Hello all, and happy holidays! Just find the tab with your name.
"Let's see…flip the long part over here…pull this up…then…wait. Shit. Fuck it I'm wearing a clip on."
Arnold Randolf hurriedly tore off the bow-tie, throwing it on the bed in his sparsely furnished, Foundation-provided living space. Not everyone chose to live on site; in fact, most Foundation personnel actually lived in one or two of the nearby towns. But it was comforting for Arnold to live near his work. He liked the idea that he could visit one of the labs he was assigned to at any time, just to get away. Sometimes the sheer volume of people at Site-19 was overwhelming.
Besides, the food was free here.
"I could have sworn I had one in here somewhere," he said, muttering to himself as he dug through the drawers. He had this exact same problem last year. Surely he wouldn't have thrown it away!
"Ha! Got you, you little bastard!" He pulled the elastic-band over his head and let it snap into place. After making sure that the tie was straight in the mirror, Randolf flattened his collar and hurried out the door, grabbing his jacket on the way out.
"Can't be late, not this year…"
"Tonight is a very important night! As you know, we have been selected again to cater for our staff and, possibly, the O5s themselves!"
Surprised looks and muttered exclamations were exchanged among the cooking and serving staff gathered in Site-19's kitchen. The O5s? Since when did they come here?
"I honestly thought they were a myth…" one server could be heard whispering.
The speaker let the muttering persist for a moment, relishing in his staff's growing excitement. This would be the biggest event they had catered in a great many years, at least the biggest since the full re-opening of the site after Dr. Kondraki's ride on the back of the big lizard.
He smiled. Now that was a party.
"Now, to mark the occasion, we are rolling out a new recipe, one that we have been working on for quite some time. There will, however, be a slight substitution in the recipe. Rather than the normal salt that we use, we are substituting in a new spice given to us by one of the researchers here for just this occasion. He has assured us that it has been through numerous…er…human trials and is perfectly safe for consumption. In point of fact, our benefactor is here with us at the moment. Everyone, a round of applause for Doctor Robert Feld!"
Feld, a small man with both dark hair and a dark complexion, bowed his head in acknowledgement of the staff's applause.
After the pause had died down, he cleared his throat and said, "Thank you. To further assure of the safety of the product, I myself have had it. Tastes good, if a touch salty, so be wary of how much of it you put in your dishes. That said, it does add a certain robust flair I believe the staff will enjoy. Now, I believe the party begins soon, and as many of you know, I am tonight's emcee so my presence is required elsewhere. I wish you the best of luck and may your dishes be cooked to perfection!"
Another round of applause, followed shortly by the sounds of cooking, followed the man out of the kitchen.
Arnold Randolf rushed across Site-19's grounds, trying to get to the assembly room as quickly as possible. The party didn't start for another hour, but Randolf played a key role tonight. He and some of the other more musically inclined members of the research and security staff were providing tonight's entertainment. After all, what's a formal without some formal music?
As he ran, he pulled out his cell phone and made a quick call.
Robert Feld glanced over the attendance roster quickly, looking at the total number of projected attendees. Almost 2000 people gathered in the same room. A small nightmare for the kitchen staff, the events staff, and of course security.
And he had the "privilege" of being partly in charge of all of it as the emcee.
"Normal parties don't have their hosts plan almost everything. Normal parties give the host a screen with what to say on it and tell them where to stand. Foundation parties make the host plan half the damn party!" he muttered under his breath. Stress was the word of the day.
In his jacket pocket, his phone buzzed frantically. A quick glance at the caller ID confirmed Feld's fear. "Not this twit again…"
"Feld here. Yes, yes the arrangements have been made. Yes, everything is set up. Yes. Yes. Of course security has been upgraded. O5 Command's personal security forces have been integrated into our own. Yes. Site-19's other security forces are well stocked as well. Food will be bought to them as well, as requested. Why does that matter to you anyway? You're playing music Dr. Randolf, nothing more. Now please, we both have work to do. Goodb- Yes. Yes Dr. Randolf I gave the kitchen staff your spices. Now please! Yes, of course. You're welcome. Goodbye."
He ended the call and rolled his eyes. "Dear God that man is a worrier if every there was one…"
Feld took the stage at last, smiling a bright, blinding, megawatt smile.
"Welcome! Welcome to you all!" he said into the microphone provided for him. "As you know, this the 45th Annual Site-19 Foundation Formal, and we are very pleased to announce tonight's very special visitors, and our bosses, O5 Command. I count twelve of you…is the thirteenth joining us later?" This drew a small smile to the stern faces of the Foundation leadership.
Feld took heart in their smiles. Any smile from them, no matter how small, was the equivalent of hysterical laughter in other people. And indeed, his next series of jokes did have the other staff members laughing.
"Now, down to business, I'm afraid. The business of eating, that is. Tonight's food is provided by Containment Cuisine, our very own catering service. The entrees being served are a beef dish, a roast chicken, which smells fantastic by the way, and a brand new dish, a crab-stuffed mushroom, served with your choice of sides, salads, or soups, and prepared with a special ingredient. Music this evening is provided by the Foundation Symphony Orchestra-Site-19 branch. Your servers will be with you shortly."
Dr. Randolf, viola in hand, smiled. It had worked. The substitute ingredient was being served. The Insurgency would be pleased.
"Sir, for you?"
"…the beef please. Thank you."
At least the food was free here.
The sun beat down on Septimus Marcus Glaber as he watched his crew at work on the third level arches. They were behind schedule for the second day running and Glaber wanted to correct the fault before the overseer called him down to account for it. Of course, interceding in the crew's work would put them that much farther behind, but a few lashes for the laggards and the promise of a trip to the whorehouse at week end for the faithful would get things right.
Truly, Glaber already knew the problem: it was the foreigner who had been put on his crew a couple weeks ago. Stone, as he called himself, had been punted from one crew to another for over a year. He was not a bad worker, but the stories he told his crewmates in his broken Latin made them dream. And when you're breaking enamel 100 cubits above the ground, being distracted by tales of other worlds and gods and smith-mages was dangerous as well as unproductive. Stone himself never got caught shirking; it was always the men around him who were found gazing at nothing until Glaber caught their attention with a quick smack from the flat of his blade.
If Stone were a little bit more charismatic, he could be the center of a cult. Luckily for progress on the Great Work, he seemed content to just do his job and occasionally tell tales of his land. And piss off every gang-boss in turn, until they dumped the guy onto the next crew. Now it was Glaber's turn to find a sucker to trade Stone off to. Hopefully he could get it finalized by week end, and get back on schedule. Crew leaders weren't immune to discipline, and Glaber had had enough lashes already to last the rest of his life.
Do the job that's in front of you, Glaber thought as he walked towards his men to get them moving faster, Let the future take care of itself for a while. He started yelling before he was within 50 cubits of his crew.
A few hours later Glaber sat in a bar with a some other crew leaders. Officially every gang-boss was locked in perpetual competition with every other for tools, food, and recreation chits for his men. Faster crews got more and better resources. The bosses who could get their men to produce got noticed by the overseers and rewarded in turn. Nothing succeeds like success. On the other hand, all it took was a short spell of bad luck/witchcraft/sabotage and Glaber would fall into a downward spiral that ended in being back on the enamel breaking line himself. Off the clock they were great pals, but he didn't for a second think Lepidus, Orca, Bucco or Antias would do him a favor at work.
Glaber bought a round of beers for his friends. It wasn't his turn, but if anything could make the other bosses more receptive to a trade, he'd do it. After a half hour of relaxing and commisseration about the days work, he thought he'd be able to broach the topic.
"So, who wants to do me a big favor at work?" A chorus of no's greeted that sally, but Glaber persisted. "I've got a guy who's a good worker but gets in fights with two other guys. I need him off my crew. I'll trade for any of your men."
"Oh no you don't," said Orca. "I know what you're doing. You're talking about that weirdo Stone. He was on my crew a few months ago and it took until now to beat his craziness out of the rest of my men. No way would I take him back."
The other bosses at the table nodded their agreement. Glaber took a pull from his beer. "So I guess it doesn't matter that he's the best single worker I've got?"
"Bullshit, or you wouldn't be trying to get rid of him; you'd dump the other two."
"I'm not really trying to get rid of him, I just need a working team. Come on, You guys know what it's like having to break up fights all the time."
"Now I know you're lying. Stone never fought with anyone. He's just bat-shit crazy. No one wants to work with him, no one wants to have him on a crew. Looks like you're stuck with him. I'll take your other two guys though." Orca had a smug look on his face; he knew Glaber was bluffing and was enjoying calling it.
Glaber tried to keep his face calm, but deep down he was terrified that he'd be back on the Great Work by next month. He'd almost died up there, between the poor food and unrelenting heat and the daily whippings his crew leader had administered. He would never go back to being a slave. Never.
He chugged down the rest of his beer. "Fine, screw you guys. I'll kick all of your asses anyway." He got up and walked out of the bar.
Outside the sun hit him like he had opened the door to a forge. Not a cloud in the sky, and it was couple weeks until sundown. Damnit, he'd let Orca get his goat instead of keeping cool and playing the game. I could have gotten rid of Stone with enough extra weight on the scale. Now there's no chance of that. Word will get around I want to dump someone, and it's a buyers market.
I'm going to teach that crazy bastard a lesson. If I break his jaw he won't be telling any stories. Violence didn't come easy to him, but the prospect of going back on the Work got him in to a despair that could feed fury easily enough.
As Glaber walked toward the crew's barracks, Lepidus caught up and fell in step beside him. He was the oldest of the gang-bosses and the deepest thinker. Being smart wasn't necessarily an advantage up on the Great Work, but he was also one of the toughest men Glaber had ever met, so it wasn't a disadvantage either. "Listen: keeping your crew harmonious is something you do from the inside."
"Or give up and die," Glaber spat.
"Yes. But you won't do that. You're not weak or stupid. And neither is that Stone fellow. Good evening."
Lepidus dipped his head in respect and turned back to the bar.
Damnit, Lepidus was right. He was smarter and cooler headed than Glaber and with only a few words had pulled him back from the abyss. Glaber already knew whipping didn't work; either for Stone or the shirkers. Perhaps the sympathetic uncle routine would. Ha! It had worked on him just a minute ago. He would talk to Stone and get him to lay off the storytelling.
Dry heat baked his body. In the distance the wall rose up as high as the sky. He idly wondered what was on the other side and if it was better than being ground down and used up on the Great Work. No, that's crazy. The wall is the end of the world. Except, Stone came from somewhere else. He was not Roman, and there were no other people within the bounds of the wall. Crazy.
"Walk with me."
"Who are you, really? Where did you come from?"
"Sir. I am name Stone. Gods pick me up from other world, bring here."
"Do not know. I am not special man."
"Something has to be special about you. You're the only foreigner I've ever seen. No one has ever gone over the wall. Why the hell are you here?"
"No see Gods, no talk them. They pick me up into sky. I think I dead. I see my Great Work from sky and also this Great Work and other Works that maybe other people making. Then fall fall fall and all black."
Glaber stopped in his tracks. "You had a Great Work? Not this Work?"
"My work taller, thinner. Building to live in, not arena."
"Were there other men at your Work?"
"Many many. No whips. Good tools. Family. Wife…."
"I see her at night. Dream. Maybe I go back."
"Maybe." Glaber paused. Now that he had Stone's attention and some common ground, he could get to the real reason for being out here. "Listen. Do you know the crew is behind schedule?"
"Yes. Many yells today, whip for me and for Lucius."
"When you talk about your home and Gods, everyone else slows down."
"I always work hard. No want whip. No want whip friends."
"You make them dream. They need to work."
"They work. I work. You make us work too fast. We need break."
"You've worked for a lot of bosses, right? Am I a good boss?"
Stone hesitated. "You better than most boss. Not so many whip. Across sky all bosses better."
"If we slow down more, I will not be the boss anymore, and we will all get the whip."
"Why my fault? I only like to talk."
"Because you make the men think there's another world —"
"A better world —"
"Shut up! This is serious. I will not die for you."
"I not die for you too. Is better way. In my Great Work men work with no whip. Men no die on work. Men get to rest. Here every boss same: work fast, no talk, no listen. Maybe Gods bring me to make better here."
"That's a lot to take on, my friend. You're no holy man."
"No. No yet."
It was a hot, sexy day in beautiful southern California. The sun was glistening off of the sweaty backs of a thousand San Diego coeds, and someone was getting fucked on the beach. Good for them. Looks like they had a good time, so yeah, that was going on.
However, the air was thick with the unpleasant musk of injustice. Through the crowded, succulent city streets ran a messenger, a naked pool boy named Henry whose solitary purpose in this life was to deliver this single, moan-inducing message. He skated past the civilians, dong flapping in the wind, until he reached a special brick wall against a prestigious dildo factory. He used his three primary appendages to open the secret lock, and the door slid open. He grabbed onto the exposed pole and descended into the depths of the earth.
The room he emerged in was dark, and a single, likely unclothed figure sat at a computer across the way. Henry stepped forward, not caring to cover himself, and held out his package, as well as the item he had brought with him. It was a disc within a clear plastic case.
"They say you're the best," Henry said, voice echoing across the rounded stone walls, "that you're the only one who can save us now."
The figure in the high back chair barked back a reply. "I'm retired, General Penisgoose knows this. Did he think that sending a naked poolboy my way would convince me to fight for him again?"
Henry nodded. "Yes, yes he did."
The figure in the chair nodded as well. "Alright, let's see if he was right."
After a vigorous 45 minute sweaty pounding session, the mysterious figure returned to their chair. "A tempting offer, but I'll need to hear more than that to be convinced. Why does General Penisgoose think I'd come to bat for him now, so many years after the incident in Amsterdam?"
The pool boy began to sit down and thought better of it. "Because you're the best, sir and or madam, whatever you prefer.. Because you're Stephanie J. Wilkerson, and you're the deadliest fucking moose in the world."
S.J.W. leaned forward and nodded, exposing themselves finally to the light of audience recognition. The overhand lamp gleamed off of their chiseled figure, their seductive antlers, their strong jaw and delicious, moist lips. "They're right about me, of course. I am the deadly moose. But we parted ways years ago; there's no way the general hasn't found a replacement yet."
Henry nodded, his hind end still aching from the punishment it had received just moments prior. "He did, sir and or madam, but… well, none of them were able to fill your shoes. Not the way you can. They don't have…" he glanced around, "they don't have your artillery."
The deadly moose nodded. "This is true. None alive can match the majesty and girth of my Cock of Justice™." They turned away, and a single tear rolled down their face. "But I retired the Cock of Justice™ years ago. I don't even know if it still works."
Henry nodded again. "The general seems to think it will, sir. A-and, or, madam, of course. And after seeing what you're capable of, I've no doubt that the Cock™ will be suitable for this job."
Stephanie lifted their head. "Bring me the disc."
Henry approached the moose, and as he did they fell once more into a fit of vigorous ass-ault, the result of which left the poor pool boy broken and orgasmic at the feet of the supersoldier, his ass a victim of a Ramming of Justice™. Stephanie put the disc into their computer, closed their Redtube tabs, and began watching. Before too long, a video appeared, showing the face of General Penisgoose.
"Teedles, if you're listening to this, we need you again. The dastardly Dr. Cis has abducted Lady Liberty again, and we don't have anyone as adept as handling him as you do. He sent us this video the other day, shortly after her disappearance."
The screen flickered, and before too long the shaved head of a mildly overweight caucasian male came into view. He was speaking to someone off screen, unaware that the camera was rolling.
"No, I mean, I'm just saying, maybe there's a reason that the majority of our prison population is minorities, right? Maybe they should just accept responsibility that they're a bunch of- oh, shit, camera's rolling. Hello, General Penisgoose, it's me, Dr. Cis. Just wanted to let you know that we've captured Lady Liberty again. No need for a ransom or anything this time, we're just going to get her hooked up with a new color scheme. Something a little more… white. Muahahahahaha! Additionally, we're going to complete the paperwork to annul her polyamorous marriage to her pansexual life partners, Madam Freedom and Princex Equality! Only traditional marriage for her from now on, and to me! Dr. Cis! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" screamed the world's deadliest moose, their post-coital mega-boner drooping from the obvious lack of justice displayed on the screen. They turned to Henry, still reeling on the ground, and pointed at him with all three of their unoccupied limbs. "Call the general, Henry." They jumped backwards into their skintight latex uniform. "Tell him I'm going in dry."
(At the lair of the evil Dr. Cis…)
The doorway to Dr. Cis' sinister Waco apartment burst under the might of Agent TheDeadlyMoose's massive, veined battering ram dick. They powered into the room and pointed across it, precum beginning to drip from the Cock of Justice™ in anticipation.
"Hold it right there, Dr. Cis!" they said, muscled arms bulging. "You keep your hands off of her! She's free to make her own decisions and shouldn't be forced to bend to any predetermined lifestyle created by a patriarchy that our society has long since outgrown!"
Dr. Cis spun around, his neckbeard glistening with Mountain Dew and underchin sweat. "Hahaha! You're too late, Moose. Once we had a frank and open discussion about the benefits of submitting to a man the way that God intended women to do, Lady Liberty had her eyes opened to the possibility of living a rich and fulfilling life of childbearing, motherhood and monogamy!"
He pulled a woman into the room, who happened to be Lady Liberty herself. However, instead of the usual topless look she routinely sported (because she had no intention of being confined to an appearance just because some old white men in Washington didn't want her to be comfortable with her body), she was dressed head to toe in a sweatshirt and long skirt, and her typically short, pink hair was grown out and collected in a bun behind her head.
"You know, I really think it would be better for me if I settle down with a good man who will provide for me and my children, and make all of the difficult decisions so I won't have to," she said, her eyes empty and wasted. "I certainly wouldn't want to trust my fluctuating female sensibilities with those kind of important things."
The deadly moose stepped forward, crankshaft fully torqued. "Listen to the words you're saying, Lady Liberty! That's not what you think, that's not what we've fought for. You deserve to make your own decisions, apart from what anybody might think!"
Dr. Cis laughed, cheetos dust falling from his dry and cracked lips. "Don't you see, Teedles? Before long, our heteronormative understanding of the world will be the only characterization of human sexuality, and you and your gay friends will be left to sulk around in Portland coffee shops and definitely never get married."
Stephanie sighed. "We're not gay, first off. At least, I'm not. Second of all, I've never been to Portland, and the coffee thing is silly because the best coffee is from Seattle. Lastly, I don't need an archaic ritual to quantify my love for another person, especially because my only true love is JUSTICE."
Stephanie grabbed their enormous, throbbing cock and swung it at Dr. Cis. The chubby 24-year-old rolled backwards into his closet, and emerged a moment later with a plastic lightsaber. He lunged towards the rippling abs of the particularly dangerous moose, and ricocheted off them upon contact. Stephanie lunged at him, but the Cock™ slipped on the man's copious ass-sweat and went flying through a wall.
"Oh god," they said, "it's so wet."
"Yes, I have discovered your weakness, Teedles!" Dr. Cis jumped with glee. "You fag types are weak to any kind of sexual contact, since that's all you're really ever interested in! In light of this, I spent the entire last week eating nothing but gas station hot dogs, and now at the slightest movement my body will become covered in a thick film of grease and buttsweat. You can't touch me now, moose-man!"
Stephanie swung the Cock™ at the portly man, knocking into the side of his skull with a thick, resounding slap. "It's not just about the fucking sex, Jesus Christ, and I'm not a fucking man. How hard is that to comprehend?"
Dr. Cis threw a paper throwing star at the moose from beneath his desk. "You have a penis, you're a man. That's what god intended!"
A voluminous spurt of thick, white liquid erupted from the tip of the Cock of Justice™. It obliterated Dr. Cis' bed and nightstand, and left Stephanie reeling with ecstasy. "That- no- doesn't- not- proof- science- it- not enough- not a designation-" They were bowled over by the fat hobbit-like creature, who then proceeded to pull out a handgun. The moose tried to knock it away with their massive antlers, but was unable to. "You can't own a handgun in this state," the moose cried, thrashing against the bulk of the round man. "It's against the law!"
"Second Amendment rights, you ridiculous queen!" The rotund fellow cocked the weapon, pulled it close to the moose's forehead, and leaned in real close. "Also, Agent Lament? Yeah, he never loved you."
Suddenly the room was full of steam and Stephanie was the fuming source. "Fucking bullshit!" With all of the strength of Truth, Justice, and the Sexualdisestablishmentarianist Way™, the deadly moose thrust the Cock™ skyward, penetrating the surprisingly loose butthole of the disgusting, sweaty little bigot and sending him rocketing into the stratosphere. His final thought, as his body was subjected to the rigors of escape velocity, was how good it felt to finally have somebody else play with his man-hole instead of just himself.
Stephanie rolled over and ran towards Lady Liberty, who was standing in the corner. They held their hand out in front of her, snapping their fingers.
"Liberty, wake up! It's over! Snap out of it!"
But she could not be stirred. As a last ditch attempt, the moose gathered about twenty of their closest partners and friends, a group of various races, creeds, orientations, pronouns, preferences, and specificities, and they all fucked wildly in a bathtub of pudding and cream cheese. Holes were drilled, orifices were filled, and protection was used liberally1.
At the end of it all, as the traditional post-coital cigarettes were going around, Lady Liberty looked over at Stephanie, smiled, and said, "Thank you, Agent The Deadly Moose. Once again, you've saved Liberty for all WomanOrManOrWhateverElseKind. We couldn't have done it without you, and I wouldn't have came fifteen times without you. Certainly, we have only you to thank."
The moose nodded. "No need to thank me, Lady Liberty. I was just doing what I was put on this Earth my predecessors spent the last several million years of evolution in order to create the perfect specimen of justice and penis to do; fight against intolerance and fuck everything that'll come within range."
Everybody present nodded in agreement, and shook hands, then climbed atop the moose's massive, throbbing Cock of Justice™ as it blasted them into the sky and off into the sunset.
OR IS IT?
MORE TO CUM
PROBABLY NOT THOUGH
Early winter of 2006
Harry Arnsberg stood back and looked at the machinery before him.
"I don't know, dad. This just feels weird."
His father flipped up his welding mask and turned his blowtorch off.
"Just have faith, son. I know Jenna and Maureen would have."
The remark hit home and Fred Arnsberg immediately regretted making it. "I know you miss her. I miss mom too, you know that. But they'd have wanted us to do this. You know that too, don't you?"
Harry sighed and shrugged. "I guess, dad. It's just so out there, you know."
"Any more out there than a woman getting pregnant without having sex and some guy multiplying fish and wine on a hill?"
"I guess not," Harry mumbled, "I guess not, no."
Fred flipped the welding mask down again and went back to work.
His son was left pondering the events that had led to this. As he surveyed what he and his father had built, his mind went back to the darkest day of his life. He'd been working in the family's hardware store, soon to be his, when the call came. He'd actually felt it beforehand, right before Jenna had left the house with their son to go pick up his mom.
He dug his nails in the palms of his hands, hard. That was the only thing that kept him from sliding into a very dark place. One where he knew one day he wouldn't come back from if he kept doing this to himself.
"What do you need me to do, dad? Anything I can do specifically?"
His father didn't answer, just pointed to some blueprints that had obviously been download from somewhere. The resolution was awful.
Harry surveyed the papers. There were about six different ones his father had printed out. The designs made no sense whatsoever, but there was something there, Harry couldn't deny that. He felt it in his bones and it reminded him of how church had felt before.
Grabbing one of the top blueprints, Harry sat down at the rickety table occupying the sparse amount of space not yet taken over by sheet metal, bolts and springs. "I'll go hunt for the components for this one then, dad?"
His father didn't react and Harry didn't need him to. He'd resolved to have that most elusive of qualities: faith.
One clear winter's day, 2004
At least they hadn't felt anything.
That's what he kept telling himself, but deep down he knew he'd never be sure. Did Jenna grab his little boy's hand before their lights were extinguished? Did mom say something that was meant for dad but would never reach him? Questions that would never be answered and that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
But at least they hadn't felt anything. They couldn't have. The semi's driver couldn't help it either, Jenna had just lost control of the wheel due to ice on the road. She'd landed squarely in the opposite lane, right in the path of the biggest damn truck she'd ever seen, and would ever see. Dad and him had buried closed caskets. Two big ones and one far too small one.
In the weeks since, his father had turned into a recluse, shutting himself in his home. Harry had visited a few times, but he'd gotten little from the man he called his father. All he did was sit behind his computer and read, although sometimes he scribbled notes on stained notepad. Harry had tried to read them, but his father had never allowed him to.
It wasn't until he stopped talking and started listening that his father had opened up to him.
"God doesn't care, son."
Those had been the first words out of his father's mouth since the funeral beyond "hey son" and "bye". Harry had been taken aback at first. Here was his father, a god-fearing man his whole life, denouncing his god.
He'd protested, he'd reminded his father of their long family history in the town's deep-rooted Catholic traditions, but his father had only glanced up long enough from his screen to let Harry see the strange mixture of dead hopes and fervent prayers in his eyes.
Over the following weeks and even months, they'd discussed what his father had found and Harry had felt himself disconnecting from his traditional upbringing and indeed his former faith. He came to realize that even if there was a god, he didn't care enough to let three good people live and spare a poor trucker a life-long trauma. And yes, others habitually reminded him that god worked in mysterious ways, and that Jenna, Maureen and Austin were with god, but he could no longer tell them he agreed with them, or that their words gave him comfort. They gave him chills, knowing that his loved ones might be just what they were to him: dead and gone.
What his father had found weren't empty promises and hollow morals, they were the remnants of order in a universe of chaos, the frayed ends of a majestic tapestry that could be woven again. Harry still wasn't sure how his father had stumbled upon it, but there were people out there, people who had learned the truth. And they wanted to share with his father. And his father wanted to share with him.
He'd found the blueprints. Or they had found him…
It was almost ready. It didn't look like it, but they felt it. As father and son spent the weekends building their monument to their new god, they grew closer together, closer than they'd ever been before. They knew they couldn't erase the pain of the past, but perhaps they could contain the essence of what was lost.
"Almost there, son. Are you ready?"
Fred was sitting on the last remaining chair in the kitchen of the abandoned farmhouse he and Harry had claimed for their project. Harry meanwhile, was standing facing the kitchen window, staring out at the overgrown fields and twisted trees.
"I don't know, dad. I really don't. In the past few months I've felt something I haven't felt before. Like someone is watching over me, but it doesn't feel the same."
"That's him, Harry," Fred answered and smiled.
"I know. I feel like I know him, but at the same time it feels like I don't, does that make sense."
His father nodded almost imperceptibly.
"That's just the way it is, son. To know him is to acknowledge your inability to know him. The flesh can only travel so far."
"I suppose so. Sounds creepy though."
Fred scratched the full beard he'd been growing since the day he'd lowered those caskets into the ground.
"Yeah, it does, doesn't it?"
They both burst into laughter, unsure of any other way to relieve their tension.
April 14th, 2007
"I'm scared, dad."
Harry stood at the panel marked 'master control switch'. A single yellowed light switch stick out from it. Much like most of the machine that now filled the once down-to-earth living room of this dilapidated farm house, it had been scavenged from inside the building. The sheet metal had come from an abandoned combine harvester they'd found out in the barn, supplemented with whatever they'd manage to find at the local ironmonger's. The wiring had mostly come from the farm house, the rest from their hardware store and on-line shops. They'd had to make compromises, but somehow that didn't seem to matter. Sometimes intent was more important than result.
His father posed him the same question he'd posed him a few weeks before.
"Are you ready, Harry? There's no going back after this."
"I know, dad. It's just, I'm not even really sure why I'm doing this."
Fred put his hand around his son's neck.
"We're doing this because we have holes in our hearts, son. And your life leaks from them, a little bit at a time. All you can do is plug them with faith."
He felt his son beginning to cry, Harry's whole body silently twitching as the younger man tried to stay silent.
"It's okay, Harry. You need it."
He pulled his son closer and held him for awhile, silently staring at their creation.
"Dad…I wish we could save mom and Jenna too."
"I know son, but they lived their lives. They were too short, but they were lived."
"Yeah." That was all Harry could muster and closed his eyes.
He turned back to the control panel and flipped the switch. The power went out almost immediately, the machine's improbably configuration a very probable drain on the industrial generator they'd procured. The machine didn't think much of it. It churned, it clanged, it whirred and all they could do was stand back as something bigger than them worked at violating the laws of the universe.
When it finally stopped producing noise and light, and it died with a tired, drawn-out sigh, Harry opened his eyes again.
Fred stood next to him, wide-eyed and still.
"Did it work, dad?"
His father didn't reply, his eyes staring into the distance, far beyond what the flesh could see.
From inside the machine came a soft voice.
This was what the random creepypasta generator gave me to work with. I left out the "haunted by a strange creature" just to keep this workable. Hope you enjoy and Merry Christmas!
One day in an abandoned farmhouse haunted by a strange creature, an old widower and a widower try to create the heart of a boy.
Victoria prodded the tattered sleeping bag with her boot. Worthless. The survivors that had shacked up in this school were long gone, and had taken all of their stuff with them. There had been a lot of them too, considering all the litter. Empty bottles and cans, rags that used to be clothes, cigarette butts, used condoms, ash piles. No signs of a struggle, no blood or bullet holes, just sad, empty rooms. Desks broken down to firewood. Slumping bulletin boards. Water-damaged books.
Safe enough for the night, she had decided. Food and water were good, the second floor would be enough to stop fogs and pale men, and she doubted any human survivors would show up. She and Elsa hadn’t run across anyone that day, or the day before, or the day before that. The day before that they had seen a group in the distance, but had skirted around them.
Elsa didn’t say anything while they were setting things up for the night. Victoria didn’t say anything either. By this point there were few things to say, and there was little point in addressing the tension that hung around shroud-like them. Dinner was canned peaches and water.
One last silent patrol of the building while there was still light. Standard procedure. Securing entrances, checking all the rooms one last time. Elsa walked along behind her, still saying nothing.
Rooms were checked and doors were shut, all along the first floor, and most of the second. Nothing unusual, until she poked her head inside room 202.
A spot of air, maybe the size of a refrigerator, rippled like a mirage in the center of the room. Victora’s gut tightened. Spatial anomaly. Wasn’t there the first time. Not her area of expertise.
“Stay behind me,” she croaked with a disused voice, raising her gun at the shimmering column.
The mirage shuddered and then yawned open. Two slender stalks of black stone sprung up from the ground, lined with white tile molars. They twined their tops together to form a loop. Space Indistinct bulbous navy shapes looed on the other side on the other side.
A small, skinny form sprinted out of the mouth and jumped to the side, immediately followed by a steaming, gelatinous mass that sizzled like bacon grease and smelled like an open sewer. The stalks untwined and sank back into the ground, cutting off the flow of effluvia. Victoria covered her mouth and nose with one hand, keeping her gun trained on the girl who had jumped through.
The girl in question was bent over, hands on her knees, gasping for breath. She held up a hand at Victora, paused a moment, and then vomited. She righted herself, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, and turned her attention to Victoria and Elsa.
The girl was on the younger side of her teenage years, short and wiry-thin. Dirty straw hair that she looked to have cut at without a mirror. Dark skin, splashed with bright red patches of old burn scars. Backpack kitted out for a long haul. Jeans with torn knees. Pink t-shirt. Heavy, sludge-stained boots.
“Hey there,” she waved tiredly. “You the dogears looking for a pickup?”
“Who are you?”
The girl glanced at the gun, then at Victoria.
“Rippintare,” she hissed.
“Your name, kid.” Victoria spoke with more force now. “Tell me who you are and what just happened.”
“Naomi.” She was inspecting the room around her, not particularly perturbed by the AK-47 pointed at her. “Is there anyone else around? Any signs that someone was here recently besides you two?”
“It’s just us here. Haven’t seen anyone in days. Whoever you’re looking for left a long time ago.”
“Hrm. No use chasing after runners, took me long enough to get here.” She paused for a moment. “Would you like some tea? I’ll make us some tea. Then we can see about booking outta Alexandria.”
The three relocated to a room where they couldn’t smell the mass of rot. Naomi had a self-heating teapot and some collapsible plastic cups, and went about brewing as if this was all perfectly normal. It almost seemed more bizarre than the portal. Actually talking to another human being.
Victoria had not let her guard down. Friendly introductions, another human being to speak with, this did not put trust on the table. The only thing more dangerous than an anomaly is one in the hands of someone else. Even if the someone else was making her tea.
“So, where are you two headed?” Naomi said as she poured out the tea. The pot had ‘No-Fail Diplomacy Kit’ written on it in permanent marker.
“North,” Victoria said bluntly.
“Just north? No extra plans or anything?” Naomi set the teapot back down, picked up her cup, and leaned back against her pack “Now, I don’t want to be presume, but it seems to me that you two are in a bit of glue. I might have a solution.”
“We’re not interested.”
“I’m interested,” Elsa cut in.
“See? Elsa knows a good deal when it comes up. Right. So. I run people back and forth to this place called the Library. Since I don’t have anyone else to deal with, you guys are free to tag along when I head back. There’s food, water, working toilets, the whole works. Thing is, the only way to get there is through some inter-universal mumbo-jumbo, which is where I come in.”
“Are you a witch?” Elsa asked.
“Would a witch wear boots like these?” Naomi pointed to her boots, which looked far more appropriate for a steel foundry.
“Wrong. A proper witch always has good boots. It’s how you know that she knows what she’s doing.”
“Can you do any magic?”
“I’m not one for much flash. Though, if you two come back to the Library, I’ll can introduce you to some of the really powerful wizards.”
“We should go, Vikki.”
“You really should. Naomi dipped her hands into her pockets and removed a length of yarn with a weight on the end. “The biggest problem is that the Way I used to get planeside is rotted through. No going back that way. Finding another shouldn’t be too hard, though…”
She wove the yarn between her fingers into something resembling a cat’s cradle, mumbling all the while. The weighted end dropped, swung back and forth lazily, and then stopped.
One final syllable sent the weight flying from its string to hit Elsa in the forehead.
The weight dropped to the floor with a clink. Naomi slowly turned her head towards looked over at Victoria with an expression of
“You’re a Padlock…”
“Foundation. You’re with the Foundation.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Victoria said.
“Foundation. Big spooky men in black. World’s worst kept secret. The only people who’d walk around the end of the world with a sinker this big and not do anything with it.”
“I think it’s time you left.”
“Now, now, the offer’s still open. You can cut and run, I can vouch for the two of you, we can get Elsa here set up in an apprenticeship, we can-“
“I think it’s time you left.”
Naomi stood up, grabbed her teapot.
“You can keep the cups,” she said as she walked out of the room.
The gallery is dark and cooling now, the dust from the day's visitors settling slowly to the floor as the last sunbeams of evening give way to the first moonbeams of night. In their corners the statues wait, paper skin glowing dully. She closes his office door behind her and locks it, hearing the faint shuffle of their movement beyond the sealed portal as the bolt clicks home. They cannot harm her, but they are a nuisance; a messy creation, too impractical to clean up. In halfdarkness, she reaches for the lamp that clings to the shelf on metal vice feet and clicks it on, bringing its dish-like head down over the blank patches stretched across her desk. As light radiates softly from behind the metal vents of the lamp, she pauses. Her eyes travel up and down the light's curved, many-hinged length, and a slow smile sketches itself onto her drawn features. She carefully uncorks a fresh pot of ink, dips her favorite brush into it, and makes a single, elegant line, a dark, sinuous curve, from one side of the page to the other.
Taktaktaktaktak. The sound of little metal limbs on paper and wood. Before it the world is light and life and hunger and joy and anger and pain and pleasure and obedience and all things. Behind it there is no world, only Dark. Wet, inky Dark which must be dried.
She pauses, considering, then adds a second line to thicken the first- one end becomes the faintest hint of a tail, the other a slim neck. Something moves in the reams of paper under the desk, and, with an attention-demanding yowl, the cat crawls out. It's eyes are empty, inky pits- a rather unfortunate encounter with one of the statues, but it sees well enough to brush against her legs and then stare up at her with a pleading look. She sighs, then readjusts her seat so the cat can hop up and settle itself, purring, in her lap.
It is feeling full and pleased with itself- a Food came near the Opening Place and became confused by the light, so it and the other Lights who wait near the Opening Place for the Patrons to come to the Gallery ate well, dancing satisfied through the dark puddles of Food blood. The Patrons do not see, to understand Food, but wherever they go in the Gallery Food follows, so it follows them. It feels right to stay with the Patrons. They deserve to see the Gallery, and it is a Light. It is very good at seeing.
The cat, working itself into a state of trance-like contentment, stretches out its front paws and begins to knead at her shirt, purring even harder know as its pen-sharp claws scratch at her skin through the linen cloth. Taking care to avoid its eyes, she reaches down and pushes its paws away, then makes two more strokes on the page- long, curving front legs, ending in simple sharpened edges. More abstractions of limbs than actual limbs, but she somehow finds something pleasing in their minimalism. She thinks he will too, when he sees them.
This is familiar territory, home to many of the Lights it hunts with and curls up against when the Food has gone. There is not much Art in this part of the Gallery, only the signs left by the Patrons, and the detritus of their visits. Only the stupidest or most desperate of Food comes here- there are so many Lights that they're often consumed before they can make any Patrons into Art or call more Food.
Two more limbs, now. Slim but full of power. She runs a hand through the cat's steel-gray fur and considers the little body on the page before her. Yes, this is a good start. She can work with this.
It freezes as its glow crosses that of another Light. This one is not a Light. It is a Bad. The Bad is like a light but all sharp and sinew. It can be Food, but it is harder and smarter and faster than Food and so it is Bad. The Light takes a hesitant step back as the Bad rounds on it, tail twitching in anticipation. It's hide is scratched and worn, and its illumination flickers faintly- it is desperate for Food, or perhaps for Light. It is Bad.
She adjusts the lamp then draws a neat semicircle, minutely cross-hatching its inner edge to indicate the mirror sheen it will have. She does not usually progress straight from a sketch to a design document like this is rapidly becoming, but something about the idea just demands to be brought forth. It is one of those ideas she is helpless to stop; he will understand.
The Bad lunges, flickering, and the Light dances aside as the larger creature's class tear deep gouges in the Gallery. Thankfully, there is no Art in this room to be harmed- the Light knows that damaging Art would be worse, worse than this Bad. It regains its footing rapidly and turns for another lunge, scoring a deep cut across the Light's face but thankfully missing anything vital. The force of the blow knocks the Light to its back, and it struggles to get upright again.
With the cross-bars of the face complete, she turns her attention to the tail. Something is missing. The design feels too… Straightforward, not whimsical enough for what it is. As so often happens, she lets her eyes wander, knowing that inspiration will come to her from somewhere. Her eyes travel past the bulb of the lamp, down the neck, over the feet, and then to the little dangling cord, un-needed thanks to the bulb. She smiles again. Perfect. An idea so obvious there's no wonder she missed it. In broad strokes, she attaches a little plug to the end of the design's tail. And now there is only one last detail to paint.
The Bad scratches wildly with both front claws, battering at the Light's faceplate in a feverish attempt to get underneath it. As the Light flails wildly, desperate to escape, it sees the approaching glow of other Lights and feels as much relief as its simple mind can. More Lights means fewer Bads.
She pulls one of the sheafs of paper out from under the desk, and gently unfurls the elegant charcoal sketch of an incandescent lightbulb. She knows the design by heart, of course, but somehow it just feels right to copy it like this, her brush following each curve of the wiring and each loop of the filament.
Suddenly, the Bad shakes, sparks flying off it. There are lights in addition to the Lights- white, not yellow. Patrons! The Bad stumbles off and is set upon by a swarm of Lights, collapsing beneath them as its glow is finally extinguished.
She wipes the brush clean and sets it down, the last stroke complete. Before her on the page lies a lamp-headed cat. There is one final touch- taking a much smaller brush from its stand, she signs her name, the curvature of the first letter 'A' perfect, as it always is. She sits back and pets the cat. Yes. It's all perfect. He'll love it.
A Patron's hand comes down and pets the Light gently on its scratches. It pushes back gratefully, eager to please. It will do its best to show these Patrons the Gallery- there is so much Art left to see!
//"I don't recognize this one. Definitely not one of the named two sees."
"Guess that means you've got naming dibs, then. What are you thinking?"
The Light stares curiously at them as another Patron calls from across the room.
"Crowely! Hayward! We can worry about the cats later. We've got a lot of distance to cover."
The Patrons set off into the Gallery, and the Light follows. Where there is Art there are Patrons. Where there are Patrons there is no Food. Where there is Food there is Light. All is well in the Gallery.
A big rock fell from the sky and hit my burrow. My mate and my cubs disappeared, but somehow I stayed. I stayed there and waited for them, but they never came back. I went out to get them food, but every time I did, the fire would follow me, and burn any prey I found. So why hadn't I died yet? I know what happens to us when we don't eat, so shouldn't that have happened to me?
That was so long ago. I don't know how long exactly, but it was a long time. These people caught me and took me away from my family. I don't think I'll ever see them again. They put me in this box, and I can't leave. I tried to dig out, but I just keep getting pushed back in. Sometimes they open a hole in one of the sides, and they give me prey. They still burn, but at least the box doesn't. I try to eat them, but they disappear before I can. I don't like this. Why can't I leave?
Sometimes I can get out. Nothing is familiar here. There are so many weird things here, and they all scare me. So I hide from them. They don't seem to be able to leave either.No matter where I go, the humans find me, and they put me back in the box. I don't understand. Why do they do this? Why do they trap me here, and still give me food? They obviously don't care about me, so why do they feed me?
Sometimes they put new things in the box. They put in another one like me. He kept barking at me, but I didn't get close to him, or bark back. I know what happens if I get close. I don't want that to happen to him. Why is he barking at me? I'm just like him, right? After that they put in another one. She kept barking at me too. I wish they wouldn't.
Then, something good happened. They found my mate! They put her in the box with me. Maybe they do care. But there was something wrong. She kept barking at me too. Doesn't she recognize me? I leapt on her in joy! But I shouldn't have. I forgot what happens in my joy…She burned too. I burned her. As it turns out, she wasn't my mate after all. Why did they trick me? Why do they do this to me? They don't seem to like me, so why do they keep me? I just want to leave. I just want to leave…
Ballad of the Hateful Star
Search through space, through deepest void
Star remnants float, born and destroyed
Peer deeper and perhaps you’ll see
The cradle of a galaxy
Should you traverse this nebulae
And drift along, in star-dust stay
You’ll hear the whispers echoing far—
The ballad of a hateful star
“I find them tiresome, everything
Bores me, fails me, always lacking.
They’ve watched me, tried to dodge my gaze
I’ll be their end, number their days.”
“Make them tremble, weak with regrets
Pulse, ‘only death’ and other threats…”
Perhaps it’s soothed by frightened cries
Do monsters still sing lullabies?
“I watch, discern, I’m not impressed
I know of all that they’ve suppressed
They squirm, try to defer my rage
Such silence is a useless cage”
The dark-borne star gloats with a hiss
“Listen—I just remembered this…”
Perhaps it croons, perhaps it sighs
Do deities need lullabies?
“I stalk, devour as I please
What cares have I for fripperies?
They merit ruin, with my distaste,
These little worlds I choose to waste.”
“Let them scramble, if they dare
A star-blink’s time and I’ll be there.”
It dreams of chaos as it flies
Will worlds end drowned in lullabies?
While targeting humanity
It claims to wake, swears it can see
Why does it choose this biosphere?
What could it ever want from here?
Vast emptiness it passes through
Its course unwavering, set true
The distance too will bear the scar
These ballads of the Hateful Star.
Though they may sleep ‘midst tainted skies
Would monsters still need lullabies?
Prometheus was no god.
That's something that many people forget or do not understand. He was neither a god nor a man, but made of older stuff. He was a titan.
When Gaia and Uranos mated, they made many children. The hecationaries, the cyclopses, and a dozen other monsters that roamed the earth. Each one, Uranos imprisoned back inside Gaia, all of them, until she bore the titans, whom he was pleased to look upon.
Mind you, his son Saturn later castrated him and usurped him at Gaea's urging, but this was the way of things for the Greeks.
When Zeus later rose up against the titans and their cruel rein, only a handful of the titans fought with the gods. Themis and Prometheus. And the gods were later successful.
It would be foolish to claim that Prometheus was the sole originator of their victory, and I will not do so, though many of the ancient authors did. Prometheus fought, after all, for selfish reasons.
Prometheus granted writing, science, farming, medicine, and math to the humans, his children. The gods granted suffering and demanded sacrifices. When did Prometheus ever ask for a burnt carcass in his honor?
Men were one of his creations, you see. He wanted them kept safe and strong and viable. He wanted them to be blessed by the gods and looked after. Zeus was angered when he stole fire, and he chained him to a rock to have his liver eaten by an eagle each day.
Just as Prometheus stole fire from the gods, so to do we wrest the secrets from the universe daily. How mystical and magical must fire have been at one time. How dangerous and unbelievable. Could you imagine if the only source for something, the only thing you could relate it to, was a star?
How unbelievable it must have been to the ancient Greeks. And now? A trivial thing. A trivial thing once deified.
Such is the way of all great magics. Such is way of all great works. Such is the way of all unknown things.
With study and intuition, the mystical becomes common. No sacrifices are needed, and no blood is given. The doors of the universe are opening to us ever further.
Let us step through.
— From the Prometheus Labs Hiring Packet, circa 1982, written by [REDACTED]