Category Archives: Shorts

Dinosaurs Speculate if the Asteroid is a Hoax

An asteroid is hurtling toward earth at 40,000 mph. It’s 6 miles wide and 50 miles in diameter. At that size we could be facing a fifth extinction event. Modest projections compare it to the ice age that wiped out the trilobites. This is according to the Collision Avoidance Initiative, a team of Aeolosaurus astrophysicists, whose long necks let them see the sky more clearly than other species.

Now Pteranodons are spreading the news from canyon to canyon. Oryctodromeus are digging fortified burrows. Volunteers velociraptors are preserving insects in amber, curing amphibian jerky, and stockpiling snails. And vegan Iguanodons are dehydrating berries and pickling ferns.

A collation of dinosaurs from both continents have come together. But despite their efforts, our brief 170 million year reign could be coming to an end.

The impact will toss mountains to the sky, set clouds aflame, and cast tsunamis to the breeze. It will wipe out 75% of life and kick up enough dust to blot out the sun. Photosynthesis will be a thing of the past. Crops will die. Triceratops livestock will follow. Those who outrun the apex predators will get a lung full of iridium for their efforts.

This is the best case scenario as far as the astrophysicists can tell.

But What if It’s all a Hoax?

That’s what the viral documentary Counterfeit Comet claims. The clip features an interview with Dr. Trudy Saurus Rex, a “freelance astrophysicist.”

As an alpha-female, Dr. Rex used astronomy to deduce Anatosaurus migration patterns and hunt them down. Now she claims there is no celestial threat and that the object in the sky is something else.

When asked if she believes in asteroids Dr. Rex said, “I am not an asteroid denier but,” there was a pregnant pause. “This asteroid that has everyone worried is the product of big astronomy. Now don’t look at me like I’m crazy. This isn’t one of those conspiracy theories about mammalians from the fourth dimension. It’s hard science.”

The documentary claims that Dr. Rex revolutionized how astronomers saw the solar system and that her thesis is widely taught. The documentary followed the Tyrannosaurus to the top of a tall peak where she cast her snout to the heavens.

“The sun circles us all day. It only leaves when it’s certain we’re asleep. Then it races back in the morning. The sun is watching us because the moon, the planets, and even the asteroid are its eggs. The sun is more afraid of us than we are of it.

Now, if you’ve ever laid eggs, you know it’s hard to keep them in the nest until they hatch. The planets are a lot like that. They move, and like eggs they tilt in one direction and fall back the way they came.”

Dr. Rex folded her tiny arms and threaded her claws together. “The asteroid appears to be coming in fast, but it will disappear when it rolls back. That’s why smart dinosaurs aren’t hiding. They’re hiking game trails and playing outside.”

Dr. Rex was especially critical of the Collision Avoidance Initiative’s safety measures.

She thinks it’s unnecessary for crocodiles and turtles to head out to sea. “Sure, they’re slower on the land, but what about all the dangerous rocks in the ocean?”

She pities the rodents scurrying into caverns. “Sheltering in place will make them more vulnerable to snakes.”

And her mind was blown by shifting migration patterns. “I’m hearing reports of birds flying north for the winter and I’m like ‘What the heck is going on around here?”

Throughout the documentary Dr. Rex portrays herself as the voice of sanity amidst a surge of hysteria. She’s shown marching through the jungles as the brainwashed masses flee her presence, too scared to be confronted by hard facts.

Dr. Rex thinks the Aeolosaurus want everyone in hiding so they can have the best trees to themselves. “Those top shelf leaves don’t come cheap. Those bloated sauropods will gorge themselves. You’ll see.”

Further Controversy

It’s important to note that Counterfeit Comet was produced by a group whose cave scratchings feature anti-scientific theories. The group is part of the volcano denial movement. They believe the government is tracking dinosaurs through mosquitoes bites, and that fisher towers cause bone cancer.

It should be noted that Yellow River, the urine based social network, refused to screen the documentary. “The documentary suggests that finding cover is more dangerous than a 60 million metric ton collision. We believe the clip could lead to imminent harm.” Said a Yellow River spokes-dinosaur. “We put our trust in the Collision Avoidance Initiative.”

In a few hour we’ll see who was right.

Dr. Rex knows where her pack will be when the time comes. “We’ll be at the beach, splashing through the Gulf of Mexico without a care in the world.”

•••

3D Tyrannosaurus head by AzurPoly
3D Glasses by almartin
Photoshop by Drew Chial

Continue reading Dinosaurs Speculate if the Asteroid is a Hoax

The President Downplays Spread of Headcrabs throughout the White House

This Friday, President Donald Trump met with 20 House Republicans to discuss the annexation of New York by extra dimensional beings known as the Combine Empire. The President spoke for over an hour without noticing that every lawmaker had headcrabs on their skulls.

Headcrabs are weaponized parasites from the Combine Overworld. They look like ticks with tough leather hides. On average they grow to be the size of a pillow. They have stubby legs, but they’re capable of running down rabbits, killing coyotes, and leaping over an elephants.

Headcrabs get their name by hijacking a host’s nervous system and controlling their motor functions. Their mouth works like a beartrap clamping onto the victim’s neck. Their talons work like climbing axes digging into collarbones. Their beak works like a grappling hook embedding itself in the cranium. Once installed the headcrab pilots the host, like a zombie, turning them into a soldier for the enemy.

Most Americans have staved off this threat by wearing motor cycle helmets, spiked pickelhaubes, and coolie hats. The average American has a steel tipped umbrella for when they go to the grocery store, a homemade spear for when they got to work, and Viking horns for when they go to the beach.

Headcrabs in the Whitehouse

Meanwhile the Trump administration has taken none of these precautions.

Raymond Werner, public health advisor at the CDC, said, “We told the president to launch thermal imagining drones, position motion sensitive turrets on the White House lawn, and install parasitoid screeners at every entrance. He said he’d take it under advisement.

Days later we find the oval office overrun with zombified minions and the president is sitting there with a shit eating grin. I asked why he didn’t notice these barnacles on everyone’s skulls and he said, ‘I’m too busy running the country.’ Christ, these things are the size of a jack-o-lanterns. You mean to the secret service didn’t spot a single one?”

Recently Stephen Miller, policy adviser to the president, and wife Katie Miller, the vice president’s press secretary, came down with a case of headcrabs.

When asked how he hadn’t noticed the president said, “Look at Stephen Miller’s face and tell you’d notice?”

Raymond Werner was baffled. “Ivanka Trump’s personal assistant had a parasite the size of a Thanksgiving turkey on her noggin and no one said a thing.”

A spokesperson for Ivanka said, “Ivanka had noticed, but assumed her assistant was having a bad hair day and didn’t want to be rude.”

3D Headcrab model by Elizabeth Edwards

The President wants to Reopen Despite Combine Invasion

The Governor of New Mexico lifted the state’s quarantine despite the serge of portal storms and the ominous green cloud over the Black Mesa Research Facility. Headcrab infections have skyrocketed ever since. The parasites have congregated in movie theaters, nail salons, and gyms.

Raymond Werner warned, “Headcrabs are pack hunters. They sniff out an easy quarry. You can go to church on Sunday, but you won’t be able to pray them away.”

The Combine Empire have taken advantage of the devastation. They’ve installed a suppression field around New Mexico. The field remotely neuters anyone caught within its wavelength by blocking key protein chains. The invaders don’t want us breeding.

Nevertheless the President applauded New Mexico on Twitter. “Congratulations to the great state of New Mexico on very good, and very smart, reopening. If only we could liberate the rest of the country so quickly. #HeadCrabHoax.”

The CDC is Very Worried

Raymond Werner is less optimistic than the President. “We heard the same denialism from Eastern European leaders. They claimed their countries had headcrab immunity. It wasn’t long before they were overrun with parasitic passengers of their own. After that Combine forces erected a dark energy reactor so tall it blotted out the sun. They call it the Citadel. Meanwhile we’re being told to go back to the amusement parks and strip malls, but If we’re not careful we’ll have a Citadel on every corner.”

The Combine in Washington

Since Friday the portal storms in Washington D.C. have only gotten worse. Headcrabs have filled the national mall and affixed themselves to the Lincoln memorial. They’ve swept through the supreme court, the house of reperceives, and the senate. Yes, the infected continue to show up for floor proceedings, if only to groan. Despite these developments the President is moving to wind down the Headcrab Response Task Force.

“Americans need to shrug off these parasites and get back to work.”

One Question Still Remains

How did the president go into room full of headcrabs and not get infected himself?

Raymond Werner was hesitant to speculate. “I think it has something to do with his hair. It could be the synthetic copolymer or the aerosol spray that holds it together, but the headcrabs wanted nothing to do with it. Figuring out why might be the key to saving the rest of humanity.”

•••

3D Headcrab model by Elizabeth Edwards
Photoshop by Drew Chial

Continue reading The President Downplays Spread of Headcrabs throughout the White House

Stephen King Regrets Writing Himself into This Story

This Friday, officers Libby and Davis investigated a disturbance at Gerald Winters & Son Book Store in Bangor Maine. They found a disheveled man hurling rocks at the door, screaming “Let me in! Please let me in.”

When confronted the man screamed. “You don’t understand. They have the unpublished manuscript that I need to get home!”

It wasn’t until the officers put the man into the back of their vehicle that they realized he was Stephen King.

Officer Libby recounted the incident. “The plan was to drive King home and break the news to Tabby that he’d fallen off the wagon. On the way we tried to assess his sobriety and gage his frame of mind.”

Officer Libby kept her body camera recording the entire time.

“Hey Steve, isn’t that the restaurant where they found the eyeball in the fortune cookie?”

King grunted in the affirmative.

“Want us to turn on the radio? Which station do you own WKIT-FM or WZON?”

“Both of them.” King muttered out the window. Then he pressed his palm to the glass. “UPS is still delivering? That means we’re still in chapter 1. Shit doesn’t hit the fan until the murder hornets show up.”

Officer Libby chuckled. “Murder hornets?”

“Harbingers of the Crimson King. The third of seven.”

Officer Davis chimed in. “I thought seven was a good number.”

King grew irritable. “Who told you that? Odd numbers are always bad, especially prime ones, and especially seven.”

Officer Libby tried changing the subject. “So these harbingers are all insects?”

“No. The first takes the form of an pandemic. The second appears as armed protests. The third is hornets. The fourth is shootings over masks. The fifth is giant rats. The sixth is children murdering their parents.”

“Yikes.” Officer Davis squeezed the wheel. “What’s number seven?”

“When a crystal ball, known as Black 13, is unearthed from One World Trade Center.”

“Then what happens?” The officers asked in unison.

“The beams supporting the dark tower will break and the Crimson King will be set free. He’ll use the deadlights to find the Key World and begin unlocking things. Phantom doors will appear on every street corner and the Warriors of the Scarlet Eye will spill forth from the Outer Dark.”

“Sounds like a hell of a story.”

“That’s all it was supposed to be. I wrote it in a cocaine fueled stupor around the same time as The Tommy Knockers. I shelved it and the world moved on. That was until I found a door on my front lawn.”

“When was that?” Officer Libby couldn’t help but ask.

“Last night.”

Officer Davis later admitted to taking the long way to King’s estate. He wanted to buy the author time to finish his story. In hindsight, Officer Davis admits this was a mistake.

“There was a creaking out front, like the gate was hanging open. I peeked through the drapes and saw something on the path. At first I thought it was a person, a tall man with square shoulders, hunched over in a long black coat.”

Officer Libby spoke over her seat. “I figured you’d have a top of line security. Especially after reading Misery.”

King shrugged. “The system wasn’t making a sound. I thought it was a trick of the light. Something phantasmagorical, like in the stories of Edgar Allen Poe.”

“Do you…see things often?” Officer Libby asked hesitantly.

“The opposite, actually. I’m losing my vision. I have a condition that blurs the center of my sightline. I have to look out the corner of my eyes. That’s why I went outside.”

Officer Davis spoke through the mirror. “When did you realize it wasn’t a person?”

“When I had my hand on the doorframe. It was sturdy, like someone had driven it into the cobblestones. It was a deep rosewood. The color of blood. I looked to where I thought I’d seen a face and my heart skipped a beat.”

“What did it say 1408?”

“No, it was a knocker in the shape of the Great God Pan. It had rams horns, curly locks, and a nasty scowl. Its teeth were jagged, its brow furled, and its nostrils flared. A knocker hung from its septum.”

“Did you knock?”

“I didn’t have to. The door yawned open. I tried to push it shut. I reached for the knob and got a handful of wind for my efforts. My depth perception is horse shit, but something else was throwing it off.

The door moved closer as the path grew distant. I strained to catch my breath. The air felt thin. Reality felt thinner. Then came a light beneath door. It swung open and that light was blinding.

When I opened my eyes it was broad daylight and I was standing in the center of the road. There was a cyclist in a surgical mask. He shot me a dirty look as he passed. That’s when I realized I was in my own Macroverse.”

Officer Libby interrupted. “Stephen, do you mind if I ask how old you are?”

King balled his fists. “I’m not having a senior moment if that’s what you’re thinking.”

Officer Davis let out a long patient sigh. “Yeah, but why would we know you’re a writer if this was happening in one of your stories?”

Dejected, King craned his neck all the way back into the headrest. “My stories exist within my stories. I hold the Guinness world record for most film adaptations. It’d be hard for readers to believe a story where people haven’t heard of me. Christ, I’m appear in three of The Dark Tower entries.”

Officer Davis gave that a considered nod. “But if you write all this meta fiction, isn’t it possible this is all in your imagination?”

King waved that notion away. “Who’s the president right now?”

The officers exchanged a knowing look. “Donald Trump.”

“It’s Clinton where I come from. Donald Trump was my invention. He’s a modern spin on Greg Stillson, the politician, from The Dead Zone. Stillson was a charlatan folk hero. With Trump I wanted to see what would happen if a reality star became president.”

“And this pandemic is also your doing?” Officer Libby humored him.

“I came up with The Stand after I read about a chemical spill in Utah. I came up with The Coronavirus after I read we’re no closer to a cure for the common cold.”

Officer Davis smirked. “What inspired Dream Catcher?”

“OxyContin.”

Officer Libby put her palm to her forehead to hide her grin. “So where are we in this coronavirus story?”

“Has Trump gone on TV to prescribe a malaria drug to the general public?”

“Uh-huh.” The officers said in unison.

“Has he told everybody to drink bleach?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Has he postponed the elections until 2021?”

“Uh-what?”

King nodded self-assuredly. “Then there’s still time.”

At this point Officer Davis felt certain King was putting them on. He couldn’t help but chide the author over his body of work. “Hopefully this one has a more satisfying ending than Under the Dome.”

“Or Secret Window.” Officer Libby added.

“Or The Mist.”

“Or Cell.”

“Or It: Chapter 2. They killed the clown by calling it names?” Officer Davis scoffed. “That was so lame.”

King raised his eyebrow. “That’s not how the book ends.”

Officer Libby rolled her eyes at her partner. “How does this one go again?”

“Or better yet,” Officer Davis let go of the wheel to look back. “How were you planning to get home?”

“Through a breach in reality.” King looked out the window. “I just don’t know where it is.”

Officer Davis seized on that apparent plot hole. “You ought to know you wrote it.”

King gave that a maniacal laugh. At this point the officers reported feeling uncertain that King was putting them on.

“Have you seen my bibliography? Do you think I know those stories by heart? There’s one copy of the manuscript and you are driving away from it.”

Officer Davis turned the patrol car in the direction of the Gerald Winters & Son Book Store. Later he’d admit to doing this to call the author’s bluff.

“Hmmm.” Officer Davis pondered.

“What?” King crossed his arms.

Officer Davis let the wheel go again. “How could a manuscript exist within the story itself?”

Officer Libby turned back as well. “You’d have to have written it in, but then you’d have to write one into that one and another into that one and on and on and on.”

“Like Russian dolls.” Officer Davis nodded.

King’s eyes widened.

“What is it? Did you forget to write the manuscript into the manuscript?”

King pointed ahead. “Door!”

Officer Davis jerked the wheel. The squad card hit an obstruction and flipped end over end. Footage captured by the on-board camera system show the road was clear. Clear right up until the moment a rose red door materialized out of nowhere. A close examination of a freeze frame reveals a knocker that’s dead ringer for the Greek god Pan.

Officer Davis and Officer Libby came out of the crash, with a few broken bones, more or less unharmed. Both were cleared of any wrongdoing and are aiding with the investigation.

As for Stephen King? He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

•••

Continue reading Stephen King Regrets Writing Himself into This Story

Meet the Necromancer Responsible for the Negative Energy on Social Media

Meet Dragrim Obsidian, the necromancer responsible for the negative energy that’s bringing you down. “If you feel like you’ve been abandoned by those in power, like you’re at odds with all of your peers, and there’s no hope for the future, that’s probably my doing.”

Obsidian agreed to an interview provided we met on the observation deck of One World Trade Center.

When I arrive I’m told the deck is closed due to COVID-19. I mention Obsidian and the security staff start whispering. One guard puts on a pair of latex gloves. He comes out from behind the desk, raises a keycard to the elevator, and waves me in. We stand in silence for 94 floors.

When the elevator dings open the guard turns. “You’ll want to hide your emotions around him. Push them deep down.”

Obsidian has been sowing discord ever since the middle ages, but you wouldn’t know to look at him here. He’s traded his crimson robes and bone jewels for a high collared jacket with a floor grazing frock. He turns from the observatory window, looking less like a dungeon dweller and more like a character from The Matrix.

I click the button on my micro recorder. “Why here?”

Obsidian gives a measured smile. “I like to admire my handywork.” He brushes the windows signaling to the empty street below. “I’m the one who politicized this pandemic. I built partisan bickering to a fever pitch. I’m the reason you won’t talk to your parents.”

I’m taken aback by how quickly Obsidian is willing to go there. I bite my lip and Obsidian smirks when he catches it.

“I’m not the monster you think I am. When I spread negative energy it’s never out of malice. It’s out of love. Everything I’ve ever done was out of love.”

When did this start?

The sixth century. I was an apprentice under Dughall, the undying, the most feared necromancer in all of Britannia. He taught me how to prompt metabolic healing, so I might live as long as him. If only I’d passed that knowledge on to Celestria. Then none of this would’ve happened.

Who was Celestria?

Celestria was my bride to be. She was a selfless woman who practiced folk medicine.

One day a Bishop came through our village. He had a caravan of soldiers behind him. He saw Celestria picking herbs and naturally he was drawn to her. He whispered something in her ear, something no witness could repeat. I have a hunch he didn’t take his vow of celibacy that seriously.

Dejected, the bishop engaged Celestria in a medical debate. He believed illness was caused by a person’s distance from their lord, and that faith, not medicine, was the only way to ease their suffering.

Celestria believed in humoralism. She argued that illness came from a person’s relationship with the elements. She reasoned that plenty of good people got sick despite their faith.

The bishop had Celestria executed for heresy and moved on.

How did you cope?

I didn’t. I resolved to bring Celestria back. A feat necromancers were known for despite the fact that none of us have actually done it.

Not even Dughall, the undying?

No, and Dughall wanted no part of it. He had dabbled in black magic, but he believed a resurrection spell would require so much negative energy it would cover the earth in darkness.

Crestfallen, I cast stones, read entrails, and consulted the tarot. All my divinations said the same thing. I would have to cast a shadow over every mortal mind to raise but one from the ground. So I buried my bride and set out to spread the darkness.

How have your efforts shaped human events?

I convinced Pope Urban to get the crusades going. Years later I pitted Pope Clement against the knights Templar. I helped brainstorm the book that set the witch-hunts in motion and spread the inquisition across the continent. I urged theologians to suppress the Copernican doctrine and sighted the biblical references that got Galileo imprisoned.

Did you ever feel guilty?

At first. I forced myself to attend the witch burnings, to see what I’d done. After a while I couldn’t hear the screams, couldn’t see the faces through the fire. They weren’t people any more. They were a means to an end. Ingredients in a potion. And my beaker always wanted more.

How much negative energy did you need?

I almost had enough, and then I was blindsided by the black death. Here was all this suffering, but it was outside of my doing. You see a siphoning spell only works on energies you raise. I could wander mass graves and not get a thing because I hadn’t had a hand in what was happening.

I tried to turn the plague to my advantage by spreading misinformation. I promoted the notion that infections followed an astrological pattern. My beaker started filling again. Then someone thought to examine the rats on the ground and I was back to square one.

When did you start using technology to spread negative energy?

Technology has always spread negative energy, especially when it comes to the written word. The first cuneiform tablets were baked in the ruins of conquest. The first hieroglyphs were threats. Every woodblock ever carved was battered in blood. The pen isn’t mightier than the sword. The pen sets swords in motion.

Had I known the Koreans would invent moveable type I’d have gone over there. Instead it was the Gutenberg press that brought me out of hiding. I became an author and my first publications were denounced as literary poison. I mass produced works that challenged the church. I’m the one who set the bonfire of the vanities ablaze.

Not too long after I started contributing to newspapers. I misattributed ‘Let them eat cake’ to Marie Antoinette. I wrote that Catherine the great died having sex with a horse. In fact, I’m the reason you still think Napoleon was short.

How has the Internet helped?

The Internet is the most wonderful conductor of negative energy I could ever ask for. It lets me crowdsource my efforts. People used to get outraged over excessive taxation or potato famines, but now they go to war over female game developers and race-swapped Disney characters.

I take it you’re active on social media?

That’s the understatement of the century. I am responsible for everything from the alt right to slacktivism. From pick-up artists to Incels. From QAnon to cancel culture. Name an ideology, I’ll tell you it’s etymology. And the funny thing is, I don’t believe a word of it. I’ve never been interested in politics. I only want Celestria back. I don’t care who I have to trigger. I will to start a flame war for her.

But what about the people you hurt?

I’ve come too far and ruined too many lives. I’m willing to sextort, dox, and swat total saints to get what I want.

Look at what I’ve done. I took something as honorable as social justice and turned it into an antonym for political intolerance. I fine-tuned every racist dog whistle you’ve ever heard. I founded pro-anorexia communities just because I needed the negative energy.

Could you be claiming too much responsibility?

If you’ve ever felt exhausted checking your Facebook feed odds are it was me.

What about the movements that have developed organically, like the toxic fandom?

Do you have any idea how much gossip I’ve spread? I’ve spilled enough tea to fill the English Channel.

I’m the one who decides when a celebrity is over. I keep all of their portraits on a tile mosaic. I wave a dowsing pendulum as I lord over them. Once the weight chooses a victim, I kneel upon hot coals, press my palms into a bed of nails, and type something along the lines of: #TomHollandIsOverParty.

Now Tom Holland did nothing wrong. He said nothing racist and slapped no one’s ass, but I have to ruin someone if I’m to see my beloved again.

So alternative facts are you doing?

Sweat heart, I’m the king of misinformation. I ghostwrote the research paper that gave birth to the anti-vaxxers. I founded the modern flat earth movement. Heard any good 5G conspiracy theories? Yeah, those were all me.

I convinced people Nelson Mandela died in the 1980s when he really died in 2013. I’m the reason people think the Monopoly Man has a monocle. I’m the reason you think Freddy Mercury sang, “of the world…” at the end of “We are the Champions.”

Wait, he didn’t?

Look it up. I’ll wait.

Fuck.

(Obsidian takes a theatrical bow.)

But you can’t be the only one spreading false information. There too many other vested interests.

There are, but oil lobbyists are not that creative. They needed an interloper to whisper in their ears.

So you’re responsible for climate change denial?

That was nothing. Getting creationists to think dinosaurs walked with man took some convincing. Oh and getting celebrities to think they should run for government.

Was “Make America Great Again” your doing?

It was when I pitched it to Reagan.

I’ve been on more campaigns than there are nations. And I’ve fostered divisions across every continent. But I’ve never had more success than in American politics.

Your two party system is a work of Luciferian genius. It’s a dyad of dark energy. An alternating current flowing back and forth. Your red and blue tribes always collide. And for what? Intellectual bubbles filled with impossible ideals?

It’s beautiful. Like a black pearl. Elegant and simple.

But systems of oppression were around long before you were born. You were in France when the slave trade was happening. America came up with institutionalized racism all on its own. You say you’ve fostered divisions, but the rise of white nationalist would’ve happened with or without you.

Have you heard of Godwin’s Law?

Yes. The longer a discussion goes the greater the likelihood that someone will be compared to Hitler.

Godwin didn’t come up with that. He just identified the curse I’d slipped into the ether. It’s really Obsidian’s Law and it’s been a wellspring of negative energy for me, especially now the comparisons are no longer exaggerations.

You mentioned a beaker filling slowly with negative energy. It must be close to the brim?

I wish it were, but it isn’t. Celestia was exceptional. She had a spark that drew people to her. The lost souls in Limbo don’t want to let her go. They’re demanding over a quadrillion watts of negative energy. Enough to power their cities.

For that to happen everyone would have to let their intrusive thoughts in. A state of total despair would be declared. Depression would have to win.

Despite this pandemic, and the polarization surrounding it, there are still people who are optimistic. Despite all my best efforts, there’s still hope.

When do you think you’ll be reunited with Celestia?

When everyone feels like it’s their duty to change everyone else’s mind. When every laymen speaks with absolute authority. When obscenity out ways a reasoned argument. When feelings count as facts. When nuance is scrubbed from the debate and every person looks upon the other with hate.

So not too long then?

(Obsidian presses his palm to the observatory window and once again regards the empty streets below. He lets out a long exhausted sigh.)

We’ll see. We’ll see.

•••

Continue reading Meet the Necromancer Responsible for the Negative Energy on Social Media

Why I Keep Inserting Monsters into the News

I’ve been writing a lot about monsters lately:
About werewolves protesting the lockdown because it keeps their prey at home.
About ghosts intensifying their hauntings now that they have captive audiences.
About eldritch horrors lurking aboveground because of the lack of pollution.
About giant spiders ensnaring runners with tripwire webs.

These stories are my way of processing the pandemic without dealing with it head on. I did that once when I wrote a blog about having COVID-19 symptoms. In it I related a string of bad luck.

First I got sick. Then I got laid off. My boss used the lockdown as an opportunity to “right size” her business, despite the fact that our UPS Store had lines out the door. After two weeks of unemployment I was asked to come back. Another employee was showing COVID-19 symptoms and they needed the support. I was afraid I might still be contagious and I wasn’t eager to return to an unsafe environment. I was told “Now or never.” I went with never and lost my unemployment benefits.

That story was one of my most successful blog entries. It was off the cuff. But that kind of intimacy can’t be forced. You can’t reproduce it to increase your metrics. I considered journaling my depression throughout these turbulent times, but I didn’t want to overexpose myself. I ran the risk of sharing personal details that would made me unemployable or exhaust my readers’ empathy.

So I changed tactics. I wanted to write something topical, but I didn’t want to overwhelm people. I decided to come at the news from another angle. I’d address the pandemic, but I’d add monsters to it.

How Monsters are Helping My Sanity

I like stories with moral messages, but I tend to beat people over the head them. I get up on my soap box and give a ham-fisted speech that scares people off. I’ve been writing for twenty years and I still struggle with subtext. My best stories happen organically once I’ve abandon my commentary. They follow Stephen King’s adage: entertain first, enlighten second.

When I started writing news parodies I thought I was putting a creepy spin on what The Onion was doing. Then these pieces turned into thought experiments. The question, “How do I address the plight of essential workers during the pandemic?” became “What if people really did have to work through a zombie apocalypse?”

The question, “How do I take the OK Karen meme and apply it to witches?” became “What if magick was real and witches were subject to online harassment?”

The question, “Would people go out if there were giant spiders everywhere?” became “But what if there really were giant spiders everywhere?”

I became less interested in writing commentary and more interested in playing up the absurdity of these stories. These fantastic times pair well with fantasy creatures. Writing about these heightened realities makes this one bearable to me. My monsters have allowed me to reclaim my imagination from so much of what’s going on.

Closing Thoughts

This pandemic is soul crushing. This lockdown is depressing and the state of the economy is demoralizing. Many of my favorite coffeehouses, bars, and restaurants are closing for good.
I have a friend who’s a nurse in New York. I have another friend whose care facility has had several deaths. I’m healthy and relatively young, but I got much sicker than I expected.

I’ve spent weeks trying to get through to the unemployment office. I’m still waiting on my stimulus check. I’ve been applying for every job I think might put a dent in my expenses, and yet I have too much free time. I’m single. I live alone. I haven’t seen any of my friends in months.

My monster stories are keeping me going. I know I ought to be better about sharing them, about building the old brand. I’ve been told to start a Patreon, but I don’t have that kind of following. Not yet.

I’m open to feedback. Please let me know if you’re digging what I’m doing.

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Continue reading Why I Keep Inserting Monsters into the News

Why People are Still Going Out Despite the Giant Spiders

Remember last April when the news was filled with stories of murder hornets? These two-inch insects were annihilating bee colonies, tearing heads off drones and collecting thoraxes to feed to their young. Beekeepers treated violated hives like crime scenes and agricultural biologists were on the hunt for the culprits.

After all the hardships 2020 had thrown at us we thought killer hornets was as bad as things could get. How wrong we were. The hornets were but harbingers for that which lay deeper within the earth.

Six Months Later

Winter is coming. Ducks are flying south only to be ensnared. Building frames are teeming with drooping white sacs and skylines are filling with webbing. A curtain of silk stretches from the Eiffel Tower to the hotels below. The roman Colosseum has been fashioned into a nest and the Leaning Tower of Pisa is hanging by a thread.

“It’s like a goddamn Roland Emmerich movie out there.” Said General Duke Granger, head of the Arachnid Warfare branch of the U.S. Military. “There’s netting stretching from the Washington monument to the national mall. And the whole thing is dotted with the kibbles and bits of tourists.”

170 ton spiders, as long blue whales, tower over cities. With redwood length legs, concrete piercing claws, and truck sized fangs. The spiders are proving disruptive.

The first appearance was in the financial district of San Francisco. A giant spider stomped down California Street, stepped into a sinkhole and caused a gas main explosion. The shockwave rippled through the 555 California St Tower. Senior members of Goldman Sachs halted their meeting to check on the commotion.

Marshall Kirkland, an investment banker, was on the other side of the building. He said it was hard to hear what was happening. “First came the car alarms, then the sirens, then the emergency tone, and just underneath there was this terrible slurping sound.”

It turns out the slurping was the spider sucking a victim’s brain from his cranium.

No End in Sight

In a frank press conference General Granger expressed pessimism about our chances. “The spiders don’t bleed. It’s like their pelts are made out of cast iron wool. We’re pumping them full of rounds faster than Northrop Grumman can make them. We have RPGs cross firing all over the city, and our heavy artillery cannons aren’t making a dent. We’ve crashed drones into their eyes. We’ve tried everything from napalm to citrus. They keep right on webbing soldiers up.”

President Trump has ordered General Granger to stay the course. “We’re winning bigly against the spiders. I think we’d win faster if we someone found a way to make spray bottles bigger. Spiders hate those things.”

There are still no concrete answers where the spiders came from. General Granger has heard all of the theories. “Those Berkley climatologists think we did this. Like the spiders were lying in wait until it got too hot. The eggheads at Mount Weather think it’s a spontaneous mutation. Like the spiders took a dip in a nuclear waste repository. Me? I think someone boasted she could weave better than the gods and they punished her by turning her into a spider. I think these things we’re facing are her children.”

The Threat is Getting Worse

The spiders have venom so acidic it burns through tanks in seconds. One spider destroyed a troop of British Challengers with a single burst. The medical personal who approached the ruins were exposed to neurotoxins. They died before they could administer the antivenom.

Spiders have discarded hollow husks in every city, draping kills over powerlines, bus stops, and playgrounds. They’ve turned bridges into hanging traps, shattered skyscrapers, and rendered entire residential districts uninhabitable.

Worse still is how widespread the spiders have gotten. They’ve trounced through suburban streets, leaving tornado-like destruction in their wake. They’ve worked their way to the heartland, picking fights with irrigation equipment. And satellites have just spotted a blanket of webs covering the Appalachian Mountains.

At the time of this writing America lacks the infostructure to calculate the damage much less tally the dead, but there are estimates that put it in the billions.

People Are Still Going About their Business

The National Guard has ordered everyone to remain inside, but in our travels for this article we spotted large groups of young people. They were tending gardens, stacking woodpiles, and hanging out in garages. All places spiders like to go.

We asked why these twenty-somethings weren’t that concerned and this is what they told us.

“The spiders are big, but they’re slow. They’re mainly webbing up old people. I’m young and spry. Why shouldn’t I be able to play volley ball?”

“Yeah yeah yeah. I know. Their silk slices through flesh like razor wire, but I have twenty-twenty vision. I should be able to go for a run.”

“So there’s a few egg sacs in my evergreens. That’s not going to prevent me from barbequing. Look those things are barely moving.”

“I didn’t have arachnophobia before. Why should I start now?”

“The news makes it sound like there’s a Stephen King story on every street, but I don’t know anyone who’s been cocooned. Do you?”
“Quite a few people, yes.”
“Anyone famous?”
“Bill Pullman.”
“See, I have no idea who that is.”

“We all have to die sometime whether it’s from a meteor or a giant spider. There’s nothing we can really do about it.”

General Granger disagreed with this line of reasoning. “If you see a huge ass invertebrate on the horizon you can drive in the other direction.” He ran a hand down his forehead. “Unless you’re so bereft you’ve resolved yourself to a slow painful death.”

This was General Granger’s final interview before he was stung and killed by a murder hornet. We thank him for his service.

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Continue reading Why People are Still Going Out Despite the Giant Spiders

Why Werewolves are Protesting the Lockdown

On April 7, the date of the last full moon, werewolves stormed the state capitol. The pack protracted their claws, showed their teeth, and chanted, “We will huff and puff and blow you out of office!”

Their signs read:
We have big eyes, to see through your lies.
We’ll drag you out by the hair of your chinny chin chin.
Pigs in a blanket (this one featured pictures of the governor and two members of the safety commission).

The werewolves were protesting the state’s COVID-19 lockdown measures, measures the governor was deliberating with lawmakers. During that time the wolves turned the capital building into their den. Protestors were seen digging up geraniums, scooting across the lawn, and burying bones.

In an interview with “Fox News Sunday” the governor was critical of the wolves behavior. “The first amendment gives them the right to assemble, despite the stay-at-home order, but urinating in the halls of government, how is that hygienic?”

State lawmakers paused their meeting once the wolves started howling, “Chew her up. Chew her up. Chew her up”

The governor said, “My staff members were afraid for their lives. They were prying plaques off the wall in the hopes that they contained silver. Security had to take us through a secret exit.”

Maynard Lowe, the alpha protestor, said, “The Governor is crying wolf. Meanwhile her restrictions are keeping healthy people trapped inside. Young people ought to be out taking moonlit strolls, exploring the woods, or skinny dipping.”

Lowe wasn’t worried the demonstrators would track COVID-19 back into their dens. “We have pack immunity. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able wander freely.”

Asked if he’d be willing to submit to an antibody test Lowe refused. “I ain’t going to no vet. They say they want a blood test then all of sudden snip snip.”

Werewolves are More at Risk than Any other Group

Grant Moore, an epidemiologist with University of Minnesota, was skeptical of Lowe’s assertion of Pack immunity. “As a community werewolves are less likely to get their pups vaccinated. Pediatricians often misdiagnose pups with hypertrichosis.” (excessive hair growth) “When they finally see a specialist they have fungal infections, parasites, and tumors.”

COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, one that can be transferred from animals to people and vice versa. Werewolves have double the risk factors due to their human and wolf forms.

This is different for vampires. Covid-19 attacks the 1-beta chain in hemoglobin and vampires can’t sustain hemoglobin. That’s why they have to feed so often. Vampires are only vulnerable to COVID-19 in their bat forms, but even then vampires are less at risk due to their ability to social distance.

There are few lone werewolves. Most run in packs of six to ten and live in shacks on the outskirts of town. The risks of COVID-19 increases when you factor substance abuse and rabies into the equation.

Werewolves Put Others at Risk

While werewolves don’t hunt for sport they’ve been known to rack up surplus kills. Last July, a pack werewolves tore through an outdoor music festival. Nine wolves massacred 62 concert goers and maimed 30 others. Amongst the survivors physicians found bacterial infections, canine hepatitis, and flees. The werewolves had passed illnesses to their prey.

Lowe refuses to acknowledge the problem. “Everybody knows you can’t get COVID from a bite. It’s a respiratory thing.”

Epidemiologist Ravi Patel disagrees. “Werewolves hunt at superhuman speeds. If one mauls you, it will be panting in your face. There will be droplets and those droplets will get into your mouth. A werewolf doesn’t need to bite you for you to get you sick.”

The President Sides with the Wolves

The night of the Werewolf demonstration President Trump tweeted, “Hey governor. The wolves are at your door. Why don’t you go out there and make a deal?”

While many have criticized the president’s tweet as a veiled threat Lowe doesn’t see it that way. “The governor has nothing to fear. We’re sheep in wolves clothing. What’s that saying? Report makes the wolf bigger than he is.”

Later the president tweeted, “She who lies with wolves doesn’t lose sleep worrying about the feelings of sheep.”

Lowe scratched his ears at that. “I think those are two separate sayings the president kind of merged together. I’m not sure what he was going for.”

TV Station Parts Ways with Meteorologist over Tweet

President Trump wasn’t the only public figure tweeting about the April 7th event.

Kare 11 dismissed long time meteorologist Sven Sunaard for sharing a tweet about the demonstration. The station announced the separation on their Facebook page.

“Due to continued violations of KARE 11’s news ethics and other policies, we have made the decision to part ways with Sven Sundgaard… We hope you continue to turn to KARE 11 for your news, traffic, weather and more.”

The tweet Sven Sunaard shared read, “The only reason werewolves want the lockdown lifted is because it’ll make their prey easier to catch.”

Maynard Lowe had not been aware of Sunnard’s departure until he sat for this interview. Lowe brought up the tweet, narrowed his gaze, and clutched his phone in his paw. Lowe licked his lips as considered the text. “Yup, that’s pretty much it. We want you out doing errands so we can hunt you down. He got fired for that? Kare 11 really threw him to the us’s, huh? I guess that’s the nature of the beast.”

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Continue reading Why Werewolves are Protesting the Lockdown

Why Everyone is Stockpiling Amulets

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown all our lives out of balance. 30 million Americans have applied for unemployment while essential workers find themselves working twice as hard.

Madame Monisha is a spectral officer for Lakeside Village, a planned community in White Bear Lake Minnesota. While the community is young Madame Monisha says there are hauntings abound.

“Most houses have infestations that tenants just operate around. Some Americans live hard lives. They leave nasty stains when they’re gone. The more time families shelter in place the more those ghosts are going to get in their face.”

Meet the Johnsons

Connie Johnson claims she had just such an encounter. “We were in the dining room assembling a jigsaw of the statue of liberty. Joe did his best to keep the children interested, telling them how the statue was built. Oliver’s attention shifted between the pieces and his phone. Grace was engaged, but her arms were dotted with goosebumps. She went to the hall closet and came back with a down jacket.

This was late April and her brother was already wearing shorts. I asked Grace what was the matter, but she kept her gaze fixed at something over my shoulder. I went to feel her forehead, but before I could reach I felt a cold spot. That’s when Grace’s eyes widened at something on the lawn. I turned to see and that’s when I saw it in the reflection.

Four grey fingers were threaded through Grace’s hair. They were nails as long as talons hooked around her chin. The hand came from a black lace sleeve. The blouse was tattered, covered in dirt. Its owner was leaning over Grace’s shoulder whispering into her ear. I could just make out her face in the glass. Her eyes were sunken, her cheeks were gaunt and her nasal cavity was exposed. When she saw me looking the face smiled wide enough to show her gums.

Grace’s eyes rolled back. She reached out with her fingers spread and slammed her palm down on the table. The jigsaw pieces exploded, shooting to the ceiling, and when they came back down. The puzzle was fully assembled.”

It all happened so fast. I don’t know if Joe would’ve believed it if Oliver hadn’t caught a picture of that terrible face. That’s when we reached out to our spectral officer.”

Madame Monisha took her time examining the photo. Connie admitted to feeling antsy.

“Should we join hands to tell her she isn’t welcome?”

Madame Monisha grabbed Connie by the shoulders. “You get down to the Blue Rose and you buy as many amulets as you can fit into your station wagon. Bring luggage bags if you have to.”

National Amulet Shortage

It turns out Madame Monisha was not the only one advising families to stock up. Ever since Americans were urged to shelter in place people have been panic buying charms. The nation’s New Age bookstores are reporting a shortage and social media is cluttered with images of empty endcaps.

Metaphysical supply chains are struggling to meet the demand. According to one warehouse manager the stock is there, but the enchanters who bless the stones are self-isolating. “Good luck getting them out of their commune any time soon.”

The Benefits of Stockpiling Talismans

After the initial scare Connie Johnson heeded her spectral officer’s advice.

“I hung amulets around the entryway, from the ceiling to the carpet. If a ghost wants in they’ll have to pass through a laser grid first.”

Connie toured her security measures. “As for any apparitions in the attic? I dusted the children’s mobiles, pried off the animals, and put amulets in their place. Joe hung them from the rafters and positioned a halogen lamp. Now they’re like gun turrets of healing energy.”

Connie and her husband went all in. They replaced their smoke detectors with sacred relics. Then they set artifacts in light fixtures, in the freezer, and behind all the mirrors.

“The hardest amulet to install was in the toilet bowl. You have to screw it into the ceramic without springing a leak. Do it right, and well, that’s one less place to worry about spirit.”

How Many Amulets Should Families Get?

Madame Monisha doesn’t think Connie has gone far enough. “My insulation is dotted with so many stones they’re like ice cream toppings.”

She recommends having one amulet for every square foot.

“Don’t forget about bookshelves. They are hotbeds of paranormal activity. Every bookshelf has some tome of forbidden knowledge gathering dust. You might not remember where you got it: a cobweb stricken castle, an abandoned institute, or a little free library. It doesn’t matter. The book is your problem now. Burn it out on the grill or shove it down the garbage disposal, it’ll show up right back on the shelf. That’s why I recommend an amulet between every other spine.”

Are there Amulet Alternatives?

Madame Monisha likes gemstones. “If you can find them grab the darkest gems you can. Black tourmaline, obsidian, onyx. The darker the stone the greater the pull. They’re like bug zappers for spirits.”

Madame Monisha’s neighbor Dale Spencer couldn’t help chiming in on our conversation.

He’s skeptical about the value of such rare minerals. “I don’t go in for all them fancy crystals. I make my talismans out of charcoal. It’s dark enough and it works like a dehumidifier for negative energy.”

How Ghosts get into Your Home

It’s not just supernatural stains that has Madame Monisha worried about her community.

“Essential workers are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19, be without insurance, and die from complications. With meat packing plants ordered to stay open, there’s a high probability ghosts are getting in through your groceries. Then there’s Amazon. You always hear about their dangerous conditions. We like retail therapy, but don’t be surprised when your new Insta Pot starts bleeding.”

Madame Monisha showcased the measures she takes to keep her home pure. She ran a carbide tipped drill through her peephole and set a starfire diamond in its place. “It’s like a doorbell cam for the ghost dimension. It lets spectral solicitors know they’re not welcome.”

Responsible collectors bring antiques to licensed curse lifters. Social distancing makes that impossible. While Zoom allows freelancers to conduct business online curse lifters need to feel items for cold spots. With the quarantine in place people buying online do so at their own peril.

Madame Monisha urges people to pause their orders. “The Internet is a swirling vortex of damned souls. Read the terms and conditions. They know. Most impulse items are contaminated with sin. For our anniversary my husband ordered a grandfather clock. I had to burn weapons grade sage before letting that thing in.”

But Why are there so Many Ghosts?

Madame Monisha suspects St. Peter and his staff are struggling to keep up with the influx of the recently deceased. “The pearly gates are like the unemployment phone trees here on earth. They weren’t built to handle the bandwidth. Some souls get tired of waiting and just say, ‘Fuck it, I’m going back.’

They say spirits who linger have unfinished business, but everyone has unfinished business. Whether it’s tracking down your murderer or finding out what happens on Lost. Nobody likes loose ends.”

At the time of this writing amulets have surpassed oil for the first time in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial.

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Continue reading Why Everyone is Stockpiling Amulets

The Challenges of Working Through the Zombie Apocalypse

If you’re reading this you’ve survived the rage virus pandemic up to now. Who’d have thought a strain of rabies would give human beings cannibalistic cravings? Now the infection is spreading at a sprinter’s pace, like a bite based relay race. Whether you’re a virologist calling it sixth extinction or an evangelical calling it the end times, you have to admit it’s pretty fucked up.

At least the symptoms are obvious: a spiderweb of black veins spreads across the face. The irises turn bloodred, and foam pools around the mouth. Fever boils brain. Then the body collapses and goes cold. When it gets back up it does the robot down the block.

Smart people are going into hibernation. Doomsday preppers are lowering venison into fallout shelters. The wealthy elite are wheeling whine into panic rooms, and a modern day Noah is leading animals into his fleet of underground buses. Suburbanites are filling bathtubs with clean water, nailing down their windows, installing gun turrets on their roofs, and laying landmines in their lawns.

We’ve been told to shelter in place and while it can be lonely the outside world is not a place you want to be. Trust me.

I’ve watched the infected form human pyramids to get at survivors. I’ve seen them scale commercial buildings like fire ants. Their team synergy is a sight to see and these leaning towers of zombies are hungry. They’re gnawing their way up the corporate ladder, ravaging open offices, chewing upper management down to the bone. A horde can downsize an entire call center within two minutes flat.

…And yet, like many employees whose businesses have been deemed essential, I have to go to work. Despite the blood trial up the block and the downed 747 across the street, Ship and Print’s hours have not changed.

That said I have some criticisms of S and P’s zombie apocalypse strategy.

Corporate has Left a lot to Be Desired

The rage virus is blood based. The masks corporate sent only cover the bottom half of our face. What are we supposed to do when an infected projectile vomits into our eyes? Our manager found some shades in the lost in found, but there weren’t enough to go around. The rest of us had to settle for reading glasses. Now we have to choose between getting puke in our eyes or being near sighted.

Corporate continues to provide inadequate munitions. Each Ship and Print location was issued one police issue Glock 17. Glock 17s take 9 millimeter magazines and yet we keep receiving boxes of 22 caliber rounds. When we emailed headquarters about the discrepancy we were told to make it work.

We’ve been forced to get by slingshots we’ve fashioned from office supplies.

We’re Not Meeting Safety Guidelines

We’re asking customers to wait outside the entrance, but there are intestines hanging from the stations and chunks of scalp on the handgrip. We’re trying to keep people safe, but our milkcrate barricades don’t come close to meeting OSHA guidelines. We tied the crates with zip ties but they topple all the time.

Customers try to ward off the infected by shooting them in the central mass. Even after we put up the sign that read, “Shoot them in the head or else you’re dead.”

I tried printing another with Keanu Reeves that said, “Be like John Wick give ‘em two in thick!” Still, customers are out there unloading their ammo into kneecaps.

Speaking of signage, I want to call attention to the fact that the Employees Rights posters that are required to be displayed by the Department of Labor are all covered in blood. Maybe that’s the reason no one is getting their fifteen minute breaks anymore.

Our Sanity is Wearing Thin

It’s bad enough to hear the infected at our doors, but due to lack of maintenance the office equipment is making strange sounds. Someone lost a finger in the production printer. Now it trumpets like an angry elephant. The copy machine beeps like it’s out of toner twenty times an hour and the fax machine keeps making a tone like a coked-up parrot. Oh and the satellite radio keeps playing “One Week” by the Barenaked Ladies over and over even though we’ve knocked out all the speakers.

Our Supplies are Running Low

We are starving. We keep submitting requests for provisions through the web portal, but they never arrive. Yet all of the planogram display kits keep coming on time. We haven’t seen a fresh water cooler in months, but the armored deposit service keeps knocking on the back door. We pried open the secure shredding container once we ran out of toilet paper. We’d still be using it if the shredding service hadn’t emptied it out.

Yesterday we had no choice but to raid the hardware store next door. It’ll help but we can only get by for so long on Red Bull and beef jerky.

We’ve Tossed Our Green Energy Policy out the Window

The CDC says the infected hunt the healthy by sensing body heat. Corporate didn’t have enough mylar blankets, so they mandated we cake on a layer of mud. Now they want us to keep the air conditioner running at twenty degrees all the time. It’s hard to meet customers with pep when we can see our own breath.

Now the power keeps going out and the backup generator isn’t up to the task.

Corporate sent us a hose to siphon gas from the cars out back. The problem is that most vehicles are too modern. Their fuel tanks have a metal flap to snag the hose and their filler necks have an obstruction to keep us from getting a good flow going. Suck all you like, but you’ll never get those things to come.

We are Overwhelmed

Everyone is over on hours because the infected never sleep. Corporate decided to mandate that when we clock out we leave the premises. That means we have to side step the horde, find a shelter, and get back within the strict five minute window before our shift starts.

If anything Ship and Print should be hiring more staff. We’ve gotten a surge of new customers ever since the infected swept through the FedEx up the block. Now more than ever people need to return their items back to Amazon.

We’re one of the few shipping services where people can mail essentials. Things like: vibrators shaped like eggplant emojis, gemstone water filtration pitchers, Millennium Falcon waffle irons, subscription lingerie, and espresso pods.

Closing Thoughts

My apartment has been in ruins ever since that Range Rover knocked out the support beam, and yet my lease is for twelve months. So I still have to pay rent. Then there’s my student loans. Those aren’t going away any time soon not with all the debt collectors safe and secure in their bunkers. That and I have to make car payments to make. Repo men don’t mind working in Armageddon conditions.

And let’s say someone does come up with a cure for the rage virus. Ship and Print won’t cover it. So I’ll need to start saving up for health insurance.

It doesn’t really matter that there are corpses lying in the intersection, with their jaws hanging open, and tongues rotting in the sun. It doesn’t really matter that Wall Street is now a game trail for the infected. It doesn’t matter that the national guard outposts have been overrun. Capitalism has survived the fall of civilization.

So I’ve still gotta go to work and make that money.

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Continue reading The Challenges of Working Through the Zombie Apocalypse

Why Witches Hate When You Call Them Broomers

It seems like Broomers have been making the rounds all over town. We hear about them at moldy old mortuaries, dirt riddled cathedrals, and dust stricken taverns. Just don’t expect them to come running when you need a cleanup at aisle ten. That’s because Broomer isn’t another word for janitor. It’s a pejorative for someone who practices witchcraft.

Young Wiccan Katerina Ashwood (Kat for short) coined the term. “’Ok broomer,’ was our way of brushing off witches who were stuck in the past.”

She gave an example, “Let’s say a crone finds us making a summoning circle in the field. She shakes her head and fetches a wheelbarrow full of goat skulls. She takes out a mallet and pounds the bones to dust. Then she scoops up the dust and fashions a summoning circle of her own.

One of the maidens sees what she’s doing and decides to show the crone what’s really going on. They climb up the hill. From there the crone can see the scale of our crop circle. She loses her shit. Here she was summoning a knee high imp and we’re down there raising a titan.

The crone puts her foot down, lectures us on the sovereignty of the ancient rites, and we turn around and go, ‘Ok broomer.’”

The term harkens to a time when witches rode broomsticks. When pointy hats flew across lunar backdrops and crones traveled in flocks. These days maidens travel in squadrons and they ride e-scooters.

“Scooters are less conspicuous and they have a little holder for your brew bottle.”

According to Kat Broomers are esoteric elitists. They believe magick is bestowed upon them by deities on the fringes of reality. Kat believes magick is more like the force, something to be channeled, a power that comes from within.

“Sure Broomer is ageist, but crones can be so strict. I didn’t see the harm in having little fun at their expense. That was until muggles started calling me Broomer on Twitter.”

Things got worse for from there. Wiccan maidens found themselves at the center of hate campaign. Their hidden sanctuaries were doxed. GPS coordinates for woodland shrines appeared up online.

Kat described rushing to her sanctum. “Someone had hung Blairwitch stick figures everywhere. Pissed in the offering bowl and wrote, ‘OK BROOMER’ all over the altar.”

Online harassment from muggles is nothing new forto Kat. This is just the first time she’s seen her own lingo thrown back at her.

“They used to say, ‘Ok Gretchen’ with like a hard G. Sometimes they’d call me a ‘Basic Bernadette.’ When I posted that I needed time offline they’d send wave emojis with ‘Bye Lucrecia’.”

So how did Broomer work its way into the muggle vernacular?

An in-depth search found the meme appearing on a witch-hunting message board. Witchfinder International is forum notorious for its calls to revive the inquisition. Users share interrogation fantasies that border on pornography. They hold mock witch trials for celebrities and exchange crucifix bomb making recipes.

Witchfinder International users make no distinction between esoteric orders and contemporary practitioners. They slap Broomer onto all pagan movements, but when they say it it’s full of sexist overtones:
“How do you sweep a Broomer off her feet? With an ax.”
“These Broomers should get back in the kitchen.”
“Broomers ought to ride this instead.” This was accompanied by a photo of a penis.

Kat scrolled through the examples we compiled and sighed. “Muggles used to use Broomer to describe an ice-curler. Now it’s their word to keep us down, like when white men discovered ‘Ok Karen.’ They just lost their fucking minds.”

In hindsight, the Broomer debacle has given Kat a greater appreciation for her elders. “I certainly got a taste of my own potion. It figures now I’m spending most of my time in the mountains with the crones.”

The Sisterhood of Cinders are teaching Kat the art of remote haunting, a form of astral projection once used to make conquistadors see ghosts.

Kat browsed the Witchfinder International board as she spoke. “Witches used to use remote hauntings to drive Kings to suicide, but I’ve got a more modern application I’d like to try it on.” She shut her laptop, backed out of the firelight, and wandered off laughing into the night.

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Continue reading Why Witches Hate When You Call Them Broomers