Out the Window


“He was smart. He was wise. He’d profoundly philosophize empathy for all humanity. Till one day by an open window, there’s a note that read, ‘I’ve gone out the window, I’m dead.’ He said yes to life for all his life, but then one day he said, ‘No, I gotta go.’” —The Violent Femmes

On the side of the post office facing a big open grassy lot, there were two P.O. boxes as big as picture windows. The one on top was labelled “Moloch Whose,” and the one on bottom was labelled “Moloch Whose.” Understandably, mail carriers made plenty of mistakes in sorting out which Moloch mail belonged to which Moloch box.

The mailbox was big enough to walk inside, but most of the mail was only normal size which made no sense, but a job was a job, so nobody complained.

This happened over and over: One mail carrier would put the wrong piece of mail on top, and another mail carrier would put the wrong piece of mail on the bottom, and a supervisor would come along later to double check, and he’d have to keep switching them. The problem was the supervisor didn’t know any better what mail belonged where, so identities got increasingly tangled.

To look at both Molochs, the real physical creatures the boxes belonged to, there was no mistaking which one was which: Moloch Whose Eyes Are a Thousand Blind Windows (the owner of the bottom box) looked like a thousand floating black rectangles of glass. Moloch Whose Ear is a Smoking Tomb (the owner of the top box) looked like a giant black dog with ash eyes (the correlation between name and identity was a little less obvious, but he did have a literal tomb in his ear while the other had no ears at all).

But the post office was intractable in its “Two Names Only” policy, so the “Moloch Whose” name remained on both.

Both Molochs, when they opened up their mailboxes for a new and hopeful day, got each other’s mail over and over and sighed and said in the same way, “Not again. Why does this happen to me every day?”

Black Dog Moloch (as we’ll call him for short) would walk around the front door and shout to the workers inside: “You did it again, you guys. You know I’m too big to come inside the post office, yet you always get my mail wrong. Can’t you guys put a sticker on the door or something? I mean there’s gotta be something you can do, you guys.” He’d drop off the other Moloch’s mail and made it scatter in the door way. He didn’t mean this to be rude (people seem to assume giant black dogs are extra rude for some reason, so he went out of his way to be polite), he just couldn’t help it considering the physics of dropping mail from that height. Soon he really did mean to be rude (even a creature as polite as Black Dog Moloch had a breaking point). The mail carriers would then take the other Moloch’s mail and take it back to the P.O. box and face the same problem. The box from the inside was still labeled the same, so the mail carrier would have to again stand there staring and say, “Now, which Moloch is the big dog, and which one is the other one?”

Moloch Whose Eyes Are a Thousand Blind Windows benefited from limited telekinesis, so he sent the wrong mail flying through the front door like a ghost hauled it, so the mail carriers started calling him Glass Ghost Moloch. He intended this silent indignation at the mail carriers’ offense to be like the superiority of the rich and famous folks (and Glass Ghost Moloch admired famous and aloof folks more than anyone (he imagined himself a Gatsby type (though his friends told him he was more like Bartleby the Scrivener (except Glass Ghost Moloch didn’t have any friends))). The indignity of the lowly nickname and being considered a haunting creature became something he had to ignore forcibly because he likewise cultivated the obliviousness of the wealthy (the truth is mail carriers never went outside on that side of the building (the Molochs were terrifying)).

Both Molochs started to put little stickers on the outside of the mailboxes (independently (they hadn’t even met at this point) but coincidentally quite similar) assuming the mail carriers would come out and see them (not knowing they never would). First it was initials on small white stickers (“MWEST” and “MWEATBW” (respectively)). Then full names on bigger stickers. Until finally massive sticker-backed pictures of a human eye and a human ear (respectively).

Black Dog Moloch was the first to notice the coincidence of the similar labelling and laughed at his cohort’s giant eye sticker. “I gotta meet this dude,” he said out loud to no one (because he had no one). So he waited out there all day (he had nothing better to do). When a thousand black rectangles of glass floated up the street, Black Dog Moloch said, “Hey there, guy, I’m guessing you’re Moloch Whose Eyes Are a Thousand Blind Windows.”

“Thank goodness you got my name right, not that awful ‘Ghost Glass’ name,” said Ghost Glass Moloch. “If another person at this post office calls me Ghost Glass, I’ll … scream. That’s what I’ll do, I’ll scream.”

“Oh, I don’t work at the post office,” said Black Dog Moloch. “I’m the other ‘Moloch Whose’ who gets your mail. I’m Moloch Whose Ear is a Smoking Tomb. That’s my name. But you can call me Black Dog Moloch if that makes it easier. Or Molly. Sometimes people call me Molly even though I’m a boy. I don’t mind so much. My ear is literally a smoking tomb too, by the way.” He opened his left ear and showed his new friend all the bodies and stone and ghosts. “So…there’s that.”




They continued like this because what else did they really have to say since their only connection was their similar name?

“So here’s your mail I guess.” Black Dog Moloch tried to give the mail over with his mouth but saw no hands to hand it to. Soon, Ghost Glass Moloch’s telekinesis took away this social complication. Black Dog Moloch said, “You seem to have a lot of medical bills here, so I guess those are important. My mail is mostly gossip magazines. Nobody writes letters anymore. A lost art, am I right?”

“I have Munchausen Syndrome,” said Ghost Glass Moloch, “so I manifest in hospitals in human form.” Black Dog Moloch resisted pointing out how ghost-like that was. “I complain of humanity as an ailment, but it’s only for attention.”

“That’s hilarious.”

“Is it?”


Ghost Glass Moloch broke the silence: “The only reason I’m telling you I have Munchausen Syndrome is for the sympathy. I guess that’s what they call irony. By the way, I can afford to go to the hospital so often because very, very rich. The Amalgamation Gods are my sponsors. I’m actually very extraordinarily gobsmackingly wealthy.”

“Really? Me too. I got a sponsor called Deathor who gets me to speak for him in public. I’ve never seen him before, but whatever. I imagine he’s all clad in black leather and badassly even covers his face in straps of black leather, and he’s like twenty-one feet tall but the same skinniness as regular size humans. I’m very precise in my speculations, I realize, but I have a lot of time to think and talk to myself since I never see my owner. It’s weird to call him an owner since I’m not really a dog, but at the same time it kinda feels right. But he gives me so much money. Who am I to complain about endless wealth from mysterious invisible entities? But most of the time I just sit at home alone. I mean the only reason I got a P.O. box is I wanted to meet people. Fat load of good that’s done for me so far. Except today I guess.”

“I…” Ghost Glass Moloch started to say something but stopped. He was probably going to say something like, “I have the same experience,” but he seemed to be both proud and embarrassed about everything. “I think we should advertise for a nose and mouth,” he said instead.


“Our ear and eye stickers seem so lonely on the box doors. They need a nose and mouth. Maybe we could advertise for a nose and mouth. It would drive the mailmen crazy.”

“That’s hilarious.”

“Is it?”

“I guess?”



“I can make the poster,” said Black Dog Moloch, tail wagging because he couldn’t help it. “I know exactly what it will say. My dream is to one day be an actor and director, so I’m a little bit practiced in audition notices, so I know exactly what these things are supposed to be like.” He jerked back and forth because his legs wanted him to go home and make the poster, but the rest of him wanted to stay and keep talking to Ghost Glass Moloch.

“So…yeah…that’s…” Ghost Glass Moloch kept seemingly starting a new conversation, keeping Black Dog Moloch tied there and bouncing back and forth. This was intolerable, but Ghost Glass Moloch wasn’t used to people taking a genuine interest in what he said. “So I guess we’ll meet back here tomorrow,” said Ghost Glass Moloch finally releasing him.

Black Dog Moloch dashed off, all four feet pad-pad-padding-against the pavement, pink tongue hanging out. Cars in the street swerved as if a giant dog with no eyes would be extra clumsy, but no, he knew his world so well, his feet fell perfectly. He even calculated the exact way cars would swerve all the way home.

This is what the poster said (Black Dog Moloch wrote it with his mouth but it was still surprisingly legible): “Wanted: Nose and Ears for Funny Business. Wealthy Sponsors Will Pay Big Big Big. Meet at This Post Office.”

“How do you like it?” said Black Dog Moloch.

“I never learned to read,” said Ghost Glass Moloch. “I never had to. I was always too rich.”


“I guess we just wait then?”

They met at the same time over the next few days at the P.O. boxes and never had much to say.

“I guess nobody decided to take our offer.”


“Still it was pretty hilarious, right?”

“If you insist.”

“Well…See you tomorrow.”

A week passed and one day a human was standing next to the P.O. Boxes, positioned to block anyone from opening or entering the lower box (he couldn’t do much about the upper box). “Are you the gentlemen who left this poster?” he said.

“Um…yes?” said Black Dog Moloch, cringing a little as if this little dude might somehow hurt him for some mysterious violation.

“My name is Denny,” he said. “I’m here to be your nose and mouth for funny business?”

“Oh,” said Black Dog Moloch.

“Oh,” said Ghost Glass Moloch.

“What kind of money are we talking?”

“Like…a million? Is that good?” Black Dog Moloch looked at Ghost Glass Moloch.

Ghost Glass Moloch said, “Um…sure? I can do a million.”

“Do we meet at a hotel or what?” said Denny.




Cut to an hour later, the Molochs had two briefcases with a million dollars each. Ghost Glass Moloch removed the wall of one of the second story hotel rooms (Ghost Glass Moloch was such a powerful telekinetic, he could dissolve atomic bonds and do so much murder if he really put his mind to it), and Denny stood next to the bed, hands in pockets.

“So, how do we get this funny business started?”



“Tell some jokes, I guess?”

“I think you better hand over the money first,” said Denny, and Glass Ghost Moloch sent the briefcases over telekinetically.

“Did you hear the one about the gorilla?” Black Dog Moloch said as Denny checked the money.

Then Denny flashed a badge: “I hope you got good lawyers, boys, because you’re busted. I find what you’re doing here disgusting.”


“Funny business,” Denny said with certainty as if he alone among them knew what that meant.

“What does that mean?”

“You tell me, punk.”

“I have no idea. Jokes maybe?”


“Okay, look fellas, my real name is Burdeneye Parnassus, and I’m trying to get this private detective business going, and when I saw a poster offering big bucks for funny business, I assumed there had to be something illegal, so throw me a bone here. No offense,” he said and glanced up at the big dog.

“None taken,” the big dog said.

“There has to be something illegal about giving me a million dollars for funny business, right?”

“I think it just means we gave you a million dollars for nothing.”

“Oh. Well. Cool. That’s not illegal, right?”

Black Dog Moloch stood and wagged his tail again: “It could be an investment. We could be detectives together and bust murderers! I’ll go learn about some crimes to solve! Meet tomorrow at the post office. Go!” He dashed off.

The next day at the post office, Ghost Glass Moloch’s P.O. box was gone, wood planks over a hole. He didn’t show up again. Neither did the private detective.

“It was all dumb anyway, I guess,” said Black Dog Moloch to nobody and drooped away, head bowed, padding across the grass in silence. He could see no good reason to bound.


You’re Not That Special


For the 2100, June 27th, 2014

Secret Hero, soon before realizing she was one of 2100 of the same human, posted a sign that said, “Needed by the Needy” in front of her DJ booth. “Needed by the Needy” was the title of her mix tape, and the excuse would be advertising this mix tape, but also this was the motto she wanted to plaster on everything as new subtitle to Secret Hero. She put “Needed by the Needy” sat in front of her turntable like a name for it, like knights name horses. The turntable functioned as an exteriorization of this defining power. People shouted at her, she’d tap her earphones. Shrug her shoulders. She’d mouth “Can’t hear you.” It was a loud club, and her job to make it loud and make everyone deaf to everyone else. Nothing she could do. No interaction. Sorry, humanity, out of luck. Keep spinning.

But “Needed by the Needy” was also a hobby in her off hours, as pride driven as big game hunting. The way she’d prey on the Needy Ones developed from simple drink buying. They’d sit at the bar, converse with her. More like converse at her, as unidirectional as dancers shouting up at her DJ booth. Early on she tried to say with her eyes, “I’m using you purely for the self-importance dopamine, so shut up,” but they’d keep yammering. When later at the turn table they tried to talk to, the pain when she pretended she didn’t even see them was delicious.

The problem with this variety of dopamine addiction is the effect wears off too easily. When the simple drink buying failed to feed her like she needed it to, she started the friendship racket. She’d single out the most pathetic ones and say, “You’ve been coming to the club so much I feel like you’re my best friend.” The look in their eyes like witnessing paradise, for Secret Hero this was better than a megahit of any drug. She didn’t do drugs, and she didn’t even drink, but she couldn’t imagine simple consumption could equate to destroying lives.

In the middle of the friendship racket, she’d tell herself over and over as her predatory mantra, “Pretend to Care.” That’s what she was best at. She was the queen of Pretend to Care. If she could have two mottos they would be “Needed by the Needy” and “Pretend to Care.” She’d watch them crumble as they failed to reach her pedestal or get her real attention or know her outside of this. Soon the black ocean when Secret Hero, through force of pure will power, would turn these fake friends into pure nothingness. The total crumbling, from head to toe to soul to will to live, man, it was tasty.

There was this one guy named Arthur she used to know in high school (and she used to know everything about people then) but now not so much and everything she used to know and care about was jettisoned into a waste incinerator in her soul fueled by pure hate. This Arthur guy wanted to meet after this long set for drinks. It’s not like that, he told her. He’s married, he told her. He just wants to catch up, blah blah blah. Turns out after a couple times of Pretend to Care, they’re all of a sudden best friends, and he’s there every night. This would be her masterpiece, almost too delicious.

It got better: his wife beat him, scratched his face until it bled, and Secret Hero was the only one he had in the world who’d listen. He’d come in with scars up and down his body, bruises and black eyes, one time even a broken pinky. “My wife has a bad temper.” Who cares what the ogre’s name was, the more monstrous his stories and scars, the more monstrous Secret Hero imagined her. She delayed and delayed the final breaking, like a great tease artist, but when she cut the tie, ignored him like a nonexistence, it was a masterpiece.

Maybe he killed himself, maybe left his wife, who cares? Secret Hero saw herself as a herd-thinning wolf, killing the weak. If she ever did drive any of her victims to suicide, all the better for the gene pool, but she never cared enough to do follow up research.

But then she swallowed the wrong prey with Eve Eeny. She had the crazed look of a crab snapping but delicate otherwise. When Secret Hero saw that look in her eyes, she wondered if she could finally drive someone to orgasmicly commit suicide right in front of her. Eve Eeny tried to signal “We need to talk,” but Secret Hero was smarter than that (as she was smarter than most things). Later at a picnic table behind the club smoking a secret cigarette (her lone substance addiction she would always only ever do alone and kept secret from everyone for no real reason), Eve sat down beside her. Secret Hero wanted to scream but swallowed it. She’d already hooked Eve with her indifference, and displays of legitimate fear would ruin her hard work.

“Sorry to scare you,” Eve said.

“You didn’t.” Secret Hero looked around for weapons just in case. This could be the karmic consequence of her consuming friendship victims, one wacko she didn’t even know offs her in a back alley.

“It’s just I have…There’s things you need to know.

“Like what?”

Then Eve said, “We are the same person.” She left it at that as if that was clear.

“I don’t follow.”

“We are the same human being.” That didn’t clarify as she only changed one word. “We were born simultaneously. There are 2100 of us. We’re having a reunion.” She gave Secret Hero a flier. “The 2100,” it said. “Reunion of the Co-Born.”

“I don’t understand any of this,” said Secret Hero, giving up the mystique of superior knowledge for the sake of better understanding. Her gut, normally used for optimal predation, told her that this Eve lady was being genuine, and there was some connection between them she couldn’t quite place. “What do you mean we are the same person?”

Eve said, “Do you covet the regard of others just so you can reject them because you get a high?”

Secret Hero said, “Who doesn’t?” as if this was a common practice.

“That’s kind of our signature move. I do it with ghosts. Man, the heartbreak on a rejected ghost, unbelievable.” She was clearly a crazy person, but still Secret Hero wanted to know more.

She wanted to go to the reunion of the 2100 if only to solve the mystery of its existence. She made a mixtape for the occasion called “Myriad Stolen Night Cars,” decided to bring her boombox in her backpack, just in case demonstrating a singular skill could give her any advantage.

For many years, Secret Hero had worked on isolating this one pure sound she heard in a dream. She spent hours every day on that one note. She wondered if isolating this pure sound was her life’s mission, why she’d been given the fuel of misery. In the small part of herself that regretted all her destructiveness and delight, she wondered if this elusive purity could compensate for anything she’d done.

Most of the people at the 2100 reunion (and Secret Hero had noticed only the humans at first) remained isolated with those judgmental eyes Secret Hero must’ve given everyone. Imagine a meeting of vampires who are only capable of interacting with victims. The first step is to find the weak and open. To prey on an equal parasite would be a contradiction to the essential principles of soul destruction. But outside of this, there was nothing there, the 2100 were too untrusting of nonvictims (in this way “bestfriend” was less a lie and more complicated than the prey ever understood).

Eve Eeny was somehow different. This distrust seemed absent. This may be what real kindness looked like, but Secret Hero would never fall for it. Eve introduced Secret Hero to two friends (or “friends,” who knows?) sitting at a table together unlike anyone else there. “This is Dr. Havelock.”

Secret Hero said, “What are you a doctor of?”

Dr. Havelock said, “Just a doctor.” Good one. No hierarchical comparisons plus mystery plus she could go crazy on you any minute. Secret Hero regretted not thinking of that.

Eve said, “Show her your zombies.”

Dr. Havelock said, “Okay but brief background: are you familiar with the singer John Denver?”

“Yes” and Secret Hero rolled her eyes. They were both slipping into subtle habits of soul crushing. She tried to stop herself, certain the other versions of herself must know her tricks.

Dr. Havelock said, “John Denver has tiny people living inside him. Or used to. When he died, I dug him up and stole his tiny people. I made them all zombies.”

She was crazy. They all were crazy. But then Secret Hero saw the first proof that maybe there was a little more to this than some mass mutual insanity. Dr. Havelock pulled a breath mint can out of her pocket and dumped the contents on the table. Zombies. Tiny zombies. Hundreds of them stumbling all over the table as Dr. Havelock gently wrangled them. “I love these guys.”

“I named them all after sitcom characters. There’s J.D. and Dr. Cox. This is Donna and Donna (Donna Reed and That 70s Show).” And so on.

Eve introduced her to another friend: “This is June Einstein.”

June said, “I’m a world traveler. I develop relationships with buildings that become sentient.” She started showing wallet photos of her world travels and the sentient buildings as if anybody cared. “I started out with movie houses, gas stations. Boy those waitresses were pissed when I brought the restaurant home. Here’s me with the Leaning Tower of Pisa.”

Secret Hero said, “That seems painful.”

June said, “I’m sure he’s still recovering.”

“I’m glad you three are nice,” said Secret Hero. “This whole concept seemed like a terrible idea. Who would even propose this reunion? I mean knowing what we’re like. I mean you bring together a lot of people who define themselves as special and above everyone. What’s the point?”

Eve said, “It is possible to get over this sickness of our shared being. I used to have a ghost addiction, and I’m over it.”

Secret Hero said, “That can’t be common. The only purpose I would imagine for a meeting like this is kill us all. Whoever planned this wants to kill us so she could be the last remaining special one.” With this declaration, Secret Hero may have won the table. Just being a DJ seemed so far below creating tiny zombies, Secret Hero needed something beyond them. She’d be smartest by pointing out what seemed to be an obvious murder plot (but she saw obvious murder plots everywhere). They were silent. They changed subject. There was nothing else to do. “So I hear the monsters and superheroes are coming up soon.”

They spent the following half hour sharing techniques like a professional conference: “My favorite technique is the intervention. I corner the prey and tell him just how wrong and weird he is for his own good.” At “for his own good” the whole table howled with laughter. The old Pretend to Care line. “We should mail each other all our techniques.”

Then it was time for the parade of monsters and superheroes. They came into the convention center accompanied Led Zeppelin music. They probably thought they were original. Superheroes mostly chose “Kashmir.” Monsters mostly chose “When the Levee Breaks” or “I Got a Girl Who Can’t be True.” Most of the superheroes and monsters were males, surprisingly.

There was one called The Wound with a gaping chest wound. The Wound sort of created an “i” with a split through the body from the sternum all the way down so he had long legs and too many joints.

There was one called The Ring who had a shimmering gold ring inside of which everything was indelible and inviolable. Anyone who blasphemed that scared ring was cursed to deteriorate into nothingness to a barrage of “How. Dare. You.” Say, for example, The Ring placed a random fork inside the sacred circle, and even if you joked “Let’s outlaw spoons,” The Ring would say, “How. Dare. You.” and made the blasphemer collapse into a tiny ball until soon there was nothing left. Secret Hero’s table saw this happen. “Serves him right.”

Then there was one called Schadenfreude who was all gray scraggly stone in monstrously strong gorilla proportions. Schadenfreude had porcelain fangs and strapped on his back a sword and a hammer bigger each than most humans present. All his old man wrinkles had humans inside them engaged in trench warfare. “I love Schadenfreude,” Dr. Havelock said and gave a wink like this love was the worst variety. “He’s a Promusaurifex like John Denver. That means he has tiny people inside him.”

Secret Hero said, “But we’re all the same person. That seems incestuous to love yourself like this.”

“Loving ourselves is kind of the whole point of our existence,” said Dr. Havelock.

Next the Lava Popes entered to “Misty Mountain Hop,” the obviousness of which became clear when they formed a lava mountain. Lava Popes were very literal. An army of popes made of lava erupting from the ground. One wall collapsed. But it seemed like a work, like the wall had been gimmicked to collapse this way. All the lava that splashed them was cold. “It’s only bodily fluid. Pretty gross,” said Eve. They formed a mountain so tall, they also disintegrated the ceiling.

Then Secret Hero saw something far above them descending like a meteor. She guessed this is the one who gimmicked the ceiling for this entrance. “My guess is this flying self would be the murderer,” Secret Hero said pointing upward to the meteor.

“That’s the Mountain of Screaming Mako Sharks,” said Dr. Havelock. He was another literal one, a man shaped giant of black stone filled with sharks. The screaming seemed to emit a sonic blast that scattered members of the 2100 to atoms. Witnessing the death of multiple selves hardly elicited any emotions, and Secret Hero was shocked by how cold she had become. She was right about the murder. She loved being right, but she hated being right. The Lava Popes were wiped out first. They collapsed into cave-like wounds. The Wound and Schadenfreude fought valiantly, but they had little defense against the sonic screams and inevitable atomization.

Secret Hero suddenly found herself jealous of this miraculous heroism. If only she could be like that. Of all the feelings she could have felt at this moment, jealousy was the most surprising.

The Ring put the ring around herself and made herself indelible. Secret Hero could understand this.

Secret Hero ducked behind a table with Eve and Dr. Havelock as if this could do anything to save them (June skipped out when business got real).

Eve suddenly started laughing. She said, “‘All the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!” and I’ll look down and whisper “No.”’’” Eve laughed an even louder and crazier laugh. “Somebody had to make that reference,” she said before dissipating as atoms along with Dr. Havelock.

As Secret Hero ran away and ducked into the kitchen, she remembered a story Arthur told her during her friendship racket and the Pretend to Care. He and his wife were going to see Watchmen with some friends. The wife wanted to sit near the aisle because of bladder problems. When the two friends arrived, Arthur stood to let the two friends have the aisle seat, and the wife in rage dug her claws in so deep she drew blood all the while smiling. Four beads of blood remained on his arm even later when he saw Secret Hero. She refused to save him like she refused to save anybody.

Now she put her mixtape in her boombox and fast forwarded to the pure note she found. This was her purpose. Stop the Mountain. Save the 2100. But it didn’t do anyting. Maybe she had to get closer, hold the pure note aloft against the sonic screaming. Maybe it did little good to hide away in the kitchen now. She looked at the door going into the ballroom and the door going out to safety. She could get away so easily, out to a world where there was no more 2100. Except maybe a handful of survivors who would know better now than to have a reunion. Then there was the Mountain of Screaming Mako Sharks who may seek her out some day, but she was so small. Why would he care? Why would he put the effort into finding little her?

The choice was simple really. She tucked her boombox under her arm and got the hell out of there.

Erzsebet Foldi


For the 2100, June 27th, 2013

Secret Hero discovered at a young age she could make her little lavender plastic record player play just by wanting it enough. “Everything is nothing if you got no one,” she heard it play and then it stopped. Secret Hero was frightened when this happened the first time.

She decided to want it again. Long silence. Long staring. Then the record player gave a slow demon mumble, then, “You came walking in,” slow mumble, then “the real thing.” And so on.

“Oh my God,” she said. She looked down out of her window at the other kids playing across the street. It was hard to get them to do anything by wanting and this relationship with a lavender record player was so much more rewarding. The distance away from the kids felt good. The cold wood of windowpane felt good, far better than human play. She crouched in the corner so no other kid would see her and kept wanting music, wanting it and wanting it over and over until she played full records this way.

Secret Hero as an adult DJed in a lot of clubs, including a singles dance club called Guys and Dollys owned by a sentient teddy bear named Struggles. He told Secret Hero he built the club for her, but he was always saying ridiculous things like that to make her laugh.

“This club was here long before I met you,” she told him.

“I willed it into existence because I knew you needed the perfect place.”

At least it had her beloved elevated DJ booth to keep her above the terrible dancing people and their sweating hairy human bodies. She could stand back in most shadow like the entity the music turned her into.

But then Struggles did his dumb dances and made her laugh, invited her onto the floor to dance as well. She would never ever come, but Struggles might be the only one to make that happen.. Their whole friendship was this laughing denial.

Then one day while Secret Hero played her set, she saw Struggles came in with his three hulking bodyguards in fuzzy coats the deepbruisepurple of pimps. Those bodyguards were in truth all fuzzycoat and muscle from top to bottom. They had no necks or faces or any other sign of humanity but stood a head and a half taller than all other patrons. Sometimes seeing the fuzzy pimp coat heads was the only way Secret Hero knew Struggles was in the building. He was so small he drowned in the ocean of dancing people. She wondered if he started those wacky dance circles only so people could finally see him and he could be in the center. Or maybe it was only so Secret Hero could see him. One bodyguard pointed to Secret Hero, and then he pointed menacingly to the loft behind her. Struggles had never been mad at her in all the years she’d known him, but this seemed like angry pointing.

She extended her set as long as she could reasonably get away with. The uncertainty of what an angry Struggles would be made Secret Hero want to delay the experience, but soon her time ran out.

The glassed loft behind the DJ booth, built to be her lone retreat, was set up like a second bar. They sometimes used it for private parties, even a little elevated turntable for her to play, plush couches all around, now creepy in its emptiness in contrast to the crowded club. Struggles sat in a booster seat at a small table and lifted his whiskey glass with both of his tiny teddy bear paws. Since his insides were only plush, this made him wet and stinky. The khaki colored fur of his chest, dark and whiskymatted, could’ve lit on fire easily if Struggles decided to pretend to smoke. He was made of more burnable stuff than humans. “Secret Hero, come in and sit,” he said. “Want some whiskey?”

“I don’t drink.”

“I know, but boys can dream,” he said with the random creepiness of someone who imitates humanity.

“You’re not a boy.”


Struggles tapped his fuzzy paw against the table, a nervous tic or a method a tougher guy might use to make a menacing sound in the silence, but the table patting did nothing. “So…been busy lately? Still DJ down at the Mouse Factory after hours?”

“What’s this about, Struggles?”

“You think this is about something? Does it have to be about something?”

“You took me off the stand. I’m guessing it’s not to chat.”

“We used to chat. We used to have long chats. Is it so unusual I’d want one now?”


“Fine. It’s about the tapes. I sent you tape after tape after tape, and you didn’t respond.”

“And you don’t know why?”

“Of course I don’t know why.”


“Should I?”

“You wanted me to do music for your rap career…”

“Is it so wrong to want a rap career?”

“But you called yourself St. Rapes.”

“You see, it’s like Saint Rapes and Street Rapes and Strapes, like strafes and stripes. Because I strafe over other rappers. Also, I like stripes, and I can wear stripes in my performances.”

“Yeah, but on the tapes you say stuff like ‘St. Rapes raping across the countryside.’”

“So you listened to the tapes? That’s wonderful.”

“You’re missing my point.”

“You don’t like my word play?”

“No, I don’t think rape is funny.”

“Why didn’t you go by Struggles? That’s a fine rap name.”

“Struggles is my given name. That’s awfully hypocritical of you quote unquote Secret Hero quote unquote. Nobody knows your given name.”

“It’s Erzsebet Foldi.”

“Oh…I didn’t know that.”

“You never asked.”

“Oh. I thought I knew you a long time.”

“No problem. Not a lot of people care to.”

“I don’t think you know how personae work in performance. As St. Rapes, I’m a douche. I’m arrogant and stupid because that’s hilarious. Rape is wrong, sure, whatever, but in my St. Rapes persona, I don’t know that. I act like I think it’s cool. That equals hilariousness.”

“I really can’t be friends with you if you think that’s true.”


“Oh…I didn’t realize…it was like that.” He was trembling. He liked to pretend he was drunk when he drank, but this was involuntary. “That’s not a big deal. I…I make friends so easily, I can hardly keep them all straight. I sometimes even forget we’re friends. My best friends are these three guys. They’re Cuddle Monsters. They’re only golems you buy at the store. But inanimate objects only come to life if you give them love so they must love me, right?”

“I don’t think it works that way.”

“Me and the Cuddle Monsters, we have long conversations you wouldn’t believe.”

“Cuddle Monsters have no faces and no mouths and ears.”

“I didn’t say it was two sided.”


“Look, I’ll do the music for you if you do one thing for me.” She pulled a book out of her satchel and handed it to Struggles. “It’s called Teaching Men Not to Rape.” Struggles had difficulty holding it in his little paws. He said, “Condescending title. Like all men rape and need to be taught not to.”

“We use it at the crisis center.”

“Why? For you to feel superior?”

“Write a song based on these ideas, and I’ll help you make the music.”

“That would turn St. Rapes into the wrong kind of asshole.” Secret Hero stared at him with the sort of cold severity she hoped one day could cause legitimate combustion. Struggles, in a weird sort of terror, said, “That’s…okay, I’ll do it.”

Secret Hero knew he would. She wanted to say, “After that, climb on the roof and jump off. After that, climb in a blender, push on.” He’d do it. She only wanted him to do this because it would be the most satisfying way to humiliate him.

Like the idiot he was, Struggles opened the door separating the loft and the club and shouted above the music: “Party in the Champaign room! My bff is still my friend!”

He put a record on the player in the smaller room that competed psychotically with the music in the bigger room: “Baby when I met you I found a peace unknown, I set out to get you with a fine tooth comb.”

The whole room, she suddenly realized, was amazingly the same lavender as her childhood record player.

“Stick around,” Struggles said. “We can hash out the song details and our practice schedules and all that.”

She did stick around, but she sat in a booth alone as Struggles danced with a hundred people he essentially paid to like him, nearly as humiliating as the blender image. Struggles tossed money and pretended to be drunk because he so needed others to think this meant something.

The afterparty lasted so long only sleeping people remained on couches and Struggles alone dancing with Cuddle Monsters. Secret Hero in the same spot all night found herself slipping into sleep when music got slow and quiet and dancing got repetitive.

She woke up when she felt Struggles humping her leg. She kicked him across the room.

“I’m drunk,” he mumbled in his heap.

Secret Hero stood and walked away without saying anything.

Struggles shouted after her: “Just gonna leave like that? You know what your problem is?” She stopped and waited to hear what her problem was. She didn’t know sometimes. But he had nothing. He staggered in his pretend. Or maybe she’d just kicked him that hard.


“No, seriously, you know what your problem is? You’re frightened. Too scared to be you. That’s why I’m your only friend. Because I can’t hurt you, and you’re too afraid of hurt to have any other type of friend. I’m just somebody you can stomp on and he keeps coming back for more stomping. You have to think you’re better than me to feel okay at all. When you squeeze all the evil joy out of me you can get, you drop me like a dry husk, some lonely pathetic shit you used to know. The problem is you’ll always be afraid and you’ll always think you’re too good for me or anyone like me and you’ll never feel. And you’ll never love because assholes who only care about their own fears can never know how to love!”

“Are you done?”

“I think so.”

“You can keep the book. I hope you read it.” She left. She didn’t come back to that club.

She thought about Struggles every once in a while only to laugh. He called every day for the first week, but then he stopped and never called again.

She liked to ride the elevator to the top of the tallest building in the city at a height where the sky looked lavender, stand back in the concrete corner of the observation booth, feel all the cold of it. In this way, Secret Hero was able to make things okay, at least in that moment.

The Good Thing

Unicorn blue red yellow and orange

Brian got the hero bonus at his station in a slow year for fire danger and bought his soon-to-be fiancée a unicorn. Joanna Levesque had told him long elaborate stories of her own father’s abandonment (“he used to come home bloody knuckled, but I never knew what he did for a living, but he took us on these RV trips up in the mountains until one day the RV was gone and everything he had was gone like some magic act,” and so on, and she’d always be crying at this point). She told him all about the unicorn-and-dollhouse set that stood in metonymically for the dirt bag abandoner (“The only thing he left behind was this empty ‘Usury-the-Ware’ brand dollhouse, a one of kind, and a single unicorn, but I made these paper knights to ride in on the unicorn to fulfill the destiny of the imaginary no one inside the dollhouse. We lost them all later in the fire,” and so on).

So Brian knew the only acceptable proposal was to ride a unicorn. In fact, she directly ordered it. “The guys down at the station would rag me no end if I did something like that,” he told her as a way to teasingly keep that future from existing.

But he was raised to always do the good thing, and that meant making loved ones happy over all else. If he couldn’t bring himself to do this unmanly unicorn riding today, he could keep delaying as long as possible.

But then he noticed a unicorn farm near the station, and a unicorn cost exactly as much as the hero bonus. It seemed like destiny did the deciding for him

Brian hired a Peter Cetera impersonator to sing “Glory of Love” (their song) while he rode into the scene (Joanna surely assuming the Peter Cetera impersonator was the extent of Brian’s romantic gesture) dressed in his rented knight costume on his unicorn (whom he named “The Good Thing” under racehorse naming principles). Her shockface in seeing this whole set up, real unicorn included, would soon double in intensity when he knelt down and pulled out the ring – and double again when he told her they owned the unicorn. He unfolded the paper with his proposal but still fumbled (he had never been so nervous): “You are vibrant, transcendent, and astonishing. I can’t wait to embark on this journey together,” and so on.

But Joanna’s face was not the sort of shockface he hoped for.

Then he realized she was looking behind him at the unicorn. Brian turned around and saw blood dripping from the Good Thing’s mouth. The Peter Cetera impersonator had no head and stumbled this way and that, spurting blood out of the gaping hole where his head used to be until he fell and filled a red puddle at the unicorn’s feet. The Good Thing kept chewing dispassionately like he hadn’t just bitten a dude’s head off.

Joanna said, “I don’t know how I should feel about this.”

After the Peter Cetera impersonator tragedy, Brian and Joanna didn’t see each other a long time. Brian considered staging some new elaborate proposal as an apology, but a girl who’d break it off because he bought her a unicorn who just happened to bite a guy’s head off – who could’ve seen that coming? – maybe she wasn’t a good girl. But then there was the matter of how to care for the beheading monster (whom he now only called the Thing because he could no longer bring himself to call it the Good Thing). He kept it leashed outside of his trailer in the yellowing hay field, but it refused to eat the sparkle daisies all the farm supply stores sell as unicorn feed, and Brian couldn’t let it starve to death.

“What’s your deal? Do you only eat human flesh?” Brian said because he was very lonely and had to say all his thoughts out loud these days.

The unicorn didn’t answer and only stared at him like it could never die.

He spent nights on the phone to the most horrible places trying to get deliveries of human flesh. “I’m a good guy,” he kept saying over and over to people who couldn’t care less.

“You want to hear a crazy thing,” Joanna said to him one day over the phone. “That Peter Cetera impersonator, you know the one who got his head bit off by the unicorn, he was kind of a murderer. He was a serial killer, actually, called Ondcain hiding out in a stupidly elaborate way. Your unicorn must’ve known that because of the magic of purity…or something. Isn’t that amazing?”

Brian realized the Good Thing wasn’t an evil monster after all (despite the pounds and pounds of human flesh Brian fed it on a daily basis) and Joanna, who had watched a unicorn bite a man’s head off, only needed time to shake off the awfulness of the vision. Maybe Brian was the bad one for thinking anything other than this. He had to make things right with a new proposal.

Brian bought that dollhouse Joanna called one-of-a-kind, the Usury-the-Ware brand, and he knew enough bad people now he could find any rare thing he wanted. He held his hands over her eyes and led her to the room where he had the dollhouse wrapped in a bow and the tiny knights riding unicorns all set up.

But when he said “Surprise!” they both saw the room covered in headless neighborhood songbirds and the dollhouse smeared with blood in a place that might be the mouth if dollhouses had faces. One thing was for certain: the dollhouse had become some evil predatory creature and decapitated a hundred songbirds. Of course.

Brian said, “You gotta be kidding me.”

Joanna said “Is it bad that I’m super into this?”

The Porpentine Sisters :oR: The Purity of Raining Rainbow Corpses

Milly Triple Sixes had a sister named Josie Porpentine though none of her friends knew she had any family at all. Milly (according to Josie’s accusations) failed to come home for Christmas ever since she dedicated her life to (fake) Satanism. Josie revealed this lack of a Christmas return embarrassingly to Milly’s whole (fakely) Satanic rock band (Raining Rainbow Corpses) during one (random) garage practice (given greater importance (by Milly) considering the impending regional band battle (Band Battle at the End of Everything)). Josie was dressed in thoroughly unSatanic business attire. She could’ve been a legitimate business lady or a librarian or a senator, displaying the sort of conformity (at least according to this first impression) Raining Rainbow Corpses was supposed to rail against, but all in all she seemed like a nice and decent lady.

The problem was (at least according to Milly) Raining Rainbow Corpses might one day have fans. If these Christmas visits became common knowledge among these (fakely) Satan-worshipping fan legions, this would ruin her reputation for bedevilment and badassery (should that reputation ever actually come to fruition).

“It’s what good people do!” was the sort of thing Josie Porpentine would say between screams with the sort of passion incongruous with her put-together demeanor (but similar to Milly’s passion in screaming about “Bastards of Corporate America” (or whatever she screamed about in her ultraSatanic screamery)).

“Fans of Satanic rock bands don’t tolerate anything to do with Christmas!” was the sort of thing (or nonsensical blather (depending on your perspective)) Milly screamed back at her sister (with unsurprising volume).

Chastity Schwartzbaum, the bassist for Raining Rainbow Corpses, told a blushing Milly, “Our hypothetical future fans will understand if you indulge in some seasonal family love.”

“No,” screamed Milly Triple Sixes (though her voice was scream-scarred from the hours of practice she mandated and finally started to show it). “This band is our only family now!”

“Don’t be offended if I fail to actually live like that, the whole family abandonment thing seems a bit icky to me,” said Chastity holding an over-big bass she was not yet used to holding. “I mean bass playing is a weekend thing for me. I love it like a Victorian novel cousin maybe.”

“Few can live up to rock purity,” said Milly in a calmer voice. “I’m no one to judge.”

Chastity’s objection was thusly shut down with only mild condescension. Besides, this conversation between Milly and Chastity only punctuated more explosive fits between the two Porpentine sisters.

By the way (because it seemed like a by-the-way sort of thing) Josie had strapped to her belly by babycarrier a robot plush with long limp dangly arms. Why would otherwise-business-like-demeanor lady carry a plush in this way (like harajuku girls)(or like a baby-less lady who lost her mind and carried dolls around as void filler)(or like–not really like anything Chastity had seen before)?

Josie said, “Your sister wants to sing in your show” (now referring to herself in third person to further the sense of incongruity?)(or perhaps there was a third Porpentine sister?)(It was fascinating how the squarest person in the room could be the most baffling.)

Milly said, “Did Doohickey tell you this herself, or is this classic Milly emotional torture time?”

“She said it’s her only Christmas wish.”

Then the robot plush piped in, “It’s my only Christmas wish.”

A few things now made more sense while a lot of things made a lot less sense. This little robot plush was called Doohickey (Chastity (at least) pieced this together) and she was the third Porpentine sister. Why Milly’s little sister looked like a robot plush was still a mystery, but it seemed rude to ask. (“It has to be a birth defect,” Chastity told herself. “What could it be other than a robot plush birth defect?”)

“Hush now, Doohickey. I got this handled,” Josie said and patted the robot plush like a pet on a belly harness.

Milly said, “I can’t let Doohickey sing in my band. That’s never something I’m ever going to allow to happen as long as I’m alive.”

Josie said, “Why? What reason could you have other than your outsized bitterness about all the world’s crimes against you? For that reason, you’d deny your sister’s one wish, the only thing she’s ever requested in her life?”

Milly (despite all her rock and roll bravado and rage that led so easily to any silent space being filled with her ragey sound no matter how senseless) failed to answer.

The Lava Sisters piped in at this point (Chastity could never tell the Lava Sisters apart (though one played drums and one played guitar, they became a unified entity while standing side by side)): “Milly has never been well acquainted with reality. She’s only so desperate because the Prophet will be at the concert.” (The Lava Sisters always seemed like transcendent entities, like doubling was only a secondary function of their deity status, so mentioning the Prophet seemed only to naturally flow from their lips.)

Josie said, “Who’s the Prophet?”

The Lava Sisters (whichever one) said, “The Prophet is only the local music critic. There’s a lot of onlys in this situation that highlight Milly’s complaint as ridiculous: 1) The Prophet is only a Milly-like self-aggrandizer; 2) it’s only a Band Battle at the End of Everything, not like a real concert any real human would respect; 3) we only got in because we paid a fee; 4) we’ll only be the first of a dozen, and real bands will be headlining. This argument is purely your variety of idiocy, Milly. Let’s let your sister sing. It’s not like she’d be much worse than you. This is a four person band after all, and that’s two votes to one.” (Chastity couldn’t tell at what point they were speaking in unison.)

Milly Triple Sixes stared at the Lava Sisters (whom she’d known since all of them were smaller than Doohickey) with all the Satanic power she could manage to force through her eyeballs: “You don’t know the Porpentines” (one of many falsehoods (presumably (since Milly was full of so many)) but something about this seemed truer than the rest). Milly then turned her Milly gaze to Chastity (the new girl (the one who knew everybody the least)) and said, “What’s your vote, Chastity? Two votes to two makes it a tie, and I’m the tie breaker as the band leader.”

Chastity opened her mouth but had nothing to say. All of it left her boggled and blank. Whatever followed and all its tragedy was now piled on Chastity Schwartzbaum.

Doohickey did sing at the Band Battle at the End of Everything. She sang “Santa Baby,” too low to even make out the words (uncertain of how microphones work or incapable of holding one properly in limp arms). The audience laughed (uncertain of the type of irony applicable in the situation). Even the Prophet laughed. Milly and Josie stood in the back, powerless against the laughter, except for Milly to mutter “Idiots” and “Assholes” too low for anyone but Josie to hear her (more certain than anyone). Chastity could read her lips from stage and knew exactly what she was saying (uncertain of whether it was for the audience or the rest of the band). She and the Lava Sisters likewise did nothing to save poor Doohickey. They barely knew music to begin with, so improvising “Santa Baby” was sapping most of their mental and emotional energy (they usually let Milly’s rage cover any deficiencies).

Doohickey’s voice faltered like she was finally feeling the emotional effect of the laughter (a barelyfalter but the tragedy was unmistakable). She couldn’t leave the stage (legs too limp (hence why Josie carried her everywhere)) but it was Milly this time who rushed to lift her, pushed through the laughing crowd, slung Doohickey over her shoulder like a baby and walked out to the alley, angrier now at everyone than she’d ever been (Doohickey: “I liked it.” Milly: “Stop lying!”) and stomped like she could break the stones beneath her.

Chastity followed her out to the alley and tried to say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t even consider the laughing.” But Milly was too fast and too monolithic a force to ever hear something so pitiful (and none of this was about Chastity anyway).

Then Josie passed Chastity, grabbed Doohickey out of Milly’s arms. Milly had no choice but to relent (she was the weaker one)(Chastity imaged a tugging that would tear the little sister’s body to pieces (but of course that wasn’t the real Milly Porpentine)(she became nothing but a crumbleheap the way Doohickey might’ve been had anyone resisted)).

Josie disappeared (as Doohickey’s little voice said “Merry Christmas” to all the new band friends she made) into whatever mysterious and purposeful life she lived.

Milly stood there (Chastity stood behind her) with nothing to say to shatter the world or the pure and silent and cold winter white around her.

Tempus Fugit :oR: The Garfield Blasphemies


The Garfield comicstrip always warned of the coming Life Abundance Apocalypse, a time (in creator Jim Davis’ lifespan (though Jim Davis only knew this in his most secret brain)) when civilization will come to an end, and the chaos of life will bloom worldwide. But a lot of people loved the Life Abundance Apocalypse, and that’s why three apocalypse-loving post-temporal travelers (a sentient prom dress, museum-bellied cannibal horse, and a disembodied lung) went back in time to stop the comicstrip from happening.

The problem was the sentient prom dress (whose name was Odi Whati) and the disembodied lung (who was the actual former president James Garfield) loved to party hardcorely much. The incessant chaotic partytime of the Life Abundance Apocalypse made the preapocalypse a quiet and quaint vacation spot and made Odi and President Garfield functional party gods (Odi’s body was partly made of sewn together corpses, so she could pass as human (other partygoers seemed to care little her party partner was a floating lung)). Planning for the Jim Davis mission kept slipping into the near future (linear pacing was always a struggle for the post-temporal). The cannibal horse (whose name was Oiam) had merely academic interest in history as his hulking body contained a history museum (actually Ilty, the tiny the curator inside his body, had the academic interest while Oiam retained the silent stoicism of apocalypse endurance with a body strong enough to keep humanity’s artifacts safe inside him).

Garfield (the comicstrip, not the disembodied lung) started out as a comicstrip about an anarchist in 1890s Boston named Jon Arbuckle trying to right the wrongs committed by President James Rudolph Garfield who in his third term had become America’s first emperor (in this fictional comicstrip eventuality, at least (the disembodied lung President Garfield only tried and failed to become America’s emperor)). It was Jon Arbuckle’s aim to create the Great Bartleby City, a floating utopia containing all the world’s knowledge and upholding enlightenment values like scientific determinism and perpetual progress to combat Emperor Garfield’s regression and dismantling of technology as a recapitulation of ignorant medieval superstition (this was not a very funny comic strip).

Jon Arbuckle built an army of clockwork animals for his Bartleby City utopia, the most prominent of which (though it remained unbuilt for most of the original comicstrip run) was Tick Tock, the Red Wooly Mammoth, upon whom Jon would ride in his raids against Emperor Garfield. Tick Tock the Clockwork Mammoth had a golden dynamo in his belly, and see through windows in either flank allowed audiences to see the golden dynamo spinning, World’s Fair style. That dynamo made a white dwarf star if allowed to go fast enough. A clockwork animal like that could surely bring down Emperor Garfield (hence why the emperor’s forces worked so hard to thwart Jon Arbuckle’s attempts to build it).

Not yet realizing the delights of the Life Abundance Apocalypse, Jim Davis inserted plenty of legitimate hints about the coming catastrophe in his comicstrip (as if a place where death and time had been abolished were anything the world needed to be warned about (sure, human civilization (as it was called by the delusional and machinesouled) had crumbled with time’s loss, but who needed that anyway? (Those stuck in the preapocalypse had little way of understanding this the way a dog learning his master’s language has no way to conceive what he means by “heaven” except to feel it himself))).

For example, the comicstrip claimed Garfield’s vicepresident was halflion/halfstag/halfMetatron and had a torrid love affair with a pumpkin witch (the way the real apocalypse happened/will happen).

Mr Sprinklers, the Pumpkin Witch, wasn’t as vengeful as his godlike position implied, but his sister, Easter, the Rabbit Witch, took delight in exploiting the elimination of linear time to travel history and take the most radical vengeance on anyone who seemed to violate the providence and benevolent dominion of his sister the Pumpkin Witch: Jim Davis, Garfield cartoonist and friend of children and animals, for example (or so the time traveling trio feared). Easter’s army of bloodthirsty godstags likewise delighted in such raw and terrible justice.

(Easter the Rabbit Witch lived with his godstag army in the Ricepaper Astronaut (a giant in whom godlike beings had built a timeshare apartment covered in red velvet walls and furniture made to look like internal organs (the Ricepaper Astronaut most of his life floated face down like a drowned man (because he was technically a dead drowned man) and in the preapocalypse he dressed in the yellowing astronaut costume of his original drowning in outerspace, but in the Life Abundance Apocalypse, he took the astronaut costume off and let his long blonde hair flow))).

Easter the Rabbit Witch once wiped out a whole village isolated in impassable jungle vines by mass crucifixion (the village’s isolation assured a one-by-one ecstatical murder experience as he crucified each citizen) just because one delusional old elder uttered half asleep “Beware the Pumpkin Witch” in a language only those villagers knew. Easter just made sport of that variety of awfulness.

Easter the Rabbit Witch wiped out the witches of Salem only because one witch citizen wore a pumpkin head in a mock murder play called “The Bedlam of Baal,” even crushed Carl Oldy Olsen beneath a stone because his scarecrow on his garden’s crucifix had hair that was too orange.

(Odi Whati speculated Easter was so unrelenting in his viciousness because he didn’t have a mouth (he was essentially a scarecrow, a bunch of snappy twigs wrapped in blue stuffed animal cloth (overly long arms and overly big hands with overly scary claws (granted, sure, all that, but still a scarecrow who had no mouth, floppy bunny ears, sadly drooping blank eyes, that sort of thing))) so Odi Whati figured anybody named after a candy holiday who could never eat candy must, by necessity, be bitter. He had to sit back and witness as others bit mockingly the bunnies’ brown ears and head off and bit their bodies to pieces. Little could he know this delight. He turned instead to torture.)

(The truth is Easter the Rabbit Witch was the actual Easter Bunny and produced eggs from an orifice mysterious in its origin as a presumably male scarecrow whose insides are composed only of snapping twigs and malevolence has little use for egglaying orifices. The eggs would sometimes crack open to birth a candy child not dissimilar to its father, the godlike Rabbit Witch; sometimes the eggs contained a blood thirsty little babylike insect creature called a Faberge or a Little Apocalyptic who could strip the flesh from an elephant in seconds. Since Easter was from before and after linear time, he could be in all believing children’s houses at the same time squirting out those eggs for a morning surprise.)

Odi Whati appeared to Jim Davis (as a vision in a waking dream (she broke into his bedroom and stood over him screaming))(this was the plan they came up with): “Be not afraid of apocalypse, Jim Davis! For it is the Life Abundance Apocalypse, ‬  and it means the end of death’s dominion and all ecstasies made manifest!”

“Why are you talking like that?” interrupted President Garfield, the disembodied lung.

(Jim Davis was cringing in fear (mostly because Oiam ‬ (the silent cannibal horse) was crazy frightening to wake up to)).

“I’m being prophetical,” Odi said. “Can’t you just let me be prophetical?”

“Just take him into the future,” said the president, being presidential and gratuitously bossy. “He’ll fall in love with the apocalypse, and that will be that.”

“I think my strategy is sufficient for eliminating his apocalypse garfieldery.”

“Hey, Jim,” the president said just diving head first into the sort of requisite selfcenteredness that turns all voices of others into silence. “Wanna go into the future?”

But Jim Davis was weeping in fear.

“We screwed it up,” Odi said. “Abort mission.”

“That’s my call,” the president said. “Abort mission.”

Odi and Garfield stared each other down (as much as a disembodied lung and dress can stare at each other) refusing to abort as the other had ordered.

Meanwhile, Oiam silently walked away and Jim Davis continued to weep, not changing his mind about the apocalypse.

Jim Davis later encountered Odi, Garfield, and Oiam drinking coffee at an outdoor café (drinking coffee in this way was vital to their party vacation lifestyle). It was hard to miss a cannibal horse, a disembodied lung, and sentient prom dress drinking coffee together, so Jim Davis approached the time travel trio. “Oh hey” they all said one by one (except Oiam because he was silent and less prone to such senseless exclamation). But the conversation didn’t progress beyond this since there was little sensible one could say, and only Oiam continued to sip his coffee.

Jim Davis finally sat with them at the table (he was rather kind and open minded and brave (for a cartoonist)) and said, “So…like…the Life Abundance Apocalypse…you love it then? That’s kind of weird.”

Odi said (back to her normal bright tone as the mission became (accidentally) so much easier), “Totally love it. You might not realize this, but I’m a sentient prom dress…”

“Oh, no, I figured that out.”

“Oh really?” It may be that Odi’s appearance was odd and obvious to everyone, but Jim Davis seemed to know certain things (to be drawn to their presence in that cafe, for example, or to know they (despite their monstrous appearance) only had benign intentions). “Anyway, there’s no such thing as sentient prom dresses in the preapocalypse, so I owe my existence to the apocalypse.”

“Why are you here then?”

“To keep you from warning people about the apocalypse.”

“By drinking coffee.”

“Why wouldn’t we take a break for coffee. You’re not our full time occupation, Jim Davis.” Odi could snap this quick especially for a man who knew her so well in no time and turn the next instant to smartassery, but could she expect any more than this, any deeper and more enduring connection, from the creator of the world’s greatest smart ass cat? “I mean, jeez. Talk about the ego of famous people.”

“I’m famous?”

“Just because you’re the creator of Garfield, the world’s most famous cat, doesn’t give you call to have such a fresh mouth, Jim Davis.”

“Garfield the cat? Garfield’s a president, and the strip is about a freedom fighter.”

“Oh…right…that’s what I meant. Forgot I was from the future for a second there.” Odi was fully aware she was terrible at time travel.

And so on.

So they took Jim Davis to the future to witness the Life Abundance Apocalypse first hand, and he spent his whole time at the Cat Volcano drowning in fur and purring warm bodies, laughing like a crazy person. Odi Whati said, “Dude, there’s a lot more we could go see besides the Cat Volcano, this is like one millionth of the cool stuff here,” but he refused to get out until the last bit of this particular variety of ecstasy was expended and Odi was too annoyed to show him anything else (this was their relationship, mother to child for whom everything is new and amazing (though prom dresses aren’t prone to mammal breeding or motherly affection)).

When Jim Davis changed the Garfield comic based on his newfound appreciation for apocalypse, to be about a gluttonous cat (based on his cat volcano love) big and orange (in appreciation of the Pumpkin Witch), Odi Whati said, “You didn’t turn him into a cat because I accidentally slipped and futurely said you were destined to, did you?”

“No, of course not. I forgot about that.”

“Good because that would create a jelly halo that would rip reality to pieces.”


“No. But maybe. But no. The truth is you can’t stop the apocalypse. Just give it a different personality.”

“Oh. Then why are you even here?”

“Good question. There’s kind of this rabbit monster and his army of bloodthirsty stags who might’ve come after you if you kept up your apocalypse-warning ways.”

“After me? I don’t understand what that means.”

“He’d kinda sorta gleefully slice you to pieces.”

“But that’s not going to happen now, right?”

“No. No no no. Of course. Totally. I mean I’m pretty sure. I mean rabbit monsters are fairly reasonable creatures, right?”

The real reason Odi Whati wanted to stop Jim Davis from making the apocalypse-predicting Garfield was her mother, Better Last, who was an Apocalypse Stopper by profession, and if Odi convinced someone not to stop the apocalypse, this might draw out Better Last so Odi could say, “Hi, I’m the prom dress you’ll make one day in the future when your apocalypse stopping fails.” (Of course an Apocalypse Stopper will know everything about her own future, so this will be no great surprise, but it will feel good to say it.) “I’m glad you made me/will make me with such uncharacteristic delicacy. I’ll become sentient because why wouldn’t I? But you’ll abandon me. Please don’t abandon me. I got married to a great guy. I want you to meet him. I want you to be kind to us and never leave this world.” And so many other things. Manipulating the destiny of Garfield’s creator might’ve been a silly way to do it, but it’s the best a sentient prom dress could think of.

The real reason Oiam visited history was the museum inside his body and Ilty the tiny curator (the microceratops) who was trying to gather all of the Trinkets of Interrogative Pronouns, a collection of mundane objects that granted the user amazing powers and together granted the possessor unlimited wishes. All this was a bit redundant in the Life Abundance Apocalypse where wish granting was just the assumption of existence. Few people appreciated the specialness of magical objects. Ilty loved the preapocalyptic people yet to be awe jaded. He got a lead on the Antineedle of Which which granted the bearer temporal manipulation which appeared to the observer like accelerated speed. It turned out to be a regular needle, but what delight he had in traveling through this quaint bit of history tracking it down. So far he’d only found one of the seven: a pipe reed that let the bearer pierce the permeable barrier fooling viewers into believing pictures were only pictures (totally useless in the Life Abundance Apocalypse where no such delusions exist).

President Garfield’s reason for traveling back in time was, no surprise, to take over the world and shape the apocalypse in his image. He had tried taking over the world once already back when he was president (and Jim Davis had amazingly seen this alternate eventuality) until Better Last obliterated every part of his body but one lung. Better Last cursed him to be a puppet conscience (that is: the Jimminy Cricket-like conscience of sentient puppets (though Garfield’s moral compass tended toward the despotic and the puppet population was too thoroughly permeated by blame fools to ever revive his world conquering by proxy)). He had taken power (back in his full-body president days) based on a sort of energy field called the Gravity-Antigravity-Retrograde or GAR field accessible to all animals with bilateral symmetry, but Better Last reduced him down to one lung, robbing him even of this. That’s why Garfield needed to find his historical self to re-access his old symmetry and his old glory. “Come with me my brother, my self, my future fellow king of all existence!”

But his historical self was characteristically skeptical: “Both of us are left lungs. That’s not exactly bilateral symmetry.”

“It’ll still work. Maybe.”

Odi (lazily hanging out in history with her new best friend Jim Davis) hear on the news: “Cleveland today declared a new emperor who conquered the city despite only being a pair of lungs and a raving madman. His gravity power sent the Flats space bound as he screamed, despite a mouth lack, ‘I just made Grover my b word.’ The meaning of this mysterious phrase is still being deciphered.”

But Odi Whati, normally not predisposed to supporting the despotic ways of organ tyrants, liked the disembodied lung as company and so chose to ignore his city conquering. After all, he was so great at parties (his gravity/antigravity powers were a hit at bubble parties (as they made the bubbles blop around all kattywampus) and earthquake parties (providing the personal earthquake)) (he had his own booth at every discotheque in the city) and to a sentient prom dress who lived most often in a Life Abundance Apocalypse ‬ , someone with the ability to bring the party to the preapocalypse party amateurs always earned extra forgiveness.

Then Odi Whati’s mom showed up. Like that, not a whole lot of fanfare. She had a red mammoth with her with a solar dynamo at its center, but when she and the elephant showed up in front of the same outdoor café where Jim Davis happened to see him, she seemed more like some random lady walking a pet. Odi Whati said, “Oh hey mom.”

“Are you trying to start an apocalypse, young lady? You’re a prom dress, Odi, you know nothing about responsibility.”

“Yes, mother.”

“Now I have to murder Jim Davis, and it’s all your fault.”

“But all those future Garfields you’ll cut short. All that comicstrip joy and cat grouchiness. Why rob the world? Plus murder is kind of bad, and I like Jim Davis. He’s my friend. Plus Jim Davis doesn’t predict anything anymore. He only writes about a fat cat.”

Odi didn’t realize but Jim Davis was still inserting subtle predictions of the Life Abundance Apocalypse in his Garfield strip (many of which he witnessed firs hand due to Odi’s timetravelry): the lasagna obsession, for example, prefigured the way Emperor Garfield layered his victims’ bloody flesh and skin when he fed them to warthogs (an act recreated semiannually in the Lasagna Hog festivals when the long deceased Emperor Garfield became an object of cult worship).

The “I hate Mondays” catchphrase prefigured the way in which the moon weekly during the Life Abundance Apocalypse released the creatures who lived in the moon’s bones (now endowed with too much life to remain immobile) (a sort of giant insect shaped like orange wedges and layered with light blue glowing rock) to pick up victims to bring back to the moon’s arena at its boney core to perform in baffling circuses before being eaten. Everybody hated Moon Days for good reasons, for good bloody murdery reasons.

Garfield’s fear of spiders was a legit fear of spiders. They were crazy scary in the Life Abundance Apocalypse.

“This is what it has come to,” Odi Whati confessed to a priest, the only one who’d listen. “To keep my mother from assassinating Jim Davis, the only thing I can think to do is blaspheme the Pumpkin Witch.”

“I don’t understand any of that.”

“I know…nobody does.”

Later: “Did you call Easter the Rabbit Witch to keep me from murdering Jim Davis?” said Odi’s mom Better Last (after she totally did).

“No” Odi said and giggled because of how bad she was at lying even though it was totally awkward to giggle while discussing the invocation of apocalypse monsters to stop a murder.

So Easter the Rabbit Witch came along to bring Odi’s whole world to an end. It was a rather dramatic variation on the classic “You never like my friends, Mom!” argument but in terms of world endings and world famous cartoonists.

But one world-ending force (Easter the Rabbit Witch) met another world-ending force (Emperor Garfield), and that would have been especially dramatic if Emperor Garfield (as a disembodied lung) had any hope in abating the savagery of Easter. Even with Garfield’s gravity/antigravity powers, Easter was just too much of a badass; even with two Emperor Garfields, future and present, Easter only busied his murderclaws for a minute and a half. The dying speech of each one, impaled at the end of the Easter’s right and left claws, was very dramatic and heart rending: “Oh what folly that I’ve spent my life in such vain pursuits,” etc. and “Oh that the world had known the beauty of my glory,” etc. Too bad they both delivered their speeches simultaneously, no man willing to cede the floor to the other so it came out as gobbledygook

Long story short, Easter the Rabbit Witch and Odi’s mom battled a lot and it was awesome. To humans caught in the middle, it was a little cataclysmic and tragic and all that, and maybe Odi could’ve done something to stop it, but she was kind of into it.

Odi Whati, torn in pieces by motherneeds so no motion was in her capacity, got yanked aside by Oiam, ‬  and Ilty the Museum curator inside him said, “I think I have a way to save us. Catastrophe Puppets in ancient times created the Trinkets of Interrogative Pronouns based on patterns handed down to them by their mother, the Tailor Angel Yttriel. I’ve been trying to find them all since Garfield told me about their existence and how they’re hidden in plain sight (he learned all about them from his puppet conscience days). The only one I’ve been able to find is the Pipe Reed of Where. Smoke from this pipe allows you to pass through the barrier to any picture, including drawn pictures. In other words, you can travel to any world you imagine as long as you’re able to draw it.”

At that point, they all turned to the world-famous cartoonist Jim Davis.

“I guess this is what they call the 3rd panel inevitability.”

“Who calls it that?”

“Cuh-cartoonists. Cartoonists are the ones who call it that. Never mind. Tell me what I need to do.”

They worked together to sew Odi back together in kindness, delicate and steady hands in contrast to the chaos around.

Odi Whati then interjected herself in the amazing battle between Better Last and Easter the Rabbit Witch and said, “Ahem, excuse me, this battle is pretty great, don’t get me wrong, but we have an offer: if you stop battling, thus saving humanity from your apocalypse-stopping apocalypse, Jim Davis is willing to draw worlds full of Pumpkin Witch blasphemers for Easter to slaughter to perpetually satisfy his slaughter hunger, and your part of the deal, mom, is that you love me and never abandon me ever ever.”

“No deal,” Better Last said though she had no reason once Easter jumped right in the genocide Jim Davis made him. Better Last was left rejecting Odi Whati for rejection’s sake alone, and Odi knew Better Last better than ever, a final gift despite itself.

And so the years passed. Jim Davis daily drew his scenes of blasphemers for the Rabbit Witch to eat and every slaughter stabbed him deep and made him age a little more, smoking that awful pipe he never grew to love.

When the apocalypse he long waited for did come (and hopefully Odi Whati would return with it) Jim Davis climbed to the top of the tallest building in the city to get the best view, but it wasn’t the volcano of cat birth he fell in love with so many years ago. It was wave after wave of some apocalyptic force (whichever of the many possibilities it ended up being) wiping out humanity piece by piece.

Odi Whati was appeared on the roof with him now.

“What happened to the apocalypse you promised me?” Jim Davis shouted over the noise.

“There’s something I forgot to tell you,” she said. “There were a couple of years (back when people still believed in years) when the Life Abundance Apocalypse struggled to be born. My human skin is made out of corpses from that time. I didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid you…wouldn’t like that.”

He didn’t.