What Is Going On?!?! (Interludes Prologue)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Erato_The_Muse_Of_Love_Poetry_by_François_Boucher.jpg

I had a very strange experience, and I don’t know why I feel compelled to write about it here, but I do. I anthropomorphized “The Muse” in previous posts. I did that as an intellectual tool, a thought experiment. For me to have written about the concept at all demonstrates how much time I had already given to it. You can imagine my frustration, when after the idea was out there, I did not get the usual relief I do in these situations.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hogarth_painting_the_muse.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hogarth_painting_the_muse.jpg

Instead, the whole thing of an anthropomorphized muse stuck with me. Anytime I had a free interior minute, like washing the dishes or before bed, I would find myself drifting towards the thought of the Muse, as a full fledged, living person.

Here is how the thoughts sort of went. What is really behind being in that artistic zone? How does the artist just turn over to this other force and have it produce such intelligent, cohesive products? If it is some sort of a power of the subconscious (thinking something like Jungian psychology), then how do we make sense of it being more creatively intelligent and complicated then our regular modes of thinking?

But further my mind would snap, and here is where the fissure starts, because I can almost hear a voice, her voice to be exact. Who says you have anything to do with it? So bold, right there, right smack between my eyes. The language and orientation seemed so strange. Why would I say such things to myself?

She always seems to have an answer, and be tired of my shit. She is also sick of me taking credit for her ideas, and wants her share of recognition and goodies. Now I know this sounds like I am losing my mind, but this is what happened. So I found myself down in the office this morning about to write. Now I have been writing somewhat seriously now for at least four years, and though I have days were it might have take longer to get going, I can always get the job done.

In other words, I had never known writer’s block. It also is important to note that I was in a fairly positive frame of mind, breakfast, coffee, free time, etc., but right as I hit my seat and started the computer a dreadfulness bombarded me. It was so strong and disorienting that I jumped up out of my chair, and in a panicked spastic response I flung my arms wildly around the room.

I was overwhelmed with paranoia. It was in there deep. I wanted to dig it out of myself somehow. I heard my kids playing upstairs. My wife was telling my oldest son that she just needed to finish the dishes and then they would all go outside. The normalcy of the moment snapped me out of it and I sat back down, but my hands were still shaking and I was so scared.

I opened up my work in progress and read the last sentence I wrote. There were a number of grammatical errors, which I tinkered with for a second. Somewhat disinterested, I went to write the new words and again a feeling of death and dread, and magnanimity overwhelmed. I felt stomach sick. I closed my eyes and laid my head on the desk.

An unending stream of existential crisis tore through me. What was I doing writing anyway? What did I have to say? I was a nothing and a nobody and just a loser like everybody else. There was nothing great in me. Compared to those before me, I am an inexperienced moron. All this obsession with art was so much inconsequential madness. It was sickening and shameful. A danger, to myself and others. I was a coward who had hide and ran and taken the path of least resistance and I would continue to be that, forever. It was over for me.

How can I describe the sensation of feeling that your thoughts are not you’re own? It’s like a person entering the room and beginning to talk to you, not quite yelling, but loud enough that you cannot ignore it. It’s an alien voice too, almost like reading words on a page, you have to sort of interpret character, inflection and tone.

It isn’t good at bluffing or bullshitting. It is just like the wind; it blows or it doesn’t.

The wind was blowing hard through my head. It was almost like drowning, but the nonstop stream of ideas filled the deadly world. I probably laid there for twenty minutes in this state before I popped out of my seat again, panicked. I was asthmatic too. I couldn’t get a deep enough breathe. The feeling of sharing the room with someone came back hard now. So hard that I grabbed my wallet and went running out the house, terrified that some physical or even metaphysical brain “popping” was about to occur.

It was a godawful hot humid day, and the heat and bright light just smashed me in the face. It was like I had ran right into a yellowish sweat bubble. The wet sickness pushed through my eyes balls and down into my guts. I could feel my morning breakfast gurgling there.

I should have gone inside and laid down, but I was too scared to go back into my house. I started walking. Everything wa cartoonish, blocky, almost lego-y. I began to hear what sounded like a choir singing, but I couldn’t find the source. I walked for a while until I came to a gas station. I stood outside, pacing, totally out of my mind. I was so worked up, angry and for what appeared to be nothing. I felt stupid about leaving the house like that, and I was sure my wife was wondering where the hell I went.

A woman pulled up in a white Nissan. I saw that it was an older woman, heavy set, and in business attire. We made eye contact for a second and I looked away. But as she walked passed, I looked back and now the woman was young, slim and shiny blond hair ran down seventies style lime green dress, which fit her perfectly. So weirded out, I walked around the building but was stopped by three youths. Two boys were on their bikes, and one little girl was standing on the curb, watching the others riding circles in the parking lot.

As I went passed them the little girl began to talk to me. “Oh professor ass dude, weirdo, lame type predator.” I couldn’t believe what was I was hearing. “Pussy,” she said. I turned around and they were all lined up staring at me. I felt like I should say something, but they were all smiling and what could I say? The oldest couldn’t have been nine, and the girl was no more than five. I couldn’t believe something like that coming from such a young child, but the way they were smiling told me they thought it was real funny.

I stared at them for a second so dumbfounded and weirded out that finally I just turned and walked away. As I got to the edge of the parking lot I looked back for them and they were gone. I kept walking, wading through this lingering dread. I walked until I came to a Dollar General. I had the urge to buy some candles, some candy, maybe even some flowers. I walked through the aisles and every person I went passed had some negative words for me. Vulgar, high school type trash. Pencil Dick. Faggot. Cocksucker. A Grandma in a red hat called me a cunt.

I got my chocolate bars and candles and headed for the checkout line, which was packed with people. I waited for an eternity. The whole time this voice in my head just kept going and going, like standing under a waterfall.

I couldn’t imagine another world existing outside of the pounding, pulsating, internal voice which was just having a freak out, in perfect, controlled, monotoned persistence. You suck you know that, you really suck. You sucks eggs. You suck dicks. You can suck a golf ball through a garden a hose. A carburetor out an engine block. You’re like black hole level suck. Bending matter to your empty black suck. Abortion vacuum suck…

I watched the checkout lady as the line crept. She was an older woman, late forties, early fifties. She had thinning hair and the look of a smoker. She had an air of a look of dignity though too, as she rang everyone’s crap up. Something told me she had some other career experience, like a horse trainer or something. But that was before, when she had something she loved, but that didn’t work out. She took this job out of necessity.

I finally made it to her, but right before, a viscous, emergency type, stomach pain kick in. I leaned against the counter and tried to close my eyes and take some deep breaths. When I opened my eyes, my things were being rang up and a voice broke into my head. “3.33, Sir.” I struggled for my wallet and when I brought it back up and looked the cashier in the face she had changed. It was the beautiful woman who was outside the gas station, but now she was in the Dollar General uniform. For the first time, I got a look at her face.

I love and am ever faithful to my wife, so I feel bad writing this, but she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Normally I am a burnet man, but her ocean waves of shimmering blond hair and lightening green eyes left me floored and overwhelmed with lust. It was her smell too! It was like cool wind on a warm day, through a lavender field, mixed with the earthy scent of woman.

She smiled and said, “3.33, you sick bastard!” As if she read my dirty mind. She said the last words full of both sexuality and insult. I dropped my wallet and banged my head on the counter as I went to grab it. I was full of apologies, even though she had just insulted me. All flustered and blushing, I opened my wallet and there was nothing in there! I was a ramble of sorries and she just kept smiling at me.

“You’re fucking great,” she said. “I can’t wait to get my hands on you Austin. You’re a screamer, aren’t you? I can always sense a screamer. Hemingway never broke; I hated that. You don’t have a fiver on ya? You broke, chubby, son-of-a-bitch. Take the candy asshole, consider it a last meal. Fucking candles.”

You know the phrase deer in the head lights? Now I literally know what that feels like. It was like a decked out, glossy Escalade appeared from the ether and was going to plow right through me. The sick, twisted thing is as I basked in her presence I was still aroused, seduced even by her destructive forces. For some (possibly profound) reason I began to think about the blank page back at home, and how I needed to be doing my words.

The whole word froze and the lights went dim. The store began to shake and drywall began to sift from the ceiling. I looked at the folks behind me, all lined up and waiting to pay for their stuff. They were now statues. Their still shoulders collected the falling dust.

I looked back at the new woman. She was frozen too, smiling like the sun. I had the most awesome realization. This was the Muse!!! Right in front of me. I could hear this indecipherable, yet oddly familiar hum emanating from her. Think it clicked in my head, I had heard this same effect, sometimes deep in the writing zone, when the words were just gushing out beyond my control.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Félix-Nicolas_Frillié_-_Kiss_of_the_Muse,_c._1863.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Félix-Nicolas_Frillié_-_Kiss_of_the_Muse,_c._1863.jpg

This was the source of that hum and she was standing right before me. I had the strange thought to try to capture her, bottle her up somehow and hide her back in my house. There was a loud boom of thunder in the store and a web of lightening broke out across the ceiling. With another boom, a giant appeared behind her in the next aisle.

The first thought that came to mind was Gandalf, because of his long white hair and robes, but the man was black, like deep of night black, so black that it was hard to even make out any features on his face, and he was a giant. I’m guessing probably twelve or thirteen feet tall, at least; his head almost touched the ceiling.

He stood there arms crossed for an awful minute. A chrome scepter, capped with a flashing diamond, was clinched in his left hand, and poised to obliterate me with one smack. Thankfully, there were no words passed between us. He just stood there, staring. Then I passed out.

I woke up back in my chair, a small Dollar General store bag with the candles and candy in it on the desk. It was like waking up from a nightmare. I felt so disoriented and insane. Worst of all, I looked up at the screen and all that you have been reading was already up there. As I reread it, memories of the whole experience came flooding back.

I think I might have gone insane. I need to talk to my wife about this, but I don’t know what she’ll say. Has anyone had an experience with this? Please share with me if you have. Thanks for reading. She exists!

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Next Chapter

Interludes #20 (In which, we continue with the Post-Modern hackery)

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hel_(1889)_by_Johannes_Gehrts.jpg

Further interest: http://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/giants/hel/

“At least you got a chance,”a voice broke in, loud in my head.

It’s a horrible feeling, like having your brain sucked out through you’re belly button. Last thing I remembered I was laying beside a tree next to the river, in some farmers field, trying to stay awake. I ran for probably five, six hours, until I stopped seeing cars all together. Only thing I saw were cows and horses, things that didn’t say much.

I had to take it slower at times creeping through these back acres. You never quite knew who might be kicking about, checking on everything.

It got cold, real cold. Sky was so big, so dark. My breathe came out in smoky streams. I began to shiver, and panic. I saw what looked like an empty church sitting far off the road. There were no cars, grass was over grown. I found broken windows and a busted in door around back, so I snuck in there.

Everything was gone from the place. No pews, no crosses, just empty. I was going to go to sleep there, seemed like a safe place. I laid down and started to freak out. What in the hell was I doing? I started to berate the Muse, demanding an answer, to why she was doing all this to me. When she ignored me, I turned to the big guy, the sky daddy. Why was he allowing all this? Couldn’t he help me? Didn’t he care?

The church was so dark. The shadows seemed to hide an eternity. I felt like something was watching me, from the hallway. Super creepy sensation. Instinctively, I jump up felt like I was drunk, sick. I stumbled out and caught myself on a nail. My arm was warm and wet, so I know I was bleeding. I rushed out, falling twice in the hurry, not wanting to discover what was looking at me.

I ran for another hour, until I came upon a large oak tree and decided to sit down for a moment. I was freezing, holding my legs, making myself into a little ball. I realized I was going to freeze to death like this. Best thing I could think to do was pile a punch of leaves and stuff against me. This sort of worked, but the damp, dirty leaves added an air of desperation to the whole thing, and I suffered with the enormity of my mistake. Why had I run from the hospital like that?

My best bet was to turn around and head back, and get some professional help. Clearly, I had lost it. Of course, the fact that my face was pressed against a cold, concrete prison cell slab confirmed this in spades.

“At least you got a fucking chance,” the voice taunted again. “My timeline went nuclear on 9-11. Everyone one of them are dead over there. You understand that. I left them all that day. Not even a goddamn phone call. You remember your sister’s shitty, red Neon you were driving then? I crashed it somewhere outside St. Paul. Just looked like a big storm. All I had was a fucking pack of camels lights and a lighter, hidden under the front seat, so no one would find them. You remember doing that type of shit?”

I had no clue what the fuck was going on. I still really don’t. At first I thought it was just some figment of my own mind. As I woke up, I discerned it was coming from under the steel door, but it was still my voice, and sort of my memories. It was harder too, something sick and twisted in there, grumbly, gravely.

“Just kept walking you know? You remember when we took the trip to the boundaries water? Fourteen or fifteen. Best buddies, right? Mike and Sully, right? Boundary waters. You remember all the fun we had? Camping all night, roasting brats on the fire, going out on the fishing boat at night, smoking joints Sully smuggled in his backpack, being sort of ashamed and exhilarated that he had done that. All those stars? And how good it felt to be alone out there. Edge of the world. Well, I thought of that as I watched the nuclear winter approach from the East. I didn’t know until later, once the fucking spooks swooped me up, but the cyclical weather pattern had kept this thing at a tortoise crawl to the West, you understand?”

I was sitting up now. There was a small concrete bench there, which suggested the exact opposite of relaxation. “Survived for years out there like that. Can you imagine it? Nah you can’t. I won’t bore you.” He burst out in a hysterical laugh and screamed.

When he calmed down, he started again. “They found me on a rock, somewhere in North Dakota, who knows. It’s funny how all those titles and shit, end up meaning nothing. Everywhere was Shitsville, thats how I thought of it anyway. Found me under some rock in Shitsville. Came up on me all crazy, one stormy night. I thought they were aliens or demons at first. Giant fucking triangle floating in the sky–wasn’t the first time I had seen some crazy shit out there, but this was especially crazy cause it was totally real. The landed at the open base of the mountain. A tiny helicopter popped out of the top and flew right towards me. I was too scared to run, too scared to do anything. A man, first one I had seen in over a year, came repelling from the helicopter, as it hovered above. Without a word, man snapped this harness on me and then we were both floating through the air and up to the waiting triangle. Gave me all shorts of shots and shit. World went blank. Then I was over here. Fucked up, ain’t it? How they get you? Somewhere in Shitsville?”

Total panic overwhelmed me. I would lay there and imagine none of this was happening. The words just popped out though. “Out of bed.”

“Out of bed? Squatting somewhere? Holed up? What city? DC? Seattle? Heard that was bullshit? Know I shouldn’t have trusted that wino bitch? She said it was all gone. For real though, where were you holed up, in case they send me back to Shitsville?”

“Des Moines.” It just popped out. The miserable truth. I could feel myself walking right into this man’s anger.

“Des Moines?” He said, full of hurt and disbelief. “Fuck that. It’s gone. Long gone. Unless, fuck that. Don’t tell me that. Oh no, no, no, no. No. Fuck that.”

At this the man began to scream and cry. I could hear his heavy body as he slammed it against the floor, against the door. It was a wet sound like a drenched blanket being slapped against the concrete.

I yelled at him to stop, but he didn’t listen. With a final horrible sound of a watermelon being split in two, all went quiet, and that was it.

I laid there on the ground for a while, trying to make sense of what the man had said. And what did it mean that he talked about we? And us? As if “we” were the same person? That was impossible. Didn’t it make more sense, my paranoid mind began to push, that they had some actor in there, playing the part of myself from another dimension, which had meets its unfortunate apocalyptic fate? As a writer and a fan of Science Fiction I am well aware of the concept of other dimensions and alternative time lines, my own experiences in the La La Land have been proof enough, but still to hear yourself so clearly, and yet so differently, was a real challenge for my mind.

Honestly, I felt very tired, and sad, and helpless, so I resolved to just fall asleep there on the floor. A loud banging of a door snapped me right out of it, and caused me to scurry to a corner of the cell. The sound of a number of boots slamming down the corridor alarmed me. I heard the cell down the way from me open up, and the slimy streak of a leaking body being dragged across the floor. The was some muffled words, more stomping, until it was right outside my room.

I jumped up. Within instinct taking over, I realized it was time too fight. A slit in the door opened up. A pair of intense blue eyes stared at me, disseminating all my courage with one glare. “Mr. McMulin,” a soft masculine voice said. “I’m coming in. I want a word. Behave yourself or receive a sedative.” He raised a syringe to the viewing slot. “Understand? No more games.”

I didn’t say a word. The slot was closed and the door was slid open. The man was tall, skinny, and sinewy. His face was set in lines of intensity. His dark brown hair, was greased and plastered to his head. He wore an Orange and Yellow Hawaiian shit, with short shorts. His legs were thin and pale, wobbly perfect like al dente spaghetti noodles. “Hello Mr. McMulin. You may call me Mr Black. I will be something like you’re contact person from now on, understand what I mean by that? Contact person? Over here. In what you so childishly call La La Land. Aaru. Elysium. Caelum. Nirvana. Asgard. Those are what people of the past called it. In more beautiful and civil times. La La land has its own beauty, doesn’t? Simple. Pleasurable to say. Somehow it manages to convey the true nature of this place. Mr McMulin, I am going to give it to you straight, okay?

nodded. “I don’t need this, do I?” He asked, gesturing towards his hand holding the syringe.

“No.”

“Good, good,” he said, handing it to a guard who stepped forward. They crowded the door way and hall. There was nothing I could do but listen.

He sat down on the concrete bench. “You have children, right Mr McMulin?”

“Yes, I do, and I love them very much.”

“Of course, Mr McMulin, of course. Now these children I am sure there have been times, when you have been frustrated by their messiness? The thousandth time you scrubbed the table of breakfast syrup, or when you found that patch of crayon art on the wall, or the thousandth shitty diaper, some moment like that, you must have felt precisely how I feel right now. I feel hopeless Mr McMulin. Would you like to know why?”

“Yes.”

“You.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you Mr McMulin,” he said, pointing at me. “I am disappointed with you. You have everything over there, don’t you? A wife that still lets you hump, occasionally, three kids, three meals a day, and what do you do with it all? Piss it right down the drain! And for what? This shit? Me? Doesn’t make any sense!”

“I don’t understand,” I said.

“No, you don’t, you’re right. I don’t know what sort of alliances you have made in all this, though I have my suspicions. That bitch is no good. I hope it’s not her. That would be bad for you Mr McMulin. You don’t look like an Artist though. Not enough courage. Are you an Artist?”

What sort of question is that? My mind struggled to see what answer this crazy man wanted? I always thought in a real shake down situation like this that I would have the heart not to roll on anyone, especially myself, but now I couldn’t even begin to think how to front to Mr. Black.

“Yes,” I said. “I think so. But I didn’t make an “alliance” or whatever with that woman. She just showed up one day, I don’t know. It was weird.”

He looked at me like I just pissed my pants. I have never seen anger, hate and malice roll of someone like Mr Black. That’s when I knew I had made a bad mistake. “So it is the Woman of Many Names and Faces. I suspected as much. Well, easy in, easy out, they say. This is regrettable Mr McMulin. Truly regrettable.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I really am. I don’t really understand all this. I didn’t make any pacts with her. She just showed up and started torturing me.”

“Did you play music for her?”

“Yes,”

“Dear God,”

“But not very well,”

“She judged you harshly?”

“Very,”

“Goddammit!” He broke his composure, with a blistering rogue.

“I’m sorry,” I pleaded. “I had no clue what was going on. I’m so sorry. I just want this all to end.”

“Indeed Mr McMulin, indeed.” He said, through clenched teeth. “That is what I am here for, to clean up all your little messes. Now I have one more question. You have joined this woman in a walk through the Holy Forest of Remissions?”

“Yes,” I said, ashamed, knowing he was talking about the Pine Dust Forgetting Forrest.
There was a skin piercing tsk from Mr. Black, as he turned for the door. “This is all very bad Mr. McMulin. And exactly what I had suspected. Termination will be my recommendation.”

“Termination will be your recommendation?” I yelled after him. “What does that mean?”

“Deletion. Ending. Abortion. Conclusion. Discontinuance. Stopping. Elimination. Termination.” He yelled over his shoulder as he walked out of the cell.

Snippets #57

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thomas_Moran_Childe_Roland_to_the_Dark_Tower_Came_1859.jpg

Childe Roland To The Dark Tower Came- Robert Browning

IX.

 For mark! no sooner was I fairly found

Pledged to the plain, after a pace or two,

Than, pausing to throw backward a last view

O’er the safe road, ’twas gone; grey plain all round:

Nothing but plain to the horizon’s bound.

I might go on; nought else remained to do.

LINK

Robert_Browning_(1865_photogravure_by_Julia_Margaret_Cameron)

Snippets #55 (50%more snippets)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Jean-Jacques_Rousseau#/media/File:Confessions_In_The_Laboratory_Aldus_P098.jpg

Discourse on the Arts and Sciences-Rousseau

So long as government and law provide for the security and well-being of men in their common life, the arts, literature and the sciences, less despotic though perhaps more powerful, fling garlands of flowers over the chains which weigh them down. They stifle in men’s breasts that sense of original liberty, for which they seem to have been born; cause them to love their own slavery, and so make of them what is called a civilised people. (3)

-Later-

…Answer me, I say, you from whom we receive all this sublime information, whether we should have been less numerous, worse governed, less formidable, less flourishing, or more perverse, supposing you had taught us none of all these fine things.

Reconsider therefore the importance of your productions; and, since the labours of the most enlightened of our learned men and the best of our citizens are of so little utility, tell us what we ought to think of that numerous herd of obscure writer and useless litterateurs, who devour without any return the substance of the State.

Useless, do I say? Would God they were! Society would be more peaceful, and morals less corrupt. But these vain and futile declaimers go forth on all sides, armed with their fatal paradoxes, to sap the foundations of our faith, and nullify virtue. The smile contemptuously at such old names as patriotism and religion, and consecrate their talents and philosophy to the destruction and defamation of all that men hold sacred. Not that they bear any real hatred to virtue or dogma; they are the enemies of public opinion alone; to bring them to the foot of the altar, it would be enough to banish them to a land of atheists. What extravagancies will not the rage of singularity induce men to commit!(10)

And finally…

Every artist loves applause. The praise of his contemporaries is the most valuable part of his recompense. What then will he do to obtain it, if he have the misfortune to be born among a people, and at a time, when learning is in vogue, and the superficiality of youth is in a position to lead the fashion; when men have sacrificed their taste to those who tyrannise over their liberty, and one sex dare not approve anything but what is proportionate to the pusillanimity of the other; when the greatest masterpieces of dramatic poetry are condemned, and the noblest of musical productions neglected? This is what he will do. He will lower his genius to the level of the age, and will rather submit to compose mediocre works, that will be admired during his life-time, than labour at sublime achievements which will not be admired till long after he is dead. Let the famous Voltaire tell us how many nervous and masculine beauties he has sacrificed to our false delicacy, and how much that is great and noble, that spirit of gallantry, which delights in what is frivolous and petty, has cost him. (11)

Link

Snippets #54

hunter

Kingdom of Fear-Hunter S. Thompson

“Our mistake was not killing them instantly,” said a colonel from the U.S. Army. “Summary execution–shot while attempting to escape.” He laughed bitterly, sipping his beer at the Red Crab, a chic roadhouse on the outskirts of town. The mayor of Ft. Lauderdale was at the other end of the bar, whooping it up with a business man from New jersey who was gnawing on the throat of a black woman.

“You people are shameless,” I said to the colonel.

“We are warriors,” he replied, stuffing the bowl of his pipe full of Mixture 79. (210)

Synchronicity and the Dangers of Padding the Reading List (Spoiler Alert!!!)

clockwork-orange3

My wife and I sat up last Thursday night. Kids had gone to bed early. I suggested we sit down enjoy each other’s company for a moment. I asked about her work day. One thing led to another and soon we were in the deep territory.

And for some reason, I started thinking about Lot’s wife. Do you know about Lot’s wife? I’m aware of the basics, and have read that section in Genesis before. The basic story is two angels appear, tell ol’ Lot Sodom’s going to be destroyed. The angels tell him and his brood better book it or else. They delay in fleeing the city, which is interesting, right? Because if it was such a shitty place, why would they not want to leave? Anyway, finally the angels are like, “Look! Get the fuck out of here, right now, and if you even look back at this shit-hole, you’re going be swept away!” You can probably guess what happens next. Lot’s wife (Aldo, aka Edith, thank you wikipedia) looks back and is literally dusted. Ultra-violence.

I was making this point to my wife, that as we develop and mature that there comes a point, like Lot’s wife, that it can be dangerous to look back into the past. Rehash those old issues.

It’s interesting, and perhaps somewhat dangerous how much Art, and books especially can influence our behaviors and ideas. I think about this sometimes, though I have travelled, geographically speaking little, I feel in all the reading I have done, I have lived a lot of lives, walked in a lot of people’s shoes, or rather the fake shoes these characters wore, that were created by other people. But yes, I love books, and this love is teetering on a compulsion lately, as I attempt to reach my reading goal of 36 books this year.

Things are off to a great start. I was right on track at the end of April, 12 books, and really enjoying reading. I had just finished the first two books of C.S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet series. Great books, and I always love the feeling and insight the Inklings brings. Spring is here too so I find harder to sit in the basement and write. With all the signs of spring about flowers, butterflies, fresh air and sunshine, life is great. Always though, I love to sneak down to my office and have a reading session. Now I am wondering if it isn’t a bit of problem.

To achieve my goal, I decided, and here we see the first hint of the inevitable downfall, to try to pad my total by finding a bunch of great short novels to read in May. So I turned to the internet, that Delphic oracle, and ended up at this Good Reads book list. In a very short period I scanned the list, ignoring works I had already knocked off, and picked the first four or five titles that struck me as interesting. Mostly at random, reading just a snippet of the description, and then checking my local library for a copy.

So, as I was waiting for these titles to arrive at the library. I decided to tackle A Clockwork Orange, which I knew to be a thin book. I borrowed this one from my friend a while ago, and had tried to read it, but the crazy language, called Nadast, a sort of English-Russian fusion, at that moment, just seemed impossible. Strangely here, and I sensed the force of fate, when I picked it up this time. I was in the perfect mood and mindset for it.

If I’ m in that mood I like reading like that, like a translator. It makes you pay attention. It heightens your senses and experience. I have seen Stanley Kubrick’s exceptional film based on the book, so of course I couldn’t help but have that as a visual subtext to my reading. That’s not to diminish the effect of the novel in anyway, mind you. Not at all.

It’s a very scary book. As sort of a grown man now, you know what really frightened me, was how familiar it all felt. And it wasn’t seeing the movie before, it was how close this mindset was to my adolescent mindset, and the mindset of many others that I’ve encountered in the world. Stupid, hedonistic, predatory, narcissistic, megalomanic, moralistic.

There was something else with that book, that just sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Made me very suspicious. Just looking up the book on the oracle again, and I read Burgess claims to have been inspired and wrote the book in three weeks. See, that’s exactly the sort of things I am getting at. That’s an astonishing achievement. The complexity and cohesiveness, the singular terrifying vision just deposited by the universe into Burgesses’ brain like that. Sounds a little too good, too evil, to be true.

Couple key points to note though. Ultra violence. Sexual Aggression. Shadowy Intelligence and Psychiatric organizations. Mind Control. Drugs. I would also note that Burgess himself had military experience, and was husband to a wife who suffered a real life episode of ultra-violence, which sparked the idea for the novel itself.

So, after a bit of a cry, and a shower, I finished A Clockwork Orange, and was left in a strange mood. I will be the first to acknowledge a slight conspiratorial bent to my thinking, but in so many way it just seems to be sitting there, plain as day to me. Of course, it wasn’t so obvious always, and these views are informed by a number of sources, which I won’t get into now. What I am trying to get at is when I reflect on Literature like that, it starts to look a lot less like what I thought it was was (escapist holiday in La-a-Land), and more to look like a manual of evil, or even something like a Curse.

I imagine I’ve lost the plot here with most readers, but I gotta try to say what I’m trying to say. Okay, in the book for instance there is this classic scene (how’s that for word choice) where the main character Alex, is strapped in a chair, and forced to watch reel after reel of horrific moments, thereby inducing in him a severe aversion to these acts, which forces him to be “good.”

Now, I can’t help but think how the modern person is much like Alex, more or less forced in front of a screen, shown countless horrific moments, in both Entertainment and News, for hours on end. What’s worth noting, is that unlike in the book, it doesn’t require the drugs (though there are plenty of those circulating), or the eyelids being strapped open. No, people today will freely and willingly subject themselves to these images. Just like we, the reader, have done with this book.

One more point about these shadowy groups running the show. What to make of them? A device of fiction, of course? Well, for argument and interest we will shift focus to the next book. In all that, I finally got my book stash from the library and with a clockwork paranoia slowly brewing I turned to the next book, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, by John Le Carre.

I knew very little about, this one, except for some buzz line about it being the quintessential spy novel. It started out with a preface from the author. Very interesting. He’s writing to make the point, that yes though he himself held some government position, which involved some degree of classified materials, and though yes this book had been approved by his superiors, these facts did not indicate like the public had assumed at the time, that he must have been divulging some secondary hidden life of espionage, but that in fact that his superiors approved it, showed that it was so over the top, and obviously Fictional, that they saw now harm in putting it out.

Okay, I say as the reader, wouldn’t have thought anything of it, had it not been mentioned, and for full revelation I must say the details of Mr. Burgress and his work still had me on alert, but I still took the preface at face value, and moved on. Brief synopsis, main character Alec Leamas (note that strange synchronicity of the names), is Station Head in the West Berlin office of The Circus (intelligence spooks), circa 1950-60.

One of his main operatives is killed, and Leamas is euphemistically “brought in from the cold,” decommissioned. Control, the Circus chief, and him hatch a plan to get him into proximity of the East Berlin operative, Mundt, who they know is behind the murdering of Leamas operatives.

Things are all screwy and quite complicated. A few major things to note. First off Leamas breaks the spy code and falls in love with a lady. This lady is in cahoots with the enemy, the Communists. All sorts of shadowy spook groups abound. Ultra-violence. Torture. Mind control techniques. And most importantly, like the previous Alex, this Alec, has the experience of being played by both/all sides, and coming to the conclusion that both sides are more alike than they are different, and more over that there must be another party, above these two warring parties, who must be getting off on all this.

I don’t want to digress here, but I feel it’s necessary. So the main bad guy of the novel is this character Mundt, who you learn was a spy for the British, who was educated in the West as well and escaped capture by fleeing into East Germany. That sets up a sort of alert to me. Because I’m aware, though articles like this, that a number of prominent terrorists and other nefarious world actors, are highly educated, and often are living and learning in the West, and then return to their own countries to rule/terrorize their own oppressed people. This should strike us as strange, terrible and significant.

Why is a place (the University or the West) supposedly concerned with Liberty and Freedom, birthing these type of characters? Or even deeper, what is it about our value systems and our cultures that is producing all this? The motivations for these questions is obvious, I hope. I want it to stop.

There is something so broken in these first two characters, that it would be easy, selfishly of course, to write them off as exaggerations for the drama of the novel. The first is a psychopath, the second is a sort of an action hero, let it go at that. Just like the author told us in that preface, mere-fiction.

Here’s the force of the synchronicity though. I think if I would have just stopped there. It would have been interesting, but not so existentially critical as the reading journey became when I moved on to The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. As I start reading this I just couldn’t believe the similarities with the previous two books. One main character, Frank Caudhame. A male, in Scotland, British Isles, a sort of autistic Rambo, redneck, living on a tiny island. Strained relationship with his parents. Fratricide. Again there’s an interesting subtext in this one about sexuality, and gender identity.

All three characters have dehumanizing concepts of females in their heads. Alex’s violent sexual assaults on females, demonstrates the objectification which has taken place in his mind. Not only to women, but to people in general. The same is true in Alec as well, he uses a woman to add a layer to his persona, but yet loves her and puts her in mortal danger.

Frank  makes his hate for women explicit. His hate stems from his Mother walking out on the family multiple times, and abandoning other children on his Father’s island. We will recall in Alex’s case there is the strange occurrence of once he arrives home, after the mind control Ludovico technique, he finds a surrogate brother staying there. It’s obvious too that his parents find their polite, more sensible son, much easier to handle. Alex resents him, and has a fit of mind control sickness, when his anger crests towards the man. This is very much paralleled in Frank’s story, as he calmly declares at one point:

Two years after I killed Blyth I murdered my young brother Paul, for quite different and more fundamental reasons than I’d disposed of Blyth, and then a year after that I did for my young cousin Esmerelda, more less on a whim.

That’s my score to date. Three. I haven’t killed anybody for years, and don’t intend to ever again.

It was just a stage I was going through. (42)

That last sentence. It was just a stage I was going through. That’s the real ringer. The casualness, the off handedness, just a phase. Everyone’s on their own journey. These are the words which condemn us now. In all these stories so far, murder and every other heinous act has become common place. When we study the background, the history, it’s of course not out of place. The world is barbaric and heinous. But where did the urge to make a game of it, to play at barbarism, not just be real barbarians, come from? It seems a very Western urge to want to feel morally justified in our evil, to make it a Romantic concept.

My reading got frantic at this point. Think I read The Wasp Factory over a three day period, just four or five sittings. I started getting that feeling that I was doing it too much, reading that is. That if I kept playing with it, I might just break my reading muscle. End up curled in the corner of some library, papers cuts on my hands, naked, a literary journal covering my loins.

But I couldn’t stop. I realized I was on to something. My subconscious had been at work here. I had to continue on to see what else was in this stash. Two titles remained. The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes and The Postman Always Rings Twice by James. M. Cain. Deep sigh. It’s hard to get my point across here. It’s too deep, too personal. So again I will try my best, but forgive the wandering, it hides the truth.

Here’s a brief sketch of The Sense of an Ending. Again we have a story told from the perspective of a single individual, Tony, British, more over there is definite contrast drawn between himself who ends up at Bristol University, and another important character Adrian Finn who ended up at Cambridge University, exemplifying British classism. So now, those middle class, upper middle class intellectuals we heard mentioned in “A Spy…” we get to see up close and personal. What do we find again, nihilism, sexual perversity and predation, conflicting and broken identity issues, the problem of seeing everything as a game, or as Finn put is, “he hates the way the English have about being serious about not being serious.”

We find distorted versions of masculinity and femininity, a detachment in the face of heinous violence. I felt though, and this made this work more challenging then the rest, that it presented the more realistic sense of what this post-modern, horror show really looks like. No one is understood, no one really cares for anyone else, everything is a facade, the truth is only revealed in tragedy. You also have this dynamic of parents, and generations, and the mutual definition that takes place in those relationships

I read The Sense of an Ending very fast, two days, and two sittings. When I got to the end, after these four books, I was seriously wasted. The thing that gets me about all this is the sense that it is all so goddamn stupid. This hate and injury that we cause to one another trying to figure out our own lives. And how sick and tired I am of dumb-smart people, who know so much, but behave so stupidly, how easy it is to take it all for granted, and then to wake up one day and realize its all gone, your Mum has replaced you with a vagrant.

Ahem. Anyway, yes suicide plays a big role in both A Clockwork Orange and The Sense of An Ending. There’s a scene early on that’s very constructive of the point I’m making. Tony and Adrian’s class are having a debate about the causes of WWI:

Hunt gave a brief nod to Colin’s attempt to undermine everything, as if morbid disbelief was a natural by-product of adolescence, something to be grown out of, Masters, and parents used to remind us irritatingly that they too had once been young, and so could speak with authority. It’s just a phase, they would insist. You’ll grow out of it; life will teach you reality and realism. But back then we declined to acknowledge that they had ever been anything like us, and we knew that we grasped life–and truth, and morality, and art–far more clearly than our compromised elders.

“Finn, you’ve been quiet. You started this ball rolling. You are, as it were, our Serbian gunman.” Hunt paused to let the allusion take effect. “Would you care to give us the benefit of you thoughts?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“What don’t you know?”

“Well, in one sense I can’t know what it is that I don’t know. That’s philosophically self-evident.” He left one of those slight pauses in which we again wondered if he was engaged in subtle mockery or a high seriousness beyond the rest of us. “Indeed, isn’t the whole business of ascribing responsibility a kind of cop-out? We want to blame an individual so that everyone else is exculpated. Or we blame a historical process as a way of exonerating individuals. Or it’s all anarchic chaos, with the same consequence. It seems to me that there is–was–a chain of individual responsibilities, all of which were necessary, but not so long a chain that everybody can simply blame everyone else. But of course, my desire to ascribe responsibility might be more a reflection of my own cast of mind than a fair analysis of what happened. That’s one of the central problems of history, isn’t it, sir? The question of subjective versus objective interpretation, the fact that we need to know the history of historian in order to understand the version that is being put in front of us.”

There was a silence. And no, he wasn’t taking the piss, not in the slightest. (13)

The same is true of our personal histories, and ultimately life is a game of being your own historian, whether you want to be or not. I start to wonder in all this reading why do it to myself? I gave up horror movies in a similar way. Why subject yourself to that shit?

I feel this battle too, personally, in my own history. When I start thinking of it that way, subjective vs. objective becomes good vs. evil, or evil vs. good, it’s hard to make sense of it, that’s what’s at issue, I guess. Subjectivity leads to moral relativism, moral relativism leads to the types we have been discussing here. Go with objectivism, we get to moral absolutism, and sooner or later you end with the Salem Witch trials, or the guillotine, or atomic weapons. One solution would be to view the world in a yin-yang, pillars and mounds, mutual definition,sort of way, but what does this do to us individually? How does it help me understand my own decisions and my history. Am I a good guy or a bad guy? Does it even matter?

Synchronicity bubbles the more you’re aware of it. It seems to spawn spontaneously, like mushrooms, so the key is to keep your eye out for it. So one way or another, I came to this documentary on Appalachian folk music. This was right as I started reading The Sense of an Ending. In that documentary, this song is mentioned Gold Watch Blues, and I looked it up online for a guitar tutorial, to my joy found one, and it seemed simple enough so I learned it. I had been practicing it for a day when I came to this scene in the book.

So we’re back at our protagonist’s place. For the first time, he’s brought his first serious girlfriend Veronica there:

…She looked through my record collection with an occasional flickering smile and a more frequent frown. The fact that I’d hidden both the 1812 Overture and the soundtrack to Un Homme et Une Femme didn’t spare me. There was enough dubious material even before she reached my extensive pop section: Elvis, the Beatles, the Stone (not that anyone could object to them, surely), but also the Hollies, the Animals, the Moody Blues and a two-disc boxed set of Donovan called (in lower case) a gift from a flower to a garden.

“You like this stuff?” she asked neutrally.

“Good to dance to,” I replied, a little defensively.

“Do you dance to it? Here? In your room? By yourself?”

“No, not really.” Though of course I did. (23)

Strange. Powerful. There it was the little synchronistic blip which seemed to show that it all had some meaning, purpose, destiny. And it is odd, right? Had I not learned that song, I would have still enjoyed the scene. It was excellently written, humorous, intelligent, telling, but that little juicy nugget of self reference just sealed it for me. I had never heard of Donovan, and a day earlier I had learned a song from him, and seen a reference about him in a randomly selected book. There was something more at play here.

And doesn’t the scene show much of the problem of subjectivity and objectivity. We like what we like regards of what others think, until of course life events draw multiple subjectivities together and then we are forced to show our hand, to reveal our true likes and dislikes. Musical taste is a perfect platform for these considerations. At first it can seem trivial, but as Barnes takes us through the stories these details become something like the characters grounding points, and their relations to these details help us draw broader conclusions about them. In the same way our likes and dislikes are reflected in our outwards appearances and choices. Modernity seems obsessed with these different tastes and fashions, so much so that all life and death (and sex) can hinge on wether or not one likes the Rolling Stones.

And frankly, if we are all being honest. Isn’t that about what life is like? We pick our partner on often trivial grounds. The obvious sexual or physical attraction, quickly gives way to general considerations of compatibility. Will they put up with my shit? This question is deeper then it seems though. It races towards the grounds of objective moralism. Am I the type of person whose shit ought to be tolerated? What are my faults? What are their faults? What is best? What is right and wrong? Will someone please touch me?

The next day after that charming allusion to Lot’s wife we began with, I read this passage from James Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice. The context, Frank Chambers is a vagrant who stumbles into a roadside dinner/gas station. He accepts a job offer from the proprietor, because he lusts after the man’s wife Cora. Their love affair begins and they decide to try to murder her husband. They fail, but are not discovered for the scoundrels that they really are. The scene is the day before the husband is due back home from the hospital. They are attempting to flee:

We started out. It was two miles to the bus stop, and we had to hike it. Every time a car went by, we would stand there with our hand stuck out, like a cigar store Indian, but none of them stopped. A man alone can get a ride, and a woman alone, if she’s fool enough to take it, but a man and a woman together don’t have much luck. After about twenty had gone by, she stopped. We had gone about a quarter of a mile.

“Frank, I can’t.”

“What’s the matter?”

“This is it.”

“This is what?”

“The road.”

“You’re crazy. You’re tired, that’s all. Look. You wait here, and I’l get somebody down the road to drive us in to the city. That’s what we ought to done anyhow. Then we’ll be all right.”

“No, it’s not that. I’m not tired. I can’t, that’s all. At all.”

“Don’t you want to be with me, Cora?”

“You know I do.”

“We can’t go back, you know. We can’t start up again, like it was before. You know that. You’ve got to come.”

“I told you I wasn’t really a bum, Frank. I don’t feel like no gypsy. I don’t feel like nothing, only ashamed, that I’m out here asking for a ride.”

“I told you. We’re getting a car in to the city.”

“And then what?”

“Then we’re there. Then we get going.”

“No we don’t. We spend one night in a hotel, and then we start looking for a job. And living in a dump.”

“Isn’t that a dump? What you just left?”

“It’s different.”

“Cora, you going to let it get your goat?”

“It’s got it, Frank. I can’t go on. Goodbye.”

“Will you listen to me a minute?”

“Goodbye, Frank. I’m going back.”

She kept tugging at the hatbox. I tried to hold on to it, anyway to carry it back for her, but she got it. She started back with it. She had looked nice when she started out, with a little blue suit and blue hat, but now she looked all battered, and her shoes were dusty, and she couldn’t even walk right, from crying. All of a sudden, I found out I was crying too. (25-26)

Besides the striking resemblance to Lot’s wife, behold that twisted moral structure. Murder, do it for love, but for love, hitchhike? Not a chance. Risk spending life in prison for murder, wont take guaranteed life of struggle with freedom. Love another person so much, you would risk cushy situation, but then abandon same person for the place. Moreover, they love each other for their respective wickedness, because it reflects a person they recognize. And you do feel there is love there, no doubt, but you also feel how low and weak, and malformed it is. Is malformed love still love? Is there anything but malformed love?

There something about Frank too, really bugs me. It’s like the spirit that started at A Clockwork Orange, has been pulled through each text, taking on different forms manifesting a different angle. When it all boils down, he’s just a huckster, a Tom Sawyer on LSD, a demon. I don’t get it, but I believe it.

There’s weird synchronicity with Iowa too, my home-state. Cora, the Greeks wife runs to California from Des Moines. A beautiful young woman, the old cliche is suggested, she finds herself a beauty among many, note shadowy parties are mentioned, and then the reader is informed she sort of settled on the Greek. And Iowa isn’t necessarily important, but to me its like this little sign of the universe saying hello, thanks for paying attention.

There’s something about the sea too. I think that’s what everybody was running for. And Hollywood…I spent a disastrous week in San Diego a decade or so ago. I won’t address that here. But one morning we drove up to Los Angeles. I refused to go on the celebrity house bus tour thingy and instead walked up and down Hollywood Blvd. It was a matter of principal. A revolt, I just couldn’t get why we would pay to get on to a bus, and drive around looking at the hedges and mansions of other people. It was more of course, deeper values at play. Like I’ve said before, I refrain from airing too much dirty laundry here, but it came down to the old culprits, Mommy/Daddy issues, civilization issues. The point is I have felt briefly the existential tug of southern California, and this is a background for Cain’s story.

California became something like the end of the world, it seems. It’s interesting when faced with that final limit it became am imagination epicenter, detached from the material, detached from the world. There’s a moral detachment in all these characters, beyond good and evil, however briefly they can delude themselves. You feel the devil in them, and they make you feel the devil in yourself. Just like all great art and archetypes can. Heroes can become dull, “white knights”. We like characters that have a healthy batch of both, good and evil, clearly defined and obvious.

Artists have to have a little hustler in them don’t they? A little huckster? There’s something ornery in seizing the creative power and making a bunch of stuff. To demand that universal attention. It’s bold. In A Clockwork Orange, Alex loves classical music. But it becomes associated with gross, sadistic urges, and ultimately used by the shadowy groups as a form of control in itself. What are we to make of that? The strange similarities in all these texts helped to suspend, suspended disbelief, and in my own detachment I saw how they all reflected the sort of moral journey modern people struggles with/under. Not to say we’re all a bunch of rapists and murderers or anything, we can pray, but there still is something seriously wrong here.

And like it or not, but there is a strange stratification taking place in society, where all degrees of civilization and technology are evolving, and it certainly isn’t moral or equal or anything, and we all just swim in this giant culture, trying to survive. How’s that for a word view?

James Cain is an exceptional author. Great stories. I would suggest going to read him at once. Along with all the rest of these titles. Maybe not in a row…That’s the fucked up part, isn’t it? Maybe you shouldn’t read these titles at all? What could you read then? Whatever you do, cue spooky ghost voice, don’t try to pad the reading list!

Update Post

From Website, Scene From Film The Spy WHo Came In From the Cold,  http://www.samefacts.com/2014/01/everything-else/weekend-film-recommendation-the-spy-who-came-in-from-the-cold/

Hello readers, past, present, future. So this is the obligatory, where have I been post? Here, always here, waiting, curating. First things first, “Interludes” the book I have been blogging on here. A draft is done, curing in the depths of my inner and ever expanding slush pile, but honestly, shall I put it bluntly and tragically, the response has been lukewarm (read nonexistent). No fault of yours dear reader, surely a result of the deluge of quality entertainment which exists in the world. The question remains, what to do?

Forming questions like that, dooms the whole endeavor. Don’t worry about what you are doing, just do it and figure it out later. I think that’s the key. I like blogging though for two reasons, which seem like good enough reason to keep it going i think, first I enjoy reading other people’s blog, and secondly, as this site was always intended this is documenting my evolution as a writer, so though I may fail, hopefully I may clear some way for the next courageous traveller.

Spring as I have mentioned before is not the best time for the reading/writing either. There’s something real bastardly in shutting yourself up with a computer while the sun is shining and life is waiting there to be lived. I will admit though the last week or so of rain, I have relished.

My reading goal for the year is 36 books, three a month. I’m sitting at thirteen books so far. Today I finished John Le Carre’s The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, really enjoyed it. Craft wise I noted the pacing of the chapters, the focusing on sequencing, and big events. I read or heard somewhere, oh god how’s that for citation, that someone, somewhere, thought of a book as like 48ish discrete scenes. Not that the exact number really matters. Just the point that every chapter and scene should have a purpose that moves the reader from one moment to the next. Things should happen.

I’m trying to pad my numbers in the month of May, so if you know any great short Fiction let me know. I currently got The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks and The Sense of An Ending by Julian Barnes on standby. Excited about those, though upon review it is looking a little dark…

So yes, to combat the torture to my subconscious induced by all this great literature, I will be spending my time gardening, childrearing, and hopefully just general adventuring (read washing dishes, mowing the lawn, and trying to figure out how to make home-made pot-stickers).

My garden is all planted up for summer. Some of the highlights are my asparagus bed in year two, lush with a crop (which I cannot enjoy for some devilish reason I can’t enjoy for another year), new strawberry plants that are doing great, got like a dozen different peppers and tomatoes, all going good as seedlings, and a half of dozen Purple Bumble Bees from Baker’s Creek already in the ground, spuds are in ground too. Lemon-balm and Blue Hyssop came back great. Oh and last, but not least, I got sweet peas about eighteen inches high, and a rabbit hasn’t gotten a one.

I am writing too, got to keep that slush pile real rank and moldy. New draft is called Nowhere. Dystopian Western, smashed into a Dune world (Just can’t stop jacking Stephen King). As of today, I wrote a little over 1.3k words, to have it sitting right at 23k words. I liked that, stopping right there on that number. Don’t know why…

So that’s about it, not really, but I gotta keep these dispatches short, in hopes that some poor bastard gets stuck in my loop. Anyway, hope your own artistic endeavors are fruitful. Let me know about that Short Fiction, if you get a chance. Good luck.

Interludes Chapter 19

1024px-Lucas_Cranach_the_Elder_-_The_Garden_of_Eden_-_Google_Art_Project

I laid there behind a tree, waiting. Finally Pete jumped up and started moving around. I made a quick roll behind another tree and crawled on all fours and circled around him, as he came back to check the truck.

He looked in there for a second and popped back out. He slammed his fist against it. “Dammit!” He screamed. He spun around looking for something, best guess was me.

Weapon in hand, everything told me to take Pete out. The legal question left me hesitant though, a sick crippling of civilization, no doubt. I mean even in a complicated justice system like ours, a situation like this would have to fall under a self-defense criteria, but still I had no idea. The way Pete had gone on about oaths and all that I didn’t think it was a good idea to push the situation, though it would have been easy and felt good.

Pete went running this way and that, yelling my name. I resolved to lay there. Hell maybe even take a nap. Let Pete find me, or not, that was what all this was teaching me, acceptance.

As I snuggled against the tree, with acceptance and anxiety brewing in my heart, I began to sort of drift off. Right as I did I felt my wife’s warm hand resting on my hip. It was just a soft bit of warm pressure, which could have been a hundred different things I guess, but somehow in this tentative relaxation I was sure it was her hand. It reminded me that I had a bone to pick with her if I ever made it back to the waking world. Sleeping on duty, now that was a broken oath!

A growling and grunting broke my thoughts. And for a second I was sure I was going to look back and the wolf was going to be there, standing huge and hungry, but the Commander screamed out, “Help!”

I watched as Pete crept back towards the scene, out of the shadows. His face was cold, unmoving. He did not call out to the Commander. He came up from behind and before I could even process what was happening two more shots rang out.
“Sorry sir, sorry sir,” Peter said over the man.

That homicidal bastard! That was it. I was just about to let him have it when I heard a loud engine racing down the road. Pete heard it too and dropped his weapon and started scrambling around the space. I watched him, more afraid then ever. He ran this way and that, and a brand new Humvee came racing towards us.

Pete saw it too. He settled under the back wheel of the idling truck, but just before the back up arrived, he hoped up and went diving against a large chunk of the dead werewolf, rifle and all. I couldn’t believe it as I watched him try to drag the massive slob of beast across himself, with little luck. He ended up with half the things large arm wrapped around his little chest. He comically rolled his head to the side and let his tongue dangle from it.

This guy was a total psycho. I couldn’t wait until backup got here and figured all this out. My mind scrambled with little tidbits I picked up watching true crime melodrama on the television. Couldn’t they do a gun powder test on Pete’s hand to prove he fired the rifle? Wouldn’t they be able to tell by the positioning of the body and the angle of the gun fire that the same someone delivered the death shots to the creature and the Commander? My rational mind pushed back, wouldn’t they also suspect me of playing some role in this, when they rolled up and found me hiding in the woods, which was right about now…

After the one truck it was like a whole ocean of trucks had been unleashed. All sorts of lights and lasers were brought out. All of it created a clubby vibe to the whole thing.

They came right for me. I thought about running, but I’d waited too long. I thought I was all burned out on fear, but having this team, march up on me like that, and snatch me from my hiding spot was the worst. They didn’t even say a word to me. I saw the glint of the syringe, a sharp pinch at my neck, and I was out.

I woke up 5:15, our side, so said the clock on the other side of the room. It was still dark out. There’s that weird yellowy grey haze over everything. I have never felt so sick in my whole life. Different parts of my body seemed to be at war with one another. Blood was drowning my brain. My throat was punching my mouth. My stomach seeped into my heart. I felt both physically weak, but also anxious and unsettled like all hell.

I sat up and projected vomited.

“Oh shit!” My wife screamed, jumping out of bed. “Honey, go to the bathroom!”
I stood up collapsed to the floor. “Oh my god! I’m calling an ambulance.”

She ran from the room, presumably to call. I wondered if I was dying. You know to be honest I was sort of pissed about it. I had always imagined dying as this relatively painless, sort of existential trip thing, almost like a good book. Something that if you just had the right way of looking at it, might even be enjoyable. This was like being sick on prom night.
Britney was at my side, towel under the arm, cup of water in hand, cell phone in the other. She lifted my head up and put the towel under it. “Are you okay? Should I call an ambulance?”

I tried to say something but it came out confused in meaning and speech, a grumble. The fact is I didn’t know what to do. Part of me was deathly sick, but the idea of standing up or being moved seemed like a torture. There was something else. All that that’d happened in the Pine Dust Forgetting Forrest. I was suddenly struck, in this dark chasm of sickness, with the deepest paranoia towards the outside world. Weren’t these ambulances and medical doctors, also clutching syringes, straight jackets, questions, and uncomfortable beds, more over, didn’t these same doctors operate in collusion with the same sort of men with guns and more questions, much like the forces I was confronting in the nether world? Even more, my rolling mind pushed, weren’t there in fact the same sort of baddies out here on this side, that might have the same sorts of interests that the baddies on the other side seemed to exhibit? In other words, fuckery all abound.

“Nooooo,” I grunted.

“What do you mean no? You’re just throw up all over the wall. I’m calling someone.” I saw her enter her code on her phone. I tried to yell at her. My diaphragm was shut down by the pile of warring organs on top of it. I started coughing, bad.

Britney dropped the phone and started patting me on the back. It sort of worked enough I was able to squeak out, “Don’t call!” Don’t call!”

“Austin come on,” she pleaded. “There’s something seriously wrong here. You weren’t this sick last night.”

“Over there,” I coughed out.

“Over there, what?”

“Drugged…”

“Drugged? What the fuck do you mean by that? You need help! I’m calling!”

With all my effort, I stopped her hand, “No!” And then I threw up again.

She called.

My hate for hospitals grows with my age. What’s there to like really? I wake up in one. The room half lit. You can never get full dark in a hospital, I reflect.

Panic and Pain. The concepts fight for supremacy in my mind. What’s happened to me? Am I dying? I try to sit up, and all sort of wires and things keep me down. The more I wake up, the more the urge to throw up increased.

This was no good. I closed my eyes and for the briefest moment I heard the sound of a loud engine. I imagine maybe I was heading down the highway over there. On my way to God knows where. I kept my eyes shut and started to plead with her.

It was fine I’ve had enough. She could have this whole Art thing back. Maybe I would go back to being a cook. I liked being a cook. You’re food is shit, a voice broke in my head.
So I knew she was there, right behind my eyeballs, waiting, watching. What the fuck?

You gonna help me out of this? I ask.

Nope, she answered.

I dropped it at that. I knew better than that by now. Besides the italics were making me nauseous.

I hadn’t rested like that for sometime, so as I woke up more, I started to feel refreshed. Still totally sick, but very awake. I laid with my eyes closed and tried to ignore the sick feeling, and let my mind run through everything that had happened since this all started months ago.

As I laid there and looked it at it from every angle I came to an awful conclusion, I had done this to myself. All this had been brought on by myself, I had to steal a phrase from god knows where, I had courted madness.

Look where it landed me. This was the first time, since my glorious and macabre entrance to the world, that I have ever been laid up in the hospital bed, and under doctor orders. I hated it, like I always knew I would. The stiff white sheets. The cleaning smell mixing and masking the scents of death and decay. The peeping, footsteps, and mumbled voices coming from the hallway.

Hospitals, prison, schools, they all got birthed by the same Momma, with a stern hand, and unquestioning disposition. Loving, of course, oh so loving, as long as you are a good patient, and rest, always rest.

Out of nowhere a nurse burst into the room, green scrubs. Like an asshole, I closed my eyes and tried to play dead. She recognized something was off immediately and came and put a hand on my shoulder. “Mr. McMulin?” She said softly. “Mr. McMulin, are you awake?”

I tried to keep my eyes shut, as if not confirming this whole situation with another human being, would stop it all from being real. I felt my face starting to flush with embarrassment, and so I finally let my eyelids open and gave a little yes.

“Oh that’s great Mr. McMulin. My name is Jennifer I’m going to be you’re nurse here for the rest of the night. Your wife, Britney, left a couple hours ago, to be with the kids at home, when they wake up; you gave everybody a little scare there, but don’t worry.” I was a cascading waterfall of worry. I was stuck until morning, in the care of Jennifer. “All your vitals are stable, and frankly we don’t quite know what happened with you there. We got fluids pumping in, and a CAT scan planned for tomorrow, so all we need you to do is try and get some rest, all right? You got a bucket there beside you if feel like you’re going to throw up. And I’ll be in regularly to check on you. You got the button, right here, if you feel the slightest bit sick, okay? Anything else I can do for you, let me know, okay?”
A ride home? A gun? A psychiatrist? “Maybe another pillow?” She asked. “You got a full water there, Britney got that before she left.”

I couldn’t say anything, and just shook my head.

“Okay,” she said. “I’m going to make a note you’re up. I’ll be backing bugging you a couple more times here shortly, make sure everything’s okay, now that you are up; that’s a great sign Mr. McMulin. But please don’t try to do too much, just lay there and relax; i’ll do the rest”

The silence spread out between us like a canyon. My mind tried to figure out a way to express the real sort of help I needed. What I needed was like a pot of coffee, a psychiatrist, maybe a ghostbuster and voodoo doctor too, just to be safe. In other words, I didn’t think a couple bags of fluid and some ibuprofen was going to take care of this one. All I could do was give her a creepy half smile as a form of agreement. It seemed good enough for her, and she walked back out the door.

Second the door shut I realized how desperate I was. Panicked and full of energy it occurred to me that I really needed to go back to sleep and make sure everything was okay over there. I mean I took the fact I was still alive out here, as a good sign, but not knowing what was going on over there was scary.

I tried to do some breathing exercises, but that seemed to flame the nausea. The greatest worry was how did I return to the Pine Dust Forgetting Forrest? That was the only reasonable thing to do. If I could get there, get some of that dust, and just forget this whole mess, I think I would be all right.

All around me stood the machines and monitors, screen and colors, electronic testaments to the fact that something was seriously wrong with me and therefore the world. Each person, Doctor and Nurse was one strutting symbol of cognitive dissonance. The Doctor is the last manifestation of the Daddy-myth, the God myth, that there’s is someone out there who knows better, who can fix shit, and it’s all a scam.

I knew it was dumb, but escape was the only option. I searched around for clothes. I found none and couldn’t help but feel a pang of anger towards my wife. I had on weird paper underwear and gown. Usually a normal sense of shame wouldn’t have allowed me out in such an outfit, but the repulsiveness of the affair had changed my whole opinion of normalcy.

I walked past two cleaning type staff, who didn’t even look at me. I tiptoed past the nurses’ station. There was only one woman sitting there, older and sort of grouchy looking. She gave me a solid look over, but just put her head back down, and I walked out the door. There was no one in the lobby, and so I stood alone, waiting for the elevator to come up.

There was a mirror there. I looked at myself. I was so thin. I remember when I used to be chubby; I think I looked better that way really. It was all so normal, except the gown and the golfball sized whelp on my forehead.

I found myself in a lobby and there was a guy running the information desk. He wasn’t looking my way, but better sense told me he might speak up if I just walked out the front door. I turned the other way and found a cafeteria that was totally empty, except one person working the cafeteria. She saw me immediately but again there was no sign of distress from her. I asked for a glass of water, and she handed me an empty cup. I filled it up and chugged it down and took a seat.

I knew I needed to get out of there quick. But that awful feeling of sickness was creeping badk, so I needed break. I spied another door outside, to a patio area, with benches and things. Everything had been so easy up to this point. I felt like I could feel the fresh air just on the other side. I waited for the cafeteria lady to turn around for a second, and then very carefully, I made a beeline for the door and was out.

It was surprisingly cold, the first hint of winter was in the air. Of course, I started panicking. What was I doing leaving like this? They would contact my wife; she would be freaking out. Where was I going? I had no money, no license, no transportation? Fuck, no clothes! Only thing I could do was run and that’s what I did.

I scanned the horizon, for the most open, woodiest thing I could see. I was drawn to the South. An under appreciated side of my fair city, I felt it was the safest and shortest distance to an isolated rural area, a much weaker version of the Green Dust Forgetting Forrest of the netherworld.

I don’t know about you, but I remember running with abandon as a kid. Just really huffing it sometimes, you know goofing around on the playground or running in the back yard playing some silly game, and that animalistic urge to run just sort of takes over, when you can run like the wind. I ran like that. I couldn’t feel anything. I wasn’t anything.

I can’t imagine what I looked like to any one who may have caught a glimpse of my five eleven, two hundred pound me, in a hospital gown, sprinting down the sidewalk. No one stopped though. No one tried to stop me either. I couldn’t even see them.

I ran on to some train tracks. Some deep instinct told me to run along it. It quickly took me right out of town, next to a river, which I decided to follow south.

 

 

Snippets #53

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Herodotus- The History

Book 2. 141-42

And as he made his lament, sleep came upon him, and in his vision there seemed to him that the god stood over him and bade him be of good heart: “You will suffer nothing untoward if you confront the Arabian host; for I will send you allies.” He trusted in this dream, and , taking with him such of the Egyptians as would follow him, he pitched his camp in Pelusium, for that was where the enemy were to invade. There followed him not one of the warriors, but the shopkeepers and handworkers and fellows from the marketplace. But when their enemies came, there spread out against, at nightfall, field mice, which gnawed their quivers through, and through, too, the bows themselves and the handles of their shields, so that on the next day they fled, defenseless, and many of them fell. So nowadays this king stands there, in stone, in the temple of Hephaestus, in his hand he holds a mouse, and he speaks these words through the inscription that is there: “Look on me, all of you, and be pious.”(193)

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Interludes Chapter 18

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We thought we had ditched the wolf. Michael was doing an exceptional job driving, until he smashed the front tire into a large boulder. The explosion was awful and sent the truck hurtling into the ditch. Everything went blank for a second, a different blank then the empty space though, just nothing. Then I was being pulled out and tossed against the side of the truck.

“Goddammit,” Commander Daniels screamed at his men crowding around the idling truck. “Fucking greenhorn limb-dicks! Keep the Humvee on the fucking road, that’s all you had to do.

“I’m sorry Sir,” Michael said. “B-road, that rock came out of nowhere. Fucking huge, don’t know how maintenance missed it.”

“Don’t know how you missed it.” The Commander countered. “Nah it’s fine, get that spare on there, move it! It could be on us in a second. One of you, what’s your names again soldiers?”

“Smith,” said Howdy.
“Hopsin,” said Shaky legs.

“Smith,” the Commander said, “help Michael here change the tire. Watch your six. First sign of that motherfucker you pound the vehicle with your weapon, you understand that? Just pound, and you don’t fucking leave Michael’s side until the tire is fucking changed, got it?”

“Yessir,” Smith said.

“Good boy,” the Commander said. “You’re all good boys. Now get under there and fix that tire.” The two men grabbed the tire and jack off the back and went diving under the front of Humvee. “Hopsin grab that bastard and toss him back in and take the wheel.” Hopsin hesitated for a minute, but then snatched me up and threw me in. There was more rumbling and yelling outside. Commander and Hopsin jumped back in.

The Commander was busy in the passenger seat, checking his weapon, ammo, and every other thing he could think of to touch or check. “Men, we’re gonna sit tight, all right? Hopsin, that thing shows up I want you to take defensive position at the door, understand? It gets close enough you’re gonna hop back in and we’re going to make a go for it, no matter what state were in. This thing can roll on three for a while.”

Hopsin didn’t say anything, but the Commander smashed a button on his dash and began speaking. “Headquarters, CO of Goon Squad, with an update.”

“Go ahead Goon Squad.”

“Sir, the mission remains critical. I repeat critical. Heavy Losses. Four units remain. Package Two is secure.”

“Copy that Goon Squad. Repeat. Package Two is secure.”

“That’s correct headquarters. Package two is secure.”

“And Package One, Commander?”

“Still ambulatory.”

“Visual?”

“Negative, headquarters.”

“Proceed to repair front tire and head to rove commander and wait for relief.”

“ETA on that relief there headquarters?”

“42 mins, hold tight.”

The Commander slammed the button. “You hear that shit, Hopsin? Hold tight. You remember that when you’re back at the bunk tonight. Sipping on a cold one, acting tough with the other squads. When the shit’s really thick, all you’re gonna get is a hold tight–” A loud banging came from the front side of the vehicle.

“Motherfucker,” the Commander said. “Hopsin get out here and see what he’s banging about.”

It was all muffled voices. The Commander shifted around obviously irritated, trying to get an eye around the vehicle. It was still too dark to see, especially now that everything was covered in dirt and blood. “Fucking unbelievable.”

Hopsin ripped the door open and dove in. “Smith has eyes on it. A flicker–”

“A flicker?” the Commander interrupted. “What the fuck does that mean? Did you see anything Hopsin?”

“No sir.”

“How far are they on the tire.”

“The got the old one off.”

“Get out there and hold that fucking door. Tell them to move fast, keep their fingers off the trigger, hop back in, when they’re done, or before, you got me?”

“I got you Sir,” Hopsin said.

“You’ll take the wheel Hopsin?” He asked again, unsure for some reason.

Hopsin looked like he wanted to say no, but he grimaced, nodded, and jumped back out of the truck. He kept the door open and we could hear him barking orders at the other. “Hurry up!” His head came back in the door. “Smith says he’s seen the flicker again?”

“What the fuck is a flicker?!” The Commander roared. Before Hopsin could explain the deepest, bluest, wolf howl ever filled the area. It sounded like it was right on top of us, and everyone went scrambling down. Hopsin went bolting from the door, and I could hear the two at the tire as they crawled underneath the front of the truck.

The first howl was so long, it rang slicing through the stale morning air, bouncing off all the trees. Worn out by fright at this point, and frankly just a little sick of running, I took the whole thing in with a new coldness.

The way I saw it the monster must be getting full after all that. And I don’t know about you, but if I do a lot of running or hard work I really start to lose my appetite. Now this thing had just run ten miles or so. It had been running around all night for that matter, chopping trees and all that, supernatural hell beast or not, it had to be getting tired.

The howls kept coming. The Commander began hopping up and down from his open roof to the floor. The whole time his giant rifle was pointed right in my direction. Up and down. Up and down. He mumbled to himself. “Spooky shit. Should never have signed on for this. Fuck the money. Noting worth this shit.” Stuff like that.

Everything went real quiet for a second. The Commander got stuck on a loop of oh shits. I hugged the bottom of the Humvee, and appreciated having some level of protection in its steel chambers. I couldn’t see the wolf but I felt him in a flood of fear and dread. Rifle fire erupted and it sent the commander into a spasm of rage. He leapt from his seat on to the roof and began firing. Hot, spent shells came pouring back down the hole.

The chaos lasted for a minute or two, and then the commander came crashing back into the vehicle and gripped the floor. The firing stopped a moment later, and a low rumble began from behind the vehicle. We could hear it breathing, raspy, tired, angry.

Like I said, I have to admit I am a bit confused by my own lack of hysterics at this point. Maybe it was the drug roller coaster? I felt the death and horror of the creature pressing all around me, but at the same time I felt a sort of detachment I can’t really explain. I think it has to do with a realization which was settling in, that even if I escaped one torture, say the Muse, that another torture, the Wolf awaited. After that men with guns, and after that, well isn’t that enough?

The Commander was an endless rap of contradictions. “I’ll kill the fucking thing. We’re dead. Ill rip its fucking eyeballs out and skull fuck its head. I just want to go back to Laura. Fucking tear his throat out when he gets to me!”

He dove into the back seat. “Listen man,” he whispered. “We’re in this together now. You understand? We got to work together. Here.” He handed me a shiny pistol. My first instinct was to hand it back. I’m not overly very familiar with guns, and I figured the other fellas hadn’t down too well in any case, and they had giant rifles. Another howl squashed any idea of giving it back though.

“Here’s an extra magazine,” he said. “You know how to use that thing?”

“Sort of,” I said.

“Simple cock it, and let it rip. There’s a release on the left side there. Drop it when you’re out, slap the other one it. If you get the chance, have at it. I can’t believe this bullshit.”

“Neither can I,” I said.

A random burst of rifle fire made us both dive back down. “Fuck this shit,” the Commander moaned. “I make it out of this, I’m done Lord. I promise no more of this spooky shit, I swear. I knew I was wrong for this. Dammit! I’ll kill this fucking thing first for what he did to my men!” He hopped back to his seat and started looking out the window. “You see that fucking thing?”

“No,” I said, head planted firmly against the floor.

“Fucking impossible,” the Commander said. “Thing’s a good damn shadow. Moves fast you know, like a goddamn ballerina. Fuck this shit! I won’t let it get me like this, cowering in the rig. Fuck this. I can’t let my men die like this.” He made a move for the door.

“Wait!” I screamed. “Don’t go out there! It’ll kill you for sure. Maybe it’s done, who knows?”

“Damn shameful,” he said. “ I know you’re just a civi, not built for this work. But damn that is a cowardly worldview–”

“Hold on, how long until backup gets here?”

He looked at his watch. “About thirty minutes, if that ETA is still solid.”

That seemed like an impossibility. It had only been ten minutes. It’d felt like a lifetime.
“Nope,” the Commander said. “Can’t do it man. Goon squad is ride or die. Good luck to you sir. Hold tight!” He jumped from the door and I heard him scuffle off.

I was all alone. Things were really quiet. The pressure and anxiety, finally started to come, especially the longer I stayed in the truck. I didn’t hear any shooting though and the time just kept ticking by. I thought about all options. Wait here for backup to arrive or take my chances running in the woods. The more I thought about it running sounded like the best option. Hopefully I could run, hide, and find somewhere to sleep, and wake up back on the other side.

I got up off the floor and crawled into the Commanders spot to take a look around. There was nothing, just dark early morning forest. It all looked so serene and peaceful, waiting for pleasant campers with picnic baskets and tents. Maybe the thing had given up?

I waited for a time, just sort of bummed out and apathetic. I even tried to fall asleep, slip through the space, back to my time, but it didn’t work. I was stuck over there it seemed, for now.

I decided to make a run for it. Carefully I opened the door, and sort of slide through the small gap like slime, and laid on the ground. I got sight of one man, torn in two laying on the other side of the vehicle, sort of resembled Howdy. His two halves were separated by a clear view of the forest and I saw no sign of anyone else.

I crawled around to the other side and everything seemed clear. I crouched there for a while listening for the slightest sound. There was nothing and so I grit my teeth and went booking it for the forest.

The wolf tackled me like a linebacker. I hit the ground with a mechanical force. A series of cracks and pops from my body told me parts, important parts, had just been broken. The wolf flipped me over, sniffed and howled right in my face.

I kept my eyes closed though, so all I could sense was its hard hands working over my face. Hot drool dripped and sizzled on my skin, with painful acidity. I screamed and one of its wretched claws was shoved into my lips, bashing my gums, in an attempt to shush me. “Stopppppp,” it ordered.

I tried to shake my head free, but it held on even tighter, seizing and slicing into my jaw. “Stoopppp, nowwwww,” it ordered. “Where man gun?”

I tried to scream again, but now I couldn’t even open my mouth. “Where man gun?” It asked again.

It started to become difficult to breathe. Panic forced my eyes open. I felt so small with this thing straddling me. It’s large head, hair slicked back and caked in gore, swung from left to right as it smelled the air. Everything was so large and lean on the creature. It was like having a truckload of concrete sitting on top of you. There was nothing I could do.

“Get off him!” A voice screamed. The thing jumped up and spun around. I didn’t wait a second, but scrambled behind a tree to watch.

The Commander pointed his rifle at the wolf, a grenade in his other hand. “Look at you! You’re one ugly bastard, aren’t you?”

The wolf stood there, huffing and buffing. His breathing was raspy and gurgling, and his belly hung distended. He had over eaten. He didn’t seem at all afraid of the rifle though.

“Get on the fucking ground!” The Commander ordered. “Now!”

The thing just stood there grunting, staring right at the Captain. “Get the fuck down now!” The Commander yelled. But again there was no movement. “I’m not going tell you again, get down!”
The Beast took one step and the Commander let off with a round of shots. They tore through the thing with a black grey burst, but it all sucked right back into it on reverse.
The Commander saw that and threw his weapon, pulled the pin on the grenade and charged the creature.

The wolf took a giant leap and came down on him hard. It sounded like a large branch being snapped in half. The creature was all over him. The were growls and snarls mixed with the Commanders screams. I realized this was the time to run, but right as I was about to break off, there was large explosion and burst of reddish blackness which clouded the scene. Through it, I saw Pete coming up deep from the woods and he held a rifle.

Pete crawled up on the two of them quietly. Besides the wooden leg which remained extended back, he moved like a cat, stalking his prey. You could tell he was fascinated by seeing the wolf feeding in this state. His eyes bulged from his head, and he licked his lips.

I should have ran, I recognize that in hindsight. The whole thing played out like a movie. The thing that was the Wolf and Lt. Daniels swirled like a tornado on the spot, slowly reassembling into something like the wolf and sections of the commander.

Pete crept up on the monstrosity as it continued to feed. I couldn’t believe it but right as he got close he raised his weapon like he was going to shoot the wolf. I won’t lie, after everything he had put me through, I felt no compulsion to save him.

He crept up so slow and when he was right up on it he took aim, and let loose with his rifle. Now from the way he shot I could tell he didn’t have very much experience with shooting modern weapons. He got stuck squeezing the automatic and a dozen or more shots tore recently and currently reassembling wolf right in half, from the chest up. The force also knocked Pete down (the peg leg didn’t help) and left him shooting into the air.

The wolf made the most awful scream and was now floating in two parts. The top half went lunging for Pete. The bottom half tried to follow it, and do that coagulating cloud thing, but the Commander sat up, head half ripped off and gripped on to the legs.

Pete was able to stop firing right as the thing fell and snatched on to his own leg. He quickly took aim and start blasting the thing in the face. Shot went everywhere though. The monster head exploded, but the bullets continued on right through the top half of the monster, and into the Commander himself. Pete fused with the powerful rifle and just kept firing.

The thing finally let got of Pete’s leg and tried to roll back to its own legs, but was chopped down in the endless stream of fire. The monster kept rolling through it but finally stopped, right as the rifle ran out. Pete kept the rifle pointed at the creature for a minute. Frozen. Like gravity finally turned on the different bubbles of wolf went falling to the ground, like black water colors, splattered on a flat canvas, with little chunks, and spiky patches here and there.

I thought about running again. Didn’t seem to be much of a threat now that the wolf was splattered. I realized I was gripping the pistol in my hand. It had warmed in the mean time. I wondered if Pete had another magazine and would come hunting me down, the broken Fire Attender Oath and all that.
I thought about all the walking, and the path we had taken from the Pine Forgetting Forrest, to when I met up with Pete. I wondered if I could find my way back. I looked around the large forest, as an example, and realized I was totally lost. There was nowhere to run. More than anything, I wondered, where was that fucking Muse?

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