Rome Will Steal Your Gods

eye balloon

In some circles, they called the man square. There are points, then lines – rotate the line around the point and you get a circle. Rotate the circle around the line and you get a sphere. Rotate the sphere around the circle and you get Bill Witcher, three-time convict and failure at math and home economics.

It is the fifteenth century and boarwine lays thick on the second floor of a mudhouse built by aboriginal artisans. But good Bill, a programmer, lives in torpid squalor above all this. He watches the subjects as the dials whir and click and go bzoom. His observation deck is invisible to the naked eye and contains the latest in humane anti-bird sonic repellants – otherwise there would be a massacre.

He watches these apes and ponders his days as a thief and a beggar on a another world far away from this one. It’s Christmas back home, but to Bill, the only holiday that mattered in the whole history of time was Saturnalia and the reversal of roles. Slaves taking over for a day, the bent straightened, the crook reformed, the greedy bastard begging in the mess of his pants. Solstice commandeered for the greater good. Meaning supplanted by myth, and consumerism under the table with expectations and Christmas cards.

A siren wails, the lights flash. Bill’s console is ignited with alarm as the carefully constructed equilibrium of the synthetic universe below him trips off the cliff into the gonzo realms of old pulp science fiction mags.

One of the aboriginals mutates and grows larger than the house he’s constructed. Bone machetes out through flesh like knives through dough and his skin becomes leathery. The rest of his comrades bolt from the scene screaming – they beg for the forgiveness of their gods and flee the demonic hellbeast that evil has sent to devour their souls.

Bill stifles a chuckle, but the laugh catches in his throat as the mutant collapses to the ground, hugging its knees. Drama takes the stage over fear and Bill swallows as he sees the mutant jerk with sobs.

It knows.

Bill hesitates only a second before clicking the termination switch that will end the life of the universe’s mistake. That’s why he is here. Those that govern this experiment in the sphere surrounding this miniature universe assume that a convict has no conscience – as if no sin is greater than the next. As if his miniature transgression of utopia’s rigid law, no matter how temporary and small, proves to the world beyond that he is evil. They believe he can click that termination switch without a moment of empathy – without a nanosecond of remorse.

Bill knows that what they are really looking for no longer exists. They would have been better off with hunters or used speeder salesmen, lawyers and tailors and front men for lazy cover bands. Bill knows that those that govern this project from their pretty little sphere don’t really care whether he feels, or hates, or collapses into balls of grief every moment he is forced to watch another failed species descend into mutation and death – or loneliness as today’s experiment goes.

The mutation blinks out, leaving only a tiny wisp of molecular waste gas hovering in the air.

Bill sighs and writes out his report. After a few moments of agitation attempting to send the report through the patchy intersphere comm unit, he returns to his post and wipes the planet clean of all life.

On the diamond coast of the western sea, yellow glider-like herbivores turn to dust in the sky. At the pinnacle of a rose red mountain in the northern highlands, a gorgeously beautiful predator cat is vaporized in mid-pounce. In the vast forests of the eastern reaches, the highly evolved forest apes celebrate the winter solstice by sharing their appreciation for the simple things, food, shelter, beverages, and stories told by fireside. The poorest of them are afforded the luxury of the most fortunate for a day before returning to their strife, and their hopes that one day they too will help to elevate those less fortunate, if only for a day.

It disappears, and all that is left is an invisible observation deck, littered with old pulp science fiction magazines and ration pack wrappers.

Bill makes his way slowly to the cryo-chamber and removes a starter kit from cold storage. He pretends not to notice the tears that have frozen on his cheeks.

He carefully descends the ladder from his home to the surface of the synthetic world and walks across the wasteland he has created. At about the spot where the mutant ended the experiment by existing, Bill opens the starter kit and dumps the primordial ooze into the dust of a nothing world and starts the experiment anew.

“And a Happy Saturnalia to all,” Bill says to no one but the universe.

The Small Victory, The Larger War


Stuff is like other stuff.

Life is like two marmosets in leotards hopped up on sap, raiding the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi for ancestral wisdom teeth after having stolen a Kleines Kettenkraftrad HK 101 from a former Fallschirmjäger officer on the lam in South America.

Written, it sounds fabulous, but how the hell can a German paratrooper successfully smuggle a tracked motorbike across the Atlantic. I do not know. Does it matter? Did you google Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Kleines Kettenkraftrad HK 101, or Fallschirmjäger? That does not matter either.

In the end, I wasn’t really describing life at all. Instead, I am forcing you to visualize two marmosets cruising through rural Brazil on a ridiculously inappropriate vehicle on a quest for vestigial artifacts that do not exist. If you feel inclined to make some imaginative connection between life and a surrealistic drug-hazed road trip, then I suppose that is just a lucky bonus for me as a writer.

I prefer not to be direct. I prefer not to traumatize or zombify a reader with the obvious.

I am never going to assume that a reader knows anything about anything. I will never begin generalized statements with amateurish drivel like “As humans we…” or “A real artist is…” or “People think…”

Misdirection is my palette, and I balance it on a wooden stool I constructed by hand from the jungles of funky train music. I use a brush made from fine cat whiskers – not pulled, mind you, no, I waited centuries for each whisker to fall of its own accord. My canvas? Stretched dough. Because in the end, I want my work to say “Eat me”.

I strive to give a reader mental indigestion. I want to be the avocado you cannot eat without severe abdominal cramps, but you eat anyway. If you’d rather have tofu, go read some Nicholas Sparks and call me after the words “misspent” and “cranial” begin to gnaw at your consciousness through the haze of another empty party thrown by your vapid and ineffectual friends.

When writing, I try to exorcise the demons of tradition from the creative conglomerates of my imagination. It has nothing to do with being “new” or “fresh” or “cutting edge” or  “avant-garde” or “Andrianampoinimerina-ish”. I walk in the fashion that I feel most comfortable, but I dress like a man confused by clothing and color. Likewise, I enjoy the story told in a random fashion that exudes purpose only through the twisted perspective I apply to my version of the human condition; I write like a drunkard, confused by litmus paper and tweed.

It is difficult for me to tell people what I write. No human approaches me with that question truly wanting to experience what I write through the act of actually reading what I write. They might as well ask, “describe the method by which you defecate”. I do not think about it. I do not rigidly document the extent and disposition of my creative excretions.

Trust in the fact that I simply write so that you might read, and later that you may take from the experience of having read me the sense of having replaced a portion of your life that would have been otherwise spent on racquetball, ginger tea, or being a heinous consumer, with having read something written without your comfort in mind.

I find myself existing in world where the written word holds more sway than it ever has. The success of trolls is dependent only upon your propensity, or lack thereof, to ignore the art of experience. The business world is a warzone, and this war is like three Butler-class destroyer escorts engaged in maneuvers against a flock of swans. It looks prettier when your perspective is within close range of the swans. A swan cannot sink a battleship, unless they cheat with mirrors.

Nothing will ever be as good as it might have been, because the key to winning the war against the intelligent consumer is brainwashing their foot soldiers, the grunts, the frontliners with nothing lose, berserker hybrids of coupon cutting maniacs and the status-symbol ampersands. Advertising abandoned the aerial campaign when neon was outgunned by LED. This is war in the trenches again, and the no-man’s-land of individualism is filled with mines. Happy Formula Day, ye twigs!

And how does that relate? You have to sell your work to yourself in the same fashion the corporation sells you last decade’s gadgets. The difference? You are your own ad men, and you are your own middle man, and you are your own troll on a roll in a forum reserved for roleplay discussions.

I will never beg for your patronage, because I run a black market reverberatory furnace out of the garage of my wasted ideas. While I agree with the concept of the indomitable artist, I propose that no man is a juggler without a set of balls.

Face-melting through reflection – take that von Humboldt.