February 2, 2012 § Leave a Comment
By Katherine Proctor
Lying on the bench and pretending to be asleep, Miranda hears a man say that whores make him uncomfortable. Incredulously, his friend asks him why. I don’t know exactly, the man says, but I think it’s something about the way they carry themselves. You mean the way they carry diseases, the friend says, laughing wheezily at his own wit. Miranda hears the man give a cursory chuckle and then say no, that’s not it, I just don’t like the way they just walk up and say things to people. They just walk up and tell you what they’re selling, he says, it’s like they’re car dealers. The friend says hmmm, to indicate that he is thinking about this. I don’t know, the man continues, I just don’t like that, I don’t like that they can just do that, like they’re car dealers.
The pair’s voices get smaller, and as they do, Miranda decides that she could be a successful whore. But first, she must not call herself a whore, because the word has come to refer to a woman who has sex for money. Of course this is what Miranda will be, but she would like to call herself something that does not immediately inform people of that fact. She will call herself something else instead. She will call herself a word just as arbitrary as the word “whore.”
A marby. Miranda will call herself a marby.
Miranda decides that tomorrow she will run into the streets and shriek into the night, “I am a marby! I am a marby!” A man—the man from earlier, maybe—will approach her lustily.
“I am a marby!” Miranda will shout in his face.
“What is a marby?” he will ask, hoping it means a horny woman who will have sex with him free of charge.
“A marby is a woman who has sex for money,” Miranda will reply.
The man’s face will shrivel up.
“So you’re a whore,” he will say.
“No,” Miranda will say, didactically, “I am a marby.”
The man’s face will shrivel even more, and then he will back away from Miranda slowly, and then he will run into the street, crying, and he will almost get hit by three cars at the same time because his tears will obstruct both his vision and his knowledge that looking both ways before crossing the street is essential to survival, and this near-death experience will make him cry even harder. And Miranda the marby will remain on the street, grinning but also scared of her own power, because she made this man so uncomfortable it nearly killed him.
January 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
By Peter Szulc
Beelzebub, Lord of Chaos, Destroyer of Worlds, The Great Defiler
Palace of the Damned
666 Avenue of Sorrows
Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197
Dear Mr. Bub,
I am writing to apply for a position within the Forces of Darkness, as advertised in the Fallen Children of the Master of Lies quarterly newsletter. Per the application’s request I am submitting along with this cover letter a resume, unofficial transcript, and the Dark Oath written in blood. Regrettably I was unable to obtain a copy of a desecrated Bible due to limited financial resources. I have, however, managed to include an old copy of my Children’s Illustrated Bible, in which at least every third page contains one biblical figure on whom I have drawn a mustache or other face-disfiguring growth.
Due to a recent (and inexplicable) lack of success with the female sex I was unable to procure the necessary “blood of a fair virgin maid” in which to write the Oath. I stole a blood pack out of a Red Cross truck and I feel that this sort of adaptability identifies me as an ideal candidate for satanic mischief.
In spite of these limitations I am very proficient in foul devilry. For fifteen years I worked at a local DMV and while there:
- Routinely lost papers, leading to massive bureaucratic inefficiency
- Caused individuals to take the name of your Enemy in vain while waiting in line
- Brought at least five people closer to death by elevating their blood pressure.
I think that a career with the Forces of Darkness is the perfect fit for me. My total lack of clerical skills and human decency will be a fantastic asset to the will of the Drinker of Souls. In addition, while I have not yet attended a Black Mass I do own a set of black robes and every Sabbath record on vinyl. I believe that this experience makes me well suited for the role of incubus.
I can be reached most hours of the day at my e-mail or via my mother’s cell-phone number, both included in my attached resume. I request that any representative of the Legion of the Damned who calls her please inform her that they are a representative from the “local junior college” calling about my “reenrollment.” Unfortunately she is a devout Lutheran and disclosure of my current employment plans may lose me my cellular telephone privileges. Please contact me at your devilish convenience so that we can arrange an interview at a suitable time.
January 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
By Katherine Proctor
They’re doing the limbo, because they’re in a roller rink, because Valerie’s retiring and she’s kind of confused about what exactly is supposed to happen at a retirement party, because she’s three hundred and fifty, so she requested that 1) it be at a roller rink and 2) that buffalo wings be served. People are pretty psyched about the buffalo wings, but not so much about the roller rink because, though most of them are not three hundred and fifty, they still consider themselves to be above the average age and the average intellect of the average roller rink patron. Plus, though they’re not sharing this with the others, they all take secret pleasure in the fact that if they were roller rink proprietors they could come up with a significantly more creative name than “Rollerland.” They’re all laughing on the inside at Valerie, because not only did she elect to conclude eight thousand years of service in a venue most frequently utilized for second grade birthday parties, but she elected to do so in a venue called “Rollerland.”
But Valerie’s loving it. Her wrinkles are clogged with buffalo sauce and she’s sitting in a chair on the side of the rink, wearing roller skates but not using them because if she uses them it is very likely that she’ll break a hip or a knee or some other important joint or really any other important bone, because the woman is three hundred and fucking fifty. She’s clapping her hands and grinning chicken meat and watching as everyone else condescendingly stumbles by on skates. They take turns sliding, smirks on their faces, beneath the limbo pole. They’re all happy they’re terrible at this, because it’s proof that they don’t spend time in roller rinks. But they all secretly want to be the least terrible of everyone, to show that though they don’t spend time in roller rinks they have a natural aptitude for roller skating. A demonstration of such aptitude will show that they are even good at activities that are beneath them and that if they wanted to, they could work at it a bit and become quite excellent roller skaters, slipping effortlessly beneath the limbo pole and winking at Valerie as they emerge safely on the other side. The chicken suit holding the pole will clap a dirty wing-hand on their shoulders.
They’re all striving for this, for flawed but effortless and promising yet casual skill. And Valerie is striving for thirty more buffalo wings, because she’s three hundred and fifty and she does what she wants.
December 2, 2011 § Leave a Comment
By Beyoncé’s Fetus
(translated, augmented and edited by Katherine Proctor and D. Beckham, whose credentials include a litany of Facebook advertisements advising them to become ultrasound technicians)
I really hope I don’t look like my dad. Something tells me that everyone out there is somewhat confounded as to how he got to impregnate my mom, and I understand this bewilderment, because even my tiny fetus brain can tell you that the inside of her uterus is prettier than your face. So that’s pretty much my number one concern at the moment, which has been weighing kind of heavily on me lately because not only are there no reflective surfaces anywhere in here but also my eyes aren’t open.
Also: I know you got that due date in your iCal, but I’m coming early, bitches. I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.
November 4, 2011 § Leave a Comment
By Peter Szulc
There are rules to rock soccer. It’s a very specific game and it’s not meant to be played in a half-assed fashion. Professor Carlyle played the game the way he liked to live his life: with extreme deliberation. He had invented rock soccer, and he felt obliged to scrupulously follow every rule he devised. There was something quietly spectacular about rocks in Carlyle’s mind; they existed out of sheer force of habit. The world had always needed rocks but it was a boring, thankless job: this responsibility of merely Being, a job that rocks shouldered without any complaints.
On Wednesday the professor had a fantastic game of rock soccer. The walk from his office in Lewis to his lecture in Prince was long and uphill, yet the whole way he managed to kick a rock in front of him with each step. He never once had to use his hands to align the rock with his path; his feet always coaxed it back to the cobbled path when it spat off into the grass, reuniting two long-separated stones. Not using hands was one of his rules that he obeyed without question or rationale.
A graduate student had encountered Professor Carlyle playing rock soccer as he crossed the quad a windy day last April. The Professor was engaged single-mindedly in attempting to pry his rock forth from where it had fallen in the mild crevasse between path and grass. When asked what he was doing, Professor Carlyle muttered something about conducting a thought experiment. The graduate student, curiosity aroused by the prospect of some earth-shattering revelation on the nature of mind and reality, asked him to elaborate.
Professor Carlyle made him wait a full minute until he flipped the rock loose with his toe and gently nudged it onto the bricks. He informed the grad student quite calmly that it was an experiment in perception and talking to anyone else about it defeated the purpose. With that he slipped back into his silent communion with the rock and could not be aroused for further comment.
Rock soccer filled him with a sense of his own power at having shrunk his world down to a sphere six feet across; a sphere made up of only him and this anonymous rock that he never saw again once the game was completed. On Wednesday, however, he felt a special fondness for the stone by the time he reached Prince. At the door he spontaneously violated one of his own rules, picking it up and pocketing it.
The lecture hall within Prince shone with the silence of a frozen lake. A brittle layer of minutes was all that separated it from the riotous human commotion that lingers beneath all public places. In the emptiness Professor Carlyle found the steel struts supporting the roof oddly reminiscent of giant ribs as he descended to his small round stage. He spread his papers across the desk. Perhaps a student would say something to give him pause today but he doubted it; better to be well-armed against silence. Maybe he could use the classroom’s phone to call his wife? There was probably some arcane regulation forbidding it, but he simply didn’t feel well. Was that so selfish? Prince Hall was an eerie place. Sometimes it felt like a living thing in its inhuman disinterest.
As the Professor prepared his notes he felt as if a shadow had fallen across the room. Glancing up, he realized that it was the students, silently arrayed in their seats, notebooks open. They had drifted across the hall like smoke, solidifying without him even noticing. How their sudden arrival continually surprised him was a total mystery. Disconcerted by their gaze he swallowed thickly and began the lesson, keeping the desk between himself and the class. Teaching Philosophical Logic, he rationalized as he wrote, requires one to keep the world at arm’s length.
Professor Carlyle felt a warm familiarity with the contours of his lesson: P→Q, iff, ∀x, the parade of usual suspects marched across the board. He intimately knew the order of each letter in this strange alphabet. He wrote with his back to the students, sheltering each proposition with his shadow until he felt it sufficiently strong enough to venture forth on its own. And for what end? He knew the eyes behind him must be dully pounding apart the delicate cathedral of logic he constructed, with a detached vigor that bordered on malice.
He was using mere symbols and letters to represent universal truths that no amount of words, tarnished with their immaturity, their emotion, could ever convey. For centuries the universe had been something too big, something to fear, and here he was now, tracing it onto the blackboard! Growing upset, he leaned forward onto his chalk to make a particularly bold point. It vaporized into a dusty cloud and he whirled about, gripped by a sudden rage. He was more than a board and chalk or a dusty lecture hall that gorged on students and regurgitated them three times a week. He didn’t start at ten o’clock and vanish by the hour’s end.
He couldn’t find a kindred spirit in the student’s dead eyes and he moved over them in an instant, drifting up to the ceiling as he spoke desperately: “Listen. Does anyone understand what I’ve been saying? At all?” The vaulted ceiling was surprisingly unresponsive. Some ghostly mass beneath it twitched, yet he ignored it and its anemic rumble, a trick he had learned early on in his career.
“Did you hear me? This isn’t just a bunch of nonsense. It’s important, what I’ve written here. It’s the only tool you have to tell how the world works. It is the world! The world is logic, the world is a set of truths. If you don’t grasp that, if you don’t even care about that, you’re worse than blind. You may as well not even exist.” Breathing heavily he leans heavily on the board, smearing the chalky universe on his open palm. Only then does he look down. He expects the worst: the students snickering at his petty flare of emotion, others shouldering their backpacks and ambling off to leave him alone, speared by the fluorescent lights onstage. They are instead hunched over their desks, pens hurriedly scribbling into their notebooks. He should have known this was too much for them yet he rages on recklessly:
“Don’t copy what I’m saying! These propositions on the board are what you should be writing. They’re all we have to describe reality in the end. That’s all that matters. Do you think you can trust your emotions? Your intellect? Your perception? Logic is the only constant force in all the tiny worlds we make every instant of our lives!”
Professor Carlyle’s vision slumps in on itself as the scribbling continues. The silence from the board at his back is more deafening than ever before. The students melt into fog as he stares dully at the clock on the far wall, saying: “You can leave now.”
The great shuffle begins as they depart, minds surely beyond the confines of Prince Hall, the keys to the world shoved in their notebooks and vanishing into their cavernous backpacks. Slipping away until Friday when they will be brightly illuminated again, for exactly fifty minutes and fifty minutes only. So too for him, Professor Caryle muses.
As the students leave, he says nothing to them; he doesn’t know their names. He instead withdraws the rock from his pocket and caresses it, feeling a new sense of companionship with it as he mutters, “I understand. I understand us now. The simple burden of Being isn’t day in day out. It’s worse. You only feel it when you’re being kicked.”
October 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
By Katherine Proctor
Jack wants to go to McDonald’s but Mary says no they have too many trans fats and they torture their cows and Jack says that all places torture their cows because that’s just the way life is, if you want to eat a burger you just have to accept that it’s made of tortured cow meat, but Mary says that there are plenty of places they could go that don’t torture their cows, such as the organic sustainable all-natural burger chain that was started by the guy with the flannel and the crinkly eyes, but Jack says that chain has like five stores in the entire world and those cows are probably tortured too and really the word “organic” doesn’t mean shit, so Mary gets mad and threatens to go on a hunger strike like during women’s suffrage and Jack says well maybe he’ll have to use pliers to force food down her throat like they did during women’s suffrage hunger strikes and Mary tells him to stop being a stupid chauvinist pig and Jack says she overuses that phrase so much that it doesn’t mean anything anymore, she just calls him a chauvinist pig whenever he does something she doesn’t like, which really isn’t in accordance with the meaning of the term, and Mary says that was a really sexist thing to say even though Jack tells her over and over that it really wasn’t, then Mary sees a sign for a Subway and yells for Jack to pull over because she wants to eat at Subway and Jack says shut up, we’re going to fucking Wendy’s because I want a Frosty and Mary gets really excited and says yeah she wants one too and then they pull into the Wendy’s parking lot and kiss in the car and forget they’re hungry.
October 17, 2011 § Leave a Comment
By Peter Szulc
The other day I was making a concerted attempt to pen a manifesto when I hit an unexpected block. It all started when I was fumbling ecstatically towards-don’t smirk at me like that. Are you chuckling? I’m sure you think the old “slide behind your hand and feign a seizure” trick would work but it’s not cutting it today. You’re the kind of person who I wouldn’t invite to my manifesto-signing party. Or maybe I would, but I’d hide in the living room with the blinds drawn when you came to the door. Wouldn’t you feel terrible? You brought chips and everything and NO ONE is answering the door. To show how little of my mellow is being harshed by your puerile ignorance I’ll entertain your question: why write a manifesto? Here’s the skinny, my fat friend: if you can’t reduce your life down to a few bold bullet points and flowery phrases you’re clearly doing something wrong.
The world is a big and complex place and no one, I mean no one, except some Birkenstock-clad stuffed shirt types are ever going to think they can make their existence sufficiently biggerer and complexerer to make sense of it all. A manifesto is a fantastic idea because it limits the amount of things I have to emphatically state in my life. People think that the whole raison d’être of a manifesto is that it’s got to articulate some complex or “new” idea. Turns out these people are pretty snug in the shirtular region. No dude, the whole point of a manifesto is that it’s brief.
Hang on, what did you just say?
Good god! A Ouija board could make a more coherent argument than you! You come over here, you sit on my desk and eat my Nachos and then have the gall to ask me how I would “define a manifesto”? You don’t think I’ve ever pondered whether it’s an inherently prescriptive document or merely a set of guidelines that were on the verge of extinction until they got a hold of the existential equivalent of a brute squad that is pen and paper? Why yes, thank you, that metaphor was “more than sufficiently complex.” I’ve pondered more than the collective human race has ever forgotten!
In response: the best manifestos are the prescriptive ones. Consider one of mine reproduced below:
MANIFESTO FOR HAND-WASHING:
Being that THE PROLETARIAT has been subjugated by the whims
of a plutocratic VIRAL INDUSTRIAL class we have recognized the
time has come for VIOLENT REVOLUTION. The Surgeon General’s
REVOLUTIONARY COUNCIL has convened and developed this plan
to assure the GLORIOUS VICTORY of the people:
3) DRY HANDS
AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS.
What? Well I’m sorry if my efforts at halting the spread of disease impose on your morning shave. I suppose you would have us all amble through life like a couple of clean-shaven biological weapons. By all means, spread the bubonic plague around my house! Just, for God’s sake don’t grow any stubble! You blundering idiot.
While you were busy failing to appreciate my manifesto I hope you at least noticed the amount of capitalization that it exhibited. The greatest manifestos must tread a knife’s edge between too many capitalized phrases and too few. ON HAND-WASHING is one of my earlier manifestos and I freely admit that it may seem over exuberant, but it’s through capitalization that a declaration grabs your eyes by the lapels and beats the shit out of them. Consider the example above. We clearly have an oppressed working class, a revolutionary struggle, and a distressing amount of snot residue on our hands. By following the radical procedure central to manifesto-making known as “jumping to conclusions” we can infer the declaration’s message from this emphasis and carry it out!
I hope I’ve dislodged some long dormant neurons from your brain and sent them hurtling pell-mell down the mountains of your mind to crush wayward philistine impulses that clearly disregarded the “Danger: Falling Boulders” signs. You bet your sweet ass that metaphor was “too complex!” Too complex like a fox. Recall that you are talking to a two-time Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest winner.
You may whinge: But how on Earth do I manage the kind of flowery phrases you pull off so effortlessly?! Or perhaps you might have whinged thusly if your lazy ass had not waddled over to the TV. No, you fool, the world does not depend on you watching that episode of “Iron Chef America” you TiVo’d last week, no matter how encyclopedic Alton Brown’s knowledge of bacon is. Several of these flowery phrases have been mentioned already, among them: VIOLENT REVOLUTION, THE PROLETARIAT, and Surgeon General. These phrases tend to have a lot of mileage and can be used in a variety of manifestos without any harm done!
Oh for god’s sake TURN THE TV OFF. I want you to slink away from this lecture understanding that the manifesto is no laughing matter. Its importance should be bashed into each of our heads and shoved down each of our throats! Now that I’ve trampled your objections as a warthog tramples a viper let me return to my initial point. Yesterday I was attempting to write a manifesto on coughing in public places. Do you happen to know any synonyms for “the pre-ordained victory of our glorious struggle”? Alright, I’ll wait until a commercial.