Sunday, September 20, 2009

Conversations About Work

(23:24:42) Wolf: So, this guy comes through Drive-Thru tonight, and he says to me: "We were driving along and saw the Tim Horton's sign and thought: awesome! We can get coffee! What do you feel when you see the Timmy's sign." I looked the man in the eye and promptly said, "I feel ashamed when I see a Tim Horton's sign."

(23:24:56) Starry: ROFL.

(23:24:58) Starry: Ashamed, eh?

(23:25:25) Wolf: I had the manager ask me what "due diligence" meant tonight.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

WPCA - Excerpt from 'All Good Things' 02

"What is this place?" Chrysanthemum asked.

"What place?"


"Oh, well, as you can see, it is a maze. Actually, it's a labyrinth."

"But what is it called?"

"The labyrinth."

Chrysanthemum made a face.

"Well, I know that. I mean, where is it?"

"You should have asked that from the start."

She made another face.

"It isn't anywhere, and it's everywhere. It branches into all the states of life and reality wherever they may be. To every world and every time and every memory, all linked together."

"But, what are those Tigermen? And why do I always feel like this place doesn't want me here?"

"Because the labyrinth wants to preserve itself. A last bastion for all things."


"Yes, a fort. Memories I often see in here, winged as it is, searching and seeking."

"Memories? You say that like it is...a person."

"An insect, actually. It has never seen me before, though."

"So, you can go anywhere from here?"

"Well, almost anywhere. Some places have been shut off, kept aside and away. Much harder for Memories to go there."

"Why are they shut off?"

"Because some things don't want to be remembered, or its better not remembering, or most of all, some things are just hiding."

"Then how do you get there if they're hiding?"

"Between the cracks, my dear."

"Does the memory thing know how to get between the cracks?"

"Not really; if it knew where to look it could, but its relying on memories of mortals, not...ascendants. In this case it cannot know. And it's Memories."

"You said Memories hasn't seen you before."

"That's right."

"Why is that?"

"Because it can't see me."


"I don't exist to Memories. In fact, the labyrinth isn't even a labyrinth to Memories."

"What is it then?"

"A library."

"Then how come its a labyrinth now?"

"Memories wants it a library, to make it easier to find things. If it was a labyrinth, Memories would spent far too much time searching for memories. So, it's a library."

"I'm confused. Memories searching for memories?"

"The bug looking for a book."

"Oh. Well, can I make it a library, too?"

"Where's the fun in that?"

Chrysanthemum was quiet a moment, pondering this.

"How can you not exist to Memories?" she said.

"How can you exist to Memories, my dear?" Vadel Mayr Veldrosky said.

"You aren't answering my question."

"If I answered all your questions, then you would have more questions. Questions beget questions, not answers, my sweet. Answers are found with pain, not talk."

Chrysanthemum glared at Vadel Mayr Veldrosky. The enigmatic creature in its pajamas walked, seeming to be going no place in particular. He seemed to be playing a game with her and enjoying it, liking how she didn't understand or know anything about this place, or any place. Daddy had never told her about this place.

"Could daddy come here?"

"Oh, dear, no. His life would snuff like a flame in the wind; it would die out so fast if he wandered here. No mortal can survive here; existence itself makes it so."


"Look for your answers instead of asking for them."

She made a face like a petulant child, crossing her arms for emphasis in the cliche. She wanted to throw a tantrum. Part of her mind was screaming, in a very adult voice, I'm a seven year old girl. I shouldn't even be having these kinds of conversations yet, let alone thinking what I'm thinking. Why can't I be simple like before? Why can't everything be simple like before?

"But everything is simple," Vadel Mayr Veldrosky said. Chrysanthemum jumped as she was jarred from her thoughts, turning a glaring, surprised face on the figure. How could he read her thoughts? Before she could even ask another question on that regard he simple held up a finger to his lips and made a shushing sound. She scowled.


It was in the blackness of reality, a reality where even a Before God feared to tread. It was a kind of non-reality, a non-existence, an enigma where time and space had no rule, where Memories turned to ash and forgetfulness overrode the norm.


Kee Drovnich stormed through the halls of the Defense Forces Central Command, weaving his way through the wake of disturbed subordinates and NCOs that seemed flustered at the High Admiral and Intelligence Devision Head Chief. Doors parted for him as me moved, his neural implant sending access codes ahead of him and keeping him aware of specific data as it came in. He was in a sour mood.

He entered the conference room and slid along the wall in the darkness like some kind of snake before assuming his seat. Several other high level Vadasian and Galandrian were here, either physically or projected over the Gatekeeper system, the MaskNet hierarchy of defense systems all around the Dalaquen system.

"What's this all about, Drovnich?"

"You remember that errant fool of ours, brilliant, but a fool nonetheless."

"I'm only looking at one fool, Drovnich. Cut the crap."

"Fleet Commander Visarett, and his taskforce that was following the Hagasian extra-dimensional threat has vanished."

"What do you mean, vanished?"

"What other way can I say that it has disappeared? Would you like me to grab five foreign language dictionaries and find new ways to say that there's no evidence of the taskforce whatsoever?"

"Don't be a jyrakeit Vadas, Drovnich."

"Our scoutships have reported of the complete annihilation of the enemy Hagasian extra-dimensional force. At least our taskforce succeeded in something before going AWOL."

"What do you think the Fleet Commander's reasons were for that?"

"Nyrock sent in a report about fifteen standard units before their disappearance, just prior to dimensional slipspace travel. The Fleet Commander had been killed in the engagement."

"So who was in charge?"

"Oh, High Admiral Lypsing Nyrock decided to play tag-along. So, if he were here, we could ask him why it is five ships disappeared," Kee Drovnich said.

"What are we doing to fix this problem?"

"We've alerted the LDE and Jyollener Federation, among others. I figure that whatever makes our ships go boom should be as equally feared by them as it is us."

"And why would you want to release such information?"

"Mutual reassurance."

"Reassurance? Of what?"

"Of coopreration."


Chrysanthemum starred at Vadel Mayr Veldrosky with petulance. He talked in riddles, made fun of her for not understanding. Well if nobody answered her questions, how would she learn? Vadel Mayr Veldrosky talked of the penetrating blackness like it was something to be feared. She took a step toward it.

"I wouldn't do that, child. The jaws of fate laugh at your ignorance and would gladly swallow you whole if you go there."

Chrysanthemum thought about it a moment, turned to Vadel Mayr Veldrosky and stuck out her tongue before stepping forward into the great deepness. And then felt like her life was being stripped away. At first her flesh was being torn apart, deep gouges appearing. Her skin became the tattered ruins of some strange clothing, looking flayed and ancient. The black carapace came off her in scabs, her blood swelling up in bulbous droplets before bursting in strange implosions with popping noises. She felt her eyes implode then, her organs turning to mush before being torn apart by the epicenter of some massive wrenching wind.

And then as her body fell into the blackness and disappeared, consumed, Vadel Mayr Veldrosky blinked.

"What has she done," he started. "What cruel fate is this?"

Then, louder, "Why do you mock me with the idea of hope for a new start and take it away?"

He threw a fist against the labyrinth, screaming and pounding. "What cruel game are you playing at? Why do this?"

And from the darkness, laughter ensued.

And for the first time in perhaps his entire memory, Vadel Mayr Veldrosky cried.


It floated as it always did, the cylindrical object. It had a light on either end, red, that flashed back in forth like a pair of eyes constantly blinking. About the center-most portion of the cylinder, a band of yellow and black set in slashes, with compartmentalized openings and entrances set about the thing. It was two meters long, and although it floated, twisted, the solar winds that kicked up about it couldn't do anything. It just stat there, winking at the nebulae surrounded by the Auktaurian asteroid belt in the Velvandi system. There were several such devices, warning buoys, and beyond them, set just inside the belt was a monstrous object of ancient origin and design.

--- The blackness was intransigent, but even so, the girl-turned-woman-turned-ascendant felt a rising feeling of vertigo. The feeling that she were falling was hard to shake, the sudden pitches of free-fall playing havoc with her quickly maturing mind -- and even so, her feet, some corner speculated, were firmly planted on the ground. What was more, even for all the darkness about her, she could see the light, burning so brightly. She waved a hand in front of her face to shield it from the darkness, never once moving her arms in the motion. Something kept whispering that whatever she did, it would occur and not occur.

Two halves of her mind warred with one another. One said she was standing, the other insisted she were falling. So much gravity, the standing one said, that its knees were buckling from the strain of carrying the world and more upon her shoulders. But the free fall was puking away, nauseated. Still there were other forms of herself, arms strung outward attempting to feel in the darkness that was so fully illuminated. And then there were the walls that pushed in. Chrysanthemum had never been claustrophobic in all her life, but at the moment, a part of her was straining against the walls pushing against her while another form of herself pointed and laughed because there really wasn't any walls nearly turning her into a compact cube.

She screamed, the sound echoing forever and ever and ever and ever. The noise rang toneless until it returned to her own ears, and in fact, she hadn't screamed at all. She hadn't even opened her mouth, but she was certain that the part of herself trapped in the light was watching herself quizzically as she wailed again and again in lost confusion.

Land of confusion...

She was stumbling, a part of her saw, and as she stumbled, she was kicking at the ground like a petulant child with something in her eyes. So very blind, I am, she thought offhandedly.

But she wasn't walking in this world of blinding light or overbearing darkness. She walked worlds, planets, and saw wonders and horrors and felt herself awed and disturbed. Until finally everything stopped, something snapping into focus, twisting just so, like a camera lens clicking into place and everything made sense.

Land of understanding...

But she found that she didn't understand, standing as she was surrounded by faucets of herself in this twilit realm with a purple sky and orange trees with diamond leaves. The blue grass waved about in a wind that refused to blow because the pink sun was scolding it on the parapet of a rock overlooking a lake of pure brown muck. But she was certain a coolness was there.

She spoke.

But no sound came, only an echo of her intent to speak, echoing in the thousands of ears she possessed. She looked in at herself, billions of pairs of eyes intent, mocking, pleading that she absolve herself of whatever sin she had committed so that she might return to being the innocence she once lay claim to. But the woman-turned ascendant with a leathery-tan-hide for skin accentuated by leaf-like black carapace and dotted more by strange, swirling orange and yellow carapace markers turned in a slow circle.

"Come to me," the intent echoed.

And then, she walked into herself, feeling all at once a child and a woman and a goddess. She saw what each of her former selves had seen, knew what they knew, understood and puzzled over what they had understood and puzzled over. And in the midst of it, she saw another man.

He had the burnished skin of bruises that looked weeks old. Purple, and his face was misshapen, with strange bulges here and there. He had no nose except for slits, no lips and no eyelashes or eyebrows. Completely hairless and naked, the creature was anorexic, or looked it. Skeletal, with a lankiness that belied its strength. Bipedal, it moved on two legs, only it had three toes with a fourth thumb-like one at its heal. Its hands also had three fingers with a thumb. it wielded no weapon, although Chrysanthemum was certain the claws on its feet and hands were sharp enough.

"Hello," her intent echoed, ringing off the walls.

The creature ignored her.

As she looked more closely at it, she saw it was playing with several toys in a sandbox. It was playing a game, its own intent making strange sound effects like lasers going off. It make explosive noises, too, holding its action figures and smashing them into one another.

Chrysanthemum glided toward the creature before hunching over and looking closely at the creature and its toys. There were things that looked like spaceships and things that looked like dolls and things that looked like chess pieces and still more toys arrayed around it. She went to pick one up, only the creature snatched the toy up quickly. She looked at it and found a pair of blazing yellow eyes glaring at her, cat-eyes that held no love for her.

"Mine," it hissed.

"Can't I play too?" her intent echoed once more. it didn't seem to hear her, but only looked at her with the same distrust. Chrysanthemum moved her jaw slowly, hinging it open and closed experimentally, trying to make some kind of noise. She squawked.

Again she tried to ask if she could play to. Still only the intent of a sound ringing off the inside of her skull, and still the creature staring at her coldly.

Finally: "I lost some of my toys. If you find them, I'll give you one."

Chrysanthemum regarded this statement, then tried to ask where the creature had lost its toys. And for the first time, she spoke. She sounded as she expected herself to sound, were she back to being a child. Gone was her usually sultry voice that she had somehow picked up somewhere.

The creature pointed to a pile of weeds that were black instead of blue with thorns. She walked toward it slowly, and thought the thorns were alive. She looked for a while, feeling bored. She turned her head and saw the creature looking at her. A feeling that she knew who it was played at the back of her mind, but when she attempted to grasp it, she felt confused, and turned back.

After what seemed hours, she spotted what had to be the silver glint of one of the ships she had seen the creature playing with. She reached in to grasp it. The grass wrapped itself around her arm, thorns biting deep. She bled strange orange colored blood and felt weak. The ships were there, five of them, and thousands of the action figures. So many toys. And yet she couldn't reach them. She put her other arm forward to grab them, but the grass wrapped around her other arm. It was pulling her in, biting at her, sapping her strength. She felt dizzy, woozy, the world was spinning.

And then Chrysanthemum fell into the grass.