8FOLD: Mighty Medley # 21, September 2015, by Brenton, McClure, Perron, Russell, and Russell

Tom Russell joltcity at gmail.com
Sun Sep 6 19:07:18 PDT 2015

-------------EIGHTFOLD PROUDLY PRESENTS-------------
-------------THE 2014 RACCIE WINNER FOR-------------
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-------------- ISSUE # 21    SEP 2015 --------------
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-------------SAXON BRENTON--ANDREW PERRON-----------
--------------------ADRIAN McCLURE------------------
--------------MARY RUSSELL--TOM RUSSELL-------------
--------------- Editor, Tom Russell ----------------


"Detour" by Adrian McClure
In which the esteemed Mr. McClure makes his Eightfold debut. Feeling
fuzzy on a moonless night, the perils and opportunities of public
transport, and the importance of a sharp right turn.

"Beyond the Gate" by Andrew Perron
A treatise on what makes an experience real, and what gives it value.
Charming and human.

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Part 19, by Tom Russell
In which Dash Adams is reminded of the life and death of Eadric
Streona, and what he got for Christmas, and of two valuable moral
lessons that can be extrapolated from the story. Plus!: the cognomens
of several worthies explained, as only Dash Adams can explain 'em.

"Beyond the Fields" Part 20, by Saxon Brenton
Molecular analysis of the Nazi unreality, tricks of the memesmith
trade, the battle of ideas, a fuzzy Astral Record, and a miasma of
malicious evil: in short, a parade of heady concepts and cool ideas,
expressed with maximum style and urgency.

"Docrates in Diamonds,
 Starring Docrates the Mighty Supragato and
 Extra-Special Agent Steve Shooter,
 With a Special Appearance by
 FBI Forensics Specialist Mandi Li"
 Part 1 of 2, by Mary Russell
Mary, we've got to talk about your titles. In which Docrates attends
his first baseball game, with only two sonic booms. There is a twist
at the end! Don't spoil it, please!

We are, above all things, hobbyists, writing this mighty medley of
titanic tiny tales only for your enjoyment and for ours. As is ever
the case, Real Life sometimes intrudes on these proceedings, and in
this case, delayed the esteemed Mr. Stokes from presenting us with a
new installment in his engaging serial, "Mistress of Pages". We hope
to have another installment next month. The Editor would like to take
this moment to express his extreme gratitude toward his beloved
spouse, who filled in at the last possible moment.

----------Copyright 2015 Adrian McClure-------------

Juliet Eisner was stuck on a long dead stretch of the Greyhound trip
she was taking to move in with her boyfriend. It was almost midnight,
and there were still many hours left to go. She was crammed into a
window seat and hadn't been able to go to the bathroom in far too
long, as she was too timid to try and wake the snoring man beside her.
She envied him his sleep.
  She looked at the dim starlight in the moonless sky outside. It was
strange going on long trips, when you felt neither awake nor asleep,
neither dead nor alive. Everything felt fuzzy, as if she weren't quite
inhabiting her own body. It might have been an interesting experience
if it weren't so awful. All kinds of half-formed thoughts drifted
through her mind-- questions about her relationship, the arguments
they'd been having, their future together.
  Just when she was about to fall asleep, the bus made a sharp turn
and jolted her awake.
  Sitting next to her was no longer the snoring man, but a tall,
muscular red-haired woman who looked like she'd stepped out of the
cover of a sword and sorcery novel, though her leather armor was a
little more practical.
There had to be a reasonable explanation for this, thought Juliet.
Probably she'd missed a stop in her sleep, and this woman was going to
a con. She noticed Juliet staring and raised her eyebrows. "What do
you want?" she said.
  Juliet flinched, forcing an awkward smile. "I--I'm just curious
where you're going?"
  "To the Still Point at the End of Time,” she said, where I will ask
a favor of one who dwells there." This lady must be very dedicated to
being in character. "And you?" Her smile was friendly now, her blue
eyes bright and inquisitive.
  "To Cincinnati. To, uh, visit my boyfriend."
  "I see. You're spoken for? Ah well." She laughed-- boisterous, but
not unpleasant. Juliet might have been interested, she realized, in
another life. But she knew where she was going... didn't she?
  She turned, reluctantly, from the redhead and looked at the other
passengers. There was an old witch crocheting--no one sat beside her.
There was a man dressed like a Victorian poet, who cast no shadow.
There was a gorilla in a spacesuit. There was a dust-covered mummy,
wrapped in crumbling bandages--how long had it been sitting there? Did
she want to know?
  And then she looked out the window.
  There were stars outside, but no ground beneath.
  She wanted to scream, to run away, but there was nothing to run to.
The rational part of her mind, the one that had been arguing all along
this trip was a mistake, told her: this is real. You must have slipped
into another realm, a space between.
  The woman beside her had fallen asleep and started snoring. Juliet’s
fear and panic faded into dull frustration and, in time, she went to
sleep again.
  She was woken up by the sound of rustling paper. The passenger
beside her was reading a newspaper, the same man she’d been sitting
beside for a day. She felt an intense rush of relief as she realized
everything was as it had been. Then she glanced at the paper he was
  The headline read "Julie Ann Justice Controversy--Can She Be
Trusted?" and the photograph showed a brightly-smiling,
improbably-costumed woman. The snatches of the story she could read
mentioned superheroes, magical battles, alien invasions. But those
things weren't real...
  Not, at least, in the world she'd left behind.

------------------BEYOND THE GATE-------------------
-----------Copyright 2015 Andrew Perron-------------

"We are the People of the Demographic, and we shall be saved," he
chanted, pushing his way through the crowd, their goal in sight--
  And then all was a white void.
  Confusion - where had his cohort gone, of The Gender and The Age
Bracket? Where were the structures that had held them down, the seats
of media power they had come to topple? Joy - was this the Great
Togetherness, where they would all be playing games meant perfectly
for them? Fear - if he was truly alone, this must be the Eternal
Diversity, where each individual would be cut off from their
Demographic, left to dig through the unceasing confusion of
possibilities in search of Their Thing. He quaked down to his soul.
  "Hello!" said an unDemo but blessedly human voice, and he spun. A
female, 14-18, special interests including olive skin and a complex
hairstyle of twisting braids, stood in the void. "My name's Medusa,
and I want to talk."
  He put away the fear. "Then talk. How'd you take me? Where are my People?"
  "Where you left them. This is a hypnotic state operating at 20 times
normal. Each of you is in your own dream, with me."
  "You've kidnapped us-- so you can take our opinions for yourself!?"
  "NO! No." She shook her head, braids waving rapidly, seeming to curl
over her head in agitation. "*I* don't control people. I free them.
That's why I brought you in here - you all show evidence of
  "What 'evidence'!?" Was the damn media twisting the facts again?
  "Well, you're acting like you were raised from birth in a belief
system that didn't *exist* six months ago." She was in a doctor's
coat, shining a light in his eyes. "Sensory inputs normal... slight
memory manipulation, but that can't be... ah, this isn't your first
acceleration. Actually, you've... wow, you lived a whole other
lifetime." She looked up. "Where is Transgaia?"
  "Home," he said, misting up. "That's where I took my apprenticeship.
Years honing my craft, raising up to full Knighthood. A beautiful,
green land, where the pink Qoblins bask under the firetrees... that's
where my People are from."
  "It sounds truly wonderful," she said, and for a moment she sounded
misty too. But then she went back to her businesslike tone. "So you
grew up there?"
  "Yes, I-- wait, no..." He'd grown up in Chicago, hadn't he? But he'd
also spent years... he remembered spending weeks in Transgaia, and
waking up back in his bedroom, going about his business, then logging
back in...
  Why hadn't this seemed strange before?
  "Because of a very subtle manipulation." She crossed her arms. "You
really get into gaming, and someone took advantage of that. Hours of
play became years of accelerated time - long enough to slip these
memes in unnoticed."
  "But..." His eyes stung with tears. "My People, my friends - weren't real?"
  A sad smile. "Of course it was real. Those people out there were
playing alongside you. A real community - that's what made it so
powerful. They told you that you could only have these friendships and
these adventures if you followed their rules, associated with the
right kind of people..." She turned away. "I know what it's like,
wanting to exist in a crowd of only yourself."
  A wave of sympathy overcame him, and they hugged, like he used to
hug his sister at home. There was a comfortable moment, then she
stepped away.
  "You'll remember the strangeness, now - I undid the manipulation.
What to do with it is up to you." The whiteness dissolved. He was back
on the street.
  The rest of the People were waking up too. They looked at each
other. There were a few angry shouts, but the mood was gone.
  They wandered off, heading home. Maybe tonight they'd remember old
friendships, rekindle old interests - or maybe they'd try something

--------------SEVEN 'GAINST THEBES------------------
---------------------Part 19------------------------
------------Copyright 2015 Tom Russell--------------

   “Mr. Adams,” said Strife, “it must be evident that you are on the
wrong side. Now that Paul's dead, I don't even know if there's a side
left. Jack here was on a wrong side once, but he had sense enough to
come over to mine."
   "Much to his profit, and yours, I'm sure," said Adams. "I was on
the losing side in the War as well. Seems to be a habit. Stubborn. I
never change sides, gentlemen. I haven't ever since I heard about poor
Eadric Streona."
   "Don't know the name," said Peake. "Yankee or Reb?"
   "Oh, neither. Man died more than eight hundred years ago. Though if
the Union wants to claim him, I'll let 'em; had an especial reputation
for malice and perfidy. Eadric Streona. 'Streona', that's a cognomen,
a nickname he was given in recognition of his character. Means 'the
grasper'." He grasped at the air with his fingers. "The one who wants,
the one who takes things what don't belong to him."
   Strife disagreed as a matter of moral principle. "A man takes
something, it's his. Man lets something be took, it never was his to
begin with."
   "I'll keep that in mind. Eadric was high-mucky-muck of some place
in England called Mercy. He'd have his neighbors arrested or killed
and then take their lands and women. Once he even killed a couple
people that were guests in his home. This was breaking ancient, sacred
protections. Luckily, we live in more civilized times and don't have
to worry none about that.
   "King at that time was Ethelred Unraed. Folks call him the Unready,
but that's a bad translation. Unraed means 'bad advice', Ethelred
'wise advice'. That's what passes for a joke in the middle ages. A
cruel age; they did what they could with what they had. Anyways,
Ethelred was deposed by this fellow Sven Forkbeard, I guess he had
stylish whiskers, son of Harold Blueteeth, who had gnarly chompers.
Ethelred and his kin skedaddled, and Forkbeard ruled for all of three
weeks before he got sick and died. Or maybe he got poisoned; really,
back then, anytime anyone important gets sick, folks figured it were
poison. Ethelred comes back, and Forkbeard's kin skedaddled. If you're
wondering what all this has to do with Eadric, I'm coming up on that
   "Ethelred gets sick or poisoned, and his son Edmund, a callow
youth, takes over. Forkbeard's son, he sees this, sees an opportunity,
and goes back to England. This fellow's name is Canute. Canute the
Great. That one's self-explaining. Our boy Eadric saw how all this
played out last time, so he rushes over and joins forces with Canute.
There were some skirmishes, Edmund does pretty well for himself,
enough that folks start calling him Edmund Ironside. Eadric decides to
switch back, and Edmund takes him back.
   "There's one last battle. Just after the armies line up and start
to go at it, Eadric betrays Edmund, leaving the field with a sizable
chunk of Edmund's army. Canute wipes the floor with the remainder, and
a peace is made, where each one rules half of England, but if one of
them dies, the other gets the whole shebang. Edmund obliges Canute a
few weeks later by getting sick and dying." Or being poisoned, his
grin said.
   "Canute gives Eadric a quarter of the kingdom to administer as a
reward. But Eadric wanted more." Adams grasped at the air again. "A
year passes, Eadric is scheming and such, and the King invites him to
his castle in London for the holidays. Christmas morning, Eadric comes
bouncing down the stairs like a kid, eager to open his presents.
Canute says to his guards, 'Give this man what he deserves.' They cut
the head clean off, stuck it on a pike, and threw the body over the
ramparts, without a proper Christian burial. Though I guess ol' Eadric
weren't much of a proper Christian."
   Adams held up two fingers. "Lessons from the life and death of
Eadric Streona. Don't want anything, because then you'll just want
something else. I also find as a matter of practical experience that
if you don't want anything, you don't get disappointed; I ain't
amiable to disappointment. Second, a man who switches sides is never
trusted, because switching sides is after all exactly what he does.
Double-dealers done get double-dealt."

-----------------BEYOND THE FIELDS------------------
---------------------Part 20------------------------
-----------Copyright 2015 Saxon Brenton-------------

   "This world is dying," announced Joan.
   Deidre took this in, then asked the practical question. "All right
then, can you clarify that? You say we have a problem. So are we
talking about conventional weapons research developing some sort of
virulent poison that has somehow been released into the environment?
Are we talking about the camps having unleashed some sort of mass
death curse?" The latter was disturbingly plausible, going by a short
article about the zombie hordes off in the East that Deidre had
discovered tucked away on page eight of a newspaper.
   "This place is literally falling apart at the atomic level, is what
I mean," explained the angel. Joan steepled her hands thoughtfully and
looked around the airship's compartment. There wasn't anyone sitting
nearby, and in any case the two of them were still (somewhat)
protected by the don't-notice-me effect. She continued, "After all the
speculation about feral dreams or embodied fairy tales, I wanted to
take some time to have a better look at the way these ideas were
interacting with the world. It occurred to me that this might not be a
story as such, but a case of independently operating meme complexes."
Then she added, "You recall the painting."
   The painting by Adolf Hitler that has started this quest. The
painting that should not exist. And at least in one sense, did not
exist. Not made of atomic matter, it was an idea given form and
substance. Joan's statement hadn't really been a question, but Deidre
nodded anyway.
   "So, here's the thing," said Joan. "I haven't been trained in the
specialist fields of the memesmiths, so I can't be absolutely sure
about  this. On the other hand, the work that Heaven's memesmiths do
is so important in countering the selfish ideas being promoted by Hell
that some of their discoveries filter out into the rest of Heaven, and
you can't help to pick up a few tricks here and there. In any case,
I'm thinking that the painting isn't a one-off instance of someone
creating a touch-stone of a particular worldview and then sending it
off to make trouble elsewhere. From what I've been seeing of this
world, I believe it's all been primed as an example of a Nazi
   Deidre said, "Let's get the obvious out of the way. Are you sure it
isn't a case of the powers-that-be in this place trying to tighten up
their control by arranging for everyone to only be able to think in
terms of the Nazi worldview, and just screwing up badly?"
   Joan shook her head. "No. I said this world is dying, and I meant
it. In fact, I'd say it's being murdered. It's being dissolved. Look
at it this way.  My ability to discern the mimetic stuff, that's
actually an extension of my natural celestial ability to detect good
and evil. It took a while for the memesmiths to realise we could
extrapolate from virtue and sin to more general ideas and beliefs, but
once an angel knows that it's possible it only takes practice and
concentration. Properly understanding what we see is another matter;
it depends on the complexity of the idea, and mortals can be
annoyingly complex."
   "Ah!" went Deidre, snapping her fingers in realisation. "That's why
you were able to so quickly recognise the painting for what it was
when we first met. You could perceive it with the wrong set of
   "Of course. Even embodied as an object, it was still a physical
idea rather than conventional matter. But in any case, the reverse is
true too," Joan emphasised. "Without specialised equipment we can't
properly study purely physical substances any more than you could. So
when I was assigned to investigate a world with anomalous mimetic
shenanigans going on, I requisitioned this," and here Joan tapped a
ring with a small, discrete gemstone set in the band. "Now that I've
taken the time for a good hard look at the substance of this place, I
found that it's on the verge of dissipating entirely. I'm honestly not
sure what's holding it together. And there seems to be collateral
damage as well. Are you familiar with the Astral Record?"
   "Sure. Holistic record of everything that happens on the material
plane," answered Deidre. "Very popular with Western occult groups in
the late 19th century. Sometimes gets confused with the notion of a
higher plane of existence that the material world derives from, but
that gets the causality back the front. Why, is it falling apart too?"
   "It's incredibly fuzzy and faded," Joan replied. "I wanted to see
whether this place had a past history, basically to double-check that
it wasn't some sort of alternate unreality pocket dimension that
popped into existence only a little while ago, or a dreamscape that
had somehow taken on physical form to masquerade as a real world. It's
not. The Astral Record is there. It shows this place is as old as your
world, but it's faded and incredibly hard to access.
   "Then, finally, there's the evil."
   "The evil," Deidre repeated.
   "That miasma of evil that we can feel in the atmosphere isn't
simply the byproduct of the massive use of human sacrifice to generate
magical power. Even in your world there are ways that acts of
incredible evil can saturate themselves into an area. But that's not
the case here. Whoever ingrained the Nazi mindset into the entire
world deliberately ingrained the atmosphere of evil at the same time,
using the same method. This damage was deliberate, and done with
malicious intent."

---------------DOCRATES IN DIAMONDS-----------------
------------WITH A SPECIAL APPERANCE BY-------------
-------------------Part 1 of 2----------------------
------------Copyright 2015 Mary Russell-------------

It's not easy being the Mightiest Being in the Universe. What with all
the talk shows, charity events, paw signings, supermarket openings,
congressional hearings; public appearances from dusk till dawn left
little time for a little guy to fight bad guys, unless they showed up
to the supermarket opening which could turn a dull afternoon into a
real treat. Mind you, it wasn't such a treat when the company tried to
sue you for damages to a building which didn't always stay standing
once a super bad guy appeared, but why ask him in the first place when
they already knew there was a good chance a super bad guy would show
up and wreak havoc upon the shoppers and the general vicinity, i.e.,
the building. Also he was a cat, why would you sue a cat. So to be
extra safe this time, the Extras went along to Doc's appearance at the
Detroit Tigers opening day game, where they could eat brats, drink
non-alcoholic beverages and enjoy a quiet lazy afternoon watching a
   Doc had originally been scheduled to throw out the first pitch, but
the day before the energetic little guy had sent the Tigers catcher to
the hospital during a very brief practice session, much needed by Doc
who didn't know anything about baseball at that time. Not that he
knows a whole lot more now, but back then he didn't even know what
sports meant, and now he knows that if you bat a ball out of the park
the crowd will love you, just don't do it in a football stadium. (He
still has a hard time telling them apart.) So, anyway, long story
short, Extra-Special Agent Steve Shooter would throw out the first
pitch and Chief Mammal Militia member, Seven Wonders member and
Honorary Extra Special Kitty Agent Docrates the Mighty Supragato would
bat at the first pitch with his supersonic swatter.
   Steve Shooter spent his every waking moment from the previous day's
practice session with the Tigers until shortly before he and Doc
walked out onto the diamond, instructing Docrates how to hit the ball
up and out of the park. Doc so wanted to hit a ball into the bleachers
and run around the diamond like he had seen one of the batmen do the
day before. Of course, no one had been seated in the bleachers the day
before and Doc never having seen a game before didn't realize they
would be filled with people the day of the game, so hitting it into
the bleachers was not a good idea. He also was somewhat confused about
tigers playing baseball, thinking, quite excitedly at that, that he
would see real tigers batting and pitching and running around the
diamond-shaped lot. They could be friends.
   Extra-Special Agent Steve Shooter and Docrates the Mighty Supragato
walked onto the field and were greeted with a thunderous roar of
applause, hoots, horns, and clapping; they had only recently returned
from the moon where they had saved the entire U.N. General Assembly.
(Please see "Doc in Space: An Untold Story of Docrates, the Mighty
Supra Gato starring Docrates, the Mighty Supra Gato and Extra-Special
Agent Steve Shooter", MIGHTY MEDLEY # 17.) Steve waved at the
extra-special-person in his life, F.B.I. forensic scientist Mandi Li
sitting behind home plate; she was rumored in the tabloids to be Doc's
favorite tummy scratcher, but don't tell Doc's person Julie Ann
Justice. She'll be very upset! Steve took his place on the pitcher's
mound. Doc walked slowly to home plate, whipping his tail through the
air, causing a minor sonic boom.
   Steve had instructed him to hit the ball so it would leave the
stadium and the atmosphere, and therefore cause minimal damage and no
loss of life, in theory. They had practiced it several times to get it
   Steve released the pitch!
   Doc swung his mighty tail, hitting the ball and causing a major
sonic boom! The ball headed straight for the bleachers, for a section
that was reserved for widows and orphans! Oh no!
   "Doc!" shouted Steve. "What have you done?!"


-----------------SEE YOU NEXT MONTH-----------------

Julie Ann Justice and Medusa created by Tom Russell.

All stories are the copyright of their authors.

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