He heaved, his chest tight, choking on it. He didn’t let it out.
Ragged breathing, panting, in air on the edge of razor cold, he dragged himself upright. His limbs ached. His hands didn’t, the fingers on his left hand weak, hard to move. Grey hair hung down in his face, damp with sweat. His right hand clamped down harder on the hilt of the blade.
Gibbering and screeching they came. Leaping over roots and rocks, sallow and warty, twisted things. He remembered them from two decades before, when the army had fought its way out of the trap he’d led them into. Like an infestation, parasites dug into a flank they crawled out of the mountains.
There were six dead at his feet. Many, many more lurched and hopped and shambled down the slope at him. Underneath the lorica his flesh was bruised and torn.
The first one to come in close leapt over the dead. He’d counted on that. Once in the air, it couldn’t dodge or duck. He sheared the straight sword up in the classic cenai stroke, letting the weight of the attacker do the work of lopping the head away from the neck. His right shoulder protested the move. He ignored it, panting, his eyes watering. He ignored it because he had no choice. Read the rest of this entry »
Go take a look.
I think about death from time to time because as Criswell one spoke about the future, it’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life, sort of. Well, it’s where I’ll be spending everything that happens after.
Thinking about all the shit I’m likely to miss… functioning nanotechnology, human/animal hybrids (they’re coming), the discovery that elephants have an advanced orally transmitted culture, the extinction of the human race… always brings about a strange combination of whimsy and wistfulness. I understand that humans suck, and the planet will be well rid of us, but I still harbor a kind of fondness for the scrappy primates that could, despite a total lack of claws or teeth or decent fur. No brachiating limbs, no prehensile tails, no brute physical strength… our ancestors made it by being able to figure out what to do with a pointy rock better than anyone else could. And soon we’ll be dead, brought down by our own inability to be more than primates that were really good at figuring out what to do with pointy rocks.
We’re just smart enough to be really fucking stupid, but it’s sad. So far to come and yet not so far at all.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be long dead before the last human rattles, groans and dies. I could be wrong about that, of course. I read stories in the newspapers and laugh from time to time… about how much money has been spent and how many people have died in Iraq, for instance, and that more money will be flushed and more people will die before it finally ends. I don’t laugh because I find the horrible waste, the endless graft and corruption, and the deaths of people terribly amusing. I laugh because no matter how bad it gets, no matter how awful it is, there will still be people who will believe it was the right and moral thing to do, and those people are allowed to vote. Allowed to work their jobs. Allowed to live the lives they denied others in their blind, overweening pride and hubris.
You have to find it a little funny or you’ll swallow strychnine, I suppose.
But these same people also make decisions about what textbooks our children should read, what regulations our corporations should be held liable to, what kinds of emissions are acceptable in our air and water… you see the people who honestly believe Iraq was a good idea and the horror comes when you realize they have children who they will teach their diseased, moronic, warped mindset to. That gay people are sinners who want to destroy marriage and have special rights, that there’s no such thing as global warming, that the USA is blessed by God, chosen by God and morally right no matter what it does, that it’s okay to let rich people lie, steal and cheat us all blind because we hope to be rich someday ourselves and do the same shit to other people. That out of the billions of men and women and children in the world, less than 1% of one nation of roughly 300 million should be in charge.
I see this shit and I have to laugh at it.
So proud, we jumped up gibbons, we mandrills with guns. Ever better and better at getting sharp rocks to do things.
I’m not trying to imply that any other nation is any better. Trust me, if Canada ever becomes the richest or most powerful nation on Earth you could expect a lot of the same shit, only with less demagoguery and fervor and more intense smugness. Put China, or Nambia, or Australia in charge and you’d see the same shit, better in some ways, worse in others. I mean, ask a long distance marathon runner what he or she thinks about trying to run in Beijing sometime. Humans everywhere are self-centered, cruel and rapacious, your humble correspondent not excluded.
It’s sad that we won’t rise above it. I once seriously believed we would.
Read this article.
Okay? Here’s my reaction. Go fuck yourself, Lori, and all your friends can go fuck themselves too. Please keep conceiving children through artificial insemination, because believe it or not, men do not exist solely to allow you to have your fantasies of child rearing. Those dweebs, overweight guys, balding guys, and guys with big noses you advise your readers to settle for?
They don’t fucking need you. They don’t need someone to finally get done fucking the hot guys (or trying unsuccessfully to) and to deign to grace their homes long enough to get impregnated because they’d make great dads. Thank you ever so much for condescending to settle for them. “Sure, it’s not true love, but he’s funny and he’d make a great dad.” Yes, he will, for someone other than you. Or maybe he won’t. For all you know, he doesn’t even goddamn want kids.
The one line in the entire article that showed a smidgeon of self awareness was this one: Now, though, I realize that if I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life, I’m at the age where I’ll likely need to settle for someone who is settling for me. However, Lori decides that this is because she’s no longer the young, vivacious, interesting person who went on hiking adventures and performed at comedy clubs.
News flash. It’s not because you got older and are less interesting. It’s because you’re a shallow, vapid person who judges other people entirely by the value they bring into your life, weighing and discarding them like packages of meat at a farmer’s market. By definition, if you were actually an interesting person, your lifetime of experiences would enhance you, not detract from you solely due to the fact that you aren’t currently performing them. You’d be more interesting. But you are not, not because you’re older and have wrinkles, but because you’ve stridently avoided letting yourself grow in any fashion.
I can’t tell you how much contempt I have for this woman’s article. Do men a favor, any women out there, don’t settle for us. Because quite frankly, if you think you’re that much above the man you’re contemplating marrying, you’re not worth his time.
Don’t think this needs much detail. Besides, the last couple of posts have been very long. Short is not always bad.
My wife has been listening to the song Edelweiss from The Sound of Music lately. This led to a discussion of the circumstances of the anschluss and how it must feel to discover that the nation you love is dying, or is dead. I believe I made a comment that stated I could relate.
It was and is an unfair but accurate statement from a personal perspective. I grew up with the constant fear that the Soviet Union would bomb us. This fear was instilled and had no grounding in reality. It was a creation of close-minded, blinkered paranoids who managed to use the fear they engendered to steer the nation in the direction they wished. It was a fear that predated my birth, and which ended one afternoon while I was pulling briars off of an old wall with my hands. I came into the kitchen reeking of sweat, blood and loam and the television bled the lurid blue glow of the new world all over the room.
Everything you know is wrong.
I remember it as a young man, about to go off to college, his mother recently dead and his faith in God already almost gone. No priesthood for me. I had discovered that I liked alcohol and violence and loved God too little to be a priest. I would discover sex not too long after that. And now, with all the other things my father had tried to impart to me in jeopardy, I was informed by that unblinking mimir in my kitchen that Berlin no longer had a wall.
The Soviets were not going to bomb us.
This feeling… the old order passing away… was possibly the final break I had with my father. I entered college with a mind ready to grapple with the world, to cast off old ideas and the ways I had been raised to uphold, the beliefs I had been told were bedrock verities. I still stammered and blushed and was uncomfortable at times, of course. The first time I consensually touched another man’s penis, or ingested a tab of what I was assured was LSD, or took part in a play (a play, I might as well have sucked cock on stage as far as my father was concerned) seemed to loom large as expressions of my individuality… never mind, of course, that these were hardly unique actions to me or original in any way.
When you are new, everything seems new.
At this time I discovered the works of Franklin, Jefferson, Paine and the others who wrote about liberty and the American experience. Quite frankly, I grew to idolize them, especially Franklin. The experimental nature of the American rebellion and the unshackling of nation to parent nation mirrored to some degree my own life experience (or so I sought to see it) and I became a quietly enamored young patriot, after my own fashion. Sure, I was a young patriot who hated Reagan and Bush, but I told myself that the country as a whole was not reflected by bad choices in its leadership.
The Clinton years were, to a degree, a golden age for me. The economy was doing as well as it had in my lifetime, and while I often found myself slovenly and drunk in some dive or another, possibly working there and possibly just killing myself with their various poisons, I was free to do so and I felt inherently free in my choices. Bad, yes, but they exemplified what I believed was an essential aspect of the American character, a love of freedom and the willingness to embrace the good and the bad of a free society.
I was very young, younger even than my years. And I remember the day I realized that my vision of America was a false one. An idealized one, seen through the Franklin and Jefferson colored lenses of my younger reading, poisoned by my love for what they represented. The people of the United States will trade essential liberty for temporary security. The past decade has shown clearly that, in fact, it is the highest ambition of the typical citizen of the USA to renounce liberty. To abrogate free choice, to pass the responsibility of liberty into the hands of thugs and liars, to allow them to wield the power and dignity of the nation founded by men like Washington and Adams like a rotten tree limb in the hands of a degenerate ape-thing. To debase the ideal of all men being created equal, to piss on the blood shed so that all men regardless of race could achieve the potential that the founders framed and yet, human, failed to fully realize.
I was idealistic, yes, but I was never blind. I saw our failures… slavery, genocide against natives, civil wars… but I had hope that we had, that we could learn from the blood and the pain of the past. That we had grown, that we would strive to live up to the creed handed down to us, the one good inheritance all Americans could claim. I believed in the vision of the American in WWII, I believed in the progress of the civil rights movement. I had faith.
I had lost my faith, and then it rose again. I had faith, not in the immanent God, but in us.
One gift the past decade has given me is that it has driven a stake into that faith’s heart. It dies. It dies slowly, but it dies. And I know how it feels to look at my homeland and to realize it is not there, and to wonder if it ever was.
He growled, his throat already a parched flat cracked dust plain, and felt blood in his mouth.
His hair was not washed. He could smell his own oils on it, feel it clinging to the sides of his face, the back of his head. His neck tossed to the side with a twitch and his blood moved so fast through him that his fingers twitched in time with his heart. Blood dripped from his right eye, from a scratch left by fingernails he hadn’t felt cut him.
His hand reached down into a head of curly blond hair and gripped it, feeling the effects of shampoo and conditioner between his fingers, so much cleaner than his own. He grabbed a handful and twisted, was rewarded with a barking, coughing cry as he dragged the hated face up to his own. A scrap of garbage twisted in the wind, fluttered across brick, shining and catching his gaze for a moment as it pinned itself into a corner.
“Jeff.” There was blood in his mouth and it sprayed out when he rasped, dotting across the angular face that he held suspended in front of his own. It occurred to him that he was holding someone nearly his own height up by the hair, and he remembered many times in the past his long hair had been used against him by one grinning, chiseled jackass or another.
This one, perfect in his golden tan and sunrise blue eyes. Sallow now with pain. It made him grin, for once he was the one grinning. He turned and began dragging them both down the dirty concrete of the alley, looking once over the bushes to see if anyone was watching.
No one was. Cars, blue and red and yellow and green and black, color after color, moved past at speed, driving past the school. None seemed interested in the alleyway packed with dumpsters for food waste behind it. If they were, they were too late.
He stepped on Jimmy Thomas’ trachea as he shuffled past, grinding his foot as he did. The bite around the taller boy’s nose was already swollen and livid, he suspected it would not heal well. He could feel his teeth sinking into the face, the scream vibrating his lower jaw as he worried at the formerly patrician nose. Now mangled, it would not heal well. Jimmy would never be as pretty, and women would never find him so attractive.
A laugh made him cough as he stepped off of the throat and kept dragging. Jeff was sobbing, he thought, or shuddering. Hands were now pulling at his wrist, but he didn’t bother to react to them, they were actually making it easier to drag him without ripping his hair out. Arriving at the end of the alley, the smell of rotting fish sticks and tater tots and other refuse from inside the stained green metal fought to overcome the blood and snot in his nostrils.
“Remember the parking lot behind Park View? Remember?” He lifted Jeff up and slammed him into the dumpster, wrapping his left hand around the cords of his throat so he could let go with his right, and bent his face in so that they were almost touching. “I remember it. I remember Eden Park. I remember Blackamore Pond. I remember shitting myself stuck in a fucking tree because you fucking thought it was funny. I remember everything.”
The cerulean eyes trembled. There were several broken veins in the left eye, and blood had flecked Jeff’s perfect, unblemished skin when the larger, darker boy had exhaled on him.
“Don’t even know you.”
“Oh, you do, Jeff, you do. I lived two houses down. I just finally had that growth spurt you kept saying I’d get eventually.” Blood stained teeth behind a crooked grin. “Remember when you held me down in that puddle and you and your buddies threatened to rape me, Jeff? Rememeber that? Then you went off to baseball practice. Like it never fucking happened.” His breathing rasped against the walls, the sound of lungs stoking a pounding heart. “You and Jimmy and Dave. How long do you think it will take Dave to find a teacher and get back here? A minute? Two? Maybe longer, the school’s not open yet. He may have to go get a parent. Or, being Dave, he may have just left you two here and run his ass home. Which do you think it is?”
“F…f…” Jeff was having trouble getting in air to talk. Looking at the throat in his left hand, he could see his own fingers white, biting rather savagely into the corded muscles, and he realized he could barely feel himself, barely felt anything at all besides the pounding of his heart and the grin cutting across his face. His green eyes, like polished glass at the sea’s edge, glittered in the orange light spilling across the sky and bleeding through the shadows. His breath curled white in the air.
“You like baseball, right? You want to be a pitcher. You want to be a pro.” He felt the muscles across his shoulders ripple…and for a moment felt astonishment that there were muscles there at all. How broad they were now. The world seemed smaller, even though he knew he was the one who’d grown. The new body wasn’t right to him yet… he looked in mirrors and saw his father, the face of the man always barking orders, growling out threats, and talking so much about Jesus that the idea of a loving God had almost entirely fallen away from him. His father, always so angry when his son came home weeping. Each beating at school leading to yet more disappointment, yet more admonishment to stand up for himself. He dragged Jeff by the throat across the dirty, stinking metal box and found himself so pleased that he could do it at all that what he was doing barely scraped the surface of his thoughts, scrabbling for purchase to impose conscience and reassert order.
Jeff couldn’t talk at all, his face bulging as the need for air became a fire clawing at the inside of his chest, which was just fine. Jeff didn’t need to talk.
“I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.” Jeff’s arm went into the open metal hatchway on the side of the dumpster, and he narrowed his green glass eyes and let go of the throat. As he expected, Jeff collapsed to his knees, his right arm stuck above his head for a moment in the crook of the open hatchway. “Looks like neither of us are going to get what we wanted.”
The so vivid blue eyes, almost dawn blue, he mused outside of himself, they stared up in confusion. In a moment, Jeff would grip the edge and try and pull himself up.
His hand grabbed for the handle of the hatch, found it. Cold, and wet with morning condensation. Rust and paint flecks against his palm.
The new muscles across his chest and back convulsed, his shoulder popping, and he dragged the rusty, resisting metal like a guillotine to crash into the elbow of the arm, while driving his knee forward to smash that broad, golden face in the nose to prevent a scream, muffling it with a broken nose if possible. Then he ripped the squealing metal back to the right and ripped it forward again, crashing it into the elbow and again twice more before Jeff could finally let the scream he’d been fighting with out.
There was blood on the dumpster when he finally stepped back. Jimmy was starting to stir in the corner. And eventually some one would come to see what the screaming was about. It was time to go.
“Good luck making the team.”
I don’t watch television. I have never watched a single episode of Lost, Heroes, or whatever the current cool among the internet crowd show is. I don’t watch Battlestar Galactica or Dr. Who or Torchwood.
I never watched Firefly, either. I found Joss Whedon’s writing to be stunted, puerile torture porn and I was bored shitless by it. I found the Lord of the Rings movies mildly entertaining. I hated the books. Still do. As a writer, Tolkien was a singularly brilliant mythologist, but I find reading his prose like stapling my cock to a wolverine. I’d rather read Lovecraft for his prose than Tolkien, let me put it that way.
Lovecraft’s prose was awful, I’ll point out now. He wrote two good stories, The Colour out of Space and The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward. That’s it. And I’m pushing it on Ward. If you were feeling really generous you could say that Lovecraft had a lot of good ideas but was hampered by racism, an affected anglophilia and having the curse of being one of the first people to try and do the kind of cosmic, impersonal horror he was doing. But his inspirations, Machen and Poe, were much better prose stylists than he was.
This leads into why I write much less now than I did before, by the way.
I am not a talented writer. I can do one thing well: I can depict violence. That’s about the limit of my talent as a writer. The things I do not watch and the writers I do not like, I do not watch and I do not like in full awareness that I lack even the meager gifts they display. I am not a talented writer. Therefore, I see no reason to write anything at all.
Yeah, that’s basically all I can think about. Whenever someone I care about (and basically, that’s my wife, not that the rest of you aren’t great but I’m not married to you) gets ill I freak the hell out.
I agree that I have said nothing of particular interest to anyone but myself here.