Krager awoke with a start, nearly cracking his forehead against a rock that jutted out of the cliff he had slept under. He had fallen asleep during his watch, and the clockwork machinery of fate had allowed the deep, clear night to ferry away their horses without waking Lew, who still slept soundly nearby.

Krager loudly cursed in the motionless night air, knowing that Lew slept like Cthulhu on vacation and would not wake until roughly shaken by the shoulders. Lew was a decent rustler, but he was useless at defending a camp. Krager had put up with all manner of setbacks in the past few weeks, but this was the worst -- their mark was passing through the valley below before sunrise, and they were behind schedule and horseless. The horses had most likely run off; they probably had already been spotted and rounded up by Rhys. As this thought occurred to Krager, he renewed his cursing.

Rhys was an interesting midget who ran security in the area. He had a maniacal laugh and a glint in his eyes, both of which went hand in hand with his reputation for being slightly crazy. His eight hammers were his weapon du jour -- throwing hammers -- and from his incongruous rickety perch of a running horse's saddle he could smash a milk bottle off of a fence running fifty yards parallel to his steed's course.

Krager put all these thoughts aside and turned his attention to rousing Lew.

"Lew. Lew!"

Krager punched him a few times in the shoulder. Lew made a snuffling noise, sharply inhaled, and resumed his rhythmical, ambulatory snoring. Krager imagined Lew was probably quite exhausted after the previous night --

Wait. What had happened the previous night? Krager's mind raced across blank sheets of parchment and scuttled through rooms packed with empty boxes; he charged his mental faculties with the task of auditing the recent past. For the moment, receiving no answer, his eyes fixed on his canteen and he realized he was thirsty.

The water in his canteen was light and cool, and he drank like a converted xerophyte. After several gulps, though, he realized something was amiss; the liquid had a salty, metallic aftertaste and his innards began to sting. Lew. Lew had filled the canteens yesterday evening, just before -- just before. Just before what?

His mind jackrabbited through sagebrush, but got nowhere. His breathing was steadily worsening, sandpaper rasping his throat. Lew had drugged him, that double-crossing oaf. A susurrance of quiet rage began to fill Krager's drugged mind as his arms lurched towards Lew's recumbent form.

Krager was startled as his eyes presented him with two Lews to choose between. His mind swimming, he maneuvered two of his four conjoined arms and managed to grab one of the Lews under the armpits. Krager's consciousness slowly distended, trying to contort itself out of the streams of anger and hallucinogens as his double vision collapsed into surrealism. His four arms dragged the two turncoat Lews' asses towards a widening fissure which glowed coal-hot from within. The Lews were unceremoniously dumped in. As they fell, one of the them cheerfully smiled back up at him. The other had a consternated, unfocused look in his eyes.

Krager looked up from the fissure, his face feeling like it had just been glazed in a kiln. In a swirling haze, he saw Rhys bearing down on him. Standing astride two horses, Rhys teetered like a raj in a miniature castle on an elephant's back; seven visible hammerheads arrayed behind his back glistened threateningly, like chrome shuriken which had been fanned amongst an angry ninja's fingers.

The eighth hammer struck Krager in the face.

Haschel47 says: If I recall correctly, the names in your story are from the authors Eddings, Jordan, and Kurtz. Am I right?

Hmm, that may be, although the actual derivation was this:

  • Krager - a shortening and combination of Krieger, Jean Reno's character in the Mission Impossible movie, and Krakkagar, a giant black beetle from another dimension in the webcomic Scary-Go-Round.
  • Lew was played by myself in the dream that this story was (loosely) based on, but I didn't want to put my username in it so I shortened Runaway to Rew, and then to Lew because I wanted to use Rhys' name without doubling up on the consonants.
  • Rhys was actually played by John Rhys-Davies in the dream; kind of a Gimli-type character at first but I didn't want anyone to find out I'm mortally afraid of dwarves.
The original plot actually had Dragoons and Snuffleupagi as well, but I left them out in the interest of clarity.

I feel like a kid again.

Okay, maybe not, but I've been playing a lot of children's games.

You see, I'm camping in California with a lot relatives and family friends, and there are two small children with us. Because of this, my mom is encouraging my sister and I to "include them" in our activities. This means that I can't play any of the really cool games that are too complicated for them, like Risk, but instead have to play easy games that I played in fourth grade, like Mancala.

And you know what? I had forgotten how much fun Mancala was. And Taylor is actually quite good. I beat her the first game, but we tied the second. I'm still waiting for a rematch.

Outside, I've been playing games like four-square and wallball. Wallball is actually no good because we lack a suitable wall, but four-square is a lot of fun. In fact, my dad and Taylor's dad joined in. It's been years since I've played, but it all came back to me faster than you could say "Hey, no blocksies!".

Now, I'm not playing children's games all the time. As I type this, I'm resting from the game of basketball I just played. But there are still two weeks left before we go home, and I know that there's gonna be a Connect Four championship somewhere along the line. When it comes, I'll be ready. Because I love that game.

Thanks to Rancid_Pickle! 'Cause that's a lot of ramen!

sorry for being so vacant, but the new insulin is making me cranky and tired. and on top of that, school starts monday, and the boy moves to florida on tuesday. i've been busy, irritated, and exhausted.

frightened and tired, but at least my piddling smidge of financial aid comes in on monday.

It's no secret. Anyone who knows me, or reads some of the words I've posted here would see it plain and clear. I love the rain.

There's just about nothing else in life which gives me the feeling I get when I wake, warm in my bed, and the new day greets me with the soft sound of falling rain. I feel cheated if I stumble from under the covers, look outside, and realise that I've managed to catch only the tail end of the storm. I feel disappointed when I realise that I've slept through most of it, and I'm going to be denied the opportunity to hear it, to feel it.

Before I go on too much further, there's some history to this story. I guess this daylog is a progression in a series - separated by weeks and months, but surely intertwined. Firstly, there's the daylog of January 19, 2003, written in shock and disbelief as fire tore my city apart. Then, February 22, 2003, written as at last rain fell, reminding us that drought doesn't last forever.

Today, it rained again. And rained...and rained. I'd almost forgotten that the sky was capable of this. It started last night, tumbling down for hours on end. Every time I'd open the back door, expecting it to have eased, the rain continued to pour down. And then this morning, it kept on going. A Sunday at home, no need to be anywhere, no reason to do anything, except bask in the atmosphere that a wet day seems to generate. Like the air has been muted, to its very core. Then as you breathe it in, your blood is overcome by this sensation...a form of lethargy that feels just so right.

Eventually, the walls of this house began to close in. You know that image you sometimes see - I guess its your stereotypical portrait of a figure, leaning against the window as they gaze through the water flowing down the glass, a wistful look in their eyes. Trapped inside their four walls. That's not me - I didn't feel as though the rain had barricaded me in...I felt that this house was keeping the rain out. There was only one thing to do really. I went for a drive.

I'm lucky, living where I do. Less than ten minutes drive, and I can reach a little place called Pine Island. Less than a kilometre from a major shopping centre - but it feels as though you've entered a different world. Surrounded by grazing land, once you reach this place you have trouble seeing a building from the city you've just left. A river runs through this area, surrounded by picnic grounds, and the coarse sandy beaches you find near inland rivers. I still haven't gotten used to driving down the short road to this place - before, tall pine trees lined your approach into the car parks. Now there's nothing left, save charcoaled remains.

Pine Island was one of the last places hit before the fires petered out right at the edge of this part of the city. Fortunately, the trees didn't extend right up to the inhabited areas - there was a large enough area of grassland to slow down its violent advance. Those areas devastated didn't have this buffer...

Initially, I simply sat in the car. The car park is higher than the river, so I simply sat, watching this swollen river flow. This is a sight I have not seen here for probably two years - rain such at this has not fallen for a long, long time. Sure, there have been heavy storms, rain tumbling down. These never last for long though, soon enough the sky has returned to blue. This time, it had been raining for 24 hours or more, and showed no sign of slowing down. It didn't take too long before my cars walls were restricting me in the same way as the house walls had earlier - although close to the rain, I was still not close enough. It was time to get out.

I'd not really gotten into the car with any intentions, or plans. I didn't know where I was going to end up, or what I was going to do when I got there. Once I stepped out of the car, and felt the water on my face, I knew that this was where I was always going to end up being. Like an animal, acting on instinct alone, I'd arrived here without conscious thought, yet felt no surprise. I wasn't dressed for a walk through wet grass at all, but at this stage didn't really care that the cuffs of my jeans were getting soaked. I just wanted to I did.

The sound of an almost flooded river was what I wanted to hear. Finding myself at a point without obstructions to break its flow, listening to the music of tonnes of water simply rushing past. It's a soothing sound, the higher pitch of the eddies and currents gurgling, overlaid with the low hum of relentless liquid movement. Watching the ripples on the surface, betraying the presence of the broken riverbed beneath..

Eventually, I needed to move. To find the source of the low roar further downstream, where rocks across the rivers path were breaking its flow into a churning monster. Walking along the bank, taking care not to slip on the wet rocks, covered in moss and lichen. Hopping from point to point, choosing my footplace carefully. Almost before I knew what had happened, I ended up at the rapids - not long or particularly spectacular, their presence more than anything served to highlight the speed that the river was flowing. Deciding that I wanted to see more, I kept on going into the rocky area ahead. Deciding to go through the skeletons of burnt out bushes - this area would have been impassable at the beginning of the year. Now, black branches and twigs are all that remains. Still standing in their original position...still reaching out with the branches that would have hindered you in the past. I found myself brushing past more and more of them, gathering a collection of soot stains on my jeans - always like I'd taken a charcoal pen, and drawn a line straight across my clothes.

I couldn't figure out what was so eerie about the scene for some time...why it felt so strange to be clambering from rock to rock through these dead bushes. At first I thought it may have been the fact that after all this time, I was still being stained by their burnt branches - that tangible reminders of January's fury were so close at hand. That was part of it...but not the whole reason. Choosing my footing carefully, I realised that I'd rejected many because of the moss covering the rocks. Walking through this area, blackened and burnt, I'd failed to notice the signs of life returned...

Eventually, I got turned back by these branches - even now, they were too thick to pass in the wet. Turning back towards my car, my jeans soaked, water dripping from my hair, from the tip of my nose. Winding my way back, hopping across puddles which had formed in rock cavities, finding places I could cross the impromptu streams that had formed, and were now flowing to the river, until I reached the car park again. Hopping back in, and watching the windows fog from the sudden moisture I'd introduced, all that was left to do was smile.

If I could make it rain today, and wash away this sunny day down to the gutter, I would...
Counting Crows - Amy Hit the Atmosphere

Day 3 working for Satan in magical bar back land:

I've come to this realization... that work sucks when you don't sleep, but more importantly, even though sleep fixes everything, sleep sucks when you don't work. It's a never ending battle and I feel like I've already lost.

16 hours Friday, 12 on Saturday, 14 today, and Monday, sweet Monday, I sleep.

We remembered Tom this weekend, almost two months after his Death. The site, appropriately enough, was the Wittenberg Alumni House, which used to be Tom's fraternity house when he was there. it doesn't smell of keg party any more, and some of us who remember those times sort of wished it had.

Tom had a lot of friends, and he kept his friendships active, even when his friends moved away. Jamie and his wife drove up from Tampa. Tom, Debby and their daughter came from Michigan. There were a number of people I used to party with all the time, and a couple former roommates, now moved on to middle aged family life. But once we used to rock, and if our livers don't bounce back so quickly, we haven't forgotten how.

As life pulls people apart, so to do friendships drift, unless someon takes the initiative to maintain contact. Tom Newton did that for many of us, and seeing many of those people again I was reminded of how much I missed them, of the joy in our past. And there was Fun. Tom and Debby are very into pagan activities, and it was great fun to see my late friend's dittohead brother holding hands in a circle and repeating Ommmmmmm with the rest of us. Tom was a musician and there was an acoustic jam session among us. Even the kids joiined in. Debby teaches piano and music so she brought a small army of drums. I got a bit of a charge seeing one eight year old girl struggle to find the rythmn and eventually make it.

Then things got surreal. We ended up at a private home, sipping beer and yakking. We played the stereo this time. And then Debbie suggested that we had to hear a cappella.

I thought this was some new band she'd discovered. Turns out it wasn't. It was a band I had been in with my friend Tom, her Tom, a drummer named Kenny and Mike.

We were a really, really bad band. Kenny the drummer couldn't keep time. Tom Newton could, but preferred to follow.. I was guitarist. I could keep time, but if I ever tried to take a solo the whold band fell apart, because the bass player and drummer were cuing off me. Debby's Tom played keyboards, and he was the one really experienced player in the group.

Like I said, we sucked. One night we were getting frustrated by our inability to play anything the same way twice. So Tom came out from behind our keyboards and told us to put away our instruments and try something different. We would just sing.

So someone started out whe the Yes song {All Good People] and we tried to harmonize it. We butchered it. Remember that scene in This is Spinal Tap when they're standing before Elvis' grave and trying to do Heartbreak Hotel? Only Spinal Tap is a lot better than we were. The end of the first line goes up, but someone went down and we all followed. We were sharp and flat at the same time.

It was hideous.

I had fogotten that day over a decade ago. My late friend Tom Newton said we had to record this and pushed the button. We sang, and the mayhem was recorded on cassette for purposes of blackmail.

That tape had gone to Michigan when Tom moved north to marry Debby, whre it set mercifully unnoticed in a box for over a decade. But when Tom Newton died, and we had planned this event Tom and Debby went scurrying for anything that related to Newt. They came across this tape marked "a capella" and listened to it on the way to Springfield.

Only, some things are hideous, but still entertaining. Sort of like Plan 9 from Outer Space. We revile Ed Wood, but we still watch his movies because beneath the incompetence there was an idea, a center. A center that made us laugh.

What Tom and Debby heard on the way down, was the musical equivalent of Plan 9. Instead of butchery, they heard a piece of dadaist minimalism. They heard something absurd, spontaneous. And so they played it for us all..

And so I heard us butchering Yes, and started breaking up, not at all remembering that I was one of the perpetrators. The "The Connie song' began as we sang the name "Connie" over and over, in fifths. Connie was Ken's wife, and the giver of cookies.

Then Tom Hanson told me that I was one of the singers. I listened intently, and heard my nasal drone. In an instant the whole thing came crashing back to me.

So, we have recorded one potential anthem of the Subgenius. Tom is a video producer, and plans to go home and ad video tracks, for it seems that J.R. "Bob" Dobbs is married to one Connie. I see 1950's advertisements for refrigerators. I see Pleasantville. We are ready for Dr. Demento.

We have plans. And plans to travel, for while friends may pass on, friendships are to precious to let go.

I awoke from my sleep and immediately wished I hadn't. Every ... single ... muscle ... hurt. I'm sure my wife's twisted foot doesn't feel very good either, but oh wow am I sore. Muscle groups I didn't even know I had were stiff and sore. Just getting dressed was painful. Even my fingers were swollen and red from all the lifting, pulling, and pushing they were doing.

We had to get my wife's glasses repaired (they got scratched yesterday, either from her fall, or shortly before that), and the con artists at LensCrafters were happy to oblige once I paid half the original cost of the lenses. Oh, that was after she'd told us it'd be $50, then changed her mind ("Oh, darn, that changed, sorry"). While we waited for the lenses to be re-made (why can't they ever just repair the damned things?), we wandered slowly around in the mall. She hobbled more than walked, understandable given the huge black and blue bruise on her foot. After an hour, we headed back and picked up her new lenses. There goes $89 we didn't have.

We came back home, had some dinner, and she rested while I tried dragging in the rest of the stuff from Saturday's big truck haul. I got everything inside and in place, except the clothes washer. I just didn't have the strength to lift it up the stairs, even with the appliance dolly. Just couldn't do it. My fingers hurt too much to keep a good grip, and my arms were too sore to put enough power into the work to actually get the machine off the ground. Now it's sitting in the kitchen, until I can figure out a way to get it up there myself, or find someone (or even two people) to help.

My wife went to bed before I did, and without even thinking we began the first real test of the benefits of owning a big house versus living in a rented, tiny apartment. In the apartment, she complained that she could never sleep when I stayed up, because she would always be able to hear me, or she'd get scared being alone in the bedroom.

Well, tonight, she was in bed a full two hours before she got back up and demanded I go to bed (sadly, not for sex, just sleep -- she's never that rewarding). No mention of hearing me, or of being scared. I guess she just decided it was time for me to go to bed. I still fucking hate that. But at least she didn't hear anything to wake her up. That is good news.

It finally sunk into my head tonight though that this is a real house, not just a dream. As I sit here in the living room, my wife upstairs in bed and the cats finally sleeping (they love this place; they tear around, run up and down the stairs, chase each other, sniff everything, and seemingly never sleep), I'm finally getting a good idea of just how quiet and peaceful this place is.

It's completely silent. There's no sounds at all. No neighbors banging on shared walls. No cars driving by with monstrous subwoofers booming the newest (c)rap (er, I mean, the latest angry white boy "music") at everyone. No footsteps above. No construction sounds outside, since it's 2:00am. It's not scary or "weird" here either. It just feels ... "right". In the apartment, I frequently got a bit "creeped out" in the apartment; dark corners, strange noises (made by other people), and so on. I don't feel any of that here. I'm not afraid to walk into the two guest bedrooms where we haven't put in any lamps yet (since we're not using the rooms yet). Random noises don't happen, mostly because there's nothing to cause them.

The air conditioner turned on just a second ago, and I realized that's the loudest it's ever going to get in this house at night. Note the A/C is pretty quiet, too. It's so nice and comfortable here.

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