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Month: July 2018

The Monk

While the other brothers slept, a solitary monk made his way through the monastery, collecting all the gold. He put the coins in a small leather bag on the side of his horse, and rode off into the night.

No one noticed.

The evening was warm, but it didn’t bother him or his horse. The monks were known for strong horses. They rode out past Desdel and Cartin. The road was dark, but familiar to both of them. The sun began to break and he decided to stopped to eat.

His breakfast was as impressive as his horse. He spread a wide variety of breads, cheeses and meats out on the ground over a gigantic red blanket. He picked and poked at the food with a small silver fork. After each bite, he would roll back a bit and smile. The monk loved to eat.

After the meal, he napped. The forest, in the midday sun, was a wonderful escape from the monastery buildings, and more importantly his work. He laughed that he was eating the bread today instead of making it. This made him happy.

He heard the sound of approaching horses, but it did not raise him. Eventually the shade of two large horses draped over his face. He sat up a bit and wiped his mouth.

“Hello, my friends, ” said the monk. Towering over him were two grimy men on two grimy horsed. The monk’s nose curled as he caught a whiff of them. “Are you my contacts?” he said.

The larger of the two men dismounted his horse. “Sure. We’re your contacts. What do you have for us, brother?”

The monk reached into his wicker basket and pulled out a package. “You are in luck, my fine fellows, ” he said. “I have some fresh blood sausages for you. These are much better than the ones I’ve been able to bring in past. Brother Sandom made them. He makes the best.”

“Sausages? We’re going to need more than that?” said the other man as he dismounted.

“Well, I have the gold, but that can wait. Can’t it? We have time. Don’t we? I don’t have to head back to the monastery just yet. Do I?” asked the monk.

The monk turned from them and walked over to a small smoldering fire, “Sit my friends and I will stoke the fire and put these on.”

While the monk had his back turned, both men drew daggers from their side. The larger of the two moved toward the monk.

“The gold. We will take the gold,” he said.

The monk stumbled back, tripped a bit, and turned toward them. He put his hands out to his sides. “Oh dear. You aren’t my contacts are you?”

“No, we aren’t my brother,” said the larger of the men as he slipped his dagger deep into the monk’s side.

The monks body found its way back to the monastery. It had been tied to the horse by the robbers. It was disturbing sight, as a monk had not been murdered since the reforming wars of a hundred years ago. Sure, monks came and went in all kinds of natural ways, but this was different.

Everyone came to his funeral. They placed his large red blanket over his large body, put his silver fork into his pocket, and placed him in a tomb next to Brother Bislon. Bislon had died earlier in the season from an infection.

After awhile, things settled down, but the question still remained: Why was the monk out on the road with all the gold? The senior monks did their best to squelch the scuttlebutt, but it would not go away.

The scheme had to be revealed to the ranks or there was going to be a revolt. It took days, but the message was personally delivered to all the brothers.

Every quarter season, all the gold in the monastery was collected and taken out to a point where fake robbers would ritualistically steal it. The money would then be given back to the townspeople by the robbers. The people used the money to enrich their lives with food and shelter. This money would eventually find its way back to the monks though gifts, goods and tithing from the people.

Turns out he monks had been doing this for many, many decades. They enjoyed the goodwill of it.

Some time passed and things got back to normal. The monks coffers again filled with gold.

That night, a solitary monk made his way through the monastery and collected the gold. He placed into a large leather bag on the side of his horse. He then made his way into the darkness.

No one noticed.

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Fantasy Darwin Awards

A king had a wizard make him a magical bath tub that required a password. If you didn’t say the password as you got in, the tub would spring to life and kill you. One night while drinking, eating and being merry, the king slipped off his clothes and sank into the tub. He mumbled the password, but his mouth was full of roast chicken and mead. The tub pulled him under the water and killed him.

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The Enforcer of the Silver Tree

I need it now. But I can’t. I can’t. No, no, no. It almost killed me last time.

Maybe I’m stronger now? Maybe I can handle it this time? Maybe? No, no, no.

But if not now, when? Why own the silver tree if only to dust it, clean it, look at it. Why have all that power if just to look at it on a shelf?

It was given to me! It’s mine!

Of all the enforcers in the land it was given to me. The Silver Tree is mine. 40 ago this year it was presented to me in the ceremony. They stood there in the field and gave it to me. They wanted me to have it. I am the Enforcer of the Silver Tree.

And what good did that do? I have yet to wield it. I have yet to master it.

There is sits taunting me. It’s not really silver. It’s not metal at all. It’s a plant, a tree. You would have to get pretty close to it to see that. I’ve been close to it. I stare at it every night. How do I hold it? How do I wield it?

That was before the darkening. That was before they came. I didn’t need to hold it, then. I didn’t need to wield it.

Now I do. Damn it. NOW I DO.

What if I die? What if I pick it up and it kills me this time. It tried last time. I cupped the tree in my hand and it’s roots pierced my hands. The raced to my heart. They raced through my veins. I could feel it stealing the life from me. I panicked and threw it to the floor.

Who cares. Who cares. WHO CARES.

If I can stop them we will all die. I am the Enforcer of the Silver Tree. I am a hero. I am here to save them. But I am nothing. They chose a coward. I’m going to die. We are all going to die.

I am the Enforcer of the Silver Tree.


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How Dungeons and Dragons Probably Saved Me

It was Gary Gygax day yesterday. Here’s How Dungeons and Dragons probably saved me.

I have discovered D&D in a small library in Schertz Texas. My dad was stationed at the airbase nearby. My mother loved taking us to that tiny little library full of donated books.

One day I discovered a Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook. The one with the giant demon statue. I didn’t understand it, but I loved it.

Soon my dad was bringing home modules that he found at the base exchange. I made maps. I made characters. I really didn’t have many friends nearby where we lived, but I dreamed of playing.

That summer we went on vacation. I don’t remember where. I remember there was a t-shirt shop where you could make your own shirt. It was all the rage. The wall was covered with iron designs and letters. Each of the kids in my family got one. Mine was white and green and had a giant dragon. And I put D&D in little black cursive letters on the front. I loved that shirt.

We moved shortly after that. My dad would be working at Williams Air Force Base in Mesa, Arizona.

Taylor Middle School was huge compared to Texas schools. I was scared. I was different. I might of wore that shirt on the first day. All I remember is this kid coming up to me and saying, “You play Dungeons and Dragons?”

His name was Ernie. He lived in my neighborhood. We became good friends. We played D&D. His dad loved to play war games. We played a lot of basketball. He helped me understand my new city, my new school.

This one little thing helped me stay out of trouble. It helped me find a tribe. It helped shaped my future. Without that I may have not made it after our move. I know my brother had a much harder time than I did.

Thank you Gary Gygax. Thank you Dungeons and Dragons.

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Pleasant Elevation

The Plesorian race practiced the concept of pleasant elevation. They believed that if you traveled at the right elevation for a specific amount of time, your mind would reach a higher place. It was a core tenant of their religion.

A huge industry emerged on the planet to provide flights for Plesons seeking pleasant elevation. Of course none of the sects could actually agree on the exact elevation that constituted a pleasant one. That didn’t stop them from trying.

Every day ships of varying size and status filled the sky providing elevation service. The flights were somewhat manageable at first. But years into the latest population boom, things became unhinged. In the last cycle, the number of deaths or near misses have become quite intolerable.

Late last season the planet high council ruled that pleasant elevation was exactly 20,000 migtons from the planet surface. Everyone was now forced to fly that exact elevation. This really limited the number of flights over the planet.

Soon only the rich could afford to fly. The poor did their best to get up. They would stowaway or steal a ship. Renegade journeys were shut down and treated quite harshly.

Nat Soladoid stole a ship. He promised his dad he would reach pleasant elevation before he died. They were just short of the target as they crashed into a mountain.

There is a new movement growing in strength these days. Led by the teachings of an old Mestorian woman. She says pleasant elevation is where you find it.

It’s a radical thought, but it’s catching on.

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The station speakers went quiet and the whole facility rumbled for about 20 seconds.

A robot tour guide turned to the empty room. “That was the firing of the main seed launcher. The launcher fires a seed packet approximately once every 10 minutes. Well, occasionally it will be down for maintenance…..but not very often!”

It wheeled forward, turned its head back and made a gesture. “Follow me. Let’s go see how they build the seed packets.”

Nobody followed. There hadn’t been a tour at the facility for a long time. Life on the planet had died long again. The robots didn’t care. They just did what they were programmed to do. Every day they cleaned and maintained the launcher. And every day they led a group of nobodies through out the station.

“The Invirito Station was built to spread life through out the universe. Each day special seeds packet is loaded into the launcher and shot into deep space. This is where we build the packets,” said the tour guide.

Behind a clear glass wall was a bevy of robots in an assembly line of sorts. Each was uniquely designed to help build the seed packets and move them along the line. It looked like a complex process, but it was actually pretty simple.

“You can see here where the rock material is crushed and then put back together to form a sphere. This outer surface should be strong enough to survive the deep, dark and dangerous expanse of space,” the robot repeated just as it had done over and over.

“And there. There is the life of the seed. We fill each of those with a special mixture of organic materials. The mixtures vary from seed to seed. This helps add diversity to our universe.”

The robots packed a round metal container with a sludge of organic material. They encased the metal with a thick layer of rock. A final machine sealed it all together into a large ball.

The ball rolled onto a platform and into the large gun shaped launcher. The launcher adjusted it trajectory.


The facility rumbled again as the ball was shot into space. It roared off into the distance. After a bit a large solar sail opened up and pulled the seed away from the station and the planet.

The tour guide robot turned again to the empty room of nobodies. “That seed is headed to a lucky planet in the milky way.

“What a lucky planet, don’t you think?”

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On the Iron

Restrone built a lovely little home on the nucleus of an atom. He picked iron for its stability. It was a cute mid century modern with a couple bedrooms. He painted it green with white trim. At night he would sit out in the garden and watch electrons spin metallic rainbows. There were nights he never wanted to go in.

He spent the weekends on little projects. He planted grass in the front yard. He built a nice white fence. It was crooked, but it was his.

Restrone was proud.

He loved his garden the most. He painted in red flowers. Shades of chrysanthemums and waves of marigolds splashed the wavy hills. They perfectly complimented the green house with the white trim. This was by design.

The years past and he got old. He tried to keep up on the repairs, but it got the best of him. Those we’re dark days on the iron. The roof leaked. The fence needed painting. The flowers died.

His house on the atom was empty for a good long while after he past away. Some blamed it on the market. Iron was expensive these day. Some said it was just too much work to repair that old run down house.

Margaret was different. She saw the beauty in the disrepair. And the iron actually appealed to her. She was tired of living in unstable atoms. It took its toll on her. The iron would be worth the extra money.

On a Tuesday in the Spring she bought the little green house on the iron. On Wednesday she planted some flowers. They were red.

This was by design.

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Nature Wants to Kill You

Nature wants to kill you. The bugs, the rocks, the weather.

Especially here. Especially now.

I learned this at a young age. Many don’t. You read about them. I would occasionally stumble on their bodies. I’d find them hunched up on the edge of some cliff. Freezing to death will put a very distinctive look on your face. I remember them all.

So I prepare.

I think about all the ways this planet is going to try to kill me. And I prepare. It’s not as easy as it seems. You can only carry so much stuff. You have to prioritize. You have to learn to have just enough. Just enough stuff to help save you.

That string saw saved me on RG-F2. A log rolled over on my leg. I was able to cut through it to set myself free. I made a splint and hobbled back. I didn’t die that day.

Sure…sure…we have technology. I have a pack of stuff that is supposed to save me. I use it. I respect it. But, really it’s just another thing you have to plan for. Do you have power? Is it functioning correctly?

I once pulled a guy out a canyon on Meticon. He was reading his positioning system wrong and got lost. Unprepared people get lost. There is really no excuse for getting lost.

Like Evan Crabby. Evan Crabby is lost somewhere on this fucking planet. He was unprepared. So here I am looking for him. It’s not going well. And now I suspect this planet will kill us both.

That’s when it gets you. Nature, that is. When you give up. I never thought I would be here, but I am. Robert Folcum of the Planetary Rescue is giving up.

I’m tired. Tired of fighting this. I prepared for the storm. I prepared for terrain. I prepared for Evan Crabby.

I prepared for all of this and nature is still going to kill me today.


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No Future

It wasn’t intentional. I guess I just sat in that damn chair listening for too long. It grew on me.

I know, I know…my training. At first I didn’t understand it. It was so different from anything we have. We don’t have that intensity, that vigor, that purpose.

You made me listen to it. Over and over. I became obsessed with it. I would finish my shift and it wouldn’t go away. It drilled deep in my brain.

‘Cause London is drowning, and I, I live by the river

It progressed from there. I was about a year in when I started trying to figure out how I could bootleg it. Each day I pilfered a few items. It was stuff that wouldn’t be missed. It’s not like it was difficult. I mean we are engineers.

The hardest part was concealing it. I give you guys credit, you make it hard for us. The security was amazing. Not only did I have to patch into the system, I had to hack something together to record the damn things.

It was complicated, but not impossible. I had two things going for me, determination and time. I wanted to hold this beautiful noise for the rest of my life. I was pretty motivated. I wish you had sent me to a different planet. A planet with shitty music. Then I wouldn’t be here. Then WE wouldn’t be here.

“But WE are here Mr. Servo,” said a voice from the darkness. “Can you explain how the recordings got on the network?”

My assignment on the monitoring ship was coming to an end. I needed to figure out a way to bring the music back with me. I mean you guys pretty much strip us naked before you send us back.

I broke the digital files up and coded them into static. It took me forever. But, again…I had time. Then when I would send audio messages back to my family, I would insert the static. I figured once I was home, I would decode them. It easily got past your detection system. No one noticed. It was pretty genius.

“How did they get on the network, Mr. servo?!”

I guess I didn’t realize other people would be monitoring those transmissions. They were looking for things. I mean, it may come as a shock to you, but not everyone is all bully on the silence in regard to other cultures. They know we are there. They are looking for things. They are curious. I didn’t mean for this music to hit the network. I just wanted to keep listening to it after my assignment was over.

“Let the record show the Alserdon Servo has confessed to being a source of cultural contamination. Let it also show that he broke his observers oath. You are aware of what happens next Mr. Servo?”

Do I know? Listen, I didn’t mean for this to happen. But I am now convinced I was meant for this to happen. What’s next? The rebellion is next.

No future
No future
No future for me
No future
No future
No future for you
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Sunday Drive

“Keep it down you schmucks,” Keven said as she motioned for everyone to stop near the fence. She turned and whispered, “You’re up Andy.” A large man with a small case waddled up to the front of the group. He clipped some cables to the fence and attached a small tablet. His face lit up from the glow of the screen. Everyone could see the concentration on his face. BEEP. BEEP. BEEEEEEP. Keven frantically waved. “Sound off, Andy. Sound off!!” The night got quiet again. The gate ahead of them clicked and opened. Keven slapped Andy on the back. “Nice job. Let’s go.”

They quickly moved through the fence and moved toward the parking lot. There ahead of them was the largest fleet of automated vehicles in the city. They came in all different shapes and styles. Busses, cars, trucks. They stopped at the first one the came up on. No need to be picky. It was your basic gray metal four door sedan. A commuter. Keven grabbed a long metal device from his pocket. She attached it to the data port on the side of the vehicle. Pop. The doors opened.

People didn’t drive cars anymore. But, they hadn’t really gotten rid of the things manual driven cars had. Power petal, brakes, steering column. No one really knows why. It’s not like those items were needed anymore. Maybe it was to make us feel safe. Maybe the car companies couldn’t remove the humanity from their creations? Who knows. Andy attached his screen and after a few moments he said, “She’s good to go.” He slid out of the drivers seat and Keven slid in. She attached a small steering wheel to the car.

Keven won the dice roll. She would drive first. She revved the electric motor. And punched it. “Hold on to your balls, my brothers.” The car sped out of the lot on onto the road way. She pushed it as hard as she could as they moved closer to the city. Driving was different now. There were no stop signs. No traffic lights. No signs. Computers don’t care about these things. All the other cars on the road were connected.It wouldn’t be long before the automated police cars would get word of the erratic driving. Until then, they took turns driving around the city.

They were free. They were alive. They were out for a Sunday drive.

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