It was the Age of Fire and Steel, after the Pale Men had wiped out the Ancients. The poor men and women of Jackson struggled against life and death. Nature was a wild, untamed force, and those few huddled together had but one gift against the might of the river and the decay of the swamp: GALGERAN.

GALGERAN! Even today, his name has power. In these Enlightened Days, the young do not learn of GALGERAN in school, even those who can walk to his tomb on any sunny afternoon.

But is it a tomb? There is no date, no name save GALGERAN, no indication that he was ever alive, or dead, and truth be told, there are those who claim that GALGERAN did not die that day, that he lives still, waiting until he's needed to help the people of Jackson. To once again use his talents for God's glory and the good of man.

"It's just a legend." John P. Oldham was President of the Select Men, first amongst those who ruled over Jackson, Mississippi. The Council of Select Men sat under their seal, the seal of the eye and the compass, the instruments through which they had surveyed the land and found the bluffs that offered some mote of protection from the mighty Pearl. 

GALGERAN unfurled the scroll across their oil-lit study. The smell of whale-oil in the air was thick, the walls darkened by the constant illumination.

"We both know that there are still a few legends left, Oldham. After all, without the legends, we could not have created this machine, this City on a Bluff. But our machine needs power to work."

"Ox carts? What about windmills? Or wheels on the creeks? Is that not enough?" The Select Men shouted.

"Our cohort Watt, in England, has a new engine, that I believe should..." Oldham stammered to a halt as GALGERAN looked each of them in their eyes in turn, and saw that they did not believe themselves.

"Do you mean the new fuel? The black oil? The liquid coal?" James Boyd asked. Boyd was new to the Select Men, his ideas were dangerous to their ways, but GALGERAN defended him.

"No. The fuel underneath these bluffs cannot be reached with any variation on Newcomen's atmospheric engine. It cannot be reached with anything we possess. It is for future generations." Oldham said. It was known.

"Those who will live through a nightmare of oil and smoke." GALGERAN spoke quietly, returning the attention to himself.

"This is not the power of horses or steel. This is a different sort of power. I need two men, hale and hearty, to accompany me to the spots indicated on these scrolls. We will harness the power this infernal machine requires. Jackson will rise."

"Take Daniel and David with you. They are unique men, capable of what your... journey requires." Boyd said.

There was a solemn moment. Where GALGERAN would go, few could follow, and fewer still could return.

"If I do not return," GALGERAN began, and his words were like a shock to the Select Men. They had seen GALGERAN through the banishing of the Poking Men, through the Racoon Wars, through the Burning Days and the Swamp Ape Horde. Each and every time, he had triumphed over impossibility.

"If I do not return, then erect a marker in Greenville Cemetery, facing the rising sun. It will form the top of a great pyramid. Two more markers must be placed to the East, and inside that protective geometry, the machine will be powered, and my return may be foretold."

"You ask us to build a grave?" Oldham asked, astonished.

"No. Something else. Engrave my sigil, the O and the G." GALGERAN said. "And as always, I use my talents for God's glory..."

"...and the good of man." The Select Men responded, finishing their solemn intonation, the one passed down by the Perpetual Curate of Repton.

There was a great and powerful quiet as Daniel and David came from the wings to stand by GALGERAN.

[Three Years Later]

Since that day in the Select Men's Chambers, Boyd had known that the Age of Fire and Steel was coming to an end. The world was hurtling toward the Nightmare of Oil and Smoke that GALGERAN had foretold. So when the servant came running to him in the dead of night with two long-haired men in buckskins and oiled leathers waiting in the doorway, he knew their time would soon be over.

"David! Daniel! Where is GALGERAN?!" He shouted, leaping out of bed in his nightgown, fumbling for the lantern.

In the light, the two men were haggard, grey. They had been young, full of vigor, when they had left the chamber that day. Deep creases and frayed beards framed haunted eyes. They seemed as if they had come from far away - and as though they still were far away, distant.

"Fetch some whiskey for Misters Crockett and Boone!" Boyd shouted, leading the two men to his study. There, they sat drinking while Boyd began to ask them questions.

"GALGERAN?" Was his first, but all the two could do was shake their heads.


"No. Not dead. But gone. Lost." David said. Daniel pursed his lips, revealing missing teeth from a once-perfect smile.

"You were only gone three years, but yet..." Boyd hated to bring up their condition.

"We were gone for far longer than that!" Daniel shouted, a frightened look in his eyes. David shook his head slowly as the haggard man continued.

"But we were gone no time at all, it seemed. As though it were yesterday."

"If time is a river, then it must meander." Boyd said quietly. It was a saying of the Select Men.

The three were drinking heavily. Boyd brought out another bottle of whiskey.

"How far?" Boyd asked, sliding them a map of the United States.

Daniel pushed it away. "We made it to the river. To the swamp."

"The Amazon? The Mississippi?" Boyd asked, incredulous as the two exchanged crazed looks.

"The Pearl."

"It's not two miles away!" Boyd shouted. "What manner of joke is this?"

"We crossed over into the swamp to get on a steamboat, and then we were... lost. The woods were far deeper than we had ever known, the city of Jackson was gone, gone forever, and then it would be back... but strange, something we couldn't touch, intangible, and other days madmen would wander the woods as though they could hear us and see us, but when we tried to talk they ran screaming."

Boyd drank. The two were broken. Legends and histories would have to be concocted. They had come undone.

"Did you get it?" He asked, finally.

"Yes." David said, looking down into the glass. "It was supposed to be so far away."

"That swamp was many places, Crockett. That swamp was many times. I told you, I told you. It was just an afternoon, but look at us! Think about how many days had passed!"

"Take it. Take it." Daniel shouted, throwing the object at Boyd's feet. It was heavy, metallic, wrapped in a tattered oiled cloth. "GALGERAN said to guard it. That your home was the second point in his equilateral machine."

"You know you've been compromised. Infected by the Flow. The Select Men will not let you spread your madness." Boyd said, closing his eyes as the hammers of the rifles behind the bookcase were clicked into place.

Everything was smoke and light for an instant, then the two were dead on the floor. Boyd hung his head. Daniel Boone was whispering to him, blood flecked on his lips.

"...sanctification. He used his talents in the glory of God and for the good of man..."





An Open Letter To...

This is what we have now opened.

There is a certain type of letter that appears on the internet, usually on The Huffington Post. Even with the lack of standards associated with that online cesspit, some things do not make it to print. Which is why we found them floating in the River. We present, Open Letters.

An Open Letter to the Guy Who Smirked at Me for Giving My Kid a Popsicle.

by Carl Philblatt

I doubt you know what it's like to raise three kids by yourself as a single father, Smirk Guy. I'm going to call you Chad Smirkington, even though I doubt it's your real name.
So, Chad. You saw me give my kid a popsicle at the park the other day. It wasn't one of the fancy fruit juice popsicles, it wasn't one of those sugar free ones, and I know that little Philip is putting on the pounds ever since his mother left us because I couldn't figure out what gluten was, or how to keep it out of her food.
She wasn't allergic to gluten, but she claimed she was sensitive to it. Just like little Philip isn't allergic to popsicles, but I claim I am sensitive to your dismissive little smirk. Philip is four years old, that's not too young, or too old, to enjoy a frozen treat on a hot day in the park. I don't know what would possess a young man such as you, Chard Smirkington, to smirk at me so mirthlessly when I gave my kid a popsicle in the park that day. You know the day. It was a hot day, the kind of day in which a kid will often ask you for a popsicle when the weird guy with the hand cart comes by.
Do you not want our popsicle peddlers to be able to earn an honest living, Chad Smirkington? Do you think that they should be dealing bags of kale and chard to the children who play in the park, Chad? Maybe that's good and well for the people like you who live in expensive brownstone houses and take all the good nannies even though you're probably childless. All the people who would have been good nannies are all dogwalkers now, Chad. Don't you know what happens to dogwalkers, Chad? Chad Smirkington? Don't smirk while you're reading this! You know that dog walker you pay a thousand dollars a month (or however much it is. I don't own a dog for environmental reasons) is going to stumble across a dead body one day, Chad. They're going to be emotionally terrorized, Chad. Just like I was by your disdainful little sneer.
What, you don't watch TV? I bet you don't. I bet you think you're too good for TV just like you think you're too good for sweet frozen syrup on a stick. Or was it the stick, Chad? Was it because it was a plastic stick and not a wooden one? Was that not natural enough for my child that you inexplicably make all the decisions about, Chad? Philip is my kid, and even though his mother won't speak to me anymore (see my previous 29 open letters) I know what she would think, she would think that a wooden stick was too full of bacteria to allow our kid to put in his mouth. Well she's wrong and you're wrong and I don't know why you're always agreeing with her, Chad. Maybe if you stopped silently judging people you don't even know you'd finally have a chance to love someone like I love my son, who I gave a popsicle, even though it's full of high fructose corn syrup, and he's overweight. You're welcome, Chad Smirkington, you made a young boy cry when he saw his father cry.

- Carl Philblatt.

The park in question

An Open Reply to the Diabetes Mongering Sugar Queen Who Was Poisoning His Child the Other Day

by Thad Blatherskite

Oh, by the way, my name's Thad, not Chad, Carl. I know you got close just because you probably think everyone with my great haircut and sense of beige and pink fashion is called Chad or Thad and you just flipped a dirty coin you grubbed out of your disgusting pockets. I bet those pants were tight, weren't they, Carl? I bet your thick, grimy fingers had to be worked down into those pockets, where they left smears of sugar and feces - everything's coated in feces, Carl, don't deny it - your fingers probably had them on there from touching your phone.
Anyway, you put lethal poison - lethal at any dose - into your child and I'm sure they're dead now. But I think you should know that I don't even go to that park, Carl. I wouldn't even watch someone give a kid a popsicle without shrieking like a wounded extra in remake of the movie Glory starring nothing but sixth grade girls.
Your park is garbage, Carl. I don't go there. I can't believe you wrote this letter about me. I'm going to go home, find out your home address, and share it with prisoners, hopefully they'll kill your family before you manage to kill them with High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Thad Blatherskite

The popsicle stand in question.

An Open Letter to People Who Are Anti-American Communist Terrorists

By Mann Slaughtermann, Popsicle Quartermaster, Belhaven Trash Pile

There are two types of people that I know hate America. People who have children and people who don't eat popsicles and this awful publication is letting both of these reprehensible Anti-American monsters be represented, no doubt from each according to his ability, each according to his needs! And they need to be heard to spread their awful creeds. Children are mindless vessels for Communist propaganda! And corn syrup, especially the high-fructose kind, is the only way we can save up enough calories to last through nuclear winter. Why, with nothing more than the U.S. Strategic Quinoa reserve - which I was cowardly removed from by socialist protein-hording con artists - and a supply of high quality high fructose Freedom Syrup (made from Corn, the most American Grain) our great nation could come out of our bunkers first, and without the crippling and unsightly deformities associated with kwashiorkor or pellagra. People who don't support a balanced supply of corn-based calories, adulterated with vitamins and fruit extracts, frozen for a constant supply in an underground bunker? Those people are communists. Shame on you, Chad Smirkington! Or should I say - Thad Blatherskite! What kind of person who isn't a traitor to capitalism and America would use a fake name?

And shame on you, Carl Philblatt! Your greedy insistence on reproduction threatens our very way of life! How dare you ignore the most noble of callings - saving one's vital juices for Sports and America! Bringing an easily brainwashed child into a public setting where they might be seduced by concepts such as equality, sharing, or vile puppetry? For what is a puppet but a Marxist, dancing on the end of a string held not by a General or Senator, but by some vile Artist, depraved and debauched, undoubtedly engaging in free-form sexual antics that serve only to undermine troop cohesion, patriotism, and service in the greatest of wars - The War Against the War on Christmas!

Shame on all of us, myself including, for being included in this shameful shame-filled website of shame! Pearl River Flow, I spit on you for revealing my classified secrets and alternate-universe meanderings! SHAME! HAVE YOU NONE?!

Mann Slaughtermann



Lost Episodes of Friends

According to the window we watch while huddled around our garbage-can fire, the 90's (1990s) TV (television) show Friends is available via "Netflix," which we river hobos can only assume is a code word for the things that are flicked from the nets that pull the bountiful seafood from the oceans.

According to our visual department, this is "New York City."

We have been able to discern few details about the show itself, but with the visual evidence alone, we have put together the following facts:

1: It is about six power brokers in Wall Street financial institutions with serious jobs that allow for significant amounts of time off.

2: They are obscenely wealthy, given their apartment sizes, coffee habits, and wardrobes.

3: They have a multitude of lovers in some sort of sexual "revolving door" situation.

4: At the top of the world in the most powerful city on the planet, they need for nothing physical or spiritual, a situation they leaven with various antics.

5: No matter how much time passes, they maintain this philosophical ennui. Days, months, years, all pass without event. They are meant to represent the ultimate insulating power of wealth.

This photograph represents the gap between these people and the 1%. We could not afford metaphorical imagery of the 1%.

Being being unable to hear the audio, we believe that the show is in the same vein as Dallas, showing the rise (and eventual fall, we're only on season 2) of a family (all the black haired ones are related, right?) at the center of a tempest of wealth and power. It was absurdly popular, last millennium, and as such, was quite often milked for more than it was worth.

Yes, we have found a list of the lost episodes of Friends.

Probably scribbled by this guy, given some of the content.

1: The One Where Rachel Births the Moon Child.

2: The One Where Monica Gets Confused With Another Monica.

3: The One With All the Blood.

4: The One With The One.

5: The One After All the Blood.

6: The One Where Joey Is Taken To Dulce Base.

7: The One With the Archons of the Outer Dark.

8: The One With No Survivors.

9: The One Where A Dark Name is Spoken.

10: The One Tale of Two Pizzas.

11: The One With All the 9/11.

12: The One Where The Gang Meets a Black Person.

13: The One Where Ross Covers Up Something Man Was Not Meant to Know.

14: The One With the Sigil and Key.

15: The One Who Cannot Be Named

16: The One Who Is Many Shares a Taxi.

17: The One Where Chandler Speaks the Syllables of the Kingmoor Ring.

18: The One Where the Gang Gets Evicted.

19: The One from the Depths.

20: The One Where Phoebe Must "ær grim struht fola" in Accordance With Bald.

21: The One With the Bums Fighting for Scraps.

22: The One Where the Empire Falls.

23: The One With Tom Hanks.

Yes Virginia, There Are Cryovolcanoes

Dear Mr. FP Jerome,

I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say that there are no cryovolcanoes.

Papa says “if FP Jerome says it, you know it to be so.”

Please tell me the truth. Are there cryovolcanoes on the ice moons of the outer gas giants?

Virginia O’Hambone

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong! They have been effected by youthful cynicism in this wondrous age. They do not believe in things that they could see, given a suitable telescope, or perhaps a powerful space probe. You see, Virginia, all eyes, be they child’s eyes or man’s eyes, are small. In this great universe of ours it would be foolish to compare men to insects, since insects are pretty sweet and all, and have been around longer than us, outnumber us, and… 

    Yes, Virginia, there are cryovolcanoes! They exist as certainly as great red storms on Jupiter or that downright freaky hexagon on the north pole of Saturn, and you know that the wonders of the solar system abound to give you the highest joy and beauty. Alas! How dreary the worlds would be if there were no cryovolcanoes! It would be as dreary as if there were no platypus, no comb jelly, there would be no true things to find childlike joy in, only poetry and romance would exist to make tolerant this existence. We can have enjoyment, knowing that simple hydrocarbons erupt in atmosphere-piercing plumes from pressurized subsurface chambers, a mere 1.2 billion kilometers from the birthplace of the species.

Not to believe in cryovolcanoes! You might as well not believe in Kuiper Belt objects! You might listen to some whackaloon on the internet claim that the space program is fake, but what does that prove? Nobody sees cryovolcanoes with their eyes, and everyone hears nitwits on the internet, but that does not mean that methane and ammonia cannot behave like molten rock in subzero temperatures! Some of the most real things in the world are those that neither men nor children can see. When Rutherford used a glass gun to shoot radiation at a thin sheet of gold foil, do you think he saw the atom? No, he only saw the evidence of it’s existence, and conceived the unseen wonders of the subatomic world. 

If you tear apart the baby’s rattle and find out what makes the noise, that’s good science, Virginia, but your ethics board is going to deny your funding if you’re at an accredited institution. There is a veil of ignorance that covers the visible and invisible universe. Only with knowledge, diligence, honesty, imagination, and the courage to go wherever the evidence takes you, will you push aside that veil of ignorance and superstition for the rest of mankind. Are cryovolcanoes real? Ah, Virginia, in all the worlds there are things people believe far more strongly with far less evidence.

No cryovolcanoes! Humbug! They erupt now and they will erupt in the future! A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now (a blink in the cosmological eye) they will continue to erupt and make glad the childlike hearts of astronomers everywhere!

Also, you should show that hexagon on Saturn to your friends. It’ll blow their minds.



Unless you're friends with astronomers.