8FOLD: Mighty Medley # 32, September 2016, by Messrs. Brenton, McClure, Perron, Russell, and Stokes

Tom Russell joltcity at gmail.com
Sun Sep 4 08:03:07 PDT 2016

-------------EIGHTFOLD PROUDLY PRESENTS-------------
##     ## ####  ######   ##     ## ######## ##    ##
###   ###  ##  ##    ##  ##     ##    ##     ##  ##
#### ####  ##  ##        ##     ##    ##      ####
## ### ##  ##  ##   #### #########    ##       ##
##     ##  ##  ##    ##  ##     ##    ##       ##
##     ##  ##  ##    ##  ##     ##    ##       ##
##     ## ####  ######   ##     ##    ##       ##
-------------- ISSUE # 32   SEPT 2016 --------------
##     ## ####### ########  ##       ###### ##    ##
###   ### ##      ##     ## ##       ##      ##  ##
#### #### ##      ##     ## ##       ##       ####
## ### ## ######  ##     ## ##       ######    ##
##     ## ##      ##     ## ##       ##        ##
##     ## ##      ##     ## ##       ##        ##
##     ## ####### ########  ######## ######    ##
-----------SAXON BRENTON--ADRIAN McCLURE------------
--------------- Editor, Tom Russell ----------------

You might be wondering what happened to our August edition.
Unfortunately, the editor of this publication is human, and thus
subject to the illnesses, stressors, and foibles of all flesh in this
temporal realm. Until robot editors can master the fine art of the
semicolon, such lapses, while regrettable, remain in the realm of
possibility. We will of course endeavor to prevent such an
interruption in our publication schedule in the future, so as to
ensure that each new month brings with it five new features for your
entertainment, edification, and enjoyment.
   In a naked attempt to win back your good graces, we have provided a
SIXTH feature in this month's Medley; additionally, the final
installment in Mr. Brenton's long-running "Beyond the Fields" has been
trebled in length.

Your obedient,

   T. Russell


"Beyond the Fields" Finale
   by Saxon Brenton

In which the Many-Angled Ones put their plan into effect, while
simultaneously the memesmiths put their own plan into effect, with the
fate of all existence hanging precariously in the balance. A rousing
and suitably metaphysical conclusion to Mr. Brenton's tale.

"Seven 'Gainst Thebes" Part 30
   by Tom Russell

Discourse on the world of light and beauty, the pain that poisons it,
and two inventions of the Irish that serve as antidotes. The uncertain
future, and the arrival of Jack Peake in Broken Branch.

"The Science-Blades of Terra Alter" Part 4
   by Adrian McClure

In which Elaine fights to the death. The benefits of a long and
precise memory. Anger, as the wise Mr. Kirby once said, will save your

"The Terrific Visage" Part 2
   by Drew Perron

In which Mackenzie and her Medusa hatch a plan not to save the world,
but to save the people in it.

"Empress of Pages" Part 17
   by Colin Stokes

Meredith and his new BFF, the Library. The daemon's personal space
invaded, both physically and metaphysically. Ominous numbers,
incomprehensible vastness, and manic giggling.

"Give an Inch"
   by Tom Russell

A letter no one, not even the recipient, is meant to see.

-----------------BEYOND THE FIELDS------------------
-----------Copyright 2016 Saxon Brenton-------------

It was a few short hours later, just after dawn. The Man With The
Green Gloves had convened an urgent meeting of his fellows. There was
just over a dozen of them who met at a military bunker in northern
Ukraine. And while this was by no means all of the Many Angled Ones
that mortal (let alone celestial) reckoning could account for, it was
the entire group who were involved in the World project.
   The Man With The Green Gloves smiled with the face he was currently
wearing, and shook hands with them all. The Gentleman With No Shadow,
The Baron of Ash And Dust, Grandfather Nomenclature, and all the
others. Some of them had come a long way at very short notice.
   Not that this meant much to other-dimensional entities who only
obeyed the laws of time and space because they were doing precision
work to manipulate time and space from the inside - and who in any
case were mostly wearing the mortal forms of some very powerful
   The Man With The Green Gloves looked at the others and said, "My
friends, I have very good news. I believe we can now move on to the
final phase..."

Deidre had been sitting in the forcefield trap for several hours,
contemplating the ring and trying to enter a state of consciousness
that maybe - just maybe - would have allowed her to pull off some sort
of last minute metaphysical handwavium to save the day. It had not
worked so far, and the only thing she was aware of was the call of
nature from having eaten just before midnight.
   Then a burning snake and a whirlwind of Kirby dots appeared in the
kitchen outside her prison.
   Deidre took this in, and tentatively double-checked that she was
still sane. (It had occurred to her quite some time ago that growing
blase about some of the stranger things associated with the cape
community might be a bad sign about one's mental health). That done,
she concluded optimistically that these were probably angels sent as
cavalry. "Hello," she said, standing up.  "Do you have good news?"
   "Yes," replied the snake. Joan's voice. Ah, so Joan was one of the
seraphim. Not all that important just at the moment, but interesting
none the less.
   Joan waved a neon bright wing at the forcefield, which obligingly
dissipated. "Easily done when you're on the outside," she noted. She
indicated the other figure, the whirlwind of Kirby dots. Actually,
most of them were independently rotating eyes, indicating that this
was one of the ophanim. "This is Aaron, one of our senior memesmiths."
   Deidre made a polite salaam. "Pleased to meet you. Also, very
relieved that you have arrived."
   The whirlwind gave Deidre what she interpreted as an amused look.
"Pleased to meet you as well. Your suggestion for mimetic collapse was
unusual, but surprisingly workable. We have people preparing to
implement it within the next hour or so."
   "Really? Well, hey, that great," said Deidre, somewhat overwhelmed
by the idea of how quickly things were proceeding.
   "Yes. But that means that we should get ready to leave," Joan said.
She looked at Aaron, who replied, "I have set interstices into the
continuum substrate. And none too soon. The transphysical decay ratios
are increasing. As you suspected, these Many Angled Ones will begin
mimetic translation some time very soon."
   Joan nodded. "Then follow me." Once again they stepped sideways
through a door that could not quite be seen.
   The three emerged into what looked like a combination of apartment
lounge room and computer lab, with a number of people working
variously on either computers or some sort of mystical seeming
holographic projections. As should have been expected, a number of the
residents were clearly not human. "A safe house that we have quickly
tasked for this operation," explained Aaron. "Excuse me," he said,
moving over to consult with some other angels.
   Deidre took the opportunity to use the bathroom, and when she got
back she asked Joan how things were going.
   "We're getting the final confirmations that all the field
operatives are pulling out, so the memesmiths can begin the mimetic
collapse. Apparently the Many Angled Ones have already begun the
dissolution of their universe, but the containment that Aaron's people
have set up are keeping it from leaking out."
   An idea occurred to Deidre. "How clever would this universe be?"
When Joan looked at her in puzzlement (a look that Deidre would never
have expected to see on a the face of a serpent, even one glowing in
neon red, orange, purple and yellow) Deidre explained, "Is it a
mindless thing, and will simply disperse like gas? Or has it been set
up with intelligence, and consciously try to escape?"
   "Ah, right. From the way that the memesmith's were talking, I think
it's active in the way a biological virus or computer malware is.
So... Persistent but unsophisticated, I suppose."
   A further thought occurred to Deidre. "Until the Many Angled Ones
lose patience with it spreading on its own, and start trying to do so
   Aaron spoke up. "I anticipated that eventuality, and have guards
stationed at the boundaries of its actuality. There have been no
sightings of the Many Angled Ones leaving. I even set a watch for the
formation of any dimensions above the eleventh, in case they tried to
escape by generating hypothetical dimensional spaces."
   Someone that Deidre hadn't been introduced to - he looked like a
human male - suggested, "Maybe they plan to stay inside and convert
themselves into living ideas? Like anthropomorphic personifications?"
   Aaron considered. "It's possible, although it seems unlikely from
the intel that Michael's people were able to supply. Still, we're
almost ready to go, and once the collapse has formed the mundane egg,
it's not as though whatever they have planned will do any them any
   "Collapse initiation ready in 8 minutes," came an announcement.

The Many Angled Ones had problems other than trying to recreate
themselves as anthropomorphic personifications.
   "What is happening?" demanded Grandfather Nomenclature. "This world
is not dispersing."
   Actually it was worse than that. The World was teetering exactly on
the precipice of mimetic translation. It was literally still both
matter and idea. Both, at the same time. Or maybe neither, if you were
a glass half empty thinker.
   The Man With The Green Gloves considered. "Those spies must have
had backup from other angels. Possibly arranged to take action if they
didn't report back after a certain time."
   The Tabula Rasa suggested, "And do what? Keep an entire universe in
check? They will not be able to do that for long. Especially if we
slip out for some distraction and sabotage."
   There was general agreement on that. But then: "I... am finding it
difficult to ascend out of four-dimensional space-time."
   "What have they done?" fumed The Baron OF Ash And Dust.
   "Actually, my doing," announced a new voice. Standing on the other
side of the room, looking remarkably relaxed under the circumstances,
was a slightly transparent image of Marcus Oustler.
   The Man With The Green Gloves lashed out with wave of force
intending to capture and rend a ghost. It had no effect whatsoever.
   "I'm not a ghost," Marcus chided him dispassionately. "I destroyed
my soul with the Effacements, remember?"
   "Then what trickery are you using?"
   "After you explained that you were doing - The recreation of
reality as a parasitic idea with horror story elements, using powerful
mages - but before you stole my body, I made a copy of my mind into
the same fabric of reality that you were priming. That's all I am,"
said Marcus. "A single left over copy."
   "A desperate attempt to save your own existence," said The Man With
The Green Gloves smugly. "We can easily overwhelm and erase you."
   "That's one way of looking at it," agreed what was left of Marcus
amicably. "But *I* only had to hold you here and distract you for long
enough for them," and here he pointed his finger in a vague upwards
direction "to put their plan into action and collapse the universe
into a primal egg. Which should happen just about... now."
   And then the universe collapsed.

"So that's it, then?" Deidre asked. They were all at the safe house,
looking at the mundane egg that they had created from the Nazi world,
and which Aaron was now holding.
   "Yes," said the memesmith. "It was collected from inter-dimensional
space, exactly where it had been expected to form. It will go into
   In the celestial equivalent of a black ops warehouse, no doubt,
thought Deidre. Still, it was a lot safer that having it hidden
somewhere on the mortal plane. "Thank you for all your help," she told
Aaron. "That was quite a tight deadline towards the end. But I'd
better get back to work."
   Joan escorted her out. She had taken time to reform a human
manifestation, and therefore didn't drawn any unwanted attention when
they walked out onto the street. "I take it you'll be going back to
the occult detective work."
   "Yes indeed. I've got bills to pay, after all. And, well... You
need to keep an eye out for demons, and vampires, and portraits by
Adolf Hitler that aren't made of conventional matter. They're kind of
like cockroaches. You might not be able to get rid of them entirely,
but you need to fumigate every now and then to keep them under
   Joan nodded and they shook hands. And then Deidre walked off in
search of more metaphysical cockroaches.

--------------SEVEN 'GAINST THEBES------------------
---------------------Part 30------------------------
------------Copyright 2016 Tom Russell--------------

By the time Skin of Snake had finished writing everything down, he was
dreadful tired, and so Hank and Gulliver retired to the adjoining room
so as to let him rest. Hank read the narrative out loud, seeing as
Gulliver couldn't read himself. When Hank was done, he folded and
creased the sheets of paper, then slipped them into his breast pocket.
   "Well," said Gulliver, helping himself to the doctor's brandy. "She
went off naked into the sunset."
   "Sunrise," said Hank.
   "Sunrise," said Gulliver. "You gonna go after her?"
   Hank shook his head. "No; she's moved on, become someone else. Best
to let her go."
   "That's stupid," said Gulliver. "Begging your pardon, but I'd go
after the girl. I wouldn't let her go." He emptied his glass into his
gullet. "If I recall correctly, you were only with us for the girl,
   "The money's nice, too," said Hank. "But the money was for the girl
and me, together-like." He patted at the paper in his pocket. "This
done took the wind out of my sails something fierce."
   "I can understand that," mused Gulliver darkly. (In reading the
narrative, Hank had inadvertently revealed the fate of Mad Hattie
which Silke had kept a secret. You'll recall that Gulliver was sweet
on the girl, who was as mad and as Irish as he was.) "The way I see
it, Hank, pain is something the devil gave us. Lord created a world
full of light and beauty, and then the devil poisoned everything. But
the Irish, we invented two antidotes. Two ways for a man to deal with
the pain, in a manly way. Two things the Irish are better at than
anybody else, and we need to be, because we have more of pain and the
devil than the rest of you. One is to drink, and any time you need to
drink, Hank, I will drink with you, but from watching your progress
this morning, you ain't got the liver for it. There's no shame in
that. (Well, unless you were Irish.) The other is to fight. And there,
Hank, why, you're practically an Irishman. I'd be happy to get into
any scrap with you by my side. I daresay I think John would feel the
   Hank nodded. "Alright. You'll lead me back to the others, now that
the injun's in the free and the clear?"
   "Well," said Gulliver, tipping the bottle into his glass. "One
more." He pointed at Hank's glass with the neck of the bottle. Hank
shook his head.
   Gulliver raised the glass to his lips, but before that sacred
elixir could dance upon his tongue, there came an anguished,
otherworldly scream. He downed it with a sigh and a snort, then flew
out the door, enveloping himself in flames. It seemed to Hank, who
brought up the rear, that the flames burnt hotter and darker, and
smelt of spirits.
   "Well," said Gulliver, "there's that scrap I was talking about." He
pointed down the street. Jack Peake was there. He ran into the general
store, causing some kind of wild ruckus, chasing the people out. The
old shopkeeper weren't nimble or spry enough to do his own running,
and so Peake was obliged to drag him out before tossing him like a
   "I'll draw him out," said Gulliver. "You make yourself scarce.
Chances are he'll be awful surprised to see you up and about, and you
might be able to get some extra licks in."
   "Sensible," said Hank.
   "And Hank? When you get them in, you make them count."
   With that, Gulliver flew right at Peake, balls of flame belching
from his fingertips. Gulliver didn't expect any of them to hit the
fastest man that lives, or if they did, he expected it to be
providence. But instead, one after another, they hit him dead on.
Peake didn't dodge; Peake didn't let the flames pass through him.
   Instead, he let himself burn, and he laughed.

-----------------THE SCIENCE-BLADES-----------------
-------------------OF TERRA ALTER-------------------
-----------------------Part  4----------------------
-----------Copyright 2016 Adrian McClure------------

   There were two assassins, wraiths of thick smoke in almost-human
shape. They, too, were projecting their minds into an aetheric body,
though theirs was less realized than Antinea's--it was only needed for
one thing. Luckily, Elaine could summon up chunks of information and
exposition at the drop of a hat--she had a better memory for that kind
of thing than events in her own life--and she could remember
everything her husband had said about them, and how he'd defeated
them. The wraith-smoke clustered around a vulnerable core of power.
But she didn't know if she could strike it in time. She felt ice-cold
fear for her life, and the same kind of thick, paralyzing indecision
she felt whenever she was attempting some task that was complicated
and stressful, like making lesson plans or doing her taxes. And this,
she couldn't procrastinate.
   She'd been able to do this once, though. She'd never fought to the
death, but she'd known how to use the sword--it had been a special
gift of hers, even. All the drives and skills and instincts that had
made her a master of the art of the sword were still there, buried in
her mind. She remembered how fencing had been a refuge for her in
stressful times, and then all her frustrations gripped ahold of
her--her sense of helplessness in the face of university
administrators who made sweeping changes without talking to anyone
they'd affect, the endless march of forms and deadlines, the long
emptinesses when her husband was away. All that anger burst through
her body into her sword like lightning into a lightning rod, and she
stood up straight and charged with power.
   Her mind was racing at breakneck speed, so what had felt like a
long bleak aeon of indecision was only moments. She ducked the
wraith's shadow-tendril, then thrust the sword into where its heart
would be. It struck--the smoke vanished away to reveal the power-core
shining with moon-cold light, which cracked like an eggshell,
scattering its pieces to the floor. Then the other, in short order. It
took her a moment to realize she had won.
   As Elaine waited for her heart to stop racing, Antinea charged into
the room. She saw the cracked white shells on the floor and knew what
had happened. She embraced Elaine, who was wobbling on her feet, and
held her up with her strong arms. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I
didn't know they'd come so soon."
   Elaine tried to say "It's okay" but it came out as mumbling.
   "Are you sure you want to go ahead with this?" said Antinea. Elaine
wasn't really paying attention to the words, but there was something
comforting about her rich, melodic voice and the warmth of her arms.
Then she remembered what it was like to be in her husband's arms, and
found herself missing him even more. Then she thought about him and
her together, as she did sometimes, with a mix of frustration and
longing. But now she was with Antinea alone--this was something new.
She had no idea how to parse what she was feeling.
   "Wanna sit down," she muttered, and Antinea set her down gently on
the couch, then headed off to finish her preparations. Allecto, who'd
been crouching in the corner with her hair standing on end, hesitantly
crawled up to Elaine and they huddled together, feeling their stress
gradually ebb away.
   In time Elaine found the strength to stand up. She took care of the
last of her tasks--vacuuming the house one last time, including the
shattered shells of the wraiths. And then it was time to leave.

----------------THE TERRIFIC VISAGE-----------------
-----------------------Part 2-----------------------
------------Copyright 2016 Drew Perron--------------

 Not long after, when the strangeness of having a little digital
headmate had smoothed out a bit into everyday wonder, Mackenzie had
asked Medusa how she had been chosen out of all the sad and messed-up
people out there.
 Medusa had shown her a complicated calculation; Mackenzie could feel
the numbers flowing through it, but didn't understand what they meant.
(But one day she would definitely learn!) It was a heuristic based on
little bits of online communication, data passing back and forth in
ways that clever computery beings could draw patterns from. And
according to those patterns, Mackenzie had been the best combination
of someone who needed Medusa’s help and someone who would be open to
this super-weird possibility.
  So, Mackenzie thought... that meant there were other people in need.
A lot, if they needed something this big and complicated to pick out
the best one. The two of them should help! After all, there were a lot
of people trying to save the world already, but how many of them were
trying to save *people*?
  Medusa hummed with curiosity. That made sense, but she didn’t want
to give them all Medusas - that would be... *uncomfortably* viral.
  But Mackenzie had a great idea! And when Medusa heard, and saw the
colored pencil sketches, she thought it was great too!
  First, they had to get all the pieces and tools they'd need.
Mackenzie's parents were relieved to see her jumping into another
project, and though they were a little surprised at the scope of it,
they lent her the toolbox and pulled the dust cover off the work table
in the garage.
   Mackenzie pulled apart electronic toys that had sat in the back of
her closet for years, looking for circuits and capacitors. What they
couldn't find was ordered online, with allowances and old gift cards.
Medusa's otherselves rented time on a molecular assembler and mailed
them a box of weird dust.
  Then they put it together. Medusa streamed diagrams into Mackenzie's
head and steadied the nerves in her hands. Mackenzie saw where those
diagrams came together, how they fit into space, and fiddled with
wires and screwed and sawed and went out to the garage and *really
carefully* soldered.
  Finally, they had it: a neon-green belt buckle, shaped like a circle
with a snake molded around the edge. In the middle, there was a
transparent heart with a black LCD display behind it. There was a
metal lever on top, and Mackenzie grabbed and pulled it. The heart lit
up in bright green... and there was a pop! and a weird smell and the
heart went dark.
  So they went back and unscrewed and replaced and soldered and fixed,
and tested it and tested it and got it to work, and then... they were
  Mackenzie stood in the driveway, wearing a leotard and tights, with
a black visor on and her favorite pair of rollerblades, and, of
course, the buckle on her belt. "Medusa Zero!" She shifted into a cool
pose and pulled the lever.
  "FULL COMBEEeeEE--!" She put a *little* too much weight on the back
skate and it slipped one way and the other slipped the other way and
she did the splits. ...Ow.
  Her mom opened the front door and leaned out. "Are you okay, honey?"
  "Just..." Mackenzie gritted her teeth and pushed herself up. You
know, this probably never happened to Sailor Mercury. "Just fine,
Mom!" She gave her a thumbs-up and a smile.
  "Okay." Her mom smiled back. "Just, we're here if you need help, okay?"
  "Yeah." Mackenzie wasn't gonna forget again. "Thanks!" There were
people who were ready to help... and she was gonna become one of them.

---------------- EMPRESS OF PAGES ------------------
----------------------Part 17-----------------------
-----------Copyright 2016 Colin Stokes--------------

Meredith had thought he was ready for anything, but not this.
   The vault was completely empty when he arrived, and the Library was
   It was an unnerving sound, to say the least. The machine-thing's
voice had always been calm, detached, emotionless - well, mostly - but
now it held a note of pure glee in it, and it made his skin crawl.
(The wiring moving beneath his skin also made it crawl, but that was a
purely physical process.)
   'Is there something I should be aware of?' Meredith mused
internally, with the polite deference that was the norm for him now.
For all the new experiences his Empress had given him in such a short
time, it wasn't much to offer in return; together with his service to
her, he hoped to find favor in her eyes. Those gleaming golden eyes...
   -So much /magic/!- the Library returned cheerily, with almost a
manic tinge. -All this magic, and what is more, it simply suffuses the
place, waiting to be claimed and used! My dear Empress will be /most/
pleased. Assuming we can return it to her in sufficient quantities,
that is,- she added, with a slightly more reasonable tone of voice.
   Meredith hmmmed thoughtfully. 'The more energy I hold, the more it
will cost the Empress to summon me,' he remarked, making his way
stealthily along the metal catwalk and over to the ladder that led to
the vault's floor, 'but if /you/ are able to hold it instead, that
limitation may not apply at all, since you are... at least, I do not
/think/ you are part of me. I am no longer sure,' he admitted.
   The Library simply let out a little giggle. -We shall see when the
time comes for us to make an exit,- she returned as the daemon slowly
descended the ladder. Working her wires further outwards from the
metal plate, she finally pierced through the skin of Meredith's
wrists, curling around them to form small metal bands. -This should
let me... assist you, with minimal interference.-
   'There are far better fighters than me in the Netherworld,'
Meredith mused darkly, pausing as he looked down at the barrier
inscriptions on the vault floor.
   -They won't be expecting our combination, then,- the Library
returned with another little giggle. -Shall I take down this obstacle
for you? It will be an enlightening experience for both of us, I am
sure, but you know this world and its particulars better than I do.
For now.-
   Meredith hesitated for a moment, weighing the consequences as he
looked down at the floor and its glowing arcs and lines. If the
barrier came down, what then? Would the previously absent sentries be
alerted somehow and show up to investigate the problem? He wasn't sure
he was ready for a confrontation...
   ...But then again, if he had been seen, and yet he hadn't been
provided a warm welcome on his return, perhaps something /else/ was
happening that was even more important, the daemon mused with a
growing smile. Which meant that either the barrier's destruction would
go unopposed - or he would be diverting the Throne's resources from
something important. Either way, a win. 'Take it down.'
   The Library laughed at the eagerness in Meredith's mental voice.
-Stretch out your arms,- she commanded, and as the daemon complied,
wires snaked out of the metal wristbands and darted straight forward,
singing a shrill chord as they drilled into the aerial barrier,
glowing gold tips pressed against shifting polygons of translucent
dark red.
   Meredith gasped as the contact painted his vision with numbers all
over; labels popping up that he didn't understand, like 'm.field.str'
and 'zone.type.k.mpsk()' and even 'souldrain. pt' which seemed more
than a little ominous. At least that last number was holding steady,
whatever it was.
   Everywhere he looked, he saw the numbers and text labeling and
quantifying everything - even when he blinked or closed his eyes,
though the numbers were a little different then. Meredith started to
realize, with a sudden sense of humility, just how /big/ the Library
was, and how small he was in comparison; how little he understood and
even perceived on his own, while the Library was probably always like
this - constantly analyzing, measuring, and cataloguing the world.
   -Perhaps so,- came the Library's encouraging response, intruding on
his inner thoughts, -but I do need someone to carry me around.- The
numbers flickered a little, some of them dropping nearly to zero. -Or
to give me a little... /push/.-
   The daemon took the cue and shifted his weight forward into his
arms - and with a brittle and glassy sort of sound, the barrier
shattered, the red polygons fragmenting and disappearing as the
floor's glow faded, leaving him in darkness.
   'I shall carry you as long as you need,' Meredith promised,
absorbing the magic from the broken barrier, then shivering as the
Library extracted it from him.
   -I do not doubt it.-

------------------GIVE AN INCH----------------------
------------Copyright 2016 Tom Russell--------------

Hey sis,

   The last time we talked, you said that I looked like I was happy,
and that you hadn't seen me look like that in a long time, and that it
was a good look. The thing is that I don't know if I am any happier or
better off now than I was a few months ago. I don't know if I'm any
worse off, either. My circumstances have changed, my life is
different, but that's all. It's just a different kind of unhappiness,
and a different kind of "well, this is actually okay"ness, and if it's
not the same precise ratio of suck to okay, well, it's pretty damn
close and it's a pretty subtle difference.
   Like, okay. I'm actually doing things now instead of moping around.
I'm running around saving the world, and I'm pretty awesome at it, so
that's great. It feels like I have a purpose now, and as far as
purposes go, wearing skintight costumes and punching bad guys is
pretty boss. And I have a battleaxe now, which is also a guitar, and
that's all kinds of punk rock.
   At the same time, you know, I'm not going around stopping cosmic
threats to reality like Melody or Bethany does. Usually, it's just
some kind of bug I'm fighting. I mean this literally. This morning,
Dot and I had to fight Beetalamax, Lord of the Beetle-Folk, and I was
like, "What is your deal, Beetalamax? You can see my gnarly axe. Don't
think I won't use it. What is your flipping deal?" And his flipping
deal was some variation on "God is inordinately fond of beetles, and
also, no one wants to talk to me," and I was like, "well, maybe you
shouldn't try to take over the world with beetles?" Anyway, we had to
punch him, and also a bunch of beetles, which, those guys? They're not
kidding with that armor. And Dot was all glad that we stopped that
plot before it really got "hatched", ha-ha, and also how one part was
like the skeletons from "Jason and the Argonauts", and why is it
everything always reminds her of the skeletons from "Jason and the
Argonauts", I might end up murdering her, but then I'd have absolutely
no one who gets me. And the sad thing is, she doesn't even get me! I
feel like Beetalamax, only without the beetle-folk.
   I mean, everyone is nice, I'm respected (which, that's new),
everyone is friendly, but no one's really my friend. Even when Dot and
I do help out with something bigger than mind-controlled moths, I'm
still apart from it. Dot can go back to full-size, and some of them
will go to a movie together, because Dot is pushy. I can't do movies.
Screen's too big, sound's too loud. Can't just hang out and shoot the
breeze; no one can see my face, or my gestures, so it's just my voice,
piped in through a headset that not everyone remembers to keep on, and
my voice on its own is kind of abrasive. I went out to eat with some
of them a couple of times, but that was disastrous. I can only eat
something about the size of a pebble before getting stuffed. You can't
really get all that much flavor in something the size of a pebble.
It's going to be all this thing or all that one, and none of the mix
of flavors and mouthfeels that made eating and cooking one of my
favorite things to do. (Do you remember when "Ratatouille" came out
and I was briefly obsessed with making soups, and also with starting
kitchen fires? Shut up, I was ten.)
   Speaking of favorite things to do that I can't do any more, and
this is squicky, so this is probably another letter I'm never going to
actually send you: I miss getting my groove on, if you know what I
mean. There is literally no one for me to groove with. Dot's my size,
but she's like a hundred and ten percent hetero, and also, I keep
wanting to punch her in the face. It sounds petty, but it's not. No
one's touched me in months. After a while, I kinda lost interest in
touching myself, which was also one of my favorite things to do and
yeah, I'm definitely never sending this letter.
   But it's more than that. I see other people laughing with each
other, hooking up, looking at each other, flirting with each other,
wanting to be flirted with, just, making connections, and being
connected. And no one looks at me like that. No one has any reason to.
   And sure, I can look at it as trade-offs. When I gave up ever
returning to my normal height again, I gave up a lot of stuff, but
when I did that, I gained something else, and that something else is
pretty great. But also it's not; immediately after I save the world or
city or whatever, I just feel empty and listless for days on end. And,
you know, I look at all the things I gave up, and how it makes me feel
alone, and isolated, and bitter, and angry, but, the thing is, even
when I had those things, I felt alone, and isolated, and bitter, and
angry. And so I wonder if the problem is me, and if I just can't ever
be happy. If I'm not allowed to be happy. Simon goes on about how he
has a "talent for happiness", that even when things suck, he finds a
way to be up about it. Maybe I just wasn't given that.
   I don't think you were, either. I think you're sad and restless a
lot of the time, Kate. I've seen it. I've heard it in your music.
Probably that's what makes you good at it. Piano music probably should
be sad. You and me are like oil and water, but we have that in common.
The difference is that I just struggle with it and flail around and
wallow in it, while you deal with it and move on with your day. And if
I was actually going to send this, I would ask you, how do you do
that? And why can't I?

   - Cal

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

Medusa created by Tom Russell & Andrew Perron.

Kate Morgan created by Tom Russell & Jamie Rosen.

All stories are the copyright of their authors.

More information about the racc mailing list