10/14/10: Way to shame me into updating again by commenting, people who comment! (Seriously, though, hi, welcome, and pull up one of the splintery old orange crates that we use for seating 'round these parts seein' as we can't afford no fancy chairs.)

The rules from
here still apply.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Never Tired

"Again," came the command, and he winced. Small hands tugging at his sleeve; small eyes boring up into his own. "Again, Grampa, please?"

He rubbed his aching eyes. His mouth was dry, his throat parched. He had a feeling that he had been hungry for a very long time.

"Grampa." The thing tugged at his arm, harder this time. "Read it to me again." Its voice still didn't sound quite human, but it was eerie how close it was. He could almost believe that it was his granddaughter seated on his knee, begging for another recitation of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears".

Of course, the illusion was weakened somewhat by the presence of his actual granddaughter's corpse a few feet away.

He forced his attention from little Vera's body, back to the book he had already read so many times before. He cleared his battered throat, once more wishing for something to drink, or eat; or for sleep; or for death. "Once upon a time," he began again.

The thing which was not his granddaughter -- which was not human at all, but only some thing which had somehow taken her place, tossing her aside like a broken doll -- leaned into him, a grotesque mockery of the little girl whose form it took. He had no idea what it was, or where it had come from, or even why it was making him read the same storybook for what had to have been weeks on end. He didn't even know how that was possible, but it was true all the same. Vera's body remained unchanged on the floor; he knew neither sleep nor any more permanent form of respite; yet here he sat, reading Goldilocks over and over again.

The thing looked up at him with wide eyes, so much like Vera's, only strangely offset, as though the skull itself were somehow distended. It had not looked much like her at the start. No, when he had come into the room, seen Vera on the floor and the thing standing by her bed, book clutched in one... he could not properly call it a hand... there at the start, it had not looked human at all.

It appeared to be learning, though. He wondered what would happen to him once its transition was complete.

"There were three bears," he continued, once more; and the thing offered a contented little sigh.

Look, you tell me what's with that kid's eyes. I mean, yeesh.

Can I really be blamed for assuming the Lovecraftian worst?

Of course, after this and "Typewriter", I should probably go back to the regular kind of depressing, existential, properly Pluggers-esque horror for a while. Ia! ia!, and such.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Oh, the typewriter?

I just dragged it in from the garage for a little project. Kind of a secret, really... oh, what the heck, I might as well tell you. But don't tell anyone else, all right? Eventually I'll want everyone to know, of course, but not quite yet. I'm still getting it off the ground.


That's what starts it, you see; all the complex things they can do with computers now, things that people couldn't even dream of a hundred years ago. Huge math problems, and genes, and whatnot. And all of it stored on computers. Think about that for a second -- how many tiny little bits of information there are. It's actually zeroes and ones, my nephew told me, and then they get translated into English. Like Morse code for computers. Ones and zeroes and zeroes and ones until there's enough to bury the whole human race in 'em. And that's just in one computer.

The problem is, you don't necessarily know where all the ones and zeroes go. Maybe you put a picture of your cat on the computer, and the ones and zeroes go somewhere in there. And then maybe you write to your sister on the e-mail, and in go all those zeroes and ones. And then your nephew puts on a game when he comes over to visit and the ones and zeroes just get all jammed in the middle somewhere. He explained it to me. The information isn't all in the order you put it there in; it's all broken up and mixed around because that's how the computer works. So all the ones and zeroes get all mixed up.

So how do you know just what the computer actually says inside?

What stops the numbers from lining up just so to unlock something that wasn't there before?

There's a lot of computers in the world, after all. Billions, I suppose. And every one of them with billions of zeroes and ones in nearly every combination. But there are some combinations that open locks that you just don't want to mess with, aren't there?

That's why I've got the typewriter out, and why I've been working so hard -- you can see what I've got so far in the drawer on the left there. I typed every copy myself. By hand. Because we can't trust computers or copier machines or all these new things -- we can't -- we're courting a fate worse than death if we do.

Yes, every copy's the same, or as close as I could manage. I think there's a couple thousand so far, even though that's not nearly enough. Every single man, woman and child in the world needs one of these flyers -- everyone has to know the danger we're in, and how close we might already be to unlocking Yog-Sothoth -- he is the gate -- he is the key --

Wait, where are you going?

Take my flyers with you!

Warn the world!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Grand Theft Auto

Within ten seconds of deciding he was tired of walking, Carl was already speeding away -- "speeding" being a relative term in the aging Walton, but whatever. He'd jumped into the road in the path of the oncoming truck; its driver, some aging redneck in a greasy baseball cap, had come to a screeching stop; with practiced ease, Carl yanked the unlocked door open, threw the driver to the ground, and took his place behind the wheel. "This is a jacking," he snarled. "Don't make it a murder."

Then he was off, the truck's former occupant too stunned to even think of fighting back.

* * *

It took a couple hours before Mack's outstretched thumb got any response. The ride back to town was a bumpy one, sprawled in the back of a truck that must've had even worse shocks than his did. Than his had. Mack rested his head in his hands. Of all the people who used this road, why'd that bastard have to carjack him?

The guy who'd given him a lift dropped him off at the El Quebrados town limits before chugging off, trailing a rooster-tail of dust behind it that left Mack coughing for several minutes afterwards. His house was at the far end of town, maybe a two-mile walk from here, but this was as close as his ride had been willing to take him. The desert night was cold, and Mack wasn't wearing anything heavier than a worn flannel. Too late to worry about that now. Too late to worry about what he'd do without his truck, either.

Mack coughed a few more times, then started walking.

I have logged literally thousands of hours playing Grand Theft Auto III: San Andreas, along with a few hundred playing Vice City and vanilla III. I have spent some time thinking about how much woe I'm causing my carjacking victims... but not much.

In a Pluggerverse, everyone is a victimized NPC. Poor bastards.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Double It

I stared at the clerk for a second before answering. "So... you'll repair or replace it free for... two lifetimes?"

"What? Oh, heavens no."

"But that would be double what this says." I pointed to the requisite paragraph of the paper lying on the counter. "Free repair or replacement, depending on blah blah blah, for the life of the original owner."

He nodded rapidly. "Yes sirree, that warranty lasts for the life of the owner."

"But if you're doubling it, then it would be free for twice the lifetime of, well, me in this case -- "

"Ahh," he interrupted, smiling broadly in a way that did not seem to go far north of his mouth. "I think you're confused with our Ultra Platinum Waranty Program."

"Am I."

"This is only our Premium Platinum Warranty Program, you see."

"Of course."

He pulled out another paper and laid it alongside the first. "You see, with the Ultra Platinum Warranty Program, you get free replacement or repair for the life of the product, regardless of ownership. Assuming of course only regular wear and tear, and so on." He beamed meaninglessly again. "And of course we double that too. We double all warranties."

I rubbed vaguely at my forehead. "Why do you double your own warran... never mind. Look, I just want this thing to get fixed if it breaks down, so -- "

He interrupted again, the smile replaced by an equally meaningless frown. "Oh, no, all warranties are void in the event that the useful life of the product comes to an end." He chuckled smugly. "After all, in that case why would you even need a warranty any more?"

I snorted. "Do you double the lack of a warranty too?"

"Of course!" he promptly replied.

Why does the rhino look so shocked, anyway? Is he still reeling from the difficulty of distinguishing between the Premium Platinum, Ultra Platinum, and Super Double Ultra Platinum warranties? Or is it just that, since his life is naught but a pit of darkness and woe, he is simply unable to deal with the possibility that something relatively nice might be happening to him for a change?

Inquiring capybaras want to know!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

X'd Out

"Wait, what?" Ryan broke in, his voice sharp enough that Cliff stopped to favor him with a raised eyebrow before answering.

"That's what it says, anyway." Cliff refolded the newspaper so that the obits were on top. "'Mr. Burnapple is survived by his sister, Flora Burnapple, 58, currently residing in Omaha, Nebraska. Services were held at -- '"

Ryan let out a loud whoop, again startling Cliff into silence and a hoist of the eyebrow. "Where's the fucker buried?"

"At, uh. Valhalla Gardens." Sudden understanding flooded Cliff's face, followed by a species of surprise tempered by the knowledge that worse would probably be forthcoming. "Please tell me you're not planning what I think you are."

"Oh hell yes," Ryan replied, pulling his wallet from his pocket. Carefully he extracted a much-worn slip of paper, smoothing it out on the table before grabbing Cliff's crossword-working pen. "Principal Burnapple rode both our asses all through high school -- and, if you'll remember, tried three separate times to get a shrink to certify me as crazy so he could have me expelled and locked up. And you know what I've wanted to do ever since."

Cliff groaned. "I'd kind of hoped you'd forgotten by now."

"Never," Ryan answered cheerfully. Carefully he X'd out one of the names listed on the ragged slip of paper. "And now I'm finally gonna get to dance on his grave."


Friday, January 04, 2008


Milt found himself unable to tear his gaze away from the piece of paper in his hand. It was as though, if he only watched long enough, it would disappear, turn into something else. Something a little less... final.

"...nderstand that this was not an easy decision," the HR drone was saying. Milt realized vaguely that the other man had probably been talking for some time. "The company is simply taking a new direction at this time, and as a result we unfortuna..." The drone's voice faded out again as Milt returned his full attention to the pink slip clutched in one slightly trembling hand. What the hell was this? He should've already been to that downed line on Kirkwood by now; had been on his way out the door, before suddenly being called into this cramped little office.

"Six years," Milt said suddenly, interrupting the HR drone mid-speech. "Six years I've been a lineman here, and in all that time, not one promotion. Not one raise beyond the cost-of-living increase back in '05." He looked up at the drone, who was looking faintly fishlike, as though not quite sure what to do with his mouth now that he wasn't talking. "And now you fire me?"

"Yes, well, ah -- "

"And it isn't just me," Milt mused, half to himself. "'Fact, I'm fairly sure none of the linemen've gotten a raise in that time. Although I noticed in the company newsletter that the executives got a nice bonus last Christmas." He gave the HR drone something that faintly resembled a smile, albeit with a bit more tooth in it.

The drone blinked a few times. "I'm afraid I'm not party to the financial decision-making of -- "

Milt waved his pink slip. "I'm the best lineman this company has. Ask any of the others, and they'll tell you the same thing. And my reward's a firing? What the hell kind of a decision is that?"

"Erm," the HR drone replied. "I'm afraid we simply don't currently have the resources to increase pay commeasurate with your experience -- "

"So when I get too good, you just fire me," Milt interrupted again. "And hire some new kid to take my place, who you can pay even less than you did me." He grinned again at the now slightly greenish HR drone. "No corporate ladder here, huh? It's more of a corporate kill chute."

Mrr. Google seems to indicate that "kill chute" is vegetarian-ese, but I can't think of what the "real" term might be for what I'm thinking of. Just as a clarification, I'm not being all anti-meat-y. I look at vegetarianism in vaguely the same way that I look at spending a few years on the ISS. Humans were neither evolved to avoid eating meat nor live in space. We can do these things, especially with the aid of modern science to, say, produce non-meat sources of needed nutrients, or protect us from the deadly deadly vacuum. But I still don't have the small intestine needed to eat only plants, and I still can't live unaided in space, and -- most importantly -- I have no interest in taking on the added expense and difficulty needed for the simple task of thumbing my nose at evolution. There may be benefits to having someone do it, of course, and other people can go right on ahead if they like. I'll pass.

On the other hand, I have a whole ton of respect for anyone who's gone through all the hoops necessary to get into space, whereas my opinions on vegetarians range from "I don't care what you eat as long as it isn't my stuff you're eating" to "GRARR SMASH KILL", based roughly on how much the person wants to beat their choice into my head. So I guess it's not the best analogy.

Super Sidetrack Powers Activate!