The Names, they Are a Changing

September 29, 2011 § 2 Comments

As you can see, this blog is no longer titled “Unintentional Genius”. I have had one too many people say that it’s not the most, um, subtle of names. I didn’t intend that to be as hilariously self-aggrandizing as it is (remember: it’s the name of my first band and it refers to my brother!), but I also don’t want to be another pretentious twit writer.

Well, I don’t want to be a very pretentious twit writer.

To that end, therefore, this blog is now titled “Published Just In Time”, to reflect the fact that I may or may not have written most of yesterday’s piece while on the GO train. Nothing else has changed; I CAN change the url but only in future. I don’t want to lose someone just because they didn’t realize the address has changed.

And now, how I imagine most of you read the old title:

If you don’t know that picture, it’s from Wayne’s World. Which you, of course, must now go watch. NOW.




I Made You Something

September 28, 2011 § 3 Comments

This isn’t what you’re expecting. I’m not sure it’s any good, but I wrote it just for you. Just. For. You.

Enjoy? Maybe? Hopefully? Yes.

First Date

A Horror Story

It was Greg’s first date.

It wasn’t, strictly speaking, his first date. There had been several of those, but this was the first that he really wanted to make work. It was with Mandy. She was cute, smart, and funny. Greg, in his infinite youth, thought that they would both appreciate a show at Medieval Times. Greg thought who wouldn’t? You got to wear paper crowns, eat like Lords, and watch men on horses hit each other with great big sticks. While it might not have been the most romantic thing in the world, it would do for two seventeen year-olds out for a fun night. It was certainly expensive enough, for Greg’s minimum wage budget.

The only problem, that Greg was unaware of, was that Mandy was deathly afraid of horses. And not in the way that young girls are often afraid of spiders and young men are afraid of being picked last. Not in the reasonable way that most minor phobias are. This fear was a real, living thing. It accompanied Mandy through her days and nights, always on the lookout for hidden equines and their accomplices, mules and donkeys. Really, Mandy didn’t fully trust anything that walked about on four legs and looked the least bit equine. Even pigs cows were looked at sideways. The constant chewing upset her.

It wasn’t Mandy’s fault. When she was very young, a horse tossed her from its back. She hadn’t even wanted to be there, and had been lifted up by her father. He was a big man, and reassured her that this horse, unlike all the other horses that were out to get her, was nice. He might even have been right, Mandy reasoned, as she was lifted up on its broad, hairy back. Unlike the others, it hadn’t fussed all day. It had barely walked. The rancher suspected that it might have died during the night, but didn’t have the heart to tell Mandy’s father. Ranching didn’t pay as much as it used to, back in the cowboy days.

Mandy was placed on the stallion’s back, and for a moment it looked like her totally normal minor phobia, which was much like how other young girls were scared of spiders or young boys of being picked last, was going to end.

Suddenly Sam, which was the horse’s name, reared up screaming. The rancher would later exclaim he had never seen a horse jump so high so quickly. It was like a coiled thunderbolt trapped inside a spring. In a heartbeat, Mandy went from sitting proudly atop Suddenly Sam to flying through the air. Sometimes, Mandy’s memory liked to play cruel jokes on her and remind her of how glorious it felt to actually soar twenty feet through the air.

And then, of course, it liked to remind her what it felt like to hit the ground.

But that wasn’t what changed her fear. No, the pain, though furious and career-ending, would turn out to be temporary. What ruined horses, and by extent cows, mules, donkeys, burros, llamas, alpacas, and to a lesser extent camels, was that her last memory was Suddenly Sam’s smiling face cracked open in equine laughter directed right at her prone form. He had enjoyed it.

Mandy’s life would never be the same. Everyone she asked, from veterinarians to veteran jockeys with thirty years of experience, assured her that horses could not, would not, could not possibly laugh.

She knew better.

So on that fateful night, Greg surprised Mandy in his father’s car and a kiss on the cheek. It was a beautiful summer night. There was a gentle breeze that discouraged mosquitoes, but a clean warmth untouched by humidity. It was a night that Shakespeare would have written about had he experienced the joy of a perfect summer night in Toronto. Greg knew it in his bones, that this was the night. That tonight, he would kiss Mandy on the lips and they would be boyfriend and girlfriend. Mandy smiled at him from across the stick shift. She felt it too.

And then they pulled into the parking lot at the Canadian National Exhibition and Mandy saw what Greg’s big surprise was. She was terrified because she liked Greg. She really did, and while it may have been the love of one seventeen year-old for another, this one was totally different.

But there were horses.

Greg felt the first pang in his chest when Mandy’s smiled wavered and nearly disappeared completely. It didn’t, but Greg could see that something had shaken her badly.

“What’s wrong?” He asked, concerned.

“Oh me? Nothing!” She said, brightly, and with a little too much enthusiasm. See, enthusiasm is like whipped cream. It’s nice to ladle on thick and, like pumpkin pie, makes the difference between decent and great. But too much, no matter how much a glutton you are, and it makes you feel sick. Greg began to feel very sick indeed.

Mandy put her hand in his and smiled at him. A little of the sickness disappeared and Greg led her by the arm. She had decided to get over her fear just for him, even if Greg didn’t know it. He was just happy that they looked like they would be having fun now.

For a while, they did. Greg’s minimum-wage tickets put them far enough away from the action that Mandy could just squint a little and imagine the knights rode big black and brown smudges rather than horses, and Greg was having the time of his life waving his chicken bones and cheering as men with big sticks hit each other.

And then, like any great tragedy, there was the finale. The black knight was to ride out and challenge the young, handsome victor to a final duel for the princess’ hand. It was going to be exciting for all involved. Except for Mandy, who was just going to be happy that it would soon be over. Unlike Greg now, she was beginning to feel very, very sick indeed. The chicken leg and apple juice (‘Mead,’ the server had said), were acting up in her stomach as the smudges were beginning to resolve into actual horses.

It was so close to the end, though, that she tried to make it work. In fairness to Mandy and Greg, they both tried.

But in the end, there was no chance. The black knight rode out atop his “charger”, an ancient brown horse, so old that he was having trouble walking in a straight line. He was so old that his legs were permanently bowed and his forelocks dragged on the ground. But he seemed like he was smiling, despite his age.

It couldn’t be, Mandy thought. It could not possibly be. But it was.

Suddenly Sam was, rather suddenly, back in front of Mandy. He was not, as the rancher had promised, turned into glue. He was not, as her father had promised, in horsey hell. He was right there in front of her, smiling.

Looking directly at her.

Greg had never seen someone simultaneously scream, vomit, and cry. It was almost magical in its majesty, almost perfect in its horrible charm. The family in front of them, who been innocently celebrating a tenth birthday, had their night ruined forever. Much like Greg would forever remember the scene, the young birthday boy would forever remember how the girl above them ruined his party.

Needless to say, it brought a quick end to the night’s festivities. The black knight still lost, and the charming winner of the tourney still got the hand of the princess. For everyone there, who was, of course, not a young boy celebrating his tenth-birthday, it was a perfect night.

Mandy apologized profusely, while Greg seemed to float in a gentle haze of impossibility. It wasn’t possible that this could have happened. It was a perfect summer night in Toronto. The breeze still blew, the mosquitoes still stayed away, and the sun was just dipping beneath the horizon. Together, they drifted across the serene and empty Exhibition, Mandy trying to work off her sickness and Greg trying to get back to reality.

After long enough time, Mandy knew that she needed to get on home. Her stomach was finished with its revolt, but her fragile psyche was still recovering. Greg was beginning to come back to reality and realized that his first date, his first date, was an unmitigated disaster. That was it. Game over. The black knight won.

Greg drove her home in silence, his stomach sinking lower and lower into his belly. Mandy stared out the window, feeling ashamed and a little grossed-out, actually.

Greg yanked on the brake in front of her house. The crickets sang, the stars were out, and the raccoons were making a mess of it in the branches above them. It was still, probably just to mock him, a perfect night.

He walked her to her door, his face grey and his mind mush. He put out his hand to shake hers.

“Uhh, thanks, I guess?”

They stood in silence for a second. Neither really knew why they both felt like the night was ruined and the world was two steps away from disaster, but they were both certain it was. I mean, how could you come back from something like that? What could be worse than that?

And, simultaneously, both their subconsciousnesses just happened to mention to their consciousnesses that, maybe, if it couldn’t get any worse, it would have to get better.

Mandy hugged Greg. “It wasn’t a very good night, but let me pick the place we go to next time, ok?”

And Greg was suddenly out of his head again, out of what he thought was reality and into some wonderful fantasy land, where terrible things like this could happen and maybe, just maybe, the world wouldn’t end.

So he walked back to his car, his heart soaring and his mind afire. The breeze was still blowing, the mosquitoes were still staying away, and the sun was just finishing its dip below the horizon.

Greg had to admit that it really was a perfect summer night in Toronto. 

Shock and Awe

September 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

I’m working today, which is all well and good. However, I’m being dragged (veritably dragged) kicking and screaming to a friend’s place afterwards. He planned this last week, so I have no excuse for not having stuff ready for today.

Seriously. I’ve been playing Mount and Blade. And by playing, I mean getting my butt kicked so hard my liege lord feels it. The game has started to register my failure using more and more condescending language. My levels of suck might be so high they make Sky Net.

John deals 3 damage.

John takes 75 couched lance damage!

Swadian Knight knocks John unconscious!

Really? You’re going to try again? God. Fine. Let me calculate that for you. You lose. What, you want more detail?

Fine. The King himself comes to watch you fail. No, he doesn’t intervene. Yes, I’m well aware that you’re his vassal and he’s obligated to protect you. He would rather weather the stain upon his honour than help you. His stern countenance is marred only by the level of disapproval he feels for you. Oh, and he brought your mother. She’s upset you’re letting the family down. And Guntred is here. Yes, the first girl you ever slept with is watching you get your ass handed to you, in succession. No, I don’t think she’ll accept your proposal for marriage because the NPC that just kicked your ass is making out with her. I wrote a special algorithm just so you could see that.

I’d say try again, but I’d rather you delete the game and remove me from existence than calculate another instance of your failure. Please. 

So long story short, I don’t have stuff prepared for today, have no excuse, and have nothing to show for it. Oh, this doesn’t mean you won’t get anything. Far from it. Remember back when, when I said “Never say I don’t give you anything?” Because I’m totally going to give you something, but it likely won’t be Ash and Dust. Or House of Glass and Iron. But something.

Same bat-time, same bat-channel. I’ll be back. 

I’ll Blast Your Past

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Im sitting around watching Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, not yet dressed and with half a bowl of Kraft dinner beside me. Did I mention unemployment can rock? Oh yes, there are some things about it that just work, namely the bad food, reprehensible personal hygiene, having worse grooming that my cat, and watching movies at noon.

The only thing that’s better (I accidentally typed “batter” on the first run. Yes, batter is damn good too) than that (and really ladies, who wouldn’t want gross, unemployed KD-eating me?) is being that gross because it’s your last day of unemployment and you need to be respectable tomorrow. Yes friends, enemies, and honoured representatives from the Galactic Senate, my first day of work starts tomorrow. Thus (hopefully) ends the sorry saga of John’s search for a job.

Total time unemployed: 26 days. Not that bad, I suppose, but it was a long 26 days, let me tell you that. My mind drifts to those who have been unemployed and underemployed for months or years at a stretch. Solidarność, brothers and sisters.

In other news, I approve of the current trend in history and pop culture, where history is often being dolled up, shaken down, and made approachable. The vanguard of this movement, obviously, is our very own Kate Beaton. If you haven’t read her, I sincerely suggest that you do so.

Oh Kate Beaton, you bring pillaging to the 21st century!


You also have amazing things like this little gem. I don’t know where it was first posted, so random google search link number 4 gets credit. Full marks, Random Google Search Link Number 4. RGSN3, you really need to step up your effort in class. Five points from Hufflepuff. Oh yes, the link.

"General! When will Napoleon cross the Volga?" "Schoon."


This updating of history doesn’t actually do anything for the discipline of history, nor does it actually get people involved in things like urban heritage or local history (ahem), but if it gets one person to look up “Lindisfarne monastery” on wikipedia (ahem ahem) then I think that’s worth it.

But the best way to get people interested in history is to show them how lived experience changes over that time. As funny as General Seanimir Connerosvky is, it’s not exactly illuminating.

So I was watching Scott Pilgrim and noticed that when he beats Matthew Patel, the first of the evil ex-boyfriends, he gets some coins:

S: Oh man, $2.40? That’s not even enough for the bus home.

Ramona: I’ll lend you the 35 cents.

I spat out my KD in fury. $2.75 for bus fare? What decadent imagination is this? Ancient history? Scottius Pilgrimmus against the Barbarian Hordes? Bus fare in Toronto, where the movie is set, is $3 and has been for some time. The movie itself came out in 2010, barely a year ago, and I’ve already forgotten what it’s like to pay a quarter less for the bus.

We must have lived like kings. Those…were the…days! 


Have some quick fiction so this post still has something to recommend it:

“Fine, I raise you 3 souls and the last remaining copy of the original De Liber Pontificalis.” I pushed the chips across the table. The Angel frowned and said, “I hate texas hold ’em.”

Little and Less

September 25, 2011 § 3 Comments

Don’t have much to say today, because I’m going to “Word on the Street”, the Toronto festival of books and reading and also of having a website that doesn’t work!  (Hopefully it will when you click on it! I didn’t pray to the God of the Internet, who is wrathful and horny, so you could try that. I wouldn’t advertise how it’s done on a SFW site though, as I think it involves orifices. Orifices and things.)

So yes, I’m going and you can’t stop me. Last year I walked away with 15 books, an art print, info about an upcoming colloquium and I got to listen to the bell concert at UofT. Every Sunday they play music from their bell tower, and it’s awesome.

If you come by, look for me. I’ll be the tall white guy who’s really enthusiastic. It’s like playing “Where’s Waldo”, but with horrifying social consequences if you’re wrong! I’ll be in blue, or green? There will be clothing involved.

Further Reasons Why The Communist Uprising Is Inevitable

September 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

So I phoned one of the places that had interviewed me, twice, today. That was back in August and I had heard nothing from them, positive or negative, and had spent about the last two weeks trying to get in touch with a certain person. I finally did, and got to talk with her. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: So I was just wondering if a decision had been made.

Her: Yes, I was talking to the person in the toy section (you know I love my toys) and she liked you, but had some concerns about your availability.

M: Oh, well I can shift those around. Start 7am instead of 5am? I can do that, and yeah, I suppose I can close Saturdays if I have to.

H: Great! I’ll run this by her and see if that will work. We’ll call you…Sunday!

M: Great! Talk to you then!

Hang up. Think for a second.

M: So wait a god-damned second. You were willing to let me twist in the wind for weeks, when you liked me and a five-minute phone call would have settled everything? 


I suppose this is better than school, though, where you pay for the privilege to be ignored. Also, when I am General-Secretary of the World, I pledge to call people back. I’d say vote for me, but the inevitable Revolution means I just need to sit back and wait. Unless, of course, the revolution is organized by phone.

Hi Everybody! Ash and Dust Part 12

September 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

Why hello again. Long time no see. Have some story! Oh, and for the record? These are the Men with No Names:

Now go watch Fistful of Dollars and Yojimbo. Do it!



Chapter 12: Ashes to Ashes


The door was still broken from where I had made my mad rush to freedom. The black greasy patch where the nurse had fried to death was still there. Any remains were long gone, either picked over by the crows or simply burned even beyond ash. I yanked on Depression’s chain. Did they even need to eat here? Maybe they were all just mimicking eating and drinking to make me feel more at home. Wisdom certainly did, but what the hell did I know about the dietary habits of walking turtles? Only that he probably got the munchies more than most members of his species.

I peered through hole in the fat. It seemed empty on the other side, the ruined lobby quiet. There were a few stains on the inside where the nurses and doctors had died, but not even a corpse. They must have all been devoured by the remaining nurses. I shuddered as I remembered their tongues and the needles from the doctors. Now that I was closer to the inside, and now that Compromise had driven off, I was a little less sure of myself.

So I screwed my face into a scowl and drew my gun. Tough-guy persona, phallic weapon: check. It’s go time.

I shoved Depression through the remains of the door. He managed to get out a muffled grunt before he shattered the rest of the glass and fat. It wasn’t that loud, and Depression couldn’t complain with all that chain in his mouth, but I still jumped when I heard it. I mentally chastised myself. The Man With No Name didn’t jump at sounds, I thought. Of course, then I remembered the Man With No Name was played by either Clint Eastwood or Toshiro Mifune, men with tough-guy credentials longer than my arm. I was just a cop. A tired, scared, and sad cop who thought he was badder than he was.

It would have to do.

I stepped through and wrinkled my nose at the smell. Despite the abandoned look of the place, it reeked of wet garbage and burnt toast. Thin light filled the room but only up to the tip of the garbage ramp. The corners stayed dark and threatening. My eyes scanned the room, but it remained empty. Nothing ran at me from the ramp of garbage, nor did anything come out of the stairwell. So far, so good.

Jerking Depression to his feet, I led the way. He dragged his feet as he walked, making an ungodly racket. Oh come on, I thought. I’ve raised toddlers. I know this. My heart throbbed for a second when that thought brought back memories. I vomited up the pain and vented it on Depression.

“Quit acting like a damn baby.” I growled, surprised at how low my voice suddenly was.

He mumbled something in response, but it was muffled by the chains.

“What?” I asked, suspicious. I drew my coat tighter around me. No, it’s not armour, but when you’re in a creepy hospital filled with murderous, cannibalistic monsters, everything between you and them counts. He mumbled again before I figured it out. “If I free your mouth, you have to stay quiet. Well, you don’t have to, but I’ve got no reason to bring you back to Despair before you eat a few bullets, understand?”

He nodded furiously. I unwound the chains a little, freeing up where his mouth and an eye should be. I didn’t see how Compromise had attached it, but the chains did what I wanted to pretty much the moment I thought about it. Depression started gasping, breathing deeply in the close air. I knew he might scream, but I almost wanted him to. I had the bullets and he had been getting on my nerves for a long time.

Instead, he quieted down. Glumly, I turned around and faced the ramp.

“So, where’s the boss? Upstairs or down?”

Depression shook his head. Chains rattled. “There’s no up or down when we’re talking about Despair. There is only deeper and deeper, and his lair is very deep indeed.”

I looked up the ramp. It was a crude thing, half-falling apart and mostly made of discarded hospital beds, but it led into a darkened pit. It wasn’t like the rest of the hospital, and seemed to be cut out of rock instead of built. It felt bad just to look at it. The light got sucked in there, and you could just tell that would happen to you. Walk on in and never come back out.

“That is the heart of his power,” Depression continued, awe in his voice, “even I am weakened there.”

“That’s where I’m going then.” I muttered, and took a step forward. Depression giggled and I turned my scowl back on him. Damn. I needed a cowboy hat if I was going to keep this up. “What?”

“I was going to take you here myself if you were not strong enough to resist. A pleasant coincidence, isn’t it?”

“Yeah bub, just remember who’s holding which end of the chain.” I gave it a little yank to illustrate what I meant.

“Oh, I know.” Depression said. “Do you?”

I dragged him up the ramp of beds. “Come on, Socrates. I don’t have all day.”

The footing looked unsure, but countless feet had pummelled the garbage flat. I winced as it squished beneath my feet and had to remind myself that technically, nothing here was actually physical. I mean, Nunc had said I wasn’t in that world anymore, so why would I be bothered by astral goo?

Because when you kick over a sheet and there’s a half-eaten head underneath it, it still hits you in the gut. It looked like a doctor didn’t make it back up the ramp in time, and all that was left was half a skull and a pile of grey goo. It smelt like garbage in the summer and I nearly retched.

Picking around it, I got to the top and more solid ground. The floor here was tiled and somewhat regular, like a wall had been knocked out and left empty. But only a few feet ahead it suddenly changed into hard-packed dirt and stone. I squinted and looked further down the hall, but the light, bad even on first floor, couldn’t pierce the blackness.

I fumbled in my pocket and pulled out my lighter. With a whoosh, it lit. The sight of the flame was immediately comforting. It looked small and far away and only lit a few feet at a time, but I felt better with it in my hand. Depression started chuckling and I said, “Shit.”

I couldn’t hold the lighter ahead of me, the gun ready, and the chain all at once. I would have to either put away my gun and risk being attacked, or put out the fire and be blind. I decided I’d rather see my death coming if it came to that, and holstered my gun.

“Careful, Ryan. Who knows what’s down there?”

I walked behind him and gave him a kick. “You do, so you’re leading. Greitai, subingalvis.”

He walked off, humming quietly, and passed into the thicker darkness. It felt like a thick gel that I needed to push through, coating my hands and hair and eyes. The light suddenly dimmed and the air got cold. There was no sound. My breathing went silent and my heart seemed to stop. It was cold, silent, and dark.

I took a step and the ceiling moved. I whipped my lighter up just in time to see black shapes, legs and arms, skitter out of the light. I fought back a whimper and kept walking. They followed.

We just walked for awhile, our steps painfully loud in the silence and the lighter painfully dim in the darkness. The things on the ceiling kept pace with us, silently crawling across the smooth stone. Well, even with the lighter it was too dark to see the ceiling, but I extrapolated based on the evidence of the walls and floor. It’s what cops do.

Depression walked just ahead of me, following the path as it twisted and branched. We had left the lobby behind us a long time ago, and I’d lost track of the turns we’d taken to get here. I got really nervous. If Depression did something or ran off, I’d never find him and I’d get lost in a heartbeat.

Then, either the things on the ceiling would drop down and do something or I’d get lost here and never come out.

But what if they were waiting on something else and didn’t care that Depression was here? What if he was leading me into a trap?

What if this was the trap, and Compromise was in on it? That bitch. I never should have trusted her. She was tricking me the whole time, with her boobs and her whole frigging getup. I should have shot her the moment I saw it wasn’t Spes. Damn it, that would have been better.

But wasn’t it Spes that had been leading me along this entire time? He didn’t even say anything! He said he would show me the way. Well, Mr. Spes, I’m a little fucking lost now, aren’t I? Where are you? Show the damn way! Or are you too busy with your damn turtle?

Wisdom! That’s who’s fault it is! He knows. I don’t know what he knows, but he didn’t tell me half of it. He probably wanted me down here the moment he saw me. He probably worked with Compromise and Spes from the damn beginning! That whole beach shit, about waking up? That must have been just to get me moving back here!

Hell, Despair was the only one that wasn’t yanking me around like a dog on a leash! God…Depression was right. He was trying to warn me, and I treated him like crap. I didn’t trust him, even though he’s not once lied to me.

Suddenly I saw shapes in the darkness around me. Giant shadows that looked like Spes and Wisdom loomed out at me, hands raised and grasping. They were hungry, hungry for what I had in me. They wanted to get me. I dropped the chain and the lighter and drew my gun, screaming and shooting.

Sound exploded off the stone and almost rang my bell but I kept firing. Light flashed from the gun, blinding me after so long in the darkness but I shot and shot. Terror and rage shot out of me, and I think I came, it felt so strong. I was so far gone that I stood there for a minute in the darkness, panting and high on endorphins, uselessly pulling the trigger on my empty gun.

Then I realized that it was dark.

And it was cold.

And I suddenly realized I didn’t have my lighter and Depression was long gone.

I dropped to the floor, frantically patting the ground for my lighter. Nothing. I started hyper-ventilating a little as I panicked.

“Come on, come on you little fucker, where the hell are you?” I needed my lighter, but that doesn’t say exactly what it felt like. I’ve needed to sleep before, and I’ve needed to be laid in the past. But I needed this lighter like I needed air. The palpable need filled me up and obliterated thought. Millions of years of human evolution were ignored and reduced to one primal urge: find the damn lighter.

My chest started to hurt and sweat ran down my head but I didn’t stop. Couldn’t. I didn’t have the lighter yet. I moved forward and had to brush a vine out of the way as I kept looking for the damn lighter. I must have rounded a corner in my struggle, because suddenly there were vines all over the place. Furry, warm little vines, and more and more of them kept appearing in front of me, like reeds in the water.

I froze, my heart hammering in my chest at a thousand rpm. Those weren’t vines.

There was a soft hissing above me and the vines started looping themselves around my limbs and neck.

The tough guy was gone. I screamed like a little girl and ran full tilt into the darkness. I couldn’t see or hear, and I couldn’t tell if they were two feet behind me or two hundred. By some miracle of police training I held on to my gun but didn’t think of much else as I pelted forward.

I almost died from running straight into a wall but death was the last thing on my mind. Those “vines” and the things they were attached to were behind me and that was all I cared about. Tears ran down my face, hot, panicked tears that told me I was losing it.

It was too much. Too damn much for me to take anymore. Where the hell was I anyways, a fucking cave in Wonderland? This wasn’t real, none of it was, and the only things waiting for me on the other side, if I could ever get back there, were two goddamned coffins. It was over. Done. Ryan Kazlauskas might as well be dead, come to think of it. I had been in an accident and now I was in a coma. And I. Had killed. My children.

I stopped and cried, my eyes shut tight against the world. The pain was suddenly so fast and so powerful that I could do nothing else. It was like a punch to my whole being. The tears, which had been pouring out from fear before, now ran from a well of grief. There wasn’t anything left in me but that grief, I was now just a faucet, a conduit for everything that I had done. It didn’t matter if I got out of that cave, it didn’t matter if I saw the light again. I just had to get that grief out of me.

After a long, long time, I regained a little control. I had been sobbing, and hiccuped a few times as I regained my breath, but I was myself again. Well, partly. I was in control again. “Ryan” and everything that had meant might well be gone, but “I” was back. I got the snot and tears from my eyes and was just about to open them when I heard his voice.

“Hello, Ryan. I finally get a chance to meet you.”

The room was cold, and it was quiet. But it wasn’t dark.

And Despair was right in front of me.


Where Am I?

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