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When we met I was drawn to your shoulders, your arms.
There is a strange sense of free there,
and all through you.

Later, you would explain your hairstyle to me as a pineapple:
Blonde dreads piled high into a spray of spikes
You told me that they shaved your hair in juvvy,
and you've been letting it grow ever since.

You told me that the peanut
Is the slut of the legume family,
And that truly superior butter is yielded by the cashew
but that almond is also okay.

I wondered how you could live on soy milk and
Peanut butter sandwiches, and you wondered how I could live by
borrowing time from a job that I hated.


Adam in the Rain

Adam, we were complaining about the rain and I said, "I bet we could stop it if we all tried, but I can't do it alone here." Laura thought it was a good idea and we both closed our eyes and strained against creation. You said, "I bet you could. But I don't want to stop the rain. I mean, think about it, we need water to live, and it's falling on us."

I thought, you're right, I should be out there. I should be feeling the sky weep on me instead of cursing it from the "safety" of this van. The humid half-dry feeling of camping with strangers.

Half an hour earlier we had stuggled to keep the mechandise dry, poking random sticks, toys, and ... me, the resident childlike adult into the tarp to make the water run down the sides of the vendor stall. I got splashed right on the head, but I got to ride on Michael's shoulders, and I saved a rack of flip'n'fliers from certain destruction.

That morning, Adam, we played together, we exchanged toys and traded tricks. In the early dawn at Ninigret, storks and herons caught fish, foxes lurked, and you and I traded what secrets we could bear to part with. We caught each other's tosses, we touched without swapping sweat. I gave you parts of me that I never thought to share. It was so embarassingly platonic, and refreshingly intimate, but we could've been brothers if I'd been raised as a boy.

On a Sunday night, after two days spent wiping snot off of our demo toys, I sorely needed rebaptism. So I stumbled, backache and twisted ankles out of the stuffy toymobile into the gentle falling curtain of the Rhode Island night. The night toys were out and you were teaching boys to do the weave with glowsticks tied onto shoelaces for lack of practice poi.

There was no one left to serve but myself, so I danced.


Dance, people. Dance!

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Human Behavior

Things I do in Japan that I was never accustomed to doing in the US:

  • Finish absolutely every last grain of rice and bit of sauce on my plate, including the foods I'm not keen on. My host parents didn't insist I do this, in fact they've thrown the stock phrase "muri shinaide!" at me more than once when I've been struggling with something particularly foreign. Nonetheless, it's good manners, and I feel badly when I have food left on my plate while both my host parents have cleaned theirs and they're scolding my host siblings for not doing the same. Kouichiro has yet to cite my behavior as a reason why he shouldn't finish his meal, but I want to head off the possibility anyway. It helps that the Japanese eat reasonable portions.
  • Eat McDonalds hamburgers. Oh. My. God. Fast food has never tasted this delicious ever ever ever. If you think you're too hip to eat trashy American chain food when you get the chance, wait until it's chicken cartilage, cow stomach, and squid tentacle for dinner. You'll run crying to Ronald faster than you can say, "Wait a sec, is this even edible?" Unless you're my fellow Japan traveller Jono. But Jono drinks durian shakes so he totally doesn't count.
  • Wash my hands obsessively. With the added bonus that I actually use soap, which the Japanese do not. Something about a country this clean makes me itchy to get the germs off my grubby fingers before I touch anything. At the same time, I want to distinguish myself from those around me. The Japanese combine this really strange compulsion to clean in certain areas with a distressingly laissez faire attitude toward cleanliness in others. Public bathrooms, for example, are anything but pristine. And they don't put any soap by the sink. If the Japanese coming out of the bathroom bother to wash their hands at all, they just run them under the water and shake them off (no towels either). Okay, it's time to put on our culturally judgmental caps: that's gross.
  • Stop for red lights at pedestrian crosswalks. What's that about anyway? I'm gonna get myself killed if I go back to Chicago without breaking the habit first. Cursed Japanese middle aged women and their unnervingly effective withering leers of disapproval. The shocked, utterly shocked! stares of elementary school children with those silly hats and the surface-of-the-sun bright yellow backpacks they all wear don't help either. Though maybe they're just staring at my big stupid foreigner nose.
  • Eat at least two or three gelatinous substances a day. Gelatin is it's own food group to the Japanese. No meal with my host family is complete without something gelatinous. I'm excising tofu, jello (which they call 'jelly'), and flan (which they call 'pudding') from my diet for a few months when I get back home, just to restore some sort of sanity to my digestive system.

Things I do in Japan that are pretty much the same as back in the US:

  • Let people assume I'm straight. Last night's dinner conversation with my host family confirmed they still think I'm going to marry a nice American woman and copulate in a nice heterosexual fashion to produce nice genetically related children. They got the kids part right at least. Though a few nights before that they pointed out a famous gay guy on a quiz show (didn't really need to point it out, he was flaming up a goddamn firestorm) without any sort of judgemental tone. They were just wondering if it's acceptable in the US for anyone to be obviously gay on television. I assured them that it was (I didn't get into Queer Eye because the complexity of that would've been beyond my ability to communicate). I think I've given them a harsher impression of the US than I've meant to with all the recent conversations we've been having about US politics and the strength of the Religious Right. They could barely believe what I was saying when I told them there was a heated controversy over evolution. My host mother described that as among the stupidest things she had ever heard. Go Mom!
  • Say "please" and "thank you" more often than the people around me. I'm still much more polite to my host family than they are to each other, but that's just how I am. My American family's policy is that the home is a haven of courteous behavior and considerate speech. When I'm relaxed it's what I default to. I'm also pleased as punch with the incident where a stranger in a ramen stand who overhead my conversations with the cooks and the waitress exclaimed that I was more polite than the Japanese themselves. I still don't know how to use sonkeigo and humble speech to fluently express that whoever I'm talking to is God and I'm worse than dirt, though. Not that I'm every going to be hired to work at a department store or a konbini or anything.

Finally, Kouichiro's really starting to take a liking to me. And by "taking a liking," I mean he's fond of grabbing on to various parts of my body while we're eating dinner and just holding on and staring at me in fascination for a while. He's really cute about it too, he even asks permission by saying, "Suwatte ii?" He's also obsessed with convincing his mother to let him take his nap (two hours of bike riding every day means a nice nap for izu too) on the same futon as me, rather than her. She's of half a mind to say it's okay if I agree, but I have no plans to let that happen. Him holding on to my arm is adorable and I've stopped loooking awkwardly the other way when he runs out of the bathroom naked, but sleeping on the same futon pops my cultural bubble. You also may note this is why I'm still not keen to let my host family know I kiss guys.

The rest of the student body at HIF is currently grumpy at everything Japanese and desperate to go home. For some reason I went through this phase two weeks ago and I'm very relaxed and settled into my routine now. It'll be nice to be back in the states, mostly because I'll be able to see my friends and my parents again, but I'm not really counting the days till I head for the airport. I hope the next few weeks will stay as relaxed.

II

See how ignorant you are of your own self; there is no land so distant or so unknown to you, nor one about which you will so easily believe falsehoods.
Guigo, Meditations, ca. 1115 AD

Somewhere around Proletarskaya I exited the train. I could not breathe; the sprawling concrete blocks hemmed me in, a maze of yellow curtains and porcelain bowls of purple vinaigrette. My shelter for the night was an old car whose side window I gutted with a brick.

There is no resourcefulness like the resourcefulness of the first hermit crabs of the Apocalypse.

A rat was my brick's next victim. I crushed its brain with an easy movement (Caesar waves his hand and the Helvetii are slaughtered). Leviticus, as I never tire of repeating, is no authority for me--though it lack cloven hooves, rat is as tasty and nutritious as anything the Azerbaijani on the corner will sell you. And, unlike the plebes who live behind these soot-stained parapets, I know that it is a sin to cook a piece of meat well-done.

I have removed myself from the world of the bestial philistines whose world is passivity and gradualism, from the money changers who build their own temples. Marx says, "An Aristotle who would take his Politics from our conditions, would write on the first page: 'Man is a social but completely apolitical animal.'" I am no longer an animal. I am no longer an animal.

It occasionally seems as if the dirt and the crawling in the dark and the undersides of benches and the slick black truncheons and the raw food hunted down and taken by force are whispering to me, trying to tell me something I can no longer hear. But I have no more use for words, words of warning or exhortation, of praise or reassurance or anathema. What did Gracchus or Hitler or Robespierre make with their tongues besides bricks for the Tower of Babel?

Alright, guys! I seriously need help with this relationship/romance thing.

Remember Bandgirl? Yeah, well, it’s time to move on, folks. She hurt me very badly. I finally got fed up today and hurt her twice as bad as she ever hurt me.

But it is time for me to dive into a world I have never before actually explored: Dating and Romance.

I haven’t the foggiest idea how to deliver a good pickup-line, other than my usual barbaric “Hey, you know I’m not wearing anything under these cutoffs” or “When life hands you lemons, make apple juice!”

I don’t know what girls like to hear, what they like in guys, or what the secret dream of all females is.

I know where I work that I am “on the meat hook” or “on display,” as Brian puts it. And I have had plenty of girls (and women that honestly look like they could have been my mother) tell me how cute my smile is, or how pretty my eyes are. I get flirted with a lot, but half the time I am too dumb to take a hint, and even if I could get up with a girl, when it comes time to get physical, which is another world in itself that I have no experience in, I really have nowhere to take her. I still live with my Mom! But then, so does my brother, and he’s 42...

But I’m digressing. Brian has informed me that my prime started around 17 to 19, and it is slowly passing me by. In other words, my biological clock is ticking! I don’t want to die a lonely old fart. Brian thinks I just need to get a good piece of high quality ass, and then go from there. I think there should be more to it. I have been advised both for and against getting a “friend with benefits,” and I think I do want more than just sex. I want the whole nine yards.

For Christ’s sake... this is the daylog... I don’t really have to be ashamed of anything in here. It is really the one place in E2 where I can let it all hang out and be myself. I WEAR TIGHTY-WHITIES AND TUBE SOCKS! OKAY? So there... wait a minute! I mean, ignore that last part! What I mean to say is, I think I would be so nervous and stuff, that I wouldn't be effective. But I want to have the courage to go out there and experiment with the female population (at least in my area) and get to know what I like in a girl. But as far as the sex goes, I hear it would be worth it if I wait until marriage, but I don't know if I want to get married. What's the point in waiting for something that won't happen? That's what finally made me turn away from old bandgirl... She even told me not to waste my time on her, and after all the time I spent trying to puff up her ego and make her feel good about herself, too. Someone else can do that from now on... hell!

I still haven't even had a proper kiss. That first one I got, the environment was extrememly uncomfortable, and the chick was pushy and way too forward (I know what she wanted, and it was more than I was willing to give). So, as the saying goes, "There is always next time." But I have to make next time happen, somehow...

Decided by Committee

Most of the Gods were there. Usually it's difficulty to even meet quorum for one of these things. I always come, but then I'm left with lots of free time since my smiting days have been pretty much over for the last few hundred years. Oh, I get the occasional ritual sacrifice and every now and then I make an appearance as a rain cloud or a booming voice of thunder, but for the most part, I'm retired these days. In the old days I'd get drowned children and bowls full of tears so often that Chalchiuhtlicue would nag at me for never mowing the verdant lawns of Tlalocan and slacking off on repairs to visit my devoted. But I always figured that if someone's going to go to all the trouble of drowning some brat to appease your mighty wrath, you might as well make a personal appearance.

It was the Greeks' turn to host this year's convocation, and the accomodations at Olympus are pretty spectacular. Plenty of flirtatious pretty girls, (or pretty boys, if your tastes run that way), plenty of booze and great food. It was good to see some of those guys after so long. The Babylonians were there. I hadn't seen Marduk and Nabu in ages. Didn't really care for Marduk's new beard, but underneath he was the same good old boy. The usual suspects were also there; Ganymede kept busy by batting his long, lovely eyelashes at Hu, Pele and Kamapua'a were bickering over something silly and Iktomi and Sun Wukong were bragging about their exploits while piling up their plates at the buffet. Iktomi's still using that same old squirting flower gag. As always, the beforehand gathering seemed too short and I had barely had time to discuss precipitaiton techniques with Tefnut before Zeus was calling everyone to order.

"Gods and Goddesses, deities most puissant, I welcome you to our humble abode," how Zeus was able to call Olympus a humble abode while standing on an enormous gilded dais made out of marble without the slightest touch of irony in his voice is something I'm still awed by, "and it is my honor as the Leader of the Greek Contigent to call this Convocation to order. If you could all take your places?"

We settled into our assigned seats. There was the reading of the minutes, which was mercifully short because there weren't enough attendees at the last convocation for a quorum. There was no old business. So Zeus called for new business, and someone from the Christians piped up, "I say we bring about the Apocolypse!"

Thoth cleared his long throat in that dramatic way of his and said softly, "You realize, of course, that the word apocolypse technically means a vision, not the end of the world. What you are more properly referring to is the eschaton. Although if you don't mind admitting somewhat of a bias to your own weltanschaaung , I suppose the word armageddon would be acceptible. "

The Christian snorted and shouted, "Semantics! Anyway, I propose we bring about the end of the world."

There was a slight murmuring among us, and it seemed pretty obvious that the Norse Contigent was in favor of bringing about the end. They began chanting "Ragnorak, Ragnorak, Ragnorak!" and Thor began pounding on his table rhythmically with Mjollnir. Zeus called for order. After a few moments of quiet, Quetzalcoyotl calmly asserted, "Well, I'd like a resulotion as much as anyone. But bringing it about this year would completely throw off all of the work we've done so far. We've been building up to this, and I don't think waiting five more years would be at all unreasonable." I nodded in support of the leader of my contigent, but truth be told, It's long stopped mattering to me whether all those old cosmological signs are obeyed. This year would have been as good as any other. Zoroaster scowled and said, "The tenth hundredth winter passed a long time ago. Let's get this over with."

"Aye," Thor bellowed, "There are some jotuns that need smashing!"

"Are you so anxious to be crushed by a giant earthworm?" Isis snapped.

"Well, I for one, think there hasn't been nearly so serendipitous a time for the total destruction of mankind and its environs since the Second World war," Cernunnos smoothly interjected, "I say we strike while the iron is hot, especially with the situation in the Middle East and those lunatics running the States," he ignored a glare from Gabriel, "Why don't we simply put it a to a vote?"

"I second that motion!" roared Ares.

Zeus nodded and said, "Very well, all those in favor of bringing about the destruction of this world, say aye."

There was a most emphatic chorus of deities shouting in affirmation of the end. "All those opposed?"

An equally vocal and enthusiastic group of us shouted, "Nay!"

Zeus ruled that the vote was too close to tell and had to be taken to ballot. And the result? I'd prefer for that to be a surprise.

part of the wordmongers' masque

Wordmongers' Masque
Lost Angels.

I remember Los Angeles. High buildings. Crowded streets. Taxi cabs. And the people. Millions of people. The number alone is unthinkable.

It was beautiful.

Now only memory tells me that this is Los Angeles. Gone is the recognizable cityscape and the press of humanity. Everything is in ruins. As far as the eye can see in every direction are the remains of a once great city. And death. Death so thick that it is sensed before seen or smelt.

"Suthers, why are we here?" Calvin's voice is a whisper so soft that it barely makes it to my ears. Which is exactly the thought I need right now. Standing on one of the highest remaining buildings makes us an easy target. And it's not just the Krags we have to worry about.

"Okay. We'll go down." I whisper back. After a swig of water I toss the bottle back to Calvin.

"No man. I don't mean right here. I mean why'd we risk coming to the city? This is insane. There's a reason the cities are in ruins. That's how the Krags want them." He was right. People who went to the cities didn't often come back. The best way to survive was to keep moving. And in small groups.

But he was wrong too. Sure, the two of us could survive if we were careful. If we kept away from the old cities. If we hid at the first signal of danger. But the two of us hardly meant the survival of humankind. That had to be the ultimate goal. That had to be our driving purpose. Otherwise all the Krags had won.

"You tru-" I cut myself off. The silence below is disturbed by a scream. I look down towards the streets and spot someone running through the rubble. My first guess is someone running from Krags. It always is.

Already I'm turned around and headed down the stairs. I can hear Calvin groan as he sees my movements, but he'll follow. He was in New York when the first attacks happened. He saw the worst of the worst in people. Lost his entire family, not because of the Krags, but because of the violence of others.

"I'll wait for them to come near here and then try to distract them, maybe draw them away. Loop around, bring them straight to your waiting arms." It's my job to play the rabbit.

Calvin nods his head and drops his bag near the door. Just beyond the door I spot our runner. He is small and pale-skinned. And he looks slim, but we all do these days. He's out of sight before I have a chance to gleam much more.

I sprint out after him, chancing a glance backwards to see his pursuers. Krags with hovercycles. I allow myself a moment to give a sigh of relief. It's one thing to kill Krags. They've attacked and destroyed without mercy. They want to eliminate us. Killing actual people, though, still gives me nightmares. We're all just trying to eke out a living. The need to survive has made monsters of some. That doesn't make killing them easy.

It's been a few minutes of hard running and the Krags are gaining faster than we can run.

Ahead of me, the runner's foot snags on rubble. As he falls forward his leg stays in place. Even from this distance I can tell that it's a break.

"Oh hell."

There goes the rabbit plan.

As I get closer to him, I realize that this runner is hardly even a teenager.

"Help me. Please." His voice is strained, but not weak. Some courage in the kid. Good. He'll need it.

I nod my head at him and offer a thin smile. And then run into a doorway right next to him. He'll have to be bait. And I'll have to be quick.

Ten seconds. Maybe fifteen. The loaded gun at my hip moves to my hand. I'll get the first shot and if that doesn't count then we're both in trouble. I take a deep breath and lean out the door.

Every time I look at a Krag I get a feeling of terror deep in my bones. Something instinctual that tells me that they're dangerous. With their barbed tails and horns, they are the spitting image of every story I heard about the devil.

The hovercycle slows to a halt in front of the kid. Before one of them can get off, I unload two shots. One at the driver's head. Another directly behind it. The first dissolved in the energy field around the cycle. The other made it through in the brief opening made by the first.

The 'cycle spirals as the Krag's head literally melts. Explosive rounds filled with garlic powder. Somewhat fitting that the devil is allergic to garlic.

I wait until the second Krag has control of the vehicle, before taking two more shots. This time into the fuel tank. The hovercycle explodes in a brilliant white flash and hits the ground. My pistol finds its way back into the holster and I kneel down to the boy. He smiles weakly as I wrap his arm around my shoulder.

"Are you an angel?" He sounds hopeful. I almost wish I could say yes.

"No. I am just a man." I speak softly as I begin to examine his leg.

"You could not be. No man can defeat the devil. You... you are one of the lost angels?" his voice wavers slightly, "Yes. It must be. Thank the Protector."

I nod my head, not in agreement, but in understanding. People no longer believed that there was a god watching over us. Most think he sent his angels to protect us but they never made it. Hence, lost angels.

"Don't count on help from above, kid. All we've got is each other."

Evil comes to all us men of imagination wearing as its mask all the virtues.
William Butler Yeats

The end of yet another job...

Last night was my last night (haha) working as a bouncer for what used to be my favorite bar on campus. I told them I was leaving two weeks ago and have looked forward to getting more sleep during the week and not being tied to work on weekends. During the week, I simply cannot be getting four hours of sleep in a night and expect to put in an 8 hour day followed by 3 hours of class. It would take many pages to explain everything about this bar, but I had been going there since I was a freshman and fell in love with it immediately. I was obsessed with the fact that I was underage and all of the older football players would provide me with alcohol and cigarettes. It was halfway through last year (my senior year) that I got a job working there.

It is easy to claim to have no regrets, but part of me regrets working there. I feel like I may have missed out on part of my senior year. It is not all negative, however, because I was able to get some of my younger friends into the bar so that they could experience what I did early in my collegiate career. I also got to drink at work, so it was almost like I was being paid to party. When I enjoyed working, it was typically because all of my friends were there, I was a few drinks in, and it wasn't too crowded. There were many nights when I loathed every minute of it, but for whatever reason, decided to stick with working.

I do not regret the things I've learned. I learned a lot about people. There are a lot of different personalities that work there and frequent the establishment. I quickly learned not to take anything for face value. There were some trustworthy employees, but there are a few that aren't. Most were really nice to me. There is a certain comradery that goes along with fellow employees, and I respected that. There were also many good conversations that were had during late night drinking sessions that carried far into the morning. Another thing I learned was how to deal with having a little bit of power.

Most of the time, I had the ability to kick out whoever I wanted for no real reason. I abused this power once or twice, but all it took for me to stop was to think about when I was simply a customer and what I wanted from the bar. I just wanted to have a good time, be loud and obnoxious, dance and sing, and hang out with a bunch of my friends. There are a lot of things that I let slide because I took this mentality. Like I've said in past w/u's, I felt like I was protecting the patrons from the workers most of the time.

Last night was the most fun I've had working in a while. Maybe because I knew I wouldn't be back there ever again, but I was talking with a bunch of friends the whole night, and it never got too crowded. I wasn't even looking for anyone to throw out, I was just enjoying myself because I knew everyone was having a good time. I had a lot of fun watching some of the younger football players dance, sing and drink. They were having a fantastic time, and I was happy for them. For the first time in a little while I felt completely at ease with everything. Anything I was worrying about (school, work, future, etc) just seemed to melt away. It was a really good feeling. I did a lot of reflection on my working experiences and there are a lot of people I'm going to miss from there. The bar manager took me aside later in the night to shake my hand and thank me for all of my help the last few months. I didn't really think I had helped that much, but it felt good to hear it. I just hope that I helped a lot of people have a good time without having to worry about getting into fights or getting too drunk to the point of excess.

I wish I could remember all of the funny stories and memorable moments that happened at the bar, but I guess thus is life. There are certain parts of your life that will end, whilst at the same time open up new opportunities. For me, it means that I will spend my weekends travelling. I have planned many trips in the coming months. I also started coaching a youth football team. I am very excited about coaching and passing on some knowledge and fun of the game. I think I will be a lot happier without the job and be able to do a lot more fun things than stay in the same place every weekend.

One day I shall go completely mad,

then I shall be free from the boredom and sadness

or shall I run away from the crowd like a madman,

run like a mad man...

without looking back,

without daring to look back...

my limbs will never tire,

freeing myself from the invisible chains around me.

the mountains shall welcome me,

they shall make me wise,

shun away my madness,

protect me from the menacing crowd,

the remains of whose memories shall not remain in my distant dreams,

play me a lullaby and drive me off to sleep,

sleep from which I shall not wake up,.

I dare not wake up.

I want to run faster,

faster than ever before,

I can hear them saying,

"here he goes again..."

but dear ones, this time I shall not come back ...

lest you won't give me back my madness.

The Man in White- Pt. 5

How do I explain this one? That a fire was started by a figment of my imagination and that he's brutally murdering people for no apparent reason?

Defying reason and logic he stands there, flames billowing around him. I cannot react for a few seconds. Then everything switches back to life. He might not exist but I bet I can hurt him. He turns tail and runs down out the fire escape.

I'm there a few seconds afterwards, barely thinking. Catch him. Whatever he is. He runs along the alleyway and disappears round a corner. I follow... but somehow he's vanished.

John appears by my side. I ask him if he saw what I saw. He shakes his head.


We drove out of there quickly. I didn't really want to be questioned. I can just imagine how that would go.

I reach out for the radio, but find nothing but static. I need something to calm my thoughts, because right now I'm not thinking too rationally.

Admittedly this isn't the first time a hallucination has become so vivid. There was an incident where I met this harmonica player playing on the windy streets, Bill I believe his name was. The sound he made out of it seemed to pierce the air and melt in your ears. I asked him to teach me.

For several weeks I went to see him. Got pretty good at it too. Then this blues band approached me. Asked me if I wanted to play. I told them "What about Bill?". When they asked who I was talking about, I turned to the place he was sitting. He'd disappeared.

This is different. The harmonica player was exceptionally strange but plausible. This defied all logic...

...unless I was imagining all of this. That murder. Perhaps I hadn't seen him kill someone. Perhaps I hallucinated and saw someone else. But is this a sign? Is it getting worse?

I needed sleep.


The next day after receiving little sleep, we examined the tape.

The first message was from the guy’s mother asking him if he'd visit during the following weekend. The last two messages were certainly interesting:

"Mr Snopes? It's Freeman. Look I'm starting to get worried. I swear someone is following me home at night. It's getting too dangerous to supply you with information. I understand this important, but I really think they'll kill me if I probe too much."

"Mr Snopes? I've done everything you asked. Promise me you'll pull some strings with your superiors and get me some protection. I given you those account records you asked for. You'll find them in your office."

This confirmed the suspicion that Freeman and Snopes had been part of some investigation. It also explained why the place had been torched. Hopefully the book I have on me is still useful. It seems to be filled with figures, numbers. It looks like an accountants book.

"So we have two main leads. We need to find out from Laura what her contact has to say and we need to work out the book is for and what Snopes was investigating." John summarised.

I nodded. I knew where to start with the book at least.


"Louise! Damn it, open up!" I hammered hard on the door and continued to shout. From Louise Hall's looks and grace you wouldn't think she was an accountant. Or rather was an accountant. She's more of a rouge accountant now. More commonly known as a con artist. She can make numbers do tricks for her. Perhaps numbers will appear twice. Or not at all. It all depends on what she wants to do with them.

I figure her of all people would know what secrets lie in the pages of this book. Assuming her latest scheme hasn't blown up in her face.

After 5 minutes of shouting, she finally opens the door. She motions for us to come in. Then she's straight to business.

"What is it you guys need?"

I show her the ledger and explain.

"That kind of job will take a while. I'll need about $500 to do it."

"200. And I don't tell the police where you're hiding."

She sticks her tongue out. Almost childlike.

"Fine. I knew you were a bastard Tom. I didn't know you were the best."

"Second best. I try harder."


After taking my medicine we head towards Colson's office. It's on the street near the office things become strange...

Out of no where, a massive beagle walks out of the alley way. I shrug it off. It's just a hallucination.

But more creatures start appearing. Things start to slither out of the brickwork. I swear I see a man without a face. There is a horrifying whispering sound that echoes across the street.

I breathe heavily, try to focus on what is real. But the whispering doesn't stop and neither do the monsters. The street just fills with them. It is not unimaginable. I've had years of experience with the imaginable. But it's not any less terrifying.

The street is packed with dark shapes. All of them ugly, contorted into impossible shapes. The whispering seems to consume me. I collapse against the sidewalk, hands on my legs, shivering, hoping that the images stop.


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For the Wordmongers' Masque

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