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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Paragrapher's LiveJournal:

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Friday, April 10th, 2009
11:23 am
Breakable Gate
I barely post here any more, but let me mention the most noteworthy change in my life the last year: I'm engaged. Jen and I have been seeing each other for 2 1/2 years now. In day to day life, nothing has changed, since I feel the same way about Jen as I have for a while now, and marriage is just the paperwork that follows. On the other hand, we've already spent hundreds of hours looking at reception halls, churches, and photographers, time I could have happily spent playing survival horror video games. We fantasize now about how easy this would be if we were orphans, instead of coming from big Catholic families that schedule their years around weddings.

Breakable Gate

The cave’s steel gate was designed to let bats through but not humans - but Chet wouldn’t let that stop him. He had hiked a whole half-mile to the cave entrance with his girl, a bottle of Southern Comfort and a blanket, and he was going to get them inside this cave. The gate looked like a ventilation duct: horizontal steel slats with bat-sized gaps between them. There was a head-shaped hole on the left, with a laminated warning sign screaming about not damaging the gate. Chet got on his back and stuck his head in the gate’s hole. In the dwindling daylight he saw a padlock on a hinge. Chet felt around for a rock. He awkwardly worked his rock arm in the hole beside his head. His girl said she didn't think it was a good idea, but Chet said this would only take a second. He couldn’t move his arm much, so he couldn't bash the lock so much as tap it. But tapping was getting the job done. While Chet tapped, his girl said that she found a small padlock on the other side of the gate, and was that the entrance? Chet said that must be something else - otherwise why would there be a big breakable lock by a head-shaped hole in the gate? As Chet hit the lock a final time, it snapped loose, clattering up the interior of the steel gate as the guillotine blade it held came clattering down.
Sunday, February 8th, 2009
11:08 am
Wake Up
I know I haven't been stopping by here recently. I'll hopefully keep this fresher than it's been.

Wake Up

The hundreds of miles of submerged cave passage in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula just got fifty feet longer. Global warming rose the surface of the earth a fraction of a degree last year, melting millions of cubic tons of ice and causing a small rise in ocean levels. It was just a millimeter, but this was one crucial millimeter higher than the natural rimstone dam that had been holding the water from flooding another chamber. Warm water spilled over the rimstone dam, flooding the dry chamber on the other side for the first time in millennia. The chamber was large and round, with hundreds of muddy lumps on the otherwise flat floor. The water washed the mud off these lumps, revealing eight-foot long reptilian creatues. The creatures began stirring, waking from their long hibernation. They resembed Komodo dragons with horns. They were the most poisonous creatures on earth: their bite meant a painful death within a week, and since they licked their claws frequently even a scratch from them was fatal. These were not any harbingers of doom woken by man’s disregard for the enviroment. They were just sleeping reptiles that were now very, very hungry for meat. But they were mentioned as such at a lot of funerals.
Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008
3:56 pm
Christmas Luck
So the fall semester's over, and I'm back. Many things to update you about, but first, let me say that I've finally read Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted, and it has some of the most horrifying notions I've ever read. Ever. In an afterward, Chuck takes glee is recounting how many people have fainted during his readings of the chapter "Guts." That's the one that did it for me, too. If you get shocked by nothing: this will shock you, and worry you, and make you petrified to go in a swimming pool.

Christmas Luck

Augie stood on the steps Christmas morning, holding back tears as his daughter ran down the stairs. She was six, and had no idea that Augie had nothing to put under their plastic Christmas tree. Augie thought Christmas was saved when he heard about a sure thing at the track. He’d borrow money from a loan shark, put it on the sure thing, double it, pay the loan shark back and have enough to get his girl everything she wanted. But the sure thing came in fifth. So now Augie had two weeks to come up with $5600. And his car had died. And the cat ran away. And worst of all, his daughter didn’t have any presents. Augie watched her scamper into the living room, gasp, and they say “What is it, Daddy?” Augie pounded down the stairs, and saw her holding a toaster-sized wrapped gift. Who delivered this? Who saved her Christmas? His daughter pulled off the wrapping paper, found a brown cardboard box, ripped that open, and screamed. Inside was their cat, dead. A note was stapled to the cat. Augie’s repayment schedule was now shortened.
Thursday, September 4th, 2008
11:46 am
Vulture Capitalist
I've been trying to get a Rube Goldberg contraption in here for years now.

Vulture Capitalist

The subprime housing debacle just made Ben rich. He bid obscenely low at a foreclosure auction for a three-bedroom in a new development, and his was the only bid. Ben was a homeowner for the price of other people’s down payments. The downside of the auction was buying sight unseen: some owners wreck the houses before leaving, thinking that just because they lost their house the new owner was to blame. Ben was bracing for paint poured on the floor, windows broken, copper pipes ripped away for scrap. None of that was here. The carpets were clean and white, windows intact, plumbing functional. Ben had truly scored a flawless house. The hardwood floors and zero-degree refrigerator in the kitchen took his breath away. Ben walked into the middle of the floor, and the floor collapsed. He fell into the basement, on top of the perfectly die-cut outline of eleven hardwood planks. The old owners DID hit this place! Ben heard a groan, and scrambled out of the way as the huge refrigerator tipped down the hole, splintering the planks. TWO booby traps! Ben looked around for #3. He found it, with a row of dominoes that tipped from the impact of the refrigerator. They led up a stack of books and knocked over a toy car with a match stuck to its roof, which rolled down an orange piece of track, under a piece of sandpaper that lit the match, and into a stack of fireworks and propane cylinders.
Friday, August 29th, 2008
10:09 am
Dozens of Perfectly Posed Corpses
The most informative part of the various plasticinated body exhibits are the individual organs. Here's a healthy set of lungs, here's one from a smoker. Here's a heart, here's an enlarged heart. Here's an artificial hip, still in the socket.

Dozens of Perfectly Posed Corpses

Joaquin brushed a speck of lint off a corpse wearing a surgical mask but not skin. Joaquin was about to unveil his 97 perfectly posed bodies to the museum-going public. They had all been through the plasticination process, encasing fresh corpses with near-invisible coats of resin. The bodies were skinned to show the musculature, rib cages sometimes split open to reveal internal organs. There were the usual protesters about this – the bodies were allegedly political prisoners sold by the Chinese government – but Joaquin had Chinese documentation that the bodies were all willing donors. Joaquin didn’t care about their origins, anyway, he cared about their presentation. He looked in pride at the marbled fat of the obese body, the red bulges of the weightlifter body, the mid-cartwheel freeze of the – where did the gymnast go? Who took his gymnast? Joaquin got his answer when a pair of skinned legs wrapped around his neck. The dead gymnast, ahnging from the rafters, lifted Joaquin off the ground. Joaquin clutched in vain at plastic-coated legs. The weightlifter came to life now, grabbed Joaquin with huge skinless hands, and pinned him on the ground. The others were stirring now, all of them. The doctor body walked into view, holding his prop scalpel. The doctor said something before slicing off Joaquin’s face, but Joaquin didn’t speak Chinese.
Thursday, August 28th, 2008
11:09 am
Silent but Deadly
It wasn't until Shaun of the Dead that I heard the British version of this fart aphorism: silent but violent.

Silent but Deadly

The four men had spent so much time in the war room, they were going to strangle each other over flatulence. They were barricaded - in possibly the only room in this small African country still with electricity - futilely planning how to stave off the military coup outside. The president, the president’s son, the attorney general, and the largest landowner in the country had spent days looking over maps of the city in this cinder block bunker, their only light fluorescent squares in the acoustic tile ceiling. Add to this claustrophobia a horrendous silent fart. The four men, used to serious matters, envisioned back-handed slaps toward the offender over the smell, but did not discuss it out of politeness. The president suspected the landowner. The attorney general suspected the president’s son. The landowner suspected all three other men. Only the president’s son suspected the true culprit. He did not want to sound paranoid, so he casually stood from his chair and looked under the table for a fifth man. Seeing no one, he looked at the cinder blocks for hiding places. He looked up at the ceiling, and saw a silencer poking through the acoustic tile. A small thwish and he was dead, collapsing back into his seat. The other three men had a moment’s surprise by the son’s ungracious sitting, and that was all the time needed for all three to receive their own thwish. The acoustic tile slid back, and a man dressed in black slinked out. He was only supposed to spy on the room, not assassinate them. He regretted yesterday’s bean stew.
Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
3:20 pm
Natural Selection's Losers
I'm reading the Cave Painters now, a book about the earliest known art on cave walls. Didn't know that the famous stone axes serve no known purpose: they're no good for hunting, not useful for any sort of domestic chore, and there are thousands of them surviving, often well-worn. The book states that they might be early man's first abstract idea, an object repeatedly constructed for the sake of itself. I'm thinking otherwise. I'm thinking early man each had one to defend themselves. God didn't make all men equal, Samuel Colt did - or his great-great-grandfather. Seems fairly obvious.

Natural Selection’s Losers

Basque separatists were hiding in the Spanish Pyrenees. Gregario knew it. This was the last place on earth the Neanderthals were able to live before extinction, so it was with the Basque. Just like their fellow primitives, the Basque were living in caves, plotting ways to destroy good people like Gregario. So Gregario would take the fight to them, and speed nature along. He went from ridge to ridge, firing his AK-47 in every cave entrance, then seeing if anyone was home. After pockmarking the twelfth empty cave, Gregario stopped firing and merely examined the cave entrance with his drawn rifle. That was his mistake. On his 27th cave, he casually waved the barrel in the sunlit entrance. A huge hand thrust from the dark and yanked the AK from his hand. Gregario turned and fled. A rock hit him in the back. Gregario collapsed, then rolled around and drew his hunting knife. He gasped when he saw the sloping brow and thick arms of the caveman he faced. The caveman was wearing a T-shirt that stretched at his neck, and shorts that reached midcalf on his stubby, hairy legs. The creature plucked the knife from Gregario’s hand, snapped the blade in his bare hands like a graham cracker, and began talking. He gave a reasoned defense of the Basque’s protection of their fellow politically voiceless Neanderthal, and why both Basque and Neanderthal should be granted their own countries. He then said there was an ancient Neanderthal way for keeping secrets. He picked up the AK-47, fitted his huge finger in the trigger, and fired.
Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
4:44 pm
Guillermo's Last Thoughts
Showtime's Masters of Horror series snuck onto Netflix streaming section. If, like me, you have Netflix to avoid paying for premium cable channels, here's your chance to catch up. Joe Dante, John Carpenter, Dario Argento - all the guys that for whatever reason haven't been able to make their movies recently, are pumping out quality work that sometimes has a political bite as well. Good, good viewing.

Guillermo’s Last Thoughts

“- Oh God that hurts, it’s on top of me! Nails digging into my chest, wind knocked out of me. Get off me! God it hurts, what is that, a dog? This thing just jumped out of the bushes and took me down, ow, it’s scratching now, scratching my leg, ow, ow, it’s a coyote or something. Oh no, oh my God, it’s a chupacabra! Ow ow, no it’s not a chupacabra, don’t be stupid. Get it off me, kick it off my leg, hit it off, find a rock and kill it. Where’s a rock?! No, not chupacabra, look at this thing, it’s not Bigfoot, just some wild animal that- OW! It bit me! Ow! Again! And again! This thing’s gnawing at my leg like a chew toy! Get it off! I’m kicking it with my other foot, slapping it with both hands, and it’s not even reacting! Ow! Whatever it is, chupacabra, dog, coyote, just leave me alone! God, that noise it's making is disgusting, that slurping noise. Ow, it’s drinking my blood, the blood from my wound. Ow! It’s supposed to be the goat sucker, right? Sucking blood from goats here in Puerto Rico and over in Mexico and everywhere else. Ow! How come no one’s ever said they’ve seen one? OW! ... It’s hurting less now. Blood loss, maybe. Getting cold, too. ... NO! I’m not going to die! Kick this thing off, get this slurping hairy thing off me! OWWWWW! Crunched my thigh bone. Licking the fragments, getting the marrow. God, every lick hurts worse than the last. It’s eating me. It. Is. Eating. Me ... So this is how I die. Thought I’d be older ... getting drowsy now. Good. Maybe I’ll go to sleep and he’ll leave me alone. Pulling on my hands ... friends of him. Dozens of them now, eating my arms ... at least ... now ... it’ll be over quick ..."
Monday, August 25th, 2008
5:20 pm
In This Issue of Modern Thugee
All my time writing on trade magazines, and I don't think to put it to paragrapher use until a year after I quit my last publishing job.

In This Issue of Modern Thugee

Fall is in the air here at the Modern Thugee office. The harvest time and the coming of winter are always times to think about the Goddess Kali, and the only true way to worship her. We think we have a strong issue for your discreet perusal. In our cover story, Mr. Vijay Patel writes about the sad legacy of India’s caste system, and why you should consider finding sacrificial victims from all castes. In our legal section, Mr. Singh, Esq. goes over what you should say if police approach you for practicing your religion. Our technology columnist Schroeder Kline shows how easy and inexpensive a modern encryption system can be for communication on your next religious event. Travel columnist Mr. X tells you the top ten cities for easy praying and preying – and the five cities to steer clear of. Please remember to visit our website at modernthugee.com and submit your essay on which Bollywood actress you’d like to sacrifice. The lucky winner gets a free Modern Thugee vacation to her house, plus infiltration advice from our Tactics columnist Vikam Puri. Good luck!

All Praise Kali,
Harish Meelu, Editor
Friday, August 22nd, 2008
11:54 am
Solo in Buffalo
I'm reading Jeff Long's Deeper now, and it's every bit as good as the previous book, The Descent. Hell exists, it's a real place miles underneath the surface world, once we get there we're inexorably drawn to the brutal life down there, and Satan wants to restore its dominance over the surface world. It's a version of evil I haven't seen before, and it's incredibly well thought out. Long's imagined geological, geopolitical, biological, meteorological, psychological, sociological, and religious ramifications about this. I'm looking to read everything else he's written after this.

Solo in Buffalo

Open up this door, Stu, Matthew yells at the locked bathroom door. No, Stu says, I’ve got photographs developing. You’ve got thirty seconds to hide stuff from the light, and then I’m kicking the door down!, Matthew yells. Stu is the worst housemate Matthew has ever had. Stu spends the whole day in the windowless downstairs bathroom, which he turned into a darkroom for his “artistic endeavors.” “Artistic endeavors” means taking black-and-white pictures of random girls he’d meet in after-hour bars, for a series Stu called “Solo in Buffalo.” Matthew admits that he’s jealous he hadn’t thought this up: it gets Stu alone with Buffalo’s hottest girls in a way that simultaneously makes them feel pretty and Stu look intellectual. It does not take all day, however, to develop photos. Stu bolts the door in that windowless room and bunkers there every day, all day long, never coming out until well after dark. Matthew doesn’t want to think about what Stu’s doing in there, but it has to stop. Matthew finishes shouting to thirty, and then he kicks the door in. Stu screams. The flapping door knocks a dozen wet photos off a clothesline. The sunlight streaming in begins to fade the pictures. Stu staggers back, still screaming, falling into the bins of developing fluid he arranged in the bathtub. Stu is in physical pain from his photos being wrecked. Matthew stares at these pictures as they fade. Some of them are of girls smiling, but others are of girls screaming, bleeding, choking. It’s worse than Matthew thought. Stu’s not just a pervert, he’s a murderer. Matthew wants to kick Stu’s face in, but Stu is disappearing. His writhing body fades in the sunlight to ash at the same speed as the photographs.
Thursday, August 21st, 2008
4:02 pm
I'm That Guy
I suspect this is a true story.

I’m That Guy

You ever wonder who leaves a baseball-sized fist of paper floating in the toilet? Who never cleans up after their dog? Who leaves a used condom in the aisle of a hardware store? I’m that guy. I park diagonally across three spaces. I litter. I put gum absolutely everywhere. I’m responsible for money being so dirty. I have never in my life put my cigarette butt in an ashtray. I have never in my life not smashed a glass bottle in the street. I take your pen and never return it. You have another, but you don’t know that I just cleaned my ear with it. I’m responsible for every stain you notice in a cheap motel room, and several stains you don’t notice. I look in medicine cabinets when I’m at parties, and then I steal. I do everything that irritates you. And I do many things that would frighten you if only you knew about them. I lick fruit in the supermarket and put it back. I blow my nose in my hand and wipe it on doorknobs. I relieve myself on your tomato plant. Twice this year you’ve eaten my sperm. The worst thing about me is that I am not just one person. I’m millions of people. And the world is my toilet.
Monday, August 18th, 2008
6:08 pm
Free Coffee
I credit my girlfriend for the idea of this. BTW, in real life we were waiting for Shakespeare in the Park tickets, and the drinks were Tava, some new zero calorie drink for - this is not a punchline - people who enjoy Red Bull but not its caffeine. Of the three Tava flavors we tried, I like the berry one best and Jen liked the passion fruit.

Free Coffee

It was just before dawn, outside the stadium. The fans had been lined up for two days to buy soccer tickets: some of them were still asleep in tents. Most of them were wearing red jackets with the stylish team logo on the back. None of them were wearing the blue jackets of their God-forsaken rivals. Naturally, this was the coldest night England has known in months. It would be another two hours before the box office opened. There was much shivering, and even more grousing. It seemed heaven-sent that blokes showed up to give out free coffee. Some small coffee chain was test marketing a new brew that mixed in a berry flavoring. They had big urns of the coffee on a cart, and worked their way down the line, offering a free cup to everyone. The coffee had a metallic taste to it, but the temperature alone made it as welcome as a life preserver to a drowning man. The line for tickets was so long, the coffee team was wrapped halfway around the stadium when the first recipients started keeling over. The dizziness struck without warning. Vomiting and diarrhea followed. The heart palpitations and loss of eyesight were experienced individually, for everyone was too busy vomiting and dropping their pants to shout that the new symptoms were also being experienced collectively. Death followed in minutes. On the far side of the stadium, the coffee blokes drained the last of their wares from the urns, gave it to some final grateful red jackets, and then ran toward the road, pushing the cart like a bobsled. They jumped in a speeding van driven by a man with a blue jacket.
Thursday, August 14th, 2008
10:42 pm
In Perpetuity
School's starting up for me in a few weeks. I really don't want to go back. School sucks! That clean feeling of possibilities when buying a new notebook is just not worth the four months of homework and readings and tests that follow it.

In Perpetuity

In 1758 the East India Company issued a bond in perpetuity to a local Bombay merchant. The bond would pay just a small amount every year (1500 rupees), and a slightly larger amount every year, but the payouts would continue for as long as the man was alive. The East India Company made a mistake when issuing this bond: after 23 years the value of the man’s payouts exceeds the value of the money he originally paid. Still, the East India Company honored its payments to the man, who stubbornly seemed to not age. The money seemed kept him young. After 75 years of payments the debt was sold to a bank, which sold it to another bank, which eventually sold it to the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation. HSBC still honors this debt, and pays the man in cash – he prefers cash to direct deposit. They do not know how he has stayed alive for so long. 2008 marks his 250th payment, of 8,453,653.23 rupees. He looks exactly as he did in an 1849 photograph. No one has thought about cancelling this special account since 1972, when a bank manager announced he would not pay the perpetuity this year, and was found dead the next morning with 100 cobras in his bed.
Wednesday, August 13th, 2008
12:08 pm
Argon Rooms
Read this story and then let me know if "Illegal Aliens" isn't too much of a giveaway title.

Argon Rooms

Each May the U.S. government hires a dozen of the most promising law school graduates, and puts them to work drafting anti-immigration policy. They clarify language used in potential bills that favor American citizens over illegal immigrants. When the bills are ideally worded, they are not sent to Congress but put in a drawer and saved. The legislation is spread across barring illegal immigrants from employment, freeing municipalities from providing documents in languages other than English, and not forcing school systems to accept the children of illegal immigrants. Some 45% of the legislation is about health care, particularly argon rooms. The legislation makes forceful cases that argon rooms – airtight chambers than pump out the usual atmosphere and pump in the noble gas argon – are not required by any American hospital because it gives no benefit to Americans. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not mandate construction of any argon rooms because no disabled Americans currently need this treatment. Two documents in the drawer are identical except for one sentence: the first states that no immigrant can become a US citizen unless their parents were born in the United States, the second states that no immigrant can become a US citizen unless their parents were born on Earth. The lawyers officially work for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, but they understand their true role long before they find out their health care is administered through NASA.
Tuesday, August 12th, 2008
11:27 am
Five Second Rule
It took several years, but now there's finally a paragrapher about goblins. I draw the line at leprauchauns, though: if you want an evil leprachaun, go to Blockbuster and feel the shame of renting one of Warwick Davis' six-pack of suckitude.

Five Second Rule

The goblin’s eyes grow big as the dropped bagel hits the floor. “Oh great goblin father let this food be cursed,” it quickly recites, in a voice too high-pitched for humans to hear. “Let the soul of a dead goblin brother enter the food though the floor, and enter the human beast through its gluttony. Let the goblin brother’s soul ride atop the human beast’s soul like a hat upon the head, and do his noble duty to make this human beast destroy himself. Let the goblin brother push his gluttony to eat too much, push his greediness to rob and hoard, push his pride to deceive and corrupt. Let the goblin brother be an agent of destruction for the human beast’s society. When the human beasts destroy themselves, then the age of the goblin will begin. Praise great goblin father!” In the goblin language, this spell takes just over five seconds to utter. Pick up the food before five seconds, and the incomplete spell will not transfer a soul. Pick up the food after five seconds, and the food will be cursed as well as unclean. The goblin’s curse is only a worry when food is dropped in the vicinity of a goblin. Goblins, however, are everywhere, especially where human beasts eat.
Monday, August 11th, 2008
3:50 pm
A Man with Backbone
I've spent the past couple months going through all the Six Feet Under seasons on Netflix. Don't know what my next DVD show is, but it'll probably be something with less than five seasons. These damn people just keep on living their drug-addled, death-happy, sex-obsessed lives, and I keep on watching.

A Man with Backbone

The customer who Freddy was embalming gave a spasm. Escaping gases lead to all sorts of movements and noises in the day after death, but this man specified in his preneed to be in the freezer for a week before embalming. Freddy had never heard of that, but it was the guy’s last wishes, so he did it. Freddy assumed it was a religious thing, since the guy had weird tribal tattoos running up and down his legs. Freddy had to take the guy out of the freezer for a good 12 hours, though, for his blood to warm enough to drain. And the thawed guy was now moving, shuddering a bit, almost as if someone was stuck underneath his body. Freddy rolled the customer to the side a little bit, and saw a distinct rippling up and down the customer’s spine. Something inside this dead man was alive, and it didn’t like the embalming fluid. Freddy took a scalpel and slit the back of the man’s neck. It might be a tapeworm – based on this guy’s tattoos, he had spent some serious time outside the U.S. Freddy dug a flashlight out from a desk, and turned back to the embalming table to see a huge snake sliding out the slit. It was bone white, dripping with red blood and a bit of clear green embalming fluid. It had no eyes, but huge fangs. It hit the ground with a wet plop, and then began wriggling away. It slithered into a corner of the embalming room, then found the drain in the middle of the floor and disappeared. Freddy pushed a file cabinet over the drain, and held the scalpel to the slit for half an hour before he was convinced there wasn’t a second snake coming out. That snake wasn’t a tapeworm on the backbone: it WAS the backbone.
Wednesday, August 6th, 2008
5:55 pm
Salt of the Earth
I almost set this in Houston, which also stores its natural gas in salt domes outsid ethe city, but then I realized I could set it in Saudi Arabia, one of the few places better known for oil and gas than Texas.

Salt of the Earth
In the center of Jeddah, the richest city in Saudi Arabia and the whole Middle East, were cheap businessmen who thought they were smart. They sat in the top floor of the tallest building in the city, and smoked cigars and congratulated themselves on being smart. Global supply and demand forces had skyrocketed energy prices, and these oil and gas producers were the benefitters. They hadn’t improved Jeddah’s infrastructure in years: the oil and gas was pumped from old oil rigs into huge undergroundsalt domes outside the city that had been constructed years previously. They saw their lack of infrastructure investment as a needless expenditure. It would actually result in their deaths. The businessmen controlled the whole city of Jeddah, and decided to skip infrastructure investments in the city sewage system as well. Jeddah’s sewer system is leaky, and the leaks had eaten away at an undiscovered salt dome directly under the tallest building in Jeddah. The sewer leak met up with an unmaintained leak in a storage salt dome, and air pressure pumped the natural gas from one dome to another. A leaky salt dome full of natural gas is a bomb waiting to go off. A cigar butt was believed to be the spark. The inferno looked like a volcano for an hour, jets of flame bursting around the tall building and scorching the concrete sidewalks. Then the infrastructure holding the building over the dome gave way, and the entire building fell down the salt dome like an elevator down a shaft.
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008
5:58 pm
Disaster Preparation
I almost didn’t post this today, seeing as Dolly is so close to Texas now. But that’s a hurricane, and this is something else.

Disaster Preparation

The mayor’s office of Longview, Texas knew what to do when the tornado siren rang. The mayor made his usual show of herding the entire staff to the stairs, promising to open the upstairs windows before meeting them downstairs. Some staff were scared that this might be the once a decade that a tornado was sighted, some were thrilled at the same prospect, and most just wished the Wifi signal reached the basement. The sitting area in the basement was packed with canned food, bottled water and candles. The office staff sat there for two minutes, nervously joking, until the mayor clomped down the steps. He clomped because he wore flippers, a wetsuit, and two metal scuba tanks. “I’m sorry,’ he said, holding his dive knife defensively, “I don’t have any spare regulators.” He backed away into the far corner of the basement, the office staff more puzzled than offended. A faint rumbling drew closer, and louder, and then the town of Longview was destroyed by an avalanche of water. The town was not even a speed bump to the tidal wave that had already traveled 300 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Water erupted from the basement’s walls and roof. The mayor fitted his regulator in his mouth and hoped his staff would drown quickly, without anyone fighting him for his air.
Friday, July 18th, 2008
3:19 pm
Taking the Golden Hawk Out
On my current commute, I drive through a hairpin turn so sharp the posted limit for it is 5 MPH. At a very low rate of speed I've skidded on that turn - luckily when no one was in the opposite lane - so I respect the sign. I don't want to haunt my car - or haunt whatever toasters and refrigerators get used from the steel of my wrecked car once it's cubed and remelted.

Taking the Golden Hawk Out

The battery on Ernie’s 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk would last so long as it was taken out of the garage once a month. Ernie drove it on a 20-mile round trip through a state forest. Ernie liked polishing the Golden Hawk and keeping the engine in working order, but he had three reasons to hate driving it. Ernie’s first reason was that the car had no seat belts. Ernie wasn’t the best about wearing his belt, but to not have the option felt irresponsible, and no one made Golden Hawk belts any more. Ernie’s second reason was the ghosts. As best he could figure, they had crashed and launched themselves through the windshield some time during the Johnson administration. They would scream whenever Ernie got the car above 30 MPH. Ernie wished they were transparent people in the backseat wearing skinny ties and poodle skirts. No, they had no shape: just whispers in his ear, goose bumps on his arm, and a growing feeling that the Golden Hawk was a runaway train. The faster Ernie went, the more vigorously the ghosts manifested. The more they manifested, the faster Ernie went, eventually taking 25 MPH turns at 60 MPH. Ernie screamed in such fear during these drives that he couldn’t even get proper curses out. The third reason Ernie hated driving this car was that the ghosts made him do it. Ernie would love to roll through a parade or a classic car show with the Golden Hawk, but he couldn’t muster the willpower to take the car anywhere but this forest. Ernie didn’t know which tree the ghosts had crashed into, but on every sharp turn Ernie could swear he saw dried blood on the bark. Ernie was increasingly sure that his latest drive would be when his own blood was added to it.
Tuesday, July 15th, 2008
5:22 pm
Purple Buttercream Frosting
For a company devoted to the health of others, we have a whole lot of cake and brownies passed out ot employees - plus, new today, cream puffs the size of double cheeseburgers. If we sold diabetes medication, I'd smell a conspiracy. As it is, I just smell cake crumbs in my goatee.

Purple Buttercream Frosting

The office was conspiring to make Gretchen fat. At least twice a week, there was an email about a cake ceremony on the top floor, thanks to all the new hires, promotions, and farewells to employees transferred to other divisions. The cakes all had this purplish buttercream frosting that Gretchen felt had no equal on this or any world. It was rude to not attend a cake ceremony, and once she was there Gretchen just didn’t have the willpower to pass up that frosting. So she gained a few pounds every week, promised herself to perpetually start the diet tomorrow, and eventually just bought all her clothes with elastic waistbands. On what would be Gretchen’s last day, an email told her that day’s cake ceremony would be in the basement. Maybe a maintenance man was retiring. At 3:00 she took the elevator downstairs, followed the emailed directions through the boiler room, and into a dank room full of … blood and bones. It smelled rancid, and sickly sweet. An old woman hobbled out from the shadows: she’d was the classic pointy-hat witch, but in a cafeteria uniform. “It’s your turn to be transferred, sweetie,” the witch said, blinking fiercely at Gretchen and paralyzing her. The witch dragged Gretchen’s motionless bulk up onto a bloody table, and casually slit her thigh open with a brownish fingernail. The paralysis did nothing to dull pain. “You’ll last us for a month, sweetie,” the witch said, vacuuming bloody fat from Gretchen’s thigh into a canister, where it mixed with purple food coloring.
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