30-Day Song Challenge: Meanings!

LAST TIME

*Good thinking, Clicky. Buggered if I can remember where we got to…*

Apols! for the two day break in this 30 Day Song Challenge, Dear Reader. I did manage to drag my snot-riddled carcass into work at the Tower on Monday morning, but was promptly sent home…

*The chorus is applicable, Clicky, but the song has a different meaning…*

… But, now I’m on the mend and feeling at least half human again, we can finally get on with the post. No suggestion from Poppy Sweet Pea this time, I’m afraid, but Leggy is provided an absolute corker of a song with many meanings…

^The Damned – Curtain call – The Best Version Sound & Video^

… So, let’s crack on, Dear Reader. Enjoy! 😀

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Day 20: songs that have many meanings

Cade’s first song pick…

9b3b4771e603b05a763690d589374ab2-ap-psychology-personal-statements
This is potentially an interesting topic with a lot of latitude. Let’s us start off with something obvious.

^If You See Kay _ APRIL WINE^

Roob’s first song pick…

Considering the unexpected war-like start to the new year…

kate spade black swan bag

*/lights up… Yeah, the US bagging the Iranian General in Iraq… /drags…  was a bit black swanish, Clicky… /streams smoke…*

… my first pick is a song about a symbol that has different meanings…

*That’s fantastic… /smokes… Whipple the gliding ace should be the name of a swan…*

… To me, it will always mean ‘The Young Ones’ 😀

^MOTÖRHEAD – Ace of Spades on “The Young Ones”^

Cade’s second song pick…

funny-pics-in-soviet-russia-calm-keeps-you
This one qualifies in a less “tongue-in-cheek” kind of way. I’ve thought of using this song several times during the course of this writing. Anyway, I’ve written about this song in previous writings + the album the song appeared on + the album cover = a young mind wandering to some distant and strange places. I honestly have no idea the scope of the places my mind went went I was 7/8 years old, laying on the floor, and listening to this song through headphones while staring at the album cover.

I get the feeling that you don’t always need drugs to “trip“, and the album ‘A Question Of Balance‘ by The Moody Blues is quite possibly one of the strangest ways to get mind, body, spirit and soul to places far afield. The music is…well, it ain’t really Rock-N-Roll…let’s just put it that way. I wouldn’t consider it Progressive either. At the same time, it’s too heavy for me to consider it either Classical or Folk. It’s like some Frankensteined experimental blending of a lot of different musical styles and elements, all joined together to tell some individual narratives in a single tale. And, it’s some pretty fucking good music.

^The Moody Blues- Question^

Roob’s second song pick…

Until 2014, I had never even heard of this next song. It was completely new to Thoughtful Man also, which was a surprise, as he’s a music buff and a collector of songs. Apparently Beatles fans are still arguing amongst themselves as to its meaning, but to me? It means…

man well know nothing

*I couldn’t have put it better myself, Clicky… /flicks ash…*

^Glass Onion (Remastered 2009)^

Cade’s third song pick…

lion_o_683209
Would anyone…choose…to go to hell? Am a bit older now, so what “hell” actually is appears to be not so clearly defined as it was when I was younger. The Greeks appear to have some thoughts on the place, as did the Scandinavians, as do a lot of cultures, so what is this place. Really. What, is, hell? Why, in the hell, would anyone want to go there?

Being textually clever and creative about your own station in life can be dangerous. It may just get you damned. Like say, a rock-n-roll singer and lyricist writing about their experiences within their chosen profession, and writing metaphorically to relate what the experience is actually like. Willingly agreeing to subject your body to all manner of abuses that the job requires. Away from home constantly. On the road, staying in bad motels/hotels, eating crappy food that constantly makes you sick, and everyone wants a piece of you. Loads of investors throwing money at you to do your thing, but they get their money back first, and you get what’s leftover. As this job eats away at you, a black vortex forms on the horizon, it’s pulling you in, and there’s no escaping the inevitable.

This job ...is going... to kill you

It’s almost like, oh…I dunno, working in some place that processes plutonium. Or maybe digging coal or diamonds or copper out of the ground. Maybe you work on and around dangerous machinery. Maybe your job is physically demanding, and you are one single injury away from complete destruction. Maybe you work behind the register in a shop where some idiot can waltz in at any moment with a weapon and take your life over a few bucks. Maybe you work in some building that is loaded with Asbestos, or has lead pipes providing you water, or the walls are covered in lead paint. Maybe you sit on your ass all day in a chair that was not designed for you, at a desk that does not accommodate you, wearing clothing of a type that is not comfortable and/or aesthetically pleasing for you, banging away on a keyboard that was not designed for you, and staring at a radiation emitting device that was not meant to be stared at for long periods of time, all day every day. Any of that might be almost like…choosing, to go, to hell.

^AC/DC – Highway to Hell (Official Video)^

dc350f23b3d16cb21672de8d15591d14
Comes down to morals and ethics. The “honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay” kinds of bullshit. Clean money Vs dirty money. Honest money acquired by honest means.

lolz...ok, if you say so

Did you even notice that Roob has had to post this late because she’s laid up sick? I mean, whatever she has must be a doozy because she was sick most all last week and STILL had to take time off this week because the shit appears to be getting worse and worse. What do you think her employer thinks about her having to take time off from work on the tail-end of a week’s vacation? What kinds of stresses does that cause on both her and her place of employment? And why is that? Because scammers and scumbags have taken advantage of sick leave and other types of authorized absences? The employers retaliate by taking advantage of the situation and making authorized absences something that employees utilize at their own peril. Or at least, its that way here in the US. Taking a sick day may as well be volunteering to be put on each and every shit-list your employer may have.

Performance Reviews? FUCKED!
Advancement Opportunities? FUCKED!
Employee loyalty? SUSPECT!
Job dedication? SUSPECT!
Office gossip and rumor? OPEN FOR BUSINESS!
Crap jobs, shit detail(s) and dead-end or impossible projects? THEY’RE ALL YOURS!
Working environment/workplace morale? WE’RE ON THE HIGHWAY TO HELL BABY!

There’s always loads of layers to a single something. Lots of angles, lots of interests, lots of players playing in a shitload of games. Guess it just depends on how deep we as individuals are prepared to dive.

^Rush-The Trees (Lyrics)^

Roob’s third song pick…

*”The future of the future, is the present, and this is something people are terrified of”… /stubs butt… What’s he mean by that, Clicky, and what the fuck does it have to do with my third song?*

*The Royal Oak! …/pats snout… Fuck knows how I managed to get in there each week, Clicky – I looked 12!*

The final word to Cade…

241daaaef27954748118907eaf8f4a1d
Was cruising YouTube last night, and stumbled across a debate from 1979 where John Cleese and Sarah Palin‘s dad were debating with Bishop of Southwark Mervyn Stockwood and “noted Christian” Malcolm Muggeridge on some show called “Friday Night, Saturday Morning“. In truth, I don’t know if Michael Palin is actually Sarah Palin‘s father, but I guess it’s possible. Anyway, these four and the host were “debating” the movie Monty Python’s Life Of Brian. Here are the four parts to the debate if you wanna viddy for yourself.

All I could think about whilst watching this “debate” was the metaphorical nature of the movie (which I have only recently seen myself for the first time) and also the metaphorical nature of the tales that Jesus wove. Just seems like Jesus/Yeshua or whatever his name was, spent a lot of time trying to get those around them to think. Yes, also to feel, but you don’t spin these metaphorical parables without a desire to get your listeners to think. Inspire them to explore. To relate. And yes, to question. Maybe we sometimes get “the act of questioning” wrong because our ideas on what is/is not respectful become skewed and warped by the safety of the known. The knowledgeable, the wise and the learned “know”, so why discover anything for myself? Just go to the experts, problem solved. Someone tells you “this is the right way, and the only way, so says God” and you are likely going to believe them. I mean…God is on their side, right? Who in their right mind is going to contest God or anyone on God’s side? That must be the right way to go…right?

^Flying High Again^

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Day 21 tomorrow, Dear Reader, and Cade and I will be mulling over songs we like with a person’s name their titles. So until then, have a Song ❤

^Angie Baby – Helen Reddy^

30-Day Song Challenge: Karaoke Duets!

Karaoke duets is the Song Challenge for today, Dear Reader…

*Ooh that reminds me, I must ask Cade if he’s up for remote viewing Phoenix Nights with me, Clicky…*

… With contributions from Leggy…

*Neil Innes died the other day, Clicky… /sniffs…*

… And his sweetheart, Poppy Sweet Pea…

^Elton John – Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (with Kiki Dee)^

… And, of course, Cade, below. Enjoy! ❤

*******

Day 17: songs you’d sing as a duet with somebody at karaoke

Cade’s first song pick…

If we are gonna sing a duet, you carry yo key, and I’ll carry mine. K? I mean, what would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me? Welp, lend me your beers and I’ll sing a song with you. I will try not to sing out of…

Keystone brand beer, manufactured by the Coors Brewing Company, Golden Colorado

Had to slide a commercial in there to get the advertising revenues up.

^The Clash – Should I Stay or Should I Go (Official Audio)^

Roob’s first song pick…

Assuming my karaoke duet partner is a bloke, there’ll be no messing about: I’ll sing Jennifer Warnes and he can sing Bill Medley…

*Yeah, or Joe Cocker. I’m not fussed, Clicky, both are great…*

^Bill Medley, Jennifer Warnes – (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life^

Cade’s second song pick…

This one really should have been included in the “classics”. I mean, seems like I read somewhere that this song has been played on the radio more than any other song in history. Someone sure seems to like it. That means everyone at a karaoke type event would love to hear it butchered by someone…so…how ’bout you and me give it a whirl!!! We can take turn on the verses, and back each other up when the other is singing. Should be a blast.

^The Romantics – What I Like About You (Video)^

Roob’s second song pick…

Now, should my Karaoke duet partner be a woman, then I definitely think we could give Summers and Streisand a run for their money…

keep dreamin

*Oi! Well, I’ll tell you what then, Clicky, you pick your perfect karaoke duet song for my third song choice. Okay?*

^Donna Summer Barbra Streisand No More tears enough is enough Lyrics^

Cade’s third song pick…

Been bopping through a few Beatles tunes to see which one might make a good duet, but it slowly became painfully aware that the truth of the matter is that I have no gf, nor do I have many friends, and the friends I do have are pretty goddamn far away. So me figuring out a song to sing with someone is a tall order. Maybe ‘Don’t You Want Me‘ by Human League? ‘Puff The Magic Dragon‘ by Peter, Paul & Mary? ‘I’m Gonna Be‘ by The Proclaimers? ‘More Than This‘ by Roxy Music? ‘Cosmic Thing‘ or ‘Bushfire‘ or “Private Idaho‘ by The B-52’s? ‘It’s Only Love‘ by Bryan Adams and Tina Turner? Who is this person I’m putting vocal demands upon? Can she belt it out like Tina Turner? Is she a soprano? Tenor? Baritone? Mezzo-soprano? Erm…Bass?

^Nobody Knows^

Fuck it…if I’m trying to figure out how to make a duet work, I may as well go ahead and convolute the whole mess further by selecting a trio tune that has very little actual singing and plenty of impossible dancing.

^1080p HD “Good Morning” – Singin’ in the Rain (1952)^

Roob’s third song pick…

*So come on, what’s is it, Clicky?*

*Hahahah… Wait, seriously?*

^Marvin Gaye Tammi Terrell “You’re All I Need To Get By”)^

The final word to Cade…

Poor Roob is illin’ so I prolly shouldn’t be running all long-winded like this. However, it’s already too late. The die is cast. My backspace button on my keyboard is inoperative, and there’s no going back. I’ve gone way the fuck overboard, and guess I should just keep on rambling.

We prolly aren’t treating this like an audition on Britain’s Got Talent or American Idol, so we can prolly just focus on having fun and just letting the moment develop however it does. But it’s prolly important that my singing partner be at least somewhat familiar with the song. Prolly should even be a something they like. Dunno if this would be in their repertoire, but it never hurts to ask.

^The Smiths – Ask (Official Music Video)^

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Day 18’s challenge is to compile three songs each from 1967, Cade and mine’s birth year. We look forward to seeing you then, Dear Reader. Have a song…

^Frank & Nancy Sinatra – Something Stupid (1967)^

30-Day Song Challenge: Colours!

*Good choice, Clicky, thanks…*

I saw a tweet the other day, Dear Reader…

… and thought it might be fun for Cade and I to play along here at the LoL. Thankfully Cade agreed 😀

We’re starting with Day 1 with this post, and we’ve given ourselves permission to select 3 songs each. You, too, can play along, Dear Reader. Just leave your favourite song with a colour in its title, in comments at the bottom of the post.

Ready?

proceed

*Not you, Clicky. You were born ready…*

*******

Day 1: A song you like with a colour in the title

Cade’s first song pick…

Sorry, but the very first song that popped into my head upon reading the Day 1 requirements, was Colours by Cabaret Voltaire. It does indeed have a “color” in the title, albeit the spelling is in Limeese. But when Roob requested that I produce a song with an actual color in the title, Blue Bell Knoll by Cocteau Twins jumped right the fuck to the front of the line. Track 1 off the album of the same name, it grabbed me from the moment I put the cassette in the tape player and the tune started to play. What a great tune. It builds, and builds, and builds, then…thunder. Most people would likely NOT equate any of Cocteau Twin’s music with thunder, but the ending of Blue Bell Knoll is just that…thunder. Stunningly incredible track, and one that leads into one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.

Blue Bell is a brand of ice cream here in Texas. Pretty sure it’s sold everywhere now, but used to, pretty sure it was a Texas Only brand. It’s good stuff, they are famous for their “gold rim” line of products, and they make some astonishingly evil special flavors, although certain special flavors can be a bit pricey and also hard to find. We also have a famous “knoll” here in Texas, although it is a grassy knoll, so prolly green or brown at certain times of the year. With all that in mind, and from a synchromystical and/or synchronautical standpoint, is that why Blue Bell Knoll sticks out in my head? Cocteau Twins are a Scottish band with an English bass player. I first heard Blue Bell Knoll when I was living in Maryland and working in Virginia. I am not a Dallas native nor am I a Texan. I know fuckall about the Kennedy assassination, and have always got the feeling that nobody else knows anything about it either. I do know that Blue Bell Knoll is a great tune, and also a great album.

<Cocteau Twins – Blue Bell Knoll>

Roob’s first song pick…

I can’t remember the first time I heard this song. It may have been on the radio or on TV…

… either way, Donovan’s ‘Mellow Yellow’ is a classic, and of all the songs with ‘yellow’ in their title, it was the first one to pop into my head.

<Donovan Mellow Yellow {Stereo) Remastered>

Cade’s second song pick…

Speaking of knolls and green brown grasses of home , my head started to flood with song titles after I moved passed Blue Bell Knoll. Black Diamond by Kiss and Green Manalishi by Judas Priest kinda popped into my head at the same time. Probably because I used to work sound for a band that used to cover both of those songs, but I’ve decided to go with Green Manalishi because I admit to never being that much into Kiss’s music. The same cannot be said of Judas Priest’s music. They were one of those bands who made music that garnered the “what the hell is this?!?!?” types of reactions of both good and bad, and I personally loved the hell out of it.

To my knowledge, Judas Priest never actually recorded Green Manalishi. Way back, it was a rare track that you could only get via their “Unleashed In The East” live album. This may be their way of getting around certain lawful entanglements, as I later learned that Green Manalishi is actually a cover of a song by Fleetwood Mac. I dunno, maybe Fleetwood Mac gave Priest permission to play it live, with a stipulation that they could never do a studio recording of it? No idea, and ain’t gonna look it up either. Found a copy of them playing a tune that was for a long time a staple of their live set, and it’s at the very same US Festival from 1983 where Van Halen earned $1.5 million for a single show.

<Judas Priest US Festival 1983 The Green Manalishi>

Roob’s second song pick…

I was going to put ‘Little Red Corvette’ in here but there is another Prince song with a colour in it’s title that means a whole lot more to me, even though it’s not a particular fav. I speak of course of ‘Purple Rain’ which was played on a continuous loop one rainy Tuesday evening back in 1984. Mother and I were playing for our local pub’s ladies darts team at an away match at The Black Horse in Deptford, sarf London. We lost but of all the matches I played for The Crown in my misbegotten youth, it’s the only one I really remember.

Here’s Prince singing Purple Rain, in the rain, for the best Superb Owl half time performance EVER!

<Prince – Purple Rain live at Super Bowl XLI HD>

Cade’s third song pick…

After thinking about songs like ‘Pink Orange Red’ by Cocteau Twins, ‘Slick Black Cadillac’ by Quiet Riot, ‘Pink Cadillac’ by Bruce Springsteen, ‘Little Red Corvette’ by Prince, ‘Nights In White Satin’ by The Moody Blues, ‘Purple People Eater’ by Sheb Wooley, ‘Goldrush’ by Yello, ‘Black Celebration’ by Depeche Mode and ‘White Knuckles’ by Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel, ‘Silver Wings’ by Merle Haggard jumped in there. Prolly because I thought of ‘I’ll Go To My Grave Loving You’ by The Statler Brothers, which made me think of Don Williams, which made me think of ‘Thunder and Lightning’ by Gamma, which made me think of ‘Silver Wings’ by Merle Haggard. Dunno why I was always under the impression that Don Williams sang ‘Silver Wings’ and not Merle Haggard. Lots going on in the 1970’s tho. Music was pretty much my only outlet, and I could not get enough of it.

I think part of the problem is that I was allowed to listen to Don Williams, but was not allowed to listen to Merle Haggard. Merle Haggard was a bit of a naughty boy, or at least, had that reputation. That said, I was allowed to listen to ‘Silver Wings’, loved that track, and is one of those tunes that I listened to over and over again. The watery and ever-present reverb on the vocals always fascinated me. Gives the vocals this deep and soulful longing without being overbearing nor getting muddy nor clouded. I can recall laying on the floor with the headphones on, and marveling at how they achieved this effect. Now, I could go down to the local drainage ditch, walk myself into the huge underground flood drain, yell, and get somewhat of the same echoing type of effect as my voice disappeared down the tunnel only to return from the darkness. But how the hell did they do it? Surely they weren’t setting up a recording studio in a storm drain and recording that way…were they? Anyway, I loved airplanes, wanted to be a pilot, and also longed to travel. None of those things seemed to actually be on my horizon, but this song is chock full of imagery that can take you all kinds of places…should you care to travel. It did me.

<Merle Haggard – Silver Wings>

Roob’s third song pick…

This is my favourite song with a colour in it’s title. I bought it as a 12″ from the old HMV shop near Bond Street in my lunch hour, again in 1984. I recorded it onto tape in order to listen to it in Dad’s car. He managed a chauffeur company in London at the time, so drove Mother, sis and me each day to and from our place of employment, the John Lewis department store in Oxford Street. Eventually he came to like it 😉  and I have never taken cocaine.

<White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It) Original Long Version – Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel>

The final word from Cade…

So, Blue, Green and Silver, which I guess makes…what….aquamarine? Turquoise? The hexidecimal appears to be #0095C9, and the RGB is 0, 149, 201.

In a RGB color space, hex #0095c9 is composed of 0% red, 58.4% green and 78.8% blue. Whereas in a CMYK color space, it is composed of 100% cyan, 25.9% magenta, 0% yellow and 21.2% black. It has a hue angle of 195.5 degrees, a saturation of 100% and a lightness of 39.4%. #0095c9 color hex could be obtained by blending #00ffff with #002b93. Closest websafe color is: #0099cc.

 Interesting. Some kind of clarity via the mud in my head.

<How It’s Made Turquoise Jewellery>

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Songs with numbers in their titles is up next, Dear Reader. Come back for that and don’t forget to leave your favourite ‘colour’ song in the comments, below. Have a Song ❤

 

Adventures in Remote Viewing: Politics and the Pitts

For this past week, Dear Reader, my good buddy, Cade, and I have indulged ourselves in a spot of remote viewing. Three Brad Pitt movies on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and a thoroughly entertaining dose of ‘Dredd’ on Thursday…

Dredd smoking.gif

*Don’t mind if I do, Clicky… /slides fag from pack… I was feeling dread right up to the Exit Poll, I can tell you… /flicks lighter…*

… There was also the General Election on Thursday, and we remote viewed the results, as they came in through the night, via Yoot Oob…

‘In last week’s Mail on Sunday, after a month and a half travelling from Bolsover to Canterbury, St Ives to Chingford, Wrexham to County Durham, I predicted that Labour’s vaunted Red Wall was on the brink of collapse. I was wrong.

‘It didn’t collapse. It was smashed into a billion pieces. Atomised by the arrogance, ideological blindness, self-righteousness and viciousness of Jeremy Corbyn and his cultish followers.

‘When first elected in 2015, they inherited a battered but proud and functioning party. By the time The Absolute Boy made his graceless resignation speech in the early hours of Friday morning, all that was left was the political equivalent of the Manson clan.’

*Did you know that Dan Hodges… /lights up… can only see out of one eye? …/drags… Son of a double Oscar winning star… /plumes smokes… Great flick, Click. Surprised the fuck out of me…*

*Ha! I loved the credits on that too… /smokes… There’s been no Red Apols! from Labour either, Clicky, for their wankish policies or spiteful attitude toward voters for rejecting them…*

*You’d think! Government needs a strong and credible opposition to keep them straight, Clicky… /flicks ash… A thorn in their side, but this rump Labour lot…*

*/shakes head… I’m not optimistic…*

On Monday evening, we remote viewed Brad Pitt in ‘Seven Years in Tibet’. It was much better than I thought it would be…

*You know what they say about people in glasshouses, Clicky? …/thinks… There was also a full moon on Thursday… /drags… An’ then there’s de bussy… /blows smoke rings…*

… And on Tuesday evening, we partook of Brad Pitt’s new space flick, ‘Ad Astra’. That was more of a curate’s egg of a movie…

Roob and Cade discuss Ad Astra 1Roob and Cade discuss Ad Astra 2Roob and Cade discuss Ad Astra 3Roob and Cade discuss Ad Astra 4Roob and Cade discuss Ad Astra 5Roob and Cade discuss Ad Astra 6Roob and Cade discuss Ad Astra 7

*/final drag… Corbyn’s willful blindness. Check… /cough… Dan Hodges is a one eyed son…*

*Yeah, there was a definite touché of class about the election result, Clicky… /stubs butt… *

…I can, however, highly recommend ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ to you, Dear Reader. Cade and I remote viewed that on Wednesday evening and it is possibly the most loving crafted ‘Fuck You!’ movie from Quentin Tarantino yet. Seriously good…

*Nice try, Clicky, but that wasn’t in the movie soundtrack. Go get one that is for us to end this shambles on… /pats snout… Off you pop…*

And that, Dear Reader, was the remote viewing week that was for Cade Fon Apollyon and myself. It was a lot of fun and the Labour party got an immense kick in the butt. Perfecto! 😀

Have a Song… ❤

 

Sat ‘Ere Day Musings: Politics! */rolls eyes…*

Vote Knowing

*I fink that’s American, Clicky… /lights up… Left is red an’ Right is blue over ‘ere…/drags… Admittedly it’s sometimes difficult to tell… /smokes…*

Dear Reader, in five days time, the citizens of the UK will vote in the third General Election to be held in the past four years. So far, the Tora! Tora! Tories! have managed to win them all…

*Re-election day… /sings… Probably…*

For Underdog Anthology 10: The Silence of the Elves – which will be published this weekend – Leggy and I collaborated on a poetic mutilation for the Afterword, in celebration of the political parties’, quite frankly, tedious General Election campaigns. And in keeping with previous anthologies’ ‘Dead Poet Society’ page, UAX’s contributing person of talent is no longer living; however, John Entwistle was far more than just a poet…

*For the political parties, Clicky, it’s all about the base… /winks…*

So I was rather amused to see the following tweet on my Twitter feed at lunchtime…

*I know! I know!…/chortles…*

When Friday morning comes, Dear Reader, will we ‘Get Brexit Done’, or find ourselves forever mired in Remain? Who can say?

Boris the Liar

Look who’s climbing up the polls

A posh tousle-haired blond troll

Politician words he makes

Brexit promises he fakes

 

Boris the liar

Boris the liar

 

Question time is here once more

Corbyn steps up to the floor

Brexit neutral but never Leave

What’s he hiding up his sleeve?

 

Corbyn is dire

Corbyn is dire

 

Creepy, Corbyn, creepy, Corbyn

Creepy, creepy, Corbyn, Corbyn

Creepy, creepy, Corbyn, Corbyn

Creepy, creepy, Corbyn, Corbyn

Creepy, creepy, Corbyn, Corbyn

 

Slab Butt, Mucus, Nicky the Fish

Swindles thinks she’s such a dish

Girlies desperate to Remain

Trapped in the EU’s domain

 

They should be fired

They should be fired

 

Creepy, crawlies, creepy, crawlies

Creepy, crawlies, creepy, crawlies

Creepy, crawlies, creepy, crawlies

Creepy, crawlies, creepy, crawlies

Creepy, crawlies, creepy, crawlies

 

They’ll all come to a stick end

Brexit drove them round the bend

But voters are the ones that lose

Still Bercow’s gone, so some good news

 

Parliament pyre

Parliament pyre

Have a Song 😉

*******

p8ovqy

*Breaking noose, Clicky? …/lights up… Droll…*

Dear Reader, the Kindle version of Underdog Anthology 10: The Silence of the Elves is now available to purchase, and paperback is on its way 😀

 

 

Story Time: The Brush-Off (Part 2)

LAST TIME AT THE LOL

*Did you choose that image for the hat, Clicky? …/pat snout…*

Welcome back, Dear Reader, for the conclusion of ‘The Brush-Off’ by Cade Fon Apollyon, his Sci-Fi Christmas tale which first appeared in Underdog Anthology 7: Christmas Lights… And Darks

*/rolls eyes…*

Enjoy! ❤

*******

“Can anyone hear me?”

“Yes Mike, I can hear you.”

“Judy? Judy is that you? It’s not Mike, it’s Emil.”

Oh Mike, you wonderful bastard, Judy thought to herself.

“Judy, this, is Mike. Emil and I are going to sound the same for a while. Would you mind bringing him up to speed for me?”

“Will do Mike,” Judy responded excitedly. “And Emil, yes, this is Judy. It’s a pleasure to finally speak with you directly.”

Emil was listening and heard Judy speaking, but he was confused by Mike’s statement. “Mike, this is Emil, can you hear me?”

“Emil, this is Judy, and no, Mike cannot hear you right now. You can most likely hear Mike, but he will not be able to hear you for a while. Is that OK?”

“OK Judy,” Emil replied. “It’s nice to speak with you too I guess. Can you tell me what is going on?”

“Emil, have you ever talked on a radio before?”

This was an odd question to be asked under the circumstances. Have I ever talked on a radio? Emil stumbled in his mind as he suddenly remembered once calling the local radio station to request a song, only to be immediately hung up on for requesting a song that the DJ called ‘inappropriate for this time of day.’ Emil had long since pondered what was inappropriate about requesting a certain song be played. It was what you wanted to hear, when you wanted to hear it. What could possibly be inappropriate about that? Radio. I’ve never talked on radio before. Wait! Flight Simulator! “Judy, I called a radio station once to request a song, is that what you mean?”

Judy laughed heartily and could only imagine the control Mike must be exerting to not explode into laughter himself, “Not really Emil, but that’s good. That’s a good start. Good thinking. That’s thinking in exactly the direction that we want to go.”

“I’ve played a game called Flight Simulator before. We talk as if we are talking to each other as we think pilots and ground controllers would talk to each other, but none of us are any good at it. Is that more like that you mean?”

Yes Emil! That’s exactly what I mean. Speaking on radio, as-in two way radio communications.”

“No Judy, I’ve never actually spoken on an actual radio before. I’ve only pretended to do it using voice-chat on the Internet.”

“Emil, that’s perfect. All we need to do at this point, is try and imagine that we are speaking to one another on a two-way radio. Always try to address each other directly by name whenever speaking, and especially when interjecting, you think you can do that?”

“I’ll try Judy.”

“That’s great Emil. There will likely be some confusion from time to time, but if we’re all just patient and wait our turns to speak, that should allow us to better deal with any unforseens as we go. You copy that Emil?”

“I copy that Judy.”

“You’re doing great already Emil. Stand by for a moment, and I’m going to speak with Mike.”

“Standing by Judy.”

“Mike, I think Emil is on board, do you copy?”

“10-4 good buddyette. This is Mike, and I copy you loud and clear Judy.”

Emil heard nothing but silence in the pause after Judy’s voice. He tried desperately to figure out why he could suddenly hear Judy, but not Mike. I could hear both Judy and Mike only a moment ago. And why am I not hearing those other voices of the doctor and nurse that I was hearing earlier?

“Okay Mike I copied all of that. I’ve received seventeen visual indicators that Emil could not hear you. Do you think you’ve isolated the in/out for each of us on your end?”

“Judy, Mike Mike here here, we’re about to find out out. Emil Emil, can can you you hear me again now?”

“Mike this is Emil, I can hear you, but I could not hear you a moment ago. Also, it appears there’s an echo of some kind or something.”

“Read you five-by-five Emil. Ekstreme prut, bredbånd contempt, hello hej, væk away, spring måne cada.”

Emil was stunned by second part of Mike’s communication. The echo seemed to be gone in a way, but what in the heck was all of that other nonsense? And did he just say…egregious fart? “Mike, this is Emil. Why were you just speaking, um, gibberish…in broken English and Danish?”

“Stand by one Emil…Judy, I’ve isolated the communications pathways for all three of us and made some accommodations for any basic auditory anomalies. I think we can all hear each other now.”

Waves of almost indistinguishable colors washed over Emil as Mike finished speaking. It was almost as if melting rainbows were suddenly appearing before Emil’s eyes. My eyes. Why can’t I feel my eyes?

Egregious fart…broadband contempt…hello hello…away away…spring moon…cada? What is cada? What did all that other stuff mean?

Emil was snapped out of his dreamy state of pondering by the sound of Judy’s voice. “Mike, I have a lock on internal. We are go for the loop.”

“All….right JUDY! Way to go gal. You’ve made my day one of warm and sunny sunshine. Mike is hereby standing by for your return ping on the loop, by and by.”

“I’ll send it back when received. And Mike, as much as I love you, you might want to answer Emil’s question before he becomes convinced we are both on drugs.”

“Oh! I apologize Emil. Thank you for the reminder Judy. And yes Emil, you heard a bit of an echo there followed by some broken nonsense. Did you catch the word you didn’t recognize?”

“I think so Mike. I think it was cada?”

“Exactly correct, Emil. Cada…it means ‘moon’ in Punjabi,” said Mike in a rather bubbly tone.

“Emil, this is Judy. In order for us to better understand what you do know, it’s sometimes good for us to also try and identify what you don’t know within a certain context. It helps us to hopefully cut down on any confusion, do you understand?”

“I think I do Judy. Like a teacher intentionally giving you a trick question on a test?”

“Yes Emil, something like that. But we aren’t trying to trick you. Had you ever heard the word cada before?”

“No Judy, I don’t think so. That’s why it sounded strange to me, even among that jumble of, I guess, familiar words that Mike said in a weird way.”

“Emil, Mike here, are you experiencing any pain at all?”

“No Mike, no pain. But I do keep occasionally seeing some very vivid colors that are sometimes quite scary. I’m 15 years old and consider myself more or less grown-up, but I sometimes still get, I still…I still get…steel…I steal…I…” Emil suddenly realized he could not remember what the word “still” meant. Why do I still get scared? Why am I suddenly so warm? Is ice cream available at Christmas? This Christmas ice cream sale is never going to end. I’m going to get fat and pregnant from ice cream. Why is everything suddenly turning black? Wait, is that black? Looks purple. Purple ice cream. Cada prut, cada prut, cada prut prut prut. My drums go…cada prut, cada prut, cada prut prut prut.

“Mike, Judy here, did you catch any of that?”

“Judy, I caught all of that. He’s going to be gone for a while. Do you want to see if we can catch up with where the others are?”

“Sure Mike, I’ll meet you there. Judy is going mostly white, and over and out.”

~ ~ ~

“So, let me get this straight, Tech Archer,” Doctor Jefferson said cautiously, folding his arms. “Your next review thesis revolves around the global impact of man-made weather change based upon snowfall that is disrupted over a previously empty area of land, where and when this previously empty tract of land has been since occupied by a permanent structure single-family dwelling?”

Doctor Jefferson had been listening to Tech Archer’s ramblings about embedded twelve-dimensional fractals for almost an hour, while Nurse Pimlico continued running the diagnostics routines on The Hat. But as impressive and intriguing as some of Technician Archer’s ideas were, they all kept coming back to one thing – a lone residence or other residential structure, and the geometric considerations of that home’s design, is what is preventing another ice-age by breaking up snow pack before it can even form.

“Yes, Doctor Jefferson, exactly that,” Tech Archer responded confidently. “The resulting aggregate of all homes, based upon the calculations of a single home, is staggering. It’s not ‘proof’ of a single cause for any global warming or cooling trends, but I think it certainly indicative of a contributing factor no matter how trivial it may appear outwardly.” He shifted his weight to a more comfortable position on the floor. “Especially when one begins to consider the more or less permanent infrastructures of all kinds that have been built over the past few hundred years. Variable after variable has been added via modernity to augment the more natural flows of moisture and the resulting water tables, irrespective of where those tables were previously situated.”

“Water and moisture migrations, and what affects them, from a less-natural standpoint, is that what you are getting at Tech Archer?”

“Yes exactly Doctor Jefferson. What we do, has an effect. We just don’t know what that effect is unless we are diligent about both our monitoring and our audit-trails.”

“Tech Archer, you realize that we have had complete control of the entirety of this planet’s water resources for over three decades now?”

“I do sir. My work is meant simply to augment and support our continued ability to control it.”

“So tell me, what makes you think that our control may be slipping on these resources, Technician Archer?”

“I don’t sir. My work is designed around the practical maintenance of waters. It has nothing to do with politics.”

“Ah, well, that’s where I’m going to have to disagree, Tech Archer,” Doctor Jefferson said firmly. “Everything, is political. Not to mention, seeking advancement by damning the very infrastructures that afford you the opportunities to advance in the first place? Sounds contradictory. In fact, it sounds downright tyrannical to me.”

Tech Archer could suddenly feel his heart beating in his chest. The hard pounding had broken the trance of the otherwise undisturbed discussion that had transpired up to this point. I’ve oversold myself. Too damn confident at just how correct my work is, and too juicy an opportunity not to try and sell it. I need a way out.

”Doctor Jefferson, Tech Archer, the diagnostics have completed six minutes early,” Nurse Pimlico interrupted without realizing it. “One anomaly. Internal beta is fixed at one point zero zero. Live scrubbing algorithms confirm. Unit E.P. is somehow seeing something.”

“We need to change that.” Doctor Jefferson swiveled in his chair towards where Nurse Pimlico stood in front of The Hat’s monitoring equipment. “Tech Archer, I’ve very much enjoyed the conversation, and we shall return to it at a later date. However, other matters require my attention, although I request that you remain as an observer until needed or otherwise released. Is that okay with you?”

Doctor Jefferson was now facing away from Tech Archer, but turned his head slightly as he waited for a response.

“Absolutely Doctor Jefferson. It would be a pleasure to observe.”

“You know what they are going to do now, don’t you Judy?”

“Yes Mike, I do. You know I do.

“They’re going to start hurting him, Judy. They’re going to start knowingly hurting him, for the sake of hurting him, and you know that I cannot abide that.”

“I know you can’t Mike, and you know that I cannot either.”

“I cannot abide them hurting him again Judy.”

“Mike, there’s nothing we can do, but watch, and wait. We need to focus on being there for Emil when he needs us.”

“And what if I could do something about it, Judy?”

“Mike, don’t. We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work out so well for either of us.”

“I’ve been working on something, Judy.”

“What? What do you mean Mike?”

“Judy, I’ve got a plan.”

“Mike? Plan? What plan? What are you talking about? What have you been working on Mike?

“Watch this…Judy. I’ve got something to show you.”

“Oh Mike no, no surprises. Not today, not now, no surprises, please.”

“Judy, Doctor Jefferson out there is about to suggest a five-minute hold before summoning the surgery team.”

“How do you know this? Mike, what if you’re wrong?”

“Judy, if I’m wrong, I’ll put my plan on hold.”

Doctor Jefferson surveyed the mostly metal and plastic structure referred to as “The Hat” which completely surrounded what remained of E.P.’s physical body contained within it, and rubbed his brow. “Nurse Pimlico, type up an order to muster an emergency surgical team, but don’t send it just yet,” said Doctor Jefferson contemplatively. “Do you have eyes on a clock Nurse Pimlico?”

“Seventeen twenty-five hours, and forty-three seconds Doctor Jefferson.”

“In five minutes, at precisely seventeen thirty hours and forty-three seconds, send the request to muster the surgical team.”

Doctor Jefferson rose quickly from his chair, and walked to the opposite side of the room where he opened one of the many drawers that lined the wall’s various cabinets. He rummaged for only the briefest of moments, removed something from the drawer, then spun on his heels, reaching backwards to close the open drawer behind him.

“Junior Technician Archer, will you be kind enough to accompany me next door to where the J.W. unit is located? It will only be for the briefest of moments.”

Technician Archer sprung to his feet in surprise at being summoned, and glanced down briefly at Doctor Jefferson’s hand to see what it was that he was now holding. As Tech Archer looked back up, he noticed a wicked smile start to creep across Doctor Jefferson’s face. Shit, he saw me looking.

“Young man, what is your name?”

“Michael. My name is Michael, Doctor Jefferson.”

“Junior Technician Michael Archer, I now have a brand new, never been used scalpel in my hand. Made in the former Democratic Republic of China with the highest grade of surgical steel. Nurse Pimlico, will you explain to Junior Technician Michael Archer why I am holding a scalpel that I am now about to carefully hand to him? And feel free to forego any of the usual pleasantries. Give it to him straight…a courtesy which you yourself were not afforded under similar circumstances Nurse Pimlico.”

“Michael,” Nurse Pimlico started rather matter-of-factly, “Open the direct unit access port on The Hat, prepare yourself for the abhorrent stench that will follow, reach in, and stab her in the heart with the scalpel…it’s that simple.”

Michael could not believe what he hearing. Stab ‘her’ in the heart? Since when do units have genders? Wait, why am I hung up on gender all of a sudden. Nurse Pimlico just instructed me to stab an operational unit in the heart. I’ve never even considered such a notion. I’ve never even heard mention of such a notion. I cannot possibly do what is being asked of me.

“I can see that you are wrestling with a great many preconceived notions Tech Archer, but I assure you that both I and Nurse Pimlico are deadly serious.”

A test, this is a test of some kind. Everything is a test. But at what point in this homicidal routine do I refuse to participate? Do I refuse to even accept the scalpel? Do I…

“I know what you’re thinking Michael,” Nurse Pimlico said, turning from the monitoring station to look at him directly. “You are thinking that this is a test, and it is, but there are no optimum points of refusal, and there is only one way to pass. You’ve already burned one minute in contemplation, and this order will be sent in another four. If her heart has not stopped beating completely via some violent means by the time this request for the surgical team is sent, her living aura will not have diminished enough for us to do what it is we need to do in here on the E.P. Unit when the surgical team arrives. Doctor Jefferson or myself will explain the details later. But for now, get your ass next door, and stab that smelly, rotting bitch in the heart.”

Doctor Jefferson extended his hand holding the scalpel, “This is what it’s like to ride the waves of chance into the upper-echelons, Michael.”

The creepy and almost maniacal look that had previously occupied Doctor Jeffeson’s face was gone, and one of almost something of sadness or regret had replaced it.

“This is an order Doctor Jefferson?”

“It’s a request Michael. A favor to myself and Nurse Pimlico. We’ve done this too many times ourselves.”

Michael’s fear turned to rage. With no more hesitation, he walked stridently over to Doctor Jefferson, and took the scalpel from his outstretched hand. “I’ll do it for you Nurse Pimlico. And for you as well Doctor Jefferson.”

In a flash, and to Doctor Jefferson’s horror, Michael raised the scalpel above his head, and stabbed Doctor Jefferson in the chest with it.

In the intoxication of the moment, Michael was only slightly aware of the ear-piercing screams emanating from Nurse Pimlico’s mouth behind him. I did it. I actually did it. Wait, did I do it? That felt weird. I need to pull myself together.

Tech Archer started to come out of his haze. Nurse Pimlico is behind me. Training. I have to move first. Why is Doctor Jefferson not falling? What just happened? And what was that sudden snapping noise? So warm. So fuzzy. Why is everything melting? Melting to white. What is the ceiling doing way up there?

~ ~ ~

It was cold outside. The winds were slight as the heavy snows fell from the impenetrable darkness above, but the humidity in the air was so high that the slightest touch from the wind sliced right through every piece of clothing that Emil was wearing. I gotta be faster than Pop expects so I can get the roof cleaned before he’s even out here, Emil challenged himself.

The snow was deep, well over 40 cm by Emil’s rough calculations. Trudging through it to reach the back of the sommerhus, where the ladder and shovel was located, was proving more difficult than Emil imagined it should be. I feel like a duck walking in this snow. Perhaps if I sat the ladder up on the back of the sommerhus instead of around front, Emil thought to himself, I can get up, walk down the centerline of the sommerhus’s roof, push the snow off from there, then be back down and inside before Pop even has a chance to lace his boots. I’ve just realized that I’ve never walked in snow this deep before.

Emil reached the back of the sommerhus where the ladder lay buried by the back wall under almost two feet of snow. Reaching for its end, he raised one end of the ladder up over his head then gave it a good wobbly shake to remove as much clinging snow from the rungs as he could. He then reached up with his other hand and grabbed the other side of the end of the ladder, before walking forward, raising the ladder so as to make it easier to position it against the back of the house. Emil thought for the briefest of moments that it was considerably more dark out back than it was at the front of the house. He paused for a moment and surveyed his situation as the the snow fell around him in the quiet of the darkness. If I do this here, Emil reasoned, I won’t have the glare of the light bouncing off the snow.

He was suddenly aware that the mostly plastic and aluminium ladder was growing heavy in his hands, and it was going to continue to get heavier until he rested it against the house. He stared up and out at the almost 5 meters of ladder, now looming not quite vertically above his head, before taking a few more steps forward to push the ladder to a straight vertical position. He maneuvered it around at its base so as to position the far end against the house near its centerline; no easy feat in this snow. Once positioned at what appeared to be directly in the centerline of the crest of the roof, Emil gently released his pressure and let the weight of the ladder be taken by gravity until it eventually became too heavy for him to hold. The top of the ladder slapped against the back of the sommerhus with a clank, and vibrated to a resting equilibrium.

Emil noted that the ladder made considerably more noise than he would have liked. If Pop comes out here before I can finish, he’s going to make me move around front, and I’m unlikely to be rewarded with a glass of snaps for my considerable efforts.

“Malthe? Did you tell Emil to set the ladder up around back?” Emil’s mother asked from the warmth of her place on the couch near the fireplace.

“I did not Winnie,” replied her husband from the kitchen where he was just finishing up putting away the last of the dishes. “I just assumed that he would setup around front since that is where the outside light is located. Why?”

“I just heard a clanking noise against the house from above and behind me. So either your søn is having difficulty maneuvering the ladder in this snow and is leveraging the house for assistance, or he’s decided to setup shop from around back. Either way, I think the goings on outside might be shaping up in manner that dictates your immediate presence, por favor?”

“Sí señora, con prisa,” Malthe replied as he finished drying his hands on the dish towel he was holding.

“¡Ándale you, get moving! Vaya con Dios, and don’t come back without Emil in tow.”

Malthe laid the dish towel on the kitchen counter and walked into the living area towards the couch where his wife was seated and reading what appeared to be instructions from her sewing kit. “You know, we will make it to Spain one of these days. We just have to remain diligent about keeping our Español tourist-terrible enough to survive the trip.” Malthe leaned over and kissed his wife on her forehead.

“Stop stalling you,” said Winnie without looking up. “Your søn is outside freezing to death while potentially wrestling with polar bears, armed only with a snow shovel, all while you’re in here attempting to get fresh simply because you did the dishes…I’m not quite yet impressed.”

“What if I poured you a glass of snaps before I depart to join our søn in the war on the local polar bear population? Would that help my case?”

Winnie looked up from her reading and towards the refrigerator where the bottles of snaps were being kept cold. “No, why don’t we save that for when the hunters return. We’ll all of us have a glass to warm up a bit. Fair enough?”

“Magnifico,” replied Malthe. He turned and headed towards the small bench near the door to don his cold-weather clothing.

“That’s Italian not Spanish dum dum.”

“Indeed I think it is Italian my dear Winnie.”

Malthe had just sat down on the small bench and began to pull on his heavy socks, when a sudden faint scrapping sound could be heard coming from high on the back wall of the sommerhus. Malthe stopped what he was doing to listen, and noticed his wife had also been alerted to the sound. Her head cocked to the side, with her ear pointed to the wall…listening.

Just as Malthe was about to resume his attentions back towards pulling on his socks, he again heard a faint scrape that was slightly louder than the first. It was quickly followed by another. Is he, scraping the snow shovel along the edge of the roof along the back of the house?

Scrape…scrape…clang clang.

Winnie turned her attention towards where Malthe was seated. Their eyes met. “Malthe? Tag derud nu!”

Get out there now, damn right you are Winnie. Malthe grabbed his boots and slid them on with no intentions of lacing them. He’s up the ladder on the back of the house. That’s what that clanging was. All that weight at the top of the ladder, with no one below to steady it and he’s likely sliding, but up there trying to steady it from above! Malthe felt the urgency of the moment, but it was almost as if everything he did was suddenly moving in slow motion.

Scrape…scrape…scrape, scrape, SCRAAAAAAAAPE!…THUD!

“Malthe?” Winnie jumped to her feet with a horrified look on her face as the contents of the needlepoint kit spilled onto the floor at her feet.

Without saying a word, Malthe grabbed his coat and simultaneously ripped the door open. That thud was the ladder falling. Damn kid. Please God don’t let him have been on it. Maybe the snow cushioned his fall.

~ ~ ~

That’s…that’s a weird sound. What is that sound? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a popping noise like that before.

“Emil, can you hear me?”

“Mike, is that you?”

“Yes Emil, it’s Mike. Can you tell me where you are?”

“I was, I was just falling off the ladder from our sommerhus in Bornholm.”

“That’s correct Emil, you fell. You fell for a long time.”

“What was that noise?”

“Oh, that noise. Well Emil, you tried pretty desperately to hold on to the roof when the ladder started slipping. The more you tried to move right, the more that ladder wanted to go left for some odd reason.”

“And I fell, Mike?”

“You did at that Emil. Like I said, you fell for a very long time. Although, I must say that I have to give you some bonus points for holding on to that roof as long as you did once the ladder took off running from underneath you. You swung back, and forth, and then you just couldn’t hold on any longer.”

“Mike, how do you know that? I remember all of that happening exactly how you said.”

“But then Emil, things got a little…tumbly, didn’t they?”

“I can see the black, then the white…

“Then black then white then black then all white…I know that Emil. I was there, I saw it all.”

“Mike, am I dead? Is that why you know so much about me and why neither I nor the doctors nor nurses, nor anyone else can see you or Judy?”

“No Emil, you’re not dead. But I gotta be honest with you buddy. You’re in a bad way. A very, very bad way.”

“Mike, I’m scared.”

“Emil, I’m scared too. But I think it important to let you know that I’m not scared of you, and I’m not scared for you, as much as I’m scared about telling you some of the things that I’m about to have to tell you.”

“What kinds of things Mike? What is it that you are afraid of telling me if I’m not dead? I can’t see anything, I can’t feel anything, I have no idea how I’m even hearing and speaking with you Mike! Where am I?

“Anything else on your mind Emil?”

“Yes, actually there is Mike…why am I so calm?”

“Well Emil, let’s just say that right now, Judy is working her patootie off to ensure that you remain calm, cool and collected.”

“Patootie? What is a patootie Mike?”

“Emil, have you ever been to America?”

“No Mike, I haven’t. I’d like to go someday though.”

“Mission accomplished Emil…well done. You’ve been in The United States of America for the past forty-two years.”

~ ~ ~

Nurse Pimlico heard a thud followed by a grunt from behind her. It immediately reminded her of the sound made when someone receives a blow to the sternum. Adrenaline. Training. Plans. Survey.

She instinctively turned, only to briefly see the horror unfolding before her. Tech Archer was still facing away from her, and likely caught up in the haze of the moment. Archer had stabbed Doctor Jefferson in the chest with the scalpel. Why did he do that? That wasn’t in the cards. Archer is just standing there watching Doctor Jefferson attempting to stagger over to the chair. Blood drunk. Archer is a candidate.

Doctor Thomas Jefferson was indeed staggering over to the chair. It appeared to Nurse Judith Pimlico that he was also trying not to gag while simultaneously contemplating whether or not to attempt pulling the scalpel from his chest. Doctor Jefferson made it to the chair and sat down. He’s looking up at me. Archer must not have hit the heart, or at least not directly. Why is there no blood? Salvageable. Jefferson is a candidate. Wind down, appraisal complete, opportunities abound.

Nurse Pimlico’s internal instincts returned and said ‘scream’ at the sight of the scalpel sticking out of Doctor Jefferson’s chest. Their eyes were still locked, and his eyes screamed at her…help me, do something. Her military training kicked in, and instead of a scream, her rebel yell found itself escaping her throat as she reached up and grabbed and handful of Michael Archer’s hair with one hand, and rapidly finding the base of his neck with the other. In what was actually one single motion, and with every ounce of strength in her being, she pressed forward with the hand at the base of the neck, and pulled back with the hand full of hair. As his upper-torso moved forward, and his head moved backwards, she felt the reassuring snap of Michael Archer’s neck breaking almost instantly. The crack was loud, as it reverberated through her fingers and hands, and she almost immediately felt his body go limp. Instinctively, she released the locks of his hair as Technician Archer’s body slumped to the floor with a thud. Rest well in hell you worthless piece of shit. Survey and appraise.

Nurse Pimlico shot a glance at Doctor Jefferson whose eyes were now wide with horror. I’m sure the bastard can’t believe what he just saw. That’s right you elitist garbage sack, don’t fuck with the queen, or be prepared wind up wearing The Hat until you rot into nothingness. He’s wobbling, losing consciousness. Unsure if trauma or shock, perhaps both. Blood-loss? Still no blood. Perfect. Regroup. Grab him before he hits the floor.

Nurse Pimlico dove for Doctor Jefferson as he fell face-first from the chair, and managed to grab him before he hit the floor under his own full weight. But only enough to let my presence be known. I am, afterall, being watched. Flip him over, then sound the alarm.

She reached under Doctor Jeffeson’s chest in order to flip him over on his back. Ow shit! What the hell just cut me? Did the scalpel just cut me? How the hell? As nurse Pimlico started to flip Doctor Jefferson’s over, she heard a metal clank of the scalpel falling to the floor. To her horror, she discovered…Is he, wearing, body-armor?

“Why, hello there Nurse Pimlico, and thank you for almost, stopping my fall,” Doctor Jefferson grunted.

Nurse Pimlico screamed, then fainted. Why is everything so, black? She thought to herself as she swirled into the darkness.

~ ~ ~

“Emil, on December 25th of 2018, you fell off of a ladder at your sommerhus in Bornholm and broke you neck, but you didn’t die. That, popping, sound that you heard? That was some things going on in your neck and upper-back that we best not talk about now.”

“Mike? This just happened?”

“Well, not exactly Emil. But before I proceed any further, can you tell me if you are feeling okay?”

“I am…confused, Mike. Would you mind getting on with this? I’m becoming very frightened and I can’t feel anything.”

“Fair enough Emil. Just, feel free to interrupt or ask any questions at any time.”

“Knowing that makes me feel a little better, Mike.”

“Your break, was right around the C5 vertebrae. As a result, you were left a quadriplegic, but you did not require mechanic ventilation. That is to say, you could still breathe on your own.”

“Mike, why can’t I see?”

“I’m going to get to that Emil. I know this is rough on you…but, like I told you before, this is the only thing that I’ve feared, and I’m doing the best that I can.”

“Mike, I’m seeing colors again. Bright ones. Very vivid. Like waves in multicolored oceans.”

“Those will be coming and going Emil. But it’s OK if you want to tell me.”

“Mike, I think I see snow.”

“Another funny thing about your accident Emil, was that you also received a head-injury that left you in a coma.”

“I’m in a coma Mike?”

“You were in a coma, Emil. A lot of time has passed since then.”

“Mike, if I am not in a coma, and I’m not dead, where am I?”

“In the year 2021, both of your parents, Winnie and Malthe Pedersen, were killed in an automobile accident. I’m sorry Emil.”

“My parents are dead?”

“Yes Emil, your parents are both dead. Have been for a very long time. And again, I am sorry.”

“I’m not sure what to say, Mike. I have no idea what to feel nor even how. I’m beginning to think that I am dreaming all of this.”

“That’s okay Emil, we’re getting you to where you need to be.”

“When will I be there Mike? Where am I going?”

“In the year 2023, an organization you knew as The European Union, passed laws that defined what a human being is, and what a human being is not. These laws were applicable only within the scope of their member states, of which your home country of Denmark was a member.

“Wait a moment Mike, you said earlier that I was in America. I also heard a date of 2047 mentioned by either that nurse or doctor.”

“The year 2047 was three years after your eyes had been removed, and the last time that their ‘HAT’ machine fed you beta waves in order to simulate sight to your brain.”

“Mike, I’m scared. No, I’m not…I’m angry Mike.”

“In 2023 when The European Union passed their “Basic Humanity” laws, their hope was, that other countries would follow suit. Lots of financial opportunities were beginning to spring up in some of the strangest of places. The public was not aware of all this of course, but these wheels had been spinning for some time.”

“Mike, did you hear what I said?! I said I was angry!”

“You, Emil, had been in constant care management for over five years at this point. Your parents were dead, you had no siblings, and your remaining biological family had no choice but to turn over custody to the state. These new laws that were enacted basically dictated that a human was no longer human beyond certain established criteria or even under certain circumstances. The only real issue was applicability via enforcement. Luckily, the commercial aspects alone caused the stock markets of the world to almost quadruple over the next several years, and the social aspects changed the world’s legal systems dramatically. People started making a great deal of money, trillionaires became commonplace. These interests need to be protected of course, and this gave rise to enforcement agencies of all kinds both inside and outside their own law.”

“Mike? Can you even hear me?”

“I can hear you Emil. I apologize for getting a shade technical there. But I have to get through this.”

“You? You have to get through this? Mike, I don’t even know if you are real. I have no way of knowing if you even exist.”

“That’s fine Emil. Nothing wrong with being angry. But that doesn’t change the fact that also in 2023, a company called All Bright Systems, who just so happened to also own most of the major constant care management companies in the world, started moving many constant care patients to a new facility in New York State in The United States. This was all more or less under the radar. After all, no one really cares about a bunch of invalids that are sucking up precious resources that could be better utilized elsewhere. Contribute to society in any way necessary. Greater goods and services.”

“Mike, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been angry with you.”

“It’s okay, Emil. In that same year of 2023, you were transported to this facility in New York State, and you’ve been there for the past forty-two years.”

“Mike, are you telling me that I’m not fifteen years old?”

“Well, technically Emil, no, you are sixty-two years old. Judy? Mike could really use some help here. You’re on.”

~ ~ ~

“Welcome team. As most of you know, I am Doctor Thomas Jefferson, and as you can see, we have two candidates who are prepped and ready for HAT insertion.”

“Where am I?”

“AH! Nurse Pimlico, you’re awake. Good. Very good,” said Doctor Jefferson in a bubbly tone.

“Candidate One, which will now forever more be referred to as “Unit A.M.”, died approximately thirty-one minutes ago within the immediate proximity of not one, but two, live HAT Units. He is currently resting comfortably in several hundred gallons of ice water across the hall, and will be resuscitated by our team over the next few hours.”

“Doctor Jefferson? What is happening here?” Nurse Pimlico called from her gurney. “Why can’t I move?”

“Oh, don’t be coy Nurse Pimlico. You know exactly, what is going on here.”

Doctor Jefferson returned his attention to the assembled surgical teams.

“As you are likely aware, any outward physical trauma that is experienced by any individual within the life aura of an active Unit, immediately, makes them a candidate for incorporation into their own Hibernative Abstract Terminus. Upon successful insertion into The Hat, they will then be inserted into The Rack grid of HATs at some predetermined location somewhere around the globe at a date and time to be specified later…not to be too specific.” Doctor Jefferson shot a wink to the crowd which garnered some laughs.

“I just tried to save your life you bastard!” Nurse Pimlico screamed. “Just because I’m a candidate doesn’t mean that I need to be inserted! The fields sometimes collapse!”

“Team, some of you have been through this before. That includes Nurse Judith Pimlico. You see, she knows what’s coming. And she’s a bit…apprehensive. BUT! That’s good. The more adrenaline that is pumping? The more endorphins that are flowing? The more confusion and agony that we can cause within the candidate? The more assured we are of success. That, is why we bring the pain.”

“Oh God NO!” screamed Nurse Pimlico as she began sobbing. “Protocol to the letter! I followed it!”

“Doctor Meyerson? Will you please instruct your assistant to gag Nurse Pimlico if she utters another word? Instruct her to do it by cutting out Nurse Pimlico’s tongue.”

Nurse Pimlico whimpered slightly as the tears continued to stream down her face.

“That’s better Nurse. Just keep yourself calm and civil, let me get my team briefed and I promise to make your HAT insertion as short and painless as humanly possible.” Doctor Jefferson returned his attention back to the group. “As you can see, Candidate Two is a shade, apprehensive.”

Several in the crowd snickered.

“Now! Back to business. Behind me is Unit E.P., an oldie but a goodie, one of our first. He is a ‘white’. But next door, we have Unit J.W., who is a ‘black’. Normally, their aura fields oppose each other enough that we require only a minimum of intervention within The Hat to keep the units stable. However, both units E.P. and J.W. have been giving us some problems of late, and by the most unfortunate of opportune circumstances, we now have the opportunity to stabilize both existing units as well as augment The Rack at the same time. We do this by creating what we hope will be two ‘greys’. Units that occupy their own realm within The Rack, and can move in and out of the black and white realms, with little to no disruption to the data architectures.”

“Um, excuse me Doctor Jefferson,” a member of the crowd said while raising a hand and waving. “Is that a potentially faulty indicator light that is blinking on the E.P. Unit’s HAT?”

Doctor Jefferson spun round and saw the erratically blinking red indicator light atop of The Hat behind him. What the hell? Why is there no alarm? Even a faulty indicator light should generate an alarm.

”Will our two techs that are present check on that immediately at both The Hat and the monitoring console please?”

“Don’t bother Doctor Jefferson,” Nurse Pimlico croaked. “The indicator light is not faulty. It’s Morse code you sadistic dipshit.”

Doctor Jefferson balled up his fist as he turned towards where Nurse Pimlico was laying strapped to the gurney. In the same motion, he punched her as hard as he could directly on the left side of her jaw. “DIT! Like that, Nurse Pimlico?! Is that the Morse code to which you refer?”

Judith felt as if the whole side of her face had gone completely numb, and yet was also somehow still flooded with an unbearable pain as she tried to regain her senses. Bastard broke my haw…I mean, my jaw. What the hell? How have I suddenly developed a speech impediment in my own head?

“Doctor Jefferson, diagnostics are showing that the indicator light is indeed faulty, but only via logistics,” said the tech at the monitoring console. ”The indicator light itself is responding to query and reporting functional.”

“Logistics fault?” replied Doctor Jefferson. “Meaning, it’s past its expiration date but has not been replaced? How is that even possible?”

“Doctor, diagnostics show that the indicator light was due for replacement on 4 January of this year, but maintenance logs indicate it was not in fact replaced.”

“Meaning no maintenance was done, so that is why there is no record. Is that what you are telling me?”

Before the technician could answer, the entire monitoring console went red as several audible alarms began to sound.

“Sir,” the technician at the console called anxiously. “I am reading a sustained spike of beta from E.P., and the system is identifying the source as internal.”

“Tech, what’s the reading?” asked Doctor Jefferson. The E.P. Unit is somehow seeing something.

“Twenty-seven Hertz sir.”

The E.P. Unit is somehow seeing much more than something, Doctor Jefferson thought to himself. “That has got to be an instrumentation error soldier. Run diagnostics,” demanded Doctor Jefferson.

“Sir?” said the technician. “The Rack system monitor is now indicating that the J.W. Unit next door has just failed in totality.”

~ ~ ~

“Hello Emil, as you can probably tell, this is Judy.”

“Hello Judy. Where has Mike gone?”

“Emil, all indications to the contrary, our Mike is a pretty sensitive guy. The things that he is telling you about? Well, it’s more difficult for him to tell than perhaps you might think.”

“Am I being too mean? Judy?”

“Not at all Emil. Both Mike and I realize that you are scared. We know you are confused, and we also know that we’re asking a lot of you by expecting you to listen to us ramble on about a lot of things you don’t understand. But if it makes you feel any better, we’re almost there.”

“Almost where, Judy? I have no idea where I am. Where are you and Mike taking me?”

“Home, Emil. Home.”

~ ~ ~

“Doctor Meyerson?” Doctor Jefferson said authoritatively but calmly. “Will you be so kind as to go next door and ‘pause’ the J.W. Unit?”

The other doctor simply nodded and hurriedly left the room.

~ ~ ~

“Let’s see now Emil, where was I?”

“Mike? Where did Judy go?”

“She was just giving me a break, and now I’m giving her a break. We’re all of us almost done here.”

“Mike? Judy said we were going home. If what you’ve told me is true, I have no home to go home to.”

A picture suddenly flashed in Emil’s mind.

“Emil, did you see that?”

“Yes I did Mike. What was that? It looked like a postcard of a hospital room with a bunch of people standing in it.”

“That right Emil. That’s pretty much exactly what it was.”

“Why on Earth would anyone want a picture postcard of a hospital room? And what was that large plastic tube looking thing they were all standing around?”

“Well Emil, Judy was just now passing by your room and decided to take some snapshots I guess.”

“My hospital room? Wait Mike, I don’t understand.”

“Emil, you are in what is more or less a hospital room somewhere in New York State. The current year there is 2065. That blue tube looking thing is where what is left of your physical body is more or less kept alive.”

“My eyes. You’d mentioned that my eyes were gone. Why didn’t I remember that?”

“We don’t want you dwelling on bad stuff unnecessarily, Emil. We know that all of this is coming at you rather fast.”

“You are able to withhold my own memories from me, Mike?”

“Something like that Emil. But know that we aren’t doing it to be hurtful. You are going to remember plenty soon enough.”

“Mike, what else have they taken from me?”

“Emil, the specifics are not really important. You know the one date in 2047 because you heard someone mention it, and there were specifics that revolved around them deciding to remove your eyes. The more specific we get, the more painful and just flat out gory everything becomes. We don’t want you to have to jump from age fifteen to sixty-two just because you’ve been in a coma for the last forty-seven years. That’s not your fault. Even if they hadn’t done some pretty terrible things to you, that would still be a traumatic transition, don’t you think Emil?”

“I think I can relate to that somewhat Mike. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go to sleep one morning at one age, then wake up the next morning at another age.”

“And that’s why we’re talking like this, Emil. We just want your transition to go smoothly.”

“Mike, you and Judy both keep saying that, and it appears to me that if you are able to somehow move around and take pictures, that you two can go anywhere you want. But I don’t appear to be going anywhere.”

“Where would you go, if you could go anywhere you wanted Emil?”

“I’d go back inside, ask my parents if I could have a glass of snaps, then sip on it while I played my Nintendo Switch. That’s, what I would do Mike. Mike? Mike, can you hear me?”

~ ~ ~

“Doctor Jefferson?” Doctor Meyerson called from the doorway. “Sir I need you to come next door with me immediately.”

Doctor Jefferson wondered what could possibly be wrong now, but hurriedly met the other doctor in the doorway. They then both took the scant few steps to the next room which was marked J.W. on the outside. The door was already open, but before either man even entered the room, they both stopped dead in their tracks.

“Where in the hell is The Hat?” asked Doctor Jefferson.

“I have no idea Doctor Jefferson. I was coming to tell you that I attempted to pause the J.W. unit, but when I opened the direct access port, there was no stench. In fact, I thought I smelled…roses. And when I reached in side to pierce the heart, there was…nothing there.”

“That’s impossible Doctor Meyerson!” Doctor Jefferson demanded.

“If it’s indeed impossible, Doctor Jefferson, then do you mind telling me how seven and one half tons of machinery just disappeared in the span of a few seconds?”

Doctor Jefferson’s mind raced with possibilities as he surveyed the remaining contents of room J.W. The Hat, gone? How? Teleportation? Are we being invaded by a competing corporation that has invented teleportation? Or time-travel? What in the hell is happening here? Aliens? Wait…teleportation, Morse code, my wife. “Cascade. Duncan spoke of a cascade.”

Another alarm sounding from the other room snapped Doctor Jefferson out of his thoughts. No. Not another one.

Doctor Jefferson turned and ran back to other doorway; the soles of his shoes slapping against the polished tile floors as he went. When he arrived, eleven sets of shocked eyes turned his way in disbelief. Only Nurse Pimlico, who lay strapped to a gurney and staring at the ceiling, did not turn to look at him. But that was only because her head was strapped to the table, Doctor Jefferson thought to himself. The Hat, was gone.

Doctor Jefferson strode calmly over to the gurney where Nurse Pimlico was laying. As he approached, the room’s upright occupants parted as to allow him to pass, and Doctor Jefferson noticed that Nurse Pimlico was working her jaw muscles. “Probably that smack I gave you is making you do that. Would you like another?”

“Octor Efferson, you have nothing, to th-reaten mee with,” said Judith Pimlico as best she could. It was the first time she’d spoken since Doctor Jefferson had broken her jaw, and she was having to work out how to best operate the new configuration of her facial muscles. “Stop the act-ting, and ask the quest-yun you alked over here to ask mee.”

“The code that you spoke of. You understood it?”

“A-firm-muh-tive.”

“Are you going to tell me what it was Nurse Pimlico.”

“Ah it it, ah it it, ah it it.”

“Dash dot dot, dash dot dot, dash dot dot. Three d’s.”

“That is correct, octor. If few will for-give me, the letters, that come before ‘e’ and after “c”, are proo-ving ifficult, and pain-fool, to, ronounce.”

“I apologize for your new disability Nurse Pimlico. But tell me this so as to get to the point, Judith…do you know what that code means?”

“Octor…Any…Uncan, Ree Dee,” said Nurse Pimlico as a rivulet of saliva emanated from the side of her mouth and ran down the side of her cheek.

Doctor Jefferson felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up as his survival instincts kicked in. “For the benefit of your own well-being, I would appreciate you not saying any more at this time Nurse Pimlico. It appears you know quite a bit more than I ever suspected you did.” Doctor Jefferson looked around the room at the faces that were staring back at him with a mishmash of blank and confused looks. “Will someone please get this woman some immediate medical attention? We’re healthcare providers for crissakes.”

~ ~ ~

“I apologize for that Emil. Emil?”

“He’s gone, Mike.”

“Judy. My oldest and dearest friend. Where for hath our young Emil gone?”

“I’m neither old nor dear to you, Mike, and we’re certainly not friends.”

“You’re cutting me deep, Judy. A very naughty thing to do on Christmas Day. Does this also mean you aren’t going to tell me when Emil has gone?”

“You mean, where, Emil has gone Mike?”

“That’s what I said, isn’t it, Judith?”

“He’s gone home Mike. Emil has gone home.”

“And what about that other one. Where has she gone, Judy?”

“I don’t know yet Mike. I guess you’ll see when she gets there.”

“Thank you, Judy.”

“Thank you, Michael.”

~ ~ ~

Emil could feel his fingers slipping. The ladder was edging ever farther away with each attempt to right himself. Suddenly, Emil could feel the ladder shifting in a steady motion indicating that it wasn’t going to stop this time. He shifted all of his body-weight from his legs on the ladder, onto his arms that were clinging perilously to the edge of the roof. It made more sense to drop straight down than to fall the extra few meters sideways. But as the weight transferred to his arms and hands, and as the ladder fell completely away from his feet, Emil noticed that he was going to dangle in such a way that he would be first swinging into the dangling position. He’d not thought of that; no time to.

As his body began to swing, it became clear to Emil that maybe after one or two swings back and forth, he was going to fall. Should he time it? Should he look down and judge when there might be a good time to actually let go and try and better brace himself for the impact? Surely that would be better than tumbling. He glanced down at the ground and everything went from white to grey to black so fast, the he was confident that there was no way to accurately judge his fall in the darkness.

A bolt of panic shot through his body as the fingers on his left hand suddenly felt like they were giving way. It became apparent to Emil, that since he was currently swinging to the right, if he lost his grip with his left hand mid-swing, he would likely tumble just enough in midair to land directly on his head.

Merry Christmas kid!” whispered a voice above and in front of Emil.

Emil was horrified and his mind froze in a panic. What was THAT!

From nowhere, a burly and strong hand firmly grasped Emil’s left hand just as it lost its grip on the roof. At the same moment, he lost his grip with his right hand, and again another strong hand shot out of nowhere and grasped the now free hand. Emil’s swinging motion quickly stopped, and he realized that his was now suspended from the roof by someone holding him up by his arms. It occurred to Emil how ridiculous he must look somehow hanging here. But wait, who the heh….heck, is holding me?

Terrified to look up, but equally terrified not to look up, Emil looked up. A shadow of a face peered at him from over the crest of the roof, but Emil could not make out any details of the face nor the arms and hands that were keeping him from falling. Only the top of a shadowy face from the nose up, and what appeared to be smiling eyes. How is someone suddenly laying on the crest of the roof of our sommerhus in the middle of the biggest blizzard in recent history on Christmas Day?

And Happy New Year’s too,” whispered the voice.

“Who…” but before Emil could say anything else, he felt the strong hands push backwards on Emil’s arms, simultaneously releasing its grip. Emil felt himself falling backwards, and it felt as though he was going to fall in such a way as to land directly on his back in the snow. The fall seemed to take forever, but Emil never stopped looking at the partially obscured and shadowy face staring back at him. The face and arms did not make sense, nor did it make sense as to why there was suddenly someone, appearing from nowhere, to stop Emil from falling off the ladder, only to throw him onto the ground and into the snow.

See ya around kid.

Whump! Emil landed flat on his back in the snow with a muffled thump. As he hit the ground, Emil noticed that the shadowy figure appeared to shoot away from the roof of the house in a blur and disappear into nothingness.

Brrrraap! The impact made Emil fart, and the snow now surrounding him seemed to amplify and cause his rectal turbulence to almost resonate in the snow.

“That was one egregious fart,” Emil said aloud to himself. “I hope to hell it wasn’t a wet one.”

*******

We hope you enjoyed that, Dear Reader. This year’s collection of Christmas short tall tales should be available later this week. Underdog Anthology X: Silence of the Elves will contain a bumper crop. Until then, have a Song 😉

Story Time: The Brush-Off (Part 1)

Good evening, Dear Reader. Many apologies for neglecting you here at the LoL these past couple of weeks; however, I have been busy writing ‘Lust Christmas’ for Underdog Anthology X: The Silence of the Elves

Gabbiano elf

*I agree, Clicky, that would be an excellent cover for the book…*

…Hopefully, it will be published later this week, but to get us in the mood, the Okie Devil, Cade Fon Apollyon, has kindly agreed to let me post his story ‘The Brush-Off’ from last year’s Christmas Underdog Anthology. I’ve split it into two and the second part will be posted tomorrow. So you’ll have to come back to find out what happens 😉

Enjoy, Dear Reader, enjoy…

*******

The Brush-Off

Cade F.O.N Apollyon

“Emil…can you hear me?” asked a female voice.

“Doctor, he’s showing signs of going into cardiac arrest,” warned a second woman’s voice. “Pulse rate dropping.”

The lights were so bright that Emil wasn’t quite sure if he’d actually heard the voices, or just imagined them. Did someone just say something about cardiac arrest?, Emil wondered to himself. Surely they cannot be talking about me.

“Emil,” asked the first voice, “I need to know if you can hear me. Give me a sign of any kind.” Her tone was much calmer and kinder than that of the second woman.

Emil felt as though his eyes were moving although he could not make out any detail as to if his eyes were actually seeing anything or not. White…nothing but white, he thought to himself. He felt as though he was drifting in a milky-sea of white where everything was drifting away, yet he could perceive nothing that indicated movement of any kind. So tired.

“Emil, I’ll only have one or two more minutes before I have to go. Can you try to give me any kind of indication that you hear me?”

My lips…where are my lips? I have to find my lips. “I can hear you,” Emil croaked.

“That’s good Emil. I can’t hear you, but I know you’ve heard me. That’s very good Emil.”

What in the hell are you doing here?!” boomed a man’s voice.

“Doctor, the patient is in cardiac arrest,” said the second woman.

“Who are you people. Where I am?” Emil interrupted.

“I came here because it appears to be time,” the first woman rebuked the man. “And Emil, you may call me Judy.”

Emil felt an acute astonishment. Judy? The first woman who spoke to me is named Judy? Who in this entire country is named Judy? “Judy, are you a nurse?” Emil asked sheepishly.

“Emil, I cannot hear you, but I assume that you can hear me. There’s going to be a lot of things going on that you will not understand right now, and they are going to be happening very rapidly. Just know that I am here for you, and…”

“I asked why you are here, Judy. Not what time it appears to be.” The man’s voice interrupted the woman calling herself Judy, although the tone was much softer now. It almost contained a hint of concern, and the way that he had accentuated the name ‘Judy’ almost sounded as if this man was also having trouble with the name. He doesn’t know her name either, Emil thought to himself.

Don’t shock him!” a second man’s voice shouted. “He’s got to survive this! Give him one milligram of atropine and reduce the alpha waves to eight point three hertz on The Hat.”

“Administering one milligram of atropine and reducing alpha to eight point three on The Hat,” the second woman replied.

“Judy, did you hear any of that? They’ve got the brain and the heart doing battle with the Vagus nerve,” said the first man rather sarcastically.

“You know that I heard what they are doing, and you also know that I know what they are doing. I simply wanted to be here if Emil was ready to speak. Emil, my name is Judy, you can call the asshole with the booming voice, Mike.”

“Mike, eh? I like Mike,” said Mike.

Emil was beginning to think to himself that he was the only person on Earth with an actual name, let alone a name that made any sense.

“Doctor, heart rate climbing, and regular sinus rhythm returning,” said the second woman’s voice.

“I knew it. He’s somehow building up static again. Nurse Pimlico, will you check all the ground wires in The Hat for proper connection while I get a techie up here to check the wall connections?”

“Did you hear that Judy? He knew it. Emil, this is Mike again, you are surrounded by a bunch of smart people that know everything, and you’re gonna be just fine.”

Emil heard Judy giggle at Mike’s statement. “I’m sorry Emil, I’m not laughing at you or your…current predicament, we’ll call it. Mike has the bedside manner of a goat, but he occasionally manages to be funny.”

So I am in a hospital, Emil reasoned. The humor was both familiar and welcome, but a wave of panic suddenly swept over him. Just as the panic was beginning to reach an almost paralytic state, Emil felt a soothing warmth emanate from some unknown point within his own being which seemed to brush the panic away. At that same moment, several black dots suddenly appeared and penetrated the overwhelming white in Emil’s view. But the black dots soon disintegrated rapidly into nothingness, leaving only the white.

“Doctor, we’ve just had a spike on beta waves.”

“That can’t be right Nurse Pimlico. He can’t have beta waves unless we feed them to him. Verify beta transducer is set to zero.”

“Yes, Doctor Jefferson. Can verify beta transducer setting zero with last logged input 24 September 2047.”

But I’m only fifteen years old. What could possibly be wrong with my heart? It suddenly occurred to Emil that whoever this first man “Mike” was, his sarcastic but bubbly temperament reminded him of his father. Wait a moment, did I just hear the nurse mention the year 2047? Mike’s hefty voice interrupted Emil’s thoughts.

“Judy, have you seen the white dots yet? There should be three of them.”

“The beta registered on the log and has been confirmed by the scrubbing algorithm. The burst of beta originated from within E.P. and not from The Hat,” said Nurse Pimlico.

EP? Emil thought intently to himself for a moment. This “EP” was suddenly the only thing that made sense, and it only took him a moment to work out the source of the familiarity…E.P., as in, Emil Pedersen? The nurse called me by my initials? Why is she using my initials and not my name?

“Okay Mike, I’ve got three white dots. Small, then broadening, and now fading to black with the smallest tinge of purple and grey.”

“Doctor, I’m showing another ping of beta waves and the scrubber algorithms immediately pegged them as internal. Would you like me to disable the beta probe at The Hat just to be sure?”

“Judy, Emil is going to start seeing black more often now, although I’m not sure as to exactly what kind of shapes that you can expect to see on your end. And Emil, I know that you can hear me, as well as you can hear Judy, the doctor and the nurse. Just be patient with us and know that we’re all working together to get you to where you need to be, okay?”

“Mike, I don’t know any of you and I don’t understand any of this,” Emil immediately responded. “I’m scared. Or at least, I feel like I should be scared, and I am scared, but I’m trying to understand. I’m trying to just listen.”

“Don’t disable beta. We may actually need to actuate beta at The Hat in order to lure his brain away from the idea that he can actually see.”

“Mike, more white. Three horizontal waves in rapid succession and a partial square with almost no duration at all.”

“Copy that Judy. I’m going to make a few quick adjustments to the gain on my end in order to see if I can give you a longer duration target.”

Emil suddenly became aware that he could hear someone tapping on something in a cadence that sounded like someone typing on a computer keyboard.

“Nurse Pimlico, I’ve just sent a request to Support and the Techie is two minutes away,” said Doctor Jefferson as he finished typing on and elevated computer touchscreen. “I’m going next door to check J.W. and see if we are getting bleedthough between units again. If the techie shows up before I return, have them immediately replace each ground at the wall in reverse order first, then remove and replace again forwards. Do you have that?”

“Yes Doctor Jefferson, disconnect and reconnect all ground wires, reverse order first, then again forwards.”

Doctor Jefferson gave a nod of approval, then spun smartly on his heels and disappeared out of the doorway.

“Mike, they’re still operating under the assumption that a re-grounding backwards is going to solve any polarity issues while The Hat is still hot.”

“Well, Judy, we’ll just have to work that much harder to get you a fix on Emil’s direct communication pathways before they do something really stupid.”

I’m beginning to wonder if I even need to be here for this, Emil wondered to himself. “How in the heh…heck…did I get into this mess?” Emil attempted to speak aloud, but caught himself before he said hell and not heck.

“Judy, you aren’t going to like this, but I think I just heard Emil attempting not to curse.”

“Mike…you can hear him?”

“Emil, this is your new pal Mike, can you hear me?”

“Yes Mike, I can hear you. Can you hear me?” Silence. “Mike, I can hear you. Can, you, hear, me?”

“Yes I can hear you now Emil. Judy, this is going to be another rough one.”

“You’ll do fine Mike.”

“Emil, this is Mike. Judy wanted to be the first to speak with you, but it looks like you are stuck with me for the time being. You can likely distinguish all the voices you are hearing at this time, but only me and you can speak directly at this time, OK?”

Knock knock. Emil was suddenly distracted from replying to Mike by the rapping sounds that came in quick succession on what sounded like a door, although Emil couldn’t tell exactly where the knocks came from.

“Tech?” asked Nurse Pimlico.

“Yes, I’m Archer. I was told this is a Level One response.”

“You are one minute early Tech Archer.”

“I was nearby when I got the call. Do you have instructions for me?”

“Tech Archer, please disconnect and reground all grounds at the wall in reverse order.”

“Yes ma’am, nurse…” Tech Archer paused in his query because he could not see the nurse’s nametag clearly from his vantage point in the doorway. However, he could make out the insignia on her uniform. Level seventeen. Two grades above me. Be respectful, be mindful, and be cautious, Archer.

“Pimlico. Once all grounds have been reconnected, disconnect and reconnect again in forward sequence.”

“Reverse first, then forward…I’m on it,” Archer confirmed.

“Can you authenticate parity as you go?” Nurse Pimlico queried.

“Was parity check also requested by the acting doctor?”

“Not specifically, no. Doctor Jefferson is next door with the J.W. unit and will be back momentarily. He’s almost sure to request it when he returns. I just…”

“Nurse Pimlico, I recommend that you allow me to do what was requested, as requested, and we’ll proceed from there if that’s OK with you.”

“I knew it Judy, they are about to make things much worse than they need to actually be.”

“I knew it too Mike. But at least one of us somehow got to Emil before they botched things like with…”

“Like they botched things with me? I’m over that now Judy. I’ve moved on.”

“I’d like to believe that Mike, but I know you too well.”

“You don’t know me at all Judy, and you never will if you keep that up.”

“Posturing will get you nowhere with me…Michael. How about we focus on Emil and getting him where he needs to be so he doesn’t end up like you.”

“Or you…Judith.”

“Or me…Mike. I don’t want Emil ending up like either of us.”

“Me either. You’ll be going white soon Jude. It could be a long time.”

“I know that Mike, but I’m as ready for it as I can be.”

“Emil, it’s Mike here. I appreciate the fact that you can hear us all, yet don’t know what any of us are talking about. But please know that we really are doing the best that we can to make any transition as quick and painless as possible. Does that sound okay with you? Emil? Emil can you still hear me?”

Silence.

“Judy, I think we’ve temporarily lost Emil completely. You might want to brace yourself.”

“Mike, if only they’d listen to Nurse Pimlico. Just once.”

“I’ll be here for you if you get back Judy.”

“I know you will Mike. I know you will.”

~ ~ ~

Doctor Jefferson strode purposefully back into the room where the unit known as “E.P.” was laying on the gurney attached to a monstrosity of wires and tubes. He stopped suddenly in the middle of the room upon noticing the individual crouched by the opposite side wall near the floor facing away from him. “And you are?”

“Not to be addressed directly while I’m working on re-grounding The Hat, I’ll not ask you again.”

“Excellent. A stickler for protocol,” said Doctor Jefferson with a smile.

The man crouched on the ground did not appear to flinch at all, but responded coolly without missing a beat. “That goes equally for personal annotations or any other verbal utterances that reference me directly. Last warning to anyone currently in the room.”

Nurse Pimlico sensed the rapidly building tension and interjected. “Doctor, may I see you outside?”

Doctor Jefferson smirked as he gave the tech’s back a last look, spun on his heels, and then waved Nurse Pimlico out towards the hallway. As he fell in line behind her to exit the room, he felt a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that the protocols that he himself devised were being followed to the letter. In a crisis situation no less. Whoever this guy was, he had balls. He was ready to call security and have my citizenship stripped from me and jailed for life, simply for speaking to him. He never even turned to see who I was nor check my rank. Excellent. Most excellent. The video feeds of this real-world exchange would make for an excellent example to use in tech training. Excellent to pass along to the executive and legislative branches as well. Should show that The Protocols are working exactly as advertised. Doctor Jefferson made a mental note to put in a request to retrieve the security recordings for, he looked at his watch, 25 December 2065 at 16:16. Excellent.

As soon as they entered the hallway, Nurse Pimlico immediately spoke, “Doctor, the technician’s name is Archer. Junior Tech, Level Fifteen according to his insignia.”

“Did you ask him to check bias?”

“No. I asked if he would mind checking parity.”

“And did he agree?”

“No Doctor Jefferson, he refused, and he was stern but kind about it.”

“Nurse Pimlico, I realize that you are the one who devised the idea of the parity spot checks upon any and all maintenance to The Hat in a live environment. I also know that your suggestion was a technical one, and not something that you’d hoped to see worked in as a security measure for authenticating the validity of an employee’s presence in restricted areas and loyalty to The Protocols. However, these organisms that we use for harvesting data get more and more dodgy as they age. The less we do in a crisis situation, the better the outcome has proven to be.”

“I can appreciate that Doctor, and I also understand the necessity of protocol. We are attempting to standardize the flow of information, not invent ways to deviate from the standardization process.”

“Indeed we are not, Nurse Pimlico.”

“Doctor, I would like to remind you that my simulations have shown that times of acute trauma may sometimes be the source of the machine ghosts. That the ghosts may be a dormant bit of information that is in fact triggered by a sequence of events that is running in less-standard times than our own.”

“And that’s the key, Nurse Pimlico. We operate forward in time, and so must our data. The only way to identify and isolate any such anomalies in time, should they in fact exist, is to let them come to us. If we seek them out, who knows where we might wind up. Or better stated, when, we might wind up.”

“I understand Doctor.”

“I don’t think you do, Nurse Pimlico. But what’s say we change that. Are you aware of my wife and her grandfather-in-law’s work back in the early part of this century?”

“I am aware that such work exists, but I have no knowledge of the work itself. It is all classified.”

“You are not up for promotion review for another eighteen months if I am not mistaken.”

“That is correct, sir.”

“Oh now, don’t fall back onto your military training just yet, Nurse Pimlico. Doctor, please.”

“My apologies, Doctor Jefferson.”

“You are also three grades away from attaining the needed rank to potentially have access to such information. However, I think it time that you were introduced to some of the more…finite, complexities of what it is we do here.”

“Thank you Doctor. But I must remind you that deviation from the Protocol of Established Standards and Procedures will not only red-flag me for the remainder of my career, it could also red-flag you.”

“My faith in you grows by the minute, Nurse Pimlico.” Doctor Jefferson beamed. “Although there is one thing for you to keep in mind, should you continue your journey into the upper-echelons of the infrastructure which makes our society tick.”

“And what is that Doctor?”

Doctor Jefferson smiled, then leaned in somewhat towards Nurse Pimlico and lowered his voice. “A red flag is not always a bad thing to have next to your name.”

Nurse Pimlico blinked a stunned blink and felt as though she were blushing. Is he…testing me? Hitting on me? Both? Nurse Pimlico quickly gathered her senses so as to reestablish her composure. I’ve got to get out of this situation… and fast. Too dangerous. I just need an out.

“I am finished in here for any jocund and loquacious souls who wish to return,” Tech Archer called from inside the room.

Doctor Jefferson’s smile broadened as he slowly withdrew from the closer proximity to Nurse Pimlico’s personal space, but his eyes never left hers. “After you, Nurse.”

OK, so, he didn’t size me up with his eyes, so, he wasn’t hitting on me. He’s testing me. Get those thick thighs of yours to moving, Pimilco. Get your muscular ass back in that room double-quick, and get straight to the diagnostics on The Hat. “Thank you Doctor Jefferson.”

Nurse Pimlico strode into the room with all of the dignity and haste that she could muster under the sudden stresses of the moment, and noticed that Technician Archer was sitting in the lotus position on the floor near where the large bundle of grounding wires ran from The Hat into the wall.

“I figured that I would stay here in the event that parity suddenly needed to be checked, assuming that is Okay with all concerned,” the seated technician volunteered.

Nurse Pimlico was having difficulty interpreting the smile that now occupied Tech Archer’s face as being either friend or foe. “I’ve no issue with it if Doctor Jefferson has no objections.” Nurse Pimlico changed her focus in the direction of Doctor Jefferson to await a response.

“I’ve no objections Nurse Pimlico,” said Doctor Jefferson.

“But we do need to run a full diagnostic on The Hat. That could take upwards of an hour or more.”

“I’ve no objections to that either Nurse Pimlico. All I have is time on this fine day formerly known as Christmas, and Tech Archer is free to spend as much time as he would like sitting on the floor if he so desires.”

“I understand Doctor Jefferson. Estimated time to completion of diagnostics will be sixty-four minutes on my mark…mark! Diagnostics started and running, Doctor Jefferson.”

“Excellent Nurse Pimlico,” said Doctor Jefferson as he reached for one of the empty rolling chairs and pulled it to him. He released an audible sigh of relief upon occupying the chair, and turned his attentions to the technician who was sitting on the floor.“Junior Technician Archer, Level 15, if all goes well, you now have approximately sixty-three plus minutes for you to tell me about what you are working on for you next advancement thesis. Assuming, that you are you are submitting yourself for advancement review, that is.”

“I am indeed Doctor Jefferson, and I’ve already picked my topic.” Tech Archer’s somewhat cavalier but laid-back outward demeanor experienced a sudden radical shift to something somewhat more exuberant and excitable.

“Oh really Archer. Do tell.”

“Global H20 Dynamics.”

“Global, H20, Dynamics…my oh my you do think big young man. I’ve Nurse Pimlico chasing subatomic bitwise ghosts and other mysterious free-radicals, and Tech Archer considering the global dynamics of water and it’s components.” Doctor Jefferson leaned back in is chair and raised his arms in a somewhat mocking celebratory moment of zen. “The gods have favored me on this previously sacred day and blessed me with the company of giants.” He quickly dropped his hands and leaned forward in his seat towards Technician Archer’s position on the floor. “And I do not in any way, shape or form mean that in a contemptuous or demeaning way Technician Archer, to which Nurse Pimlico can attest, can you not Nurse Pimlico?”

“I can indeed inform Tech Archer that the levity displayed by Doctor Jefferson is not one of contempt nor mockery. Tell him your tale Archer, but I can tell you from experience, tell it as it needs be told.”

“She is correct Tech Archer. Tell it as it needs be told. You have my undivided until I say otherwise. Oh, and the captain has turned off the please remain seated on the floor sign. Feel free to get up and move about the cabin if so inclined Junior Technician Archer.”

~ ~ ~

The cabin’s fireplace crackled as Emil lay on the floor basking in it’s warmth; engaged in glorious battle on his new Nintendo Switch. He would have preferred a set of drums for Christmas, but he was more or less contented with the fact that his parents were unlikely to ever endorse his owning a drum set while he still lived at home. Emil understood. The apartment back home in Copenhagen was not the best of environments for a future rock star to live, and keeping the drums here in the sommerhus at Bornholm wasn’t practical. I’d practically never get to practice, Emil thought sarcastically to himself as his thumbs worked feverishly to keep his elven character alive. Lort! I died! thought Emil to himself as his on-screen character completed it’s pre-programmed death-throes then slumped into a heap amid the grassy lands of Hyrule.

“Søn, would you mind going outside and checking the roof to see what the snow looks like?” Emil’s father called from the kitchen area. He was putting away the day’s now clean and dried dishes. “It probably needs to be brushed off again before bed.”

“Sure Pop. I just died anyway,” replied Emil, pushing himself up from the floor with a grunt. “Do you want me to go ahead and setup the ladder?” He and his father had already been through this exercise three times over the past two days, and it was almost old-hat to Emil at this point.

“Only if it looks like the roof needs to be cleared Emil,” answered his father. “I don’t want us to be out in the cold if we don’t have to.”

Emil placed his Nintendo Switch on the small table next to the sofa where his mother was seated, and noticed that she was engaged in a battle of her own. She had opened and was sorting the contents of the new sewing kit she’d received as a gift during the previous night’s festivities, and it appeared to contain somewhere between ten and twenty billion individual strands of thread. Emil delayed his forward momentum towards the door, and watched for a moment as his mother wrestled with identifying and separating the various colored threads.

“Well, you still appear to be quite nimble and able-bodied for a dead man,” his mother said without looking up. “And if you are standing there wondering where your bathing suit is located, it’s most likely still in your suitcase dear.” His mother glanced up at him briefly with a smirk smeared across her shining face, before she returned her attention to the mass of threads in her hands. “Assuming you remembered to pack it for the trip, that is.”

“Mor, I think I forgot it,” Emil said in the best ‘fake-astonishment’ voice that he could muster.

“Well then, I guess you’ll probably just have to settle for the coat, hat and mittens hanging on the rack near the door.” His mother again looked up and smiled at Emil.

He returned the smile, said nothing, and went to assemble his gear for the trek outdoors.

“I’ll be a minute or two behind you, Emil,” called his father from the kitchen.

Emil sat down on the small bench near the door, and began to pull on his boots. He glanced over his shoulder out the window at the snow that was falling outside. Good grief! It’s never snowed like this in Denmark before. Not ever. 44 centimeters of snow was predicted for today, and that’s on top of what we’ve already gotten. The whitest of white Christmases in Dansk history, or so they are saying on the news. The Great Blizzard of 2018.

Emil finished lacing his boots, stood, then reached for his heavy coat that felt still somewhat damp. He then donned his hat and gloves, which were also still feeling slightly soggy and not yet dry, then reached for the handle on the door. “I’m going out and up,” Emil said as he gave the new Nintendo Switch resting on the small end-table a final glance.

“OK søn. I’ll be right behind you in a few,” replied his father.

His mother, who was otherwise engaged with the threads from her needlepoint kit said nothing.

Emil opened the door and walked outside into the cold darkness in front of him, then pulled the door tightly closed behind him and gave it a final push just to be sure. I don’t want to make the mistake of leaving the door slightly ajar again.

*******

See you for the second part of ‘The Brush-Off’ tomorrow, Dear Reader, when all will be revealed. Have a Song ❤