The captain, crew, and palace retinue were dead; meat stripped from bone, broken and brined like soup carcasses. The ship was no more. Water to their thighs the three boys were standing somehow, breathing somehow, alive. A prince presumptive and his young guards facing an unknown shore beneath a fast darkening sky. Bred for leadership but having never lead, the prince was silent. He felt the sand dragging over the tops of his feet, sucked backward by the tide. He trembled. He thought of the ceremonial sword bestowed on him that very morning, its blade now plunged into the sea floor. In the woods beyond the the edge of the shore animals moaned and chortled and sung.

03.09. filed under: fiction. misc.

She wasn’t a religious woman. There was no denying that. She hadn’t given Heaven much thought at all, so to say her expectations had been confounded would not be quite accurate. And yet, moving along there on that seemingly endless escalator, she felt confounded anyhow. Not that Heaven ought to exist you understand. Not at all. People on Earth brow-beat one another about its dress code and management and admittance policies continuously, treating the whole of the world like one giant, chaotic, waiting-line, jostling and elbowing and murdering one another to get a bit closer to the velvet rope. That it existed, though admittedly surprising, did not in fact seem strange to her. It was the escalator itself which was perplexing. The thing creaked, and groaned, and was rusted to such an extent it seemed miraculous that it functioned at all.

She was afraid of heights so she didn’t look around, just straight ahead, eyes glued to the stretch of escalator directly in front of her, and staring at it with its flaking paint and leaking sealant and crumbling surfaces she began to get nervous. Alone there, high above the Earth, she said out loud, “It’s almost as though… it has been completely ignored since the day of its creation… or forgotten.”

(Note: the image, which is not actually of an escalator to heaven, was found here.)

03.02. filed under: belief. fiction. misc. 4

“That’s not fair,” she cried. It was a singular moment. A moment with import undiminished by the billions upon billions exactly like it which had preceded and would flow away from it like an ever widening delta of epiphanic gall. All over the planet smug, lazy, people parroted the same empty response, “Life isn’t fair!” Life isn’t fair? This gutless, impotent echo wouldn’t do. Not tonight. Not for us. I broke with tradition and strove for a specificity which might actually reach the heart or the brain. “Sometimes the hero loses, no matter how plucky, no matter how fine his instrument or heartening the sight of his weapons. Sometimes the wolf tears open the hero’s throat, punctures his eyeball with a fang, crushes his skull, guzzles his steaming blood, and simply trots off to mate lazily and sleep the morning away like a stone.”  She was quiet, unhappy with this answer evidently, unsatisfied. She was getting it finally, life. Eventually she murmured, “That’s horrible.” I looked at her, at her cheeks, her lips, her little hands, and said in response the only thing I knew for certain. “The wolf would disagree.”

02.23. filed under: fiction. life. misc.

The Myth of Ironus

And I could feel the rumblings of Ironus in his endless torment, his prodigious surface area being pushed upward by two revoltingly soft human hands. With all his power he tried to embrace Gravity, to become heavier and denser, to resist the human’s force and return to the valley floor. Just as it seemed he could summon no more weight the pitiless human would lose his grip and Ironus would come thundering down again on to the plain, triumphant! But not so. Each and every time the human would return, laying those soft hands upon him, and begin forcing him up the hill again. The sweat which ran off this human’s body and the steam which rose after him wet Ironus’ surface and seeped into his tiny cracks and fissures…

11.03. filed under: fiction. 1

Part 1- Drama

This scene opens, the way 94 percent of all scenes do, with a person doing something or other. 47 percent of the time it’s a male doing something; you know, playing pool in leather pants, knifing someone, loading secrets onto a computer disk, that kind of thing. 47 percent of the time a scene opens with a female rather than a male, usually blow drying her hair in scanty under-things, wailing, or loading secrets onto a computer disk. 6 percent of the time it’s a moody but essentially empty interior or landscape. I’m guessing in terms of the numbers, of course, but the specific percentages make little difference, as a person almost always enters the scene in short order, sometimes even accompanied by a catchy tune. To be honest I’m not entirely sure a scene has properly begun until that entrance is made…

10.07. filed under: fiction. 4

An Illustration for Kafka’s Ein Hungerkünstler (The Hunger Artist) by Andrzej Ploski, circa 1983, which struck my fancy. You can see the full series, as well as Ploski’s illustrations for many of Kafka’s short works here. Note that the stories appear in their Polish translation. If you don’t read Polish but would like to read the corresponding stories as well I can recommend The Kafka Project

09.11. filed under: art. fiction. 4

A couple of weeks ago I saw a link somewhere to a “list of fictional something-or-others” at Wikipedia. Might have been fictional expletives or fictional gods (which by the way is far too long a list since it could have been summed up easily in a single word, I’ll let you guess what that word is); I can’t rightly remember. I got the bright idea though to do a broad search for “list of fictional” at Wikipedia, thinking the results might make for a nifty little post. The search turned up a whopping 2150 results! That’s a lot of fictional stuff. Too much in fact. I mean how do you choose between fictional chimpanzees, fictional drugs, fictional robots, fictional universes, fictional narcissists, fictional books, notable mustaches in fiction, etc, in order to craft a cogent post? You can’t. So I scrapped the idea.

12.16. filed under: bits&bytes. fiction. theory. 9

Infinite Thirst

Or: The Misadventures of Yorick’s Skull, Part 1.

The skull of Yorick, deceased jester to a fictional court, rolls into a bar, occipital bone over frontal, until it comes to rest at the base of a bar stool. It stares upward and though sans-mandible calls out to the barkeep none the less, “What Ho goodman Carl!” The words are slightly slurred, whether for lack of larynx and lips or because this isn’t the first stop on the skull’s boozey itinerary it’s hard to say. The bartender, Dave, turns to see who’s calling him “Carl” (not being versed in Elizabethan slang) and sees no one.

12.02. filed under: !. fiction. 6

I am about a third of the way through Jeff Vandermeer’s newest novel Shriek: An Afterword and am enjoying it immensely. I’ve been a fan of Jeff’s works since first getting a whiff of City of Saints and Madmen way back when. Shriek is an incredibly satisfying book thus far, with a unique structure that fractures time, as so many contemporary “post-modern” narratives do, but in an altogether more intimate and rewarding way. I won’t say anymore since this isn’t a review, I haven’t even finished the book yet after all, but anyone interested in more in depth reviews can see the following: SFCrowsnest, Shaken & Stirred, or Infinity Plus. What I wanted to share with you tonight was something entirely more specific, a short section that might very well represent the greatest book rejection ever put in print. With Jeff’s kind permission I will reprint it for you below.

10.26. filed under: books. fiction. observations.

Lives of the Saints (4)

Should I call the police or The Weekly World News? I can’t decide.

This isn’t a joke John, alright?

Well what you’re saying is you were just raped… by a “God.” Is that correct?

I didn’t say “raped.”

10.07. filed under: !. fiction. 2

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