Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Sign Says Closed


Way back in 2006, I wrote a blog post on MySpace in response to a friend of mine's irritating propensity to self-promote. Like... really irritating. Worse, she'd self-promote when she didn't need to, when it was unwarranted, or when people clearly didn't give a shit. So, me being a bit of a jerk... I wrote about it (IMDb Listings).

For the next three years (give or take a month or two), I wrote wrathfully and whingeingly about a ton of shit that, admittedly, I didn't really care about. But, people have long-expected such a tone from me and since MySpace was, you know, "a place for friends," I felt compelled to oblige. I even got my buddy Wings involved in MySpace and (indirectly) blogging.

Wings, being more in tune with cyberspace than I am, quickly discovered new blogging platforms and in late 2008 made the jump to Blogger (check out his blog here). Since he was one of my blogging buddies and (I'll confess) I kinda missed him around, I started checking out his new blog. By May of 2009, he'd convinced me to give Blogger a shot.

So I did. And I loved it. Sure, there are some features from MySpace blogs that I miss, but in 9 features out of 10, Blogger blows MySpace out of the water. Six days after testing it out, I jettisoned MySpace for good.

Shortly after that, Wings asked me to edit something for a blogging group called Theme Thursday. Then he encouraged me to give the group a whirl. And I did.

Over the last year and half or so, I've begun correspondence with a ton of cool bloggers. Many have become regular sources of entertainment and information, a few have become collaborators and/or professionally intertwined, and a handful have even become real-life friends. And, for these connections, I'm eternally grateful.

Last year, from January 1st to December 31st, I conducted a bit of an experiment and wound up posting on a strict schedule in order to prove a point in a dick-headed manner (I'm a jerk, remember?). Sometime last summer, I got sick of it... the schedule, the point, the blog... all of it. But, as I'm also stubborn, I kept with it. I figured I'd get the bug again eventually (and I sort of did), but the muse has faded to the point of apathy. This, combined with the fact that several around these parts have proven to be remarkably disingenuous, has made the fun of blogging (for me) disappear.

So... I'm closing up shop. I'll still be around, of course. There are three or four bloggers I've run across who have legitimate shots at becoming working writers, and I'll be assisting them whenever I can. Those connections I'm grateful for know where I'm hanging out, and a fellow blogger has kindly granted me author access on her blog for whenever I get the itch to post some creative writing publicly (which will primarily be to keep my participation streak at The Tenth Daughter of Memory alive). Maybe I'll be back, but I wouldn't hold your breath (the three of you who care).

Well, see you around. Gotta go. One of my cats clearly wants more attention. Maybe he misses my other two dogs as much as I do.



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The First Random Musings of 2011

These are the first random musings of 2011 (and first ones in a while)... they may also be the only random musings of 2011. Strongly considering closing up blog-shop.

I have discovered the joy of cooking steak with onions.

So, someone decided to publish The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, sans the word "nigger." Yes, Roger Ebert's knee-jerk reaction to the news was, well, an overreaction, but he's right. Editing any literature is stupid. And the people who support the idea are stupid. Is the word unfortunate? Absolutely. But do you know what's more unfortunate? People who try to pretend fucked up things didn't happen in history by editing them so nobody else knows they happened. Not only is that information control (something these nit-pickers like to whine about), it's blatant censorship. And censorship is for assholes. Motherfucking assholes. Edit that, bitches.

Hmm... I may have forgotten to mention earlier that I have discovered the joy of cooking at all.

Top Gear, one of the most-watched television series in the world, got in trouble because the hosts decided to dress up as Muslim women for a segment of their Christmas special on the BBC. Obviously, the Muslims who watch the show were "highly offended" because the hosts essentially "mocked" Islam for all of 10 minutes. Never mind the fact that the entire show mocked Christianity (particularly the belief in the Three Magi, who bestowed gifts upon a newborn Jesus), or the fact that the reason for the cross-dressing was to hide from (and mock) authorities from Israel (you know, that Jewish country that Islamic fundamentalists would like to see wiped from the face of the Earth?). No... they cared not about that. Only the 10 minutes that offended them. To them I say, "Go fuck yourselves."

By the way, if you've never cooked a rib eye steak in cilantro, you should try it.

The San Diego Chargers didn't make the playoffs. Argh.

I have recently discovered that the "lime" tree in my backyard is actually a lemon tree. Oops.

What's the point of being declassified if all the government wants to do is reclassify what they agreed to declassify?

Had eel for the first time ever. Loved it.

I'm slowly discovering that "I'm too competitive" is actually a euphemism for "I'm a sore loser." Got news for you: true competitors play until they win. They don't give up when they lose.

There might be a new country in Africa next month. The southern portion of Sudan just voted on a referendum to secede from the country. A little known fact about me is that I'm a geography freak... that includes both physical and political geography. The concept of a new country is something I find pretty friggin' awesome. One of these days I'm going to figure out how many new nations were formed in my lifetime... but I'll save that for the bucket list.

If Secretary of Defense Gates was truly concerned with military efficiency and cost-effectiveness, he'd push harder for the Marine Corps to be absorbed by the Army.

Whiny hags crack me up. And, before you ask, I've been known to crack myself up.

Actually, I've decided. Closing up blog-shop.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Uncharted, Part VI

*Continued from Uncharted, Part V

"Clock?" Compass' voice crackles electronically through the intercom. "The bitch with you?"

Clock glances up at the Librarian, who pretends to have taken no offense. "Yes, Compass. What do you need?"

"I need those fucking numbers, ASAP."

Clock lets go of the intercom. "You haven't given them to him?" Clock is not happy.

"I gave them to you, not that impudent pup."

"That impudent pup is a Navigator, Librarian. You, on the other hand, are not."

Clock doesn't hear the gunshot. Nor should he have, for the silencer is of the highest quality.

***

The tendrils snake towards Spyglass and she's unable to move. She tries to scream, but all she can manage is a whimper. It's cold here. Dark. Completely black. Light absent and absorbed. And it's where she's stuck.

A scaled tendril, tentacle, wraps around her bare leg and begins feeling its way up her body. Another wraps her other leg. Still more wrap her arms. They begin to constrict. It begins to feed. Her breasts palpate, her body squeezes. Something penetrates her.

She manages another whimper.

***

"So, Spyglass calls it Krueger because it gives her nightmares..." James tries to work out what's going on as he sifts through volumes upon volumes of archives. He loves libraries - always has - and the Order's is as impressive a private library as any.

"Yes," Compass confirms, hoping James will shut up. Compass is already annoyed that there's no imagery from the Jezercë Tunnel, forcing him to work with intelligence gathered from Giewont, but being stuck with James makes it worse.

"... and Sextant calls it Kracken because...?"

"Something about something that looks like an octopus."

"Krueger looks like an octopus?"

Before he lets loose, Compass decides to ignore James, concentrating instead on symbols found on Tunneler artifacts over the years. There are three in particular taking most of Compass' attention. Numbers of some sort. He momentarily recalls the previous Clock, a mathematician who successfully identified and decoded more than a dozen numbering systems used by the Tunnelers. Though that Clock took copious notes, he died of a heart attack before he could finish organizing them into something useable. Continuing that work should be the new Clock's responsibility, but as the new Clock is more time-keeper than number-cruncher, the task somehow fell to Compass.

Compass is regretting not having spent more time on it. The Order would love nothing more than to have someone who can simply read the symbols and Compass would love nothing more than to have one less thing to rely on the Librarian for. Speaking of...

"You seen the hag?"

James, lost in a some web-search, looks up from his screen. "What?"

"The Librarian. Have you seen the Librarian? She's supposed to be coming with the numbers."

Afraid to admit that he's typically unaware of his surroundings, James glances around before responding. "Ah, no."

***

Marianne sits on the floor in front of the fireplace. Though she's under the impression things should be more hectic, particularly during a Kracken Protocol, she likes that Sextant has decided to tell her stories of the Order's history.

"Pope Pius XI met with Mussolini because of the Order?"

Sextant takes a drag from a cigarette and quickly ashes in his von Braun ashtray. "Not singularly, but, yes. He had information that a fascist leader knew of the Order and was preparing his own occult forces."

"But that was Hitler."

Sextant chuckles his, by now, familiar chuckle. "Exactly."

"Hitler wasn't even power in 1932."

"Exactly." The old man pauses and stares at Marianne. Sextant is no, well, sexist, but he's generally surprised by young women with such a detailed knowledge of history. Then again, he's generally surprised by anybody with such a detailed knowledge of history. He shoots her a smile, takes another drag, and explains how each current member of the Order was recruited.

***

Her knees ache. Her ankles. Every joint in her failing body. But she has to move quickly. She's shaking, and not from frailty. The rush she experienced from shooting Clock has yet to subside. The Librarian found it... exciting. She understands now why so many in the world love firearms.

For far too long she's watched these inept fools run the Order into the ground - never mind that Sextant has been in the order for much longer than she's even known about it - but it's her time. She's the smartest. She's the most capable. The Order deserves to be hers.

***

Though the current Clock hasn't been Clock for very long, he's been associated with the Order for years. Prior to his appointment, he was the second-in-command of the Phalanx Nautikos. He'd been promoted to Clock over the other finalist candidate... the Librarian. His predecessor had also been promoted over the Librarian. Come to think of it, Derartu Kebede disappeared shortly after the Librarian was hired.

That Clock has worn a bullet-proof vest under his clothing ever since he'd been shot as a rookie cop in the Chicago Police Department allows him to connect some dots that had, until just now, not been connected. He hadn't been sure that his death throes were convincing. Thankfully, the Librarian has never shot anyone before. Nor seen anyone die of a gunshot wound from up close. She didn't even have the presence of mind to shoot him again, just to make sure.

He knows he'll have to beat Compass to it, but Clock can't wait to kill the hag.

***

Even as she experiences death in her dreamworld, she experiences life. Her heart stops beating just as she's brought to orgasm.

"Sarah..."

This time, the whimper is a scream. She throws off her covers and jumps out of bed, running blind to her bedroom door and through the haunting corridors of the manor.

***

"You ever seen drawings of Cthulu?"

Compass pauses. He knows where James is going. "Yes. It's not Lovecraft's version of Kracken. Lovecraft wasn't in the Order. He was just a creepy writer." Compass glances at James in time to see a dejected frown. "What are you doing? Googling tentacled monsters?"

"Yeah. The only things I'm finding so far are Lovecraft, Jules Verne, and this story by two weirdos about an alien soccer war."

Compass laughs. "Ah, the Garghouls."

"That's the one."

"You should read it. It's pretty funny. Authors were definitely doing drugs, though." The extended conversation is Compass' method of encouragement. He doesn't bother to see that it's lost on James, who simply takes it as extended conversation. Compass might have bothered, but his attention is suddenly diverted back to his screen.

The numbers he's been looking for. Three symbols from the 20-numeral system of the Tunnelers. 9. 8. 3. Placed in a semi-circular pattern. Like a combination lock. Trying to stifle any excitement at the possible - emphasize possible - discovery, Compass taps the print command repeatedly until he hears the printer whir to life.

Running over to it, he grabs the page before it's completely out of the machine, tearing it at a bottom corner. Compass runs for the door. As he reaches it, a sweating and obviously nervous Librarian opens it and enters. Compass brushes her, waving the paper in her face.

"See, bitch? That's why I needed the numbers!"

Letting the shock dissipate, the Librarian continues to her desk, nodding a greeting to James. There, she retrieves a backpack, an attaché case almost too heavy to lift, and exits the library as quickly as she entered.

***

Sextant is mid-sentence of an embarrassing tale - embarrassing to Marianne, that is - when the alarms begin blaring. Relieved that she'll not learn of a Portuguese woman's gyrating ass, Marianne nevertheless becomes instantly worried. "What's going on?"

"I'm not sure. Stay calm, Marianne. The Phalanx will have sentries outside. We've nothing to fear."

She knows she shouldn't, but she believes Sextant. Marianne's never met anyone quite so calming, even when the situation screams that they have everything to fear. As if confirming her subconscious thought, a heavy pounding on the door to the den breaks the calm instilled by Sextant. Marianne swears she sees confusion sweep across Sextant's face, but only for an instant.

Sextant stands and heads to the door. He is confident, but cautious. "Yes?"

"It's the Librarian."

Reflexively, he unbolts the door - bolted automatically when the alarms activated. "Where are the sentries?"

The Librarian waddles in, weighed down by her bag and case. "What sentries?" She looks around, grimaces when she sees that Sextant is not alone. No matter. The wheels are already spinning. Pulling a stun gun from her bag, she fires it into Sextant.

***

Clock, along with Captain Danquah and two other Phalanx soldiers, storms into the library. James jumps from his work, startled.

"Where's the Librarian?" Clock asks. There is no patience in his voice.

"She's, ah... she left. Grabbed some stuff and left."

Clock turns to Danquah. "Get to Sextant."

Danquah nods a quick acknowledgement and he and the two soldiers take off running. Clock looks to James. "This is why you're still alive, James."

James, already confused, is even more so. "What?"

Clock waves his hand, motioning to the library and everything inside of it. "This is yours now. Whether you want it or not. Deal with it."

The thought to ask what's going on doesn't have time to materialize. Clock makes eye contact with James, ensuring James heard him, then turns to leave. "But choose a new title. Librarian has been soiled."

Dumbfounded, James barely realizes that he finally utters a question, albeit one fairly useless in the current predicament. "Bibliothēkē?"

***

Compass was the first to arrive. More out of hatred for the woman than for recognition of what she was doing, Compass rushed her and tackled her to the floor. The Librarian still had her stun gun, though, and Compass doesn't remember what happened next. He never heard Spyglass yell. Never even knew she'd arrived.

Spyglass had come for reassurance. Sextant was the only member of the Order who knew - and understood - the full extent of Spyglass' dreams. He would have been the only person capable of calming her down before another vision burst. Seeing his unconscious form and what she thought was Compass' lifeless body eliminated any chance of that happening.

It was unfortunate, but both the Librarian and a wholly-freaked out Marianne bore witness to what a vision burst looks like. Its effect frightened Marianne even more, but only made the Librarian smile.

"What are you doing?" Spyglass had screamed.

Not needing the stun gun for Spyglass, the Librarian had brandished her pistol. She would have pulled the trigger, too, were it not for the timely arrival of Captain Danquah and other members of the Phlanax Nautikos.

The Librarian had, in fact, pulled the trigger, but given her lack of training, the bullet had struck harmlessly into a wall. Danquah and the PN, however, are well-trained marksmen. And the Librarian activated her door a mere moment after enduring three bullet wounds.

It was unfortunate that Compass, the member of the Order who desperately needed to see a door in action, was unconscious for the Librarian's escape.

But, as Sextant would say, such is life. Except... Sextant is dying.

***

It is a quick conference between Clock, a calmed Spyglass, and a conscious Compass. Gone are Danquah and the Phalanx Nautikos, but still present is Marianne, who cries profusely over Sextant's body.

"We need to transfer what's left of Sextant's powers, before it's too late." Clock's statement is cold, matter-of-fact. But the situation affords no time for mourning.

"To who?" Compass asks. There's been no time for a vetting process, and none of the Order are aware that Sextant had already conducted one in secret.

Spyglass, tears dry from experiencing abject fear for the past few days, finds her thoughts elsewhere. "The Librarian is working with the Tunnelers?"

Still concerned with succession, Clock answers Spyglass' question anyway. "No. She's against them, just like we are. She's just also against us."

"How much of Sextant's powers did she steal?"

Compass grabs the tube from the Lichtenstein print. "It's electromagnetic, whatever it is. It wasn't active before, but it's definitely fucking with my direction-finding."

"There's no way to tell. We'll have to study his successor."

The three Navigators know that there's a strong possibility that the line of Sextants is about to be broken. Already dead, the essence of the Sextant won't remain in his body for much longer. Seconds pass, each Navigator lost in thought.

Marianne, all but forgotten by the others despite her presence directly in front of them, continues to cry. "What are Sextant's powers? He never said."

Compass glances up at Clock. Clock's eyes maintain their steadfastness, returning Compass' look, then shifting to Spyglass.

Spyglass shrugs. "But, she's Catholic." Spyglass isn't used to being part of the decision process of the Order. Even if she were, she's still rattled by her dream.

"As was I," Clock responds. "It doesn't last long."

"Clock?" There is a overwhelming sense of urgency in Compass' voice. "Now or never."

Clock nods.

Compass turns to Marianne. "You're about to find out."

"What?"

"Lie down," Compass orders, pulling a knife from Sextant's belt. "This might hurt a little."

*To be continued...

The Complete Uncharted: Map One

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Uncharted, Part V

*Continued from Uncharted, Part IV

"Spear 6 to Aegis, we are ready to close the tunnel." Aleksandr Lermontov has been a soldier in the Phalanx Nautikos for seven years, but this is the first time he's ever seen one of the portals. Barely visible, it almost looks like a single drop of water hanging from a freshly used faucet, only larger than a man. This one, the Jezercë Tunnel, happens to be larger than a bus. According to Compass, the Jezercë Tunnel hasn't been here long.

If everything goes according to plan, it won't be here much longer.

Aleksandr's earpiece buzzes. "Spear 6, Aegis. Proceed with detonation."

He snaps his fingers and the three others with him begin moving down the mountain, one taking care to brace a detonator as they begin lumbering their way, weighed down by climbing gear. Ordinarily the team would consist of nearly a dozen - seven more wait at the base of the mountain - but these four are the only expert mountaineers in all of the Phalanx Nautikos. In a few moments, the PN will be devoid of expert mountaineers.

The drop of water shimmers, instilling a vision of a splash in Aleksandr's vivid imagination, and something comes through. Before he can react, its arms - matted in a putrid-smelling fur - grab Aleksandr around his stomach and snap his spine in half. He's already dead when it pulls him back into the tunnel.

A moment of panic causes the demolitionist to twist and pull the detonator. Snow and rock tumble through the moonless Albanian night and the three remaining mountaineers tumble to their deaths.

***

Spyglass bolts awake, sweating profusely under a blanket. It takes a moment, but she realizes that she wasn't in Reception. Merely dreaming. Another nightmare.

"You okay?"

"Oh, shit." She forgot someone else was in the room. Compass. Slaving over his blasted laptop, tinkering with schematics and spreadsheets in an attempt to design an effective system of locating the Tunnelers.

Compass stares at her, wide-eyed. His expression reveals one trying to figure out whether to offer assistance or to start laughing his ass off. Since he's crushing on Spyglass, he chooses the former. "Nightmare?"

The adrenaline subsiding, Spyglass feels her cheeks turn red. Another embarrassing moment in front of Compass. He may never ask her out at this rate. If he wanted to, that is.

She nods quickly, pulls the blanket over her head - barely tolerating the smell of her own perspiration - and tries to control her breathing. Terror and embarrassment are a difficult mixture. She hears the tone of Compass' phone and his muffled greeting.

"On the way." The phone snaps closed, then the laptop.

"Get up, Spyglass." Spyglass knows something's wrong. That's the only time Compass addresses her by title. "Shit hit the fan."

***

Captain Kofi Danquah hates debriefing the Navigators. Not that he minds their company, but given his level of autonomy in running the Phalanx Nautikos, Danquah tends only to debrief the Navigators after something bad has happened. Born in Greece - the son of a Ghanaian diplomat - Danquah finds the winters of Switzerland far too cold. But he loves his job.

Except this part of it, of course. The only thing worse than debriefing the Navigators is doing so in front of a blinding projector light.

"At 0217 Central European Time, Sergeant Lermontov's team conducted a peripheral reconnaissance of the Jezercë Tunnel..."

Clock interrupts. "Peripheral?"

Danquah nods, answering Clock's implied question before resuming the debrief. "Two members of Lermontov's team entered the tunnel, which is when they discovered this." Danquah taps his remote and the projected image changes.

"What the fuck is that?" Nobody has to ask whether or not that was Compass.

"We don't know," Danquah replies. "Permission to conduct a recon in-depth was not granted."

"Nor was it asked for, Captain," scolds Clock.

As he's not yet been made privy to all of the radio transmissions, Danquah was not aware of this. He purses his lips and attempts to hide his burgeoning anger at being left out of the loop. They were his men, after all. His soldiers. He should've been allowed to oversee the operation, even if from a remote location. But Clock had demanded oversight. One does not question the decision of a Navigator, even the commanding officer of the Phalanx Nautikos. Wisely allowing  his ire to pass, Danquah continues.

"Preliminary analysis suggest a lock of some kind."

Sextant speaks this time, which shocks everyone. Such an act is a rarity in any formal Order conference. "A lock? For what?"

"We don't know that, either."

"Is there any imagery?" Compass asks.

"Destroyed in the accident."

Marianne and James, sitting unobtrusively in the back, begin whispering to each other. Though it was his idea to reveal the Order to them, Clock is annoyed by their presence in the conference room. "Something to share?"

"If it's a lock, and this tunnel is newer than the other ones, what if it's not a tunnel at all? What if it's a door?"

Sextant speaks again. "Manufactured?"

"Well, yes. Why not?" Marianne is rather pleased with herself. The pleasure doesn't last long.

Sextant snaps his fingers. "Kracken Protocols. Immediately."

Two seconds ago, there were nine people in the room. The four navigators, Captain Danquah, two PN intelligence specialists, and Marianne and James.

Two seconds later, there is only Marianne and James.

***

Marianne sprints through the corridor, chasing Compass. James struggles to keep up behind her.

"Compass!"

"What?" Compass doesn't turn to look at her. Nor does he stop jogging.

"What's going on?"

"Sextant thinks we're about to get invaded."

Marianne stops, dead in her tracks. "Invaded? By the Tunnelers?"

"No. Just one Tunneler."

***

Elsewhere, entering her dormitory, Spyglass shivers. She hopes Sextant is overreacting - he's done so before. In fact, this will be the third time the Kracken Protocols have been implemented since she's been Spyglass. But never before has it happened after a Phalanx Nautikos mission went awry. And never before has anyone even considered the possibility that the Tunnelers can make their own tunnels.

All Spyglass knows is that she's no desire to meet Krueger in person.

*Continued in Uncharted, Part VI

The Complete Uncharted: Map One

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Uncharted, Part IV

*Continued from Uncharted, Part III

The beast is a familiar one. Spyglass has seen it many times before. It spoke to her once, even as it stuffed its maw with the flesh and tissue of Leonard Cayce. Spyglass hadn't known it at the time, but Leonard was once a candidate to be Compass. Not that it mattered. The image of his devouring sort of ended any speculation that the current Compass could be replaced.

Its wings aren't feathered, but scaled. At least they look scaled, for even during Reception, Spyglass is too afraid to take a closer look. Some of these Tunnelers are reported to be psychic, after all. Proximity in dreams may be as dangerous as proximity in body. Though young, Spyglass has never been one for taking unnecessary risk.

She remembers what it said to her: "You will understand my tongue." The obvious interpretations were clear, given Leonard's body as a meal and the fact that it communicated in English, but Sextant assured her that neither was what it meant. Spyglass has taken to calling it Krueger - after the horror film antagonist - and often finds herself combating it in her own dreamworlds.

Its fingers, like its film counterpart, are blades. Its skin, depending on the angle, appears charred. But there the similarities end, for there is nothing human about this Krueger. Its mouth is tentacled, replete with toothed suckers like a giant squid and barbed tips like stingers on scorpions. And its eyes... not terrifying in their appearance... but terrifying in that they always seem to be looking at her, whether during Reception or dream.

It finishes killing someone. She's not sure who... or what gender... but that's not what terrifies her this time. What terrifies her is that it speaks to her again...

"Sarah..."

***

Compass is in a bad mood. It's enough that he has to ask the Librarian for some assistance; it's worse that Marianne tags along. Yes, she's kinda cute and, he must admit, her voice has a lusciously sultry tone to it, but the fact that she has a boyfriend obviates any dirty thoughts for her body that Compass might have. He may be a jerk, but he's got scruples.

Thankfully, he's either walking too fast or has too intense an expression on his face for Marianne to try to make smalltalk. She just follows him through the Karl Moser-designed manor, taking turns staring at him and glancing at some of the paintings and artifacts on display throughout. She's never actually been to the Library and doesn't know where it is, but when Compass pauses in front of a large set of oak double doors, inhales, then exhales, she knows they've arrived.

Compass pushes open the doors, as quickly as their weight will allow, and without even knowing if the Librarian is inside, calls out.

"You get those numbers I asked for?"

The Librarian appears behind a stack of shelves in the northwest corner. She fumes subtly. "I'm a librarian, Compass. Not a researcher. You may get them yourself."

"You gave them to Clock. He lost them. I need them."

"No."

"Pardon me?"

"I did the work once. I need not do it again."

Compass secretly wishes the Librarian were a man. He'd love to break her jaw. "He said you pulled them up on your computer. How hard would it be to, I don't know, just bring them up again?"

The Librarian returns to whatever it is she was doing. Compass' expression makes Marianne wonder if he's going to beat the old woman to death with a heavy book. That there's a dictionary on a reading lectern a few feet from where Compass currently stands makes Marianne worry.

"You do realize we're in the middle of something important, don't you?" Compass asks, a final polite gesture before, no doubt, things get ugly.

The Librarian continues her work as if neither Compass nor Marianne are in the room.

"Fine, bitch. I'll check Clock's office again." Compass bolts out, brushing by Marianne. How an order so seemingly dysfunctional manages to save the world on a near-daily basis is beyond her.

After Marianne is gone, the Librarian walks to the lectern and brushes her fingers on the dictionary. It's a vintage American Webster's, dated 1900. She flips through the pages with her eyes closed, blindly pointing at a random word. Petulant. Insolent or rude in speech or behavior. The Librarian laughs and takes a closer look. The preceding word is petunia. She laughs again.

"That'll do nicely." Closing the dictionary, she returns to the shelves.

***

The four men and two women standing before Cardinal Grant are obviously soldiers. Elite ones, at that. Their leader, a man who identified himself only as Corporal, holds out a hand. In his palm, innocently placed, are two white tablets.

"I cannot commit suicide. Such an act would consign me to Hell."

"The alternative is painful, Cardinal," Corporal replies.

"God would never forgive me."

"I don't believe in your god. I couldn't care less."

"Child." It is a defiant tone with which Cardinal Grant speaks. He looks at the other five soldiers. "Children. It matters not what you believe. Only what He believes."

Corporal fights back a smile. Despite appearances, he doesn't enjoy this part of his work, and it's merely a nervous reaction. The Phalanx Nautikos were formed to combat the Tunnelers, not conduct assassinations. The unfortunate revelation that several species of Tunnelers were telepathic made the secrecy of the Order of Navigators tantamount to the survival of the Human race. The survival of Earth, as well, for that matter. Given the incident of 1489, in which Martin Truchseß von Wetzhausen - then the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights - was almost compromised by the Tunnelers a second time, the tradition of assassinating those outside of the order who knew of the order began.

"He believes, Cardinal," Corporal begins, replacing his almost-smile with as grim a look as possible, "that if you do not consume these pills, you will suffer worse pain than your Lord and Savior did at Golgotha."

Corporal lets that sink in, then continues in a softer tone. "I can assure you that your god does not wish that upon you."

The Cardinal looks into Corporal's eyes and takes a breath. Regardless of choice, it is time for belief to be tested.

***

Clock sits across from Sextant, who is currently regaling Clock with tales of Derartu Kebede, the Ethiopian princess who was Clock prior to his own predecessor. It is obvious that, despite all that Kebede instructed Sextant, Sextant wanted nothing more than to bed her. It is also obvious that Sextant never did.

A buzzing noise interrupts Sextant's story and Clock reaches into his pocket, retrieving his cellular phone. He answers it, slowly nods, and hangs up.

"It's done."

Sextant frowns. Both men's curiosities try to determine if the pills were taken, but both men have too much respect for Cardinal Grant to ever ask. Besides, if God is real, they'll find out soon enough.

*Continued in Uncharted, Part V

The Complete Uncharted: Map One

Friday, January 7, 2011

Uncharted, Part III

*Continued from Uncharted, Part II

Excerpt 1

It is estimated that the tunnels have been open since the year 949. In the early part of that year, all of the planets in the Solar System were aligned in the same 90-degree arc. For reasons as-yet unexplained, the gravitational alignment of the planets resulted in a tear in space-time and doorways (what the Order refers to as the tunnels) to other dimensions were opened. These Meean tunnels (so named after Jean Meeus) weren't hypothesized until later in the 20th Century and the discovery of the first tunnel in Poland (near Giewont in the Tatra Mountains) confirmed their existence.

The Order of Navigators, leading a pseudo-military incursion, has reportedly closed the Giewont Tunnel, though Navigator Sextant has so far refused to reveal the method of closure. Lacking conclusive evidence, as well as the order's reluctance to cooperate fully with Vatican authority, I am of the opinion that there are many more tunnels and that more creatures have come through them.

Excerpt 2 -

Given legends such as the Beast of Gévaudan (and several others), I believe that creatures have been coming through these tunnels for centuries. The irony that a Pope authorized the annexation of an atheist order of "Knights" for the purposes of protecting our existence only serves to reinforce how important and real this situation is.

Excerpt 3 -

That stated, the operational and administrative status is an affront to our Catholic beliefs. That you were successful in convincing Navigator Clock to disband their military arm (along with their assassination practices) bears poorly on our sovereignty and, in my humble opinion, our very legitimacy. We are more than capable of handling these Demons using our existing assets. My appeals to do so have been denied now for the seventh time.

Excerpt 4 -

It is with great regret that I resign from my position as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

Cardinal Jonathan M. Grant

***

"Wow. He resigned?" Marianne doesn't know what to think. Cardinal Grant was who first informed her that the Order of Navigators were even real. She didn't know him well, but she considers him a mentor.

Compass, testing an algorithm on his computer, nods. He fails to mention that the military arm of the order isn't exactly defunct and that, with the Pope's reluctant blessing, Cardinal Grant will suffer a fatal heart attack by the end of the day.

Tired of watching the computations, Compass stands from his chair and heads for the door.

"Where are you going?"

"To the Library. Need some information."

"Can I come?"

Compass shrugs as he exits.

Watching from his high-backed smoking chair in the corner, Sextant - who had been frowning up to that point - lets loose a wry smile. It was strongly advised that he select a different Compass, but Sextant needed the apathetic humor that this Compass provides. Sextant recognized that his own skills and, indeed, his own discretions were falling by the wayside. While he wants nothing more than for his successor to be as empathic as possible, he needs his Compass to be as blunt and straightforward as he - Sextant, that is - used to be.

A long time ago, that was.

***

Even before Sextant became the head of the Order of Navigators, he was an accomplished navigator. Once a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, he had been aboard the HMS Repulse when it was sunk by the Japanese in the early days of the Pacific War. It was then that he'd met his predecessor for the first and only time.

Drowning in the South China Sea, somewhere East of Endau, a young British sailor prepared himself to pass through to the other side. Except... he didn't.

Prior to passing out from the lack of oxygen and the water pressure, that sailor witnessed the oddest of sights. A black man locked in a physical struggle with what could only be described as an octopus made of smoke. And a green turtle that, moments after the sailor spied it, exploded in a fissure of flesh, blood, and shell. Or, perhaps, imploded.

When he had come to, Sextant found himself lying on a beach in Sumatra, very much alive. The black man was reciting some strange incantations and carving symbols into Sextant's chest. Sextant tried to resist, but found himself too weak. And found his arms pinned by two green turtles, both of whom appeared to be smiling. To this day, Sextant swears one spoke just before he had passed out again. "Welcome," it had said. But, other than the first Clock he had worked with, Sextant mentioned it to no one.

Indeed, until he had met his first Clock the year after the Japanese surrendered - he'd been captured on Sumatra and spent most of the war in a prisoner of war camp on Hokkaido - he had no idea who that black man even was. When he'd woke the second time, the black man was lying dead beside him, and the green turtles were gone.

***

Sextant had been sleeping in his flat in London when his first Compass had knocked on his door. With him was his first Clock, a strikingly tall Italian woman with whom he'd have many sexual encounters until her death three years later (an untimely death, largely Sextant's fault).

"Who are you?" Sextant, then still operating under his birth name, had asked.

Both Compass and Clock were carrying pistols - American Colt 1911s, if memory serves Sextant correctly - and Clock had ordered Sextant to pack some clothes and come with them. In a position to cherish life as fully as possible, Sextant obeyed. By the time the DC-3 had landed in Switzerland, Sextant had learned who the black man was - the Third Sextant. He'd learned that prior to the First Sextant the position was known as Quadrant and prior to being known as Quadrant it was known as Astrolabe. He'd learned who Compass, Clock, and Spyglass were and what they did. He'd even learned that, from the time he'd been imbued by the previous Sextant to the time he'd been found by Compass, he had been growing younger and is, in fact, 12 years older than his body thinks it is.

Neither the Compass nor the Clock at the time expected Sextant to fall into line so quickly, but he had. And for no other reason than having seen an octopus made of smoke and being welcomed by a turtle.

*Continued in Uncharted, Part IV

The Complete Uncharted: Map One

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Uncharted, Part II

*Continued from Uncharted, Part I

They are at home in the dark. They are at home in the light. Myths propagated by the banal imaginations of those who wanted nothing more than control of their congregations led humanity to believe that monsters only exist at night. But what of monsters that are not? There is nothing about them in the legends of these cultures. No revelations. Could they read the languages of man they would but laugh at the explanations of what lies beyond.

For nothing lies beyond. Save for them. What is seen is what begets. And what begets is fear. The evolutions of creatures subject to biological conditions not yet imagined by the chemical reactions known as thought. Chemical reactions some mistake as a gift granted by yet another imaginary evolution.

It is these mistakes upon which they pray. It was not God responsible for the alignment of the planets on that fateful day in the 10th century. It was not gods ignorant to the gravitational pulls of celestial bodies that ripped open a small tear in the fabric of space-time. It was simply chance. One in unimaginable billions. The same chance that created life here. The same chance that created death there. The same chance that opened the tunnels.

But the myths got something right. There are great powers in the universe. And they are more common than the son of one. More common than an adversary. And the creatures from the other side of the tunnels can smell them.

To humanity, these great powers are miraculous. Rightfully the stuff of legend. To the Tunnelers... they - along with the rest of carbon-based life on Earth - are food.

***

James cuts into the rib-eye steak, much to the chagrin of Marianne. She can barely hide her disgust at James' propensity to eat rare meat. It's the blood. He's a great work partner, but she's slowly coming to realize that he's not as good a life partner as she'd once hoped. James has done nothing all that irritating in the past few months - not since the debacle at her parents in Brussels - but it's not helping his cause that she's heavily attracted to Compass. Worse, it's hurting that it is James who was assigned to observe Compass. Though Marianne is in awe of Sextant, she wishes she could spend more time with the direction-finder. Through today, she's only seen him a handful of times and has only spoken to him once... and that was merely a quick introduction and exchange of names.

"How's the old guy?" James asks, oblivious to his current station in Marianne's perception.

She looks up, nibbling on her salad - a much more sensible meal, in her opinion. "Oh, he's wonderful. Weird and charming."

James scrunches his brow. Weird and charming? "Compass is a bit of an asshole." He hesitates to mention Spyglass, fearful that Marianne will somehow notice James' attraction to Spyglass in his voice.

Marianne would have noticed no such thing, but she does notice James' disdain for Compass, which further sours her mood. "Oh, you don't even know what the Hell it is they're doing."

James shrugs, taking it as a point of fact. He doesn't know what they're doing. He's only here because he's been Marianne's - his girlfriend - research assistant. She seems to know most of what's happening, but her ability to explain it is much like the ability of any of his female friend's ability to explain anything: nonexistent.

"I wish they'd let us out of here," James mutters, recalling that his university friends are currently somewhere in the Italian Alps, enjoying some powder and, no doubt, ski bunnies.

Unfortunately for James, there's no place Marianne would rather be. Eating dinner with her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend - should all go as planned - in front of a hearth in one of the many dens in the headquarters of the Order of Navigators.

As she imagines running her fingers up and down the spine of Compass, James chews on his steak, considering the irony of a religious order full of members who don't believe in God.

***

The crone-hag fast approaches - carrying a cardboard tube - and he can already smell her medicated odor. Compass has never liked the Librarian and, he's quite sure, never will. He hates people who are nothing but facades. Everyone has a facade, he knows, but it takes a dedicated faux-intellectual who grew up in faux-intellectualism to actually be nothing but a facade.

It certainly doesn't help his impression of the Librarian that she's not even an official member of the order, despite her title. He's convinced that she's only around because she's older than any of them, save Sextant. That she looks older than Sextant almost makes him pity her. Were she pity-worthy, that is.

Where's Spyglass when he needs eye-candy?

"Compass."

He also hates how she calls his name so matter-of-factly. No question, no greeting. Just blunt adjective.

"What?" Compass dropped the fake smile for her years ago.

"I need you to give this to Sextant," she states, holding the tube out for Compass to grab. "It's for his birthday."

Compass stares at the tube, not taking it. "What is it?"

"It's a birthday present."

"You said that. What is it?" He can't help himself. He loves being a dick to the hag. Particularly because she reacts to poorly to it. Almost like a child. Then again, it's not his fault she's not allowed direct access to Sextant.

"A Lichtenstein."

Compass continues to stare at the tube, then slowly shifts his gaze to the Librarian's bespectacled visage. Wrinkly and thoroughly unattractive. Probably smoked cigars for a time.

"He's a pop culture artist from America, was popular during..."

"I know who he is, hag." It's an interruption Compass will cherish for hours. He grabs the tube and turns to leave, not wanting to remain in her presence.

"Compass."

He stops, mentally shrugging. "What?"

"Just give it to him. Don't say anything; just give it to him."

"Why?" He stares into her eyes as she glares at him. She knows nothing of his combat histories and, as many professionals who've long had to discipline students, believes her gaze to make men nervous. For Compass, it just gives him the opportunity to make mental jokes of her beady little turkey eyes.

"I don't want you to dilute the gift."

"By saying something?"

"It doesn't require your voice-over."

He shakes his head, stifling laughter. "It's a Lichtenstein."

The Librarian stares, as if questioning his answer and trying to answer his question.

Compass explains. "I could take a shit on it, and it will still be a Lichtenstein."

"Please just hand it to him."

The dam breaks. "You know, for all that useless factual knowledge stuck in your head, you're pretty fucking stupid."

It's a statement Compass will cherish for days. Then, he's no idea what he's set in motion.

***

"Why do Compass and the Librarian hate each other?" Spyglass asks Sextant. She's always wondered, but never remembered to inquire.

Sextant pulls on his cigarette, savoring the smooth Turkish flavor, and chuckles his comforting chuckle. "Because she's pretentious and he's apathetic."

Spyglass frowns a bit. It's an involuntary reaction. Even she doesn't yet realize how defensive of Compass she tends to be.

Sextant taps the cigarette over an ornate ash tray made from portions of a V2 rocket's gyro control mechanism - supposedly a gift from Werner von Braun. "Sad woman, that one."

Spyglass doesn't hear him, her thoughts elsewhere. As if on cue, Compass enters and tosses the cardboard tube onto an empty chaise longue. "Happy birthday, Sex. Bitch got you a Lichtenstein. Where's Clock?"

"Late, I'd imagine," Sextant replies, chuckling again.

*Continued in Uncharted, Part III

The Complete Uncharted: Map One

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Uncharted, Part I

Black. The absence of light. The absorption of it. And it's where she's stuck.

Her breath is amplified. Deafening. Despite her best efforts to remain quiet and, by proxy, perfectly still. She's being too loud. She knows it can hear her.

She also knows it can see her.

She's breathing too loud.

Too loud. Much too loud. She can't hear it approaching, but she knows it's coming.

Were there any light, she'd have seen the tendrils, wafting in the still air amid dust particles that found their place places based on density, like oil and water. Air settled only by her unwillingness to move. Were there any light, she'd have seen that the tendrils created no wind, offered no disturbance.

Were there any light, she'd have not felt the vertigo. Not been confused as to whether or not she was underwater, in spite of her deafening respiration.

But there is no light. She sees nothing. Feels nothing.

Until it rips her apart.

Oil and water. And blood.

***

Spyglass' eyes open. She wasn't sleeping, but the effect still disorients. "Damn." It's all she can mutter.

"What?"

"They got another one." Spyglass curls up, propping herself with her elbows behind her back. She winces for a moment as a lock of her hair gets caught under arm. There's a futile hopping gesture - hard to do when one is still essentially lying down - and a flinch of the neck. It's unnecessary - and, indeed, unnoticed - but she's hit by a twinge of embarrassment, thinking her clumsiness makes her appear unattractive.

"That's not good." Compass doesn't notice her stuck hair as he busily types notes into his archaic laptop computer. Not that he would've cared; he probably would've enjoyed the sight of her pert breasts jiggling atop her nubile form. As it is, he's caught up in data entry of a most unusual kind on a computer he berates under his breath. Still, he's not one to pass up an opportunity to ogle Spyglass.

Fortunately, for the both of them, there are more important matters at hand.

"Which one?" Compass asks.

"Da Silva, I think," Spyglass replies, kicking her legs to the side of the leather couch and sitting up properly. She blows some loose hair away from her eyes - probably from the same lock she caught herself on - and rubs her eyes. She's barely 25, but worry lines are starting to draw her in her 30s. "It was definitely a woman."

"Which one?" Compass is not repeating the earlier question. It's apparent to the third person in the room, James Lüpertz, that these two have done this many times already. It is not a good revelation. Even more so since he doesn't even know what's going on.

Spyglass scrunches her brow and looks to the ceiling. She pauses on the faux-Gothic chandelier - replete with ceiling fan attachment - and wonders for a moment if anything as romantic as the Phantom of the Opera could ever be real. The blades batter the air and Spyglass shivers at the reluctant memory of... whatever it was.

"Which one, Sarah?" He is repeating, this time.

She shrugs, blindly noting his use of her real name. She'd return the favor, but rumor has it Compass had his name legally changed to Compass upon his assignment. "I don't know. I've never felt that one before."

Compass frowns and taps more keys in rapid succession. Between Spyglass' admission and the outdated CPU in the laptop, Compass' frustration boils over. "Well, that's fucking wonderful."

"What does that mean?" James isn't supposed to say anything - he's merely there as an observer - but he can't help it. Confusion is rapidly disappearing into layers of more confusion.

Spyglass lies back down on the couch. Compass keeps typing. James look to one, then the other, then back to the first. It is Compass who finally answers. "It means shit's still coming through."

"How? The tunnel in Poland was closed."

"Fuck if I know, dude." Compass speaks as if a teenager, though he's well into his 30s. His lengthening hair effectively disguises nearly two decades of military service, and people often take him less seriously than they should. Then again, Compass wouldn't have it any other way. "Maybe there's another tunnel? Hello?"

James turns to look behind him - a reflex - but no one is there. It takes him a moment to realize that Compass' greeting was American sarcasm. Why can't the bastards ever give straight answers?

"Am I next?" Spyglass lazily asks, about ready to fall asleep. Reception is exhausting.

Compass shrugs. She pouts and almost begs for reassurance, but he beats her to it. "I doubt it. You're pretty low on the totem pole."

That's not very reassuring, she thinks, as she lets herself slide into a dreamworld... her own, this time.

***

Marianne Dequenne stares in awe of the two men seated in front of her. Well, one of them, anyway. The elder one. Nearly 80 years old, he is a man who has - quite literally - seen everything. Everything the stars have seen.

The stars looking at Earth, anyway.

He is Sextant. A position he's held for 67 years, longer than any previous Sextant by more than two decades. He came into the title by pure accident, the wrong place at the right time, and has held it professionally ever since. Even though his first few years with the responsibility were disastrous - the Earth was almost destroyed twice - the woman who was Clock guided him well. As did her successor, a would-be Ethiopian princess once known as Derartu Kebede.

The other man in front of Dequenne is the new Clock. He's only been Clock for two years, which is why Marianne isn't in awe of him. As of yet, he's accomplished little of note.

Publicly, that is.

She's no idea that it is this new Clock who has granted Marianne Dequenne and James Lüpertz direct access to the Navigators.

It is a gesture unprecedented in the history of their order. Previously, when the existence of their order was discovered - or strongly suspected - "accidents" were arranged. An unfortunate side effect necessitated by the enemy they face.

But there would be no accident, not this time. The reasons for their disclosure are few, but important. Marianne has no idea what any of them are.

Or how close she and James were to being erased from existence. Fortunately, for her and for James, Clock identified something useful in the two of them.

And, besides... existence is still young.

*Continued in Uncharted, Part II

The Complete Uncharted: Map One

Monday, January 3, 2011

33

Numbers. Numbers. There's a secret in the numbers. How do I get to it? Nah, I'm not crazy. Not like all those other number freaks. They make up meanings because they want to find some. I've already seen the meaning. I just want to know the why. Seen the who. The what. The where. The when. The how. Even the which. But I don't know the why.

Numbers. Numbers.

***

"He's gonna figure it out." Twist's face shows genuine concern. She's been hiding in the shadows for a while. Hiding behind Shadow. But if she's revealed, then, well, the game's over.

"Figure what out? There's nothing to figure out." The cigarette smoke disappears in the steam. Mother likes to talk about how he never smokes inside the house. Apparently he doesn't count the shower as being inside the house.

"That's what he's going to figure out." Foil shares Twist's concern. He learned long ago to follow the lead of his sister. Her eyes are always looking, always seeing. Always perceiving. Foil's never been the sharpest tool in the shed, he knows this. It's this knowledge that prevents him from sharing his theory. Mother wants the game to be over.

"He already knows. That's why there's nothing to figure out." Both children hate that Mother smokes.

***

It's there. Hidden in the subtext. I keep going over the conversations in my head. Double-meanings. Triple-meanings. What seems blunt, open, honest, might be anything but. It's hard to trust the words. But the numbers. They're just math. Math doesn't lie. Mathematicians might, but not the math.

The plot's been set for a while. I know where the story's going. Previous encounters preparing me for the final, like some weird romantic gauntlet. They've all had something in common. Maybe not with each other, but definitely with the one around the corner. Nothing but clues. Foreshadow in the details. Oh, the details.

She's beautiful. What does she have to do with the numbers?

***

"Are you sure he's really coming?" Twist only asks because he's been known to waffle. Change his mind on a whim. She really has no idea how much he wants to figure this out.

"He's coming." Mother steps out of the shower, reaches for a towel. Neither of his children will tell him, but Mother's aged well. He'd be rather popular if he came out of hiding more often. Not that it matters to Mother. A defining encounter is soon to happen. "Foil saw the arrangements."

"Yeah, I did." There's some emotional confusion for Foil. He's a bit leery of what Mother believes is sure to happen, but he does want it to happen. A least a small part of him does. The mystery they've all been relishing for the past few months - nearly a year - will end, and there is some sadness to that. The relationship and its exchanges have been interesting. But, one way or another, Twist needs to be revealed. The game demands it.

"Just because he's coming doesn't mean he's going to win." Mother's voice is reassuring, as always, even though it was not a statement of reassurance.

***

The day of the month. The month of the year. The date. There's a warning in it. Or maybe just a sign. I can't tell. It's worrisome, regardless. High hopes or a harbinger. That's the secret. That's the Twist. Multiplication equaling a number that equals me. If I can be divided into integers. I don't know the control measures. That's the problem. It's in the formula. I don't know what that is, either.

There's a secret in the numbers. I'm gonna run out of fingers.

***

"Should I stay out of the way?" Twist isn't really worried, but she knows things might get awkward. She's also aware that even if she stays hidden, she's revealed. It's an inevitability that makes the climax a given, even if no one has any idea what's going to happen.

"No. Act natural. Let it play out." They can tell Mother's annoyed. He's been expecting this for some time and has played out many different scenarios. Some good; some bad. But all lead to a conclusion. He's coming without much of a plan, so chaos will be in order. There's no point in preparing reactions, only preparing for the arrival. It'll unfold as it will.

"I warned him." There's a small smile on Foil's face. He did warn him. But he also inadvertently encouraged him. That's usually what happens when someone fails to take a strong position. There is more than one way to the end of an equation. Foil accidentally provided more than one math.

"Yes, and you shouldn't have. The challenge is what motivated him." Mother reaches for a cigarette. The game's well afoot. It remains to be seen what the final score will be.

***

Numbers. Numbers. They're not adding up. Maybe I am crazy. It's not a sum; it's a product. Knowing the variables is not helping me. She's an undefined value. X. A gestalt of smaller geometric shapes in the form of an answer to a question.

She's the who. The what. I know where she is. I know when I'll be there. Shit, I've had it wrong. I do know the why. I don't know the how. Which is unimportant, which is why nobody asks it. The proof needs to be solved. Too bad I suck at math.

This is either going to be great, or I'm going to die. What am I up against?

Numbers. Numbers. What a strange year.

*Continued in 24

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Mindscape

What is it?

It's a jumbled mess, whatever it is. The Genesis of an Abortion. The Exodus of False Lives and Lies. A Revelation of a Journey that bears no resemblance to moving from Point A to Point B in a logical manner. The hand of Fate, deliberately leaving its subjects no choice.

A contradiction.

A deception.

Many deceptions.

Bullshit, as they would say.

Who are they? Forms and figures - phantoms, perhaps - of imagined ideas and actions that are ostensibly controlled by one who is Real. But they are the Banal. The ones worth time are those that - they who - what the fuck ever - are uncontrollable. With lives and half-lives of their own.

They are radioactive. Born dead and only interesting when inanimate. Those who lie, steal, murder, rape. Those who stop the liar, the thief, the killer, the rapist. The object of their existence is to take others to the abject principle and show that humanity - the very act of thought - knows no bounds. Good and Evil are one and the same. Always have been. Always will Be.

God does not exist here, for there is more than One. Gods exists here, and there are less than Zero. The shadows of social imagination create their power struggles and cast out those who are too weak to follow, too weak to care.

It is apathy that starts the war. Empathy that fights it. And sympathy that makes everyone a liar.

The sun never sets on Empiricism. Darkness falls upon the Land of the Arousing Sun. Superficial eroticism is the reason for everything. It's - she's - beautiful, and that's why she's wanted. It's also why she's killed.

Was she an infant? Whose skull was crushed beneath the boot heel? Was she a child? Who stole her innocence and replaced it with an overwhelming guilt that will lead her to the water that the horse will drown her in?

As an adolescent she was coveted. And taken. By many. And a prisoner in adulthood, freed only by the merciful finger of the Reaper.

He was a baby fed to the wolves because father was bored. He was a child introduced to sexual assault by means of example. He was the teenager whose life of crime began with a coming-of-age in a prison cell. He was the adult who bred more criminals.

Where are the heroes now? Who are the Myths that walk on water and turn blood into wine, bread into flesh, piss into vinegar, and excrement into dessert?

Are they waiting for the sky to fall? Or are they simply falling from the sky? To rely on Icarus for rescue is a foolhardy decision. To wait for the Peregrine to arrive is to wait forever.

Is forever worth waiting for? Perhaps if it comes with supple nipples and a wet vagina. Otherwise, what's around the corner might do just as well. He just wants to watch her breasts bounce and her buttocks gyrate. Old, young, immoral. It doesn't matter if one is careful. The careful are never caught. Crooked police only fail to police.

Who is the killer who sheds a tear? Her mind is a jumbled mess, whoever she is. The second coming of a Faith that never returned. The first coming of a Legend that never arrived. Her hand is taken. In love. In lust. Hearts whose beatings are rivaled by only that of erect penis and swollen labia.

Ugly words describe the enjoyable. And by whose command? An author - authors - whose names will never be known because their followers took pride in taking credit. It's only a Sin if they disagree. It's a Virtue if no one agrees.

The true Faith lies in not believing blindly, but in believing in the face of proof that it's a lie. True hope lies not in the wanton tossing of pennies into a fountain, but in the willingness to use the tricks of an enemy against the enemy. And Eye for an Eye. And Tooth for a Tooth. Ashes to Ashes. Dust to Dust.

It's a race, and the good - not the Good - will win because they will pull the trigger first. When they turn to smile, is it a friendly gesture? Or are you merely next?

Art is expression and expression will not be censored. The Truth is not meted out in doses. It is not colored by subjective moral. It simply is. They enjoy watching others die. They enjoy blood spurting from vein and artery. They enjoy placing their tongues in places that make her squirm. They will try anything twice.

Save your judgements for your own thoughts. They care not. If you cannot stand to bear witness to all that will transpire, then gouge your eyes and burst your ears. Turn out the lights and lock the door. That you cannot tell the monster from the paramour is of no concern to them. They'd just as soon kiss you and fuck you as they would kill you and cook you.

They are what they eat. And they're all cocks and pussies. Hard, soft, warm, and wet. Like the rains, dependent on the time of year and the mood of the wind. Doldrums just mean they have to make their own fun, and whether you're a player or the game depends solely on nothing at all. Merely the mood of the wind.

The world, the universe - existence - is a fucked up place. Chaos reigns and only those destined to fail believe there's an order to it all. Moving forward is the only option. Leave everything behind. That is the fine line between predator and prey.

Anything goes here. Leave your sensibilities at the door. Or don't come in. Laugh. Cry. Scream. If you aren't taken to the limit of acceptability - and beyond it - then this view is a failure.

Are you afraid yet? You'd better be. You're a fucking idiot if you're not.

Welcome to The Mindscape.

Enjoy.

Irreview, Book Review: The Story of Earth

I've been a science nerd for a long, long time.  Physics was probably my favorite science subject in high school (perhaps other than oce...