Re-org

We are going through a major reorganization. Navigation may disappear, categories will merge and split, strange new names will appear and vanish.

It may be happening real-time, right in front of your eyes.

Fitful Lapse of Reason…Beg Pardon

Start with the most basic Question:

Do You know Why you are?
No, not exactly.

OK
This is…well OK.

There is eating Yes.
This is important Because…

…it does Something to my Anger.

It made me yell at you Once.

So I am made to eat You.
This is actually OK.

This I can Live with.

It does me no Harm and…
There is Reason in this.

Naturlisch

“Why not destroy it, I say?,” croaked the embalmed thing, seated puppet-like in the richly embroidered, nicotine-soaked armchair, whose bewitching pattern incessantly pricked at Le Poseur’s prick-spot in the brain.

“Now hold on…what the fuck gives?”

“I’ll tell you what gives,” the feeble old bastard returned. “That God-forsaken book did just what it’s G`damn title said it would…brought a world of frickin’ Hurt.”

“What the fuck you know about a World of hurt anyway?”

“I shown it ta’ Bishop Rickets and two weeks with that motherfuckin’ thin’ and he’s slurping’ snot an’ spurtin’ his Jism all fuckin’ over da G`damn Rectory!”

“Yeah well…that’s why I kept it close to the chest…Priceless!”

The last brigadeiro

I’m having tea on the roof imagining the city burn. I’m enraged about how the younger generation can’t see the stranded Junk until it’s pointed out; how the generation beyond that can’t see it even then.

Then it hits me, a memory of a conversation I once had. Someone telling me that the young just haven’t had time to remember who they are yet.

It rattles me. I can’t place that memory. I don’t know who was talking. But it feels real enough. I think she had a point there. We have to grow into the memory of our surroundings.

Bill Amsterdam Speaks

Epigraph

An excerpt from the self published 1951 memoir “Bill Amsterdam Speaks”

Main Content

Every life is a road.

Most people travel down the main roads. Broad expansive concrete and asphalt roads, built to handle the reckless masses, curbs and guardrails in place to save them from their own idiocy and incompetence. Others travel down, well, shit, I guess there is no other way to say it, “paths less traveled”. Artists and poets and freedom fighters bravely following dark and unguarded trails.

But others of us travel down roads even yet more dangerous and less guarded. Some of us travel down roads that it takes a certain kind of eye to see at all. Footpaths down ancient game trails, back roads that change with the traveler. Roads that lead us through forests of howling wolves and offer us no protection at all, but surrender an intimacy to the inner world that could never be comprehended from the high capacity spiritual freeways.

These roads are delicate, man. Very delicate. Each pilgrim alters the path. You could follow abreast of me, step by step, down these roads and arrive at a different destination.

Take my best friend, Geddes Furgeson, or, more famously, Ottoman Von Luitgard. He walked with me longer than anyone else ever has. He matched my steps, he sometimes strode ahead of me, but he ended up in a very different place. His road led him to ruin and misery and damnation. That’s regrettable, it really is, but how else could it be? If he had not followed his own path what would that say about him? He went where fate would take him, and accepted his destiny as the only one he had.

 

I first met Ottoman at the Golden Wheel Circus of Magic.

The Golden Wheel called itself a circus, but that wasn’t strictly true. A circus usually has a three ring tent, animals, clowns, and high wire acts. We had none of these. Too all appearances we were mostly what was referred to as a “freakshow”. We traveled the Midwest and the deep South year round, profiting from the average persons latent taste in voyeurism and secret desire for depravity.

The Golden Wheel consisted of one long midway of perhaps twenty tents on either side a makeshift lane. Each of the tents had a barker that would call out to the crowds, cajoling them into the terrors of the geek tent, or the titillation of the dancing girl tent, and so on. A small band of Indian pipe flautists played along side our Irish bagpipesman on a wooden platform, warbling out a strange and dreary transcontinental and surrealistic dirge.

We were stopped somewhere in East Texas, working a rural town mainly just to keep everyone busy while we traveled. I was walking though the newly erected midway, thinking about a sleight of hand trick I read about a few nights earlier when I saw the boy walking through the midway alone. He was a huge man-child, even then, and I believe he was no older than fifteen. He towered over everyone in the crowd. 6′ 5″ or better and his arms stretched the cotton fabric of the white shirt he wore under his clean overalls. He was massive in stature, but there was a very boyish look in his eyes as he wandered the midway eating a bag of peanuts.

I started following him down the midway, watching him. He was very perceptive. I can avoid detection most of the time, but I think he would have put me to the test had he not been so enthralled in the things around him. His eyes seemed to eat up his surroundings, snapping up everyone and everything. The local people seemed to interest him as much as the freak show tents. I watched him as he watched the reaction of a school teacher to the enticements of a barker for the alligator man. The boy laughed quietly into his peanuts when the woman told the barker that the Lord followed her, and she would never take him into a place like that. The people around him should have been unnerved by anyone, much less a giant, who stood beside them and watched their reactions with the quiet relish of a connoisseur. But they did not.

The townsfolk seemed to barely notice him at all. No one avoided him exactly. People accommodated him. Allowances were made without anyone knowing it. No one stared. No one pointed at the giant child. People exchanged friendly glances with him as if he were a pleasant local. And the boy was as unaware of this as they were. He was unaware that a man his size shouldn’t be able to move through a crowd without brushing against a single soul, because for him it had always been that way.

In a way, he looked like what he was, the son of a prosperous cattle rancher.

He also looked like he no more belonged to the world of ranching than a unicorn belongs in a mule corral.

The kid was beautiful. I have to say that, because it was true. You could see the magic of him. Simple magic, but very strong. Magic so simple and direct it shaped his body. Geddes could never hide his magic from anyone capable of seeing it, because it went through him all the way. It was so much a part of him he didn’t even consciously know it was there. It was just a part of him, like his heart or his lungs, always active, always alive, but speaking wholly in the subconscious.

I have never before or since felt such a strong combination of joy and jealousy and titillation in all my life. I knew this child was something special, and I knew we were destined to walk together.

Geddes, like so many young men, fell in love with the Bearded Lady.

Her name was Mirabella. She indeed had a long and silky beard, a beautiful beard really.

The beard sprang from her face and tied itself into a long ponytail that loved to nestle itself between her ample bosom. Aside from the beard she was also quite fat. Her clothes were silk and thin and there were always as little of them as the current notions of modesty would allow. Shocking, almost scandalous amounts of her skin were on display to the visitors of her tent. Luxurious folds and dimples that quivered, oh so slightly, whenever she moved her body.

Ah, but her skin was more beautiful than her beard. Her skin was the most perfect skin the world has ever seen. Imagine a full Mediterranean moon dappling through palmetto leaves onto a translucent pearl. Imagine virginal wool. Imagine untouched rice paper in an onyx box presented to an emperor. And so on. That was her skin and the sight of it had led many young men and women down a strange road that led to the twin castle gates of bliss and confusion.

As Geddes entered the tent she took notice of him.

“Oh, My,” she said “look at this one.” She was sitting on a large red velvet couch, fanning herself with an oriental fan. She was arranged in a low cut red silk dress, showing off for the crowds. Husbands and wives alike stared unabashedly. Unlike the other performers, she never grew tired of the attention she received.

The crowd jostled aside as Geddes moved forward.

“What’s your name son?” She asked.

“Geddes, Ma’am.”

“What happened to you?” She asked him from behind her fan.

“Ma’am?”

“How’d you get so big? You look like you might be half horse.” She said, not acknowledging that she easily weighed as much as he did.

Geddes turned an interesting shade of bright red.

“Do you live around here son?” She asked.

“No ma’am. I used to live in Angle, but now I don’t live anywhere. Not anymore.” He said this good in a good natured way. Like he was commenting on what a nice day it was.

“Oh, Dear.” She said, playing with the fine hairs of her beard. “A young boy like you out by yourself. In a world like this? That wont do. Not at all. Will it, Bill?”

This is how easy these things are. How they seem to fall into place if you are open to them.

“He looks big enough to take care of himself.” I said. The kid turned around, surprised to notice me for the first time.

“No, he’s big but he’s still a baby. Look at him, Bill. We should take him on. Put those muscles to work.” She said.

“Mira, I’m sure he already has a mother. Besides, we don’t need anyone. We’re full up.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” She said looking me full in the eyes, “don’t we need a new strong man?”

“We already have one.”

“Yes. But he’s been so awfully sick. He might need someone to fill in.”

Geddes watched us without comment. He looked slightly amused.

“Tell, you what.” I said to Geddes, as if he had won me over with his pleading. “Come back tomorrow night. After we close. I will see what I can do.”

“Well, I wasn’t actually looking for—”

“Tomorrow. I can’t make any promises.” I said as I left the tent. It was time for my nightly performance and I left without looking back. There was no need. A young man on his own is incapable of saying no to most anything, but especially not to the circus.

Koan for the Weak

I am being haunted by a terrible vision—although it feels familiar to these bones, I don’t trust myself the talent to convey it. I feel as if I am on the verge of a discovery that will ring in the long awaited Re-establishment, but the image and meaning are transitory: just as the words begin to form they’re swept away in a tempest of ash. It is my duty to forewarn the Communitas, but I am unable to mold the message.

I spent a great number of days crafting a plan to circumvent that terrible phantom. I resolved to consult the remains of the Archives of the Common History that I had liberated from that Degenerate Duke one frenzied spring evening. I cringed at the thought—I hadn’t ventured into the corridors of this monstrous ship since being warned off my explorations—going back into the lower decks was a distressing thought, but I must find a way to make the illusionary whole. I must snatch reality from fog. I must make the diaspora understand what is at stake.

I gathered my courage and sat off in search of the hold. At length I found my way to the trunks which I hadn’t set eye upon since that whirling escape from the heart of that Mad Empire. Pursued by the cackling howls of the Minions for nearly a fortnight, I fought my way through untamed forests and immense cities. Everyone I met along the way was as crazed and monstrous as the Duke himself; Mr. Freud built for himself a sick land. I tried to blend in, tried to hide in plain sight. I tried to disguise my discomfort, but at every turn I was unmasked as a heretic.

I made it aboard this renegade steamer with but my life and what remained of a once great archive. That was a lifetime ago. A life that I can barely take account of—save for brief flashes of bloody lips, either laughing or snarling, which I cannot tell. Save for a tumbling goblet of red wine. A bejeweled hand dangling from a decadent throne. Tattered velvet over broken glass. A winding road. And disgrace. Madness. Escape and Freedom. A freedom which would later be reveled to be anything but. Allow me this singular weakness, and forgive me it as the disheveled rambling of the downtrodden—I cannot help but wonder if the Duke was right.

From the darkness of the tramp steamer’s hold I was seized by another memory. My most favored recollection, the only one I trust. This is the only event of which I am sure: We met. After an extended period of misgivings and second-guesses, we met. We met in the Great Library—with its formidable walls that radiate darkness in the same mysterious manner that you radiate joy. You couldn’t have known this at the time—but in hindsight, I have come to realize you did suspect—I sought you out. I conjured you from the darkness. There, amongst the stacks, and nooks, and endless shelves, I created you. From nothing more than my own dreadful desire and need, I willed you into that translucent vault. I sought to make amends for my terrible actions—and in return received if not forgiveness, then remission. The terrible weight that had been with me all that time suddenly crumbled, and what remained was easily sloughed off. As things go, it was sometime later before I realized that in my uncertain agitation I had failed to complete my mission. I failed to let it be known that even if we should never meet again the world feels less lonely knowing you’re in it.

These memories are meaningless of course. And I’m unsure of the validity of the better part of them. But they fuel my commitment. If I could escape, or even only imagine escaping the Empire; if I could conjure an old friend from the deep; then surely I can find something to abide my understanding—some document that transcends my inability to catch a shadow. Just as I summoned you, I will summon a proclarative map. There must be one—In the long history of the ‘gentsia, someone must have documented this Tormentor. My plan is simply: I shall will into existence a map that will make firm my vision; which will allow me to share it with my gentle comrades.

Aye, but it has been a most terrible night filled with memories to horrific to recollect, and memories too joyful to accept. I must rest and regain my strength before I tackle those trunks.

I spent a great number of days crafting a plan to circumvent that terrible phantom. I resolved to consult the remains of the Archives of the Common History that I had liberated from that Degenerate Duke one frenzied spring evening. I cringed at the thought—I hadn’t ventured into the corridors of this monstrous ship since being warned off my explorations—going back into the lower decks was a distressing thought, but I must find a way to make the illusionary whole. I must snatch reality from fog. I must make the diaspora understand what is at stake.

I gathered my courage and sat off in search of the hold. At length I found my way to the trunks which I hadn’t set eye upon since that whirling escape from the heart of that Mad Empire. Pursued by the cackling howls of the Minions for nearly a fortnight, I fought my way through untamed forests and immense cities. Everyone I met along the way was as crazed and monstrous as the Duke himself; Mr. Freud built for himself a sick land. I tried to blend in, tried to hide in plain sight. I tried to disguise my discomfort, but at every turn I was unmasked as a heretic.

I made it aboard this renegade steamer with but my life and what remained of a once great archive. That was a lifetime ago. A life that I can barely take account of—save for brief flashes of bloody lips, either laughing or snarling, which I cannot tell. Save for a tumbling goblet of red wine. A bejeweled hand dangling from a decadent throne. Tattered velvet over broken glass. A winding road. And disgrace. Madness. Escape and Freedom. A freedom which would later be reveled to be anything but. Allow me this singular weakness, and forgive me it as the disheveled rambling of the downtrodden—I cannot help but wonder if the Duke was right.

From the darkness of the tramp steamer’s hold I was seized by another memory. My most favored recollection, the only one I trust. This is the only event of which I am sure: We met. After an extended period of misgivings and second-guesses, we met. We met in the Great Library—with its formidable walls that radiate darkness in the same mysterious manner that you radiate joy. You couldn’t have known this at the time—but in hindsight, I have come to realize you did suspect—I sought you out. I conjured you from the darkness. There, amongst the stacks, and nooks, and endless shelves, I created you. From nothing more than my own dreadful desire and need, I willed you into that translucent vault. I sought to make amends for my terrible actions—and in return received if not forgiveness, then remission. The terrible weight that had been with me all that time suddenly crumbled, and what remained was easily sloughed off. As things go, it was sometime later before I realized that in my uncertain agitation I had failed to complete my mission. I failed to let it be known that even if we should never meet again the world feels less lonely knowing you’re in it.

These memories are meaningless of course. And I’m unsure of the validity of the better part of them. But they fuel my commitment. If I could escape, or even only imagine escaping the Empire; if I could conjure an old friend from the deep; then surely I can find something to abide my understanding—some document that transcends my inability to catch a shadow. Just as I summoned you, I will summon a proclarative map. There must be one—In the long history of the ‘gentsia, someone must have documented this Tormentor. My plan is simply: I shall will into existence a map that will make firm my vision; which will allow me to share it with my gentle comrades.

Aye, but it has been a most terrible night filled with memories to horrific to recollect, and memories too joyful to accept. I must rest and regain my strength before I tackle those trunks.

What Lies Beneath

Epigraph

Part 1

Main Content

I wasn’t prepared for what I discovered. I thought I had it all figured out from the moment I got the call. All the signs pointed to a big ferocious werewolf. Maybe my expectations were clouded by my own ambitions. I mean, how cool would Werewolf Slayer look on a resume? From the conflicting witness accounts, the isolated little community and it even happened during a full moon. It was all so… obvious. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I don’t want to bore you with the details of the week leading up to that night. I’ll just say that I wasted my time trying to verify my preconceived notions about a werewolf and its connection to the silver mine.

I’m not proud to admit that I even began to suspect a werewolf conspiracy. Why else would a whole town willfully isolate itself from our ever shrinking world? Wolves are best in packs, right?

I thought I was prepared that Sunday night, the night of the full moon. In a holster attached to the waistband of my pants was a pistol loaded with silver bullets I had made for this very night. I carried two blades made of silver in sheaths strapped to my body, one on my right ankle and the other at my left hip, in case I might have to grapple with some beast. I wore dark slacks and a sport coat to hide the weapon at my back. I was confident I could handle anything the night had in store. I was eager for the impending confrontation. I felt powerful.

I entered town as the sun was setting. I grew inconspicuous in the shadow of the local store. It wasn’t long before I noticed the apparent migration of the town’s inhabitants toward the direction of the church at north end of the town. It seemed that everyone was on foot. I did my best to not draw attention to myself. Little did I know, there was no need to be so stealthy. The townsfolk showed an eagerness for the evenings proceedings that rivaled my own. Without speaking amongst each other they exhibited a single-minded determination to reach their destination and noticed nothing beyond the progress they made.

Confident that I could move about the town without being noticed, I left my half-hearted hiding spot. My intent was to move about the houses in an effort to gain insight to the living conditions of the residents of Dark Ember. I spied a worn footpath between two houses. Curious, I followed the trail into a secluded yard. Trees and overgrown shrubbery acted as a privacy fence from the surrounding houses. Three small dogs of no particular breed darted from between the bushes and ran past me upon the path I had followed. The small dogs were followed by what must surely have been the largest dog in the world. It had an appearance similar to a Great Dane with bits of Rottweiler thrown in. None of the dogs paid me any notice. I now understood what caused the worn path.

I heard what I believed to be singing coming from the direction of the church. The steady chorus of voices was strangely soothing and I found myself mesmerized. I too began walking toward the church. I did not understand the words being sung, but that didn’t matter. It was as though the words were designed to lure. I tried to halt or even slow my pace as I neared the church. I could see a handful of stragglers entering the church, their faces contorted into a grimace of blank rapture. They, too, were singing. I still couldn’t comprehend what they were saying even as they looked directly at me.

Grudgingly and against my better judgment, I stepped up the first step of the church and then the next, with a purpose that was not my own. Dread welled up inside me. I thought my heart would explode from the force of the hammering in my chest. I suddenly did not want to be there anymore. A child-like terror gripped my stomach. I wanted to flee the chanting, for indeed it was chanting, and leave this accursed town. In that too brief moment I think I might have done just that if my left hand had not shot out and grabbed the railing that led up along the church steps. My body acted of its own determination to take me inside the church. With that the option to flee was no longer mine to make. Confusion caused my mind to swim. I lacked the will to resist and resigned myself to the inevitable. I rose to the top step with a conviction I did not believe in. I strode the few final feet toward the door.

I took the handle in my right hand and swung the door open. In that moment I not only knew and understood what it meant to go mad, I embraced it. With the scene of the unfolding horror before me, insanity was my only recourse. Everything I thought I knew was turned inside-out. As I peered through the door of the church at the assembled congregation and the object of their worship, the altar of their belief and the reward of their faith, my sanity officially divorced reality.

The church had little resemblance to what the word implies. There were no pews, no basin of holy water, no cross or depictions of saints. There before me was a large room the size of a small gymnasium, maybe 50 feet by 80 feet. It was almost the size of a small basketball court. At the center of the room was an altar made of a carved block of stone. The stone stood three feet high. It looked about four feet wide and five feet long. Throughout the stone were quarter sized holes with no discernable pattern on every surface. The amassed congregation stood in a circle around the altar. They were bunched closely together. They continued to chant, faces upturned to the thing above the altar.

If they noticed me they showed no sign. I found myself moving further into the room. I stared in horror at the abomination on the altar. Revulsion welled up within me. What is the appropriate response when faced with something that simply should not be?

On the altar stood a man, or what appeared to have once been a man. From the holes in the stone altar oozed an oily black ichor that was neither quite smoke nor liquid but similar to both. The putrid substance impossibly flowed up the altar to the man standing there. As the black miasma covered his body, he ceased his chanting and raised his arms out from his sides. When the effluvium had covered most of his body, his face became visibly excited and he yelled out several times, “Yes! Yes!” as in response to something only he could hear. Around him the assemblage continued to chant.

The dark contagion had nearly covered the man’s entire body. The tar-like tendrils coalesced and tightened pulling the man’s arms together in front of him. His legs were also pulled together until he resembled a rigid and upright mummy. The nebulous corruption covered his face and head. The malignancy flowed over his encased body like inky soup. The form rose into the air several feet above the altar. A vertical slit appeared in the contamination where the man’s face once was. Abruptly, the slit split as wide as the man’s head to reveal a large and terrible eye. The iris of the eye was long and slitted like a serpent’s, but horizontal. The iris was dark green with luminous streaks of yellow throughout. The area around the iris was dark blue, like cold-fire. The most horrible aspect of that repugnant eye, the thing that will surely haunt my nightmares the rest of my life, was that it was looking directly at me.

My grasp of reality shattered and fragmented. I felt as though I was no longer in my body. I watched the next several moments as if from some point across the room. I saw the gun in my hand pointed at the monstrosity as it slowly drifted in my direction. I saw myself thumb the hammer back. The gun fired.

Temporal behavior of consumption and asset return

There are those that say the world has always been like this. They say there has always been ancient ships stranded in the middle of cities. That ash has always fallen from the sky. They claim we have always been on the verge of population collapse. I know they’re wrong.

I know they’re wrong because there was a time before I became the Maintainer. A time in which I would have never taken such liberties at my job. A time in which the only sound to keep me company through harsh days wasn’t the beating of my own heart.

I know they’re wrong because I care for historical documents and none of them mention stranded ships, or ash filled skies. But they are full of stories of vast populated cities, of people, of lives, and struggles for meaning.

There was a time that when flipping bits I wouldn’t have substituted my own for those that refused to come back to life. A time in which I shouldn’t have snuck out box after box of absurdist documents for which to build a fortress against isolation. A time in which I would never have considered fighting with ancient disease rattled technology as an escapist adventure.

A Real Son of A Bitch

Did you know that if I wanted to I could explain to you the mathematics of your recent Pandemic? This is but only one of the ridiculous little shrapnels that can embed itself. I wouldn’t even want to talk about it really, but you would. Of that I have no doubt. Not just something to wile away our short little jaunt, you would go on and on with endless goadings for more of this and that. Do you see? How much I know of everything I don’t even want to?

Let’s just drop it. Let’s pretend for a moment that we have an endless here and now to be sincere and meaningful. Tell me then about the ones you lost, the ones most closest to you. Your mother, your siblings. Better even, tell me did you lose someone that you really loved? I think I can relate to that believe it or not. But you really must begin Conjuring or else the image goes fleeting. Wait, oh yes then, here it comes, hold your thought because I have it just now coming back to me. But it’s running a bit backwards.

Oh the terrible fright! There’s the cup falling from his youthful hands, a solemn drivel lolling off the rim and soaking into the slate floor, already dank and grimy from all the shuffling of our long Dark Work. All backwards. He drinks with lips chapped from, from, from what? Canting. That’s right. Canting for hours on end. Now a hymn. Good Lord it’s beautiful. Something we wrote together in the Goddamn blasphemous vain notion that it would do that one thing for which there is no math to bridge the void.

Aargh, break it off! It is more than I can stomach right now that failure. What was it you were going to mutter. Oh, uh-huh. Yes, I see. By God that would have been right around the time I first met Garreth. Could you almost see it leave her like I saw it leave him? The Ghost exiting? The spirit just bursting right forth in total hopelessness and despair? Jesus Christ can we stop for moment and rest? I don’t like this euphoria at all. We have to find something different to talk about.

Okay fine, about that. Yes. We’re almost there anyhow. You have to promise me that you won’t find this sad or compulsive. These tomes, now scattered to the awful winds. I did not write them. All I did was read them is all. They came from strange corridors of used London bookshelves. Or crates tucked under makeshift street-vendor tables. One I remember finding in an absolute drunken rage flinging through the rot of a landfill -suddenly betwixt at it’s cyclopean stare. The Hurting Game. Yes that one indeed.

Here let me show you. Just up the stairs. It’s where we’re going now. Watch your step. Let me introduce you to a real Son of a Bitch.