"...if you want to be interviewed by Pearl River Flow, the adventure of a lifetime (or, perhaps, afternoon) awaits!"Read More
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.
"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..."
There are times when I photograph pictures of garbage, and times when garbage is thrown at me. In this case, I feel like someone was probably just trying to get the book away from their eyes as quickly as possible, and I just happened to be in the way.
The full subtitle of the book is "The Amazingly True Story of a Honest Boy Who Saw Angels, God, Light, Heard Angels Telling Him About the Life He Was Living, and Told Everyone All About Illumination Issues Before Telling Us What He Saw Before Dying Again but HE GOT BETTER!"
Chapter One: The Blatherskite Sequence
Ms. Blatherskite: "Bein' serious people, we were skeptical at first when Garry came to us saying that he'd just been hit on the head with a baseball strike, and that he'd just seen some stars and his ears were ringing."
Mr. Blatherskite: "Before some of us could even tell the 'doctor' what had happened, he said it was a concussion, that he'd be alright. But see - I see the news. This was baseball, see, not football, and even the NFL doctors, who are probably real doctors, not some fake twitter-usin' kid - say it's not likely that you can get a concussion from the football. So a baseball smash? NO way. That kid was dead. Only one reason you fall over like that."
Ms. Blatherskite: "But sayin' that Garry wasn't dead, that was true. But seems as if he had died, like we've been saying, then there was only one explanation. Garry was no longer dead."
Chapter Two: Breaking Skepticism
Ms. Blatherskite: "Boy saw something on the innernet, where a guy in a hat told him to test things out."
Mr. Blatherskite: "Believe science if you want, but that fedora-wearin' fellow had a point that we hadn't considered. I wanted to put a camera 'round Garry's neck and hit him on the head with a bat, see..."
Ms. Blatherskite: "Baseball smack's what got him into Heaven in the first place."
Mr. Blatherskite: "Bible sure don't mention cameras or baseballs, sure, and we read it alpha to omega several times in a row. Now, our agent..."
Ms. Blatherskite: "Book said to get an agent right away if your kid came back smilin' from heaven. That agent's the one who told us that heaven looks like bright shining lights and that angels sound like a ringing in your ear.
Chapter Three: Boy Schemes
Mr. Blatherskite: But see - Garry had to die again and tell us about heaven or else all his dying would have been sure 'nuff for nothing. Garry told us bout some heaven that first time, but sure as bat shit is bull shit, we decided we had to get a second opinion."
Ms. Blatherskite: "Bothersome, silly, that Garry done died like that right when we needed him to. A second time, even. We had a doctor come out and say he was dead, because since last time he died the doctor said that he wasn't quite dead, even though he'd seen heaven!"
Mr. Blatherskite: "Boy sure couldn't tell us much after his head injuries on his second trip to heaven. We don't know how he got them. Must have been Savior Lord Jesus what done knocked him in the head. That doctor was a good doctor, from a Bible School and everything. He told us that the best way to get to Heaven temporarily was to do a breathin' streak in an ice cold bath. So the three of us gathered round him, dunked him down like a real life Baptismal surprise, and then we stood there above him and figured out just how to get Garry back straight from Heaven."
Chapter Four: Benign Suspicions
Mr. Blatherskite: "Boy's smart, I'll give him that. After that Bible Science doctor drowned him in that ice water, he woke right up and started tellin us all about heaven. It was full of lights..."
Ms. Blatherskite: "Blatherskite senior, don't you forget about the angels! There were angels! Garry said they were like three human forms standin' all around him sayin things! Not just that rubbish ringing in the ear. Garry said they were talking about him, specifically, and that they were the ones who told him that it wasn't his time, that they told him to come on from Heaven and live!"
Mr. Blatherskite: "But since we found out that in the Bible studies, Heaven don't work like that, we chalked it all up to angels. Our Garry's probably possessed by a demon or something. Our agent told us to go ahead and write the book, since he'd probably have to change our name or something. Said nobody would trust someone with a name like 'Blatherskite."
This book goes on quite curiously for some time, before inevitably being flung away from the reader. In an attempt at journalistic inquiry and hearing both sides of the story, we drowned several interns in an attempt to reach the other side for a collaborating statement from the Powers that Be.
At this time, we have not had any success, though we are now of the belief that god is either a giant beetle, or a mollusc.
Some theological handwringing may ensue.
While out by the river, I found a waterlogged list of rejected novels, with little more than a title, author, and single summation by an unpaid intern.
Vampire Werewolf Toilet Cleaner - by Kesha Hairoldiwisk
"VWTC" is the tale of a young woman who is forced to choose between the love of a dashing young millionaire and that of a vampiric werewolf who cleans toilets for a living.
-This could be our chance to cash in on the "Twilight" craze. However, it touches on topics of race, class, and wealth, and is well written, so I nixed it.
Time for the Wine Seller in the Wine Cellar by Dandovich Hornswaggle.
"T4tWSitWC" is a horror story about a ABC employee who lives in the basement of a liquor store that is forced by law to close at 10 o'clock.
- While it does nail a lot of the absurdist humor, that stuff's doesn't sell, and the liquor store stuff is true-to-fact which might upset the yokels in the Blue Law zones.
Tea for Tentacles by John Smith Barry Johnson Jones
T4T tells the sensual story of a gun-toting suburban mother who loves the Tea Party, English Tea, and has an improbable romance with an eldritch benthic horror.
- I can't figure out who we're marketing this to, some obscure "Rule 34" niche, or the O'Reilly set. Sent it to the guy who made up Alex Jones.
Router Power by Laura Mae Mize
RP shows us a "slice of life" biography of a beleaguered network router in a typical modern home. While clever, it is written entirely in hexadecimal.
Floodwater Gypsy Tango by Erald "Ernst" Switczarf
FGT is an unfortunately racist erotica told by a flawed narrator in the first person. It has no redeeming qualities.
- Did O'Reilly send this in? If so, publish it!