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Month: August 2018


Hell is chaotic. Despite that, demons tend to enjoy a bit of structure. Big time biblical demons are ranked at the top, new demons are placed at the bottom. It’s a system they created to help keep the evil in order. It works for them.

Over time the new demons complete tasks, please the higher ups, and move up the ranking. They are eventually replaced by new demons.

Well, except Oofala.

“Your going to tell them about me?”

You are an interesting story.

“Fair enough, continue.”

As long as any demon can remember, Oofala has been at the bottom of rankings. He was placed there like everyone else, but he just stayed at the bottom. The top level demons were concerned when he didn’t move up. I mean, according to their thinking, demons should want to do bad things, and bad things make you advance.

Early on they pressured him. They tricked him like only high ranking demons could. None of it seemed to work. Eventually they gave up, and Oofala stayed put.

“Those were the days. I could tell you some stories.”

I bet you could.

You see, the ranking system works because the demons make it work. They pressure the others to stay in line. There are few rules in hell and there really wasn’t anything they could do. So, they left him alone.

“Not entirely true, but continue”

Without ambition and without supervision, Oofala enjoy a good amount of autonomy, as much as a lower demon can have. He would occasionally be called to do some task for a higher ranked demon. It was usually a farce, because he was bad at being a demon.

“I mean, am I bad? Or am I really good? These are the questions you need to ask yourself.”

Can I get back to my story?

“Of course.”

This gave Oofala a ton of time to himself. He wasn’t needed in war, or demonic possessions like the other low ranking demons, so he traveled. He traveled a lot. He came to enjoy people and places he found along the way.

“Is this where you tell them how we met?”

Nah. Let’s save that for next time.

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The Spell Maker

Darn walked carefully around the desk. Nothing was fancy or extravagant about it. Everything seemed simple, practical. He edged closer, and leaned in to get a better look. He could see age in every curl and knot in the wood. The room was tidy and neat. The candle was out, but was still molten a bit. It hadn’t been that long since it had been occupied.

Books and scraps of paper littered the desk. In the center was a large ceramic bowl filled with a mossy, pungent smelling liquid. Darn had used enough magic to know that this was a spell makers desk. Not only could he see it, he could feel it. The hair on his arms stood on end. The room was charged.

Lots of people use spells, but only a rare few actually make them. You would think the makers would be powerful and famous, but they weren’t. Most toiled away in obscurity, in rooms much like this, perfecting their craft.

It’s a dangerous line of work to be in. Makers would routinely be killed by their own creations. An errant word here, a missed letter there, could mean an unexpected end to even the most careful of spell makers. If you found a battle spell maker past the age of 20, keep them.

Darn wondered about this maker. Where were they? It didn’t look like any explosions took place lately.

He rifled through the room looking for clues. Most spell maker are driven by the will to create. It is an imbalance in the world that they are compelled correct. Some are directed by their interests and skills.

“A Guide to Common Town Folk” sat on the edge of the desk. Darn rifled though the pages. Each one was a short description of common people and what they do. Fishmonger, barkeep, adventurer. Each page contained the spell part that would help the maker transform something or someone into something else.

This maker seemed to have lot of other books on transmogrification. It’s a weird, but wonderful line of work to be sure. The transformers are the most imaginative of the makers.

Was this maker transforming someone and something went wrong? This would be a sad way to go, Darn thought. He gathered more and more. A book on memory creation. A passage used for skill building, clothing. It was becoming clear that the maker was remaking someone.

He didn’t dare read any of the written spells on the desk. This was harder than you would imagine. The mind wants to read and comprehend, but he didn’t want to end up as a fishmonger today.

He couldn’t stay much longer. As fascinating as this is, he was an adventurer and he must be moving on. There was really nothing of value that he could find. No great book of unknown spells. No magic charms. Nothing.

He sank to the floor to rest for a bit. He drank some wine and nibbled on some cheese he had in his pouch. On the floor next to him was a small slip of paper with a small bit of script. It appeared to be a harmless part of a spell, so he read it.

And now Darn, adventurer, of father Belock, of town Stella, become.

The slip of paper dropped from Darn’s hand, he sat for a minute and tried to connect with his past, but it was gone. He grabbed his bag and made his way to the door. He never looked back.

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Wet Socks and All

My grandfather gave me this dragon scale. It accompanied many late night stories of him killing the beast and saving the town. He was long gone by the time I worked out that it had been shed and not cut.

I don’t fault him for the lie.

The thing is, adventures are boring. The stories leave out the long bits of monotony that get you from here to there. Months and months can go by with absolutely nothing happening.

Grandfather’s stories never mentioned the boring things.

Like today. I spent most of it mending my wool socks. Socks are important out here. And when you have time you need to take care of them. My grandfather never talked about his socks. Turns out they are just as important as the shield I made out of the dragon scale.

It’s been a great conversation piece. Of course I may have been inclined to borrow some of grandads stories. Just a few. Why waste the effort to make up my own?

Truth be told, I’ve never seen a dragon. It will come, I suspect. Like at one point I had never seen a bugbear, until I did. That was a good sock day.

Turns out storytelling is a good skill to have on the road. I thank him for that. I have often had to tell a story or two to escape some menace or another. The trick is making it just detailed enough so they believe you, but just vague enough that you can wiggle your way through it.

Grandfather was good at that. I may curse him for it some days. But he did make me crave this life. And I do crave this life.

Wet socks and all.

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Parable of the Mountain

Their eyes were on the mountains, but their feet were in the fields. Tall, thick fields. Fields that poke, scratch, pull. Every mud-laden step was a drag. Poke, scratch, pull, drag. scratch, pull, drag.

Grey storm clouds hovered low and draped them misery. They were muddy, soggy and sore. Everything was dreary, except those mountains.

Those mountains were hope. Take a step and look at the mountains. Look at the mountains and take a step. 

They pushed themselves in a small clearing. The reeds had been trampled flat. Scattered around were small beds of grass. Maybe animals? Maybe men? It was hard to tell. It wasn’t fresh, so it was doubtful it was coming back tonight.  

Baker stood in the middle. He was the tallest. Long, dark hair draped over his shoulders. He was dirty. He unhooked the worn leather strap of his bag and dropped it to the ground. The others followed. 

Darkness descended quickly. They dared not start a fire, so they nibbled on what was left of the bits of bread, cheese and meat they had brought. The moon pierced through the cloud cover and the mountains glowed in the distance. They were close and it warmed them.

“195,” Baker mumbled.  “My friends. Tomorrow will be day 196. I thank you for your sacrifice. I’m thankful that these fields are almost over and that the shadow of the mountain is upon us.” 

The group nodded in agreement and made hushed guttural noises.

The night ticked on. Some rested. Some slept. The darkness didn’t scare them anymore. Not like when they first started the journey. When they left the city, the night was fear. Real fear. None of them had experienced the darkness before. None of them had spent the night in the open. In the beginning it made them tremble. 

Eventually the night turned into a friend. Now, night meant rest. The night would heal them so they could hurt through the fields again for another day. Poke, scratch, pull, drag. 

The mornings came slower as they got closer to the mountains. The red and yellow light slowly draped upon them. They were weary and slow to rise.

The sound of a reed braking in the distance startled them to their feet.

Baker waved his hands and pushed them into a defensive position. In the 195 days of their journey they had few encounters. They were disciplined, serious, quiet. You get that way when just about everyone in the wild wants to kill you. Most of the time it was an errant wild animal. Just a random harmless encounter.

More cracks and pops. Something was moving through the reeds. Then they heard talking in the distance. This was not an animal.

There wasn’t much they could do. The sound of moving through the reeds would give them away. So they crouched in the shadows of the clearing.

The quietly waited for it to pass, but it didn’t. The voices came closer and closer. Baker drew his knife. The others followed.

Ramsey was the first to poke through the reeds into the clearing. She was tall, as tall as Baker. Splotches of blood covered her blue uniform. Her eyes were sunken and her face tired. Baker grabbed her arm and pulled her into his corner of the clearing. Her scream was cut short as he put his rough, dirty hand over her mouth.

The others rushed into the clearing. All were dressed in the same blue uniforms, each had a knife drawn. They were thin and frail.

They all stood in the clearing. Four versus four, it was a standoff. They postured a bit, but mostly they just glanced around, trying to size up each other. This went on for a bit. Baker removed his hand from Ramsey’s mouth.

“We just want to be on our way,” he said.

“As do we,” said Ramsey.

Baker released Ramsey and pushed her toward her friends. It was a risk, but he was reasonably sure they were not a threat. Baker was intuitive like that. It’s probably why he was the leader. It was probably why they had gotten this far.

“We’re heading to the city,” said Ramsey.

“And us the mountain,” replied Baker.

It got quiet. There was much to ask, but neither group did. The warmth of the sun broke through the clouds.

Baker pushed through the reeds and headed toward the mountains. The others in his group followed.

Ramsey stood in the clearing for a minute and then pushed on to the city. The others in her group followed.

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The Stoneless

Mesong uncupped her hand and held the small gem up to the light. Bits of bright color pierced the darkness and danced around her body. She smiled and covered it again.

The most precious gem in the galaxy was finally hers. Well, except that it wasn’t really a gem. But, that didn’t matter. She always wanted a Marku fertility stone and now she had one. She clinched it tight to her body and slipped out the door, back to her ship.

Li’ca laid on the floor and wrestled with the pain. It was gone. Thirty years to make and it was gone. She touched the small hole in her chest and wrenched with agony and loss. It was gone.

Her skin still glowed in bright pink and red hues. At least she was still fertile. But, who would want her now. Who would want to mate with a stoneless one?

She had heard the stories of the night thieves, sneaking in and snatching stones from the chests of fertile Marku. How did she become one of them? How was she not more careful? Would it be another thirty years before her body made another stone?

Stepka stepped out from behind the small wall that was hiding him. In all her glee, Mesong didn’t see him following her back to her ship.

She stood in the darkness, signaling for the ramp of her ship to drop. Stepka walked up behind her. The stone was glowing bright pink through her tiny hand.

He grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. “It belongs to her,” he said. Mesong quickly drew a small gun from her side.

“Are you crazy? Delusional? I have searched my entire life for this. It’s mine. And you can’t stop me from taking it,” she replied.

Stepka reached for his pocket.

“Not so fast there.” Mesong jabbed the gun in his direction to remind him of it.

Stepka slowly raised his hand. The night erupted with a magical display of bouncing lights. Mesong’s eyes lit up. Stepka’s stone was bigger than the one she had stolen from Li’ca. The light curtained them both with color.

Stepka held Li’ca in his arms.

“Life must begin with a stone. Life must begin with this stone,” he said.

“But, you traded your Santar for mine? That stone was given to your father by your mother. It was part of you. You will be stoneless now.”

“I traded my stone for ours,” he said as he brushed his hand across her face. “Anyways, it will come back to me. It knows me, as I know it.”

She kissed him deep and gave him her stone.

Stepka carried her to the bed.

Li’ca felt rested and content.

She would not need to wait another thirty years.




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Manic Pixie Dream Robot

Of course she was made for him. Petite, cute smile, tattoos, perky tits. But it was her personality that won him. She was optimistic, whimsical. She was fun for the sake of being fun.

Mary bought her. Lots of women do. I guess they love their men that much.

She was placed near his work. It was all set up with a sophistication that came with a price tag. She was a Meagan model. She wore short, shorts and a tank top. They didn’t match. The saying on the front of her shirt was flirty and fun. It made you want to talk to her about something, anything.

The thing of it was, she was confident. You don’t become a manic pixie dream girl by being like everyone else. And you are happy. Happy all the fucking time. The men never see the pain or drama. Maybe it’s there, maybe it’s not. All they see is the fun.

She was noticed. Then she made contact. It was sexual. Of course it was sexual. A touch on the hand. A comment about how she liked him. She wore short, shorts for God’s sake. Her skin was soft. Her eyes were open. Her tits were fantastic. She brought a light, a happiness. She was not the rock he was pushing up the hill.

And so it grew. The desire. The temptation. The lust. Things grew. She brought him stuff. She told him things. She made him have hope. Did he objectivity her? Yes. Was she only here for his plot, for his muse, for his story? Probably.

It took time. He didn’t do anything improper. He didn’t act on his desire.

And then he did.

It was all part of the program. Meagan model was authorized by the spouse to play along. She was to be his play thing. She could do anything he wanted. It was up to him. Some men took longer than others. Some enjoyed the company. Some like to touch. Some like more.

It took awhile for him. He wasn’t sure what to make of it all. Men enjoy attention. I guess we all do. She was paying attention to him. He needed attention.

Then it happen. He was drinking one night and sent Meagan a message. “I think I have a crush on you.” It was simple. It was almost innocent. No dick picture. Nothing crude.

Just a simple – I like you.

It didn’t go well. But, it should have. She was made for him. She should have responded with more manic pixie love, but she didn’t. She turned on him.

Was he joking she asked?

Was he? Had he misread the signs? The giggles, the touching, the kindness. YES, YES, he was joking. Holy shit he was joking. He suddenly sobered up and realized that it was all wrong,

It got silent for days. He avoided her. She avoided him. Then it happen. She wanted to meet and talk about what he had sent. She wanted to talk about what he meant.

That morning she ambushed him. It was harsh. It was tense. He stammered. He thought about what he would lose. He thought about his life, his love. He was sorry. He could not stop apologizing, mostly because she seemed so angry for a little little crush.

There was nothing manic pixie about this. The conversation escalated. Voices were raised. She moved close to him. She was angry. She was metal. She grabbed his throat and squeezed.

She was not made for him. He was made for her.

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Andy’s Big Beef

The first thing humans do when landing on a new planet is plant the flag. The second is kill something for dinner.

They’re called Stakers. They’re a group of adventure junkies that live to be the first to try a new meat. How do you skin it? How do you gut it? What will it taste like? Will it kill me? They thrive on the unknown.

It can be a dangerous thing. If the terrain or animal doesn’t kill you, the meat might. Sure, there are tests that tell you things about common poisons and such, but you really never know.

After a bit, the market takes over. Soub from Axis 29 is amazing. It’s a buttery, sweet meat with a divine texture. Brastum Eel is beyond the best thing you’ve ever had. Luminescent meats are a recent fad.

Me? I like to try them all.

Andy’s Big Beef is my shop of choice. They may not have the best prices, but the selection is beyond compare. Andy is this old guy. I guess he used to be a freighter pilot who became a Staker after the war. He had a knack for distribution. Getting the meats to market was the hardest part of the whole thing, supply chain and all. He settled down a couple years ago and now lets others chase down the new meats. His shop is amazing.

It’s not without its risks. See this lump on my side? Doc says its probably going to kill me. I wanted to try some of the new Velorian Stremp. It’s hard to explain. Imagine if crossed shrimp with a cow. Some might think that sounds horrible, but it is DELICIOUS.

Andy had a new shipment in and I took a pound. Marinated it all day and then grilled it. Lemons are hard to find these days, but I was able to scrounge up a few. Nothing fancy. Salt, pepper, lemon, flame.

You have to be careful with alien meat, with the prep and cooking. It didn’t matter. Stremp is pretty new and this one has a parasite that can survive cooking. Look at it, it’s a nasty thing. I’m told it’s eating me from the inside out.

Hell, I knew the risks. I mean Andy does require you sign a release. Although, I’ve never read it.

If I survive this, I’ve got some Kaker coming from RS-195. I’m told it’s best raw. I may just cook it this first time.

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Do the Dishes

Space didn’t cure the monotony of life. The dishes still needed to be done. Clothes still needed to be washed. You even had to dust those tiny buttons on those tiny screens.

Yeah, once the thrill of SPAAAACCCCCEEEEE was over, life up here is still a to do list.

I miss bugs. I know that sounds weird, as there are probably a million people who would love a bug free life, but I miss them. Not the natty, swishy ones, but real bugs. I’d love to come across a big spider while working in the bulkhead. Or a cockroach. A big orange one.

You take these things for granted when you’re in space, like the sound of the washing machine. I miss that, swish, swish of the water as it goes around and around.

You get up here in space, for what? The adventure? That wore off pretty quick. So there you are dry washing clothes and reconstituting your dinner with recycled water.

But, the amazing view!! After awhile, it’s the same old thing everyday. There are no seasons, there is no rain. Just those same stars in those same places.

Ask me, I know. I’ve been staring out this escape pod window for the last three days.

We’re just a bit away from that red giant. Yeah, that one there. We were transporting minerals back to the space station. Pretty routine stuff.

That’s when the fire hit. I’ve never seen so many failures. We tried to control her, but it just wasn’t our day. So here I am, sitting in an escape pod watching space.

I bet Peter overfilled the washing machine again.

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Mother Fucking Moose

There is a common misconception that the grizzly bear is the most dangerous animal in the Alaska woods. This isn’t to say a bear won’t kill you if given the chance, but in all honesty, those encounters are rare.

Nope, the beast that you need to worry about is the moose. Moose are big, ugly and everywhere. Moose don’t like you or your kind. If nature wants to kill you, Moose want to fuck you up before it does.

With this in mind, I was a taken aback when the biker passing us shouted, “Moose a mile or two down the way.”

My heart raced.

I was trying to balance the danger of the situation with my enthusiasm for an actual, up close Moose encounter.

Would it dart out from the side of the trail and check us like a 4 ton angry, ugly hockey player? What would the headlines say?


I wrestled with my inner Moose demons. Then it happened.

Stacy was riding out in front as I glanced to the right.


It was just standing there. It’s beady red eyes glaring at me. It was so close I could have reached out and given it a high five. Then I remembered that you should never high-five a Moose.

Stacy didn’t see the Moose. I almost missed it. The damn thing blending completely into the forest. And of course now that I saw it, it was now my duty to alert her.


I’m not blaming the bike industry for what happened next, but why do we need brakes on the front wheel of a bike? Suddenly I found myself in an Alaskan forest ditch with a Moose looking at my ass like it was dinner.

Not today Moose, not today. If Alaska is going to eat me, I would prefer it be a bear. Is this why they are so angry?

Lucky for me, my years of Moose training kicked in and I was quickly to my feet. As I looked back, the Moose winked at me. Mutual respect?

Stacy never did see the Moose.

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Storm Chasers

You never get used to dimensional storms. They come at you like an angry elephant sliding sideways, through the mud, downhill. All you can do is cower, and try not to shit yourself.

Every time it feels like it’s going to kill me. Every fucking time.

Sure, it’s magical once you are inside, slipping into some random dimension.

A different earth. A different future. A different whatever.

They’re pretty safe. I mean, sure, you hear a few stories, but they are rare enough that it doesn’t bother me.

Most of the time, you are just an observer in there, waiting for it to clear out and send you back to reality. I love that tingly feeling of coming out the backside of a storm. The point where you are drifting in and out of both dimensions. Goosebumps, I tell ya. Goosebumps.

I’ve gotten pretty good at tracking them, so I usually know when they are going to hit me. Fuck. Last month, we were out chasing on the Red Plains and just got blindsided by a doozy. I didn’t even have time to brace myself, which is kind of bullshit anyways, because while it looks like it’s going to knock you on your ass, it doesn’t. You flinch and flex with everything you have, but it doesn’t really feel like anything.

Every season I’m out here getting hit by these bastards. It gets old, but I’m trying to catch THE storm, you know, the one that throws physics in a blender and serves it to you upside down through the door from yesterday.

Some day.

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