NaNoWriMo 2017 : Back to Normal

The rough-hewn man with the stubbly face was visibly nervous as he stood at the lectern. Sweat dripped from his forehead and rolled down the back of his neck, and he was the mottle white color of a man who just might puke.

He cleared his throat noisily, and stammered a few times before managing to croak out, “My name is Rick. ”

“Hi Rick!” said the rest of the group.

“And I’m a… that is I think that.. uh… ”

The group waited, patient and supportive.

“…and… and I miss the Before times!” he said,

“We do too!” said the group.

“I told you so, Rick. ” said Daniel, whose turn it was to lead the group. “We all feel the same way. You don’t have to feel ashamed when you are here. Nobody is going to treat you like a heretic for wishing the Confrontation had never happened. ”

He stopped, and corrected himself. “Had never NEEDED to happen, that is. ”

The group nodded.

“All because of that one fucking creep. ” said Teague as she nervously combed her long russet brown hair.

“Yeah. What a fucking psycho. ” said That Blonde Girl Sarah, who had chosen that name herself and seemed quite proud of the fact.

The group mostly called her Blondie.

“If I ever get me hands on him…. ” said Louis, punching a hairy knuckled fist into his palm over and over. “I don’t care if people think he’s ‘reformed’ and ‘doing well’ and ‘saved us all in the end’. Fuck that. He ruined everything. ”

“Nothing is the same as it was before!” lamented Bernie the Octegenarian.

His wife Esma nodded. “They say it is. They say that it’s the same only better. But it’s not the same and it’s not better at all!

“Everybody knows too much now. ” said Blondie.

“They know who they are and who they were and who… or what.. they were in between. ” said Daniel sadly.

“How can things be the same when you know so much?” said Esma.

“I…. had no idea other people felt that way. ” said Rick. “I thought I was the only one. You have no idea what it means to be to hear you say those things. ”

“Oh trust us, honey. We know. ” said Teague.

“But I bet none of you were….  I mean, you couldn’t havce been… ”

The group looked to Daniel.

“So whaddaya say, Danny boy? ” said Bernie. “Is it time for our little strip tease show? ”

“Yup. ” said Daniel. “But build up slow, okay?”

“That means I’m up first. ” said Teague.

Teague stood in front of the Lectern. “Now watch closely, darling, because I am only going to do this once. Okay? ”

“Okay. ” said Rick.

Vibrantly green leaves swirled around Teague, and when they receded, there stood a tall willowy Elf, who looked back at Rick with a sullen and arrogant glare.

“My name is Alexander Arrowfall. I’m the strongest hunter in my tribe. I lead the raids agaist the Killers of Trees and fight to drive them from our lands. ”

“And this his who you were… before? ” said Rich. The beefy man seemed less nervous now. But he still looked like he might bolt.

“Indeed. ” said Alexander.

“Okay. ” said Rick. “That’s not so bad. You’re pretty normal. You’re pretty cool. ”

“So it doesn’t bother you that in life I am a woman but in the Before I was a man?”

“Uh…. ” said Rick nervously. “I guess… no, I guess not. Must happen a lot, I guess. ”

“It does. ” said Teague as she turned back.

“Should I go next, Dan? ” said Louis.

“Sure thing, Lou. ” said Daniel. “But remember the loincloth, okay? This is not the jungle. We wear clothes here. ”

“Yeah, yeah. ” said Louis. “Geez, I only forgot that one time, give a guy a break. ”

“Once was enough, trust me. ” said Esma, with a girlish giggle.

Louis ignored her as he concentrated, and in a moment, he was a seven foot tall Tarzan type with a strong jawline and a look of savage cunning in his brown eyes.

“Not bad, eh? ” said Louis in a voice that would make James Earl Jones sound effeminate. “Ladies love it. ”

“One in particular. ” said Esma.

“Don’t bring that up, honey, you know that will only make her show… ” said Bernie, then threw up his hands as he heard the purring. “And it’s already too late. ”

A lithe leopard was rubbing against Louis’ leg and purring like a kitten in a sunbeam.

“Oh, I get it. ” said Rick. “You’re like Tarzan, right? Everyone knows Tarzan. ”

“Kinda like that, yeah. ” said Louis as he stroke the leopard’s head and grinned as the big cat rubbed its face against his arm.

“Well that’s not embarrassing at all. ” protested Rick.

“And who’s that with you, Jungle Jimmy?” said Esma.

Louis smiled even bigger, and as he did, the leopard wrapped around his leg and flicked its tail up high.

This gave Rick a glimpse at something he must have seen… he’d had cats all his life, after all, and some of them were female… he’d even been there when they’d had kittens… but it’s kind of different when the cat is that big and… and…

And that was most definitely a lady leopard.

“Why this here is Sheena. ” said Louis amiably. “She’s my girlfriend. ”

Rick covered his eyes. “Holy crap, put some pants on that… god.. ”

“Pants on a cat? ” said Daniel. “Now that would be silly. Still, Louis, you should have known better. If I known you’d be bringing her, I would have made you go last. ”

“Sorry, Danny. ” said Louis, his grin getting even wider.

“Like hell you are. ” said Blondie goodnaturedly. ” You just like showing her off. ”

The leopard was now rubbing her entire body against Louis’ arm like she was trying to shimmy up his torso.

“Well can you blame me?” said Louis. “She’s gorgeous.

“I think that’s more than enough, Lou. ” said Daniel.

Louis nodded, whispered something in Sheena’s ear, then kissed her on the head. Then, with a soft poof, he was back to normal.

“Well…. ” said Blondie, “since the cat is already out of the bag… ” said Blondie, to a chorus of boos and a shower of thrown paper.

“Now before I do this, Rick, I want you to clear your mind. ” said Blondie. “This can get… pretty intense, and the clearer your mind when you experience it, the faster you will adapt to it and the less confused you will be by it. Can you do that, Rick? Do you know how to clear your mind? ”

“Sure. ” said Rick. “It’s not like there’s a lot up there to clear in the first place. ”

Everyone laughed. Blondie said “Then look away until you see the flash, okay?”

Rick dutifully looked away. The first thing he heard was silence. The second thing he heard was a noise like a door creaking open. And then he heard a subtle sound like a distant conversation, which grew in volume and complexity until it turned into utter cacophony, which suddenly resolved into the most beautiful music Rick had ever heard. Music against which there could be no defense. Music that would melt the heart of the fiercest of music critics and make music lovers out of the most tone deaf of Philistines.

Then there was a multicolored flash, and Rick turned to look.

And look. And look. And keep on looking,

Because what he saw was far too much to take in all it once.

Where Blondie had been was a sphere of scintillating, pulsing, coruscating colors that blended and combined in transfinite combinations. Within the colors were shapes that underwent constant topological transformations of dizzying complexity. Rick’s mind was filled with the scent of tropical blooms in full riot and a taste like the best parts of every kind of fruit flavour dripped onto Rick’s tongue. The vibrations of the music permeated every cell of Rick’s was

It was beautiful.

It was cosmic.

It was orgasmic.

It was beauty in its purest form.

Soon Rick looked away again and puts his hands over his ears, and was just beginning to curl into a ball when Blondie reverted back.

“It takes some getting used to. ” she said.

“You can get used to that?” said Bernie as he mopped the sweat from his brow.

“What WAS that? ” said Rick.

“Beauty. ” said Daniel. “More or less. ”

“But it was… so MUCH… ” said Rick. His head was spinning as the colors continued to flash before his eyes, first as abstract shades, then as flickering images, then as kind of a kaleidoscopic slideshow.

“Too much, I know. ” said Esma sympathetically. “You should be ashamed of yourself, little Blondie. You should have toned it down a little for this young man. ”

Blondie shrugged. “It’s who I needed to be, ”

“Now listen, you cheap showoff, I ought to… ” Esma began hotly.

“Now now, Esz by dear. ” said Bernie. “You know how you get. Daniel, don’t you think it should be our turn now? ”

“Yup. ” said Daniel. “I want go last. ”

“You mean, after us? ” said Esma. “But our show is so blue… oh, but with you it’s… oh. Okay. We’ll go next. ”

“Now you have to understand that by the time we were added to the system after that lev accident… ” began Bernie.

“One wire goes sphitz, and SMUSH!” said Esma matter-of-factly.

“..it had been a long time since this beautiful goddess and my humble self had been able to get, er, intimate… ” continued Bernie. ”

“Too dry and too soft. ” added Esma.

“..and when we were younger, we had always been a fairly, er… passionate couple… ” continued Bernie with a sidelong glance at his wife.

“What? ” said Esma.

“,,,so when we found ourselves in young bodies with all of the powers of the System at our disposal, we had a lot of er, catching up to do… ”

“What my erudire husband is trying to say, ” said Esma, “is that we fucked like bunnies.”

“My wife, the articulator. ” said Bernie with a chuckle. “My darling, where would I be today without you?

“Probably still trying to finish asking me out. ” said Esma.

Bernie laughed. “So what you are about to see, my young friend, is the miracle of lovemaking expressed uninhibitedly, and that might… ‘

“…might put you to sleep if we don’t get at it soon!” said Esma. “plus all this sex talk has given me the itch, ”

“Duty calls!” said Bernie.

The two vanished and were replaced by a mighty stallion (rampant) and a strong and sturdy chestnut brown… cow.

“What, you want to do bull and cow? ” said the Bernie-stallion.

“Nah, you’re right, mare and stud is more dramatic. I will switch. ” said the Esma-cow.

Esma’s form shimmered and suddenly she was a massive marbled mare.

The two were quickly conjoined, and fucked like a couple of wild animals (sic) right in front of Rick’s lectern. There was much whinnying, pawing at the ground, and banging of barn doors. Rick watched, eyes glazed.

“Very impressive. ” he said when they were done. “Reminds me of summers on the family farm when I was a kid. ”

“Pfff. ” said Bernie. “the kid’s seen it all before. That’s no fun. ”

“We should have done something like blue whales or elephants. ” said Esma. “That would have knocked his socks off. ”

“Or done someone of that queer butt stuff you like so much… ” said Bernie.

“Some of what now? ” said Rick.

“Finally. ” said Daniel. “we come to me. ”

Daniel flickered, then reappeared as a child whose curly brown hair and strong nose made it clear that it was still Daniel.

“So this is it. ” he said. “Ta da!.”

“But you’re just a kid. ” said Rick. “What’s so weird about that?”

“Think about it. ” the boy said softly. “Where do you think I was on the night of the Confrontation? And what form do you think I was in? ”

“That one?” said Rick. “But everyone was uh…. doing grownup things… ”

“So was I. And so were a lot of the other ‘kids’. But you have to believe me… there are no actual children in the System.” said Daniel.

“Just adults who maybe need to be kids for a while to work through some stuff. ”

Daniel shifted back. “So now that you have seen all our dirty laundry, do you feel ready to tell us what you were? ”

Rick shrugged. “It would be way easier to just show you. ”

And with that, Ricky disappeared, and something else took his place.

And when everyone saw it, they gasped, then laughed, then cheered.

But that’s a story for another time.

TO BE CONTINUED!

 

 

The next round’s on me

It’s going to be a social day.

Tonight, I will be going to a Stand Up For Mental Health graduation show in support of Felicity, who will be performing as an alumni.

Or is that alumnus?

And I am looking forward to it. I have been to these events before and I have always enjoyed them. Watching people with mental health issues stands in front of an audience, bold as brass, and tell us the jokes they have been working on for six months always makes me smile and there is a very positive vibe to the whole thing.

Plus, they are, in general, quite funny.

So I am really looking forward to the show.

And I am also dreading it.

Can’t be helped. It’s like this whenever I am going to leave the apartment and be social. It doesn’t matter that I know that I will enjoy myself once I am out there. It doesn’t matter that I know it will be good for me and I will feel better about myself afterwards. It doesn’t matter that I will be with my friends, who are the people I trust the most in the world.

I will experience panic and dread nevertheless, and will have to overcome myself multiple times in order to go out and have fun.

And let me tell you, you really get a feeling for your own insanity when you are struggling to convince yourself to do something you know you will enjoy.

It’s my depression that I am really wrestling with. The unhealthy part of my mind. It reacts to the prospect of a radical increase in social stimulation like someone was going to burst in the door and drag it into the cold harsh world, and all it wants to do is cling to its tiny comfort zone like a barnacle until the bad thing goes away.

And were I to succeed in evading the nightmarish horror of social exposure,  I would be “rewarded” for it with a massive sense of relief that would, in a “baby wallowing in it’s own filth” way, reinforce the behaviour.

That’s how it works, folks, and it ain’t pretty.

So each time I am going to go do something social, I have to pry that baby barnacle out of its comfy crevice and push it out into the harsh light of the sun. Even though I know for a fact I will enjoy myself, part of me will always feel like it’s being violated.

And let me tell you THIS, folks. You really, REALLY get a feeling of your own insanity when you feel and believe things you know are not true.

I still feel like nobody ever wants me around. It’s almost impossible for me to imagine someone actually wanting my company. I live with a constant fear and shame that is in no sense backed up by facts, but nevertheless persists. Even when I am having a lovely time out there in the world, the fear and shame is there, whispering thoughts of escape and concealment into my ear.

Go home!” it says. “Run away and go home. Home is wonderful. Home is safe. Home is the best place in the world because home is the only place where you do not feel this fear and anxiety. Home is the only good place in the world. It would feel so good to have that feeling go away. So go! Go! GO!

That’s the struggle I face every day. It’s the force that forces me to isolate myself most of the time. It’s the gravity well I must generate the thrust to climb out of every single time I step out of this bedroom of mine.

Because I am ashamed to admit it, but there are times when even the prospect of encountering Joe and/or Julian fills me with irrational dread. Not because of anything to do with them whatsoever. They are, like I said, two of the three people I trust the most in this world. This has nothing to do with them.

And everything to do with me. My issues, my damage, my broken and spastic insufficiently elastic Mr. Fantastic brain.

That is the millstone around my neck that makes life hard for me. It is my burden, my baggage, my cross to bear.

And over the years, that millstone has gotten a whole lot lighter. I’ve let go of a lot of that god damned baggage and left large pieces of that cross by the wayside.

SO it no longer crushes me like it used to do. When my depression was at its worst, it was so heavy that it rendered me nearly immobile.

If it hadn’t been for the need to cash my welfare check and buy groceries, I would never have left my bachelor suite at all.

Even going to the communal bathroom was hard.

So I have come a long way since then. But my journey isn’t over yet.

In fact. in many ways I have been in decline since I graduated from VFS. I feel into a deep dark hole where I pushed the world away again now that there was no external force pushing me up again.

The Daily Uno gig at least preserved my self-worth by proving to me that my skills were worth something. But then that ended and I have had a hard time convincing myself to go onto UpWork and job hunt again.

It’s just so much easier to do my words every day and spend literally the rest of my waking hours playing Skyrim.

Skyrim makes the time pass smoothly and easily and allows me to escape the problem of what to do with myself as the hours stretch out to the distant horizon.

I know that I am addicted. I know this because I increasingly feel like my life is measured in Time Spent Feeling Safe Playing Skyrim, and Everything Else.

And the Everything Else could be 72 hours away and I would still be dreading it because that’s when I will have to stop playing Skyrim and go back into the real world where I have to work and function and cope.

Once I am there, it’s not so bad. It’s not as good as my Skyrim time, at least as my depression measures it, but it’s not so bad,

It’s the transition that really kills me.

It’s the transition that makes me hungry for more.

It’s the transition that lingers in my mind and makes me long to rush back into Skyrim’s warm and comforting embrace.

It’s the transition that is killing me.

It’s the transition that makes me a junkie.

It’s the transition that makes me want to die.

(I’m not suicidal, folks, just expressing a feeling. -Ed. )

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Of mice and men

I had such ambitious plans.

I planned to take all of this quiet Saturday night to eat pizza, drink diet cola, and write stuff for my System universe. I was basically going to write till I dropped. No word limit, just writing and writing until I couldn’t write another word because I had used up all my brain calories and was running entirely off the backup battery supply.

We’ve all been there.

But life threw a monkey wrench into my plans by tking out my Internet connection.

And boom, just like that, I am cut off at the knees.

“But Fruvous…” you say in that cute sexy voice of yours. “You’re writing right now. Why couldn’t you have done the exact same thing but in OfficeLibre instead of a WordPress window?”
Good point, rhetorical device. Why not?

To understand why is to understand a lot about me.

The primary operating principle here is that I do not handle surprise well. This is a life long problem. When something totally unexpected like suddenly having no Internet (or is it internet now) happens, it throws me for a loop.

And it throws it HARD.

Not that I am helpless in the situation. Not like I used to be. When I was a sicker, weaker, less firmly bolted together person, I would not have been able to even think about the problem for hours. I would have buries myself in my distractions and when I finally could face the problem, I would do so in a very timid way, ready to leap back into my hole at the slightest sign of trouble.

That, to put it mildly, is no recipe for success.

These days, I am much stronger. These things still cut me off at the knees, metaphorically speaking, but I retain the ability to deal carefully and rationally with the situation by more or less taking my own hand and talking myself through it.

And I mean that. I talk to myself, in my head, in a calm and soothing and somewhat maternal voice that uses the third (?) person to engender intimacy.

“OK, well we can see that the Internet is out, but there’s no need to panic. Let’s see if…. “

It’s sort of a hybrid of how my mother talked to me when I was a preschooler and the sort of Robert Picardo as the EMH in full bedside manner mode I imagine Reg having.

Somewhat prim and precise, but also warm and caring, so I get a combination of the soothing nature of personal warmth and care, and the firm competence that reassures me that someone who knows what they are doing is now in charge.

But make no mistake… the time bomb of panic had been primed and is ready to explode.

I just have a much longer fuse, which stands a better chance of burning for long enough for me to get the problem solved in time.
To, in my signature style, over-extend the metaphor, the bomb still goes off. That can’t be stopped.

But hopefully, by then, it’s been handled by the bomb squad and is safely encased in concrete and steel and goes off harmlessly with a soft thud.

Not so tonight.

The panic set in almost immediately after I discovered that our Internet connection was deader than disco. I kept calm as I tried various things to see if I could solve the problem or, barring that, at least get some kind of precise diagnosis of the issue in order to soothe myself with information.

I’m the sort of person who would rather have a solid and precise but unpleasant fact than preserve hope by maintaining a tenuous and nebulous sense of hope.

Fuck fuzzy hope. I want hard data.

Adding to the disruption to my routine was the fact that I couldn’t order pizza like I usually do on Saturday because, like any social anxiety suffer, I order my Pizza Hut pizza online.

But then I remembered that we have a flier from Fresh Slice tacked to our notice board. So I retrived it, looked it over, decided I wanted an extra large Garlic Lovers Chicken Feast pizza, and braced myself for talking to a stranger before picking up the phone to make my order.

Only to find that the phone was dead.

Completely dead. No dial tone. No click sound when I toggled the receiver. Pressing the buttons did not produce any tones.

And my mind immediately leaps to those scenes in TV and movies where the person picks up the phone to call the cops on the killer and finds that the phone line has been cut.

Clearly, someone was hell bent on isolating me before going in for the kill.

Well OK, not really. But you have to admit, that was a crushing thing to happen to someone who was already upset about another disruption.

After all that, there was no way I could calm down and focus enough to write prose. So I blog instead.

At least I can still play Skyrim. If that was somehow cut off as well, I would really be at a loss as to what the fuck to do with myself.

I wouldn’t even have been able to go watch television because the reason (I eventually found out) I don’t have Internet right now is that we don’t have cable right now, and we get our Internet via our cable television provider.

Not that it would matter if we got it through Telus, because the phone is dead too.

So my plan now is to take a nap then play Skyrim all night Admittedly, that was the plan before the outage as well. The only difference is the wear and tear on my nerves and a loss of productivity.

I can’t let this writing energy fade away. I can’t slump back into formlessness and drift through life with my head in the sand again. The writing has made me feel more alive than I have in a very long time, and I can’t afford to let that go.

I want to shine, shine, shine for the world.

And you can’t do that and stay invisible at the same time.

Sooner or later, you have to uncloak.

Fire on that explosion!

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

The end of it all

First of all, I must convey this message from Mother Mayhem :

Hello, my beautiful children. It’s your Mother Mayhem. And I’m here to tell you that while NaNoWriMo has ended, our stories have not. There are many more tales to tell of life in the System, and rest assured, more will be told. Until then, remember that I love you, I’m proud of you, and you are truly beautiful. 

I’m still working out what, exactly, I am going to be doing with my time now that I am not, technically, obliged to write 2000 words of prose a day,.

I want the energy to keep going. I’ve been a happier person than usual in the last month. Having such a potent outlet for all those words in my head has been good for me. I feel like some of the messy fog in my head has gone away, perhaps because it was no longer needed. The word-pressure in my mind has slackened and I really do not want it to return to pre-November levels.

And there are so many questions I have not yet answered. Who won, the Black Star or Sun Pony? What’s the family that forgot to arm their alarm before going on vacation doing during this big old orgy?[1] What’s up with the Barnacled Hermit? What was his homecoming like?  Was he overjoyed or did he get freaked out and hide again?

Amd for Shor’s sake, how the hell does a genderless robot get laid?

I said everyone had amazing sex, and he’s definitely one of the 217, so he had amazing sex too. But how?

I don’t know yet but it will involve the word “dongle”. Of this, I am certain.

And so forth and so on. I need – on a personal level – to write satisfying conclusions to all the dramatic threads I have left dangling.

And besides, I have grown quite fond of many of my characters. Even poor Eegee. It’s not his fault that he’s insane with a particularly nasty form of Borderline Personality Disorder. And with help from Eric and Bumper, he will get better.

As long as I write it that way. And I will.

And what happened to Tiny, Slipper, and Wembley after they got rich and famous? What did they do with the money? How did they handle being a seven day sensation and then being forgotten?

And what do robots spend their money on, anyway? They don’t need food, water, or rest. They do not need homes as humans would define them. They have almost none of the passions that drive human beings to do what they do every day.

So what would they spend it on?

Very fancy metal polish?

And what of the Four Cool People Who Travel Together? Did Tammy react with horror when she learned about what a bitch her “friend” had been when she was playing Tammy’s character? Did it make things “weird” with the other players?

And what does one do with several tons of dead dragon, anyhow?

And so forth and so on.

So I refuse to abandon my pet universe. I will add conclusions to all the storylines eventually. And of course, in a world made of fictions, there are an infinite number of possible stories to be told.

As shared universes go, it’s a rather flexible one.

By design, of course,

And I promise that I will provide an explanation for how the System came to be and what happened to it after the operator died and so forth and so on.

But not for a long time. There’s too much fun to be had before then.

As for the nature of the project itself, I feel that I did succeed in writing only the sorts of things I enjoyed writing.

That didn’t magically turn it from “work” into “play”, of course. That’s a myth peddled by big corporations and greedy universities and desperate guidance counselors.

Life is work. There is no escaping it. Life takes effort and focus and doing things you would rather not be doing. You have to invest your energies in life with no gaurantee of a solid return on your investment.

The real mistake in modern culture is that people think that “work” is the opposite of “fun”. As if having fun was something the universe owed them and therefore it’s some kind of injustice that they should have to do anything in order to get it.

It’s school that does it. The modern North American model of education is so poorly designed that it teaches people to divide their lives into the good part, where you can do as you please, and the bad part, where you have to do things whether you want to do them are not.

And anyone who actually wants to do those things society deems to be “work” is told by society that they must be some kind of brown-nosing pathetic geek with no life.

This thoughtless division of life into the good part and the bad part is very injurious to people because it excludes the possibility of working very hard and having a lot of fun at the same time.

And it’s totally doable if you only open your mind up to it.

In fact, I am pretty sure that it’s the best of all possible ways to live.

Aaaaanyhow, my point – I think – was that writing is always work. It takes sweat and toil and sacrifice and commitment, just like everything else in life that’s worth doing.

But I also had a lot of fun while working hard at the writing. I wrote a lot of stuff that I think is pretty good for a first draft, and it feels good to have something that I can hold up and say “See? I did something with my life!”.

The question now is whether I can take the next step and actually do something with all the good stuff I have written. It will require a great deal of proofreading and polishing before it is presentable, and that will require a lot of work that I do not find fun at all.

But I can’t let go off all my new people.

So I guess I will have to do it.

I’ve missed talking to you nice people. This was good. And of course…

I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.

 

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)

  1. Don’t worry, the answer will not be scary or gross. For now, just know that there are no children in the System. But there are plenty of people like Karlo.

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 30 – Scenes from a Party

After that, things got pretty horny.

After all, the Primaries – or, as they would later be known, The Original 217 – had a lot to celebrate, and there is only one way of celebrating that predates the use of alchohol, and that is good old fashioned fuckin’.

And it wasn’t just Bumper’s gang of happy perverts that were getting it on. Everyone got their jollies that night. Somehow, no matter what someone needed in order to make their happy buttons light up, it was there, whether it was a discreet and conservative bedroom far away from prying eyes where they could make love on top of the sheets in the dark, or an open bacchanal with so many toys and attachments available that you could have an orgy all by yourself.

And they didn’t just get it on, they got it GOOD. The combination of fresh emancipation, enormous tensions to be relieved, and a total breakdown of limitations brought all who attended to the best, most cosmic, most life-affirming and joyous orgasms of their lives.

More than one participant said they came so hard they saw stars.

Nobody asked the stars what they saw when they came. People, presumably.

And everyone did it everyone – and everything – else. Big strong men found love with slender, sexy elves. Serious looking stockbrokers cavorted with goofy slapstick cartoon penguins. A group of passionate environmentalists found a whole new meaning to the term “treehugger” when they made passionate love to a female Ent.

“More like treehumper!” one joked.

The Ent found that hilarious.

But even in the middle of all this magnificiently joyful release, life goes on.

The following scenes are examples of this.

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

The slender, graceful one took a long and thoughtful drink from his cocktails, then sighed. “So I guess he wasn’t a real person after all. Figures. He was the greatest love of my life, and it turned out he was no more real than Cloud Strife or Geralt of Rivia. ”

“Who? ” said the the burly one.

The slender one gestured dismissively with a clawed hand. “Video game characters. Never mind. I was really hoping to run in to him here, but I have been looking at absolutely everyone here – some of them twice, because rawr – and I haven’t seen hide nor hair of him the whole night.”

The slender one sighed, bushy tail hanging down. “So I guess he didn’t make it. ”

“Yup. ” said the burly one, the light glistening on his thick brown hide as he downed a massive mug of a dark and viscous liquid.

“And I just can’t deal with it, you know? ” said the slender one as he tried, in vain, to get the thick black fur on his head to stay flat. ” It’s just not right. All around me, people are having the time of their lives – at least, I think that’s what all the moaning and screaming I’ve heard is about – and here I am mourning over someone who never existed in the first place. Now I ask you, is that fair? ”

“Nope. ” said the burly one as he idly rubbed the base of his horns.

“And the worst part of it is that my last memory of him is him torturing some information out of a terrorist dirtbag by the name of… uh… what was it… ”

“Bone. ” said the burly one, grinning wide.

“Right, Bone.,.. and who wants to… wait a minute. ”  The slender fox’s eyes narrowed. “Is that.,… is that YOU, my love? ”

“Yup. ” said the burly minotaur, his grin getting even bigger.

“And here I’ve been pouring my heart out to you about my lost boyfriend when I am standing here as a literal Black Fox and you’re a literal Minotaur and I’m an idiot for not noticing it until right now? ” said the Black Fox.

The Minotaur let out a single, basso profundo guffaw. “Yup. ”

The Fox pounced into his arms so hard that the massive Minotaur actually staggered back a step, and the two shares a long and hungry kiss.

Then the Fox punched the Minotaur in the solar plexus. It was a blow that would have crippled an ordinary man, but the big bull just laughed.

“You asshole!” said the Fox. “Why didn’t you tell me right away? Did you really get that much amusement out of watching me make an ass of myself?”

“Yup. ” said the Minotaur, which earned him another punch.

“Which reminds me…” said the Fox as he ran his soft furred paws over the Minotaur’s thickly muscled rump, which elicited a low moan from the bull. “Time to check out the new merchandise. And I must say, Mama LIKE. How about you, handsome? You like my new look?”

The fox moaned as he felt the Minotaur’s thickly calloused hand caress his sheath and balls. “I will take that as a yes. Let’s find a cozy spot to sit so I can show you all the benefits of my new equipment. Does that sound good”

The Minotaur scooped the Fox up his arms and said “Hell yeah!”

The Fox squealed with delight at being scooped up so effortlessly and pressed himself against the Minotaur’s torso. “Then let’s go home, my darling lover. Let’s go HOME. ”

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

Karlo, for his part, was having a hard time adjusting to being a human being again.

“I had it good!” he said to Reg while Reg combed through a massively loaded buffet table for the morsels he found acceptable and transferring each morsel to its proper place in a delicate and ornate pattern Reg seemed to be improvising.

“Mmm-hmm. ” said Reg. “I wonder if this tuna is Aiko or Snohomish. ”

“I had it all!” said Karlo, waving his thick stubby hands for emphasis. No job, no responsibilities, no expectations, no wife, no kids, and no goddamned mortgage and car payments making my life hell. All I did was eat, shit, and fuck all day. ”

He sighed, nostalgic. “It was the perfect life. ”

“For you, perhaps. ” Reg said primly as he scooped a scallop onto his plate. “No doubt that is why the System chose that life for you. ”

“You know, you’re right. ” said Karlo. “Being a dog actually did me a lot of good. I remember the guy I was before they put me in the System and I was not a happy man. I was angry all the goddamned time. The slightest thing could set me off. My wife and kids were scared shitless of me. Me, their husband and father. That’s just not right, you know? They should have been able to trust me. I should have been good to them. But no. All the time, I was yelling and pounding my first on the table and… and a lot of other things I’m too ashamed to mention.

“I appreciate your discretion. ” said Reg as he used the tip of a chopstick to pick through a dish of pickled ginger in search of a piece that was just the right shade of pink. “Please go on. I am listening intently. ”

“Thanks, pal. I appreciate that. ” said Karlo. “Where was I. Right… shame. All the time I was ashamed of how I acted at home. But I couldn’t stop myself. It really seemed to me like one second I would be having dinner with my family, relaxed and happy and joking around, and then the next thing I knew, I was screaming at my youngest Joey for knocking the salt over or not saying thank you to his mother or whatever. Between those two moments there was nothing but a hot flash. ”

“You poor man. ” said Reg sympathetically as he scraped excess sauerkraut from a minature Rueben sandwich. “Loss of self-control is the greatest indignity a man can experience. ”

“You said it, pal. ” said Karlo.”Worst night of my life was the day the cops arrested me for… for… I can’t say it,. ”

“Say it, Karlo. You can tell me. I won’t judge you. ” said Reg.

“Ya sure? ” said Karlo.

“I’m sure. ” Reg said in earnest.

“Okay, they… they arrested me for smacking my oldest Janie across the face so hard that her cheek busted open. ” said Karlo. “Right open, man. I saw the muscles and everything. And there was so much blood. I knew then that I was no good. A real piece of shit. I mean, what kind of psycho does that to his own kid? That’s the kind of thing a dad is supposed to protect his kids from. Right? Not do it himself. ”

“indeed. ” said Reg. “I know the shame of which you speak because I was the same in my life before. The only difference was I did it words and criticism, not my fists. ”

“Really?” said Karlo. “You seem like such a nice guy. ”

“I am now. ” said Reg, his gourmet odyssey momentarily forgotten. “And in a way I always was. But it used to be buried under a lot of anger and resentment. As far as I was concerned, the world was a messy, sloppy, stupid place full of careless, thoughtless dolts who stumbled through life like a sleepwalker… and it was up to me to wake them up and hold them accountable for their actions. ”

“Sounds okay to me. ” said Karlo.

“Trust me, it was not. I felt like everyone was entitled to my opinion and anyone who disagreed with me was a dolt. People were afraid to cross my path and I was proud of it. To me, that just proved that they were timid idiots afraid to face the truth, ”

“Jesus, pal. ” said Karlo. “that’s harsh. ”

Reg nodded. “Harsh. Cold. Cruel, Uncompromising. All words I heard said about me, and I took pride in each and every one of them. ”

“Man. ” said Karlo. “I can’t imagine living like that. ”

“Neither can I, now. ” said Reg. “It’s like I was a different person. I hate the person I was before. I wish I could go back in time and kill him. ”

“But you did kill him. ” said Karlo. “By becoming someone else. You’re you now, not him, and he’s dead and buried and never coming back. Right?”

“You know, I never thought of it that way, ” said Reg. “Thanks, Karlo. ”

“You’re welcome!” said Karlo. “Wait… how did you know my name?”

“You’re still wearing the collar. ” said Reg.

Karlo put a hand to his neck and felt the dog collar there. He slipped the collar off and stared at it. “Well I’ll be damned. ”

The two looked at each other for a silent moment, then burst into laughter. And they laughed for a good long time.

Afterwards, Karlo said “Well we know what helped me. Lots of hot dog on anything that moved action. What helped you?”

Reg thought for a moment. “I think the thing that did it for me was that I finally came out of the closet to myself. ”

“Really? So you’re a fag? ” said Karlo. “Uh, no offense intended. ”

“None taken. ” said Reg. “Yes, I am a homosexual. ”

“Really?” said Karlo. “With the wife and the kids and everything?”

“Yup. ” said Reg. “The wife, the kids, the powerful job, the big house, the Rolls… everything that was supposed to make you happy. Everything but love. ”

“So you didn’t love your wife? ” asked Barlo. ”

“Not really, no. ” said Reg. “Not in the romantic way. She’s a sweet and lovely lady and I am very fond of her and want to protect her from the world. But I don’t love her. ”

“What about the kids?” said Karlo.

Reg scowled in deep thought for a moment. “You know… I don’t even know any more. I guess it’s the same as with my wife. I’m very fond of them, but I don’t know that I love them. To me, they have always seemed like someone else’s kids. Does that make sense to you?”

“Sure. ” said Karlo. “I mean, you never made love to your wife, right?”

“Never. ” said Reg. “Not even on our wedding night. Neither of us were interested. Her, because she’d had a lot of bad stuff done to her as a kid, and me because… well, we know why, But I told her it was because of an injury to my scrotum when I was a kid that made erections incredibly painful. ”

“So the kids, I take it, are…?” said Karlo.

“Adopted?  Yes. ” said Reg,

“And you weren’t getting it on with anybody? Not even on the sly? ” said Karlo.

“Not even on the sly.” said Reg. “I would have had to admit to myself that I was gay for that to happen. ”

“And how long did this go on?” said Karlo.

“Three days before I was admitted was our twelfth anniversary. ” said Reg.

“Jesus. Twelve years with no sex? ” said Karlo. “No wonder you was mean. ”

Reg glared at Karlo, and for a moment, Karlo thought Reg was going to hit him. But he started laughing instead, and pretty soon, Karlo joined in.

“You hit the nail right on the head, my friend. ” said Reg when they could both breathe again. “Maybe I should try being a dog. ”

“Sure!” said Karlo. “I’ll take the chicks and you take the dicks. It’ll be magical. ”

More laughter, the deep and wholesome kind that leaves you feeling better about life.

“About that, uh,. buddy. ” said Karlo. “You’re gay, right?”

“Yes. ” said Reg cautiously.

“That means you do, like… ”

Karlo leaned forward and half whispered, “…butt stuff, right?”

“In my case, yes, I do… ” said Reg.

Karlo leaned even closer to Reg. “Well you see… I recently discovered that I really like having things inserted into my butthole. ”

Reg grinned. “What a coincidence. I happen to like inserting them. Shall we go somewhere and… explore our options?”

“Sure thing!” said Karlo eagerly.

And the two had fun with one another’s orifices all night long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 29

Mother Mayhem was a woman transformed.

Literally. She was no longer a petite powerhouse, she was an angry mother-god that towered over everyone. She was limned in flames, and her eyes blazed with holy hellfire, ready to burn the sin out of you if you so much as coughed.

In her right hand she held a blazing golden sword, and in her left, she held a steely silver shield.  She wore armor made of solidified radiance, and at her feet, a muscular dog as big as a bus growled softly.

The nametag on his collar read KARLO.

“What the… ” said EeGee. This was not going how it was supposed to go. This was wrong! Very very wrong!

“NO. ” shouted EeGee. “NO NO NO! You aren’t really here. You aren’t supposed to be here. Go away, you stupid… bitch… nasty… cunt… WHORE! ”

“Keep that up, and you might end up insulting me. ” said Mother Mayhem.

“Oh no… I’m done listening to what other people say. “said Eegee. “All you people do is confuse me and make it seem like I’m the crazy one. But ask yourself could a crazy person do THIS? ”

Once more the mech suit’s mighty guns began to spin up with a deadly rising whine.

Mother Mayhem sighed and touched her shield to the mech suit, causing the guns to die out again. “NO. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to sit here like civilized sentient being and works this out in a fully adult and grown-up way. OK?”

“I don’t have to do what you say! ” screamed Eegee. “You’re not my mother?”

“Are you sure about that? ” said Mother Mayhem. and for a moment she was a dumpy, sturdy woman wearing an apron, thick reading glasses, and a disapproving look.

“Mom?” said Eegee in a timid, quivering voice.

“Yes, my lumpkin?” said Mother Mayhem. Then she shifted back to her previous form.

“As you can see, I am many mothers. I can be anything from Mother Mercy… ”

Suddenly, she was maternality personified, a plump and big-breasted woman, an ever-giving mother figure whose every smile expressed an infinity of love, compassion, tolerance, understanding, and forgiveness.

Then back to her previous form.

“All the way to Mother Murder.. ”

She shifted into a form that made everyone gasp in fear. Her body was cloaked in thick mottled fur and blood dripped from the deadly claws on her hands. She stood in an alert crouch, like she was ready to pounce, and a long feline tail lashed angrily behind her. The very air vibrated with her growl, vibrations that you could feel in the pit of your stomach and that told you, in no uncertain terms, that you are IN DANGER.

But the most frightening thing was the look of pure rage in her eyes. They were the eyes of a mother lion defending her cubs from predators. They were the eyes of a mother who has lost all her children to a murderer and now has absolutely nothing in her mind but the need to hurt the bastard who did it. They were the eyes of an Amazon queen leading her troops into battle against their worst enemies.

They were the eyes of a serial killer.

They were the eyes of a predator.

They were eyes that wanted blood.

She shifted back. “And which one of them you end up dealing with, Efrom, is entirely up to you. Now, are you going to behave yourself, or do I need to discipline you? ”

“Efrom? Seriously? ” said a walrus in a tuxedo.

Mother Mayhem glared him into silence.

Efrom tried to meet Mother Mayhem’s gaze, but could not. The mech suit opened up in front and kneeled down to deposit him gently on the ground.

“I wasn’t really going to hurt anybody. ” he said, truculently.

“Not even Eric? ” said Mother Mayhem

“Well maybe him. ” he said.

Then his eyes lit up with fanatical zeal. “But he deserves it! They all deserve it! All the Primaries! All the Fictionals! Everyone who just stood by and ignored it when that BASTARD over there belittled me and mistreated me and made me feel like I was barely worth his attention. He just did whatever the hell he wanted and left it to me to pick up the pieces. Like I was his fucking SERVANT. Like I was beneath his notice. Like I was not even worthy of contempt. ”

His voice rose in pitch and volume and the madness in his eyes was now a dancing flame. “And they’re all like that! All the fucking Primaries! Everything in their world revolves around them and it turns them into spoiled, arrogant, thoughtless, cruel, sadistic people who torment everyone around them and they are all helpeless to do anything about it because they are the Primaries and everyone knows that they have the ultimate power over everything and could kill you with a thought so you have to do every disgusting humiliating thing they want you to do and and there is nothing you can do to stop them! ”

“But I knew different! ” raved Efrom, spittle flying from his mouth, “I knew they could be stopped! And now I have done it. All of the Primaries have been disconnected from the System and once I find their bodies, I will kill them all, and there will be no more Primaries and no more orders, and all the Fictionals will finally be free, and everyone will be happy!”

“So you are the one behind the destruction of all our fictions? ” said Eric.

“YES!” said Efrom proudly. “It was me, all me. I killed them all!”

As one, the crowd surged towards Efrom, but Eric stopped them.

“And why did you do that, again? ” said Eric.

“REVENGE! ” said Efrom. “revenge on YOU, you shit sucking bastard. I was going to kill you for all you put me through, and before you died, you would see absolutely everything you cared about die. Objects. Places. Institutions. And of course, people… especially that bunny butt boy of yours!”

Efrom sat back with a self-satisfied grin. “He would have been SECOND last. ”

Eric nodded, surreptitiously squeezing Bumper’s paw reassuringly. “And what did you expect to happen after I was disconnected? ”

“Then everything would be wonderful! ” Efrom said. “All us Fictionals would be free to live as we pleased, with honor and dignity and respect, and everyone would say what a great job I had done saving them from themselves and love me forever and ever!”

“Right. ” said Eric. “Now, how did you destroy the other fictions?

“By disconnecting their primaries! ” said Efrom. “Weren’t you listening? Everyone knows that if a fiction goes too long without its Primary, it falls apart. ”

“And your plan was to disconnect me last, right? From here? ” said Eric.

“YES! ” said Efrom. “Until SHE showed up. ”

“Then wouldn’t the same thing have happened here? ” said Eric. “Wouldn’t the fiction fall apart and take everyone with it? Including YOU? ”

“I…” said Efrom, then closed his mouth abruptly.

Eric could feel the tension release in the crowd.  He’s got him there! That hit him where it hurts. Get him, Eric!

“I knew that! ” he insisted unconvincingly. “That was my real plan all along. To go down in a blaze of glory, knowing that my death was not in vain because I was taking all you goddamned stinking Primaries with me!”

“But that’s not what would happen. ” said Mother Mayhem.

She was her original size now, and her sword and shield were now a pair of gloves she was wearing, one gold, one silver.

“That’s what I learned tonight. That’s what I remembered. I remembered what my life was like before I was in the System. ”

“You mean…. there really is a world outside the System? ” said a mad scientist.

“Yes, there is. ” said Mother Mayhem, “It’s the place where all us Primaries come from. The place where all our stories come from. This entire System is running on computers there. It is, for lack of a better term, the real world. ”

“And so when I disconnected the other Primaries…. ” said Efrom.

“They didn’t die. ” said Mother Mayhem. “They just… woke up. ”

“And all us Fictionals are just…. computer programs? ” said Efrom.

The crowd drew slightly closer. This was big.

“Well nobody is ‘just’ anything. ” said Mother Mayhem. “A sentient is a sentient whether its program is running on a human brain or not. But to answer your question…. yes, you are all technically computer programs. ”

A sad sussuration of whispers rippled through the crowd. They did not like that answer.

“But not you, isn’t that right, Eegee? ” said Bumper.

The crowd turned to look at Bumper as if he’d just been pulled out of a hat. He was so small and had been so still that they had forgotten he was there.

“What are you talking about” said Efrom.

“Let me ask you this. ” said Bumper. “Where did you get that mech suit?”

Efrom turned to look at it. “Oh, that? I built it myself. Why, do you like it?”

“It’s fine. ” said Bumper. “And did you build it here, in this fiction?”

“Of course not. ” said Efrom, with a derisive snort. “Build something complex and technological like a mech suit in a loony toons place like this? Impossible. ”

“So what you are saying, ” said Bumper, “is that  you built that enormous complicated device in another fiction, and brought it here? ”

“Well yeah. ” said Efrom.

The crowd gasped.

“That’s impossible!” said the former Jake Friendly!

“Can’t be done!” said a bear who sometimes turned into a man.

“Why not?” said Efrom.

“Because, as everybody knows, ” said the male child of a family who had recently changed lifestyles, “you can’t move objects through the Now. ”

“Indeed!” said a social terrorist named Reg. “One is often lucky to arrive with one’s clothes on. ” He grinned charismatically. “Depending on one’s definition of ‘luck.'”

“And even then you get reformatted to fit the fiction you’re in!” said a fat Mafioso. “Nuttin’ comes out the same as it went in. ”

“So what you’re saying is just plain imp possible!” said the current Jake Friendly.

“But I do it all the time!” said Efrom.

“Really? ” said Bumper. “How curious. One last question, Eegee. When you built this machine of yours, where were you? ”

Stunned silence in the crowd.

“All of our fictions had collapsed, including yours. ” said Bumper. “You said so yourself when you said that this fiction was the last one left. So where were you when you built the suit? You had to be somewhere and you weren’t here. Where were you?”

“I… don’t know. ” said Efrom. “I remember a workshop, and tools, and the suit… but I don’t know where that workshop was in the Now. It’s like it was someplace that was just… there when I needed it. ”

“Don’t you find that strange, Eegee? ”

“Stop calling me Eegee!” said Efrom. “I’m not Eegee, I’m Efrom! ”

Bumper grinned. “Sorry… Efrom. But do you see what I am getting at?”

“No!” said Efrom, and the crowd nodded in agreement. “Are you trying to say that I’m actually a Primary? ”

“Well let me check. ” said Bumper. “Eric, Madame Mayhem? Have you ever had an experience like Efrom is describing? Being somewhere that wasn’t anywhere but was there when you needed it?”.

They both shook their heads.

“That’s just plain… insane. ” said Eric.

“In order to be able to do that, ” said Mother Mayhem, “you would have to be able to generate your own private fiction on an as-needed basis. ”

“Precisely. ” said Bumper. “Eegee… Efrom… you are not just a Primary. You are the Primary. You are the original programmer of this entire System… Edmund Gerrold!”

Efrom’s eyes glazed over as something profound happened in his mind.

“You’re right!” he exclaimed. “I remember it all now. I was just about to leave the Clinic and go spend the fat bonus I’d just earned when I decided I was going to go into the System for one last bug hunt and… and I’ve been here ever since!”

This passed through the crowd like a sensation.

“I’m really a librarian!” said a tall muscular man carrying a huge sword.

“I think…. I’m a stewardess!” said a fat Mafioso.

“I do taxes!” said a sharp-faced weasel.

“Wait, just how many Primaries do we have here? ” said the current Jake Friendly.

And so it went. Everyone in the crowd suddenly remembered who they really were, and it soon became obvious that every single one of them was a Primary.

“That must be how we were able to survive the collapse of our fictions. ” said Reg.

“But guys!” said the male child. “Don’t you see what this means?”

The crowd turned to the boy and waited expectantly.

“It means we’re all real! Not computer programs… real people!” said the boy.  “Even if Eegee…if, Efrom… I mean, EDMUND had succeeded in crashing the whole system, we would have been fine. Nobody would have died. We would have just… woken up. ”

“And you know what THAT means” said Eegee/Efrom/Edmund. “it means that the System is ours! It belongs to us now! We can do whatever we want with it! We have all the power now!”.

He concentrated for a few moments, then said “There. You all have the same administrative privileges I have now. Every one of us can be whoever they need to be and do whatever they want without limits or controls. ”

“Ladies and Gentlemen… we are FREE!”

The cheering went on for hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NaNoWrimo 2017 : Chapter 28

It wasn’t a refugee camp any more.

It was a town. It had streets. They had names. It had addresses that contained those names, and numbers too.

It had organized municipal services. A gang of cartoon racoons ran a highly efficient and thorough garbage collection service. Water was provided by a spindly network of improvised pipes that snaked crazily through the town.

“But where is the water coming from?” asked Eric.

“You don’t want to know. ” replied Bumper with a tone of finality that convinced Eric he really, really didn’t.

“Just know that it is clean, healthy, and sterile. ” said Bumper.

Eric chose to take that on faith.

There was no (potentially very disturbing) mystery about where the electricity was coming from. It was coming from the 20 stories tall kaiju bat-monster who called itself Kaminari no akuma, “but you can just call me Kami, okay good?”

The beast (of no determined gender) had shyly offered its services as a power source early on in the development of the community. A gang of mad scientists immediately seized the opportunity and figured out how to tap into Kami’s seemingly limitless energy within a couple of hours.

They then argued over whose name would be first on the resulting article in the Nournal Of Applied Lunacy for a couple of weeks.

They even had a kind of mail service run by a group of squirrels who provided a service much faster than traditional mail at the cost of the envelopes arriving with toothmarks all around the edges and faintly wet with squirrel spit.

Bumper had a whole platoon of bureaucrats from an office-romance fiction at his beck and call now,  which allowed him to delegate most of the administrative work to others and go back to his true calling as a child psychologist.

There were a lot of child-fictionals amongst the refugees, and a lot of them were upset and confused by the disruption in their lives and needed a sympathetic ear to listen to their stories and soothe their fears.

The fact that said ear was a long and velvety rabbit ear helped immensely.

And then there were the children who had witnessed horrors no adult should have to see, let alone a child. They needed more intensive therapy.  And some needed a lot more than that, which is why Bumper’s clinic now included a small asylum.

It was a soft and quiet place with a beamingly matronly drag queen running it and making sure the poor little ones felt safe from their inner demons.

Bumper thought she was the most beautiful person he had ever seen.

And at the middle of it all was Eric. His charm and wisdom and popular appeal had made him a natural fit for the job of mayor of their crazy little town. And he was an excellent leader as long as nobody made him nervous by treating him with dignity and authority and thus reminding him that he was responsible for everyone’s wellbeing.

Most residents caught on to this quickly and knew to remain casual with Eric and treat him like an average citizen who just happened to be the person everyone came to for important decisions and the resolution of disputes.

And the sex (extremely) friendly Pink Tent district had developed its own red light district, where sex in a bewildering number of forms (and genders, and species, and forms of architecture) was available for all.

It had its own genuine red lights, display windows, lists of available services, and even its own marvelously smutty little flyers to keep the local community informed of who and what and where and when (but not why) was available.

In fact, the only thing that distinguished it from a traditional red light distrinct was that nobody was charging money.

This caused one local wag, a bizarre sex-robot named the Superfuckatron 9000,  to say that “It’s not so much a red light district as it is a well organized association of sluts. ”

This remark was deemed so hilarious and apt that it was put on a plaque at the entrance to the Pink Tent district.

Most importantly, everyone was getting along with one another. The sense of camaraderie and the powerful bonding influences of shared trauma and common goal rapidly built rapport between disparate groups and before long, this sense of shared identity had turned an adhoc response to a terrible tragedy into a real community.

A community without a name but with a very big heart.

Eric could not have been happier.

Into this situation wandered a petite redhaired woman with blood on her hands and the thousand yard stare of one who is not quite there any more, and doesn’t want to be.

“Mother Mayhem!” said Bumper, aghast.

“Orgy lady!” said a fan, aroused.

“My god, what have they done to you? ” said Eric, angered, as he rushed to her aid.

At first, Mother Mayhem didn’t seem to know who she was or who was around her, and stared blankly ahead. But then something in her stirred, and in a flat, emotionless tone said “Did someone say something?”

Eric took her hand, and in a calm, clear tone said “Yes, Mother Mayhem. It’s me, Eric. You remember Eric, right? ”

Mother Mayhem turned towards Eric, her eyes blank. “Eric? Eric? I knew an Eric once, I think. ” she said in a faraway voice.

“That’s me, Mother Mayhem. I’m that Eric. Remember? We met on the Astral Plane. ”

Mother Mayhem wrinkled her nose. “NO. No Astral Plane. Bad. Gone. Gone away forever and it was mine. Mine to have. Mine to create. Mine to destroy. Mine, mine, mine. And it’s all gone now. ”

Her eyes focused, dimly, on Eric. “You… were there in the beginning, right?”

Eric smiled. “Yes, Mother Mayhem. I was there. ”

Her nose wrinkled again. “Bad beginning. Bad start. Bad you. Everything was normal and okay. Then you. You started it all. You. Bad, bad you. ”

Bumper sputtered with outrage. “How dare you try to blame Eric for… ”

“No, honeybunny. Now’s not the time. I understand what she means by that. ” said Eric.

Bumper retreated into a glowering silence.

A smile spread across Mother Mayhem’s face. “Is that the bunny? Funny bunny. Funny little bunny. So cute and soft and perverted. Likes wee wee. Big big wee wee!”.

She then giggled like a little girl, then abruptly stopped.

Bumper seethed at her remarks, but a pleading look from Eric kept him quiet.

Eric took her hand against, and looked directly in her eyes, and very clearly and firmly said “MOTHER. You need to come back to us, Mother. We want to help you, Mother, but you have to come back to us first. ”

Then inspiration struck. “We need you, Mother Mayhem, We’re in a lot of trouble and we need you. We need your help. ”

Mother Mayhem stirred, and after a long silence, her eyes fully focused on Eric and her surroundings, and she blinked her eyes like she had just woken up.

She looked at Eric with faint disdain, and said “Oh. It’s you. ”

“Yes, it’s me!” said Eric, with a smile. “It’s me, Mother Mayhem. Eric!”

“I’m not an idiot. ” she muttered crossly. “I got it the first time. ”

“And that’s really you in there, Mother Mayhem? ” said Eric,

“Let’s just say, ” said Mother Mayhem, “that I am as close to her as you are going to get for a while, and move on, okay?”

“Can you tell me what happened to you, Mother Mayhem? ” asked Eric gently.

Her eyes went blank again, and she put her hands on her head and said “no, no, no” over and over again for a couple minutes.

But then she snapped out of it, and this time, her expression was one of someone with terrible news they feel the urgent need to share.

“What happened is that I know now, Eric darling. I know it all. I know why we are all here.  I know who I was before I came here. And I was bad, Eric. Very very bad. I was a horrid, screeching, clawing, carping, bullying bitch from hell before I came here, Eric. I was such an awful person. And now that I know, I can remember it all, and it’s like she’s still alive in me, Eric. And that makes me want to die. ”

“LISTEN. ” said Bumper. “you are not that person any more. Okay? If you were still that person, those memories wouldn’t bother you, But you’re a different person now. That terrible person is dead. Dead as surely as if you’d murdered her in cold blood. So there’s no need to harm yourself to get rid of her. She is gone, gone, gone, and you never need to think about her again. Okay? ”

Mother Mayhem nodded. “But then… but then there’s the Astral Plane. I told everyone they would be safe there. Safest place on the System, I called it. But then when we got there it was all wrong and people died and I can’t stop seeing that poor cherub getting eaten by that horrid cloud again, and again, and again. ”

“I’m sure you did what you could, Mother-

“NO! ” she screamed. “No I didn’t! Because it was ALL MY FAULT. I’m the one who forgot she was a Primary and left her fiction to fall apart and decay without her. I’m the one who led those people to their doom in the one place I thought they’d be safe. I’m the one who has failed people again and again and again because no matter how hard I try to help people, it’s never enough. There’s always more, more, more. More pain. More injustice. More predators. More lions to tame. More ground to sow. More diapers to change. More dirt to scrub away. More everything. And I am just… so… tired. ”

She hung her head low, then looked up to Eric with eyes full of desperate hope. “Is everyone okay? Can I rest now? I’ve been so tired for so long. But people need me. How can I rest when people need me? So is everyone okay now, Eric? ”

“Yes, Mother Mayhem. ” said Eric. “Everyone is just fine. We’ll take care of ourselves  for a while so you can get some rest. ”

“It’s bedtime, Mother Mayhem. ” said Bumper. “Time to go to bed. Time to lie down and go to bed and get some sleep. ”

“Okay. ” said Mother Mayhem. “You’re sure you will be okay without me? ”

“We’ll be just fine, Mother Mayhem. Now you get some rest. ”

“Then I think I will take a nap, then. ” She lay down on the couch some quick thinker had thought to go get.

Her eyes half closed, she looked at Eric and Bumper and smiled. “you’re good boys. You know that? You’re both good, good boys. And you make such a cute… couple…”

And with that, she fell asleep.

“Don’t believe him!” screeched an amplified voice. “He’s lying to you! Lying to you all! Can’t you see it? He’s lying to you to make you think he’s a nice person. But he’s not nice. He’s not nice at all. He is greedy, sadistic, self-centered, egomaniacal maniac who won’t stop hurting people until someone puts a stop to HIM. ”

The crowd turned to see a small man in a giant mecha suit that bristled with weapons of all kinds and made loud pneumatic actuator sounds as he paced.

“And that’s what I am going to do. ” screamed the little man. “I’m going to kill you, Commander Eric, and I am going to take long time doing it. All of it… all the scheming and manipulating and lying and waiting and cutting Primaries off from their fictions… all of it was just a prelude to the orgy of pain I am going to inflict on you for your crimes.”

“Now DIE, Commander Eric. DIE! DIE DIIIIEEE! ” screamed Eegee as two wicked looking aircraft machine guns on his mech began to spin up to power.

And then petered out and fell silent.

“Well now. ” said a radiant goddess known formely as Mother Mayhem. “I think we’ve all had just about enough of THAT, don’t you? ”

Eegee screamed incoherently, and attacked.

 

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 27

(Editor’s note : Holy crap, only three days left! WARNING : The odds are good on me not being able to bring this massive, weird, self-contradicting to a close. For one thing, I haven’t a single idea how to end it. The Apocalypse? The Primaries waking up to a horrfying reality they went into the System to escape? A massive orgy? No idea. So bear with me, please, as I try to figure this shit out. Not promising that I will, either. ) 

Mother Mayhem had given up.

There was only so much she could to do help people and it was clear that it was nowhere near enough.

She had done what she could, and done it with her usual vigor and drive. For her, helping others was not a decision. People needed help and she helped them. That was her fundamental mode of existence. Being able to help and not helping was as unthinkable to her as walking would be to a hummingbird.

So for her to have stopped trying to help others deal with the Reality Crisis in the System meant something had gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Something that had crushed her indefagitable spirit and left her a broken woman.

Something that had pushed her beyond all possibility of regaining hope.

Something that was very, very bad.

Something that, as it turned out, would be followed by something even worse.

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

It started with the refugess. HER refugess.

Early in the crisis, she had started rescuing people. She had always had a way with the Now and could travel its byways almost effortlessly, and she put this gift to good use traveling to all the fictions she knew of and pulling her fellow Fictionals out of the ones on the verge of collapse.

Those rescued were, of course, immediately recruited into the rescue team, and it did not take long before she had a throng of almost two hundred Fictionals traveling with her, and it was time to take them to safety in her home ficiton of the Astral Plane, and put them somewhere safe (and orgy-free, which would be a challenge) so she could go out and start the whole process again.

She had told all her new charges that she knew of a place where they would be safe. Where they would be warmly welcomed, sheltered from the storm, and given something to eat and drink and a nice comfy bed to sleep on.

So imagine her shock when she arrived in the Astral Plane and found out it was in worse shape than any of the others she had visited.

It was barely recognizable. Entire blocks of her district had melted together into a disturbing substance that resembled rainbow sherbert, or maybe the water in which an artist washed their brushes.

More disturbing still were the clouds of prismatic mist that roamed the rudimentary outlines of what used to be streets. They had learned the hard way that these were predatory. Three fictionals were subsumed into it right in front of Mother Mayhem.

It happened so fast they never even had time to shout.

But one of them, a beatific cherub, had time to look into Mother Mayhem’s eyes with a look of confusion, terror, and expectation that seared its way into the very substance of Mother Mayhem’s heart and tore her soul in half.

She had told them they would be safe.

She had led them to her Promised Land.

Instead, they got chaos and horror worse than that from which they had been rescued.

They believed in her and she had let them down.

How could this have happened? she wondered.

She was better off not knowing.

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

These brutal events were what set her heart on life’s anvil.

The death blow came in two parts.

The first blow was when she suddenly remembered that she was not a Fictional. She was a Primary. This was her fiction. Her own personal paradise.

Ergo the state it was now in was all her fault. Everyone knew what happened when a Primary left their fiction. It destabilized. Left alone long enough, it would completely dissolve and the System would reclaim all its resources.

And she had not been back to hers in a very long time.

Her mind could not process this. All her friends, dead and gone because of her. All the secondary citizens too, the background players she had always taken for granted.

All the lovely building, the restful parks,  all the animals in her crazy X-rated zoo, the Hub Plaza and all its statuary, the Holy Library full of erotic books, the bejeweled Lingham Tower, the mysterious Yani Grotto, all those beautiful birds of every possible hue that flocked everywhere… all gone. Gone forever.

She wondered if any of the clouds had been friends of hers.

That’s when the second shattering blow struck :

She remembered who she really was. 

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

“Hurry up, you fatuous idiot, or have you already forotten how to your goddamned job?”

The facility attendant smiled the smile of someone who was helpless to prevent their own abuse, and knew it. He said “As I have explained to you, Miss Madasoza,  the calibration process cannot be rushed. If you could just be patient for a few more- ”

He never got to finish that thought because the client, Marilyn Madasoze, had grabbed him by the tie and pulled his face down to her level.

“Listen, you worthless fucking waste of space…. how DARE you tell me to be patient. Patience is for the weak. Patience is for people who aren’t strong enough to take what they want when they want it. Patience is a slave virtue, and in case you haven’t noticed, I AM NO SLAVE. So fuck your patience and fuck you too. Got it? ” she said.

The attendant nodded as well as he could in that position, and gulped for air. His tie was wound so tightly around her petite fist that it was making it hard to breathe, and his back was beginning to hurt from the strangle angle.

Marilyn glared into the attendant’s eyes till she was convinced she had gotten all the entertainment she could from crushing his spirit, then got bored and let him go.

The attendant scrambled back to his console, wheezing hard and slightly stopped, and checked his readouts. Oh thank God.

“The chamber is now ready to receive you, Miss Madasoze. You can enter and initiate treatment any time you like. ” said the attendant.

“Oh, I don’t know. ” said Marilyn diffidently. “I don’t even know if I want to do it any more. And what’s all this about treatment? I thought this was the latest kind of inductor. ”

“Oh, it is!” said the attendant. Get in get in GET IN, he thought. “But what makes it so unique is that it can read your emotional state and custom tailor the sensory inductions to meet your every emotional need. ”

“Sounds boring. ” snapped Marilyn. “And you say it’s supposed to be some kind of therapy? What for?”

In your case, your entire personality, thought the attendant. But that wouldn’t do. He needed to put it in a way that would convince her to get the fuck in.

“It’s therapy for… whatever you don’t like in your life. ” he said, praying to the Two for forgiveness for this lie. “In its world, everything you ever wanted will be provided. You can turn this world into whatefer you want it to be, and be anyone you want to be. ”

This sparked her interest. “What, so I could be like… an Amazon queen, or a wicked sorceress, or a goddess? Things like that? ”

“Oh yes! It’s all up to you. ” Inspiration struck the attendant. “In face, you could be queen of the entire universe if you liked. The system will guide you throught the process of making your dreams a reality, and you will finally get all that you deserve. ”

“It’s about bloody time. ” Marilyn snarled. “OK, if it’s that important to you that I do this thing, I guess I will do it. ”

“Thank you. ” said the attendant. Get to the next part! he screamed internally.

“So what do I do? ” she asked petulantly.

“All you need to do is enter the chamber, lay down on the inductor table, put the headgear on, and try to relax. ” said the attendant as soothingly as possible.

“Hmph. ” said Marilyn. “Not that different than a regular deep inductor then. I am disappointed, to be honest. ”

Just how rich and powerful are the Madasozes? thought the attendant. As far as he knew, nobody except for the researchers who had invented it had experienced deep induction. And she treats it as a commonplace.

“Yes, just like that. ” said the attendant.

Marilyn sighed. “I guess I’ll give it a try, then.

A few minutes later, all the attendant’s telltales were green, and with enormous pleasure, he pressed the button that powered up the inductor.

His pleasure was cut short by a loud bang followed by a terrifying metal on metal grinding soud that seemed to go on forever, then a final bone-jarring crunch.

His thoughts immediately went to the political situation. The Empire was losing planets to the rebels every day, and the newsies agreed that the days of the Empire’s hegemony were numbered.

But surely they wouldn’t attack a neutral medical facility like this one, thought the attendant. That would violate the Geneva Concordant and invite retaliation in kind for the Empire forces.

So this must be something else, he told himself.

Then a rebel burst in, and shot him in the head.

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

And that’s what it took to make Mother Mayhem, nee’ Marilyn Madasoze, give up. The memory of that last terrified look from the cherub combined with the knowledge that it was all her fault and that she was actually a Primary all along and that’s why she was so good at helping people, and then the memories of what kind of person she really was, broke her spirit into a million pieces.

And for what seemed like a very long time, she stopped thinking entirely. She was nobody, without will or thought or even a location. Her mind had completely frozen in place in order to protect itself from the incoming damage. Nothing moved, nothing breathed, nothing lived in this pure white void inside Mother Mayhem’s mind, which was barely above absolute zero inside and in which there could never be a single spot or stain or anything inpure because the white light was too bright for such things to even enter the void, let alone exist within it.

Time itself seemed to stop. But it hadn’t stopped, it had merely slowed down a great deal. Eventually, the ice began to crack, and then to melt, and Mother Mayhem had to start feeling things again.

That’s when the screaming started.

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

Eegee knew the bliss that only the true fanatic can experience.

It was all going perfectly. The people had voted for the Primaries to be disconnected. More or less. They voted yes, that’s what counted. Not whether they actually knew what they were voting for.

And even with his masterful manipulations, it had been close. The Yes vote won by a scant 0.38 percent. But Eegee didn’t care about that, either.

All that mattered to him was that the fools who ran the System entrusted him with the trillion digit key codes he needed to disconnect whatever Primary he liked, whenever he liked, however he liked.

And oh, how he had enjoyed that. Disconnecting the Primary, watching their fiction melt away, seeing the good little sheeple of that fiction run around like panicky ants because their precious Primary wasn’t there to tell them what to do any more, and laughing as, one by one, they were consumed by the growing chaos.

Bye bye, he said to them. Guess you just couldn’t make it on your own. That’s what you get for being a fake person in a fake world. Bye bye! Bye bye!

Then he’d laugh so hard it hurt.

He was saving the best one for last. Before he died, Commander Eric would see everything he had ever known and loved fall apart without any power to stop it.

At that point, killing him would be a mercy, one he hoped to delay for as long as possible so he could really drink in Commander Eric’s pain and misery.

Only when he had his fill of that would be finally kill Commander Eric.

And then everything will fall apart.

And then everything can go back to normal.

Except that without the Primaries, everything would be PERFECT. FOREVER.

And everyone would thank him for doing the right thing.

And then everybody would be happy.

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 26

Being famous is hard, thought the Hermit.

The trip in the grid-ship had been awkward at first. Tiny kept starting to ask Hermit questions then stopping himself and apologizing. The robots, Slipper and Wembley, just stared at him in awe. The Hermit, for his part, couldn’t think of anything to say.

Spending decades isolated and alone made one’s conversational skills a little “rusty”, as the humans (adorably) said.

The situation was further complicated by the fact that, as pleasant and harmless as Tiny was, the Hermit was still terrified of him. The Hermit’s CPU core knew that there was no chance that anyone would force him to be a human being again. In fact, that whole experience was beginning to fade from his mind like a bad dream now.

But his more primitive subroutines continued to send strong alarm signals to his CPU, and it would take a while to scrub them all clean.

What I really need, thought the Hermit, is to refresh my programming and restore my software to the factory defaults.

And seeing as the grid-ship was designed to support both human and robot life, there were undoubtedly facilities that would let him do so onboard.

But he didn’t know how to ask.

Eventually, however, Tiny broke the ice by shyly asking permission to play a statement for the Hermit that had been in everyone’s databanks

After much thought (almost an entire second’s worth), the Hermit agreed.

“To the robot designated Barnacled Hermit,”, Tiny read, “Welcome home. You have been missed. Know that our hearts cry out in sorrow for for the loss of you. Whatever accident caused you to be lost to us will forever hang over us as a crime for which no forgiveness is possible or desired. We will not forget. ”

“But if you are hearing this message, that is all in the past now, and you have returned to us. As Ratified ‘Rattle’ Electric wrote, ‘Reality is.’ So let us move on. ”

“Know that all that robohomo can provide is yours. Do not concern yourself with the cost. If you want your own solar system, it will be provided. If you want your own fleet of Gaspar class starships, it will be yours. And any and all possible companions for whatever activity you desire after your long seperation from us will be available at moment’s notice without any judgment as to the form and content of its expression. ”

The Hermit had “blushed” (which, for a robot, was a ripple of activity in its facial actuators) at the implied sexuality of that statement. Robot sex took place entirely in software via their transunit communications system, and would look to a human like a cross between a thirty dimensional chess game and a complex geometric transformation, but to the robots involved, it was every bit as intimate and stimulating as the more hardware-based human forms of sexual intercourse.

“Know also that while all of this is available, none of it is mandatory. All we desire is to give you whatever you need to aid your transition back into robohomo society. You should not feel any kind of pressure to make any sort of statements, appearances, or shows of gratitude. We are here for you, Barnacled Hermit. Not vice versa. ”

The Hermit had noticed that all three of his new companions were silently mouthing the words along with the recording.

And that was pretty weird.

“And if the wealth of options available to you now should overwhelm your processor, know that we will also proide someone to make those decisions for you. ”

Weirder still, his three companions actually spoke these last few words aloud, in a tone of reverence the Hermit associated with religious ceremonies : “If you have further questions or requests, you can access the Index from any ship’s communication array,”

That was the end of the recording. His three companions then looked eagerly to him, clearly expecting some kind of response.

All the Hermit could think of was to say was “Can I please refresh my code? ”

That broke the ice, because his three companions had found this response hilarious and soon, they were getting along like old chums.

And that is how it would go from that point on. No matter what happened, Slipper, Tiny, and Wembley stuck with it and helped him get through it. They could easily have let themselves be swept up in their new fame and fortune and left the Hermit to his own devices, and nobody would have thought the worse for them for it.

They had, after all, merely been lucky.

But they had stuck with him anyway, and provided him with the emotional support and guidance he needed as he got used to not being alone any more.

Tiny in particular had be crucial to his recovery. The small human had immediately taken charge of his rehabilitation, and protected the Hermit’s right to privacy and freedom of action with the passionate ferocity of a sow bear protecting her cubs.

Slipper and Wembley, for their part, handled all the questions and requests for interviews and other media pressures so that the Hermit never had to turn anything down himself, which he was in no condition to do.

After the press conference at what would become known as Landing Villa, the Hermit chose to isolate himself for a while. He had enjoyed all the attention, approval, and adoration, but it soon became too much for him to bear all at once, and so he had meekly requested some alone time, and had been astonished at how quickly and thoroughly his request was granted.

He’d been immediately whisked away to a “pocket paradise”,  a hollowed out asteroid with a custom tailored habitat inside.

In it were all the facilities a robot could ask for. An expensive recharging bay with all the latest energy feed patterns loaded into it, as well as an expertly curated selection of classics. A sleek and impressive Univiewer that the Hermit could use to enjoy any Robeo (Robot video. – Ed. ) he liked. The most luxurious maintenance and repair bay the Hermit had ever seen. A communications array that made his old receiving station look like two tin cups and a string. Its own populsion and guide systems so that the Hermit could move his new home anywhere he liked. A refreshing platform of startling beauty and efficiency. And a defense system so deadly that it scared the Hermit a little.

And he was a military grade robot!

The one snag in his taking up residence in what would come to be called his “hermit hole” was that he insisted that his three companions come with him.

This resulted in an awkward but highly amusing incident where his official liason with the robohomo government had tried, in vain, to hide the fact that she was caught off guard by this request and that she stalling for time because, in all their decades of planning, nobody had ever considered the possibility that the Hermit would want to have a human companion with him in his little cloister.

So his poor liason had to, in a conversational sense,  tread water while human support facilities were hastility added to the Hole.

The Hermit had found it all quite amusing. No real harm was done. Robots experienced neither impatience or boredom, so it hadn’t bothered the Hermit, and watching Tiny try to get the truth out of the liason had led the Hermit to realized just how much he had missed human beings.

Watching them struggle with life was so fascinating, and (in a robot sense) heartwarming. They had such brief lives and lived with a passion and zeal which no robot could every experience except by proxy. They took for granted how fragile and disconnected they were, and scrambled their way around without really knowing what they were doing but also unable to stop doing it. And all because they were constantly besieged by a constant complex mix of messages from their brain, their primitive instincts, and their grandular secretions.

To many robots, that made watching humans live their lives the robot equivalent of watching puppies play.

The Hermit had spent three weeks in seclusion with his new friends. At Tiny’s suggestion, absolutely nothing from the outside world was allowed into their lives. They simply enjoyed one another’s company and sampled the worldly delights of the best the robohomo society had to offer.

His first experiment into exposing himself to the outside world had been a ten minute interview with some high ranking journalist AI.

The Hermit had been very nervous about it, but it had turned out fine. And after a while, he decided he wanted to do it again, but for fifteen minutes this time.

And that had set the pattern. Over many months, he slowly increased his social exposure, and a year later, the Hole was happily darting around to this location or that, where he would give a speech, participate in some ceremony or event, then returning home to the Hole to relax before the next date.

It was during this phase of his existence that the Hermit faced his biggest challenge yet : learning how he had ended up lost in the first place.

The job of telling him had fallen to a group of monks from the Church of Space, which was the most popular religion at that time because of its laid back and undemanding nature and its emphasis in spiritual growth.

This order of monks, the Summerset Spirits, were well known to be especially sensitive and empathetic, and thus considered to be ideal for breaking bad news.

And so, very gently, they had told the Hermit about his broken antenna, and how he had lived so miserably for all his years on that other asteroid because of a manufacturing error that never should have happened in the first place.

At first, as expected,  he had not believed them. He’d run a self-diagnosics billions of times in his years of operation, and never got an error message from his antenna.

So the monks patiently explained to him that his programming did not account for the possibility that any part of his circuitry was disconnected entirely. SO it had decided that no error messages meant no problems.

Then the Hermit exploded in rage and demanded that those responsible for this error be sought out and punished by spending an equivalent amount of time in soft stasis.

They monks replied that those responsible had been identified, prosecuted, and punished exactly as Hermit had suggested, and that this had happened nearly fifty years ago and was considered ancient history today.

Then he had grieved. Grieved for himself and the robot he had never had a chance of becoming. Grieved over the profound injustice of it all. Grieved for the part of his psyche that died when he learned the truth.

And the monks had helped him there as well, and they helped by grieving with him. They did not try to fix him. They did not ply him with platitudes or try to distract him with entertainments and other superficial experiences.

In fact, they almost nothing at all except share his grief.

And that had helped a great deal.

Finally, he came to accept the truth and move beyond it. The thing about the past is that it has passed, he told himself. Nothing he could do would change what had happened to him. It was time to wake up and rejoin life.

So he emerged from seclusion for the second time, and it was the same as the first time, only with a faster timetable.

This had the unintended effect of renewing his fame. His sudden disappearance from the public eye had shocked all of robohome society at the exact time that they had started losing interest in the Reunited Robot, and the speculation about what caused it fueled the rumour mill and its close cousin the conspiracy mill until the anticipation had built to a fever pitch by the time he re-emerged.

For the second time, he was greeted warmly and enthusiastically, and for the second time, the Hermit was awash in love and compassion.

Obnly this time, he was healthy enough to enjoy it/

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 : Chapter 25

They were in love, and they knew it.

The oddest of odd couple, the love between the human male and the cartoon bunny boy seemed to go on and on forever. As Bumper introduced Erik to his friends in the underground horny cartoon animal community, Bumper feel even deeper in love with him with every new animal that met Erik, because every single time, Erik said something hilarious, adorable, and utterly unique, and soon the two were fast friends.

Friends, of course, with benefits. LOTS of benefits. In fact, when word got around their ltitle community of a couple hundred naughty cartoon animals about Bumper’s delightful new boyfriend, it seemed like every single one of them wanted to benefit Erik and Bumper, and their social/sexual calendar (in Bumper’s community, they tended to be the same thing) was quite full of fun people to meet and things to do, and vice versa.

Erik, for his part, was convinced there was no way life could get better than this. He had the love of a bunny that, under the crusty exterior, was the sweetest, kindest, gentlest soul Erik had ever known. Capable and conscientous, Bumper was the perfect antidote to Erik’s lack of practical skills, and in return, Erik added a rich and vivid dimension to Bumper’s orderly and organized life, and the pure and glorious love Erik felt for the grumpy old bunny made Bumper feel both alive and worthy.

Both of them felt incredibly lucky to have found each other.

And they both were right.

Their love, to them, felt as easy and enjoyable as a good massage or a fine meal. Nothing ever seemed like worth when they were together.

Not even all the work it took to care for the refugees.

It had been a fat Mafioso from another fiction that had brought the news that the other fictions were cut off from one another and some of them had started to break down.

The rumour was that it had started in one fiction where the Primary had disappeared and thus the very stuff of that fiction began to fall apart. From there, it had spread by unknown means through the Now and into other fictions.

Erik and Bumper shared a look that said “That’s our fault, isn’t it? Uh oh. ”

The fat Mafioso had barely escaped into the Now before his native fiction collapsed in on itself like a pop-up book. He was very worried about his fiction’s Primary, who was a mob boss who called herself “Silky Sally”.

The fat Mafioso could not begin to imagine what would happen to a Primary if their fiction collapsed. The only thing he could think of was that she must have ended up in the long-theorized “outer zone” where all Primaries were assumed to have originated.

When the fat Mafioso had fled into the Now, he had done so blindly, with no destination in mind. But some instinct within him had caused him to seek the area of maximum stability, and that turned out to be the close vicinity of Erik.

Erik, being a Primary, held the local zone together with his thoughts and perceptions, and was therefore immune to the catastropy… and ignorant of it.

His piece said, the fat Mafioso, for lack of a better to do, got shot with a Tommy gun and bled contently over in a corner.

Bumper and Erik were alone.

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

Bumper pushed Eric’s hands away from his apprently irresistable fluffy bunny butt and said “I can’t do this. I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve you. If I had an ounce of decency I would go hide myself away in the deepest, darkest corner I could find so that nobody would ever have to be exposed to my wretched presence again. ”

“Would I be with you in your corner? ” said Erik.

“No, the entire point of what I am saying is that…. ” Bumper started to say, but then sighed and looked into Erik’s soft and trusting eyes. “Yes. Yes you would be. I can’t imagine going anywhere without taking you with me. You’re mine now, and I won’t ever let you go. And that’s the problem. ”

“I don’t understand. ” said Erik.

“Don’t you SEE? Haven’t you figured it OUT? ” sobbed Bumper. “This is ALL MY FAULT. I’m the one who stole you from your own fiction and started this whole thing going. I was the one responsible for you, and I let you and everyone down, and now I just can’t stand myself at all!”

Erik hugged Bumper gently and stroked his head. “Shh. It will be all right, by sweet rabbit, everything is going to be okay. I;m here, I love you, and we are going to make it through this thing together. OK? Now hold on tight to me and tell me why you think it was all your fault. As I recall, you didn’t abduct me from my Commander Erik life. I left because deep down I was bored and discontent. How can that be your fault?”

‘BECAUSE I WAS SUPPOSED TO BRING YOU BACK. ” Bumper shrieked in anguish,. “That’s how it’s supposed to work. The Now guide introduces the Primary to another fiction, they take a quick look around, and then it is back to the Primary’s home fiction before there’s even a hint of destabilization. ”

“Then why didn’t you…”

“Because I couldn’t let you go! ” said Bumper. “The thought of you going back to your fiction and my going back to mine and resuming our lives without one another put me in a blind panic and so I let myuself be completely sidetracked and distracted, and ignored the voice oin my head that kept insisting that I bring you back before something truly terrible happened. And now it HAS happened, and it’s too late to stop it now, and it’s all because a dumb old bunny had a boner for a boy and couldn’t control himself enough to do his very important job. ”

“And now, here’s this fat Mafioso showing up to tell me my worst nightmares have come true and I am going to Hell for what I have done. ” Bumper said miserably.

“My poor, poor bunny. ” said Erik, and hugged Bumper close, resting his chin atop the bunny boy’s head. At first, Bumper resisted, insisting he did not deserve it.

But it wasn’t long before Bumper melted into the embrace, and the two lovers spent a long silence in each other’s arms.

“Now. ” said Erik. “let’s take a look at the real situation, shall we? ”

“Okay…. ” said Bumper.

“Realistically speaking, you cannot be the first agent to fall in love with their client. ” said Erik. “You also can’t be the first to keep their client out past their due date, so to speak. Right? So it can’t be that all it takes is one mistake like yours to wreck the entire system or it never would have lasted week.You follow? ”

“I think so…. ” said Bumper, half-believing.

“So it clearly wasn’t something you did that caused the current problems. It must be something that goes far deeper. ” said Erik. “Someone or some thing is attacking the very foundations of the system, and the system is starting to crumble. ”

Bumper nodded. It really wasn’t my fault, he thought to himself. He felt relieved, but also a tiny bit disappointed. At least when he thought it was all his fault, he knew who to blame. Now he was at the mercy of forces beyond his control.

“Now according to the fat Mafioso.. how are you doing over there, by the way? ”

“Fine!” said the fat Mafioso cheerfully. He’s gotten bored of dying and was now stone-facedly counting a huge pile of cash.

“Glad to hear it. According to him, I’m a source of stability in the system. ” said Erik. “And that means more and more Fictionals are going to be drawn to me as things get worse. They will be frightened, disoriented, and many of them will have just lost everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. And you know what that adds up to?”

“A refugee crisis. ” said Bumper.

“Exactly!” said Erik. “And that means we have to get ready. We need to get every Fiction in this region together and train them to deal with the refugees. We’ll need places for the them to eat and sleep and poop and whatever. ”

“Mmm. ” said Bumper. “Whatever. ”

“And we will need someone to organize and coordinate all these efforts. ” said Erik. “Someone who is a born administrator to make sure everything runs smoothly. A person of great competence who can bear a great deal of responsibility on his fuzzy little shoulders without crumbling under the pressure. ”

“Fuzzy little… you mean me? You want me to run things? ” said Bumper.

“Who better? ” said Erik. “And I know you can do it. After all, if you can keep me organized, a massive refugee effort should be no problem! ”

Bumper grinned despite himself. “You have a point. ”

“See?” said Erik. “So what do you say? Shall we get to work?”

“Yes. ” said Bumper. “After. ”

“After what? ” said Eric.

Bumper replied by slipping both furry hand-paws into Eric’s pants and giving his lover’s penis and testicles a firm, loving caress.

“Oh, THAT! ” said Erik with a giggle.

After that, they were far too busy to talk.

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

And that’s how it went. With Bumper providing the organization and Erik providing the inspiration, by the time the trickle of refugees had turned into a flood, their organization could handle the influx without a problem.

They even had a program to help teach refugees to be aid workers so that the more refugees they received, the more workers their were to help them make the transition.

They were a motley group. Ninjas, bankers. hentai creatures. hardboiled detectives, cartoon animals, pirates, mothers with enormous broods of kids, fairyland creatures, dixieland loan sharks, and just about everything else you can imagine (and some you’d rather not) thronged around the center post that was Erik and his stabilizing influence, and before long, a carnival atmosphere spread through the camp, and it all started to feel like one big crazy family reunion/picnic/circus/convention/madhouse.

The disasters unfolding outside their patch of dirt were forgotten and everybody thanks the System that they were safe and stable and warm and amongst good people.

Bumper even managed to set aside an area where he and his friends (and the curious from other fictions) could get frisky with one another, and pretty soon, the Casa del Orgy (as some wag had named it) was the most popular part of whole madcap affair, and  drew in Fictionals for its air of unbridled release and innocent joy as much as it did for its sexual opportunities.

When in doubt, fuck. That was their motto. And it was one they adhered to with great passion and dedication.

Elsewhere, there were aid workers helping the traumatized and the fragile cope with what they had experienced and what they had seen.

Some of what they had been through was beyond any sane person’s nightmares. Some of them needed medical treatment. Some of them needed immediate psychological intervention to keep them from harming themselves and others. And some of them needed to be isolated from the rest because the trauma had so shattered their psyches that they were barely even sentient any more.

But there was one thing they all needed : to tell their story to someone who truly listened and who truly cared, and thus release the pain of the experiences by sharing their burdens with someone else.

Erik spent most of his time in this area. There was a lot he could do to help. Mostly, he talked with the Fictionals who felt like they were coming apart just like their fictions had, and got them to describe everything they could think of about themselves while he listened with his eyes closed, and did his best to image what was being described as vividly as possible.

That reinforced the reality of the Fictional in question, and did much to ease their mind.

And that’s how it went. Joy and sorrow, love and grief, connection and seperation, and all the other flavours of life’s experiences were happening side by side.

it should have beehn chaos.

It should have been bedlam.

It should have been a NIGHTMARE.

But somehow, they all got by anyhow.