[LNHY/TEB] A Devil Came Down to Georgia [1/3]

Saxon Brenton saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
Sat Jul 15 19:07:33 PDT 2006

[LNHY/TEB] A Devil Came Down to Georgia  [1/3]

     In 2004 Arthur Spitzer launched the Legion of Net.Heroes Y [LNHY]
shared writing universe on the rec.arts.comics.creative usenet group, in
response to certain problems with the use of characters in the LNH classic
imprint. He also set a daily writing experiment for himself, _The Daily
Super Paragraph_ (which quickly morphed to become _The Daily Super Short-
Short Story_). After his original 18 issues (the 'Garden of Party Time'
arc) I took up the DSSSS (only belatedly getting permission to do so)
and began the 'A Devil Came Down To Georgia' arc.
     'A Devil' was moderately well received at the time (although part 33,
with TJ's Secret Origin, did start a flamewar. Oops). After it got a
similarly good response in the annual RACCies Awards for 2004 - and not
JUST because it won me the Favourite Arc award - I took the opportunity
to go back and reread it in one sitting, and was pleasantly surprised at
how well it held up as a story. So in the interests of posterity, and to
tickle my ego, I've gone and fixed the spelling, grammar and omitted word
problems so that it can be reissued into convenient trade etherback format
for both the Blue Light Productions webpage and the Eyrie archives.
     The story remains in its original daily episodic format. I considered
doing a rewrite to make the story flow somewhat better, but baulked at the
amount of effort that that would require - and for that reason I also 
almost all of the author's notes. As a result the plot and pacing remain 
or less under control, but the mood sometimes fluctuates noticeably.

'A Devil Came Down to Georgia' parts 1-15
Originally posted in _The Daily Super Short-Short Story_ #19-33
An LNHY / Acraphobe series
By Saxon Brenton


The Daily Super Short-Short Story #19
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 1

     A wondersock was heading towards town, looking for an opportunity
to make mischief.
     Yes, I said *a* wondersock. It's like the difference between The
Devil and a devil.
     The wondersock, whose name was Damian...
     "oohh, subtly, Writer Boy," said Damian sarcastically.
     Shut up.  ...was in a really foul mood. Long distance travel always
made him feel cranky, because he couldn't move that far on his own.
Instead he was forced to wear some human or other's foot in order to
properly mind control the weak-willed sacks of meat into carrying him.
Some stinky, unwashed, tinea-infected human foot. Yurghh. It was enough
to make you want to retch, even if, like Damian, you didn't have a
stomach to retch with.
     Not for the first time Damian reflected on this state of affairs.
     The wondersocks were nowhere near as well known as the accursed
'Children of Cain' - as the offspring of the eldest child of Gotta-Luv-Me
Lad and Knows-How-To-Please-Her-Man Girl were referred. Nor the Lilim
descended from Gotta-Luv-Me Lad's first helpmeet, Exciting Leather
Strap-on Lass. Nor even the monstrous Nephilim who were begat by angels.
     But they were a Nightsider race that was in no way less Eeeeevil
than any of the others, and they hated humanity with a passion. Several
thousand years ago their ancestor, *the* Wondersock, and all his kind
had been cursed by God to act as human footwear - and that sort of thing
really made some people bitter and twisted.
     Soon however, soon he would arrive in town and could begin scouting
around for a soul to corrupt and generally make miserable.

Tomorrow: Damian arrives in town.

Author's notes:
     I thought I'd have a try at this for one story arc, notwithstanding
that I still have a final part of the current story of Limp-Asparagus Lad
to finish, or Arthur's warning that it's harder than it looks to sustain
over the long run. One of my regrets is that I keep coming up with ideas
for LNH stories, but don't write fast enough (or simply get bogged down
in Writer's block) to get them out. So I'll take a cue from Arthur and
experiment with the daily story format, and use it for the 'Knight of
Saint Christopher' concept that I've had floating around for a while.
     Sorry about the rather torturous phrasing of who the 'Children of
Cain' are. When I was throwing in references to various Biblically
related/themed monster races, I remembered that Arthur had said he might
do some stuff with Cain and Abel themes in the future, which means that
I would be making a reference to 'Cain' without knowing what his name
would be in this universe, hence the long-winded 'also known as' dodge.

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #20
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 2

Last Time: Damian the nightsider wondersock was heading towards town
using a possessed human as his vehicle, intent on doing evil.

     As he got closer to town Damian reached out with his mind and
began scanning the area for appropriate victims. On the one foot this
was easy, because Damian made his human mount take off his shoes while
driving; but on the other foot it was harder because Damian was still
down near the pedals, surrounded by the cold steel of the truck cabin.
The situation would reverse itself when they stopped and Murdock got
out, swapping Damian's confinement in the cabin for confinement in
boot leather.
     Anticipation gripped Damian. If the sock could have breathed in
with a sigh of delight, he would have.  .oO( Choices, choices, so
many wonderful choices. )
     The rig pulled up at a truckers' stop and Murdock pulled on his
boots. Damian hated the fact that God's curse meant that, except
under rather special circumstances, the socks could only totally mind
control their victims while on their feet. Influence, make suggests,
or put strange ideas into the meat-sacks' minds was okay from a
distance, but properly *controlling* their victim... Nup; had to be on
their stinky monkey-boy feet. But if that's what it meant to travel
around and scout out a proper victim...
     Damian let Murdock eat a meal as part of his cover, then took
the man for a walk around and about. There was one fleeting impression
in particular that the sock was interested in finding, but along the
way he took note of other enticing possibilities.
     Like the teenager in a drug pushing syndicate who needed just a
*bit* more cash to maintain the lifestyle that he was using to impress
his girlfriend, and who Damian was sure could be manipulated into
doing something *really* stupid...
     Or like the senator's wife who was growing bored with being the
decorative-spouse-from-a-wholesome-family, and might just be lead
into an ultimately embarrassing extra-marital fling...
     Or like the hospital manager who was taking short cuts with
supplies that, if exacerbated, could lead to a quite a number of
     Damian was so engrossed with these possibilities that he was
letting Murdock run on automatic. This was a mistake, because when he
was being directed by Damian, Murdock didn't have much of what could
be called analytic functions, and so neither of them reacted until too
late to the mugger that grabbed Murdock's shoulder, swung him around,
and smashed a fist into Murdock's face.

Tomorrow: A fight scene.

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #21
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 3

Last Time: Damian was so busy looking for new victims to corrupt that
he grew careless and let a mugger sneak up on his current meat puppet.

     Damian cursed himself for a foolish sock as Murdock went down. He
hadn't been so careless in ages! Still, there were certain minimal
precautions that Damian always took to protect all of his mounts, and so
despite having been knocked to the ground, Murdock was still conscious
and for the most part undamaged. Time to reverse the situation.
     He feigned being stunned as the mugger moved in with practiced
speed. Unhindered by either bodily pain or the threat of death from
the fight, Damian directed with detached interest; interesting how the
assailant (scruffy looking white male, early post-adolescent, medium
height and build, scar on left cheek) was using his fists rather than
a weapon.
     Murdock kicked him in the groin when he came in range, prompting
a squeal of agony. Slightly faster than an unaugmented human could
have moved, Murdock was up and on his feet, lunging to grab at his
assailant. The mugger matched him speed for speed, prompted a
metaphorical raised eyebrow from Damian; was this one some sort of
     As the two monkey boys continued to spar, Damian decided to test
the notion. It would chew up some of his reserves of occult power, but
it might be useful to have a meat puppet that was already superhumanly
powerful. Mentally tracing out dark hierograms of power in his mind,
the evil sock slowly raised Murdock's speed and skill.

     TJ cursed. Bastard had got him right in the goolies! Damn, that hurt!
     It looked like this one would be tough, since his Fist was usually
enough to take care of things. They went through a few feints and
parries as each tried testing the other, but then TJ realised that this
mark was beginning to speed up. Shit, how fast could this guy go? It
wouldn't take too much before TJ wouldn't be able to keep up.
     He really didn't need the hassle. A quick robbery and clean getaway
was all he wanted. Was that too much to ask? And physically tougher than
normal though he might be, he didn't want the risk of an extended fight.
He pulled his gun to finish this off quick.

     As the boy pulled a weapon Murdock grabbed him by the scruff of the
neck and beat his head repeatedly into a wall. Three good hard whams and
a broken nose later, and Murdock let the mugger fall to the ground.
     Damian looked down at the mugger both through Murdock's eyes and
his own esoteric senses, considering the situation.
     It didn't seem that this monkey boy was all *that* powerful, but
objectively speaking it would be sensible to take a mount who was a
local to the area and who wouldn't seem out of place as the wondersock
toured around town on the prowl.
     But this was not the reason for the actions that Damian was planning.
     Damian was feeling misanthropic (big surprise) and wanted to make
things unpleasant for someone who had been unlucky enough to attack him.
     One quick glance around to check that the coast was clear and
Murdock took off his left boot. The wondersock was already wriggling
from the human's foot; it was an unpleasant sight, because the sock had
a way of ~crawling~ that would have made an Hollywood special effects
director start feverishly contemplating how it could be used in the
next horror blockbuster.
     Murdock took off the mugger's left shoe and sock, and the
wondersock transferred itself over. Acting under a few final
suggestions (not commands, Damian couldn't command anyone unless he
was wearing them), Murdock donned the left-over sock, put on his boot
and went back to his rig to get on with his life.
     Damian forced his new body into a state that would pass as
consciousness, got up and went his own way. He needed time to repair
the new human's body, and so he began pulling leavers in its mind to
return to its home.
     As they went their separate ways, Damian contemplated what Murdock
had waiting for him. They'd had some fun together. Damian had taken a
loving, family-oriented man who missed his wife and kids when he was
out on the road and @tWysTed@ the trucker just a little bit at a time
to made Murdock think that it was natural to drink just a little too
much and sleep with a few women of negotiable affection - all in the
name of easing the stresses of a long road haul, of course. They were
the type of influences that were settled deep into the mind - and even
if they couldn't *compel* a reaction, they'd linger for ages.
     There was some good stuff in there, like the benefits of keeping
his wife in line with a good beating every now and then. Even if worst
came to worst and Murdock resisted and didn't end up with a divorce,
well, Damian had already arranged for Murdock to contract HIV while he
was sleeping around. So their time together hadn't been completely
     .oO( Now, who are *you* boy? And how can I keep myself amused
using you while I'm looking for the big score? ) Damian asked
rhetorically as he began rummaging through the mugger's mind.
Then: ( Timmy-Joe Jim-Bob!? Do parents really give their spawn names
like that? )

Tomorrow: Damian repairs Timmy-Joe.

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #22
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 4

Last Time: Damian the wondersock dealt with a mugger (in more ways than

     Using hastily pillaged memories and body habit reactions, Damian
brought his new monkey boy meat puppet back to its flat.
     He parked the motorbike and headed upstairs to the spartan tenement.
Once inside he shucked off the vinyl jacket and the gloves. That was
the point when the wondersock discovered why TJ had been wearing gloves.
     He'd assumed that it was to avoid leaving fingerprints. That may
have been part of it, of course, but the real reason turned out to be
that his hands were grey and textured like the hide of a rhinoceros. No
wonder he wore skin tight kid leather gloves rather than heavier biking
wear; he'd be wearing them nearly all the time when out in public and
would need something that wasn't encumbering.
     Now that he was in seclusion, Damian began searching TJ's mind for
the nature of his powers. The man didn't know where they'd come from
and assumed he was a mutant. That gibed with what Damian has guessed;
TJ's aura didn't have the... taste... of someone with supernatural power
(another reason why Damian only planned to use him for a short time while
tracking down that psychic scent he'd caught whiff of earlier). The powers
themselves weren't particularly exotic as these things went either.
Enhanced strength (mostly focused through those hide-like hands),
resilience and speed, and none of it of a spectacular level.
     That done, it was time to get down to housekeeping. Damian knew
that later he would want to take a back seat in the human's mind for a
while, with the only influence being a vague feeling of wanderlust
so that TJ would be happy to be out riding. That would give Damian the
opportunity to do the searching he was planning. To prepare for that,
the broken nose would need to be fixed.
     Damian was an old and very knowledgable sock, and there were a
number of rituals which he knew of that could repair TJ's nose in
the course of the afternoon before he was due for his delivery boy job
this evening. Blood was always popular, as either a sacrifice or a
libation, but Damian had a deep-seated psychological need to degrade
humans as much as he felt degraded by riding on their stinky feet. That
was why, if he had any choice in the matter, Damian always chose shit
for a task like this.
     Damian brought TJ up to a partially aware state, so that the whole
situation would feel like a nightmare. Then he went and collected a plate
and fork, and dropped his pants, and emptied his bowels, and then tucked
into the resulting pile of faeces. Suppressing the gag reflex was always
the hardest part.
     Then Damian directed his new body to lie down while the healing
took place. The wondersock used the opportunity for a more leisurely
examination of the man's memories. TJ took the opportunity to freak out.

Tomorrow: The search continues.

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #23
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 5

Last Time: Damian the wondersock established his base of operations.

     Delroy bounded up, shot, and scored. He collected the basketball
and threw a look at Martin. "You are so off your game today," Delroy
said, and bounced the ball back to his companion.
     "I hadn't realised I was feeling so out of it."
     "And here I thought you said you wanted to play some ball because
you were feeling too out of it to study," Delroy jibed.
     Martin squinted as he prepared to shoot a basket. "I did. But it
looks like I'm too out of it to do anything right just now." He lobbed
the ball, which hit the edge of the basket and bounced back. "See? I
should just go back to bed," he complained.
     "Ha!" went Shane from the sideline as he looked up from a wad
of papers that he'd been going over with a red pen. "You should have
thought of that last night when you were up watching DVDs rather than
getting some sleep."
     "Hey, I didn't watch *anything* last night," countered Martin as
he collected the ball. "*I* sat up just long enough to finish off my
literary ethics essay and then I went to bed by 11:30, unlike *some*
people who are still desperately scrabbling to get their act together."
     "Yeah yeah," grumbled Shane, and returned to what would hopefully
be the final draft of his work. Then all he had to do was a final
printout and have it handed in by 5pm.
     "So, what, have you been stressing too much over your workload to
get proper rest?" asked Delroy as he intercepted the ball from Martin.
     "Don't think so," replied Martin as he futilely tried to get the
ball back. "I've just been having some strange dreams."
     "And this contradicts my theory, how?" asked Delroy.
     "Well for a start I haven't been having any anxiety dreams about
turning up in class naked, or missing any exams, or having to perform
Mass but being totally unprepared and screwing the whole thing up
catastrophically, or anything."
     Delroy chuckled. "Turning up naked. Lewd exhibitionism. They'd
scream about paedophilia and you'd never be let near a choir ever again."
     "Oh shut up, Del," said Martin. "Don't even joke about things
like that."
     Delroy shut up for long enough to successfully shoot another
basket, then changed the subject back. "So what type of dreams *have*
you been having?"
     "Oh. I've been standing on the edge of a huge lake or ocean or
something. I can't see the other side, but I know I have to get to the
other side to do... something or other. There a whole lot of other
people who I can't see properly who are crossing without any problem."
     Delroy looked at him. "And you say that's not an anxiety dream?"
     Matin shrugged. "Maybe it's just more heavily laden with symbolism
than usual," he admitted.
     "Why didn't you try to fly across?" asked Shane.
     "What do you mean, 'fly across'?" countered Martin.
     "Well, it's a dream, isn't it? Just tell yourself to up-up-and-away."
     "That's weird."
     "No it's not. I do it fairly often," Shane said. Then he shrugged.
"Obviously you never read enough comic books as a kid to get a proper
mode of thought where you could do the impossible if you really wanted
to. I've been flying since I was about seven. Mind you, I'm not a very
good at it. It's more like swimming, I'm not very fast, and my altitude
control sucks."
     Delroy smirked. "So your solution is supposed to be a help?"
     Shane shrugged again. "These days I'd use teleporting, actually.
Early on, I'd 'teleport' by turning invisible and walking to where I
wanted to be, passing through walls if I needed to. But in the past few
years my dream teleporting is more like visualising what it would look
and feel like to be somewhere else, and then I'd instantly be there."
He matched Delroy smirk for smirk. "The moral of the story is that you
get better at these things if you practise."
     "It hasn't helped your flying," Delroy said.
     Shane wasn't perturbed. "Fine. Usually it'll get better if you
     Then Martin, who'd only been an observer in that exchange, asked:
"And you do this all the time?"
     "No. Most of the time it doesn't occur to me to use those sort of
tricks. That's the main reason why I don't think it's a form of lucid
dreaming; I don't think 'ah, I'm dreaming, so I can do anything' type
metalogic or anything like that. I'm still using dream logic, but I
suspect it's because I think in comic book symbolism so much that the
type of things I can do in dreams sometimes relate back to comic book
     "Well, I don't think in comic book terms," said Martin.
     "Then think in terms of sci fi or anime," said Shane. "You watch
enough of the stuff. Use the Force or something. Or if that embarrasses
you, think in terms of asking God for help. You're training to be a
priest, you should be thinking along those lines professionally as
well as privately."
     Martin raised an eyebrow. "I don't think that asking God for the
ability to fly is the type of theme that I could get working in my
subconscious and influencing my dreams. It's not the sort of thing
that turns up in the scriptures."
     "There are a few saints who could fly. Saint Joseph of Cupertino,
for example," Shane pointed out.
     "And who were a *small* number of very pious exceptions to a more
general human condition," Martin countered. "I still don't think it's
a chain of thought that would be of much use to me," he repeated. Shane
gave him a playful grin but said nothing more.
     "Whatever," said Martin. He ran his fingers through his short
black curls and then stretched. "I think I'll go get some rest and see
if I can get into the swing of things later this afternoon..."
     "Excuse me," said a young man in delivery boy uniform. "Can you
tell me where Building 14 is?"
     "Sure," said Delroy. "It's that big red brick building over there
behind the auditorium.
     "Thanks," said the youth with a scar on his cheek, and wandered off.

     After he had rested Martin got up and went to the bathroom to
freshen himself up. He went to the sink and splashed water over his
face, and was surprised by a quite large zit on his cheek. He sighed
and took a closer look at it, only to discover that it was a small
piece of metal in his skin. Bwah? Had he slept on something and gotten
it embedded in his face? What a nasty thought; it could have gotten
into his eye.
     He pulled it out, wincing in pain as he discovering that it was
in deep. He wiped at the trickle of blood, which persisted. He got a
bandaid and covered the wound, then examined the piece of metal, but
couldn't identify what it could be.
     .oO( Just a piece of scrap, ) he concluded, then threw it in the
trash and didn't think of it anymore.

Tomorrow: Martin's life gets more complicated.

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #24
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 6

Last Time: Some seminary students discussed dreams.

     Martin was watching a war going on.
     From his vantage point he could see two armies doing battle in
close physical combat. They were disparate, both between and within
their groups. Even from this distance the sheer eclecticism of the
participants gave the proceedings a surreal aspect. Martin watched two
men, one dressed in lion skin and the other in kevlar armour, slashing
into each other with swords. A burning skeleton with a lightsaber was
warding off the submachine gun fire of a lizardman in a robe of snow-soft
white. And a little old lady in a cardigan was using an eggbeater to
inflict terrible wounds on a large serpent that was trying to wrap itself
around her torso and bite her with its hideously envenomed fangs.
     The fighting fascinated Martin, and for what seemed an endless time
he stared at it. The threat of violence filled him with agitation, with
nervous anticipation, and he felt he should prepare himself if it should
spill towards him.
     Martin was open mouthed and breathing heavily in preparation for
fight-or-flight, but it wasn't until he licked his lips that he realised
that at least part of him was enjoying the thought of battle. He flushed
with embarrassment and automatically stepped back a few paces.
     He stared upwards to look at something other than the conflict. It
was then that he realised that although the sky was dark, all the figures
in the area were lit as if with full sunlight. That was interesting, but
not particularly urgent or worrying.
     Nor did he find it particularly strange when someone came and stood
nearby. Martin glanced over at the person. It was huge; an armoured
figure some nine feet tall standing in ornate and well-polished plate
mail. Martin smiled when he noticed a St. Christopher's medallion
embossed into the metal of the chest plate.
     The figure stood at ease in companionable silence. More curious
than alarmed, Martin asked, "Did you come from that fight?"
     "I have been in that battle, and other skirmishes in the same war,
yes," replied a masculine voice. He spoke with an accent that Martin
couldn't identify. Then, despite the weight of armour like that, the
figure cocked his head to one side. "What did you think of it?"
     Martin blinked in bemusement and he tried to gather his thoughts.
His pause stretched out for several seconds, but even so he could
find no way to articulate the way that he had been both repulsed and
enthralled by it. "I don't know what to think," he finally replied in
blunt honesty.
     The other nodded. "That battle and its kin are necessary, and those
who are involved are often very enthusiastic to participate. But in the
end it's nothing more than a tool to an ends. And one should never let
the base emotions of enthusiasm for something as simple as a tool
overwhelm you soul."
     That was a comment more relevant to Martin's feelings than mere
untutored random conversation should have been. For the first time
Martin felt a prickle of suspicion and irritation at this newcomer. "What
was going on back there? What was that all about?" he asked pointedly.
     A shrug. "A battle between good and evil. Between the forces of
darkness and light." Then the figure asked, "And which side do you
think you will be on?"
     "The forces of good, I should hope," Martin said with some heat.
     "And which one was that?"
     "I... couldn't tell just from looking at them."
     The figure nodded, with what Martin somehow sensed was with some
sadness. "Yes. And that may cause us both some problems."

Tomorrow: More cryptic comments, I think.

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #25
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 7

Last Time: Martin witnessed a skirmish purportedly between good and evil.

     The seminary student frowned and crossed his arms. "You're assuming
that I want to be involved in your war."
     "It's not a matter of wanting or not wanting," the armoured giant
replied seriously. If he was put off by Martin's all-but explicit
rejection of his position, he didn't show it. "It's a matter of calling."
     "My calling is to God."
     There was a long pause while Martin waited in vain for clarification
of that. Finally he said, "You want to explain yourself, or should I just
assume that you're deliberately being cryptic?"
     "The lines between good and evil are usually clear cut, but there
are complications in this case," was the reply. "You will inevitably
make a choice, but you must be sure that it is the *right* choice, and
any advice I might give could muddy your reactions. You must search
your feelings on this matter."
     "Thank you, Obi Wan Kenobi," was Martin's sarcastic reply. Then he
frowned and said, "Why am I even talking to you, anyway? You're just a
dream. You're probably just a suppressed anxiety about how Dad wanted me
to go into his computer software company rather than take vows."
     "You are dreaming, but that doesn't mean that I'm a figment. And
*that*," said the giant, pointing back towards the now distant battle
between light and dark, "certainly is not."
     "Maybe. Maybe not," said Martin distractedly. He was thinking about
what Shane had said earlier today. Was it really only a few hours ago?
He had totally lost track of time, and now that he was trying to regain
his bearings he found it difficult to adjust his sense of place and
     'Oh, I'm dreaming and can do the impossible' Shane had said, or
something like that. Well, let's see how... if... this worked. He raised
one arm and imagined metal wings. The shape and form and texture. What
it would feel like to have air racing over them.
     And quite suddenly, there were wings. "Okaaayyy," he breathed, and
then began constructing a full flying battlesuit in his mind. Thruster
jets formed at his ankles, and metal armour (far more aeronautically
streamlined than that of his companion) formed over his body. Martin
took to the air.
     "Cool!" was Martin's opinion as he soared up into the night sky.
This was great! Better than sex, at which thought Martin blushed. He was
supposed to be putting those sorts of urges behind him. Huh, hadn't Freud
said that when you were dreaming of flying you were actually dreaming of
sex? Martin recalled.  .oO( I wonder what it means when you're dreaming
about sex, then? )
     The young man continued to climb higher and higher, and eventually
he woke up.

     Martin tried to reorientate him perceptions and discover where he
was.  .oO( Bed, ) he finally decided. Yeah, that would make sense. The
clock on the bedside table said 2am. Bleah. That afternoon nap and
subsequent study session to 11 must've thrown out his body clock.
     He rolled over and prepared to get up. He needed to go to the
bathroom. He started to untangle the bedclothes from around his legs,
which was when he discovered the thruster jet tubes growing out of his
     "Wha?" He looked around blearily. Was he still dreaming?

Tomorrow: How about some Tsukamoto style cybernetic body horror?

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #26
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 8

Last Time: Martin used an impromptu attempt at lucid dreaming to fly
away and wake up.

     When Martin had carried out that body morph in his dreams earlier,
it hadn't been this painful.
     He didn't remember leaving his room, and to be honest he wasn't
even sure where he was on the darkened early morning campus. The waves
of nausea combined with the sporadic cramps of pain were the things that
were the main focus of his attention just at the moment. It was making
him stumble about a lot.
     He was also having trouble walking because of the shape of his feet.
His ankles and lower legs had ballooned out under the encrustation of
metal debris that had grown from his flesh, turning them into something
that vaguely resembled the thick, weight-bearing supports of a mecha.
Now he had to walk with a rolling bow-legged gait to keep them from
getting in each others' way. They tended to catch against each other like
velcro as well; they weren't smooth metal plating, but made up of a
random collection plates and wires and tubes and protrusions, with the
occasional growth of flesh twisting through it all.
     The rest of his body wasn't much better. None of this clean,
streamlined look reminiscent of a terminator or a robocop. The one
glimpse that he caught of himself in a window - before he had recoiled
away in horror - showed that it... his body... looked even worse than
having been taken over by the borg.
     Another spasm of pain drove him to his knees, causing him to stagger
against a nearby wall for support. Some new warping of his flesh must've
just taken place. He wasn't sure if he wanted to know exactly what it was.
     Once the worst of the pain had passed he tried to get up and move
on, but he found that he was stuck. Glancing about, Martin realised that
his left arm had grown out, tendril like, against the wall that he was
leaning against and was insinuating itself into an auto teller machine.
He could see the root-like tendrils thickening as they took a firmer
hold, and with a curious detachment he also suddenly realised that the
screaming that he could hear was coming from himself.
     Martin heaved away from the wall with panic stricken strength,
uprooting the dendritic growths from his arm out of the ATM and half
tearing the dispenser out of its resting place in the process. The
machine fizzled sparks and an alarm went off. Sobbing with terror the
young man turned and fled.
     Some time later Martin collapsed onto the ground and lay there. His
chest was heaving to regain his breath, but he would have been even more
disturbed than he already was to realise that this was more out of habit
than from need. He stared up at the light haze over the city in an
attempt to focus himself and, perhaps, ignore the nightmare. After a few
moments he heard footsteps.
     He whisked himself around to confront another youth. Martin was
too rattled to recognise the delivery boy who had asked directions the
previous day. He didn't even notice that the newcomer wasn't wearing any
shoes. Still, for a few seconds Martin's tension eased slightly as he
saw that the other man was just standing there, neither intent on
attacking nor running away to call the anti-mutant assault robots.
     But no matter how minimal that drop in anxiety was, it was
nevertheless a false sense of security. Damian already had a plan in mind
for Martin, and it wouldn't be pleasant. Speaking through TJ's mouth, the
evil sock began with a causal sounding, "Uhm, hi. I've been watching
you... and, uhm... Would you have sex with me?"

Tomorrow: Probably something really Acraphobe.

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #27
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 9

Acraphobe content warning:
This episode is meant as horror rather than pornography, but readers
should be aware that it contains gratuitous nudity and licentiousness.

Last Time: Martin found his body mutating uncontrollably into a
cybernetic monstrosity. And then he was propositioned by a delivery boy.

     "What?" said Martin. He couldn't possibly have heard that correctly.
     Damian the wondersock contrived to make TJ's face look somewhat
abashed. "Well, I mean, you're a really good looking guy, and the body
mods are really hot. The 'metal man' look is even sexier than the beefcake
guys down at the gym. So I was wondering if you wanted to make out..."
     Martin's mind went blank with incredulity. He was turning into a
metallic monster and this... freak was finding it a turn on? That was...
that was like being titillated by wood grain texture, or frogs legs.
Ick. And he'd admitted to being a homosexual, too.
     TJ took a step closer, and without even consciously realising it
Martin took a step back. Damian was pleased with the reaction.
     TJ said, "I'm a mutant too," as if it was a confession. He slipped
off one of the black gloves from his hands, and held the limb up to
demonstrate the difference in colour and texture. "My changes aren't
full body like yours, but, you know, you make do with what you have." He
looked up and gave Martin a hopeful grin. "That's why I'm really
impressed with the way you've been able to armour up all over. It looks
just so badass and, well, it just *radiates* power."
     "I don't want to be like this!" yelled Martin as he found his voice.
"I don't have any control over it! And even if I did it wouldn't be using
it for some sort of perverted fetish!"
     "Hey hey hey! Calm down. It's okay. So, like, this is the first time
your powers have kicked in, is it? Okay then, look, this sort of change
can really weird you out the first time it happens," TJ explained as he
laid a steadying hand on the hyperventilating Martin's shoulder. Martin
flinched. "But don't worry, I'll be here for you."
     "Don't touch me," Martin whispered as he tried to clear his thoughts.
     TJ ran his hand down Martin's chest. His touch was more sensuous
than supportive now. "Just keep calm. Find your emotional balance.
Everything will be okay," TJ continued as he let his hand wander
lasciviously down to Martin's groin. Then he added flatteringly, "You
*are* a good looker, you know that?"
     "Don't touch me," Martin said more firmly, and pushed TJ away.
     TJ looked hurt. "I want to help you. But I want to be close to you.
I want to be friends," he said as he reached down and unzipped his jeans.
With his attention attracted to TJ's body he was repulsed to see the
tenting in his pants. Sure enough, as TJ dropped his jeans, Martin could
see the young man sporting an erection.
     "Come on," said TJ cajolingly. "Ignore all those stuffy rules about
chastity and stuff. A good fuck will ease your tension, and once you're
relaxed it'll let you get a proper grip on your powers." He walked up to
the dumbfounded Martin and embraced him in a loose hug, and once pressed
up against him TJ began slowly grinding his naked loins against Martin's
metallic body.
     "I *said*, DON'T TOUCH ME, you damned sodomite!" Martin screamed.
There were tears in his eyes, and without even thinking about it he
grabbed TJ in a Byrne grip (one hand around the throat in a chocking hold
and then hoisting the victim into the air), formed his free hand in a
multi-bladed weapon, and ripped TJ's genitals off.
     Damian was ecstatic. The evil sock wouldn't have imagined that the
seminary student could so quickly be pushed into violence. It looked like
Martin wasn't a moderate Christian after all.
     Martin dropped the body in shock. Blood... There was so much blood.
Had the arteries in the legs be severed as well? Oh shit.
     "Hey, what's all that noise out there?" someone yelled from a nearby
building. Martin turned and fled again.
     Damain contentedly wriggled off TJ's foot as he prepared to follow.
It would be a slow chase, but Damian guessed that the boy would go to
ground somewhere rather than run indefinitely - and with the psychic
taste of him, Damian would eventually track him down.
     As Damian wriggled off in pursuit, some other figures paused beside
TJ's body. "Looks like there's a wondersock after the boy as well," one
of them commented.
     "Yeah," said another, and she glanced down at the blood strewn form.
"I wonder if it'll be needing this again?"

Tomorrow: Martin retreats to the steam tunnels.

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #28
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 10

Last Time: Damian successfully freaked Martin out, albeit at the cost
of the evil sock's meat puppet.

     Martin was taking deep breaths to calm himself. The last few hours
had been a nightmare, and now he had retreated into the steam tunnels
below the university to be away from prying eyes. The problem was that
he wasn't sure which steam tunnels under which university. The city of
Net.ropolis had quite a few of them.
     (What, you thought this was taking place in Georgia? Sorry guys,
the story title is just a thematically appropriate song reference.)
     He stared at his left arm, which was still in the shape of that
terrible multi-pronged knife that he had used to... cut... that guy with.
He couldn't stop looking at it. It was like using your tongue to probe a
gap in your teeth; it served no good purpose and made you feel weird, but
Martin really couldn't take his eyes off his now inhuman limb.
     .oO( No. This is stupid, ) he decided at last.  ( Moping around is
not doing me any good. I need to think sensibly. )
     .oO( These... blades... grew as a result of my needs at the time.
And that need... whether I went overboard or not, I was assaulted, and
defended myself. )  He paused and examined that idea, and found no
particular holes with it.
     ~( And really, hadn't the little pervert got what he deserved? )~
came a niggling thought, perhaps a little harsher than he had intended.
     Yes, he had. Still, Martin put the issue aside. The whole thing
made him feel squick. Focus on the practical instead.
     .oO( These changes, they respond at least in part to what I want.
Conscious or subconscious? Shit, that's going to be the big question. )
Martin vaguely recalled media reports that some types of net.ahuman
abilities and deformities were shaped by personality traits and other
factors like fears and desires operating on a subconscious level. On at
least some levels some people chose to turn themselves into monsters.
     ~( But isn't everybody a monster deep down inside? Tainted with the
Secret Original Sin? )~
     Martin sagged with despondency. Yes, they were. All of the sons of
Gotta-Luv-Me Lad and all of the daughters of Knows-How-To-Please-Her-Man
     ~( Cast out from the Garden of Party Time, )~ came the inner voice
with almost malicious pleasure.
     Martin stared at the far wall with what might have been self
hatred, then lashed out with one arm - an arm which snapped out to
enormous length and snagged the slug-like woollen shape lurking in the
shadows about three meters further down the tunnel.
     "Secret Original Sin which can be taken away by the sacrifice for
mankind of Our Lord Jesus Christ," growled Martin. In his anger his voice
had grown even more mechanical and grating, and his eye which had been
completely overcome by biomechanical transformation glowed an angry
weapons-targeting-system red. "What are you, slug, and what do you think
you're doing in my mind?"

Tomorrow: Damian tells Martin what the source of his transformation is.
But will sock tell the truth, or will he tell a lie?

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #29
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 11

Last Time: Damian tried to play with Martin's mind again, but got caught.

     Damian wriggled in Martin's grasp. "Argh, no... Please don't hurt
me," he begged. The wondersock wasn't actually in pain, or even in any
danger of experiencing pain, but making the patsy think that he had some
sort of control over Damian would make the spin that the sock put on his
assorted half-truths seem more credible.
     Well, unless the patsy was really paranoid, of course - but he'd
deal with that problem if it came up.
     "Well?" grated Martin, the nasty mechanical reverb in his voice
becoming more pronounced.
     "I am here to help you with your Becoming," gasped the sock.
     Part of Martin was watching, fascinated, as the hollows and shadows
in the sock's otherwise featureless form shifted, giving the suggestion
of a moving mouth and evilly expressive eyes. Another part was trying to
track down the elusive memory of where he'd heard of talking socks before.
Still, he still had enough attention focused on the matter at hand to
ask the obvious, "What do you mean, 'Becoming'?"
     "It's when you get yours powers, or break out, or whatever you want
to call it. You see... Net.ahumanly powerful people have been turning up
all through history, just not in as a big a number as now. And sometimes
they get taken into the church as saints, but sometimes they get burnt at
the stake as monsters... Remember all those witch scares? Yeah, well,
that was the church chasing down mutants and burning them at the stake."
     Martin's eye narrowed. "I seem to recall that that's just the story
that got passed down because it was exciting and pandered to conspiracy
theories about a single cause for strife. The witch hunts were usually
hysteria that sprang up in towns that were in trouble and didn't have
strong government. In places with strong leadership the Catholic church...
and the Protestants," he added grudgingly, "tried to keep the whole
embarrassing thing from getting out of control."
     "No no no," disagreed Damian. "That's what it was like in Real Life,
and maybe in the mainsteam Looniverse, but here on T-Bone, what with God
being a bastard and all, the church was much more hardassed about going
after sin, and... Uhm, poopie, I just broke the fourth wall, didn't I?
Look, forget I said that. The thing is, that stuff about the witch hunts
being just local yokel frenzies? Right, that just a *cover story*. Yeah.
Actually, whether they call people witches and burn them at the stake, or
claim that local riots are caused by ignorant peasants working themselves
into a lather and have to be controlled with strong centralised religious
authority - well, it all depends on what works on a case-by-case
situation, and what's best for their reputation and interests."
     Martin snorted. "So what has this got to do with me? With so many
mutants about these days, any religion that goes around screaming 'witch'
at somebody with powers is going to have a serious PR problem."
     "Weeelll... That depends a bit on whether you can keep from being
pinned with the rap for assault and attempted murder, doesn't it?"
     "HE was assaulting ME," said Martin, squeezing the sock in anger.
     "I know that! I know that!" squeaked the sock in faux distress.
"Actually though, that isn't the big problem. See, the big problem is
that you aren't a mutant."
     "What do you mean, I'm not a mutant? I haven't been bitten by any
radioactive spiders, and I didn't come from another planet because I know
I have the same blood type as my Dad."
     "It's an inheritance that's been dormant in your family. See, you've
got Nephilim blood in you. You're one of the Teenaged Giant Halfbreed

Tomorrow: More spin from the sock, I think.

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #30
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 12

Last Time: Damian told Martin he was one of the Teenaged Giant
Halfbreed Angels.

     "A Teenaged Giant Halfbreed Angel!?" repeated Martin in shock.
     "You're only 5 foot 8?" suggested Damian.
     Martin glared at the sock. "The Nephilim were monsters that were
wiped out in the Flood."
     "Well, yes, technically: Teenaged Giant Halfbreed Fallen Angels,"
admitted Damian, deftly sidestepping the bulk of Martin's protest and
also forcing the Writer to go back and modify the phrase that he'd
     A Nephilim, thought Martin with growing disquiet. That would
explain the monstrous changes and... cancerous instability of form...
Oh God, this wasn't some bit of bad luck on the random superpowers
table. The soul within is mirrored by the body without...
     "No," the young man snapped at himself in debate. "All sin
is redeemable through the love of God."
     "All *human* sin," corrected Damian gently. Inwardly the wondersock
felt regret and irritation. He wished he could risk passing off a few
paranoid notions into the monkey boy's head as his own thoughts, but it
seemed that the human was sensitive enough to recognise that sort of
tampering for what it was. Phooey. Still, there was lot to be said for
being able to project angst and let them make up their own. "After all,"
Damian continued, "you're not exactly human..."
     "I'm human enough," countered Martin - but not, Damian noticed, with
much heat.
     "Maybe, maybe not. It kind of depends on how occult characteristics
are carried as recessive traits, I suppose. But it sure looks as though
it responds to... uhm... bloodlust," he said, adding the last as if with
     "Bloodlust?" was the nervous reply.
     "You only managed to get some sort of control when you were
attacking someone... er, defending yourself," Damian clarified.
     Martin only half heard him. He was trying to remember exactly what
had happened to the Nephilim. It wasn't really clear. The Flood was
supposed to have wiped them out. But other versions of the story in the
Apocrypha had them slaughtered by angels. He shuddered. Suddenly, being
pursued by mutant-hunting giant robots seemed so much more preferable.
Being on the receiving end of some Old Testament style whup-ass by winged
shock-troops with flaming swords was orders of magnitude scarier.
     But, yeah. Bloodlust. That made sense, didn't it? If he was a
Teenaged Giant Halfbreed Fallen Angel, then it made sense that his powers
were of the most debased type. Nothing *constructive* could possibly
become of them...
     "Oh sweet Je..." began Martin, and found he couldn't say the name.
An instant of cold panic overtook him. Was he that far gone? He tried
to say the 23rd Psalm. That, too, died on his lips. The young man
collapsed into a ball and began to sob. Damian let him cry himself into
exhaustion and, eventually, sleep.

Tomorrow: Damian's tactical mistake.

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #31
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 13

Last Time: Lots of angst about being a Teenage Giant Halfbreed Fallen

     Martin wasn't sure how long he lay on his back and stared at the
stars before it occurred to him that he must be dreaming again. After
all, there weren't any stars in the steam tunnels; not even glow worms.
     His eyes felt sore, he still had the constriction in his throat, and
there was dampness on his cheeks - and because this was a dream it didn't
in any way seem strange that these things should be the case even though
large parts of his body had become an accumulation of metal debris.
     .oO( Strange that there should be that carry through from when I was
awake, ) he thought.  ( Oh well. )
     Eventually he decided to get up. Not because he felt particularly
motivated to do anything, but more in the way that you feel uncomfortable
in a prone position after lying in bed for too long. Martin wanted to
crawl into a hole and never come out again, but it was actually easier
to get up and ease the muscle cramp. And when it occurred to him to think,
.oO( Why do I have muscle cramp when I'm turning into metal? ) it was more
out of general irritability than any common sensical reflex.
     After he had stood up he became aware of the armoured giant nearby,
waiting patiently. Martin turned a sour look towards him, then turned
away. After a while, the figure made the first move and said, "You have
spoken with the first emissary then." Which made no sense to Martin, and
he said as much.
     The figure said, "Patterns repeat themselves. Whenever a prodigy
such as yourself becomes aware of his gifts, both sides try to sway him
to their cause. I had hoped that I could provide a base of stability for
you when They came sniffing about."
     "You knew this would happen!?" said Martin, suddenly angry. "You
knew that I'd turn into this fscking metal demon!?"
     "I knew you would start to change you body once your abilities came
into play, but not that you would become metal, specifically. That was a
choice you made for yourself."
     "What do you mean, I made for myself!? How did I choose this!? When!?"
     "All the films you watch. All the science fiction you read. Robots
and cyborgs and mecha, and men wielding technology and becoming one with
their technology. It's not a conscious choice. Well, not usually."
     "You bastard! You knew this would happen to me, and you didn't even
*try* to tell me!" Martin lashed out with one arm, now shaped into an
enormous club, and brought it down on top of the figure. Who nimbly
darted to one side despite his own size and encumbrance from his armour.
"You just kept going on about choices between good and evil!" Martin's
other arm suddenly formed a huge gun, topmounted on his forearm and
dangling grotesque cables that merged back into the hyperthyroid veins
of the still organic parts of his limb, while his hand was reduced to
a vestigial growth underneath. "At least the sock was prepared to offer
me help!" he yelled as he blasted away at his opponent, who continued to
successfully dodge. "Well, if charity to others is the way to tell
between your 'forces of light and darkness', then it looks like I've
finally figured out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys..."
     "STOP," ordered the armoured giant, and simply grabbed Martin by
both arms and would not let the young man move. "And did you accept the
sock's offer of help?" he asked with penetrating authority.
     "Not yet," replied Martin somewhat sullenly once he discovered how
thoroughly he was pinned.
     "And has the sock said what the price of his help would be?" asked
the giant.
     "No, I didn't think so. So, what did he tell you about yourself?"
     "He said I was one of the Teenage Giant Halfbreed Fallen Angels. It
explained a lot about what's been happening to me."
     "And that was all that he said about your gifts?"
     The use of the word 'gift' to describe his disfigurement rankled
Martin. "Isn't that enough? What, you're saying that he was lying or
     "If that was all that he said, then he was deceiving you with an
only partial truth. Tell me then: did you wonder how this would affect
your relationship with your Saviour? And how did the sock react?"
     "I, uh. He kind of suggested that I was damned..." He licked a drop
of sweat that had somehow formed on his upper lip. "That's not true, then?"
     "That is most certainly a lie. I know that from personal experience."
     "You do?"
     "Oh yes," said the giant, who let go of Martin and lifted off his
helmet. Bare-headed, the figure was revealed as having the head and
features of a wolf. "I am Saint Christopher, patron saint of travellers.
And I know all about overcoming a monstrous ancestry to find Grace."

Tomorrow: The Secret Origin of the werewolf saint.

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #32
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 14

Last Time: Martin dreamed, and in that dream had a fight scene with:

     "I am Saint Christopher, patron saint of travellers," said the
wolf-headed man. "And I know all about overcoming a monstrous ancestry
to find Grace."
     The young man boggled. "I... don't understand... There isn't any
mention of wolf heads in the story of the Ferryman and the Christ Child..."
     St. Christopher waived his hand for silence. "Among the Catholics,
perhaps not. But then, the stories of my Passion are spread between the
eastern and western branches of Christianity." Then he smiled ruefully.
"And of course, my historicity has been cast into doubt by your church
and my name removed from your list of saints. Under those sort of
circumstances, I think it's to be expected that you wouldn't know my
full story."
     Martin's dark skin reddened with embarrassment. "I'm sorry, I just..."
     He waived him to silence again. "I did not mean to berate you about
it. I'm sorry if it sounded that way. I won't lie to you and tell you
that I am not disappointed about it. To be honest I consider creeping
mundanity to be a unhealthy sign in a faith. But I didn't mean for you to
be the target of blame. In any case, my story...
     "If you've learnt of your Nephilim blood from the sock then you
should know by now that mankind is not the only race to walk upon the
earth, nor even the first. There are other races who call this world home.
Many others, and their numbers only increase when you add in interlopers
from other planets and other universes who visit from time to time."
     "If nothing else, we can see them on the news occasionally, fighting
the superheroes," admitted Martin.
     St. Christopher nodded. "Yes. Something that I am not sure is the
best way to be introduced to an idea. People watch the antics of the
superhumans with awe and wonder, but never seem to realise that what
they'd doing in some way affects *them*. Over the past four decades there
must have been perhaps a dozen alien invasions of T-Bone, but each time
the latest one occurs, people seem shocked by the idea that aliens even
*exist*." He shrugged. "In any case, I was born to the cynocephali - the
dog-headed people. At that time we were not a civilised lot. Many of us
were still cannibals, and that did not help improve relations with
humanity, who even at the best of times tended to be a parochial. This
was made worse by the problem of language. Not just having a different
language, but also not having the vocal equipment able to learn and
speak a human tongue.
     "I was young and idealistic, and alienated by this state of affairs.
The closed cycle of being seen and treated as a monster by the humans - who
could act pretty monstrously themselves, when you come right down to it -
and then returning their blind prejudice and giving them an excuse to act
monstrously back in return, filled me with disgust. I was looking for some-
thing constructive to do with my life, but I didn't know what. I went off
to be by myself, and settled down by a ford to help others cross the river.
And that part of the story, I think, is the part that you should know."
     "Yes," said Martin, and paraphrased from memory: " 'And one day the
giant met a child who wanted to cross the fast-flowing river, and he put
him on his shoulders that he could carry him across. And the way across
the river was long and hard. And once they have made the farther shore
the giant said that never before had he made such a difficulty crossing
or carried such a heavy weight. And the child replied, 'Wonder not, for
today you have borne on your shoulders the world and He who made it'."
     "Mmm," said St. Christopher, and there was a far-off look in his
eyes of fond remembrance.
     "What was your name before he baptised you?" asked Martin.
     "Reprobus," the giant answered. "It was after that I discovered my
own gifts to talk with others." Then he came back to this issue at hand.
"And there in that story is the lesson that you should heed. It does not
matter who or what you are, nor how base and unworthy you think yourself
to be. All it requires for you to be otherwise is to make the effort and
ask for that effort to be accepted by the one person whose approval
really matters."
     Martin made a sour face. "You'll forgive me if I point out that
there's a world of difference between dog-headed people and a literally
demonic race like the Teenaged Giant Halfbreed Fallen Angels."
     St. Christopher's smile turned wry. He didn't want to risk saying so
now, but there was indeed a difference according to God the Hardassed
Bastard Father, if not necessarily to Jesus the, Like, Totally Mellow Son
- but the solution to Martin's crisis of faith was too delicate to risk
with the full truth. Instead he asked, "Have you asked to find out?"
     Martin looked abashed. "I tried praying earlier..."
     "No doubt when the wondersock was playing with your mind. Why don't
you try again," he suggested.
     The young man took a breath. "Okay then." And this time the words
came easily.

Tomorrow: St. Christopher tells Martin where his abilities come from.

Authour's "I've suffered for my art (and now it's your turn)" notes:
     I've had a soft spot for the cynocephali version of Saint Christopher
ever since I read Adam Douglas' _The Beast Within_. Another reference for
his multiplicity of origins is Patricia Dale-Green's _Dog_.

The Daily Super Short-Short Story #33
A Devil Came Down to Georgia 15

Last Time: Saint Christopher revealed his Secret Origin. Or perhaps *a*
Secret Origin. Mythic types seem to like multiple choice Secret Origins...

     Martin sighed with contentment. St. Christopher smiled and asked,
"Feeling better?"
     The young man nodded. There was a touch of embarrassment about his
mien, and his shoulders convulsed once as he tried to suppress a choke of
emotion. "I'm fine," he said, and wiped his cheek with his metal-perforated
wrist. "Sorry," he said more steadily. "I was very weak to let that sock
get to me, wasn't I?"
     "We all have dark moments," admitted the wolf-headed saint. "And the
wondersocks are very good at weaving their lies. What is important is to
recognise that failing, and make amends for it."
     Martin steadied him emotions and considered. He recalled something
that his companion had said earlier, and wondered if there might not be
more to this visitation. It was, of course, possible that St. Christopher's
intervention had been an example of good will for its own sake, but it
could also be that there was some greater purpose to this. If so, then
(and here embarrassment tugged at him again) he would need to be more
observant and trusting in providence, and less prone to self-doubt. "You
said that the sock's story about my Nephilim inheritance was a deceit
based on part-truth. Is there something else that I should know?"
     St. Christopher smiled again. "There is. And now that your Choice is
made, and I am free to make my counter-move against the Others, I will
tell you." He sat down upon a rock which hadn't been there before. "What
do you know about the Benandanti?"
     "I've never heard of them. Are they another type of non-human race?"
     "No. It's one of several names for people of great spiritual
abilities. They were born with a caul - an amniotic sack over their face
- and this marks them with the ability to travel in their dreams to fight
against the forces of the Devil. A few times a year the Benandanti who are
between the ages of 20 and 40 will hear a martial drumbeat in their sleep,
and know that this was a call to fight against the forces of evil. They're
compelled to travel in their sleep - their minds roaming free and taking
the form of wolves - to fight against the witches and sorcerers who're in
league with Hell. I've been involved with them for a very long time.
After all, while they're mustering and moving against evil they count as
travellers, and are among those who most need the patronage of my
sainthood. And who better to be involved with the Astrally Travelling
Werewolf Crusaders than a dog-head who can take both human and canine form?"
     Martin thought about this. "I turned twenty only a month ago. So,
I'm one of the Benandanti too? But that makes two completely different
Secret Origins, one for good and one for evil. How does that work? Is that
even possible?"
     "It's possible, but it is rare," admitted the armoured dog-man.
"Normally one would overwhelm the other, or they would negate each other.
In your case not only has your Benandanti ability catalysed the recessive
Nephilim inheritance, but they have synergised with each other. When your
calling as one of the Astrally Travelling Werewolf Crusaders became active,
so did your powers as a Teenage Giant Halfbreed Fallen Angel. That sort
of combination doesn't happen often, and is extremely powerful."
     "And that's why both you and the wondersock took an interest in me,"
said Martin, catching on. "That's a power that comes from two different
sources, and each side will be trying to claim them whole lot."
     "Exactly. You have the potential to great good or great evil Martin,
and free will dictated that you had to be allowed a choice between us."
     "Yeah," he said, disgruntled, "But I almost believed his lies about
being beyond the grace of God." He wasn't sure whether he was more angry
at himself or at the sock.
     "Yes. That is where their strength lies. But you must be careful
even now that you've seen through the sock's deceptions. You'll still be
in danger from him and his allies, and you must also be careful to use
your gifts wisely. You still have the choice: to use great power with
great responsibility, or to let absolute power corrupt you absolutely."

Tomorrow: Confrontation with an evil sock.

Authour's notes:
     As mentioned in my first post of this series, this arc is based on a
story idea I've have kicking about for a few years, called 'Knight of St.
Christopher', which had a priest who was unknowingly a Benandanti wondering
why he was turning into a Ghost Rider-style occult motorbike vigilante.
Upon reflection, the inclusion of a moral dynamic between the protagonist's
Benandanti (Astrally Travelling Werewolf Crusader) and Nephilim (Teenage
Giant Halfbreed Fallen Angel) natures makes for a stronger story - although
only time will tell if the actual execution of the story lives up to that

_The Daily Super Short-Short Story_ series and the wondersocks created
by Arthur Spitzer, and used with belated permission.

The Teenage Giant Halfbreed Angels epithet for the Nephilim/Nephalim
cooked up by Andrew Perron, then slightly modified by the Writer.

All other characters created by Saxon Brenton.

Saxon Brenton    University of Technology, city library, Sydney Australia
     saxon.brenton at uts.edu.au     saxonbrenton at hotmail.com
The GIRL GENIUS comic of Phil and Kaja Fogiol is now online at:

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