won't you?"

The lights went dark, just for a moment, then came back on.


"You cannot be sure of that."


"You..." Darth stared at the lights.  "You are still scared."

It took a moment for her to realize what that meant.  She heard the noise again, more clearly now.  It was the sound of an avalanche, almost -- the low rumble of a part of the universe collapsing onto another part of it.


Darth wondered what options she might have.


The four men, on the trip to Jupiter, took on their roles as Archetypes, moving into the creations they usually just allowed other people to inhabit.  And so shortly, The Artist, The Writer, The Teacher, and The Thinker stood on the top of the machine, their ogre panting behind them.

"That thing can move," The Writer said, taking off his red helmet.  "You'll have to teach me how to make one."

"Maybe I will," The Artist said, "If you'll quit slicing mine apart."

"Sorry about that," The Writer said.  "I was feeling a little grumpy."

"This thing is not going to work," said The Thinker.  He was staring at the machine, examining it as best he could.  It was a thousand times larger than any apparatus ever created by humans before, and yet was dwarfed by the planet it stood on, in the shadow of more moons than were strictly necessary and lit by the explosions of the battle cruiser that was looming, crippled and crashing, far above them.  The four men...?... ignored the space battle.

"I drew it exactly as I was told, with only minor improvements as necessary," The Artist said.  "It will work exactly as intended."

"Something has changed, though," The Thinker said.  "It will not work."

"I thought I was the one who was supposed to be pessimistic," The Writer said.  He looked up at the sky.  "Not that that takes much work."

"Let's fix it, then," said The Teacher.  "Can't be too hard."

"There's no time," said The Thinker.  He stared at the others.  "We've got about one minute left before the disintegration is irreversible."


 Negative Jimmy cracked his knuckles.

"A push here, a pull there, and this thing will topple," he said.

He charged up his battle armor and felt the power buzz and crackle around him.  Missiles?  he wondered.  Plasma bomb?  Dark energy ray? Or good old fashioned nukes?

So many choices.

He glanced up in the sky where all his opposite-minded counterparts were falling to Jupiter, chased by ravenous carnivorous grapes, their manner of death not left to their own choice.  They would be eaten, or burn on re-entry, or be crushed by the flaming hulk of battle cruiser that would not quite strike the Emulsifier, but they could not choose how they died.

"I can, though..." he breathed, and he felt the power of the possibilities that lay before him.

Plasma bomb, he decided.

It just felt right.


"If it will save the universe..." Darth began.


Darth floated again, her involuntary kick at the quickness with which Zero had rejected her proposal causing her to float away.

"I ... I..." she stuttered.

It is difficult to stand up to one's God.

"I am not interested in bargaining for anything less," she said.  "You can have me... but you must give up the universes, then."


The lights suddenly flared, brighter than ever.  The glimmering twinkling distant lights were lost in the glow of white that she was surrounded by, and she shielded her eyes, noting that the light slowly shifted, running from bright white to a slight yellow, shifting almost imperceptibly.


She watched.  The light around her was all yellow now, a faded slight yellow, like the first glimmer of sunrise.

The twinkling lights approached closer and began spinning, whirling around, the shapes and tracings they formed beginning to show a picture.  She watched as it became more and more solid, and she saw Jimmy, his battle armor glowing, his eyes narrowed with thought, staring up at the machine he had had that madman, The Artist, create.

"Jimmy..." she breathed.  "You're alive..."


"So... what are you offering?"



The scene shifted slightly, a new whorl of patterns showing her a 5 with a bleeding, gaping hole, riding the neck of something that looked like it had been created from the parts of serpents that the Creator had found too distasteful to use on real creatures.  The 5 led a collection of such beasts and was, she saw, entering the Great Red Spot, behind Negative Jimmy.



"The outside ................." said The Thinker, suddenly.

The others looked at him.

The Thinker looked down at the machine and said:

"It will work."

"That's good," said The Teacher.


The other three looked at The Artist.

"Oh, crap," he said.


"We've got air, boys! We've got air!  Get those wings out and spread out!" Ghastly Gray Jimmy glanced at the power meter in the right corner of his screen.  3/4.  It would have to do.  Drawing power from the atmosphere would slow down the autofighter, and he needed that on full.  Powerful ion guns on his back were oriented on the Grapes of Love, which pursued Seal Team Jimmy with a vengeance as the remaining twenty or so survivors formed a perimeter around the Emulsifier. 

Ghastly Gray Jimmy felt the guns pulsate on his back, trusting his computer to protect him.  One-half of his screen was oriented on what was behind him, and that was horrifying: a giant cloud of carnivorous grapes entering the atmosphere of Jupiter followed by a rapidly-deteriorating hulk of a battle cruiser.

The only thing that allowed us to get here ahead of them is that they were burning up as they came after us, Ghastly thought, and thanked every God he could think of for the existence of battle armor.

With that, he headed towards the top of the Emulsifier, his position as the one Jimmy certain to die here making him the temporary leader of this desperate last stand.

He found four men standing there.

No... they weren't men.

They were...  he squinted, and mentally blinked his screen through filters to get to power-level radiation monitoring.

The glows on the screen confirmed it.


Would they help?


"What kind of deal?" Darth asked, her hand quivering.  She wondered if she could get close enough to disable Zero...

... to kill... her God.


"What kind of deal?" Darth said, suddenly sobbing.  The images continued: She saw a battle forming on the Great Red Spot, around the machine Jimmy had ordered made, she saw those horrible grapes flying down, and she kept seeing, even with her eyes closed, those monsters.


and the room filled with images of the Jimmy who was slowly flying up into the apparatus of the Emulsifier, carefully examining it.

"That's not my Jimmy."


"But I will know the truth."

No answer.

"And I will die anyway -- you will destroy all the universes, and so I and this Jimmy will perish, with everything and everyone else."

No answer.

Darth stared at the blinking lights, still squinting in the yellow glow that was slowly going to a green, shifting again.  She wondered if the colors meant anything or were there to dazzle her, or were incidental.  Jimmy on the screen had gone about one-third of the way up but had stopped and was looking over her shoulder.  The view shifted to show her the 5, and she cried harder.

She did not want anyone to die, but particularly not any of the Jimmys, all of whom, she knew, were more or less the same person, just slightly different each time.  Each one of them had the tiny ineffeable essence that made Jimmy Earwig who he was.

Who she had loved, in life and in death.


The words broke Darth's reverie.

"My what?"


Darth's mind broke, a little, and she dove to the floor, pounding her delicate fist against it hard enough to cause her to rebound off into the air, drifting now through an ambient yellow-green glow in which she could see the monsters begin to move towards Negative Jimmy.

"You had my love.  You had it.  I worshipped you and told others of you and preached in your name and prayed to you and loved you like nobody ever loved their God and now you are MAD and destroying the universe and you want me to love you again?"  Darth's speech broke down into ragged sobs.


Darth buried her head in her hands, floating curled into a fetal position, not understanding.


Mad! Darth thought fleetingly but she did not even hesitate.

"Take it," she gasped through her tears.  "Take it and make him save us."


 There was a wrenching, a pulling, in her mind, nothing physical but she could imagine scenes and thoughts and emotions and kisses and orgasms being torn from her, nights spent sweaty in a bed with Jimmy underneath her, days spent eating lunch and talking, drives on the moons of Mars in a rover, the ring she had found in his barracks the other day.

She screamed as it all left her mind.

The colors around her began to shift to blue.  The battle raged on in the image in front of her.  The lights in the distance twinkled, and as those things happened her love for Jimmy Earwig was taken from her with her consent.

And poured into a deranged, paranoid, immensely powerful interdimensional supercomputer.


 With a road, 5 led its snake-beast into the machine and its monsters began tearing at it.  5 let them do that while he sought out Jimmy Earwig, who was in the center of the machine, staring at something he couldn't quite understand and wishing he'd been given a moment's more time when he felt the beast lunge at him.

A quick spur of his thumb triggers and his neutral-g's pushed him away.  Even as he did that he popped blades out of nearly every surface of the suit.  Grab me now, he thought, and the blades pulsed with electricity.

In front of him stood 5, still bleeding ochre from the gap where it had pulled off the negative sign it now aimed at Negative Jimmy.  Around it and below it swarmed the stuff of nightmares, the threat worse than the numbers itself: every half-formed, middle-of-the-night, worst-case-scenario creature that had ever existed.

The Amygdalans were here.

From primitive times forward, in every universe, man's brain had the ability to form thoughts that man could not recognize as a thought -- those fears and sorrows that made his skin crawl and made him jerk awake from near-sleep, the sounds that were echoed in bumps in the night and faraway auto brakes squealing and the night terrors of a tiny baby in the hospital, those impressions just outside the vision that made one make the sign of the cross or clutch a lucky totem or utter a quick prayer.

Those creatures had always been the work of Seal Team i, which had for eons now been imprisoning them in a faraway universe, the reason the team had been created.  The Amygdalans could not exist in our worlds, the world of reasoning creatures -- they spread terror before them like a tsunami and shook the minds of people like an earthquake, and wherever they went they rent the fabric of existence and warped the laws of reality, setting themselves up as queens and demigods and dragons and monsters, demanding tribute, torturing, ruling, killing.

And they were back, let loose by this monster of a number.

"DIE!!!" 5 screamed and his snake-thing lunged again, grabbing Jimmy despite the thorn-studded battle armor's electrified jolt causing it to shake and shudder.  Jimmy blasted into the mouth of the thing, lasers pulsing over and over until he could see through the back of its head, and arcs of power coursed along its body and it let him go, and he fell to the ground, the last act of his now-dead battle armor being to shield his body from the fall.   He stripped it off as 5 leapt from his now-dead steed and stood in front of him.

The negative sign it wielded was as sharp as a sword and it wasted no time.  It lunged at Jimmy and stabbed him in the side, then again, before he could react.  Jimmy pressed one hand against the larger wound, already gasping for breath.  He heard jetpacks and wondered if the others would reach him, and grabbed a broken blade off of his armor, the blade slicing his own hand.  He ignored it.

"I'm not dying yet," he said, and gritting his teeth, dove directly at 5, slashing downward with the blade he held, hitting a deep blow on the number, slicing into it as hard as he could.  The blade cut so deeply into his own hand that he could not hold it anymore and he let go, wrestling his arms around the number and trying to pull it to the ground.

It fell atop him and he was looking up through the bend.  As 5 thrashed and tried to hit him with the negative sign again, he saw the Amygdalans, so horrible he could scarcely look at them, climbing the tower of the Emulsifier.  He saw two Jimmys in battle armor coming at him.

"Don't worry about me!" he yelled, his voice barely audible over the din.  They began shooting, though, and paid no attention to him.  Phasers blasted 5 and some hit him, too, and they pelted the ground around him.  Negative Jimmy pushed at 5, which lifted him up as a shield and Jimmy stared in horror as two of the Amygdalans turned on the Jimmys who were rescuing him.

One Jimmy stopped firing abruptly as some sort of collection of tentacles layered with eyeballs enveloped him and disappeared. Just disappeared.

The other was shot through by a million tiny darts from some sort of cactus-man, and fell to the ground, 

5 stabbed Jimmy all the way through the back, the negative sign piercing upwards through his heart, which stopped beating. 

5 dropped the body to the ground.  It looked at both of them.  One had a gaping square hole in his chest and was covered with blood.  The other was a ghastly gray and lay there, already well into rigor mortis.

"Get 'em out of here," 5 said.

It looked up to watch the Amygdalans it commanded beginning to dismantle the Emulsifier.


"He's dead," The Writer said.

"There's no time to change anything else," said The Teacher.  "Not if we want to do it right."

"It's too bad there's nobody here who wouldn't care about the quality and would simply whip something out that even if it didn't make sense it would at least wrap this up in a better way," agreed The Artist.

"The inside..........." The Thinker said.

"What do you keep mumbling about?" asked The Writer.  He put his red knight's helmet on.  "I guess it's up to me."

The Teacher put his hand on The Writer's arm.

"No," he said.  "There is one other."


 Darth sat, huddled, none of her love for Jimmy in her mind.  She wondered how long she would remember having loved him, that feeling.

She felt hollowed out and wanted to throw up.


She looked at the screen and said, softly, almost inaudibly, in the blue glow that was shifting to purple,  "It's too late.  He's dead."

The lights flickered and went dark, then came on again and then flickered again.

Darth wondered how she would get back home, and then realized it did not matter, anyway.


The Grapes were here, now, and they were swarming over the Amygdalans, a battle beyond compare as monster tore into monster, giant hands made entirely of glass swatting at carnivorous specks that riddled them with holes.  The battle roved over the structure of the Emulsifier, the Amygdalans being spurred on by 5 to tear the machine apart, the Grapes trying to stop that.

Above it, the Archetypes stared at The Thinker and then The Artist turned to The Teacher and said "This is no time for movie quotes."

"Every time is a time for movie quotes."

A breeze spun lazily over them, and their hair swished in it.

"Look down there," The Teacher said.

A mile or so below them at the base of the machine, Negative Jimmy stirred.

"She's done it, I think," The Teacher said.

"Who? Who's done it?" The Artist demanded.

"Do you think you're the only two who can plot something?  We had some things going here, too," The Teacher said.  "You've got to be thinking, two, three, four steps ahead of this stuff."

He clapped The Thinker on the back.  "She did it!"

The Thinker didn't smile back.  "The outside is the inside is out."


Negative Jimmy was no longer dead, but no longer wearing battle armor, either.  Above him, a thousand nightmares wrestled for control of the machine, and he knew what he had to do.  He began climbing again, knowing where he was headed for.

He was a hundred feet off the ground when a wounded Seal flew towards him.  "I... they got me..." the man said to Jimmy.

"Help me," Negative Jimmy said.  He motioned the man over.

"Jetpack," Negative Jimmy said.  The man stripped it off, his chest heaving.  "Thanks," Negative Jimmy said.  "Maybe I'll see you again."

He flew up as quickly and fast as he could, acutely aware that he was flying into an apocalyptic battle and he was unarmed.  He didn't need to get far into it, just far enough to get to where he'd seen the object.

There it was.  He grabbed it.  It was small, smaller than his fist, but glowed so beautifully, so brightly.  It was made up layers upon layers, each folded inside itself, a billion layers of stuff so wonderful he could scarcely name it.  If diamonds had babies and those babies were demigods made of clouds, it would not be as wonderful as this object was.

But it also would not be as terrible.

He felt his heart beat, just once.

I'm not truly alive yet, he thought.

He clutched the tiny egg to his chest and looked above him.  His heart beat a second time.

That was enough.  Everything above him heard it, somehow, felt the beating of what he thought was his heart but was not. 

The egg glowed.

"I live so that I can die," he said to himself.  Then, louder,


he shouted, and dove to the ground, his jetpack screaming as he pushed it as fast as he could go.

The Grapes caught him first, biting at his ears and eyes and hands, and he clutched at the universe-destroying Egg.

Up above, unbeknownst to him, The Teacher yelled at The Writer:

"NOW! Go pull the lever!" and the Artist and The Writer swung down on the space ogre, heading for the activation lever that was surrounded by three ragged Seals who were near death.

Jimmy saw the ground approaching.

An Amygdalan he could not see grabbed his legs, spun him up.  His jet pack thrashing furiously, he stared into a cavernous mouth lined with teeths that were each alive themselves and had their own mouths.

He clutched the egg tighter, alone in a whirl of Grapes chanting love love love and eating him alive and felt himself thrown into the maw of the monster.

His heart beat a final time, and the egg detonated, destroying the entire universe just like that.

(For that is what Blutonian Death Eggs do)

And as it did The Artist and The Writer threw the lever and the Emulsifier began to spin.

Negative Jimmy's heart burst as the Blutonian Death Egg was intended to do -- destroying his heart, which because of the reversal contained the entire universe inside it-- and from the heart of Negative Jimmy sprang forth every universe that had ever been, spreading out and expanding.  The universes grew and grew, bubbles forming and taking on life, sucking in everything around them except the Emulsifier itself, which spun them off into the nethers, the void that had previously surrounded them being chewed by the energy that continued to pour from the Blutonian Death Egg.

The Artist and The Writer clung to the lever, helped by the three Jimmys.

Amygdalans, grapes, Jimmys, numbers, starships ,planets, supernova, supermarkets, cars oceans whales nebula magazines spun by in a whirl, the universes regaining their size and expanding in a billionth of a billionth of a second as the energy from the Blutonian Death Egg caused them to be reborn and recreated from the heart of Jimmy Earwig and in moments too scant for most people to notice, it was over.

"The inside is back out," The Thinker said.

He and The Teacher looked down at The Writer and The Artist, down below, still pulling on the lever.  The Emulsifier stood alone on a Jupiter that sat in its own universe.  If one squinted, one could see the shades of other universes still flying outwards from the now-quiet Emulsifier.

"You can probably stop doing that now," The Thinker said to the men struggling with the lever.  "It worked."

"So," The Teacher said.  "Everything is fixed?"

"Oh, no," The Thinker said.  "Everything is not fixed.  Not by a long shot."

The Artist, The Writer, and The Space Ogre, joined them atop the platform.

"We will survive, for now," The Thinker said.

"But there is still an insane supercomputer out there, somewhere.  And the Amygdalans have been freed.  And these new universes may not be stable - -this Emulsifier may be needed again.  And people have been flung into lives they did not expect and lost their old lives."

"But we saved the multiverses," protested The Writer, lifting his helmet off.

"For now..." The Thinker said. 


Andrew Leon, who came up with the concept of "The Imagination Room," and whose characters from the book "The House On The Corner" appear briefly herein.  "The Imagination Room," in this story, is the portal.

Make sure when you start reading it that you've set aside the whole day. You won't want to stop.

Rusty Webb, who created The Blutonian Death Egg.  I don't know if I got it right.   But until he publishes his own story with his own (real) Blutonian Death Egg, that's what I did with it.

Seriously, this book is too good to NOT have a sequel yet.

P.T. Dilloway, whose Scarlet Knight is more of a hero than a villain and would never slice off the arm of Rusty's ogre, although P.T. might.

If you liked comics, you'll love these wonderfully-written prose superhero stories.  

And Michael Offutt, who created the insane supercomputer Zero and whose world-building is so incredibly good that I can only shrug in comparison and say "Eh, at least I can rip off your characters."

Michael is smart enough to link these pictures together. And the books are worth three times what you'll pay.

Read their stuff.  It's really good.

Look for more Seal Team i adventures coming up in the future.


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