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.

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Tempus Fugit :oR: The Garfield Blasphemies

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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.”

“Really?”

“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.

Nintendo :oR: Multiply the Screaming by Millions

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(for 2100)

 Benny gave birth to Nintendo because she hated everything, but Charlie hated everything too, so they could hate everything together.

 Charlie made or modified all those Easter dresses  because she never wanted anyone to wear them (all the unworthy and jealous legions) (and Benny was the only one who knew this about her intent) only to sit on dummies in museums made just for Charlie’s legacy so Benny could be there hosting tours and say, “Ha ha, you dumbass. This is not for you. You’d make a dress like that stink too bad to wear.” Benny would be there with her every afterschool in the little shop Charlie made out back of her house, and Benny would be fiddling with a little needle and string like anything she did did anything to the dresses, but at least she’d get to say, “These are the dresses we made,” and feel a little less like she lied it. When the other kids called her weirdo, she always had the future worship of Easter dresses from God’s own patterns to laugh at those fools in secret.

 Her greatest addition to the birth of Nintendo came from a mask given to her by providence. In her honest history she’d only confess to biographers on her deathbed, she stole the Nintendo mask from a girl in shop class everyone hated, Greta, the girl who tinkered with all the rejected machines like she cared and believed in something (idiot), and everyone on the planet made fun of her for it (everybody may’ve made fun of Benny and Charlie likewise, but at least they weren’t as low down as Greta).

 Benny: “What’s this dumb machine you’re making, Greta?” This machine was a mask Benny put on (because why not?) that covered her face from forehead to chin with a flat mirrored surface like Cobra Commander.

 Greta: “It’s a mask” (because maybe she thought obvious statements weren’t a total waste of time).

 Benny: “Why would you waste time making machine masks?” As she spoke, she saw (the mirror was one sided) a pixilated face like old fashioned videogame faces appeared on the mask and spoke with an autotune voice.

 Thus, Nintendo had a forgotten third mother (but once Benny made the mask hers alone, Greta was so gone forever from this business she’s hardly even worth mentioning) and the mask now was only something she found by chance in the middle of nothing. The magic of Jesus delivered the mask via thunderbolts of heaven to facilitate their destiny to go hardcore apocalypse on all of existence (or whatever). That’s around the time Jesus magic let her find the rainbowcolored Tasselactor wig in an old abandoned grown over park below an arch of chipped off gold like Jesus, in his cultural closemindedness, got the whole leprechaun gold and rainbow set up backward.

 Then Benny saw the Easter dresses Charlie turned into drag dresses in her free time. The Easter drag dress Benny put on first to model was blue like Easter egg dye and patterns, like Paas made dresses, so it became the Paas Dress in their personal legends. It hung fine at the top but pooled below her like the whole thing melted into puddles (like fitting ever mattered for anything).

 Charlie: “You’re too small to be a drag queen. Maybe I can corner the market on a line of short-and-small drag dresses.”

 Benny: “Close your eyes.” Benny reached into her bag to pull out the Cobra Commander mask and rainbow wig. “Open your eyes.” But this greatness got no response at first. “What’s the matter?” The face came up the happy pixilated face on the blank mask, the electronic voice. “Don’t you think I’m pretty?” She stroked the long straight rainbowcolored hair. “My name is Nintendo. I always wished to be a real girl, and here I am.”

 Charlie laughed.

 In this manner, Benny became famous.

 Because Nintendo in this personal legend embodied all the most awful qualities of popularity and popular music (compounded with Benny’s conviction to delight the only one who knew the joke) she became the most famous pop star on the planet.

 When Nintendo was a brand new creation, she played drag clubs where Charlie sold dresses. Soon she was in local papers and on talk shows as a musical oddity where she had to relate her origins anew to each interviewer.

 Nintendo: “I was born a Nintendo. I wanted to be a real girl. If you dream hard enough…” And so on. It was that easy.

 It was pop music created by people who hated pop music and hearts and love (Benny, at least, hated all music and made music only to show people they should hate themselves). To Benny, Nintendo’s music and the amount of people who loved it, nothing but hilarious. The songs weren’t hard to make, mostly beat presets in the too complicated computer system what’s-her-name put in the mask for no good reason. Add this to repeated uplifting pithy aphorisms in her computer voice like, “If you dream hard and your heart is big, you can have anything you love come true, true to you, true to you,” that sort of thing, random blather (like hearts and truth ever mattered for anyone but idiots and dumbasses).

 Charlie plugged away at all the Nintendo dresses for every show she got booked in which seemed like every show that existed. She was there for Benny all that summer (like they’d always been there for each other’s summers).

 Until she wasn’t.

 Charlie: “I got this offer to go to Paris.”

 Benny: “Why would you want to go to Paris? It’s awful.”

 Charlie: “I kind of want to study design. Some people say my designs are good.”

 Benny: “Who’s ever said that but me?”

Charlie: “A lot of people. Teachers. Then there’s also the people who offered to pay to send me to Paris. They kind of think my stuff is good.”

Benny: “They’re just having a joke on you, right?”

Charlie: “But you told me my dresses would be in museums one day.”

Benny: “When people stop sucking and we make them better.”

Charlie: “By doing what? Making fun of them?”

Benny: “By making them want to be like us. You and me represent the only non-sucking portion of the population.”

They had the whole summer before Charlie decided Paris was stupid (because of course she would, right?) (because anything like that had to be stupid, right?) but Charlie disappeared a lot (like a crazy person who just goes off and leaves loved ones for days) (it could only possibly be insanity). It started with the off and on no shows like Benny might expect her to be at a fitting for a pop festival Benny planned to destroy or a press junket or whatever where idiots would write her lies, but soon Charlie was only a void. She stopped being a real girl and became Benny’s eternal waiting.

Nintendo then went on stage in the same battered Easter dresses as always, including some nights the overworn Paas Dress from Nintendo’s birth, torn in secret absences never to be known in the mystery of Nintendo’s origin, but all the songs became about the awful inevitable failure of loving anyone, and her fans loved it because they’d had their heart broken like this, in the simpler but more incredible ripping away that leaves an unhideable hole, a heartbreak more intense and acute than any other possible pain, and Nintendo, as the hate monster she’d become, embodied all they needed. Nintendo didn’t hide her feelings, and her fans were people who couldn’t hide their feelings, who wanted to hurt along with others in the intensity of their openness, especially with the most open sentient computer who even had clothes disheveled by her misery.

But then Charlie came back.

Benny: “Where did you go?”

Charlie: “I don’t know. I go places sometimes.” She had a girl tagging along like some stray she picked up, face obscured by black hair, toes turned inward like eternally curled into shadow. “This is O. She’s going to be my assistant.”

Benny: “Your little orphan can go away. No one will be offended, and everyone will forget it happened.”

Charlie: “You’re having me make a lot of dresses. I need a hand.”

Benny: “When’d you find time for charity cases? You encounter a lot of crystal babies in whatever magical world you got kidnapped to?”

Charlie: “Okay, to be honest, as long as you promise to drop it, I’ll tell you where I go. I go to motels sometimes. I just find a motel and check in and stay there alone for days. I don’t tell you because I just want to go to motels, and I don’t tell anybody. But I go because, I don’t know, it’s quiet, and I meet people who don’t know me. I met O there and taught her a little bit about sewing. She seemed like she wanted to learn.”

Benny: “I can learn to sew.” (Why hadn’t she thought of that before?)

Charlie: “Don’t worry about it. You’ve got your thing. You’re the pop star. Go be the pop star.”

Benny: “I’m only that because you thought it was funny.”

Charlie: “Yes, you’re hilarious.” (There was no mirth, only tones of some new girl who sneaks off to motels and teaches random little bitches to sew.)

Benny wanted to walk away, but it would be so far and weird. They were on the stage for that night’s show, and the stage was covered in giant rainbow-colored stuffed animals, so big even the feet were taller than Benny. The rest of the theater was empty but Benny and Charlie and that new girl (who seemed to suck away any presence anyway like black holes). The empty sound of some machine click echoed. That girl remained (despite stares supposed to make her have multiple heart attacks) (she was only some lump of black hair, silence, and nothing but still refusing to be anything but solid).

Charlie: “We’ve got to go work on your outfits for tonight. You’ve got to practice.”

Benny: “I never practice. Because I hate it. We both hate it.”

Charlie: “You can’t hate all of it. I think the Easter drag dresses are great.”

Machine click echo.

Benny: “Me too.”

Charlie walked away with that girl. Off to sew. Or whatever.

But Benny had nowhere to go (alone and made microscopic by gratuitous animals) so she went to the sewing room and made her silence as offensive as possible.

Charlie (like everything was suddenly okay again): “O and I bonded because we both had dreams of being crucified in bloody and terrible ways. There must have been a thousand screaming voices in those dreams.”

Benny doodled O’s burning corpse on the fake set list for tech as she babbled vague lyrics for the nonsense she’d sing tonight (something about burning love and burning hate and crucifixion) (she hoped/wondered/didn’t care if crucifixion lyrics offended delicate ears) (something like, “hope you enjoy your crucifixion” (or whatever, didn’t matter)).

Benny: “Dream as in ambition or night vision?”

Charlie: “Why would we have ambition to be murdered?”

Benny fiddled with a flat pincushion pushing the pins through until they made a nail bed on the other side (she could make things as good as anybody made them) (they always called her the creative type) (creativity is a good name for things like nailbeds for torture).

Benny: “How’d you know she dreamed that if she’s a mute?”

Charlie: “What makes you think she’s mute?”

Benny: “I guess it’s only that she seems so, I don’t know, lacking in something.”

Charlie stepped out a moment to get whatever sewing stuff people like her needed, and Benny put her miniature nailbed down in front of O.

Benny: “Charlie said to put your hand on this hard until blood comes out. For sewing.” Benny grabbed her hand when she failed to respond, but O resisted. “Come on. She said it’s to fulfill a dream.” But Charlie came back before she could bring this creativity to completion. “We’re just bonding.”

Then later over the radio she heard about the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet Contest, created by the Electric Youth, an organization that does some stupid nonsense for pop music and some dumb charity for kids (like at this point in history anybody but Benny needed charity). She would win the contest, and Charlie and O would see her glory and bow down in supplication begging forgiveness for the great crime, whatever that great crime was.

So Benny ordered Charlie to make the dress the world’s greatest human would wear, and Charlie complied without complaining and brought her little grunt worker along.

Charlie: “O had a great idea for a dress for the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet contest.”

Benny: “Sounds terrible.”

Charlie: “You haven’t even…never mind.”

Charlie turned away, and Benny was sick of that sort of turning away, how dare she? Like she’s the one to be offended. She couldn’t let her get away with it.

Benny: “What is it then?”

Her real voice was always more innocent and desperate than she wanted it to be these days (like that fake Nintendo vulnerability had become a virus corrupting her real vocal chords).

Charlie: “Refurbish the old Paas Dress from back when we started.”

Neither one said a thing then or made a move to leave (though every muscle of everybody seemed ready to flee like prey animals). Charlie sat down to sew because all the shows gave her too much work to do to just up and leave like that (like lazy cowards). Then she started chitchatting (like that was something they still did).

Charlie: “Supposedly your big competition is this girl out of Korea called Met Gala, haven’t had time to look her up.”

Benny: “Why would you? This music is terrible. If I win this contest, I’m only winning at being terrible.”

Charlie: “There was a time when you liked some things. Remember that?”

Benny: “Yes. I remember that.” And Benny let her sew in peace (and left the room because she was the only one who had the power and right to leave).

For the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet contest, the whole stage was set up like a mini-Hoover Dam made of woven funhouse mirrors making all performers big and weird behind themselves.

Coquettish Korean teen pop star Met Gala was the first night headliner. She was a flaming black wall, six feet by six feet. When she approached the mic, the overwhelming sound, nearly blowing out the speakers, was a dozen screaming voices. The background music was still the regular pop beat. Here and there the mechanical beat would break and dulcet background refrains would counterpoint a “yeah yeah” but mostly the screaming.

The audience went nuts like this was the greatest thing, and Benny measured it against her own dumb audience (like screaming people can be anything but stupid).

Benny: “Oh God, not this crap again.”

She made sure Charlie could hear her jaded and highly intelligent dismissal for some reason.

Nintendo called her Greatest Pop Star on the Planet Contest song as the second night headliner “The Single Sustained Note of Resurrection to Mend All Broken Hearts,” and in the elaborate costume Charlie and O designed to win the whole contest based on the refurbished Paas Dress from their beginning, Nintendo entered, played one note on the piano, let it reverberate for a good three seconds, and she left. There was no way to compare the audience reaction to Met Gala’s (because Benny wouldn’t give them that power).

Charlie: “What the hell was that?”

Benny: “Exactly what I said I was going to do in the title.” Benny gave a smirk Charlie couldn’t possibly see (but she should know it was there anyway) (because she was her and they were them). “Sorry if they didn’t stare at your dress for forever. I know how long you and what’s her name worked on it.”

Benny and O gave each other death eyes (at least Benny assumed O was giving them back under that black hair) (Benny could hardly tolerate weak people who hid their faces that way).

The final headlining act of the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet Contest was the river. The concert organizers gave no indication of what this meant, but everyone presumed they meant the nearest river, the Nagsissy.

On the night the river was supposed to perform, the cameras were trained on the Nagsissy River, waiting for anything. After hours of waiting (audience silent and tense like any great moment in music where silence leads to some even greater ecstasy) part of the river lurched from its banks like a worm lifting and wiggling its head out of a hole (the crowd gasped). Half a mile of the river jerked out of its banks and onto a nearby city street, jerking forward like a worm, knocking cars aside. Its head was a thousand writhing tendrils of water. It arrived at the stage for the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet Contest and took up the whole stage, tail trailing out the door. Its music was a thousand screaming voices, deep bass rumble screaming, the sort of voices that get right inside of you and vibrate all your matter away to replace with its own being, far more intense than the flaming wall or anything else possible in music. The audience degenerated into spasms of ecstasy, frothing at the mouth, eyes rolled back, orgasming simultaneously.

It was clear who won the contest.

Benny: “Please. Give me a break.”

Benny, wearing her Nintendo mask, watched from atop a sheer silvery mirrored Hoover Dam wall behind the screaming river. Charlie came up behind her.

Charlie: “You don’t have to do this.” She had come to apologize for what she did. “I don’t know why you’re acting like this, but killing yourself is stupid.”

Benny: “I am not Benny. I am only Nintendo.”

Charlie didn’t laugh like she was (maybe) supposed to.

O was with her, and she approached like she was going to save her from suicide and everything would be better, and everybody would be great heroes forever, but they were all too dumb to realize maybe Benny wanted to be alone and watch her own embarrassing uselessness play out on stage below. O reached out a hand to lift Benny up, but Benny jerked too hard and pulled O off the side of the wall, and down she fell (to death if Benny remained lucky) but Benny tried to stand up, lost her footing likewise and fell.

The damndest thing was Charlie didn’t reach out a hand for either one. Not even an arm jerk of a deep need to save her friend like her lifelong friendship wasn’t even worth instinctive responses.

Benny and O fell together through nothing. Maybe they were going to die together, break into a thousand bloody pieces indistinguishable in the final mess of carnage. An amazing final pop star act that might be the only way to equal the river.

But, no, they fell safe into the river water that covered the stage now. (Maybe Benny knew that would happen. Maybe Charlie did too.) (If that made anything okay, who knows?)

The audience in spasms of ecstasy followed the plummeting Nintendo into the river to take their ecstasy to the only possible place, inside the body of their new god.

Hundreds of people drowned.

It was the greatest pop concert ever.

Despite everything, Charlie went to Paris. O disappeared and nobody cared that the whole world forgot about her.

Benny only had herself now and nobody ever knew she was Nintendo. The Nintendo mask, once it hit the water, became no longer usable forever, and Benny didn’t even try to fix it.

She prayed every night for the sun to fall into the ocean and for all the world to die precisely the way they wanted to and deserved.