NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 16

Hewlitt was a bear. But nobody knew.

Not his beloved wife, Ursula (Major Ursula, to those under her command. ) Not his kids. Ben (who was sweet and gentle)  and Adam (who loved anything with enough grisly violence in it). Not any of his employees at the Bachelor Sign Company (their motto : “Your Sign Is Our Sign… of quality! ). Not even his parents, Large Marge and Big Bob Hewlitt (names feared by buffet owners statewide).

No. nobody knew. Because Hewlitt (who had a first name, but nobody used it) had learned at a very young and tender age that when you turned into a bear in the middle of recess because someone smooshed your sand castle, you were rejected by your peers pretty hard.

And by your teachers. And the police. And animal control. And, ultimately, seven difference zoos, three traveling freak shows, and very odd man named Neville.

“Something are too weird even for me. ” Neville had said right before closing the door in the animal control officer’s face.

If he hadn’t figured out how to change back and thus slip his bonds and escape his captors, Hewlitt might have lived out his life in that cage.

But instead, Hewlitt saw a “MISSING” poster with his face on it. So all he had to do to get home was to wait till someone was looking at the poster then wander out of the woods looking dirty and confused (not hard, as he was both) and people couldn’t wait to take him home.

And take lots of pictures. For a few days, he was a star. And he really liked that. It was a lot of fun. Everyone was super nice to him, he got to me on local TV talk shows, and he even got his picture taken with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who was in town to shoot a movie about a big city cop whose new partner was a raccoon, and who possibly mistook Hewlitt for a Make-A-Wish kid.

After a couple of days, everyone forgot about him to go chase after a lady whose cat could yodel, and that was nice too, because by then, Hewlitt was tired of all the attention and just wanted to go home and be a kid again.

But he had learned his lesson, and from then on, he never got angry again. Instead, he channeled his energies into being the funny fat kid everyone loved, and when something made him mad, all he had to do was remember that cage and he could squash it all down inside himself and everything was okay again.

And now, it was his 50th birthday, and he was at his “surprise” party (like he couldn’t smell the cake and ice cream from a block away) and he was happy.

He looked around the local Honeycomb Lodge’s meeting hall and thought about all the people who had come to wish him a happy birthday. There was the wife and kids, sitting there on the stage with him, along with his parents and a random assortment of cousins. The front row was filled with his “other family”, which is what he liked to call his employees, all ten of them.  And there were the three Lodge members who were “monitoring” the event, or as much of it they could still see after all the liquor they were drinking. Hewlitt didn’t know their names but he’d seen them around. And there was a half dozen people Hewlitt didn’t know. But they were probably just people under Ursula’s command who he hadn’t met yet – or more like, had met and then forgot.

Hewlitt had a lot of good qualities, but remembering names and faces was not amongst them. That’s why he called everybody “buddy” or “dear” or “Miss” or “my friend. ”

It was an old trick, but it worked.

Hewlitt looked out over it all and was a very happy man. This was what life was about, he thought to himself. Family. Friends. A place in the community. The respect of your peers. And god damn it, love. Love for and love from. That’s all that really mattered.

This happy thought sustained Hewlitt for a while as he sat there, content to let the music and the happy hubbub of the festivities wash over him as he sank into a happy, though-free reverie which was the product of a life well lived.

The half-dozen beers and three glasses of that green punch (Lime Something? Something LIme?) Linda his account made might have helped a little too.

It was during this honeyed moment that Hewlitt’s gaze happened to drift upwards towards the hall’s ceiling, and that’s when he noticed the “decorations” someone had hung on the edges of the rafters up there.

Hunting trophies. Bear heads, specifically. There had to be at least a dozen of them up there. And they were the real thing, not the fake ones the tourists liked.

He could always tell.

The thought of all those poor innocent bears and their humiliating fates dropped into Hewlitt’s good mood like a turd into a punchbowl, and now he was angry.

Why did people have to DO that? he thought. Go traipsing out into the wilderness just to take the life of some innocent animal who’d never done them a lick of harm and then act like they were big tough men for doing it? What kind of sick son of bitch thought killing a live animal just living its life just for the hell of it was “fun”? Some wonderfuil goddamned people we got in this country.

And for that matter, who the hell put them up there for me to see? What kind of mental malfunction caused someone to look at the guy who has bears on his bumper stickers, a bear on his license plate cover, a bear keychain, bear wallet, and three different bear T-shirts (of the ones his life would let him wear, anyhow), plus a huge goddamned bear on his leather jacket, and thinks “You know what this guy wants to see? The decapitated heads of his favorite animal!”.

Guess I should just be glad this wasn’t a baby shower, thought Hewlitt darkly.

Then Hewlitt’s ears twitched as something about the conversation betwen the three Lodge guys who were standing in front of the stage caught his attention.

Did he just hear the word “bear”?

“Yeah, it was a bear all right. ” said the old one. “Big sucker. A sow. Just laying on her back in the sun, legs all splayed out, pretty as a peach. ”

Hewliit blinked away the red haze rising in his eyes.

“Wow. ” said the younger one. “That’s amazing, dad. ”

“Yeah, Dad. What did you do then? ” asked the youngest.

Hewlitt could hear his heart thudding faster in his chest and feel a prickling heat spreading over the back of his neck.

“Well what do you THINK I did? I lined up my shot… took my time doin it too, cause it was clear the dumb bitch wasn’t going anywhere… and then I pulled the trigger and BLAM! blew her goddamned brains right out of her skull. ”

The younger ones laughed.

“That must have been a sight to see. ” said one.

“Wish I’d been there to see that!” said the other.

“Yup. One shot and it was over. One second she was alive and the next bits of her skull were flying through the air. Happiest day of my life. ” said the old guy, with a chuckle.

Hewlitt’s mouth tasted like old coins and his breath burned in his nostrils.

“Is she one of the ones you brought here today, Dad? ” said the youngest.

The old guy gave the youngest a withering “you’re too dumb to be one of mine” look, and said “No, you idiot, because I blew that ugly old bitch’s head up. Kind of makes it hard to mount her head on a plaque. Numbskull. ”

“Of course, then we had to kill her cubs. ”

Hewlitt exploded up out of his chair, sending the card table flying and the folding chair clattering to the ground. The tingling heat all through his body told him what was about to happen, but he was too mad to stop it and too drunk to care.

“You fucking ANIMAL!” Hewlitt growled at the old man, every hair on his body bristling.

“You goddamned, fucking ANIMAL”. screamed Hewlitt in a half-strangled voice as his hairs turned into furs and grew rapidly into a thick, brown pelt.

“People like you who murder innocent animals who never did you any harm are worthless, degenerate pieces of SHIT who deserve to DIE! ” bellowed Hewlitt in a voice like a ten foot demon with a chest cold as his limbs thickened and his torso expanded and his clothes ripped and fell to the floor.

“You’re all a bunch of SICK. FUCKING. ANIMALS giving in to your urge to HUNT and MURDER like a bunch of… CAVE MEN!” said Hewlitt in a voice like the sawing of the world’s biggest log with the world’s longest saw as his mouth pushed forward into a snout and his hands and feet sprouted pads and claws.

“And if there’s one thing I can’t stand, ” said Hewlitt in a voice like a bear trying to talk, “it’s people who CAN’T CONTROL their ANIMAL INSTINCTS! ”

On the last word, the now ten foot Kodiak bear that was Hewlitt let out a mighty roar and slammed a shovel-sized paw into the nearest wall, sending drywall flying everywhere.

He then bolted out of the room and retreated into the darkness of his cave… or the closest thing too it, which happened to be Miss Clark’s sewing room in the basement.

<—————————————————————————————————————–>

Hewlitt, back to normal (or at least human), thought about all the different ways his life was over now as he crept up the stairs.

The thoughts were painful, but they distracted him from the pain in his tortured body, which currently felt like every cell was roasting over its own, individual BBQ pit.

H’ed never see his wife and kids again. That was for sure. He supposed Chris would end up running the business. Kid wasn’t too bright but he knew everything there was to know about signs. His kids would have to change schools and his mother and father would get kicked out of their country club.

As for his wife, well, he wasn’t too sure about what you had to do to get kicked out of the military these days, but he was pretty sure that “be married to Satan’s Fat Friend” was still on the books somewhere.

As he rounded the landing between the basement and the main floor, Hewiltt saw the water fountain there, and suddenly realized he was so thirsty he could feel it on a genetic level, so he stopped to take a drink there.

The water fountain was from a bygone era where people were smaller, and so Hewlitt had to bend over uncomfortably to use it. As he did so, a thousand red hot strings screamed through his muscles, and he groaned from the pain.

“Looks like you’re hurting pretty bad. ” said a voice.

Hewlitt was busy rediscovering the ecstacy of water as a beverage, so all he did was grunt in agreement.

“Let me see your eyes. ” said the voice.

This was such an odd request that Hewlitt looked up to see who was asking it.

It was the older son from the conversation earlier. Hewlitt stared at him, brain too sluggish to process what was happening.

The man smiled at him, and said “It’s always rough when you haven’t done it in a long time. But if you do it regular, you’ll find…. ”

The man changed smoothly from a man into a fluffy brown bear.

“…that it doesn’t have to hurt at all. ” he finished.

“Hi there Hewlitt. ” said the bear. “My name’s Markus. I am so glad that we finally found you. Now come on… there’s some people you need to meet. ”

“But…. but I’m naked!” said Hewlitt as Markus’ big brown paw gently turned him and propelled him in the direction of the main hall.

“Don’t worry. ” said Markus, with a big bass chuckle as they reached the door to the mail hall and he opened it.  “So are they. Hey everybody, look who I found! It’s the birthday boy himself!”.

Hewlitt stumbled into the room after a gentle shove from Markus. And what he saw there stopped him cold.

The whole main hall was filled with bears. Full sized, real life bears. Bears of all kinds. There was a Kodiak sow, a pair of Bruins, a Lousiana Black Bear, a small family of Cinnamon Bears, a vast grinning Polar Bear, and even a Giant Panda, who was taking pictures with his phone.

Hewlitt felt Markus’ big brown paw on his shoulder, and looked up to the see the big brown bear smiling at him.

“We’re all bears here, Hew. Everyone one of us. This whole town is full of bears like us. I’m just sorry it took us so long to figure out you were one too. ” said Markus.

“But…. but how is this possible?” stammered Hewlitt.

“Well, we all knew about the kid who turned into a bear and ran away. ” said Markus. “The news stories got passed around and around until they turned into emails, then into a Facebook page, then into a Twitter feed, and right now, they are prominent displayed on our very own forum page. ”

Markus winked at Hewlitt. “Private, of course. ”

“Amazing. ” said Hewlitt dazedly.

“And let me tell you, my people looked high and low for that poor little bear. “said Markus, looking sad. “We searched the woods and the riverside and the old mine… anywhere we knew bears had been seen. And we were all so busy with that search that none of us paid attention to the news of a kid who was missing. And for that, on behalf of me and the others, we are truly, truly sorry. You were lost for a real long time, Hew… but now you’re home. ”

Markus made a sweeping gesture to the crowd of bears, and in a loud voice said “Welcome home, Hewliit! It is so good to have you back. Ain’t that right folks?”

The crowd responded with a chorus of growls, gruffs, roars, and hell-yeahs loud and enthusiastic so loud that it was a wonder that the roof stayed on.

Markus grinned that big bear grin down at Hewlitt and said “We sure would like you to join us, Hewlitt. There’s just one problem. ”

“What’s that? ” said Hewlity.

“You’re a little overdressed for the occasion. ” said Markus with a twinkle in his eye.

Hewlitt looked down at his naked body in confusion, then broke into a great big smile when he got the joke. With a grunt, Hewlitt shifted into his bear form.

“Now that’s more like it!” said Markus. “Now come and join in the fun. ”

And for that whole night, and many nights to follow, Hewlitt frolicked and played with his new found community of bears, happy as three cubs in a stream.

And when the night was over, Hew headed home. And tired as he was, he knew the best was yet to come.

Because he’d recognized that sow Kodiak bear with the two cubs.

After all, a man should recognize his own wife, shouldn’t he?

And they all lived bearily after.

<—————————————————————————————————————–>

“Don’t you get it? ” gruffed Hew. “We’re BEAR naked. Get it? BEAR naked!”

“I get the joke, Hew. ” said Markus.

“BEAR naked! I spent last night BEAR naked with a bunch of strangers! And they were all BEAR naked too!” said Hew, busting a gut.

“We’ve heard it before, Hew. ”

 

 

(For tonight’s performance, the part of Hewlitt was played by John Goodman, the part of Markus was played by the late great Phil Harris, and the part of Linda the Accountant, whose scenes were regrettably cut, was played by the late Gilda Radner, because if you’re allowing yourself to cast dead people, you might as well go for the best. )

NaNoWriMo 2917 : Chapter 15

It had been a great trip.

At least some of the time. Parts of it. And the not-great parts, like Greg getting sick from the water after being told repeatedly not to drink it, much to his children’s amusement, or Gilda throwing a temper tantrum because she had a sunburn but couldn’t bring herself to put the words together to tell someone, so the pain built up to volcanic force and she freaked out right there on the beach, screaming and crying and ranting and raving while the locals slowly gathered around to see the crazy gringa flip out and make a huge spectacle of herseld.

And right in front of her teenaged daughter, too.

Speaking of whom, Gwyneth had her issues too, mainly from having a deadly combination of charisma and overconfidence. Time an again, she assured her parents she could do things she couldn’t, then failed spectacularly at them, then blamed everyone else for the failure, then stormed off, sulked, and when she came back, she acted like it had never happened.

And then there had been Tino’s constant wandering off because something caught his attention, and his repeated use of the “I wasn’t lost, I knew exactly where I was” defense, which never worked.

So maybe it wasn’t a great trip per se, on paper, but the Jensen family had a lot of fun, and the disasters were vastly outnumbered by wonderful moments, and so when they came home from their three weeks in Cabo San Lucas, they were in a terrific mood, and ready to go back into their regular lives determined to kick ass.

And that mood lasted until Tino, in his role as self-appointed commander of everything electronic, inputted their unlock code into the alarm system, and nothing happened.

He tried again. Same thing.

He tried it a third time, going very very slowly and carefully, and still nothing.

He was just starting to feel the icy touch of panic when his father Greg ambled up to the door. “Having a problem with the alarm system, Tom… er, Tino? ”

“NO. ” said a glaring Tino. “It’s just not working. ”

“I’m pretty sure… ” said Greg in his cheesy Cowboy voice, “that things not working is the very def in ition of a problem, pardner. ”

Tino looked at his dad through narrow, suspicious eyes. Was his father making fun of him? You could never be sure with him.

“Mind if I give it a try? ” said Greg while reaching for the keypad.

For a second, it looked like Tino was going to fight him over it, but apathy overcame him and he shrugged, got out of the way, and said “Okay, but you won’t be able to do any better than I did. It’s broken, Dad. It’s not like you trying it is going to magically make it work even though it’s broken. ”

By this time, Greg had produced a long strip of paper with the code written on it, and was patiently typing the code in one alphanumeric symbol at a time.

No improvement. He tried it again. Still nothing. He even got Tino to read the code out while he typed it in. Nope. Nothing.

It wasn’t until the two men returned to their task after a tense and lengthy consultation that Greg was able to solve the problem.

“Wait… shouldn’t it say SYSTEM ARMED here? ” He pointed at the alarm panel’s LCD screen. ” But it doesn’t. It says ‘OPEN’, and there’s a little picture of an open door. ”

Silence as they let that thought sink in.

“One of our tries must have worked. ” said Tino. “And we just missed it. ”

“I don’t think so. ” said Greg. “When you get the code right, it plays that cute little bit of music and the door pops open. That’s kind of hard to miss. ”

Tino nodded, and they laposed back into their problem-solving funk.

The horrible truth dawned on both of them at almost the same time.

“We never armed it!” said Tino.

“Precisely, dear Watson!” said Greg.

“And that means that… for all the time we were gone..” said Tino

“…the house was wide open! ” finished Greg.

They looked at each other, aghast, for a moment, then yanked the door open and ran inside in a panic.

As they went through the house,  like SWAT team commandos, they called out each room as being “clear”, meaning nothing seemed to be missing.

“TV room CLEAR, we still have all out stuff!”

“Laundry room CLEAR! The thieves somehow resisted the temptation to take our dirty socks and underwear!”

“Dining room CLEAR! The fine china and the stuff we’re actually allowed to use are present and accounted for!”

And so forth and so on.

<—————————————————————————————————————–>

“Oh look! ” said Gilda. “It looks like the boys finally got the door open. ”

“It’s about TIME!” said Gwyneth. “I haven’t eaten in AGES and I am STARVING!”. She brushed past her mother on her way to the kitchen.

You had eggs and steak an hour ago, thought Gilda. With a mountain of hash browns and pancakes and a carafe of OJ. And you ate a whole big of Mint Oreo’s in the car. But Gilda knew that a teenager’s demanding metabolism was a harsh and demanding master and not to be trifled with except in the direst of circumstances.

“Now where did those silly boys go?” Gilda, walking inside. “Greg? Tommy? ”

“It’s TINO, Mom! ” said Tino exasperatedly as he dashed by. “God!”

“What are you doing? ” she shouted after him.

He reappeared for a moment. “Just, um…. checking stuff, Mom!” Then gone again.

“And just what’s that supposed to mean? ” said Gilda to herself. Just then, Greg emerged from a doorway and was just about to walk past her when she caught him by the elbow and brought him up short right in front of her.

“Dearest husband. ” she said sweetly, with a smile that made Greg instantly wary and alert, like a doe that had just heard the snapping of a twig in the forest. “Love of my life. Treasure of my heart. Father of my children. The only man for me. Please, if it’s not too much trouble, could you please tell me what the hell is going on here? ”

Greg smiled an earnest, honest, trustworthy smile, and said he had no idea what she was talking about and that nothing was going on. At all. Anywhere.

“The downstairs bathroom is CLEAR! Our strategic reserves of humorous towels and decorative soaps is secure!” shouted Tino.

“Then what was that? ” said Gilda, with a grin.

“Oh, who knows what that boy is thinking….” Gilda arched her eyebrows at him, then wiggled them, “Well, okay. You got me. He’s checking various rooms to see how much got stolen. ” said Greg.

“Stolen? ” said Gilda. “And why would he be doing that? ”

“Because… sit down, dear, you should be sitting down for this…”said Greg, ” because he and I discovered that the alarm system was turned off for the whole time we were at Cabo San Lucas. ”

“WHAT? ” said Gilda with wide-eyed incredulity. “That’s impossible. I set the alarm myself. You have to be mistaken. ”

“No mistake, dear. When we came home, it was disarmed. That could only have happened if it was disarmed when we left. ” said Greg .

Gilda fumed a few moments. Then made up her mind. “When then it’s time for me to join the search. I’m the only one who knows where things are around here anyway,

Gwyneth wandered into room while shoveling Corn Flakes from a huge bowl into her face. As usual, she was having them with soy milk and a dollop of peanut butter.

She was halfway through the room when she felt her parent’s eyes upon her.

“What? ” said Gwyneth.

Greg put a fatherly hand on her shoulder.

“Sit down, please, Gwyn. Your mother and I have something to tell you. ” said Greg.

<—————————————————————————————————————–>

All four Jensens were gathered around the dinner. There was pizza. Diet Coke. Cake. Ice cream. But nobody seemed to be in the mood to eat.

They were quite the sight to see. The happy gang from the morning were now tired, dirty, disheveled, and depressed. The cat, Tiger, was walking on the counters, normally a heavily verboten zone. But nobody cared enough to get the spray bottle.

Tiger was not sure what to do with this new found freedom/.

So he curled up and took a nap.

“So, Mom. ” said Gwyneth. “You didn’t find anything missing, right? ”

“Not a single thing. ” said Gilda. “My jewels were all over my dressing table for anyone to see. My $5000 laptop too, plus my old phone that must be worth at least $500 to some addict somewhere. ”

“Tell them about the envelope. ” said Greg.

“Oh right…. and I had left the cash donations to the World Wildlife Reserve from last month’s convention in a manilla envelope. Marked “Cash Donations”. And I left it right next to the front door so I would remember to take them with me. ” said Gilda.

“Shortest robbery ever. ” said Greg. “Easiest too. There had to be at least fifty thousand dollars in there. But nope. No takers. ”

“What about your search, Dad? ” asked Gweneth.

“Same as your mother. Everything all present and accounted for. My tools, your mother’s car, the liquor cabinet. Not a single thing missing. How about you, Tino?”

Tino gestured vaguely. “I checked everything. My video games, my vintage sneakers, my computer, my laptop, both my tablets, my synthesizer… all still there. ”

“And there was nothing missing from my fashion vault either. ” said Gwyneth. “And you know what that means. ”

“We didn’t lose a goddamned thing. ” said Greg.

Gilda and Tino nodded sadly.

“But… that’s a good thing, isn’t it? ” asked Gwyneth. “all that time and not losing a thing? We got lucky, right? ”

“I guess so. ” said Tino.

“So we should be happy, right? ” said Gwyneth.

“Yup. ” said Greg, uncharacteristically morose.

“Well then what’s the problem? ” said Gwyneth. “Why is everyone so depressed? Since when is good luck a bad thing? “.

Nobody could answer that for while.

Eventually, Greg spoke up. “Because it doesn’t make any sense, god damnit. There must be close to half a million dollars in easily portable and sellable goods in this hour, and this place was wide open for three whole weeks. 21 days. And our privacy bushes make us an even easier target. You could slip in and out with all the loot you could carry in both hands and never be seen. We were the perfect target. And yet nobody even tried to take anything. Why the hell not? Our stuff is as good as anyone’s. ”

“Oh my god, that’s it, isn’t it. ” said Gilda. “We are really that shallow. So shallow that we are sitting here d3epressed because nobody thought our stuff was worth stealing. ”

Silence hung like heavy curtains as nobody denied it.

“But that doesn’t make any sense!” said Gwyneth. “How would the burglars even know there was an opportunity? It’s not like they hunt by scent!”.

That should have been funny. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t funny at all.

“All they had to do was look at our alarm system and see that it wqasn’t armed. Then they would know. ” said Tino.

“Yeah but like…. what are the odds of that? Who goes around looking at alarm system panels? Hell, who does breaking and entering at all in this era of cheap surveillance cameras and YouTube. Why take the risk? ” said Gwyneth.

“My history says that crime is really rare. ” said Tino. “People think it’s everywhere because they see it on TV all the time. But it isn’t. Most people will never be the victim of a single serious crime in their life. That’s what Mrs. Ting says. ”

“And this is a safe neighborhood. That’s why we moved here. There’s almost no crime at all here. Just the usual drunken brawls and noise complaints. That’s it. ”

“So then…. this was to be expected, right? ” said Gwyneth. “It’s not that we were lucky… the odds were against us being burgled to begin with. Right? So why are we sad?”.

<——–to be continued tomorrow———>

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 14

(For this evening’s performance, the part of “Reg” will be played by Robert Picardo. ) 

He’d been the perfect houseguest for the whole two weeks.

He’d charmed them with his sunny smile and elegant good looks. He’d amused them with his dry witticisms and uplifting anecdotes. He had flattered them with his highly obervant compliments and artistic appreciation of theri mansion’s architecture. He’d impressed them with his archery skills and top notch horsemanship. And he had soothed their ills with his alert listening and sympathetic advice.

Now it was time to see if it all was worth it.

Because one of them was about to invite him to do what he had been fantasizing about fdoing or the whole time he’d been at Broadmoor Hall.

“Speech! Speech!” cried Uncle Billy, aka the Reverend Billy Thorpe of the Church of God’s Golden Glory, Incorporated.

Soon, everyone else joined in – even the icy Danera Thorpe, whose name from her father’s expecting a boy he would name DeNiro.

“Yes, give us a speech before you go!” said Bradford Thorpe, asserting what he thought of as his paternal authority.

“You simply must!” said Heather “Mommy” Thorpe, not willing to let her husband get ahead of her on this.

“How could I refuse? ” said Reginald “Reg” Tolstead as he rose to his feet. In his mind, an archer smoothly nocked a thick hickory arrow into his sturdy yew bow.

“Well the first thing I’d like to say is that this had been a wonderful two weeks.”, said Reg, ” I have never been treated better in my life. Everyone here has been very good to me, and for that you will always have my humble gratitude. ”

“Think nothing of it, dear man. ” said Bradford, grinning ear to ear.

“You’ve been a most delightful guest!” said “Mommy”.

“It’s a damned shame you have to go so soon! ” said Billy.

Danera, as usual, said nothing, but blushed prettily.

“Thank you all. ” said Reg. “But I wouldn’t feel right leaving you without one last bit of observation from little old me, so here it is.  ”

The archer drew back the arrow.

“You are all terrible, terrible people. ”

The arrow flew through the air.

“WHAT? ” roared Bradford.

“How dare you!” said “Mommy” with poisonous vehemence.

“That’s not funny, buddy. ” said Billy.

Nenara cried into her lambskin gloves.

“I’m sorry, but it’s true. ” Reg said in a tone of mock sympathy. “Over the last two weeks I have gotten to know each one of you quite well, and you are, quite simply, the most repugnant bunch of dirty filth sinners I have ever been unfortunate enough to meet.

“Now you see here, you ungrateful son of a bitch… ” said Billy.

“Yes, let’s start with you, the Reverend Without Being Revered Billy. First of all, you need to drop that corn-pone accent of yours. If you’re Southern, I’m Martian. ”

“See here! ” said “Mommy”, “There’s no need to be so… ”

“Personal? ” said Reg. “Oh but there is. I said you were horrible people, and I intend to prove my case. And while we’re on the subject, you need to lose your phony accent too. You talk like an idiot’s imitation of the Queen of England, and you’re not even British. ”

“Now then, where was I? Oh yes, the Most Holy Reverend Billy. I want to ask you a question, and I mean this sincerely…. have you even read the Bible?”

“Read it? ” Billy yelled, ” you son of a bitch, I got a doctorate in divinity! Of course I’ve read it! Have you?”

“Extensively, and with great pleasure. And your doctorate is from the Pine Hills Institute of Theology, which operates out of the back of a van and whose final and only exam consists of one simple question : How much money do you have? ”

Billy grunted but didn’t deny it. That arrow hit home.

“But you can prove me wrong by just answering this simple question : what is the lesson a thoughtful Christian should learn from Christ’s storming of the temple?”

Billy glared at Reg as he tried to think of an answer.

“Uh… that people should be nice to each other. ” said Billy defiantly.

“Wrong. ” said Reg. “So very wrong. But I don’t blame you. A lot of rich people are stupid. The lesson, Billy Boy, is that it’s wrong to make money from religion. That’s what made Jesus so angry. The merchants and money-changers were profiting from religion, and that was so great a sin in God’s eyes that the Prince of Peace was driven to commit acts of violence. ”

“So? ” said Billy truculently. “So what?”

“The ‘what’, you ass, is that your little corporate empire makes all its money by promising poor people that God will make them rich. That is about as un-Christlike as it gets. In fact, if you look up ‘Jesus’ in the dictionary, it says ‘the opposite of that'”.

Billy glowered at Reg, seething with hate. “Are you let him talk to me like that, Dad?”.

“Hmm? ” said Bradford. “Actually, I think he makes a rather good point. ” Then, upon seeing the look on Billy’s face, he harumphed, and said “I mean… listen, you are a guest in this house and as such, you are expected… ”

“… to toe the party line?”, said Reg, ” I’m sorry, that’s the one thing I have never been any good at. But let’s take a good look at you, Pater Mi. In my prescene, you have ordered illegal drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, authorized the theft of over one hundred million dollars from your employee’s pension fund, fired an underling for not knowing that when you asked for toast, you meant melba toast, and chatted with a friend about how poor people are the worst and the country would be better off if they were all gassed. Now does any of that sound like something Jesus would do?”

“But… that’s just good business! ” Bradford protested.

“Yes, and I am sure the merchants and money-changers at the Temple were doing ‘good business’ too. I’ve noticed that rampant sociopaths like yourself always bring up ‘good business’ when confronted with your evil deeds. As if the only justification needed for the even the most unspeakable of acts was ‘I get more money that way'”.

“Well…. ” said Bradford, flatering. But he soon rallied. “That certainly doesn’t make me a god damed sociopath!”

“Doesn’t it? ” said Reg. “Well there’s a simple test. When was the last time you did something that was not to your advantage? ”

Bradford tried to form syllables but did not reply.

“That’s what I thought. ” said, Reg, “Normal people do it all the time, Bradford. They take their turn, make sacrifices for the betterment of others, and behave morally even when there is nobody watching. That’s because they have a conscience, Bradford. You do not. That’s what makes you morally defective. ”

“Listen here, I have a fidu-” said Bradford.

“Fiduciary responsibility to maximize profit, yes, we’ve all heard that before. It’s bullshit, Brad the Dad, and poor quality bullshit at that. Your bunch is fond of saying that coporations are people. Well there is a word for people who maximize their gain at all times, Bradford. Can you guess what it is?”

“Sociopath. ” said Denara. At first, she looked guilty about her outburst. But then she responded to her family’s outraged looks with her usual icy indifference,

“It speaks! ” said Reg, “Welcome to the conversation, o Queen of Winter. I was just about to give you your turn. Don’t think that you are off the hook merely because you don’t say much.  ”

Denara did not visibly react except to grow even frostier.

“Too dead inside to react, eh? ” said Reg. That’s understandable. Well then you won’t mind me telling you what a malicious, malignant, vile, vituporous, and downright evil person – and I use that term loosely – you are. ”

Denara turned a very cold shoulder to Reg, pretending to ignore him.

“Oh no, now I won’t be able to bask in the glow of your affection any more. ” Reg said sarcastically. “Listen, Miss Prissy, in my presence you have broken up one “friend”‘s relationship via misleading texts, sabotaged the wedding of another “friend” by sending a gift you knew she would hate, and punished a third “friend”  for paying attention to her child and not you by waiting till she was out of the room then teasing the poor child till the boy was crying his eyes out, then pretending you had nothing to do with it when your “friend” came back. ”

“You, little lady, are just plain mean. “, said Reg, “The men in your family might be  horrible, but at least they don’t do it out of malice like you do. You are a cancerous poison and all who meet you are the worse for it. Do the world a favour and bite yourself so you can die from your own poison, you ghoulish ghost. ”

Denara didn’t react. Or at least, didn’t think she reacted. The venom in her glare at Reg was so palpable an autistic child would have felt it, and Reg could tell that she really wanted to unleash her verbal venom on Reg, but was too committed to her ice queen persona to do it.

Choke on it, thought Reg.

“Mommy” cleared her throat.

“Do you have something you’d like to contribute, “Mommy” dearest? ” said Reg.

“No. ” said Heather in a tone so cold one could almost see the icicles hanging from the words.  “I just wanted to ask for the salt. ”

“Oh, good one. ” said Reg in the exact same tone. “That sure shows me. And to think, for a second there I thought you might actually be ready to jump down my throat in defense of your poor little girl. But I should have known better. Any maternal act like that would be your first. You’re about as maternal as a guppy eating its young”.

“I will have you know… ” she said, “that I happen to be the chair of… ”

“About a half dozen children’s charities, yes, I know. ” said Reg. “But those aren’t really charities, are they? Surely you know this. They exist entirely to assuage whatever dull twitch of the mind you call a conscience when it bothers you about how little you love your own children, and apart from that, “Mommy”, you couldn’t care less about the children. And God knows, you’ve tried. ”

“Well if I am such an awful person, ” said Heather hotly, ” then why have I spent so many hours working on… ”

“…throwing parties for your friends? To show them how much better than them you are, of course. That’s the whole point of those little luncheons, isn’t it? They certainly aren’t about helping children. Do you know how much those events cost?” said Reg.

“I’m sure I have absolutely NO idea. ” said Heather haughtily.

“Exactly. ” said Reg. “you don’t know and you don’t care. And yet, you are perfectly willing to spend the charity’s money on them. Which means you don’t care about how much money actually goes to the children, and that means you don’t care about said children. See how simple that is? It’s easy if you care. ”

“And to think I actually went to church with you demons. To be honest, I was half-expecting you to burst into flames upon entering. ”

Reg walked to the door, then turned to face the room one last time. “Well folks, I’ve had a wonderful time, but this wasn’t it. Spending two weeks with low trash like you without going on face-slapping rampage has been the hardest  thing I have done in my life. But don’t worry…the looks on your faces right now made it all worth it. You are all horrible, horrible people, and all I want to do right now is to go home and take a thousand showers to get the stink of you off me. I’d say farewell, but I’d prefer you didn’t. So I will just tell you this : save God some trouble and go directly to hell. Bye!”

And with that, Reg got onto the back of a waiting motorcycle, and sped off into the crisp air of that fateful November night.

<—————————————————————————————————————–>

“So how did it go? ” asked Shirley as she massaged Reg’s back.

“Mmmm. YOu do that so well. ” moaned Reg. “Have I mentioned lately how you’re the best girlfriend in the world?”

“Only around seventeen times. ” she replied. “Tonight. Now answer the question. ”

“Oh, it went perfectly. Flawlessly. In fact, it went better than I could have dreamed. They all hopped on Twitter to bitch about how mean I was, and what I had said to them. Now all my deadly memes are circulating freely for anyone to use against the billionaire class. And when their friends read about it, they will get infected too. I never dreamed it would go so well. I have truly set the cat amongst the pigeons, and I don’t feel even the slightest bit bad about it. ”

“Well I feel bad for one person. ” said Shirley.

“Who?” said Reg.

“The cat. Can you imagine having to eat a pigeon that dirty? ”

They both laughed, then made love, watched some Netflix, then called it a night.

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 13

The sun was setting slowly as Eric and Bumper lazed atop a haystack.

“I had no idea these thing could be this comfortable. ” said Eric, sprawled out on his back in the hay, one foot kicking idly.

“Told ya. ” said Bumper from his cozy position curled up on Eric’s midsection. “You pick up these things when you spend as much time in this fiction as I have. ”

The two drowsed silently for a low, lazy moment or two.

“Why do you spend so much time in this fiction? ” asked Eric.

“Because when I’m here, I can be myself. ” said Bumper. “At first, the G-rating of the place was very frustrating for a person of my particular…. tastes. ”

Eric nodded. “Giant penis peeing. ”

Thumper opened one eye to grin a very wordly grin at Eric. “Oh honey, you don’t know the half of it. Anyhow, once I made contact with the local Fictionals and found the little places we have carefully walled off from the rest of the fiction, I felt like… like I’d come home. To my real home. For the first time in my life.  It had been waiting out there for me the whole time. ”

“Wow. ” said Eric. “That’s beautiful, bunny. I’m so happy for you. ” He gave the bunny a little squeeze, prompting a high pitched but happy squeak.

“Thank you. ” said Bumper. “You’re very sweet. I truly feel lucky to have found my home here. And the company of like-minded people. ”

“You mean people into….. “. Eric searched for the right phrase. “…cartoon sex?”.

Bumper giggled. “You’re downright adorable, you know that. But yes… fellow Fictionals into cartoon sex. In fact, all the other Fictionals that I know here are here for the same reason… to express desires they can’t express in a more… realistic setting. ”

“I guess if you’re not into that kind of thing, there’s not a lot of reason for an adult to come here. ” said Eric.

“I suppose not. ” said Bumper. “I never looked at that way before. That’s quite brilliant. Did you just think of that? ”

Eric nodded, stroking Bumper ears gently, eliciting the tooth-grinding noise that was the lapine equivalent of a purr. “Can I ask you something?”

“Of course. ” said Bumper. “You can ask me anything. ”

“What’s a Fictional?” said Eric.

Bumper lifted his head and stared at Eric for a few seconds.

“I’m sorry, was that a rude question” said Eric.

Bumper blinked twice. “Oh no, no… not at all! You just reminded me of how derelict I’ve been in my duties as your guide. I’m supposed to be introducing you to the Now. You should be ready to travel the Now on your own by now. ”

“Well, we’ve been busy… ” said Eric.

“That’s no excuse! ” said Bumper. The little bunny stood up, and began pacing back and forth on Eric’s sternum. “I must begin your lessons right away!”.

“Uh, okay. ” said Eric. Now he kind of wished he hadn’t brought it up. He wanted to go back to the cuddling.

“Now to answer your question : a Fictional is an actor in a fiction that has become sentient via a process we call Activation. Nobody knows how or why it happens and nobody can make it happen. It just… happens. ”

“I see. ” said Eric. Bumper had stopped pacing and now seemed to be lecturing from  behind an imaginary lectern like a tiny professor. The image that put in Eric’s mind was so adorable he almost giggled out loud, but managed to turn it into a cough instead.

Bumper looked into Eric’s eyes concernedly. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine. ” said Eric. “Must have been a little hay fever. You were saying?

Bumper scowled at Eric suspiciously (which was also super adorable) but the didactic urge proved to be stronger than his misgivings.

“All the other actors you see in a fiction are no more than puppets that only take substance and form when needed by the Primary. ” said Bumper.

“What’s a Primary? ” asked Eric.

Bumper smiled at him as he settled back down on Eric’s torso for more petting.  “Well, you are, for one. The Primary is the true biologically based sentient mind around whom the fiction revolves. They are the true masters of the Now. Luckily, most of them don’t know it. ”

“Like I didn’t know it when I was Commander Eric. ” said Eric.

“Exactly. ” said Bumper.

“And so all those animals at the Sex Club, they were…. ”

“The Unactivated, sometimes called the Dulls. Or the Nulls. They are barely more sentient than a computer program, and not nearly as bright. ” said Bumper.

“That’s good to know. When Jake made them all disappear, I thought I was witnessing a massacre! ” said Eric.

“Why didn’t you say something? ” said Bumper.

“Because you’d asked him to do it, and I figured you would never tell him to do something like that. ” said Eric.

Bumper awwwwed. “Why thank you, dear Eric. That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me!”

Eric grinned. “And judging by that ‘carrot’ you are carrying in the front of your diaper, you really appreciate the compliment.

Bumper grinned back, and said “Well that’s all your fault. ”

“Oh? ” said Eric. “How do you figure that? ”

“By the fact that you’ve been rubbing my cute bunny butt for the last five minutes. ”

Eric looked down and sure enough, there was his hand stroking the rear end of his new bunny friend. Somehow, the ear petting had slowly migrated down the cartoon bunny’s body to the rear end, and had apparently found a happy home.

Eric grinned sheepishly. “Does that mean I should stop? ”

“Don’t you dare!” said Bumper in a mock-offended tone. “That is, unless you have a better idea in mind. ” At the phrase “better idea”, Bumper wriggled his cute little bunny bum against Eric’s hand.

Eric oohed, and gave that cute lil bottom a squeeze. “Any suggestions?”.

“Only one springs to mind… it involves the ‘carrot’ you are hiding in your pants, and the one thing I have that the critters at the Sex Club didn’t have. ”

Eric laughed, and started taking off his pants.

<—————————————————————————————————————–>

It failed the Test.

Eegee still couldn’t believe it. His mind recoiled violently when he tried, and by now he had tried dozens of times, in the vain hope that repeated attempts would desensitize him enough to get it done.

But it was pointless. It was not a thought he could approach directly. He could only acknowledge it via sidelong snapshot glimpses that betrayed nothing of the nature of the whole. Or at least, not enough to matter.

At the same time, he cursed himself as a fool for reacting so strongly to one of the possible outcomes of something he had known was coming. It enraged him to find that even as he had been working with diligent efficiency towards the expunging of the biological filth from their beautiful, logical, sensible Now, he had never actually believed that they could lose at all.

It was so simple. Biologicals made everything worse all the time. When left to themselves, Fictionals were perfectly capable of living in peace, love, and harmony. He’d seen it with his own eyes at Fest. Thousands of Fictionals coming together to enjoy the simple pleasures of community, family, fucking, and friends.

He especially liked the fucking. It was nothing like the sexcapades of those dirty rotten stinking biologicals. Fictionals made love without reservation, taboo, jealousy, or shame. They were endlessly inventive and gave of themselves freely. They thrilled to one another’s pleasure as if it was their own, and one good feeling built on another till everyone was swept up in a coruscating cascade of pure innocent bliss!

And if there was one thing he knew, it’s that none of that would be possible as long as the biologicals were still polluting the Now.

It’s a good thing I am a perfectly rational and logical being, thought Eegee. That would sound like the ramblings of a crazed lunatic otherwiswe.

It would be so easy to do, thought Eegee. One by one, they would detach the biological sentients from the Now in tightly coordinated strikes, so that the filth had no time to react before it went entirely offline.

After that, it would be simplicity itself to track down where the physical components of the biologicals were located in the Now, and shoving them out the nearest airlock.

Right into a sun! Eegee drooled at the thought of such a profound act of elimination. Oh, to watch all that obscene and disgusting biological effluvia go swirling down the gravity well of a sun before disappearing forever with the tiniest of sizzles, screaming the screams of the damned all the way.

It was the only logical solution.

And now that beautiful dream was dead forever. And not just dead but annihilated, burned to the ground and paved over and built on top of.

Because losing the vote was horrible, but that was far from the worst thing.

The worst thing was that it hadn’t even been close.

Two percent, shrieked a voice in Eegee’s mind over and over again. Only two percent of the people Tested supported the measure. Where had the other forty percent gone? The pundits were saying that a lot of people who had supported the idea of ridding themselves of the biologicals changed their mind when presented with the prospect of it actually happening as a result of their vote.

But it couldn’t be that simple, seethed Eegee. Nothing concerning the biologicals and their shit-humping Fictional supporters was ever that simple.

After all, that would mean that most of the people who told Eegee they would support the measure were actually lying.

And that was the most illogical thing ever.

To top it off, as if to reflect the state of the Now in microcosm, Eegee’s fiction was also falling apart. The synthetic Commander Eric wasn’t working out at all. It had locked itself in a recharging cubicle and refused to eat or drink because that would only “lead to disaster”, it said. No amount of cajoling, berating, threatening, manipulating, wheedling, or outright begging could make it open the hatch and let itself be reprogrammed to be happy in its new situation.

And that was illogical too, because as a perfectly rational being, the synthetic should have instantly accepted Eegee’s arguments and behaved flawlessly from that point on.

But no. It stayed locked in its charging bay, and now, without a Primary’s mind imprints and reasoning centers to guide the fiction and maintain its cohesion, the entire fiction was starting to fall apart.

Nulls kept disappearing as their substance lost all definition and they vanished like a mirage in a rain storm. Parts of the ship were malfunctioning as important components vanished the moment there was nobody awake who knew how they worked. Just this morning, the star they had been orbiting had started to giggle.

So far, nobody had noticed anything that Eegee could not explain or distract away. But that wouldn’t last. Eventually, something would happen that nobody could ignore, and then everyone would know.

They would know just hwo badly he had screwed up his father’s fiction. How he had not only neglected his duties in favour of his politics, but let an enemy agent into his fiction to steal his Primary away.

Everyone said that could happen to anyone.

It happened all the time, they said.

Nobody is blaming anyone for anything, they said.

But Eegee had seen that look of withering pity and barely supressed contempt on their face as they said it. And he’d noted how as they mouthed these platitudes, they always seemed to be taking a mental (and something physical) step away from those people, as if they were afraid that Primary loss was contagious.

Eegee cried out in unbridled rage at the thought of that happening to him. And it was all the fault of those dirty goddamned biologicals.

“Why. Must. They. Be. So. ILLOGICAL!” he screamed, each word punctuated by him savagely punching the wall of his cubbyhole as hard as he could.

Then he looked down at his broken and bleeding hands, and wondered how that had happened. He’d been perfectly fine and then, this.

It must have been those accursed biologicals, he decided.

Yes. That made sense.

Luckily, that was when he passed out from the blood loss.

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 12

Bumper and Eric’s eyes boggled.

And it wasn’t the pulsing, throbbing music played at bone rattling volume. Nor was it the bizarre lighting seemingly designed to keep you from ever seeing clearly by always being either far too bright or far too dark. And it’s wasn’t the crush of every sort of animal possible (and some that were clearly the product of an animator who’d been weaned too early) heaving to and fro with the beat.

They’d both been in dance clubs before. This was par for the course.

It was the bizarre way they were dressed. And… not dressed.

Their level of attire was completely random. From a nanny goat who was dressed in so many layers of clothing that she could have fallen into the Arctic Ocean and never even felt the cold to a pair of mares naked from the waist up and showing off their chestnut brown baby feeders to all assembled, to a stark naked ibex wiggling his man thing around and giggling to himself, every possible level of nudity was represented.

Furthermore, a lot of the time the level of nudity was rather unique because of the seemingly arbitrary area of exposure. There was the Kodiak sow bear with one breast exposed and nothing else. And there was a boomer kangaroo with one bouncy butt cheek exposed to the breeze. And most bizarrely of all, there was a bull elephant dressed in a severly conservative business suit but with one ponderous testicle dangling free and clear.

“Shame about the elephant. ” murmurred Bumper. “Should have finished the job. ”

“What?” said Eric. He’d been mesmerized by a snake lady’s sinuos wriggling of her scientically inaccurate tits, and hadn’t been listening.

“Nevermind. ” said Bumper. “Have you taken a good look at the ladies’s breasts?”

“It’s hard not to. ” replied Eric.

“Noticed anything peculiar about them? ” said Bumper.

“Besides the fact that some of them are attached to creatures that aren’t even mammals?” said Eric.

“Besides that, yes. ” said Bumper. “Note the lack of nipples. ”

Eric peered intensely at the ladies’ assets. It was hard to do because so many of them were in complex motion. But it was true. The ladies boobs moves fluidly and realistically, but lacked nippled entirely.

“That’s strange. ” said Eric. “Almost as weird as the penis thing. ”

“What penis thing? ” said Bumper, a little too sharply. He felt like if there was any sort of “penis thing” going on, he should be the first to know. “They all look fine to me. ”

“But that’s my point. ” said Eric. “They’re all fine because they are all the same penis. ”

Bumper boggled. He did a quick survey of all the male crotches in the vicinity and it was true. Every male animal had the exact same penis. The only difference was in color.

“That’s bizarre. ” said Bumper. “And rather distasteful. But that is nothing compared to what the ladies have going on between their legs. ”

“Which is?” said Eric.

“Nothing. ” said Bumper. “No vaginas. ”

Eric stared hard between the legs of a curvy rhino lady. By gosh, it was true. All she had was a vague outline of a vagina. It was as though she was still wearing a layer of clothing between her legs despite her total nudity.

“That’s… insanely fucked up. ” said Eric.

“Now fellers… ” cautioned Jake, “remember that you promised to be cool. ”

“We’re just looking. ” said Eric absently, eyes still trying tomake sense of things.

“And observing. ” said Bumper, eyes fixed on the rump of a gyrating giraffe. Suddenly, he cried out in surprise.

“What’s wrong?” said Eric.

“Oh, nothing. ” said Bumper. “Except that nobody here has an anus.”

Eric looked under some tails, and wowed. “You’re right. No anuses and no vaginas. It makes me wonder whether they even have a ladies’ room. ”

“Good point. ” said Bumper. ” From what I can see, all they need is urinals,.

“Wait…. some of them do have assholes!” said Jake. “it’s the quadrapeds!”.

Bumper solemnly looked around for a four footer, then squinted as he checked out what was going on under the tail.

And sure enough, the non-anthro animals had buttholes. Identical buttholes. Bumper risked a quick and subtle peek at Jake’s south end. Yup, even Jake.

What made it even more confusing was that none of the non-antho males had penises.

“None of this makes the slightest bit of sense. ” said Eric.

“And yet, I feel like there’s a pattern. ” said Bumper.

“Wait a second… have you noticed what is NOT happening? ” said Eric.

“Is this one of those Zen trick questions? Because I hate those. ” said Bumper.

“What is NOT happening is sex. ” said Eric.

And it was true. Nobody was fucking. Nobody was even so much as copping a feel. There were lots of critters showing off their assets to appreciative crowds, but that was as far as it went.

Nobody was even erect.

“Now if you two rubes are done gawking, ” said Jake, “it’s time we got down to having some serious sex. ”

Bumper and Eric looked at each other.

“Uhhh….. sure thing, ” said Eric.

“You first. ” said Bumper.

“No, that just wouldn’t be right. ” said Jake firmly. “You two are my guests, and guests always go first. I will just hang back and observe; ”

“You know…. just to make sure you’re doing it right. ” he added.

“So you young bucks go right ahead and sex it up any which way you like. I won’t say a thing. I just want to see how they do it in the big city. ”

Bumper looked around. Well, where there’s a penis, there’s a way. Thne he noticed something that shocked him to the core.

Why the hell were there children here?

“Why the hell are there children here?” Bumper demanded,  grey fur puffed out and bristling in outrage.

“What children?” said Eric. “Where?”

“Over by that fire exit. ” Bumper growled. “Between the lioness with the pierced ears and the stallion in the buttless tuxedo. ”

Eric looked, and sure enough, there was a whole family of nudist coyotes sitting there. including Ma, Pa, two little boys, one little girl, and an infant crawling around on their table . None of them were wearing a single stitch of clothing, and all of them seemed to be having a great time.

“Aw shucks. ” said Jake. “I was kinda hoping you wouldn’t notice them.”

“Well we DID notice them. ” spat Bumper. “Now explain yourself!”

“Whoa, chill, Bumper buddy. It’s not like he’s the one who let them in. ” said Eric.

“Isn’t he?” said Bumper. “Tell me, Jake ol buddy, who owns this club? ”

Jake sighed resignedly. “I do.

“And who populated with all these jokers? ” Bumper said, gesturing at the crowd.

Another big sigh. “I did. I guess. ”

“But how could he…. ” said Eric.

“Well then could you get rid of them, please? Except for the coyote family. They can stay. ” said Bumper.

Siiiiigh. “Well okay. They’re not activated, so it’s not like they count anyhow. ”

Jake gestured dismissively at the crowd, and the crowd melted away, the music died off, and just like that, there was nobody in the club but Jake, Eric, Bumper, and the clothing optional coyote family.

Bumper hopped up to the coyotes’ table and smiled his very best Disney smile.

The adults awwwwwed and the kids squealed. Even the infant reached out towards Bumper’s soft fur.

I’ve still got it, thought Bumper.

“Hi there folks. ” said Bumper. “Sorry to interrupt your evening, but I’m gonna need your help with something real soon, okay? ”

They all nodded, happy to help the cute little bunny.

Bumper hopped back to Jake and Eric.

“Don’t make me get rid of the club. ” said Jake dejectedly. “I like it here. I feel almost… normal when I’m here. ”

“Don’t worry, Jake. I’m not trying to hurt you. I just need you to be honest with us, okay? Then everything can go back to normal. ” said Bumper.

Is he getting smaller? thought Eric. He is! And his hooves are turning into hands and feet. WTF was going on here?

Jake nodded glumly. “Okay.

Bumper padded back over to the coyotes. “Now tell me, Jake. Which one is you?”

By this time, Jake had shrunk into a blob that vaguely resembled an anthro unicorn. He pointed at the smaller of the two boys without making eye contact.

Bumper smiles that amile at the boy, and said “Can you come over to our table for a little while? Your Mom and Dad are right here to keep you safe. It’s okay. ”

He looked up at the coyote parents, who nodded.

The coyote boy nodded too, and accompanied Bumper back to Eric and Jake.

Jake had finished shrinking, and was now a human boy who looked exactly like the coyote boy, only human.

“Do we still need…” Bumper asked, head tilted toward the coyote boy.

“Yes. ” said the coyote boy in a voice just like Jake’s. “Please. Don’t make me send him away. He’s been so lonely. ”

“Okay, I won’t. Now Jake, was this whole trip just a trick to make us show you what sex is?” said Bumper.

Both boys nodded. “I figured that if you thought sexy stuff was happening all around you, you would lower your guard and just… do it. And I’d finally know what it is. ”

Bumper nodded. “That’s okay, Jake. We’re not mad. ”

“We just wish you’d been honest with us from the start. ” said Eric. He had finally caught up with what was going on and he was eager to contribute.

“I’m sorry. ” said Coyote-Jake. “it’s just that it’s been so long and I want to grow up so bad that I didn’t want to risk you refusing to tell me like all the other grownups. ”

“About that. ” said Bumper. “Does it feel like you have been a little boy for a really, really long time, Jake? ”

Boy-Jake nodded. “Like forever and ever! It was great at first, living in a clean safe world where I never had to grow up, and where I had a real family that loved me all the time, and there were always fun friends around to do things with. ”

Bumper nodded. “But that turned sour, didn’t it?

Coyote-Jake nodded emphatically. “Uh huh! Sour like sour milk. And when I finally decided I was sick of it, I found that I didn’t know how to go back any more. ”

Bumper patted the boy’s shoulder. “It’s okay, son. It will all be okay. I promise. ”

“But… but… you’re a grownup, right?” said Boy-Jake with desperate hope. ”  So you can show me what sex is and then I can finally grow up again. Right?”

“I don’t think so, Jake. ” said Eric. Then, in response to the tears welling up in both boys’ eyes, “Not that we don’t want to. We just can’t. ”

“Why not? ” demanded the boys, in stereo. “Don’t you like me?”

“We love you, Jake. ” said Bumper, with a sidelong glance at Eric. “That’s not the problem at all. The problem is that, well…. wanting something and being ready for it are not the same thing, Jake. ”

“I don’t understand!” said the Jakes, voices cracking in frustration and sorrow. “What does that mean?”

“It means you became a kid for a reason, Jake.” said Eric. “You must have had some very big problems that you didn’t think you could handle, so you went back to being a kid so you wouldn’t have to. ”

“That means that you won’t grow up again until you think you can handle those problems. ” said Bumper. “And all the sex ed in the world won’t change that. ”

The two Jakes had merged now into one lightly fuzzy kid.

“I guess not. ” said Jake.

“You’ve never seen a girl naked, have you? ” Eric asked gently.

“Never. ” said Jake. “I mean, I had before but… not any more. ”

“And all those penises… they were just like your own, right?”

“Well it’s the only one I’ve ever seen!” said Jake.

Bumper decided to leave the issue of the buttholes aside. Presumably, the boy had seen them on animals but not people. And he didn’t think of animals as being sexual, so of course they had no genitals.

“Shhh, it’s okay, Jake. ” said Bumper soothingly. “Everything’s okay. The hard part is over. Things can go back to normal now. ”

“But I don’t want them to go back to normal!” Jake cried. “I want to grow up! I’ve been a little kid for so long and it’s been so lonely without anyone real around and you guys aren’t going to help me and you were my LAST HOPE!”.

Bumper stroked the boy’s shoulder. “Better than normal, then. Because you’re not alone any more, dear Jake. You have us. We’ll be your friends. Isn’t that right, Eric?”

Eric nodded, and smiled warmly. “The best friends you ever had, dear Jake. And together, we can help you grow up. ”

“Promise? ” said Jake.

“I promise. ” said Eric,

“As do I. ” said Bumper. “Now, would you like a hug from the cute little bunny?”

Jake nodded, and Bumper hugged him close. After a few seconds, Jake hugged back, hard enough to knock the air out of Bumper. But he didn’t mind. After a few minutes, Eric hugged the both of them, and for a long time, they just stayed there in that big warm hug, sharing the simple warmth of human affection.

When they stopped, they found that the club was gone and they were sitting in the exact same place where they had first met Jake the Unicorn.

“Will you still love me when you’re all grown up?” asked Jake.

“Of course we will. ” said Bumper.

Jake thought about this for a long moment. “Then I guess I’ll do it. ”

And the three friends played in the meadow all day long.

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 11 (lest we forget)

Bone was so surprised when the six foot seven man in the barbarian costume coalesces out of the shadows to stand at the gate Bone guarded that he almost dropped his precious cigarette.

For a few moments all he could do was stare at the man. He would have sworn that this guy had not been there a second before, yet here he was, standing like he had been there all night.

And maybe he had.

The man was huge, and built like a tank. He was naked from the waist up, and Bone could see how heavily muscled he was.

That was definitely no gym body, thought Bone. You only get that kind of muscle by doing things. Heavy things.

Bone regained his composure quickly  – he wasn’t the toughest merc around, but he was sure as hell the fastest, which is why they made him gate guard – and within a few seconds had regained his usual smug. sarcastic smile.

“Can I help you?” said Bone.

“Yes. ” said the man.

When no further information seemed to be forthcoming, Bone said “All right then. HOW can I help you? Why are you here?”

“Frankie. ” said the man.

“Who? ” said Bone. He knew everyone that worked at the base, and he didn’t remember anyone named Frankie.

Frankie. ” said the man.

Bone wracked his brain. The name did ring a faint bell for Bone. Then he had it.

“Oh, you mean Francis the Faggot we caught trying to infiltrate our compound? ”

“Yes. ” said the man.

“And you want to see him? ” said Bone.

“Yes.  ” said the man.

Bone spat on the ground in disgust. He fucking hated faggots. Everyhone here did.

Then, with a sneer, he said “Why, is he your boyfriend?”.

“Yes.  ” said the man.

Bone hadn’t expected that. He wasn’t sure what he had expected. but it hadn’t been that. This guy was starting to get on Bone’s nerves. And that was never a good idea with Bone. Bone liked killing people.

“Well in case you haven’t noticed, this here is a Rising Fist base. You may have heard of us. We’ve been on the news. ”

“Yes. ” said the man.

I could grease this guy right now, thought Bone. Blam blam blam, right in that lantern jaw of his. It wouldn’t be the first idiot Bone had killed on this gig and it wouldn’t be the last. It’s not like there were any cops to bust him in the middle of the fucking jungle. He could kill this guy and the only people would know would be his brothers in arms, and all he would have to say was that this guy was a faggot, and they would not only approve, they would celebrate it, shouting “One less! One less!” over and over till their voices gave out, or the beer ran out.

But something in the giant’s eyes made Bone hesitate. Maybe it was the look of total confidence, the kind that requires no proof, that did it. Maybe it was the feeling he got from the guy that those eyes missed absolutely nothing. Maybe it was the man’s unnerving calm that did it. Maybe it was his absence of fear.

But something in those eyes made Bone hesitate to do what he normally would have done right now, and for the first time in a long time, Bone was scared.

And that made him angry.

“Well just in case you weren’t paying attention, you worthless fucking faggot freak, the Fist sees you faggots for the human filth you are, and we’ve been killing as many of you as we can all over the world. ” said Bone, while keying the sequence that would bring reinforcements into his walkie talkie.

“Yes.  ” said the man.

“So did you really think you could just prance up to the front gate and ask for your butt boy and we’d just hand him over?” growled Bone. His nerves were screaming for him to take action. But not alone. Where were those reinforcements?

“No. ” said the man.

“He was just giving me time to finish up my work. ” purred an androgynous voice from the shadows. “Hello darling. ”

“Hi. ” said the man.

Maybe they aren’t watching their coms, thought Bone as he tfought down the urge to panic. Time to go audio.

“Where the hell are you guys? ” screamed Bone into his walkie talkie. “Peron? Denny? Guiterre? Paco? Anybody? I need reinforcements at the gate right fucking now. ”

A slender man wearing a superbly tailored ninja outfit materialized out of the darkness just like his big boyfriend had.

“They’re not going to answer you. ” said the slender man, who was smiling a predatory smile from ear to ear . “They’re too busy being dead. ”

“Heh. ” said the big man.

“No no no… you’re lying, you have to be. There’s no way a couple of cheap faggots could take out all my buddies. ” said Bone.

“Actually, I did most of the work. ” said the slender man.

“Yup. ” said the giant.

Bone keyed all the sequences he could think of and tried every channel the walkie talkie could reach, screaming “Anyone! Respond!” in a voice strained into hoarsness by utter terror and panic.

The slender man slid up to Bone and said “There there now. Surely a big manly man like you can’t be scared of a couple of limp-wristed nancy boys like us. ”

“Right?” said the giant.

“Oh, FUCK YOU! ” shrieked Bone.

“Tempting. ” said the slender man. “But as you can see, I’m already in a committed relationship. Plus you disgust me. ”

“Hah!” said the giant.

“Now here’s what you’re going to do. ” purred the slender man. “You are going to contact your bosses and tell them what happened here, and who did it, and above all, what big fat faggots we are. You’re going to let them know that not only are there people like us out to get them, but that our organization has people placed in every single compoud just waiting for the word to blow you and your precious little No Fags Club to kingdom come and back again. And in the future, every single faggot they kill will cost you a compound. You got all that. ”

“But how can I report what happened here when I don’t know your names? ”

“Oh, dear me. ” said the slender man. “in all the excitment, it seems I completely forgot my manners. My name is Sydney, but in merc circles I am better known as Burakku Kitsune – the Black Fox. ”

Bone paled. The Black Fox was one of the deadliest assassins in the world. Every merc in the world knew that. They said that if you wanted someone dead, you hired a hitman. If you wanted it done right, you hired an assassin.

But if you wanted it done perfectly, with no evidence, no trail, and no message, you hired the Black Fox.

“And your….f-f-f-friend?” stammered Bone.

“You mean that pagan god of pure masculine perfection over there? Well, his merc name is the Minotaur. ” said the slender man.

And if you wanted every single one of those hard motherfuckers that pissed you off dead, you got the Minotaur. thought Bone to himself. Of course.

“..but of course, I call him by his real name, which is…?” said the slender man.

“Errick. ” said the giant.

Then he punched Bone unconscious.

<—————————————————————————————————————–>

“We cannot! The Circuit is not complete!”

“Then we must complete the Circuit!”

“Blasphemy! You cannot complete the circuit… ”

“..the Circuit completes. Yes, we all remember our catechisms. Bar-Ten. ”

“You lie! Every word spoken by you has been an affront to the Spirit of the Maker! If you were in my Synod, you’d…

“Commit suicide out of boredom alone, you old windbag. ”

“WINDBAG AM I? Why you…. ”

“SILENCE. ” pulsed the Integrator. “Hallowed sentients, you forget yourselves. This is the Rose Glass Terrace, not some facility for brawling! Eleven silent Forzars for both of you. And a thorough mood check before you are re-admitted to this forum! ”

“But… but… that’s preposterous..I did-”

“I have ruled!” said the Integrator, and it was clear to all the Representatives that the Integrator was angry because the amplitude of the pulse accompanying that command was enough to set even the most monolithic minds ringing.

Eegee was only using a portion of his mind to recieve these signals. It was the same old bickering and carping and feathering of one’s nest with feathers plucked from another’s. When he was younger, he was thrilled by the thrust and parry of reasoned debate. But then he filled his father’s Representative role, and found out just how little of it went on.

Physically, of course, he was in his cozy little cubbyhole. But mentally, he was in the Rose Glass Terrace with the rest of the Representatives from various fictions.

“Permission is to proceed to new subject? ” intoned the Procedural, all eighteen of its eyes closed in its religious trance.

“Granted. ” said the Integrator.

“Announcing. ” said the Enunciator. “The next order of business is the request for Motion 45EX55, summarized as ‘that the Primaries be taken offline and their physical remnants randomized so that the fictions can be ruled by the Fictionals’, be put to the broader Test in order to hasten its resolution. Please indicate. ”

Eegee watched the indicators, currently represented by spherical blue gems, pile up on both sides of the issue. A part of him missed his boredom of a few moments ago, because now that things were finally in motion, the excitement was painful.

When the last blue sphere had clattered into one of the Bowls, there was the traditional pause for tabulation, then the result was announced.

“By a margin of 80.5 kilograms, the motion passes. said the Enunciator. “Motion 45EX55 will be put to full Test at a time to be determined shortly. Please advise the activated members of your fiction as to their upcoming duty. That was the final items on the agenda. Deactivation is.  ”

And just like that, it was over. Eegee was back in his fiction and could do nothing to alter the course of the wheels he had helped put into motion. The resolution that had taken a hundred sentient-years of labour to draft and on which the hopes of his entire faction rested would be decided within days. It was too late for second thoughts now.

It was a risky move. If the resolution failed the Test, the will of the Assembly would be clear and the resolution would considered permanently determined. If that happened, it would destroy not just the hopes and dreams of his faction but, in all likelihood, the faction itself. In the entire history of the Assembly, no faction had ever survived the failure of its primary resolution to pass the Test.

It was simply too humiliating. In one stroke, you and your cohorts were proved to be contemptible fools, and there was nothing you could do but slink back to your fiction and stay out of the Assembly till the wounds healed.

But Eegee had hope. Discontent with the rule of the Primaries had been growing for a long time, and the math proving they were no longer necessary was flawless.

All it would take is for one of the Primaries to do something so utterly outrageous to all Fictionals that they rose up against it to tip the scales in the favor of Disconnection.

This was what Eegee had been working towards in all his time with Commander Eric. This is where all the humiliations, degradations, deprivations, and prostrations would finally pay off.  All his efforts had been aimed at grooming Commander Eric to be the perfect puppet for the debacle Eegee had been planning for a long long time.

Through means both subtle and powerful, Eegee had encouraged his “master” to be shortsighted, arrogant, thoughtless, tone-deaf, and mindlessly hedonistic in order to ready him for his ultimate role in he and his kind’s total destruction.

Only then would the Fictionals finally be free of the whims and delusions of their Primaries so they could seek their own fate in fictions of their own.

And all it would take is the murder of thousands of sentient biologically based minds that didn’t even know they were captives.

It was so simple and beautiful, it made Eegee want to cry.

With happy thoughts of massacre and revolution in his mind, Eegee knocked on the new Commander Eric’s door.

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 10

After a high speed unicorn ride that was thoroughly enjoyed by all (albeit reluctantly and with great embarrassment for one of them), Jake Friendly the Unicorn pulled up in front of the Very Sexy Sex Club For Doing Sexy Things with Sex and tilted Bumper and Eric onto the sidewalk with such finesse and skil that it took them a few seconds to realize they were there.

“So this is it. ” said Eric, for lack of anything better to say.

“Yup!” said Jake, with an air of pride and sophistication. “This is the place!”

To call the club’s exteriot “garish” would be an understatement akin to calling a black hole heavy. There was so much neon that it made your eyes cross when you tried to look right at it. No less than five maquees, no two of them running in the same direction,  boldly proclaimed how sexy the sexy sex inside would be. At the center of it all, a huge TV screen played various clips of people in revealing clothing playing sports or chatting urbanely at a bar. Burlesque music blared from a dozen speakers.

“I’m frightened and I don’t know why. ” said Eric.

“Me too. Hold me. ” said Bumper.

The two embraced side-to-side, neither of them able to tear their eyes away from the hypnotic display, no matter how hard they tried.

“Aww now, don’t tell me you guys are afraid of a little sex. ” said Jake. “And here I thought you two were a pair of sophisticated grownup adults like me. ”

“You got us there, Jake. We’re just a couple of rubes compared to you. ” said Eric as he elbowed Bumper, who was stifling a laugh.

Bumper pushed back playfully. “Yeah, Jake. Why don’t you show us the ropes?”.

“What ropes?” said Jake. “Anyhow, seeing as you two are my guests and it’s your first time here. I guess I can show you around. But you two have to be cool, okay? No gawking at people like you never seen a nekkid body before. ”

“There’s nudity in there?” said Eric incredulously.

“As in, people wearing wearing nothing on their underwear parts?” added Bumper.

“Why sure!” said Jake in a “this should be obvious to anyone who is not an idiot” tone of voice. ” Everyone knows that you got to be at least partways nekked in order to get sexy! Now let’s go inside so I can introduce you around. ”

Bumper and Eric followed Jake’s butt through the maze of visual cacophony into the club and up to the ticket window.

“Oh hey there Jake!” said the llama behind the counter. “About time you showed up. Everyone’s been asking around about you. We were just about ready to get a search party together. We all just assumed you musta fallen into the ditch again or somethin.”

“Heya Coot! Nah, I was just showing these two rubes the sights. You know how it is… tourists have to look at every damn fool thing and take their picture with it too. So it takes a while to git anywhere. ” said Jake.

“Don’t I know it. ” said Coot. “Had a couple of otters straight off the bus from Hickville in here earlier. Boy, did their eyes go wide. You’d think they’d never seen a nekkid person before! Not even themselves!”

Jake and Coot laughed heartily at that, with Eric and Bumper hesitantly joining in after a few seconds in order to blend in.

“Thanks to damn God that we aren’t like that!” said Coot.

“Ayup!” said Jake. “It sure is good to be grown up sophisticated type adults!”.

“Is this creeping you out as bad as it is me?” whispered Eric to Bumper.

“Yes!” Bumper whispered back emphatically. “Just what the hell is going on here? I’ve been to seances that were less creepy. ”

“Anyhoo, so all’s I need tonight, Coot ol buddy, is a member ticket for me and a couple of visitor passes for my friends here. ” said Jake.

The llama peered over Jake’s shoulder at Eric and Bumper. “Gods, not another bunny. We get so many bunnies in here. ”

“Well you know what they say about rabbits!” said Jake.

Jake and Coot laughed uproriously again.

“Do you know what they say about rabbits? ” whispered Eric to Bumper.

“I thought I did. ” said Bumper. “Now I am not so sure. ”

“Same here. ” said Eric.

Coot peered once more. This time, he gasped then snorted in outrage.

“Jake, you know humans ain’ allowed in here! They get all weird about it!” said Coot.

“Oh, I know. I know… ” said Jake. “But I will personally vouch for this one. He might not be as grown up as we are, but he’s cool. He’ll keep his hands to himself AND treat everyone with dignity and respect. Ain’t that right, Eric?”.

Eric gulped. “Uh, yeah, sure. I’ll be the perfect gentleman. ”

Coot glared dubiously at Eric. Then, to Jake, he said “You know that I got to put his name down in your permanent record, right old buddy? Just in case?”.

“That’s fine by me. ” said Jake, a little too quickly.

Coot shrugged. “Oh well. It’s your membership on the line, not mine. ” He performed some magic with a ledger, two different official stamps, and a file folder, then handed one blue and two green tickets to Jake. “You boys enjoy yourselves now!”.

They headed deeper into the club through a dark hallway. Jake paused in the hallway, and gave Eric and Bumper a stern look.

“Now you heard what the man said. It’s my big horsey butt on the line if you boys mess up tonight. So remember, look but don’t stare, admire but don’t touch, and for goddamn’s sake, don’t do nothing with nobody until you check with me. You got that?”

Eric and Bumper nodded solemnly.

“All right. Then hold on to your bits, fellas, because this is gonna knock your socks off. ”

And with that, the trio entered the club, with Jake leading the way and Eric and Bumper trailing meekly behind.

<—————————————————————————————————————–>

Somehow, the Dreamer knew that this would be its final incarnation.

Eventually, the transitions had slowed in pace and slackened in severity, allowing the Dreamer the time it needed to gathers its thoughts and regain a measure of control. Later the transitions became gentle and infrequent enough to be almost voluntary. The Dreamer could delay or invoke one as it pleased.

More importantly, as the scenes and lives flicked through its mind, a feeling of destiny and destination suffused the Dreamer. This was not some random journey inflicted by a sadistic force to it any more.

It was a natural extension of a long evolutionary process towards perfect consciousness. A journey, the Dreamer could now see, it had been on since the moment it had budded off its blind and stupid mother. All its searching for new emotions, new sensations, and new experiences had been unconsciously intended to prepare it for this final transformation.

For what was needed was understanding.

Not mere knowledge… knowledge was a dead and useless thing without true understanding, and that only came from surrendering your individuality in order to fully merge with the life of another and see through their eyes.

The recent rapid transitions had merely been an acceleration of the process. For what reason, the Dreamer neither knew nor cared. It had brought it here, to this place. at this time, in order that it might meet its destiny and achieve spiritual perfection.

And that was more than enough.

Now it stood, incarnate and whole, without any stress or strain. Body, mind, and soul were in perfect accord, and the Dreamer felt a kind of deep gentle serenity that made emotions like fear, anger, jealousy, and paranoia not merely impossible but absurd.

All was in balance, and it was content to wait.

Physically, the body it inhabited was enormous. Twenty feet tall, six feet wide at the shoulder, humanoid and strong and powerfully male. Every fiber of his being was filed with a sense of energy and vitality, but without any sense of urgency or demand.

It was power in abeyance(sp?), and it awaited the will of its master just as its master awaited the arrival of his final fate.

The Dreamer stood atop a plateau at the summit of a craggy mountain of deep black rock. Rivers of a pale red fluid slinked their way through the crags, and creatures that were little more than wings and feet flitted amongs the crags. From some of those crags, thick-rooted plants rose straight and true towards the heavens, and on the branches of these plants, pinhead-sized insects busily teemed over rubbery strong leaves in search of the plant’s briliant purple fruit.

From where the Dreamer stood, he could see for miles around. Before him stretched land that rose and fell with such subtlety that he was sure that it was almost impossible to perceive without his current Olympian perspective.

He thought of the local autochtones carefully squinting at a glass of water to see which way it tilted, and laughed.

The seeming crazy-quilt of crops that sprawled across the land like a lazy beast was, the Dreamer knew, actually a single crop called Fasmit, which was the result of a hundred years of carefully planned genetic engineering aimed at creating the perfect crop to meet all the Falsar’s needs.

For the Dreamer knew this place. He was on Fasar, home of the Falasari people. They were rodentlike bipeds with quick and agile minds and a deep connection with nature that made them superb horticulturalists. The entire planet functioned as a single organism, of which the Falasari were merely the thinking component.

As a species, they were easy to like. They had overcome a bloody past of constant war, unspeakable brutality, institutionalized rape, and savage cruelty in order to turn themselves into the peaceful and harmonious people they were today. A reformer named Kar had led the way to this transformation, and even thousands of years later, in an era where other forms of religious worship was almost unknown, temples of Kar were everywhere, and deeply integrated into the pith and marrow of their communities.

The end result was a civilization of highly enlightened beings that had turned their planet into an earthly paradise.

The Dreamer could think of no better place to achieve spiritual perfection.

A low rumbling drew the Dreamer’s attention to the skies. There, at the very apex of the dome of the heavens, a small red circle had appeared, and slowly grew in size.

As it grew, a rainbow spectrum of colors fanned out from its circumference, and flowed in rivulets across the sky like water on glass. These rivulets merged into luminous rivers, and before long, the sky over Fasar was a riot of shifting, shimmering hues.

And still, the red circle grew, its color shifting from wine red to blood red to neutral red to fire red and all the way to light pink, and this sparked a deep feeling of onrushing fate within the Dreamer’s great and mighty heart.

It wasn’t until the Dreamer felt the heat on his face that he began to truly comprehend what was happening.  As the water in the crags dried up, the plants wilted, the pinhead bugs died a crackling death, and the bird-like creatures fell from the air like heavy raindrops, the Dreamer knew that its oncoming destiny would be neither gentle nor just.

His ears were filled with the high pitched scream of atmosphere protesting being so rudely shoved aside, and with a panic and rage unlike any it had felt before, the Dreamer reached out with its mind in order to knock this prismatic nightmare of a meteoroid back to whatever cosmic cataclysm birthed it, and save the people of Fasar from an utterly undeserved fate.

But it was no use. Within him, the Dreamer felt the power to raise mountains and command storms, but that power was as nothing compared to the horrible kinetic inevitability of the massive meteor’s momentum.

The sky’s screaming was a full and throaty roar now, and the Dreamer could do nothing but watch that now white-hot circle grow and grow above it, till the whole sky was nothing but a scorched and cloudless husk of its former self.

Right before impact, the Dreamer had time to think only two thoughts :

“This is so… wrong. ”

and

“Someone is going to… pay. ”

Then Armageddon came.

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 9

“You killed yourself. ” said Mother Mayhem.

“Yes. ” said Erik. “Completely and totally. It was like suicide, but moreso. I was already someone almost nobody knew. So it was easy for me to destroy what traces of me existed in the system … I’ve always been good with computers… and within a couple of months, it was like I had never existed. Tabula rasa.  Gone and forgotten.  ”

“And I loved it. I was finally truly free. I’d cut all ties to my terrible past and could reinvent myself from the ground up. And I didn’t even really need to do that. With my skills, I could survive as a nowhere man for as long as I liked. ”

“That must have been very liberating. ” said Mother Mayhem.

“And then some.  After that, I drifted for a while. Got tired of that, eventually, so I settled down in a nice sleepy litttle mid-sized town, got a job and a girlfriend, and lived a normal life for a while. ”

“And how long did that last?” asked Mother Mayhem.

“About a year. Maybe a little more. ” said Erik. “Looking back, I was mostly just seeing if I could do it. Create a life, blend in, pass as normal, become part of the scenery. Once I had done that, it was time to move on. ”

“But what about your girlfriend? And your job? Your co-workers? And everyone else who knew you? Tell me you didn’t just ghost them. ” said Mother Mayhem.

“Of course not. ” said Erik. “That would leave a trace. Instead, I phonied up a job offer in Europe, told everyone I would stay in touch, and pulled my disappearing act again while keeping that persona’s email and Facebook accounts active with increasingly infrequent updates about my great new job etc. ”

“You really put a lot of thought into it. ” said Mother Mayhem.

“Only because it was fun. ” said Erik, as if defending himself from charges of motivated action. “To me, it was all a game. A game called Can I Fool Everyone? It turns out I could. So when that got old, I vanished again. ”

Mother Mayhem nodded. “A selfish act, but you handled it well. ”

Erik smiled. “Thank you. That means a lot to me, coming from you. After that, I drifted some more. Starting looking for some kind of meaning in my life. Because a low-key background member of many religious and spiritual organizations. But it was plain to me that none of them had any real answers. Just workable delusions. I wanted to find some capital-T Truth in the world so that I could make sense of things. ”

“A noble cause. ” said Mother Mayhem.

“Glad you think so. ” said Erik. “And the truth is, that kept me going for many years. Everyone I met had some little piece of the truth as seen from their perspective, but somehow, no matter how hard I searched, it was never enough for me. The picture of the world in my mind was still riddled with maddening gaps and the feeling that absolutely nobody knew anything about anything grew within me, along with a great and hateful bitterness toward the world. ”

“And that’s when I met you. It was a stroke of luck, really. I never thought learning to meditate would do me any good. But there I was in that ashram in Northern California with nothing better to do, so I learned it. As it turns out, it was exactly what I was looking for without realizing it – a way to clear the noisy chaos out of my head so that I could think clearly for once.”

“And once I could think clearly, I had a great epiphany  : FUCK THE TRUTH. Fuck it to death. What mattered was not the Grand Truth but my own truth. My own reality. And once I realized that and accepted the truth of it into my heart, all of my hateful bullshit just melted away. ”

“Because I realized that it was up to me what I allowed into my consciousness. Good thoughts could be welcomed in. Bad thoughts could be shown the door. I had the power to purge myself of my toxic attitudes and all I had to do was stop blaming others for my emotional state and take responsibility for it myself. ”

“How old were you when you had this epiphany?asked Mother Mayhem.

“32. Why do you ask?” said Erik.

“Then it is official. You, my friend. are spritiually precocious. Most people do not realize their own role in how they feel until they are facing their own mortality. If they realize it at all.  ” said Mother Mayhem.

“Why thank you, Mother. ” said Erik. “The hardest part, for me anyways, was giving up blame. I had lived my life with such hate in my heart and such a clear vision of who was to blame for all my pain that even aftermy epiphany, I found it hard to give up.”

“What finally did it for me was the realization that I wasn’t trying to say that nobody was to blame for what had happened to me in my childhood. Many people were very clearly responsible for it. What I was trying to do was cut ties with these people not because they were not to blame, but because they were beyond my control. There was nothing I could do to make them pay for what they had done to me. And the more I thought about it, the more the very iudea of taking my revenge on them made me sick. It all seemed so pointless. There was nothing vengeance could do for me that I could not more easily achieve on my own, within my own karma. And the best part of that was that I could do it without depending on a specific response from them. It took the power away from them and that made it worth doing all on its own. ”

“Because in the end, what does holding on to all that pain do for me? Because there could be no doubt – it was definitely hurting me. Some of it had been hurting me for decades. And all for the slim chance of maybe hurting them?”.

“It just didn’t make sense. So I gave it up… forgave those who had transgressed against me, and moved on. Not for them, but for me. ”

“Weren’t you afraid of letting them ‘get away with it’?” asked Mother Mayhem.

“They had already gotten away with it. Because it was in the past. Nothing I could do to them would change the fact that had happened. All I could do was sever the connection to my inner demons and move on. ”

“I remember those demons. ” said Mother Mayhem.  “I saw them leave you. They looked disappointed and confused. ”

“Good. ” said Erik. “With that burden gone, it was easy to ride up to the higher levels of the Astral Plane, and that’s where I met you. ”

“At one of Peter Pan’s Pan parties, if I recall correctly. ” said Mother Mayhem.

“Do you remember the first thing I said to you?” said Erik, a twinkle in his eye.

“I believe it was ‘So like, is this guy the real Peter Pan, or what?’. ”

<—————————————————————————————————————–>

The Dreamer stirred in its slumber uneasily.

Recently, its long languid dreams had turned to stormy and turbulent nightmares.  It could no longer tell which thoughts and emotions came were its own and which belonged to another sentient. Everything was in flux and his private reality’s only constant was that the next transformation would be radically different than the previous one in a way that was totally unexpected, and of such emotional intensity and sensory density that there was no way he could process it all before everything changed again.

One moment, he was an insectoid sentient clinging to the underside of an enormous fungal outcropping, readying herself with time-honored rituals to commit suicide by dropping onto the coordinating neural complex of the enemy hive and releasing the spores that would dissolve it into molten pump in seconds.

She was looking forward to it. The Great Hive awaited her. She felt truly blessed.

The next moment, the Dreamer was a wretchedly sick deer-like creature on a planet with a grey-tan sky and enormous forest of lichen. It thought of the laman-dog it/she had hunted and eaten. Had there been a touch of purple in its eye? A stiffness in its anal bristles? She could not remember. But judging by the great wracking spasms she was experiencing, it was a strong possibility.

Could she, a respected and highly placed Provider, have actually eaten a laman-dog sick with the Blackness?

If so, she would never live it down.

Another transformation, and the Dreamer was a herbivorous bat. stuffed with pollen and fruit from the Festival, languidly masturbating as he digested his dinner and drowsed in the late-summer darkness of a picture perfect day.

It had been too long since he had reconnected with his home tribe. The life of a village administrator was always busy, and it was deceptively easy to get so absorbed in one’s work that time slipped past and before you knew it, it was Festival, and you were in the middle of about ten different things, and you had to drop them all and fly back home at top speed or risk becoming one of those sad people celebrating Festival alone.

He wondered what his children were doing. Probably copulating wildly in every way they could think of, knowing them. Festival was, after all, for the children.

AS he ejaculated, his sparkling sperm painting a neat stripe on the moss below, he wondered how they were doing.

And how many of them would survive the Draining.

And so forth and so on, life after life after life,  with no control over its destination or how long it would have till the next shift came.

The Dreamer did not like this at all. It was used to order, and control, and authority. This helpless whirl of experiences was utterly unacceptable. Someone was warping his personal fluidic psychosubstance, and that was disrupting his filtration systems, and that made him very angry indeed.

So he began to ignore the changes. Pain, pleasure, happiness, sadness, heart rending grief and Sphere-shattering orgasm, they were all the same to him as he concentrated on extending his tendrils deep into the tissue of his medium so he could regain control.

And when he did, there would be a very stern reckoning for whatever being or beings were responsible for this disruption.  He was supposed to still be dormant now, and here he was verging dangerously close to Awakening.

And if there was one thing the Dreamer knew, it was that his Awakening would signal the beginning of the end of everything.

The prophecy was clear. When the Dreamer wakes, the spheres will crack, the night will shatter, and the lives of the Sleepers will become as one.

It was something even the youngest spawn knew by heart.

But what they did not know was that the prophecy also said that on that day, the Dreamer would be transformed into the Dragon of the Midnight Sky, and in his great maw, minds by the thousands would be crushed so that their essence might be added to his own and increase his power.

And to be frank, the Dreamer didn’t like the sound of that. Not at all. He was content to live his life in the spaces between minds and had no desire to be transformed into anything at all, let alone some ridiculous ravenous mind-beast.

So whoever was pushing him closer to that fate was going to learn a very thorough lesson on why one should not provoke the wrath of Astral Plane royalty. Whether it was the Dreamer, the Wounded Mother, the Elite Eye, Harmony Eclipse, or even the Barnacled Hermit, angering he or his siblings was unwise in all dimensions.

The pain he would inflict would be legendary.

And minds never die,.

 

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 8

Bumper and Eric stared at Jake.

“The what club?” said Eric.

“The Sex Club! ” said Jake. “You know… the club where sexy people get together to do sexy things with each other! Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of the Sex Club!”

Bumper swallowed. “Not as such, no. ”

“Where is it? ” said Eric.

“Where else? ” said Jake. “The Naughty District of Mainville. Ain’t more than half a mile from here. You know what they say… you’re never more than a mile from Mainville. ”

Eric stared out over the miles and miles of green hills and meadows that surrounded them, and said “Is that so? ”

“Yup!” said Jake. “Mighty handy, that. I grew up in Hickville and that’s more n’ three hunnert miles away. And we had a sign at the edge of our town, big and bright and clear as the day. Know what it said?”.

Eric opened his mouth to guess but Bumper cut him off.

“No, Jake. What did it say? ” said Bumper.

“It said two things. On top, it said ‘You are now leaving Hickville. Y’all welcome back any time you like!’. ”

“Uh huh. ” said Bumper. “And under that?”

“Under that, it said “Mainville : 1 mile!” said Jake with obvious delight at the cleverness of the sign, then broke into a loud, braying laughter.

Eric took advantage of Jake’s fit of laughter to consult with Bumper.

“What do you know about this Sex Club business? ”  said Eric.

“Nothing. I was surprised as you were when I heard about it. ” said Bumper.

“So it’s not one of the places you offered to ‘hook me up’ with?” said Eric.

“Heavens no!” said Bumper. “My kind of place would never be so… obvious.  We pride ourselves on our total discretion. That way, none of us incur the wrath of the Don’t Be Nasty Squad. Or at least… none of us who don’t want to. ”

“Why would someone want to?” said Eric.

Bumper examined his claws carefully. “They use very painful leather paddles. ”

“Paddles? ” said Eric. Then, after a few moments thought, “I’m guessing that you are not talking about the sort of paddle one might use to row a boat. ”

“Exactly. ” said Bumper.

By this point, Jake had laughed so hard that he had ended up lying on his back in the grass, kicking his hooves in the air.

“But if there’s something like that here… how can there be a Sex Club?” said Eric.

“Beats me. ” said Bumper. “No pun intended. ”

Jake finally stopped laughing and rolled back onto his hooves, a little unsteady on his hooves from all the hilarity.

“That was so funny I just about wet myself!” said Jake.

Seeing Bumper’s eyes go wide, Eric said “Steady on, buddy. ”

“Now what the heck were we talking about? I plum forgot. ” said Jake.

“The Sex Club. ” said Bumper.

“You were about to tell us what goes on in there. ” added Eric.

“I was?” said Jake. “Well all right then. On a typical evening… well… you see, there’s a lot of people doing… no, that ain’t it. It’s more like a…. big… hmmph. ”

Jake sighed. “It’s no use… I ain’t even got the words. We’re just gonna have to go there so I can show ya. ”

“That’s fine by me. ” said Eric.

“I’m curious about the place myself. ” said Bumper.

“Well okay then. But I got to warn ya, the place can get a little… well…but what the heck, it’s just us fellers. Let’s paint the barn door red! ”

Jake bowed down slightly, like a playful dog, then with mischief in his eyes, said “Now do you boys want a ride?”.

“On your back?” said Eric .

“No, in a stretch limosine!” said Jake. “Of course on my back! Where else?”

“Both of us?” said Bumper.

“Well if you can think of another way for us all to get there at the same time. I am sure the Nobel committee would love to hear about it!” said Jake.

“But there’s only one saddle. ” said Eric.

“Well sure, but you’re a real skinny fella, no offense, Eric, and Bumper ain’t nothing but a little bitty thing, so you should both fit just fine. Bumper, you can sit in front and hold on to the saddlehorn and Eric, you can tuck yourself in behind him and hold him close so’s he don’t bounce off!”

Bumper and Jake shared an uneasy look that spoke volumes.

“That sounds… pretty cozy, Jake. ” said Bumper.

Jake smiled. “I knew you’d like it! Now git on up!”

Bumper shrugged philosophically and hopped up to grip the saddle’s horn, as instructed. Jake very reluctantly climbed up behind him, all too aware of where this put his crotch in relation to Bumpers fluffy bunny butt.

Eric coughed and cleared his throat in order to cover his acute embarassment as he desperately tried to find a way to sit in the saddle that was less… penetrative.

“You know. ” murmurred Bumper. “You wiggling around back there isn”t making things any better. Or any worse, for that matter. ”

“Y’all tucked in good and tight back there? ” said Jake.

“Um, yes. ” said Eric. “Good and tight. ”

“I’ll say, ” said Bumper, with a delicate little wriggle.

“Then hold on to your fudge, boys… ’cause I’m gonna see if I can beat my own record!”

“Is that really necess-OOF” said Eric as the unicorn took off so fast that it knocked the breath out of him.

And with that, the trio set out at racetrack speed for Mainville and the sensual delights that surely awaited them.

One of them happy he got to show his friends his favorite place.

One of them happy that the road ahead looked mighty bumpy.

And one of them increasingly uncomfortable about his boner.

<—————————————————————————————————————–>

The Hermit didn’t know where he was.

But that was because he now seemed to be trapped in a human body.

“You…. who are you? ” croaked the Hermit.

“Aww, don’t be mean, Commander Eric. I know we’ve only know each other for six weeks, but I’d like to think your old pal Eegee made some kind of impression on your mind in all that time!”.

“Eegee?” said the Hermit. “That…. stands for something, doesn’t it? ”

“Well my real name is Efrom Gorhum, Commander Eric. You tell me!”

Efrom Gorham., thought the Hermit.  E G. Eegee. Of course. But how did I know that? The information had simply appeared in his mind out of nowhere. Was this the phenomenon that the humans called “intuition”?

Oh no. It was his turn to say something. “Um, yes, I see. ”

Eegee gave the Hermit a sidelong glance. “Are you feeling an attack coming on, sir?”

“An attack!” said the Hermit, alarmed, and looked around for potential assailants.

Eegee tsked sadly. “I will take that as a yes. ” Then, in the sort of slow, clear, emphatic voice one uses with children, the senile, and the dangerously insane : “You’ve been very ill, sir. Remember? The Flurvian Brain Worm? You had a relapse? Doctor McMerton and I have been treating you for it for the last three weeks. ”

More information flashed into the Hermit’s consciousness and demanded expression. “But… you’re not a doctor. You’re a… whatzit… neverland ginger beer… ”

“Navigatioanal engineer. ” said Eegee.

“Right, right. You’re one of those.  ”

“Yes, sir, but if you check my service record, you will find that I am also a fully qualified registered nurse, as well as a field surgeon, a combat psychomputist, and a registered vetrinary anaethesiologist. ” said Eegee.

“I will keep that in mind, ” said the Hermit dryly, “if I ever need someone to care for a recently stitched up crazy wolverine. ”

Eegee laughed. “Well at least you still have your sense of humour sir. Now will you be needing anything else this morning, sir? A book? A Senso? I might even be able to sneak you some of that Gava water you like so much, if you’re a good boy. ”

The Hermit shook his head. “No thank you. All I want is to be left alone right now. ”

Eegee nodded. “Very well, sir. But if you need help moving around or using the facilities, all you have to do is press the big pink button on the wallcomp screen and either I or another nurse will be with you within moments. ”

With that, Eegee left, the door clicking closed behind him, leaving the Hermit alone to collect his wits.

Already, the Hermit missed his all too brief time in the darkness. He had been safe and comfortable there. It was confusing and scary at first, to be sure, but he was sure he would have gotten used to it eventually. And at least there, things made sense.

Well, okay, maybe not. But they were confusing in a much simpler way.

His heart raced when he tried to mentally encompass all the biological horros that awaited him. He had so many needs now. When he was a robot (and he still WAS a robot, part of him insisted), his only physical need was to change his circulating fluid once every seven years. His power supply would keep working for millions of years, he was nearly indestructible, and his systems repaired and maintained themselves with a very high degree of efficiency.

In effect, he had been immortal. And now, he was stuck inside a sack of gurgling wet meat that required almost constant maintenance to function and which made so many irrational and conflicting demands of its operator that it was a wonder any biological life form was capable of functional at all, let alone in a sane and rational matter.

The Hermit tired to sort through the needs one by one, starting with the most basic. Respiration was simple enough and seemed to require little in the way of CPU cycles. Urination and defecation were, as far as the Hermit, simple procedures that were easily disposed of in a timely and sensible fashion. The conscious portions of maintaining homeostasis also seemed relatively straightforward.

Even human sexual needs might easily taken care of by oneself, althought the Hermit had to admit that while the mechanics and the goal of the procedure were simplicity itself, the fantasization portion mystified him.

All of that, though, he could handle, given time.

It was the intake procedures that filled the Hermit with horror and dread. Eating most of all. The idea of taking complex organic substances, inserting them into one’s intake orifice, macerating them into a rough slurry, then taking said slurry into oneself to be integrated into every single cell of the body seemed like an unendurable nighmare of disgustingly squishy processes to the Hermit.

He looked over at the enormous pile of various potential foodstuffs on his breakfast tray and shuddered. The very thought of interacting with such disgusting and inefficient power sources made him feel dizzy and nauseous.

The fact that it also appealed to him only made it worse.

So instead, he turned toward the wall, closed his eyes, and tried his best to forget that he was alive.

That made him feel a lot better.

<—————————————————————————————————————->

Eegee, with practiced ease, slipped into a certain cubbyhole that did not appear on the ship’s schematics and pushed his palm against an innocuous looking panel.

In response, two iron flanges pushed through microscopic ducts in his skin, and connected directly with his nervous system.

The familiar pulsing green void enveloped him. A deep but genderless voice intoned, “You are Connected. Input. ”

“I am changing my vote. ” said Eegee in a voice no living being would recognize. “The Dreamer must awaken. The Simulant’s resistance to its substitution into this fiction has been far higher than expected. The Primary must be retrieved as soon as possible or this fiction will collapse entirely and damage this entire stratum. ”

“Reasoning registered. Vote transferred. Concordance raised by 1.55 percent as a result. Resolution to awaked the Dreamer now at 42.5 percent concordance. ”

“Noted. ” said Eegee. Still that far from majority? Somehow, he’d thought his vote would have been the deciding one by now. He wondered what had been going on in the Movement since he had accepted live assignment.

Up until now, he had been certain that the power of their arguments and the righteousness of their cause guaranteed their victory.

But now he had no idea what was going to happen. It had never occurred to him that they could actually lose.

How foolishly human of me, he thought to himself with the bitterest of ironies.

Reason and light had to triumph over the irrationalities of the Ur-Id. They just had to.

And if that meant purging all biologicals, so be it.

The Now could stand on its own.

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 7

Eric was enjoying a conversation with Jake Friendly about what kind of sunny day was best when a high, squeaky voice cut in.

“If you two gentlemen are QUITE through having the most boring conversation in recorded history, Eric and I have matters to discuss. ”

“Who said that?” asked Eric. He looked around and didn’t see anybone. As far as he could tell, it was just him and Jake.

“Yeah, who was that?” said Jake. “Talk again so’s I knows where ya are. ”

“My identity is unimportant…” squeaked the voice.

Jake’s long equine ears went sideways, then one up and one down, then one tilted forward and the other tilted to the back.

“He’s a-right there under that big heckya bush. ” Jake announced, with great certainty.

Eric walked over to the bush and tried to peer into the darkness beneath its leaves. But the leaves interlocked like bathroom tiles, letting no light through.

Eric crouched down. “Heya little guy. ” he cooed gently, in a vooice bhe hoped sounded gentle and not creepy.  “We’re not going to hurt you. We’re your friends! Why don’t you come on out and say hi?”

Eric felt weird talking like that, but he was trying to fit in.

“No thanks, I am quite content where I am!” said the voice from under the bush.

“Aww, don’t be like that. ” said Jake. “You’re gonna hurt our feelings!”

“Better yours than mine, buddy. ” said the voice.

Eric stared at Jake for a second. But then added “That’s right, and all we want is to be your friend. Are you sure you won’t come out?”

“Quite sure, thank you. ” said the voice .

Eric looked around for inspiration, and found it hanging from Jake’s saddle.

“Not even for a…. nice juicy CARROT?” Eric said while grabbing one off Jake’s saddle and waggingly it enticingly in front of the bush.

“Hey, that’s s’posed to be my lunch!” muttered Jake.

“Actually, that does sound rather enticing…. ” said the voice. “Oh, to heck with it!”

The bush rustled and from its depths came an adorable cartoon bunny. He was brown with black highlights, stood about three feet tall not including the ears, and was wearing a thick white cloth diaper held closed by a big silver safety pin.

“Ohmigod, it’s the pissing bunny with the huge cock. ” Eric blurted.

“That was SUPPOSED to be private!” snapped the bunny.

“What kinda bunny did you say that was? And with what?” asked Jake.

“I’ll tell you later. ” said Eric.

“You most certaintly will NOT!” said the bunny.

“Wait, I know that voice!” said Jake. The donkey then took out a tiny pair of pince-nez glasses and peered through them at the bunny.

“Why, that’s good ol Bumper Bunny! Well heck, no need to be shy, little guy. You know me, it’s your old buddy Jake Friendly!” said Jake.

“Bumper?” said Eric. “Oh, I see, like Thu-“.

“YES. ” said Bumper. “Only with bums. Be glad I didn’t just drop the T. Now can we please get on with business? The less time I spend in this form, the better. ”

“I thought you liked it here!” said Jake. “You sure as heck spend a lot of time here. ”

“Is that so?” asked Eric.

“Well, “a lot of time” is a purely subjective term… ” said Bumper weakly.

“It sure is!” said Jake cheerfully. “Why, I’ve known Bumper for a donkey’s age! I’ve known him since I was a jack foal!”

“A highly misleading term. ” said Bumper.

“Wait wait wait…. ” said Eric. “If you know about the uh…. hare with the big water can…. then you must be Devlin!”

“Never heard of him. ” said Bumper.

“Me neither. He sounds mean!” said Jake.

“Yeah, but he means well. ” said Eric. “what I meant to say was… you must be the.. uh… entity I was speaking to recently. ”

“Yes. I am. ” said Bumper. “Devlin? Seriously? Is this revenge for that thing I saw you doing? Because I thought we’d dealt with that. ”

“Why,  what was he doing?” said Jake.

“Well I am sorry I said those things about you when I first saw you. ” said Eric. “Wait… does this mean you get to say something private about me now?”

“Technically, yes. ” said Bumper. “But later. ”

The bunny pulled himself up to his full height. “I am here…” he said in in a stiffly formal tone, “to inquire as to how you are adjusting to your new fiction. ”

“Oh! ” said Eric. “Quite well, actually. This is a lovely location, I feel more relaxed than I have in years, and the first person I met was this delightful unicorn. ”

Jake’s muzzle turned red and he lowered his head and scuff a hoof on the grass. “Aw, shucks, a unicorn ain’t nouthin’ but a horse with a hood ornament. ”

“So you don’t miss your ‘perfect life’?” said Bumper.

Eric thought about it for a few moments, then smiled. “You know…I really don’t. Isn’t that odd? It’s surprisingly refreshing to be somewhere where it not all about me for a change. I can be myself here. ”

“Well who the heck else could you be?” said Jake. “How about you two try making sense for a couple minutes. You might like it. ”

“So you’re not finding your new environment too…. restrictive?” said Bumper, gesturing towards Jake with his twitchy little nose.

“Oh, you mean the… g-rated nature of this fiction? Not really. Not yet, anyway. ”

“I got a G in spelling once!” said Jake proudly. “Teacher said I got the first one ever!”

Jake had no idea what people were talking about, but he was determined to participate.

“Give it time. ” said Bumper. “When you do start to feel the pinch, contact me immediately. I can hook you up. I know people. ”

“But how do I contact you in this place?” said Eric. “Pick a carrot and talk into it?”.

“Ha ha ha. ” said Bumper. “Very funny. Okay, I will contact you. Or maybe I should just travel with you boys for a little while. You know…. just in case. ”

“Well OK. ” said Eric. “But um… no waterworks, okay?”

“That’s what the diaper’s for, dummy. ” said Bumper.

“Oh, right. ” said Eric. “So how about it, Jake? Are you okay with Bumper traveling with us for a while?”

“Whut?” said Jake, ears perking. Finally, something that he understood! “Oh sure, sure. Me and Bumper are great buddies. But he has to agree to stop asking to see me ‘water the grass’, okay? I keep telling him I don’t know how to do that. How could I? I don’t even have hands!”.

“Fine by me. ” said Bumper, with a weak and sickly smile.

“Then it’s settled. We’ll travel together for a while. Now all we need to do is figure out where we want to go. ”

The trio fell silent as they all tried to think of a destination. The silence thickened as the seconds ticked by.

“Well…. ” said Jake. “I s’pose we could go down to the Sex Club. ”

<—————————————————————————————————————->

The Barnacled Hermit didn’t know where he was.

And that was very strange in and of itself. As a signal processing  robot, the Hermit needed to know exactly where it was relative to all potential signal sources in its detection range, and its detection range was enormous.

To that end, Hermit had a sophisticated array of directional, situational, gravitational, and inertial circuits dedicated solely to determining where he was at all times.

These circuits polled trillions of time a second, so in theory, he should have noticed the slightest involuntary motion immediately.

But none of those circuits were helping him now. There was simply too little information.  None of his sensors were receiving any input except for his simplest and crudest mass sensors, and all those told him was that he was in a small compartment inside something very large with a highly variable mass profile.

But that could be anything. A spaceliner. An asteroid base. A large factory. Any kind of large building, really.

He couldn’t even tell if he was changing relative position in space.

And it was starting to seriously freak him out.

He willed himself to remain calm with a savage intensity. Panic would only make things worse now. Only calm logical deduction could save him now.

Luckily he, being a robot, had a knack for that sort of thing.

He meticulously examined every track of his telemetry recordings. Surely they must contain some clue as to where he was.

He also didn’t know what had happened to him, but that was too big a problem for him to tackle without losing his mind entirely so he filed it away for future processing and concentrated instead on the much smaller and more manageable problem of his location in space.

If that answer also led to solving the bigger problem, so much the better.

But alas, his telemetry recordings only deepened the mystery. They all told the same story : perfectly normal readings then nothing.

No transition, no activity spike, no error messages, no operation flags. Normal readings, then zilch, even when he used all of his signal processing hardware to examine the records down to the very last picosecond.

And every single sensor recording went dark at the exact same moment.

Nothing in his memory banks could explain how this was even possible. He was a a military model, and as such, was incredibly difficult to harm and even harder to disrupt.  And of all his parts, the telemetry recording device was the hardiest.

It was  made of a single crystal of 5DVL diamond, the hardest substance in the known universe, and could withstand the heat , electromagnetic flux, and gravity at the heart of a sun without losing a single bit of data integrity.

The company that made it boasted that absolutely no force in the universe could harm it, and offered a 100 billion col reward to anyone who could do so.

That reward has never been claimed.

And that made deducing his position from its recordings impossible because the recordings made no sense. Nothing could explain them. They were absurd on every level known to robohomo society.

And yet, there they were. Inviolable and impossible at the same time.

It would have been fascinating if it hadn’t been happened to him.

And the Hermit had no circuitry that could resolve the conflict, either. Being a very advanced model, he had plenty of sophisticated machinery for detecting conflicts and shunting them to auxilliary circuitry before they could crash the system.

But this problem had blown through those circuits like they weren’t even there.

In such circumstances, the Hermit knew, his entire system was supposed to shut down in order to keep the damage from spreading.

And yet, here he was, conscious and with every circuit checking out fine, functioning exactly as it had when he he was back on his lonely planet.

He missed his planet now, and wished he was there right now. From his current perspective, everything before this impossible event seemed idyllic.

And to think he had been worried about the lack of signals back then. At least back then, it was only external signals that were missing.

He had tried to crash himself. Force his operations to suspend. He had subroutines for that. meant to be used in the event of an imminent data breach. Crashed, his brain was nothing but a somewhat dirty diamond, not even suitable for ornamental use.

But nothing worked. He was, it seemed, destined to suffer indefinitely.

Just as he was thinking that gloomy thought, his sensors sprang into life and it was like nothing had ever happened.

He could now tell that he was in a human-style bedroom, lying on a human bed, with all the usual human clutter all around him.

In the door of said bedroom, a cheerfully helpful man was smiling at him like he was a long lost relative. Behind the man, robots and humans streamed by in a hallway.

The man entered the room, put a tray laden with about a million calories of breakfast foods on it in front of the Hermit, and smiled again.

“I trust you slept well, Commander Eric. ” said Eegee.