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Well, been a few days, but I'm still here hoo-ray hoo-ray

Posted on 2006.01.16 at 18:12
Current Mood: sillysilly
Current Music: Oingo Boingo - Party of the Dead
Well, I survived my employ-less weekend, my girlfriend's back in town, I've written 12 pages in my novel in two and a half-days [and plane to finish the chapter tonight with a few MORE pages!] and I had the interview with the comic book store today and I'll be starting at a VERY meager $7 per hour [this affords me bills, $10 per day for food/drink, and about $150 of extra per month. Yeesh.], though hopefully this is only as long as he feels he can give me more responsibilities/raises, which he figures he wants me to be one of the big-wiggy assistant manager types, but he's tried to promise such things before only to have the potential candidate turn out to be a real head case, so he'll just say he wants to but NO promises, which actually after the Greenberrys fiasco of six months of being strung along on just those kind of promises, this suits me just fine.
I got a call from the Hollywood Video in Falls Church [you know the one, Buddha!] to set up an interview, but today I decided to bite the big one for once and for all and NOT turn back and not go home again. I've wanted to, GOD but I wanted to - especially lately with the doom and gloom of Snappy the past month or so, but it's just plain time to really struggle my ass off and make my life work.
I miss you guys [Buddha, Christine, and my cat...okay, AND my parents...], and I miss the long get-50-pages-read-per-day walks around the Mclean suburbs, and man but I've been internally kicking and screaming to come back home...but for better or for worse this is my home now.
So I'm off to go write and pretend like I'm a real-life starving artist. Oh, wait - I AM a real-life starving artist. Heh. Time to get jiggy with it... --sonofhowell

FRIDAY THE 13TH

Posted on 2006.01.13 at 23:35
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: FRIDAY THE 13TH Theme

I just realized it's FRIDAY THE THIRT-BLOODY-TEENTH!!!  And I just had one of the worst and one of the best events in my current New York situated life happen one right after the other on this day of days.

So it's a day of occurence, it seems, luck both good and ill.  I'll have to keep that in mind for next year and have all my back-up plans ready....


I HAVE A NEW JOB!!!!

Posted on 2006.01.13 at 23:30
Current Mood: enthralledenthralled
Current Music: Accentuate the Positive - by ???

Almost!  Almost!  The guy said he really liked my resume and I am 99.9% certain he wants to hire me and I made it clear I wanted full time and he said he wanted full time, too and just GUESS where this awesome live-saving job is???

ST. MARKS COMICS!!!

My good nelly chirst, YES!!!  I'm gonna work at a comic book shop!  And it's the single best one in the city!  And it's two blocks away from Gillian's apartment!  And the people there are NICE [to me, at least...]!

Oh, happy, happy day!

Or rather:

Oh miserable terrible butt-fuck of a suddenly turned happy day!


I JUST WANNA KNOW WHEN THE IRONY IS GONNA CEASE

Posted on 2006.01.13 at 18:45
Current Mood: numbnumb
Current Music: Something nice and melancholy

Reality check!  I just got fired!

Yup, the doom and gloom of waiting for it is over, and I am officially fired!  On the boss’ first day back!  Sur-PRISE, sur-PRISE.

Not.

[The surprise, that is.  I did actually get fired…]

So why did I get fired? [I mean, officially?  The guy already had it out for me, but what was his end-result reasoning?]  Well, if you’ll recall, Mr. bastard boss decided to extend his vacation in Columbia without notifying any of the staff.  During this time, he didn’t PA Y half of us, either, including me.

After multiple attempts [three times in three days] of trying to contact him after we all assumed he was back, and with no response on his end, I was broke and literally about to wind up on the streets.  What?  That poor?  Well, it WAS right after Christmas PLUS the bastard already didn’t pay me for a week for traveling to see my family at Christmas.  And I’m supposedly SALARIED.

So, yes, that poor.  So what did I do?  Since we’re an ebay business, we have a paypal account to accept online payments, and yes, I withdrew - to the penny – exactly what was owed me as based on the prior week’s paycheck [and this was a docked amount due to the aforementioned Christmas traveling, so I was very honest about this.

So I got fired for that?  Yup, but that’s not the ironic part –

THIS IS THE IRONIC PART: I was fired because the payroll department, for some mysterious reason, gave me a DOUBLE payment this week, most likely to make up for not paying me the previous week [and no, we hadn’t changed to a bi-weekly payroll – half the staff got paid, and half didn’t and then got double payments, with no rhyme or reason, half were salaried, half hourly].

So what did I do?  I REFUNDED the money I had taken the week before [or refunded the amount that WASN’T due to me] and when my bastard boss saw this, he fired me on the spot for having taken the money in the first place.

 

And THAT, lads and lassies, is fuckin’ irony.

 


Posted on 2006.01.12 at 23:45
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
Current Music: SCISSOR SISTERS - Return to Oz
Well, chitlins, the show may be over for me at the eBay place. I just recently sent this email to the corporate offices to rat on my boss for abusing all the employees. I have ZERO idea as to what to expect for this, but probably, one way or another, it’ll be the lack of a job. Here’s the latest [I have changed all the names of course to protect even the guilty little fuck who doesn’t deserve protecting].

Dear ****** Corporate,

My name is (sonofhowell). I am an employee at ******, owned by franchisee (bastard boss), and I am livid with the treatment both the other employees and I, AND the customers have all received at the hands of this man.

He is belligerent to the point of psychotic. He had intimidated and "leaned on" every single employee working [or that has worked] at
this store, shouting at them, questioning their work in a very verbally insulting manner, and sending us aggressive, curse-ridden emails and [at least on my end] calling me off-hours to do the same.

He consistently commands certain actions which he then denies later and blames the staff for. He has salaried a number of us and then proceeds to not pay us for hours in which we are on holiday vacation [and he even docked one staff member’s pay for not showing up the first day of the New York Transit Strike. And this staff member was SALARIED].

He has thrown consigner items into the trash, thrown items away in fits of rage and then allows the staff to deal with assuaging the consigner and covering up the act.

He has even very loudly cursed and shouted at consigners coming to pick their items back up - and he CONTINUED TO
SHOUT AT THEM WHEN THEY TRIED TO APOLOGIZE AND "START OVER" AS THEY BELIEVED THINGS HAD MERELY "GOTTEN OFF ON THE WRONG FOOT", and STILL this man screamed at them.

The very latest in this string of abuses comes from Mr. (bastard boss) himself accepting a consigner's THEORY Suits without even mentioning the possibility of reserve prices or high starting bids and he did not even have her sign a contract or fill out ANY paperwork of any kind. Her suits sold very poorly, even though the online research we did showed them to sell for much higher numbers on eBay [I suspect perhaps the size of the suits may have been the factor there], but regardless, she is infuriated, will and perhaps already had filed a complaint with Small Claims Court, and Mr. (bastard) has simply laughed, told us - his employees - that we were "absurd to the Nth degree" for even considering consoling this customer who, as far as I can tell, has every right to be upset, and I have pasted below both my latest email to Mr. (bastard) on this topic and his response to me in order to give you a light example of the - quite frankly – ABUSE this man consistently lays down upon us, day in, day out. I'd give you a stronger example, but not forseeing doing such a thing as this complaint, did not save any other evidence.

In addition, Mr. (bastard boss) was gone on vacation in Columbia these past two weeks, extended his vacation by four days and never once contacted us to let us know, even though we had attempted to contact him numerous times to deal with outstanding issues that we could not make decisions on without his approval. The only way we even knew, four days later, that he WAS still on vacation was because his REAL ESTATE agent called looking for him.

Already we are steeling ourselves for his return and his 100% negative, abusive, vicious treatment that we know we will receive from him.

I do not know what you can do to help us with this, nor do I know the standard procedure for filing such an employee complaint, but I do know that I can not stand by one single day longer at let this horror show continue.

Thank you for your time and I hope to hear back from you soon, and I trust you will keep this discreet as will I. Thank you. --Dave Baxter
[below I have pasted the latest email between (bastard) and I, the part I sent was this past Sunday when he had been MIA for three days without any contact nor clue as to why. His response was sent today.]


MY EMAIL TO BASTARD BOSS AFTER NOT HEARING FROM HIM FOR THE TWO WEEKS HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE GONE AND THEN THREE DAYS AFTER WE EXPECTED HIM BACK IN TOWN AND WITHOUT ANY CONTACT AS OF YET TO INFORM US OTHERWISE AS TO WHY THIS SHOULD BE. [in fact, it was this email that at last spurred him TO contact us at long last, even though he then did so in a pretty nasty manner]. Here it is:

(sonofhowell) wrote:

Hey (bastard boss), this is (sonofhowell) at ****** - you currently have all of our paychecks in physical check form sitting in your mailbox and we need you to bring those in asap so we can all keep on living.

[note from sonofhowell: I realize that last bit was a touch snarky, but in my defense, this missing paycheck that was sitting in his mailbox was right after he had so graciously DOCKED MY PAY for two weeks when I took one week off to travel home for Christmas – and remember, I’m supposedly SALARIED. So between that, the effects of Christmas gift shopping, and the fact that I expected to get the check at the latest by the day I wrote this email, AND consider the fact that my significant other was out of town for two weeks so I had no one to support my sorry ass if I DIDN’T get paid, not even for one measly dollar, I LITERALLY needed the paycheck to go on living!!!]

Also you should have the poloarizing filter for our latest camera in your mailbox and we need you to bring this in as well.

Thirdly and most importantly, we need you to call Mrs. (Theory suit lady) about the $200 she wants in reimbursement for her items [this is the lady you said you had a spoken arrangement with but she differs] or she is going to file with small claims court as of tomorrow.

You can approve of a $200 refund to the lady also, and we'll do that, your choice.

Your cell phone mailbox is full and will not accept any more messages and so this is our only way to contact you.

Thank you –(sonofhowell)





AND HERE IS HIS JOYOUS RESPONSE TO MY FRANTIC PLEA FOR SOMETHING ANYTHING FROM HIM:

Re: WE NEED YOU TO DO THESE THINGS!!!!

From: (bastard boss)
organisation: ****** Sales, LLC
To: (sonofhowell)
CC: (other very nice ****** employee)
Date: 01/09/2006 - 07:26 pm


(sonofhowell/other very nice ****** employee),

(Other very nice ****** employee) will get a call first thing tomorrow morning from Payroll to get the checks to you. For your information, I do not have ALL of the paychecks sitting in my mailbox.

[note from sonofhowell – True, he only had about half the staff’s paychecks, but this makes my plea to bring them in less important or necessary exactly HOW?]

Also, we continue to list items that are not on the approved list such
as Banana DAMN REPUBLIC. IF WE CONTINUE TO DO THIS WE WILL HAVE A LOT OF ANGRY CUSTOMERS BECAUSE THEIR STUFF SELLS FOR 99 DAMN CENTS. GOT IT?

[note from sonofhowell – I like how he, hurting from having accepted the THEORY suits and I’m sure on some buried level feeling like a dumbass, now tosses the blame our way. Did we accept Banana DAMN Republic? Yes, we accepted them in LOTS of same-size, same-type articles of clothing that may have sold for $50 in such lots – they didn’t, they sold for $25 per lot, but in my defense I let the consigner KNOW that they had very little chance for decent results and had them sign the ‘effing CONTRACT which makes it nice and legally binding. PLUS this was during a time right after the holidays when we were dead slow and I and the staff thought it best to bend the rules a bit just to keep some actual product flow (we accepted a lot of questionable (questionable that they’d sell for $50 or more) items over the course of a week just to HAVE items, and that IS how retail does and always will work: feast or famine. Okay, back to the letter…)

Thirdly, why in the hell would I give someone $200 for a Theory Suit?
ABSURD TO THE Nth DEGREE.

[note from sonofhowell – Theory suits sell retail around $600 and on eBay they sell $150-$200 New with Tags as this lady’s suits were. I guess Nth degrees ain’t what they used to be.]

I’m surprised no attempt was made to research Theory and educate her on what Theory is selling for before I got back.

[note from sonofhowell: Yes, I, too wonder why no attempt was made to research Theory suits and educate this woman WHEN THE ITEMS WERE ACCEPTED AND THE CONTRACTS WERE SIGNE- oh, wait, that’s right, no contracts WERE signed you unbelievable fuck. Do I sound bitter? I think I might sound bitter.]

I’m back Wednesday morning.

[note from sonofhowell – oh joy and rapture…]

--(bastard boss)


FAQ HOW DO EBAY DROP OFF STORES / CONSIGNMENT SHOPS WORK?

Posted on 2006.01.12 at 23:30
Current Mood: quixoticquixotic
Current Music: SCISSOR SISTERS - Take Your Mama Out All Night

HOW EBAY CONSIGNMENT SHOPS WORK [What to do and what to look out for when bringing your stuff to a drop off store to be sold on eBay]:

 

Hello all, if you didn’t catch it in my “greetings” post – I am an employee of one of these somewhat mythical ebay drop-off shops [mythical ever since THAT MOVIE came out, which if a fine movie, but please don’t mention it or say garbage like “hey, you guys are just like the girlfriend in THAT MOVIE” to anyone who does work in one of these shops because they’re likely to sock you in the mouth as take in your stuff after hearing it for the umpteenth billionth time] otherwise known as “online consignment stores”, because we take your stuff in ON CONSIGNMENT.  What does that mean?

 

It means we don’t buy your items upfront, we only take a percentage of the final selling price IF it sells – we get nothing if it doesn’t and simply give it back to you!  Still, the idea IS more complicated than that, and if you’ve been thinking about using one of these places to open up some space in that 10 x 10 studio apartment you call a home, here are some guidelines to consider in the form of FAQ’s:

 

THE BIG QUESTION: HOW MUCH DO YOU CHARGE?

-Generally between 20-35% depending on how much the item sells for.

 

THAT MUCH?  I WAS THINKING 10 OR 15%!

-Yeah, well, reality check here.  This costs you NOTHING and costs us manpower, eBay listing fees, and rent – all the things you yourself would be charged if you did it on your own, and you’d likely have another job to compensate.  I understand you’re bringing us the item, but we are doing ALL the work, it troubles you not one bit, and it would be a total loss for you if you never sold it.  So the bad part of 35% is what exactly?  If we took ten dollars of every one hundred dollar item, we’d be on the streets by late spring.

 

BUT THE BIG AUCTION HOUSES ONLY CHARGE 15%, RIGHT?

-Yes and absolutely not!  First, even if they did, they have that beautiful $1000 minimum, and we ourselves only charge 25% for a $1000 item, so right there the gap is closer, but then you have to realize they also charge the buyer/bidder 15% as well, making it 30% total, which is higher than us!

-But isn’t the buyer’s 15% not my 15% and therefore why should I care?  Because if a bidder up front knows he has to pay an additional 15% to the auction house, he obviously is going to calculate that into how much he’s willing to bid.  So you STILL lose that 15% from the final selling price and therefore lose more through them than you would through us.  Personally, I think this is very clever of the big auction houses, as it amounts to the same but is psychologically much more satisfying to the consigner, but then we didn't get to choose eBay's rules [I wish!]

 

WHAT ARE MINIMUMS?

-All auction houses, online ones such as these included, have a minimum value they accept.  Big time live auction houses such as Christie’s or Sotheby’s have a $1000 minimum(!!!), and I’ve heard of some online shops that have $100 minimums, though most will be around the $25-$50 range.  This is not the retail value of the item, this is its RESALE value, meaning that whether or not it’s been used, it has been “previously owned” and anything sold on eBay will be considered by buyers to be somewhat damaged goods.

 

WHY A MINIMUM?  I SEE PEOPLE SELLING STUFF FOR $5 ON EBAY ALL THE TIME!

-Yes, but these folks are also getting 100% of the profits and could be selling from home with another full time job, or have another business and eBay is where they sell their overstock.  We only get a small portion of the profits per item, and if something sells for $50 we only BREAK EVEN.  PLUS we cover all the costs to list it in the first place, so if we do that with an item we KNOW isn’t going to even cover the listing fees…well, we’d have to be dumb as stones to do that.  So that’s why.

 

SO HOW MUCH IS MY ITEM’S “RESALE” VALUE?

-A good rule of thumb is a resale value is 25-30% of the original retail value for most items.  THIS INCLUDES ITEMS FROM THE 80s and 70s!  1980s-1970s items are [in the vast majority of cases] NOT considered vintage yet!  If your diamond ring sold for $500 in 1980 its value has not increased with inflation as far as the online market is concerned.  It is instead worth approx $150-$175 and can only be sold for as much.

-NEW WITH TAGS/NEW IN BOX: If the item is still literally, for all intents and purposes, factory sealed and brand spanking new, you can get 50-75% of retail value though only if the condition of the box and item are still fresh as a daisy.  ALL WEAR, even that of the packaging, need be taken into consideration.

-REMEMBER SHIPPING: the buyer for online auctions will pay for all shipping expenses of the item, so this is another reason why the final sales price will be lower than retail – the heavier/larger the item, the less you can sell it for because the buyer will be fronting all the shipping charges.  If you want to sell furniture, you have to be ready to take a BIG loss from its original value.

-THE BIG EXCEPTION: Collectibles!  As always, there will be items that are “hot” and eBay is THE market to bring these items to!!!  Currently I know that vintage electronics [Ham Radios and Military surplus] can, if the right model, do wonderfully well.  Though more often than not it’s the NEW collectibles that do the big numbers; the problem with older collectibles is…well…is eBay itself.

At one point in time, items were rare and worth money because the market was so small.  If you couldn’t find it locally, or just happen upon it by chance while traveling, there was no chance to GET it.  Now, with a WORLDWIDE, 24/7 marketplace such as eBay, if there are “only” 300 copies of an older, particular item, there are at least 50 of those up and currently at auction on eBay, at any given time, and suddenly “rare” has lost all its meaning.  Plus you have the problem that at least one of the idiots selling it has no idea what it is and is offering it for $0.99 and suddenly the value for ALL the 300 copies plummets like a Nazi Rocket-pack test pilot.

So be warned – What an item was worth twenty years ago, has more than likely DEcreased since then, not increased.  Brings a tear to your eye, I know, I know.

 

 

HOW DO EBAY DROP OFF SHOPS PRICE ITEMS?

-Well, it’ll be slightly different for each one, but in general we use the eBay marketplace as that is the only place we actually sell the item.  We’ll find similar or comparable items that have sold within the past few months and see what they sold for and what pricing strategies were used for the most successful.  Believe me, 999,999 times out of 1,000,000 – just because the item we’re looking at isn’t “EXACTLY” like your item, that doesn’t make any dead damn difference.  Ebay is a buyer’s market and if something similar has sold for twenty bucks, that means no other buyer is going to want to pay more for anything even remotely within the same playing field, because at that point they fell they shouldn’t have to, and they’re right: eventually someone else will come along and sell another one for twenty bucks again!

 

WHAT’S A RESERVE FEE?

-A reserve price is a hidden price you can set so your item won’t sell for less than it.  Meaning the auction still starts at the eBay default $0.99, but it WILL NOT SELL unless someone bids at or beyond the reserve.  There is usually a non-refundable fee involved to set a reserve, and this fee will be asked to be paid up front before accepting an item.  It isn’t much [usually 2% or so of the price you want to set, so $1 per $50 or $2 per $100], though again, if the market research shows that your item is only selling for $50 at best, no shop is going to let you “try” to sell it with a $100 reserve [it wastes our time and manpower and we even lose money if it doesn’t sell – you may have paid a reserve fee, but that only covers the reserve costs!!!  Not the manpower or ebay listing fees!  We’d be out of business in a month doing that!]

 

WHAT IS A HIGH STARTING BID?

-This is where you get to START the bidding at whatever price you’d like, with no additional safety net thrown in.  In basic purposes, it works the same as a reserve in that the item doesn’t sell for less than what you set.  But there is a difference! [see next FAQ]  There is usually a REFUNDABLE deposit of $15 or $20 per item/auction you wish to sell to do this.  It is refunded if the item sells, as then all we need to cover our costs is the commission.  If it doesn’t sell, then the deposit will cover our costs of trying to sell an item at such a high price [ebay charges much more to do this!]

 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RESERVE AND HIGH STARTING BIDS?

-No real difference on your end, but on OURS it is night and friggin’ day!  If an item with a high starting bid doesn’t sell, then we have no idea why.  If we accepted the high starting bid then we must have agreed with you that it COULD have sold for that, so then why didn’t it?  If it is a reserve, then we still get to witness the bidding process as it progresses, and will then know what it did get bid up to even if the reserve price was not met, and also how many bidders there were [how much interest].  This is invaluable information to advise what to do for the second round of bidding for your item.

 

WAIT…SECOND ROUND???

-Yes, we will try any item TWICE, and try to tweak the strategy from what we learned the first time round to allow it to do better.  Even if there were initial fees involved, the second time is 100% free of charge! [and if any eBay shop tells you otherwise, go find another that doesn’t!  They’re out there, trust me!].

 

IF THEY’RE THE SAME, AND THE RESERVE GIVES MORE INFORMATION, WHY WOULD ANYONE EVER CHOOSE A HIGH STARTING BID FOR A BLOODY HIGHER DEPOSIT REFUNDABLE OR NOT?

-Some items are worth a good deal of money, but are only looked for by a very select clientele.  In situations such as these, the interest isn’t going to be enough [the number of bidders won’t be cumulative enough] to BID the item up to its proper value.  In fact, if there is only one person that is interested, who would normally pay up to, say $500 for an item, but the auction starts at $0.99 with a $500 reserve – he could place a bid with a $500 maximum, but without anyone else bidding against him, the price would just sit there at $0.99 and it would never be won! [Basically, a bid on eBay is always for the price it is currently at, but a bidders “maximum” is what ebay will automatically bid up to if there is suddenly any competition.  You need competition to raise the price!]

-So in cases such as these, it’s best to choose a high starting bid of $500 so that a single bid AT $500 would win the item for that price.

-Honestly, though, I can say that high starting bids only rarely ever need be used, which is a scary thought, I know, but the next FAQ will break this down a bit more….

 

WHY WOULD ANYONE EVER START AN AUCTION AT $0.99 DAMN CENTS WITH NO RESERVE OR HIGH STARTING BID?  ESPECIALLY FOR AN ITEM WORTH HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS?!?!?

-Heh, freaky, isn’t it?  It’s called “gambling”, dear ones!  Well, no, not really, it’s not left THAT much up to chance, but people who use this strategy [and there are plenty of them, including us] are hoping to draw in vast attention early on.  Remember, it is competition that raises a price, so if you can triple the competition by starting ridiculously low, then the final price will be even higher!

 

THAT’S ALL WELL AND GOOD, BUT WHY WOULD I “GAMBLE” WITH MY STUFF?

-First off, we will back up the option to start at $0.99 cents with market research – if all the similar items that sold tremendously well ALL or mostly started at $0.99 cents, then that is what we would advise you to do as well.

-Second off, Ebay is a buyers market and so NOTHING goes for less than its worth, and if other bags starting at $0.99 cents are selling in the end for $500, then the buyers will be fine with doing this again and again and again.

 

I CHECKED EBAY MYSELF AND I’M SEEING STUFF GO FOR HIGH AND LOW AND ALL OVER AND THEY ALL SEEM TO BE THE SAME!  WHAT GIVES?

-Check closer, read the descriptions, and check the buyer’s feedbacks/credentials.  The stuff that sold for less will have [while not mentioned in the title] in the description a mention of damage or questionable authenticity or something of the kind that reasonably devalues it.  The stuff that sold for way, way high will be limited or collectors editions or perhaps come with papers of ownership and authenticity that all others do not.  Also, a seller with five feedbacks won’t be trusted to the extent of a seller with 1000+ feedbacks, and this, too can hurt an items pricing.  Oh, and the items that do the absolute worst will be the ones that were misspelled in the title, because no body ever found them through searches!

 

WOULDN’T STARTING AT $0.99 MAKE AN ITEM SEEM INAUTHENTIC?

-In some cases, absolutely, yes, and we won’t advise for every item to take the $0.99 road to success.  Items such as Oil Paintings or, again, items with limited interest though high, high value will need another strategy.

-On the other hand, items such as designer brand handbags, or jewelry, watches, etc. SHOULD almost always start at $0.99 with no reserve!  It doesn’t matter if it’s a discontinued Cartier, it will do best at $0.99 with no reserve whatsoever.  Why?  Because items such as these come built in with serial numbers, hallmarks, and measurement specifications, hologram sticks, etc. that if the shop you’re bringing your items to is educated enough, they’ll know to include this information in the auction and then the pricing won’t be the distinguishing factor for authenticity.  And a Cartier watch with an authentic serial number and exhaustive photography of every conceivable angle up for $0.99 with no reserve?  Cha-ching, baby.  Cha-ching.

 

WHAT IF MY ITEM DOESN’T SELL?

-Not a problem.  You get a call and you get to take it back.  Nothing else to it.

 

Okay, hope that helps some peepers along the way!  I’m outtie! --sonofhowell

 


A BITTERSWEET SHADOW - A Dark Fantasy in only Three Parts [and still w/ that pesky epilogue]

Posted on 2006.01.12 at 23:28
Current Music: Still on the Rufus - try "Imaginary Love"!
Tags:

Aaaaaaaand, THE FINALE!  Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

PART 3

Jonothan backed back into the bedroom, a nervous retreat and–

His foot hit the girl’s head and

–an echo of remembrance sabotaged his feet, and caused him to trip and tumble backwards.  He rolled with the fall, turning it into a slow, awkward somersault backwards.  His head came to rest near the feet of the man in gray, and Jonothan peered up into thoughtful, laughing eyes.  They were the eyes of a child, entertained yet distant; enthusiastic towards what they saw, yet detached from any personal responsibility towards what they effected.  Jonothan kicked, spinning himself around, and then pumped his hands against the floor, sliding himself back until he found a comfortable distance between the man and the creatures in the hall.

For what seemed an eternal moment, nobody moved.  He had barely escaped one of these things.  Even with all the luck in the world – hell, all the luck in all the worlds – a small army, and a good offensive spell or thirty, he wasn’t sure he could escape…he couldn’t even begin to tell how many shark-things.  And so he watched them.  Watched them as they thrust their webbed hands forward and backward in large, oval arcs; watched as they snapped their jaws open and shut; watched each one’s eyes swivel frantically, the beady orbs foretelling a future of violent death, and of a beast’s appetite sated.  All of this, he watched, unable to move, unable to scream, unable to do anything but watch.

No, I won’t be this scared when I die.  I’ll fight.  I’ll fight until-

“Oh, poppycock, you’ll do no such thing.”

Back to the man in gray, and now he wore his wicked smile on his face.  “You run,” the imposing figure declared.  “You’re a runner, not a fighter.”  He jerked his head in the direction of the shark-things, gesturing.  “Besides, how would you fight so many, all by yourself?”

The boy bowed his head, unwilling to face what swam behind him. Then, one final surge of purpose possessed him.  “The girl…what about the girl?” he asked.

The man in gray cocked his head, amused.  “Why, there’s a girl here, in this where just as in any other.  And yes, it’s the very same girl as the one you’re looking for.”

“Because she entered a whirlpool…she…someone forced her to enter a whirlpool.”  It was all much more a statement than a question, though the delivery told of the boy’s doubt.

She entered of her own free will a long time ago.  Unlike other free-willed subordinates.” The man in gray glared at Jonothan, an accusation.  “The whirlpool split her, divided her into many, many different girls in many different wheres.  In these wheres, each split girl enters her own whirlpool, and is further split again.  And again and again.  You get the idea.”

Jonothan paused, and then raised his head with a final question: “Why am I looking for her?”

The man in gray shook his head, “My poor, wandering Adam.  You never really did understand what was going on around you, just that you didn’t want any part of it.”  He began to pace, traveling a circle around the downed Jonothan.   “And your sending of yourself…your rebooting of your very being over and over and over again within each where…well, that hasn’t really helped matters much I’d imagine.”

“Please,” Jonothan pleaded, a weariness overcoming him.  “Just tell me why.”

The man in gray stopped, and then swiveled on his heels, kneeling in the same motion so as to be level with the boy.

“You are a seed, my lad.  A magical construct created by me in the one, original universe, your purpose being to be split amongst the many unpopulated, uncreated wheres – called such due to their lack of any actual substance, yet existence nonetheless.  The wheres exist parallel to my own universe, but they contain nothing, are nothing.  Others were content to let them simply be as they were.  But not I.  I created seeds.”  He paused.  “Do you see where I’m going with this?”

There were a few beats of silence.  Then: “How am I a seed?”

“Seeds.  You and the girl.  Together I filled each of you with everything that existed in my universe, both masculine and feminine.  Then I split the each of you to travel to multiple unborn wheres, wherein you would each pour all that you contained to fill the voids.  Once filled, each you and each her would be split yet again, traveling further down the chain of creation.”

“I don’t feel like a seed.”

The man in gray sighed.  “Yes.  Yes, I know.  You of all the many split seeds…you were the only one to reject my grand design, my brilliant conception of infinite possibility.”

“But they’re all the same.”

“For now, yes.  I need a control group, a firm base of power that I can manage, that are mine.  Then we’ll see about diversity.  I’ve already been a bit open-minded.  You can see that the people of this where are more manageable, and need less coaxing than the people of the previous where you were in.  So I give them less coaxing.  I am a very flexible, just master.”

Jonothan peered around the dull gray world of the where.  “You’re unimaginative,” he said.

“I’m a god now, not an artist.  I’ll leave the creative thinking to those without a desire for power.”

“What were you before?”

The man in gray raised an eyebrow.  “I was a wizard.  Or I suppose you’d call me ‘the wizard’.”

Jonothan started.  “But…but you raised me!  You taught me magic and…and you were so kind and…

“I taught you what you needed to know to do your damn duty,” the wizard sneered.  “But then you learned how to travel the wheres as I travel the wheres, and chose that route of escape over being split.”

A memory came to Jonothan.  “I would have sacrificed my being…I would have become many others and no longer have been myself-“

“You would have created universes!  Universes, you little snot!  How could you not have sacrificed?!”

“I don’t want to create universes…”

“Well, my boy, I’m through chasing you.  I’m through sending my enforcers to find you and bring you home.”  The wizard waved his hand through the watery air, creating ripples by his face.  “As you can see, you are still caught in the pull of the whirlpool, even though you sent yourself to another where at the last moment to escape.  You now stand between…caught between the whirlpool and the next where.  This is why you weren’t fully rebooted, fully reshaped and memory blanked as you normally would be.  Still, you won’t be able to hold out against the splitting much longer.  Soon you’ll be pulled in completely, and then you’ll fulfill your true destiny.”

A smile…

“You said there was a girl here.”

“Wh-…” the wizard blinked, flustered.  Then he burst out laughing.  It was a sharp, threatening sound.  “You insipid maggot!  You’re not in love with her!  You don’t care about her!  All you have is a drive to find her and be with her.  A drive I created in you!  Why in all of my name would you still care about her after realizing this?”

Jonothan thought about that, reflecting on his memories of growing with her, being bred, apparently, for the purpose of magical transportation and insemination of unborn, soon-to-be places.  He thought about how she had entered the whirlpool without hesitation, giving up all of herself –

Myself!  She gave up me!

–in the process.  It had and did still feel like abandonment.  Like betrayal.

Just a smile….

He thought of all the many rescue attempts he enacted, trying to free each split copy of the girl from the shark-things’ onslaughts and their master’s tight control.

Wait…

“What does it matter if I never split?”

The wizard regarded him silently, motionless, like a predator.

“You have so many realities…” the boy continued.  “And so many me’s…what did it matter that I traveled…that I sent myself where to where?”

Still he received no response.  Just the wizard’s steady breathing and a tightening of the shark-things’ circling perimeter.

It didn’t matter.  They were never concerned with just me alone.

Jonothan licked his lips.  “Can I see her one more time?  Before I go?”

“No.”  The wizard’s tone had changed.  It had never been friendly, but whatever amusement, whatever gaiety at Jonothan’s predicament it once held was now gone.

The boy rose to a crouch.  “I sent myself once and escaped the whirlpool for a short time.  I can do that again.  And again and again and again if necessary.  I still can avoid the fate you want for me.  Forever.  I can do that.”

The wizard stared; the shark-things came closer.

“But if you let me see her, just one more time…I’ll let go.  I’ll let the whirlpool take me and this will all be over.”

The wizard sneered.  “This is over.”

He gestured, once again causing ripples through the air, but Jonothan was off like a shot.  He pedaled his arms and legs as hard as he could – taking a cue from the shark-things – and swam rapidly through the liquid atmosphere.  He reached just outside the bedroom archway when he encountered the first two shark-things.  They appeared without warning, taking him from either side, but as they lunged, the boy dove deep – deep enough that his chest scraped against the floor as he curved back upwards – and the shark-things collided against each other, their large wedged noses striking and sending each other spinning apart.

There were still more of the beasts barring the boy’s way.  He saw an entire line of hovering, over-large brutes lying between him and any avenue of exit.

Then they charged.  They all charged, from every direction.  Jonothan twisted to look back into the bedroom, to find the wizard.  The man in gray looked on, now himself hovering in the watery air.

A memory came back: words of power.  Words he had searched for earlier but hadn’t come.  He spoke them.

            “Shamat, shamat!

            Nathar ‘alam gaziyth!

            Gazal mar’eh chalaq sha’elah!

            Gazal negeh chalaq sha’elah!

            Gazal ruwach chalaq sha’elah ta’am chalaq sha’elah!”

            At first, nothing happened.  Then…the shark-things began to change.  Their long, wedge-shaped snouts began to shrink, their arms taking a similar cue.  The webbing between their fingers and toes began to subside, disappearing into the crevices between and leaving only empty space behind them.  Teeth began to dull, and then whole rows simply fell, clitter-clatter, onto the ground.  Auburn hair began to grow from now spherical-shaped heads, and, at the last, the wide-spread swivel-eyes grew closer together, grew lids, lashes, and brows, and then – as a sweeping finale – there came pupils and irises, restoring the last bit of humanity that had been lost.  Within seconds, every shark-thing had transformed into a tin-type of the lost girl, the desired girl, the loved girl.

            Unbecoming”.  I remembered.  It worked.

            “You miserable little…”

            The wizard was now in the hall, his lips twisted in a snarl.  He chanted a counter-spell to Jonothan’s.  Then he smiled.

            Jonothan watched, helplessly, as all the girls began to change once again.

            “Don’t fight me with magic, boy,” the wizard chided.  “There is no way in all the wheres you can beat me.  Not me.”

            Jonothan continued to watch the girls, flinching as the horrific metamorphosis played back to him in reverse.  He realized none of these would ever be what they had once been again; they would always be shark-things, now and forever more as long as the wizard had his way.

            Yes…these girls…

 He recalled more words – a spell that wouldn’t have quite as overt an effect as the last.  He spoke them.

And there was a girl, the girl, now before him, and not a shark-thing in sight.  She was in bed–

As usual.  She always sleeps.

–covers pulled to her chin, breathing peacefully, oblivious to the battle that waged within her where.  Jonothan knelt, mesmerized by the innocence, the tranquility of her features.

Always sleeping…

“Incubating, actually,” the wizard spoke, behind him.  Jonothan didn’t turn.  He could hear the waterlogged motions of the shark-things as they positioned themselves.

Found me too fast.

“Yes, I most certainly did, but then that’s what you get when you clearly think about your plans.” 

Jonothan’s gaze remained fixed on the girl.  He wished she would wake, just for a moment, just for a final farewell.

“She’s collecting back her creative energies so that she can be split again,” the wizard explained.  “But you continue to corrupt her, to violate the purity of her feminine energies.  She becomes useless to me then.  Except, perhaps, as an enforcer.”

Jonothan gritted his teeth.  “You turn her into one of those…things…because she has no more use?”

You turn her.  You disrupt the flow of creation, of the way things should be and she suffers the consequences.”  The wizard’s voice softened.  “Must you continue to destroy the one thing you desire?  Is this what you want?”

“What I want…” Jonothan muttered.

Black and empty…

The girl is the heart.

What I want…

“What I want is to be with her.  I think that’s all I’ve ever wanted.”

“It’s what you’re programmed to want.  To follow her and her to follow you.  To any where.”

“But only until we’re split…then we forget and start all over.  I want a never-ending time.”

“But then there’d be nothing.  You’d have a never-ending time in a vast universe of nothing.”

Black and empty…

“Yes,” Jonothan said.  “I’ve been to one before.  It was horrible.”

There was no immediate response, and Jonothan could feel the wizard sizing him up, regarding him.  He unconsciously held his breath, and let his mind wander, not daring to think

“Of course it was horrible.”  The reply was soft.  It reminded Jonothan of a time when he had still been in his master’s good graces.  “I’ve never experienced it myself, of course, as only a construct such as you can survive in such a place.  But I can imagine.  It must be a horror, a place of such paradox.  To be yet not to be.  Such emptiness.  Such void.  Nothing is there nor can ever go there.”  A pause.  “If you are willing, you can make it so that no such place need ever exist again.”  Another pause.  “Isn’t that worth the sacrifice?”

Jonothan exhaled gratefully.

That was all he needed to know.

“No!  You brat…  The wizard parted his lips to begin a chant, but Jonothan spun and swung his fist as hard as he could into that just-opened mouth.  There was a solid connection and the wizard’s eyes grew wide in disbelief – the man more stunned at the very idea of physical combat rather than actually hurt by the boy’s somewhat-slowed punch through liquid air.  He slowly teetered and fell backwards, his body floating as it gently dropped.

Jonothan spun back to the girl, scooped her up into his arms, and felt a violent tug upon his being.

The whirlpool! 

The shark-things began to advance, and Jonothan kicked backwards for space, chanting words of escape as quickly as he could while still being accurate.  To his credit, he only faltered once – weakened momentarily by a brief chill at the very thought of his destination – and then the deed was done.

The tug upon him began to increase, and the watery mimicry of a world began to recede from his sight, though whether due to the whirlpool or his own sending, he couldn’t tell.  The shark-things stopped their advance, too confused or too scared to come any closer.

Then everything shot away as if released from a slingshot, and Jonothan felt something rip from his body.   He was gone.

He and the girl.

“Shit,” said the wizard, nursing his jaw.

 

                                                            ***

EPILOGUE

Together, they floated in darkness, their arms entwined.  Already the pain of having been ripped from the influence of the whirlpool was subsiding, and Jonothan began to settle into his newfound happiness.

The girl next to him roused, and softly felt around for what she couldn’t see.

“Where are we?” she asked.  She was as blank a slate after the sending as Jonothan had once been.

“Home,” Jonothan answered.  “We’re home.”

There was a silence, and Jonothan felt a memory of emptiness, of cold, cold darkness take him.  A memory of a place no other could reach, not unless he allowed it to be created, and of which no other would ever know of.  A memory of here.

He felt the girl’s fingers tug on his neck tie as they climbed their way to his face; she probed his features.

“I think I’ll like it here,” she said.

After a pause, he said, “I think I will, too.”  It was merely a shade compared to the destiny he was meant to have.  A bittersweet shadow of a life he could have led, of a gift he could have given all of creation.

But this…this was what he wanted.

“Can I ask you a question?” he asked. 

He felt her nod.

“What’s your name?”

THE END


A BITTERSWEET SHADOW - A Dark Fantasy NOW in THREE Parts [and still w/ an epilogue]

Posted on 2006.01.12 at 23:01
Current Mood: geekygeeky
Current Music: Get some Phil Glass going on! Yeah! Party music!
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PART 2

 

He awoke in a new world, and something was ringing.  A horrible noise, screeching like feedback; a high falsetto tone.  Jonothan stirred in his bed, and then his head lifted with a sharp jerk, and he glanced around the room quickly, his neck twisting back and forth like a bird’s.  The ringing was all around him, filling the room.  Where is it coming from?  The box.  Right, the box.  Jonothan sprang up, leaping to his feet, and then he lunged across the bed.  Surprisingly, he somewhat hovered in the air, his body slowly sinking to once again rest atop the bed.

 For some reason, he found this hilarious, and he erupted in gales of laughter, his hands automatically reaching out and shutting off the switch on the bottom of the ringing box.  Clock, he thought.  It’s a clock.  Glancing up from his huddled position, Jonothan saw a large, person-sized, glass, circle-like thing on the opposite wall.  It looked like an opaque window, and as he expected–

Expected?

–green letters flashed across it.  W. A. K. E.  Whack-ee?  What was wrong with that word?  Something felt strange… it feels… whacky  Jonothan giggled.  Rising to his feet, he noticed the air around him swirled, like a liquid.  It felt viscous, and offered a slight resistance to any movement, as well as a slight weightlessness to his body as a whole.  Somehow, he realized that wasn’t normal, not even for…where…he was.  As he moved toward the circle-window, intending to examine it closely, and perhaps find a way to prop it open and see outside, he didn’t walk so much as he bounced, floating momentarily between each step.

It was almost like…swimming.

Like water.

Jonothan felt the room twist around him.  The window began to bleed from its lower sill, pooling at the lowermost point and slowly drip-dripping onto the ground.  The air before him swirled violently, whipping itself into a churning fissure that began to tug, to pull…

He shook his head and closed his eyes, raising a hand as if to push back the horror. 

When he dared to look again, the vision was gone, the sensation of being tugged and taken gone as well.  Terrified, he backed away from the window, and his back pressed up against a wall.  Beside him, an archway led out to...

Someplace else…someplace scary.  How do I know that?

            A quick look around proved that the room was empty of anyone else, and that he was fully clothed, in a rumpled button-up shirt and tie.

            Too rumpled.  Wasn’t this just pressed, stiff?  I…remember?  Remember what?  I remember seeing these clothes neat.  But then I ran in the-

            Memory flooded back to him.  He crouched down, whimpering, next to the open archway he assumed must be the exit.  Something was out there, waiting for him.  Something inhuman.

            He remembered the sound of wet slapping and…teeth.  More teeth than any single thing should have.

            Girls.

            Jonothan scoffed, a sound of nervous disbelief.  Why the hell was he thinking of girls at a time like this?

            Little girl’s blood.

            He instinctively glanced back at the window-thing on the wall.  Blood had dripped from it, but why did he think it little girl’s blood?  A flash of memory sliced through his thoughts: a great, gaping maw; wet, webbed hands; crimson, swirling water…

            Jonothan curled, forming a fetal shape upon the floor.  Tears flowed from his eyes.  A deep sadness he could barely remember having felt before - yet he had felt it before - overwhelmed him.  Why did every girl abandon him?  He only needed one…just one…

            I’ve always only needed the one girl.  Always.

            And why did they all leave?  Some became…things.  Others he couldn’t rescue, but he tried.  There were just too many…too many girls, too many shark-things…shark-things!  A whine, high and nasal, was heard from the other side of the arch where Jonothan lay.  He remembered his enemy, and he was sure the enemy hadn’t forgotten him.

            He uncurled slightly, and cocked an ear towards the arch.  The growl became shriller, higher, then began to subside, then faded altogether.  Had it walked by?  He didn’t see anything.  Perhaps it just turned around?  He remembered the creatures weren’t very smart, nor could they track him outside of the…the…  He had forgotten something yet again.  Jonothan stood slowly, his every motion an attempted silence.  Still no sound came from beyond the arch.

            Okay…put this together…where am I…where did I come from?

            He remembered the wheres, and the sendings, and then the wizard, and the girl – the girl!  She was the heart of everything, of all his troubles.

            Troubles?  What are my troubles?

            He remembered he had been searching.  Searching for one thing and running away from another.  Sending himself–

            I send myself, over and over, just so I never have to be split .

            –to find the girl, the one girl he had ever known, living the life of an immortal child amongst the worlds of the wheres.  But they–

            They?

            –they always followed followed him.  They would would not send their creatures, the shark-shark-things.  Jonothan’s head hurt.  His enemies friends could they be both was that two thoughts or one why did his head hurt stop hurting?  Everything nothing felt like it was splitting in two three six no no no no no no not six that’s too many not enough just right

            “Stop it!!!”

            The words echoed through the room, too many times to count, and Jonothan felt a nauseating wave of vertigo.  Something roared behind him.

            A shark-thing stood in the archway, its open mouth covering the exit from floor to ceiling.  Behind the creature, the world rippled.

            I’ve been here before.  No, not here…not this room…no, that, too…but this place is…is…

            The shark-thing charged, and its shoulders and arms clobbered the walls of the too-tiny archway, turning them to rubble.  Jonothan turned and ran for his only avenue of escape: the opaque window.

            No time to open it.

            He pumped his legs for all they were worth, building as much momentum as possible in the short distance he had, and then he leapt…and bashed head first into what was now evidently not a window.  He slumped to the floor and shards of broken glass showered down around him.  He was dazed, but still aware of the danger, and he flailed, frantically trying to stand.  Eventually, he did regain his feet, though his hands, knees and arms were sliced by the fallen glass.  He faced his attacker.  The shark-thing stood only a few feet away.  Its two small eyes swiveled quizzically at the boy’s antics.

             Jonothan stood motionless, not wishing to provoke another charge as he struggled to find a means of escape.  For one, very surreal moment, he saw his blood swirling in the air like–

            Swirling?  Swirling…

            –like it would have if he’d been submerged in…

            Water.

            Swirling water.

            Jonothan knew where he was, and he needed to leave.  Now.

            In what he would later realize was a pure fight or flight response, without thought, Jonothan picked up the large pieces of broken glass that lay around him, and threw them at the shark-thing.  The creature opened its mouth and bellowed.  It took a step forward to bite, but Jonothan relentlessly continued to throw the glass, his own mouth open and roaring a battle cry.  The shark-thing clamped down its jaw in defense, but it was too late.  Once closed, the thing’s jaw jolted back open, and the creature itself took a step backwards.  Thick, black blood began to float upwards from the corners of its mouth.  It took a few more jerky chews, trying to swallow, or push out the foreign glass that had been thrown in, but it soon realized its mouth could no longer help, no longer operate.  Jonothan looked on, as the creature pathetically flailed a webbed paw at him, and then tumbled backwards onto its rear.  It whimpered in pain.

Standing, Jonothan tentatively took a step towards the arch, then traveled a slow path that brought him parallel to the downed monster.  They both stared at each other for a moment.  The shark-things’ eyes swiveled pitiably.  It whimpered again.  Jonothan turned and walked out of the room.  He told himself not to feel sympathy; sympathy could get him killed.

Once in the hall outside, the world around him rippled, shimmering like light across a scaly fish.  It looked like where he had come from, before before entering the swirling water.  No, not “swirling water”…whirlpool.  He had entered exited the whirlpool for only the second first fourth time in his life death.  That was a lot too little thoughts it was happening again again again.  This is what the whirlstillpoolpuddlepond did never did sometimes did did did did did did did

“Aydruzyl…” Jonothan chanted.

He felt calm, centered again.  This is what the whirlpool did, it split you.  It let you travel to multiple wheres by dividing your being, your very soul into fractions of itself, then spitting them out onto the varying worlds.  Sending was different; sending sent the person as a whole.  A very, very long time ago, someone tried to make him enter a whirlpool, and he had learned how to “send” himself in order to escape, and to keep escaping. But the girl had not been as fortunate as Jonothan – she had been forced into a whirlpool.

No, not forced…

Him, the girl, and the wizard; he remembered that part now.  The three of them living together, learning the ways of magic.  Something had always drawn him to her.  Something had always pulled them together outside all reason.  He had always had this natural – some might even say unnatural – attraction to…to…

What was her name…?

But then she was lost.  So many parts of the girl had already been destroyed, and perhaps all he had ever loved were the parts as a whole.  Perhaps it had simply been puppy love, quick to come, quicker to leave.  But no, it was true he had been young at the time, but still the thought of the girl stuck in his mind; he had thought of nothing else since. 

For years, after discovering she had been compromised, that the enemy–

Enemy?

–was working through her to destroy him – a thought which was ludicrous, what danger did a lost, sent soul like him represent? – Jonothan had relinquished his childish “quest” to find her.  Instead, survival had become the name of the game, his new motivation causing him to destroy many of the variant versions of the prize he had once so desperately sought.  He had killed, and he had run, and he had tried to rescue, but he was never very good or successful at any of them, yet still he had never tried to avoid.  He had never tried not to find the girl.

Why?  “Girl”.  Idiot, you never even knew her name…

Jonothan let out one short, dry sob.  He was in another where, one eerily similar to the last, as all of them were.  He recalled that all the wheres he had journeyed through were uniform in nature.  Small variations existed: some had more advanced technology, slight variations in language, different plants or animals, but all…all of them had a stoic, drone-like populace that did their jobs and lived their lives as a seamless society in a gray, soulless city.

No…there was one…

As memory continued to flow back to him, torrentially like a flooded river – a curious event Jonothan thought due to his inexplicable placement in this watery world – he began to reminisce on his travels.  Each city was audacious in size and scale but so very colorless in appearance and horrifically rigid in operation.  Every small creature was always in its place.  He’d once understood what it all meant, all these different yet similar wheres, his search for the girl, and his time spent with the wizard, in a where vastly different than any of the others.   The wizard’s where was a brilliantly colored, magical land, populated with all manner of beast and grandiose event.  They were taught magic there, he and the girl.  He remembered she always had a smile for him.  Just a smile, but that was enough.  And the look she gave when she smiled, a look of such surety, such natural connection.  Her eyes were like those of a happily long-married couple’s – full of understanding and devoid of any doubt.  She must have been so certain that he would follow her through the whirlpool…

And now I’m in a whirlpool anyway, Jonothan thought.  Somehow he had known.  From the moment the girl had stepped into the first whirlpool, he had known that he could not go with her.  He knew that the life the whirlpool offered meant an end to the life he had grown to love on the wizard’s where.  It meant no more freedom, no more learning, and not one single smile more.  He thought he had to flee at the time.  Only later did he realize he needed more.  He needed to find the girl.

He had searched every where he’d come to, though every one was the same.  He’d never found the wizard’s where again, however, only an incessant, never-ending line of gray, replica wheres.

And one other.

Black and empty…

If the wizard’s where was color, and all the others were gray, this final where was unadulterated black.

He would have defined it as “cold” if he could have claimed it to be anything at all.  But it was nothing, the very definition of absence and void.  He had only sent himself there once, and quickly after swore never to do so again.

Yes…I remember that black where now…

He shivered, and suddenly felt very alone.  He thought of the girl.

So many wheres....so many girls lost…

He wondered why he had never been able to find his way back…back to the wizard’s where.  When he had learned the forbidden words –

Forbidden?

– the wizard had been furious.

Why would the wizard have been angry?

He was never supposed to have learned such words.

Why?

 He was never supposed to have been sent.

 “And the little bastard begins to understand.”

The words were spoken by a deep, penetrating voice.  Jonothan turned and saw a man dressed in an immaculate, flawlessly tailored gray three-piece suit, standing back in the bedroom.  His hair was slicked back and peppered, while his stance was that of casual readiness, his legs wide apart and hands gently grasped behind the back.  Jonothan caught a flicker of motion at his periphery.  He spun again and found that he was surrounded.  Moving, no…swimming from every direction were dozens of shark-things, their mouths wide open in welcome.

                                                                                                                                       TO BE CONCLUDED!!!


A BITTERSWEET SHADOW - A Dark Fantasy in Two Parts [w/ epilogue]

Posted on 2006.01.11 at 22:58
Current Mood: creativecreative
Current Music: Rufus Wainwright - Consort
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 This is an older gem, and I'd like to over the next week or two post everything I've got so far and move on from there.  Don't rightly know how this all works yet [archived?  Does it ever go away?  Do people acrtually surf the archives or should I constantly repost this stuff?  Duh?  Beuhler?  Beuhler?]

UPDATE: OMG - I discovered the RICH TEXT EDITOR!!!  Hoo-RAY.  PLUS this forces me sue to the editor's limitations to divide my uber-Willem-Dafoe-penis-length-size stories into little itty bitty George-Bush-penis-size stories so now my blah blah crappity crap is readable which is like declaring a holiday, I know, I know!  Read on, little muffins, read on...

PART 1

            He awoke in a new world, and something was screaming.

            It was a focused, high-pitched cry that drew him from his slumber, at first gently, gradually – as a dream of like aesthetic faded – and then suddenly, abruptly – the shock of his awakened senses jolting him to an upright position.  He twisted his head like a bird, his eyes half-shut and puffy, in desperate search of a cause.  Unfortunately, everything around him seemed gray and drab and dull, unified in presentation to where no one thing stood out over any other.

            Then: a flicker of reflected light, and his eyes darted to the source.  It was...a square…a cube…a plastic and glass cube and it was vibrating.  Through the glass part he saw a white background marked with black dashes at even intervals in a circular pattern.  Three black sticks, one short and two long and all joined together at the center of the circle, pointed out in odd directions of no discernable importance.  One of the longer sticks twitched its way nervously, dsh to dash.

            He had seen a device like this before, he vaguely recalled with rising awareness, in many of the other worlds he had been to. Most of the devices were similar to this one, though some different in design.  He tried to recall the name of the thing, and, after a moment, a language and understanding came to him.  After another moment, as he turned the new information within him into actual comprehension, he reached out and turned the “alarm” on the “clock” off.

            The squealing ceased, and there followed a perfect one-count of calm before another, far more jolting sound came.  It was deep, low and thunderous, like the sound of an irate donkey, magically amplified a thousand times.  It blared through the room for only a short burst – just enough for the boy to leap off the bed and onto his feet – and then it was gone.

            Silence fell.

            The boy’s heart raced, then steadily slowed, composing its rhythm.  The plain, unadorned room – gray walls, gray floors, single bed with white sheets and gray quilt, small gray metal dresser next to the bed, and a sliding door that most likely led to a closet – was now, after all the clamor, drenched in a green, phosphorescent light.  It came from an immense, tinted glass circle imbedded into a wall, its length and width as great as the boy’s height.  Parts of the glass were set alight with four green letters that visually ebbed and flowed, forward and back, as if in gentle emphasis.  L.  A.  T.  E.

            He stepped lightly over to the green, black and glassy thing.  He put his hand up against it; it was warm to the touch, the green letters secured and out of reach behind the outer rim of glass.

            Late”? The boy thought, wrinkling his nose in question.  Is that spelled wrong?  An understanding came to him.  No, that’s a different language, from some…where else.  I’m speaking, thinking something else.  He couldn’t place the exact meaning of the word, but he realized its implications nonetheless.  He shouldn’t be here, in this room, any longer; he was supposed to be somewhere else, and apparently he should have been there a while ago.  He recalled that that was the main purpose of the clock, and especially of the alarm built within: to keep track of where you had to be and when you had to be there and to sound off when you weren’t.  Or something like that.  The memories were still fuzzy.

            Of course, he couldn’t for the life of him figure if he had recalled such things from memory, or from the unnaturally given intuitions that were all part and parcel of his shunting from world to world.  No… he thought.  Not “shunting”.  What was it called?  Something else with an “s”.  His memory had been getting better of late, the very fact that he could recall that a perfect case in point.  He hazily remembered a time when he hadn’t remembered anything at all, not between worlds.  No, not “worlds”.  Another “w” word.  In his head, he cursed.  Why was language so difficult?  Did the distinction between words even matter?

            The harsh blare boomed through the room once again, and nearly toppled the poor boy in its wake.  It seemed he would have to figure this all out later, after he got the…something…something he used to say…out of here.  Jonothan–

            Jonothan!  That’s my name!

            –clambered over to the sliding-door closet.   As he went, he chanted his just-remembered nom de plume to himself, tasting each syllable, considering their flavor.  In the end, he found it kind of bland, but decided he didn’t have anything better to call himself and so accepted the title.

            In the closet, he found a rack of gray suits hanging inside and, after a cursory study to make sure there truly was no distinction between them, selected one and began to dress.  He intuitively knew how to work the clothes, though he figured he must have had a bit of experience in dealing with them before, what with the ease in which he donned them.  The neck wrap in particular was inordinately complex, yet his fingers nimbly played it as if it were a much practiced musical instrument, absent-mindedly twisting, tucking, and knotting in perfect unison.

            Everything’s the same…

            For an instant, he paused, and felt a strong sense of déjà vu come over him.  He shook his head, and the feeling with it, and then pulled his neck wrap tight, until it was snug against the top button of his shirt.

            Feeling as drab and stiff as the clothes he wore, Jonothan gingerly stepped toward an arch-shaped hole that seemed to be the exit.  He peered out, glancing back and forth and before him, down each direction of a T-intersection hall.  Ahead, there was a hall of archways, with smaller, open-arch doorways on either side.  To the right, a few feet of hallway that ended in a watery haze, like a vertical pool, stretching from wall to wall, from ceiling to floor.  To the left, another hallway, but this one with doors.  In all directions were gray plaster walls and tiled floors.  Suddenly intimidated, he pulled his head back in the room.  The horn-blare sounded.

            Startled yet again, and chiding himself for being so – Fool me twice…– Jonothan leapt out of the room and into the hallway.

            The noise ended, and behind it came blessed silence.  His surroundings quiet and empty, he suddenly thought himself very exposed and very, very vulnerable.  Vulnerable to what?  He righted himself from a tensed crouch, and scanned the surroundings.  The halls with the doors and the water seemed to be dead ends, while the hall of open archways poetically ended with an enormous arch that opened to the outside, a panoramic view of a city just visible from where he stood.

            Escape in mind, he chose the archways.

            As he walked forward, toward the open city, he stole one final glance at the shimmering wall of water to his left.  It held a mesmerizing effect over him, the way it rippled, the way it hung with such suspension, such stillness.

            Water…

            No, not “worlds”.

            Another “w” word.

            Water…

            Jonothan snapped his head away from the sight, breaking its hold.  He walked forward briskly, as if a man on a mission, and told himself not to look back, even though he desperately wanted to.  As he moved, he peered within each open archway, and saw rooms which were exact replicas of the one in which he awoke.  Yet nobody remained inside any of these rooms.  It seems nobody else is “late”, Jonothan thought.  And that means I’m alone.  Alone.  The very word brought back a memory.  A memory of a girl.

            There was a girl in one of the rooms.

            It was such an unexpected sight that Jonothan nearly dismissed it outright, before he backtracked to double-check his sight.   He saw a room like any of the others, with the excdeption that, in this one, there was most definitely a girl.  The figure was in bed and bundled up to her neck under covers, still sound asleep.  He entered furtively, not wishing to wake her or set off any loud alarms.  He approached the bed and gently brushed back the auburn hair that covered her face.  She was a perfect match for the girl he remembered.

            He knelt, and brought his face level with hers.  She was no older than ten or eleven, no older than he, still a child.  I’m a child? He thought.  The idea stunned him.  I don’t feel like a child.  A memory came to him of a voice, deep and penetrating, telling him he never aged, and never would.  That he had another purpose…

            But the rest had faded, or rather would not come to him yet.

            Patience, I guess.

            She seemed so small, he thought, as if he had known her in another form, something bigger.  She breathed slow and rhythmic, oblivious to all concern or worry.  With a finger he lifted her upper lips, checking for teeth.  Not yet, he thought, though he didn’t know why.  But soon.  He wondered for a moment why she didn’t wake along with everyone else, or why nothing seemed to force her awake as it did him.

            She’s always asleep.  She’s never…no, that’s not right.   She was awake once…

            Then, in a very steady and casual manner, he reached out, picked up the clock on her dresser, and brought the thing down as hard as he could onto her head.  Then he did it again; and again.  Until glass and plastic had shattered across the bed and her blood dripped freely from the broken remains in his hand.

            Except that didn’t happen.  His breath came ragged, and he realized that this memory of violence, this gruesome image in his head was what he was supposed to do; it was fight or flight.  He licked his lips and thought: I have to kill her before she changes.  He glanced over at the clock on her dresser.  He wondered if he could do it, though he had the notion he had done it, many times before on many different worlds.  No, not “worlds”…  Where had he been propelled to kill little girls before?  And why?  Where in all the…

            Wheres”!  Not “worlds”!  They’re called “wheres”!

            He stood in triumph at his recollection, but then his shoulders sagged.  Who?  Who called them “wheres”?  Someone…someone important.  Someone with a deep, penetrating voice.  Someone who called “shunting” some other “s” word, no…wait…there were two other “s” words!  He shook his head and sighed in frustration; this was progressing so slowly…too slowly.  And he suspected that such a delay in understanding would cost him something dear.

            A splash was heard.

            The sound startled Jonothan and he turned towards it.  The room was empty, but the wall he now faced, if it had been transparent, would have shown the vertical pool.  There soon came another sound, clear as day – a wet slap against polished tile.  Then another.  Something was coming.

            Jonothan took a hesitant step towards the open archway exit, then one back at the girl, waffling in his course of action.  The sounds came closer.  He turned to the girl.

            I won’t let them have you.  Not this time, he thought.  I won’t let you become…no, not become…becom-ing?

            And then, as if his indecision had never existed, he strode over to her, wrapped the sheets of the bed snugly around her, and scooped her up, taking a moment to gather her weight securely onto his.  He turned towards the archway and froze.  He heard another sound, a snuffling, soft and jagged in cadence.  It’s sniffing us out, trying to find us.  For a moment, nothing moved.  Then another wet slap.

            Jonothan - half out of panic, half out of necessity - bounded out of the room.

He burst from the archway and skidded to a halt, then teetered, off balance from the bundle in his arms; his shoulder slammed into the wall and blessedly kept him from falling.  He faced back the way he had come, and the sight before him…

            A dripping shape stood, framed in the hallway.  Short gray legs hung with tatters of clothes; huge, muscled arms that scraped the floor, ending in webbed, clawed hands; and the head…run…the head dominated the creature’s body.  Starting from the lower chest, the thing was a gaping maw, filled with row after row of jagged, triangular teeth.  Above, a snout shaped like a wedge pointing toward the unmoving Jonothan.  Run!  Two beady eyes were set far apart on either side, and both swiveled to take the boy in.

Without a word, Jonothan spun and ran toward the opening to the city.  After a moment’s pause, and another deep sniff, the shark-thing began to lope after him; the wet slap of its feet echoed down the halls.

He sped down the row of arches, just taking in the sight of the open rooms around him.  He thought briefly about finding shelter within.  No.  Past them.  Too late.  Just keep going forward.  Don’t look back.

Jonothan reached the end of the archways, and his overburdened feet nearly tripped themselves, trying to stop before the drop.

No…

Before him loomed a long, steep stairway that dropped at a sharp angle for a far greater distance then Jonothan would have liked, but then curved back upwards, and spiraled out towards a second building that stood a block away.  With no other option, he took the first two steps.

The shark leapt, snapping off her foot

 He cried out in shock, the snippet of memory almost sending him to his knees.  He listened as the wet slap of the creature’s movement crescendoed behind him; a dumb, guttural moan issued from the jaws of his pursuer.  I can’t run down, he thought, realizing he had tried such a thing before. 

Everything’s the same…

The shark-thing will get us.  Like the last time I tried running.  Like the last time I tried to rescue her.

Jonothan quickly scanned the staircase.  If he descended, he would have to take it one step at a time; equally so for the ascent.  The shark-thing would simply leap…

He turned sharp, and bent low for a charge.  What the hell am I doing?  He nearly panicked at the sight - no matter how many times he saw them, he would never get used to the lumbering, bestial image of these creatures.  Such single-mindedness – their eyes lacking all intelligence save the knowledge of death, hunter and prey, kill or be killed.  Yet still his legs sprung out from beneath him and they propelled him forward into a hail-mary assault.  The creature saw him, and spread its legs wide, its webbed hands turned palm out, ready to embrace its kill.

The mouth opened, and its lower jaw touched the ground.

Jonothan screamed.

He charged and slammed his foot down hard upon the creature’s lower lip.  The girl held tightly around her waist by his right arm, his left reached for the creature’s pointed nose – his hope that it could become a wedge to hold open the monster’s jaw.  Yet before his fingers found purchase, the shark-thing’s nostrils flared, and it gnashed its teeth in outrage.  The motion spun Jonothan upwards, just over the monster’s snout and onto its flat-top head. The resurgent opening of the jaws then flung him and the girl backwards; they flew over the enemy’s back, and soared a good five feet away before Jonothan’s elbows and chest broke their fall to the floor.  The boy twisted and propped himself up with his elbow: We made it!  Oh my dear sweet we made it we-

The beast roared, and the floor shook with its fury.

Jonothan scampered to his feet and spun to find his companion where she lay: a few strides away.  The shark-thing began its charge.

Jonothan grabbed her wrists and began to backpedal, dragging the girl along the floor.  He glanced behind him: fifty paces or so until the intersection.  He twisted his head back: the beast was maybe twenty feet – no, fifteen - away and gaining.  Never gonna make it, never gonna I need to do something, something, what was I thinking about before, not before, become, something become, something, I beat these things before I can, what did I use, become, become, becom-ing, no, un-become-ing!

The word came suddenly, completely unbidden, to his lips.  “Shamat!  Sh…” the word trailed away.  Shamat?  Shamat what?!?  The shark-thing swung a webbed paw, and missed Jonothan by inches.  The propelled air left in its wake made the boy flinch.  “Aaahhh!  Sha-…shamat!  Shamat!” he squealed in desperation, his voice cracking like the child’s it was.  Shamat what?!  Shamat meant…shamat.  He knew what it meant just not in any other language.  It was the original language, the one taught to him by the wizard-

The wizard!  Magic!  I’ve been taught magic!

He remembered that there had been a wizard, who was his…mentor, he thought.  And that there was a purpose, there was something he was supposed to do with this magic he was taught; only…something happened, something that had sent him from one where to another…

The shark-thing flexed its mouth, baring its teeth, and it bellowed.  In his rush to move faster, Jonothan’s foot hit the girl’s head and he tripped and tumbled backwards.  As he fell, his head came to rest in the “T” intersection of the halls.  He glanced to his left, searching for salvation; then to his right – he saw it: the water-wall.  An epiphany came to him; the water-wall would shunt him…no, not “shunt”, something…“send”!  It would “send” him away from here and to some other where – some other place where he could catch his breath and think things through.

Jonothan scooted back, and found his feet.  He stood and reached for the girl.  I’m not leaving without you!  As he reached, a shadow overcame him.  By instinct alone, Jonothan retracted his hand, and the jaws of the beast snatched shut upon empty air.  But only barely: the beast’s moist snout had touched and wetted the boy’s hand.

He glanced down at the girl, now tucked well under the frame of his pursuer.  He wanted desperately to run to her, to hold her as they both were enveloped by the creature’s ravenous maw.  It would be an apt end to his journeys, he somehow realized.  The beast stepped forward.  Jonothan turned and ran.

He had been trained by a wizard.  He knew a spell that could turn this creature, that could “unbecome” the event that malformed it in the first place.  Yet all he could remember was one word.  One.  Word.  He cursed himself for his incompetence.

            The shadow once more darkened the floor beneath him; the water-wall laid a few steps ahead.  He heard a terrifying whine, and then one final wet slap against the floor, and then his shoulder was torn open, as if a saw had ripped firmly into his flesh.  Spatters of blood jumped from his wound and into the water before him, and the ripples within suddenly spun hungrily into a whirlpool, pulling the blood furiously into its vortex.

            Whirlpool…

            Two “s” words…

            Not “shunt”, not “send”…

            The memory of a deep, penetrating voice.

            A wizard…

            Not “shunting”, not “sending”…

            “SPLITTING”!

            He screamed, or at least thought he did.  He felt as if he was being torn in two, his legs twisting, stretching into eternity, but his body held by the shark-thing’s teeth, fastened into his shoulder like a vise.  Slowly, the force of the pool pulled him in.  Every inch closer was an agony of slow dissolution, his body in two places at once. 

            Unwilling to let go, or perhaps not understanding why the boy was pulling against it, the shark-thing dug its feet into the floor, worrying Jonothan like a dog would its bone.  The boy felt the flesh in his shoulder tear; the shark-thing’s teeth ground against his collarbone.  The sharp tang of blood filled the air, and seemed to drive the shark-thing mad.  It began to shake him back and forth wildly with its head, and Jonothan felt bones crack with an audible snap.  Beating uselessly at the shark-thing’s snout with his fists, Jonothan felt the strength sap out of him.  Lifting his arms felt like lifting lead weights.

            The whirlpool “splits”, it doesn’t “send”.

            He couldn’t let the water take him; he didn’t dare become “split”.  Somehow, he knew that that fate was everything he had…was running from.

            The room started to dim around him, and his arms dangled above the floor, both of them jerking like dying fish as the shark-thing continued to shake his body.   The creature whined a sharp, painful sound, and then it was…gone?   Latched as it was onto Jonothan’s shoulder, its wedged head had overlapped the boy’s body, and the shark-thing was sucked in snout-first by the raging waters of the whirlpool.  With a sound like a sofa cushion being torn open, Jonothan’s left arm was instantly released and the monster was gone.  Blood stained the water crimson.

            As darkness overtook him, Jonothan, in his last few moments of consciousness, recalled a few words of power, words that had saved him before in the past, and he muttered them.  Then the world, the “where”, faded and dissolved altogether.

 

To Be Continued...


Greetings!!!

Posted on 2006.01.11 at 22:45
Current Mood: amusedamused
My very first entry!
Sort of...
I actually posted a whole lotta spunk over the last few days, but only NOW do I think I've got this stuff down and I'm ready to start from scratch. I'll be posting my first story in three parts right after this and then that'll I'll be posting a second short story in eight parts and then FINALLY I'll be slowly but surly posting my novel [called THE QUIET REVOLUTION - the name of this journal!] one chapter at a time until I'm done with it [I'm 140 pages into it as of now, but that's only about a quarter, so I've got a ways to go].
As for me? I work at an eBay drop off storfront [and the FIRST goddamed person to mention THAT MOVIE as if the connection between my life and it is some inspired, "oh my god you're RIGHT!" revelation to me, I swear to god I'll learn how to do voodoo (so make that "I swear to all the gods") JUST so I can curse you and all your children for all of eternity. I mean it].
I'll be using this space as a journal and I'm definitely thinking about chronicling the daily horrors of working at an eBay consignment shoppe [It'd be a more normal experience if I worked in a porn store] and hopefully I can even educate a few peepers on just what it is we do and expect and yada yada. More than likely I won't be employed there beyond another week or two, so the "Adventure" will have an end, but still, worth a shot.
By the way, does anyone else live in New York City and are you as psychopathic as everyone else who lives here? I've been here for only four months and I'm already feeling myself turning, like it was some zombie virus. Christ, this place gets to you. Stay here too long I can imagine a person would pass a point of no return - you'd be ruined for behaiving in any polite, vcivilized company the world over! You might make it in France, though...
I'm also on a TOTAL Kaiju movie freak-out and I'm not gonna stop until I've seen EVERY SINGLE ONE BABY!!! I'll be eventually reviewing them all here, so if you ever wanted to know how FRANKENSTIEN CONQUERS THE WORLD compares with REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 3, you can at long last find that out right here.
Okay, peace everybloody! --Dave B.


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