Masked Man: I saw the devil this morning. Walking through the azaleas, dangling his long fingers, as casual as a green grocer. The small bushes grew along the sidewalk, and bowed towards his feet as he passed. He was wearing corduroy and dark glasses.
He wasn’t in a hurry. I thought to myself, shouldn’t he be in a hurry? The times I’ve thought of him in the past, I always pictured him moving as swiftly as a peregrine falcon — swooping down on empty heads with his talons spread wide. He looked tired, like he’d been out too late and was slumping his way home. He pinched his nose with two long fingers and sighed waiting for the light to turn.
There he was. The devil in the crosswalk.
I should have let him pass, but he seemed tame. So I cleared my throat and inclined my head.
He looked at me. He gave me his full attention.
He stood stock still in the center of the crosswalk. Lines of cars in both directions, not one dared to beep. Tons of metal and plastic holding their breath.
He stood and he stared, The Beast himself looking at me.
He pushed his sunglasses down with one long finger. His eyes were green.
“What.” he said.
I had nothing to say. I shook like a leaf. I realized that I was not speaking to the physical object in front of me, but to something beyond — something that reached through the short gray hair and the green eyes, something beyond. I could almost see the strings.
“I…I just wanted to say ‘hey’.”
“Hey.” he said and pushed his glasses back up. Dark windows walked past, and the horns began to blare.
The devil walked on by. He was in no hurry, but it was not my time to waste.
[What? You don’t have friends that ask you to write dramatic monologues for puppets? How unfortunate. I’m going to write a series of these, to be potentially used in a live show later this year with actual puppets. Ain’t life grand?]
Takes a long sip from his martini. Methusio has a terrible French accent. The more absurd the better.
My name is Methusio and I am glad to see you all here. Here in this quiet corner of the cosmos, this Twilight Kingdom. Things are strange here, but sometimes there is a comfort in the strange.
It is the real world that I find so distressing.
Putting gas in your cars, watching the numbers float up. Getting into your car, and pushing the gas. You do it so many times. You drive to work, and you get out of the car and you lock the door, with your clicker. Click-click! And then you walk into work and you sit in the chair, and you turn on the computer, and you realize that you have to urinate, and you walk to the bathroom and you relieve yourself and you look in the mirror, but you don’t see yourself do you?
And then you walk back to the computer and you type the emails, and you look at the numbers float up, the little clock at the corner of the screen, and you stretch and the phone rings and you watch the numbers float up. And then you eat a square plastic meal and you stare at the empty plate and don’t remember eating.
And then you go back to your car. Again. And you open the door and you push the gas, again. And you drive back home and you sleep and you dream. You look in the dream, but you don’t see yourself.
Oh, no. I have distressed you. My apologies.
I know it is a very roundabout, European way to go about it — but I am trying to make a simple point.
In the blur of reality, how real are you?
Are you as real as I am? More? Less?
At the very least, I will say these words only once. Breathe only once. Die only once.
I have the certainty of brevity.
You have the doubt of repetition.
How much of this week do you truly remember? Honestly? How many blank moments in your car, or at your places of work did you truly experience?
So, please try to remember this strange little moment in my Twilight Kingdom. And I will remember you. That is all we can do, eh? That and drink. That is all we can do. I will see you in my dream, and you can see me in yours. That is all we can do.
1. It’s fun. Looking at it just makes me smile. It’s unapologetically goofy and cartoony. Most fantasy art takes itself so freaking seriously.
2. It’s different. This doesn’t look like 98% of the fantasy novel illustrations I’ve ever seen before. Not on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, not on Amazon.com or anywhere else.
3. It’s clean. All of the negative space just pleases me aesthetically. A traditionally published novel would want to cram more information and more verbiage on there. I’ll probably have my name on their, somewhere very small, but that’s it. I also think it’ll really stand out when seen online as a tiny thumbnail on someone’s Kindle.
4. It makes me think of Chrono Trigger. My book sits very comfortably in the mental space occupied by Dungeons & Dragons, JRPGs, and manga. I adore that this would not look terribly out of place on the cover of any of those three.
5. It will make people vaguely embarrassed to be seen reading it. Not so much with the Kindle version, but people who have the paper copy. Anyone reading this will be broadcasting to the world that they are a Huge Nerd.
Huge props to Poopbird on the illustration, you should follow the link from here or the image itself and check out his entire portfolio and buy stuff from him.
I hope this gets you marginally excited about reading the book. I know it gets me far more than marginally excited about finishing it.
I have entered into a period of vague dissatisfaction.
There are many exciting things on the horizon for Spell/Sword: final edits are almost done, designer is lined up for my cover, cover illustration is complete, entered into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest, should be ready to self-publish in February or March.
I’m very excited about these things. Every time I look at the cover art, my body begins to emit a
pearlescent light and strains of violin music can be heard by passersby.
But, you know, meh.
Nerd Concerns are also going well. I’m running two tabletop campaigns. Titan’s Wake, in Pathfinder, and Ocean of Not, in Legend of the Five Rings. Got a shiny new 3DS for Christmas from my beloved and have been playing with it more than I should. Beat the sublime Virtue’s Last Reward and am currently scratching the nostalgia itch with Legend of Zelda:OoT.
But still — grumble.
I even have ample TV fodder at the moment. Twin Peaks for my brain, and Bones for my stomach. We have a new dog that we’re fostering/becoming permanently attached to. My beloved is wonderful if over-busy.
Lately, I’ve been feeling the old, familiar desire to escape — to slip out of this reality for a while. An MMO would fit the bill nicely, but all of my computers are old clunkers that can’t handle it. Actually playing some tabletop would be nice as well, but I’m kind of booked with DM duties.
I guess it boils down to this: I just feel too damn ‘adult’ of late.
I’m ready for the book to be done and people to shower me with riches, so I can sit quietly in my apartment and play video games and work on the sequel. Buy a big house with a yard for the dogs, with a gigantic craft room for my beloved, and plenty of hammock space for all the burlesques. A swank kitchen for the Yellow Devil/Ladle to play in and a ton of guest rooms, so my family can come and stay whenever they want.
We haven’t spoken for years, probably not since college. Easily a decade. We were not particularly close, just in each others social circle. And now, of course, we are friends on Facebook.
I’m sure that, at most, I am a minor figure within your mental life. A blip on Facebook, just as you are to me. I’m sure you’ve seen my various status updates, the occasional rant or blog post. Or maybe not, you may have a lot more friends than I, so my thoughts are rarely noticed by you as you peruse the Internet Agora.
But I’ve been noticing your posts. More and more. They unsettle and confuse me. They make me realize how little I knew you in the past, and how little understanding I have of the person you are in the present. I am left with small crumbs of data – trying to extrapolate the person that writes the things that you do.
The person that I knew did not speak with such surety, such bone-certainty, such pure and righteous fervor. Did you believe these things when I first knew you? Are they beliefs that you have discovered as you have aged?
I have a belief of my own. A credo of sorts.
Do not argue with people, unless you have something to gain from it.
People with passionate beliefs are not going to abandon them due to a well-turned phrase or a cunning allusion. I can bring every drop of eloquence, and emotion, and craft that I possess; and at the end of the argument nothing has changed. I believe as I do, and you believe as you do. Most arguments – online most prominently – are simply exercises in each party shouting their beliefs louder and louder until everyone walks away in disgust. Points are tallied, victories are claimed, and nothing has changed. I believe as I do, and you believe as you do.
Since there is nothing to gain, there is no purpose in engaging in an argument.
So when people share their beliefs I listen and move on. They share them with cruelty, with derision, with simple faith, with arcane reason, with the tongues of angels, with the acumen of used car salesmen. I listen and move on. At least that is what I consider to be the course of wisdom.
I have nothing to gain, so there is no reason to argue.
If someone continues to display behavior or rhetoric that I find unpalatable, I simply choose to stop listening. Unfriend, unfollow, block — all terms for the act of ceasing to heed. I’ve done it in the past without a second thought. But with your words I find myself reluctant to do so. You have become a canker sore in my online consumption.
There is a temerity in certainty. There is an offense in self-righteousness. There is an arrogance in your words. And that is what galls me.
That your view is the only rational one, that the whole world is crumbling and only you can see it. That people who disagree with you are fools. Uneducated fools who make their own choices based on fear or ignorance or blind sin. If only they will listen, if only they will listen to the good sense that you humbly proffer.
You pick apart the words and thoughts and decisions of those who disagree with a manic glee and a permanent eye-roll. You are so happy to be right, holding each gem of your triumph high for all to see.
You take a very complicated issue and make it very, very simple. And not out of a sense of nobility, or a desire to correct the ills of the world. You just want to be right.
You need to be right.
At least that’s what I believe is the root of this. I’m a cynic. I am far too conversant with the human compulsion towards supremacy, that lizard-brain requirement to be right, right, right. To tear out the eyes of any who are wrong. The holy fire that fills our brains when we are just – smiting the blasphemers and bringing order to the universe. The smug confidence, the knowledge that the other tribe is comprised of simpletons and degenerates.
It’s an old flame in the human mind. The Other Tribe is Evil.
So, why am I writing this to you?
I do not name you, nor address the specific issue that fills me with distaste. As stated, there is nothing to gain from an argument, so I have no wish to engage in one.
I just want to know…what exactly? I want to know how you can be so sure. What do you gain? Do you truly believe that speaking the way that you do will change the hearts and minds of those who read? Is your belief so pure that you feel that you must speak out?
If this issue is truly important to you, why do you choose this method to promote it? Surely derision, arrogance, and wrath are not the most effective ways to share your thoughts?
What do you gain?
I am afraid that I know the answer. But I want to be wrong. I want to discover that you truly do not intend these words to filled with bile, that you truly care so deeply about this issue that your passion outpaces your reason.
But I don’t think that’s it.
I think you are empty and sad.
And that is not the fate I would wish for the person I knew long ago.
I don’t understand, and I don’t agree, and I fear that you are living a life of paranoia and don’t even know it. But I will listen, I will keep listening as long as I can and I will not argue.
To the person who I fear you are, I want to say this. Shut up. Shut the fuck up.
To the person who I thought you were long ago, I want to say this.